Tag Archives: Apple

Apple Watch Series 6 Can Measure Blood Oxygen Levels



Apple announced Apple Watch Series 6. It features a Blood Oxygen Sensor and app. That addition was an excellent decision on Apple’s part considering that it appears that a low blood oxygen level might have something to do with COVID-19.

“Apple Watch Series 6 completely redefines what a watch can do,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “With powerful new features, including a Blood Oxygen sensor and app, Apple Watch becomes even more indispensable by providing further insight into overall well-being.”

The Blood Oxygen sensor compensates for natural variations in the skin and improves accuracy by employing four clusters of green, red, and infrared LEDs, along with four photodiodes on the back of the Apple Watch, to measure light reflected back from blood.

Apple Watch then uses an advanced custom algorithm built into the Blood Oxygen app, which is designed to measure blood oxygen between 70 percent and 100 percent. On-demand measurements can be taken while the users is still, and periodic background measurements occur when they are inactive, including during sleep. All data will be visible in the Health app, and the user will be able to track trends over time to see how their blood oxygen level changes.

A person’s blood oxygen level has important information not just related to COVID-19, but also to other health issues. Apple will be collaborating with the University of California, Irvine, and Anthem to examine how longitudinal measurements of blood oxygen and other physiological signals can help manage and control asthma.

In addition, Apple will work with the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research and the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at the University Health Network to better understand how blood oxygen measurements and other Apple Watch metrics can help with management of heart failure.

Investigators with the Seattle Flu Study at the Brotman Baty Institute for Precision Medicine and faculty from the University of Washington School of Medicine will seek to learn how signals from apps on Apple Watch, such as Heart Rate and Blood Oxygen, could serve as early signs of respiratory conditions like influenza and COVID-19.

Apple Watch Series 6 (GPS) starts at $399 and Apple Watch Series 6 (GPS + Cellular) starts at $499.


Apple Files Countersuit Against Epic Games



In a move that should surprise absolutely no one, Apple has filed a countersuit against Epic Games. TechCrunch reported that Apple’s lawsuit alleges that Epic Games is in breach of contract. Apple is asking the court to award damages and prohibit Epic Games from attempting anything like this again.

This is the latest move in an ongoing battle between Epic Games and Apple. To make a long story short, this whole thing started when Epic Games created a direct payment option for its players. That decision could be interpreted as a way to get around Apple’s 30% payment that it collects from consumer payments made in Fortnite.

You can view an embedded copy of Apple’s countersuit on Scribd. Here is a small piece of it:

Epic’s lawsuit is nothing more than a basic disagreement over money. Although Epic portrays itself as a modern corporate Robin Hood, in reality it is a multi-billion dollar enterprise that simply wants to pay nothing for the tremendous value it derives from the App Store. Epic’s demands for special treatment and cries of “retaliation” cannot be reconciled with its flagrant breach of contract and its own business practices, as it rakes in billions by taking commissions on game developers sales and charging consumers up to $99.99 for bundles of “V-Bucks”.

Apple is demanding a trial by jury “on all issues so triable”. Apple also has a list of things it wants the Court to do, including decreeing that Epic is liable for breach of its contractual obligations under the license agreement.

Apple also wants the Court to “enter a permanent injunction enjoining Epic, and all persons and entities in active concert or participation with Epic, from facilitating, assisting, or participating in (a) the continued operation of Epic’s unauthorized external payment mechanism in its apps, including Fortnite (b) the introduction of any further unauthorized external payment mechanism into any iOS apps, including Fortnite, and (c) the removal of IAP as an available payment mechanism for in-app purchases through any iOS apps, including Fortnite.”

If the Court decides to grant Apple that permanent injunction, I think it could have implications not only on Epic Games, but also on other gaming companies who have games on the App Store. To me, it sounds like a warning to other gaming companies about what Apple might do if they decide to make their own direct payment systems.


