Tag Archives: Apple

Apple HomePod and HomePod Mini Will Support Lossless Audio



Apple posted information about lossless audio in Apple Music. This comes after Apple discontinued the original HomePod in March of 2021, in favor of focusing on the HomePod mini.

Apple posted information titled: “About lossless audio in Apple Music”. The first line under the title clearly states: “Lossless is not yet available but is coming soon.” From the information:

What you need to know about lossless in Apple Music:

  • Streaming lossless audio over a cellular or Wi-Fi network consume significantly more data. And downloading lossless audio uses significantly more space on your device. Higher resolutions use more data than lower ones.
  • AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, and Beats wireless headphones use Apple AAC Bluetooth Codec to ensure excellent audio quality. However, Bluetooth connections aren’t lossless.

The Verge reported that Apple is basically saying those who want to delete and redownload their music from Apple have to do it through Apple’s subscription service. However, according to The Verge, Apple will offer over 20 million songs in lossless quality at launch in June. The total number of lossless quality songs will reach over 75 million by the end of 2021.

Can you listen to lossless audio on your HomePod or HomePod mini? Apple answered that question. HomePod and HomePod mini currently use ACC to ensure excellent quality. Support for lossless is coming in a future software update.

9to5Mac reported that broadcast radio, live radio, on-demand content from Apple Music 1, and Music videos won’t support lossless audio. iTunes purchases also cannot be downloaded again in lossless, as its only available from the Apple Music catalog.


96% of iOS Users in the U.S. Opted-Out of App Tracking



Apple’s release of iOS 14.5 included the ability for users to opt-out of allowing apps to track them. Ars Technica reported that 96% of iOS users in the United States chose to opt-out of tracking. This news should surprise no one, because it is well known that people use ad blockers and VPNs to avoid being tracked.

The information about the percentage of users in the United States who chose to opt-out of app tracking comes from a company called Flurry Analytics. It is owned by Verizon Media. Flurry is updating that data daily.

Until now, apps have been able to rely on Apple’s Identifier for Advertiser (IDFA) to track users for targeting and advertising purposes. With the launch of iOS 14.5 this week, mobile apps now have to ask users who have upgraded to iOS 14.5 for permission to gather tracking data. With opt-in rates expected to be low, this change is expected to create challenges for personalized advertising and attribution, impacting the $189 billion mobile advertising industry worldwide.

Ars Technica reported that Flurry Analytics says U.S. users agree to be tracked only four percent of the time. The global number of users deciding to opt-in to tracking is at twelve percent. That number is below some advertising companies’ estimates.

Predictably, the news appears to be alarming to companies like Facebook who heavily rely on tracking and data collection from users for the purpose of showing ads to users. Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature does allow Facebook (and other companies that track people) to provide a brief explanation about why they absolutely need to keep grabbing your data. Clearly, those explanations are falling flat as most users opt out of tracking.


German Advertising Companies Accuse Apple of Antitrust Abuse



A group of Germany’s largest media, tech, and advertising companies have accused Apple of antitrust abuse as it introduces changes to the privacy settings of iPhones that they say will harm the ads market, Financial Times reported.

According to Financial Times, nine industry associations, representing companies including Facebook and Axel Springer, the owner of Bild, Die Welt and Insider, filed a complaint on Monday with Germany’s competition regulator.

The New York Times has a detailed article about some of the changes coming when Apple releases iOS 14.5. The thing that is causing advertising companies (and the platforms and games that rely on them for data) to be so angry with Apple is a feature that is absolutely fantastic for users who value their privacy.

The new App Tracking Transparency feature will show a pop-up notification that iPhone users will see when an app wants to track them. It says: Allow [name of app] to track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites? There is a space on the notification for the company that wants to track the user to attempt to explain itself.

The best part is that the App Tracking Transparency feature gives the user control over whether or not they want a specific app to track them (and potentially create financial gain off the user’s data). To prevent that from happening, all the user has to do is tap the text that says: Ask App not to Track.

There is a common refrain from advertising companies, and the platforms who rely on them, who desperately need to track users in order for the ad company and platform to make money. In December of 2020, Facebook purchased a series of full-page newspaper ads to complain about Apple. At the time, Facebook claimed that not allowing Facebook to track users data would be “devastating to small businesses.”

The German advertising complaint against Apple is also ridiculous. They are predicting that the change will result in “a 60 percent fall in advertising revenues for app developers, as the changes make it harder for third parties to gather the data they need,”

Personally, I am on Apple’s side in this argument. Companies that never bothered to ask people for permission to not only track them across websites and apps, but also to scoop up their data and give it to third parties, are predators. The sneaky way they did this clearly shows that they knew people would not say “yes” to those requests.

Next, they stupidly based the majority of their income on the erroneous concept that people would either never know what was happening, or that they would never be given the opportunity to opt-out. Since then certain countries, and some U.S. states, have created privacy restrictions that prevent greedy companies from grabbing user’s data. Apple’s iOS 14.5 is one more tool towards making the internet safer for people to use.


The Battle Between Epic Games and Apple Continues



Today, 9To5Mac reported a significant update to the legal battle between Apple and Epic Games – “Project Liberty”.

According to Apple, Epic Games hired PR firms in 2019 to work on a media strategy called “Project Liberty” aimed at portraying Apple “as the bad guy.” In October 2020, Judge Yvonne Rogers had concerns that Epic knew exactly what they were doing with the controversial Fortnite update, so this doesn’t come as a surprise.