Epic Games Asks Judge to Return Fortnite to Apple’s App Store



There is a battle brewing between Epic Games and Apple. It started when Epic Games created a direct payment option in which Epic Games lowered the prices for consumers who used it. In short, the direct payment option could be seen as a way for Epic Games to get around the 30% payment the company collects from consumer payments made in apps like Fortnite.

Apple responded by terminating the Epic Games account on the App Store, The Verge reported. If you had Fortnite or Infinity Blade on your iPhone or iPad… well, you don’t have them anymore.

On September 5, 2020, the Epic Games Newsroom Twitter account tweeted:

Today we asked the Court to stop Apple’s retaliation against Epic for daring to challenge its unlawful restrictions while our antitrust case proceeds. This is a necessary step to free consumers and developers from Apple’s costly, anti-competitive control.

The tweet included a link of a PDF of Epic’s most recent legal request.

Previously, Epic filed a lawsuit against Apple. Bloomberg reported that U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that Apple did not have to immediately reinstate Fortnite on its App Store. She also granted a temporary order blocking Apple from limiting game developer’s ability to access the Epic Games Unreal Engine.

The judge ruled that Epic’s problem is “entirely self-inflicted”, and that the sensible way to proceed would be for Epic Games to comply with the App Store guidelines and continue to operate as the case proceeds.

There is a difference between Epic’s new request and the previous one. The Verge reported that Epic claims that “Daily active users on iOS have declined by over 60% since Fortnite’s removal from the App Store”. Epic also said that iOS is the biggest platform for Fortnite, and that 63% of Fortnite users on iOS access the game only on iOS.

It remains to be seen what happens next. One thing is for certain. This back-and-forth between Apple and Epic Games is unlikely to come to a resolution that makes both companies happy. I think what it comes down to is whether a judge sees Epic’s loss of customers on iOS as self inflicted or as something caused by Apple.


Apple has Taken Legal Action Against Prepear



Apple is taking legal action against the developers of the Prepear app, because Apple thinks Prepear’s logo is too close to its own, iPhone in Canada reported. Apple is a gigantic company, with plenty of money spend on court battles. Prepear is a small company with five employees.

Prepear is a meal planning and grocery list app – which you can find on the App Store, ironically enough. (It is also available on Android). Prepear’s app includes personalized meal ideas and easy cooking instructions. Apple makes smartphones, laptops and desktop computers, and runs and maintains the App Store, among other things. I don’t see how a person would get these two companies confused.

Apple’s Notice of Opposition was filed in the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The iPhone in Canada blog has embedded a copy of it into its blog post about this situation. The litigation provides some insight as to what Apple was thinking:

Consumers encountering Applicant’s Mark are likely to associate the mark with Apple. Applicants’s Mark consists of a minimalistic fruit design with a right-angled leaf, which readily calls to mind Apple’s famous Apple Logo and creates a similar commercial impression, as shown in the following side-by-side comparison:

In short, Apple is trying to defend its logo. According to Entrepreneur, registering a mark (or logo) with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office establishes ownership. Xavier Morales, Esq., a licensed trademark attorney, wrote a blog post on his Secure Your Trademark blog in which he stated that uncontrolled licensing of a mark can can lead to the loss of trademark rights. To be clear, neither of these blog posts were specifically writing about the Apple – Prepear situation.

Personally, I feel bad for Prepear. In an Instagram post on the SuperHealthyKids account, written by Natalie, a registered dietitian who started Prepear almost five years ago, you can read her take on the Apple-Prepear litigation:

“This is a big blow to us at Prepear. To fight this it will cost tens of thousands of dollars. The CRAZY thing is that Apple has done this to dozens of other small business fruit logo companies, and many have chosen to abandon their logo, or close doors.While the rest of the world is going out of their way to help small businesses during this pandemic, Apple has chosen to go after our small business.”

For those who are interested, there is a petition on Change.org titled “Save the Pear from Apple!” At the time I am writing this, the petition has 16,321 signatures, and is aiming for 25,000. Petitions like this one give people a means by which to express their opinions. Personally, I doubt Apple, or the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, will be persuaded by a petition.