Here is a quote from Apple:

Epic’s monopoly maintenance claim is premised on the notion that the antitrust laws preclude Apple from imposing conditions on the licensed use of its intellectual property, and impose on Apple a duty to deal with Epic on the terms preferred by Epic – to the detriment of other developers and consumers alike. But Apple has no obligation to license its intellectual property, aside from a limited exception not applicable here, businesses are free to choose the parties with whom they will deal, as well as the prices, terms and conditions of that dealing.

CNBC provided a summary of what Apple, and Epic, will argue in court. The case could be heard on May 3, 2021, (but the date could change due to the pandemic).

Apple will argue:

  • Its 30% commission is essentially the same as other online software stores like Google Play or stores for video game consoles and Apple’s fee has decreased over time.
  • It faces competition both for iPhones as well as other platforms to play games.
  • Its App Store policies have led to a boom in the software industry and result in greater safety and security for users.
  • The App Store is a core, integrated feature of the iPhone, and that using Apple payments for digital purchases is a key feature.

Epic will argue:

  • Apple forces consumers to bear high switching costs to stop using Apple products, locking them in.
  • As Apple has accumulated more customers and locked them in, the importance of selling software to Apple customers has grown.
  • Apple controls the only way to install software on an iPhone through the App Store.
  • Apple uses its App Review process, which manually screens individual apps, for anti-competitive purposes, removing apps for business reasons under the pretext of security.
  • Because some developers have chosen to raise iPhone software prices because of Apple’s 30% fee, it causes consumers to pay more, and Fortnite is an example.

Apple is Discontinuing the Original HomePod



Apple has discontinued its original HomePod, TechCrunch has reported. Apple will continue to produce and focus on the HomePod mini (which was introduced last year).

Apple gave TechCrunch a statement about the discontinuation of HomePod:

HomePod mini has been a hit since its debut last fall, offering customers amazing sound, an intelligent assistant and smart home control all for just $99. We are focusing our efforts on HomePod mini. We are discontinuing the original HomePod, it will continue to be available while supplies last through the Apple Online Store, Apple Retail Stores, and Apple Authorized Resellers. Apple will provide HomePod customers with software updates and service and support through Apple Care.

If you are hoping to buy a HomePod, you better move fast. The Verge reported on Friday, March 12, 2021, that the Space Grey model of the full-size HomePod had already sold out on Apple’s online store.

According to The Verge, the full-size HomePod launched with a $349 price tag at launch. In April of 2019, Apple dropped the price to $299. In 2020, Apple released the HomePod mini at $99. Clearly, the best choice is to buy right now is the HomePod mini – instead of trying to track down a full-size HomePod.

What if you already have the full-sized HomePod? TechCrunch reported that Apple will continue to provide support for existing HomePods. In other words, your HomePod is not going to suddenly stop working.


Apple Released Security Updates for iOS



Apple released two iOS security updates: iOS 14.4.1 and iPadOS 14.3.1 on March 8, 2021. According to MacRumors, these new updates came two weeks after the release of macOS 11.2.2 (which was a bug fix update).

9to5Mac reported that Apple said: “This update provides important security updates recommended for all users.” Apple instructed users to visit the Apple security webpage for more details.

Here is how Apple described the iOS updates:

Available for: iPhone 6s and later, iPad Air 2 and later, iPad mini 4 and later, and iPod touch (7th generation)

Impact: Processing maliciously crafted web content may lead to arbitrary code execution

Description: A memory corruption issue was addressed with improved validation

CVE-2021-1844: Clément Lecigne of Google’s Threat Analysis Group, Alison Huffman of Microsoft Browser Vulnerability Research

To start the updates, iOS users need to go to the Setting app and choose “Software Update”. If you don’t see the update immediately, don’t worry. Keep checking as it may take a few minutes to hit your device.

It is always a good idea to make sure your iPhone, and iPad have the most recent security update on them. Apple doesn’t send these types of updates unless it is very important. Procrastinating on security updates could potentially leave your devices vulnerable to whatever Apple is trying to protect them from.


North Dakota Lawmakers Reject Bill Pushed by Epic Games



The battle between Epic Games and Apple continues, this time in North Dakota. According to CNBC, the North Dakota legislature voted on a bill that – if passed – would require companies that make more than $10 million per year through app stores to be required to offer alternative payment processors for purchases through the app store, allowing developers to avoid Apple or Google’s cut. The bill would only apply to companies based in North Dakota.

Epic Games headquarters is in Cary, North Carolina. As such, I don’t see how this North Dakota bill would do them any good – even if it was passed into law.

The New York Times reported that in January of 2021, a lobbyist approached North Dakota state senator Kyle Davidson, who is a Republican.

Mr. Davidson said he had been given the draft legislation by Lacee Bjork Anderson, a lobbyist with Odney Public Affairs in Bismark. Ms. Anderson said in an interview that she had been hired by Epic Games, the maker of the popular game Fortnite and the plaintiff in lawsuits against Apple and Google over their app policies. She said she was also being paid by the Coalition for App Fairness, a group of firms, including Epic, Spotify, and Match Group, that has protested app commissions and is leading the push for app-store bills.

CNBC reported that the North Dakota Senate voted 36-11 against the bill. That means the legislation did not pass. If the North Dakota Senate has passed the bill, it would have then gone to the North Dakota House to be debated and voted on. The outcome of the Senate vote means the bill will not go to the House. CNBC describes the vote as “a victory for Apple”.

This isn’t the end between Epic Games and Apple. Apple Insider reported that there is a court date set on May 3, 2021, in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California. The court will hear the case of Epic Games v. Apple, Inc. It is a bench trial, not a jury trial. In short, the battle between Epic Games and Apple is not over yet!