Apple is Making More Inclusive Updates to Coding Terminology



Apple posted a press release in which it explains that they are working to remove and replace non-inclusive language. This decision comes at a time when several others are working towards removing terminology like master/slave and blacklist/whitelist from coding.

At Apple, we’re working to remove and replace non-inclusive language across our developer ecosystem, including with Xcode, platform APIs, documentation, and open source projects. These changes began on June 22 with the beta software and developer documentation released at WWDC20 moving to terms such as allow list and deny list, and main as the default SCM branch in Xcode 12. An updated Apple Style Guide reflects these and other changes.

Developer APIs with exclusionary terms will be deprecated as we introduce replacements across internal codebases, public APIs, and open source projects, such as WebKit and Swift. We encourage you to closely monitor deprecation warnings across your codebases and to proactively move to the latest APIs available in the platform SDKs.

Apple is replacing blacklist/whitelist with alternatives such as list/allow or unapproved/approved. It also will replace master/slave with alternatives like primary/secondary, primary/replica, main/secondary, or host/client.

The changes being made by Apple are happening around the same time that GitHub and Linux Team also started making efforts to remove terms like master/slave that reference slavery.

The recent efforts to replace hurtful terms with more inclusive ones comes in response to the Black Lives Matter protests. People are looking at the world around them a bit differently than before, and many seem interested in updating non-inclusive terminology.

CNET reported that Twitter began a push to drop language with racist connections in January. Google’s Chromium project has discussed making similar changes.


Apple Wins Fight over $14.9 Billion Tax Bill



Apple won its court battle over a $14.9 billion (13 billion-euro) Irish tax bill, Bloomberg reported. The EU General Court sided with Apple, saying the European Commission failed to show Ireland’s tax arrangement with the company were illegal state aid. This decision can be appealed.

Bloomberg reported that Apple welcomed the ruling, saying the case “was not about how much tax we pay, but where we are required to pay it.”

This situation goes back to 1991, when Ireland granted its first “tax ruling” to Apple, the Irish Times reported. Apple’s tax agreement in Ireland was replaced in 2007 by a second “tax ruling”.

In 2013, US Senators John McCain and Carl Levin labeled Ireland a “tax haven for multinational companies such as Apple” in a hearing in Washington on tax avoidance. Later in 2013, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan outlined plans to ensure Irish-registered companies cannot be “stateless” for tax purposes. This included Apple’s arrangements.

In 2014, EU issued preliminary findings that Apple’s tax arrangements were improperly designed to give the company a financial boost in exchange for jobs in the Ireland.

In 2016, The EU issued a final decision on the Irish-Apple case, saying the Republic of Ireland must recover up to $13 billion-euro in back taxes from Apple. Later that year, Apple appealed, saying it was singled out as a “convenient target”.

The case was heard by the EU’s second-highest court in 2019. And today, we have the ruling.

The Irish Times reported that the ruling could still be appealed by the commission before the Court of Justice of the European Union, the EU’s highest court. If that happens, it could take another three years before there is a final outcome of the case.

According to The Irish Times, most of the €14.3 billion collected by the Government in 2018 following directions from the commission, including €1.2 billion of interest, will remain in escrow until a final verdict is delivered. In other words, there is the potential that this case will linger for another three years, awaiting the next verdict.


Apple is Closing Some Retail Stores Again



When Apple started slowly reopening its retail stores in May of this year, it stated that it would take the preventative step of closing stores again should local conditions warrant. Since then, some states have had spikes of COVID-19 cases. As such, Apple is re-closing some of its stores again.

9To5Mac reported that Apple is temporarily closing 11 of its stores in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Arizona, out of an abundance of caution.

Those who were paying attention when Apple announced their approach to reopening stores in May won’t be surprised to see Apple closing stores in areas where spikes of COVID-19 cases are happening. Part of Apple’s post about it said:

Our commitment is to only move forward with a reopening once we’re confident we can safely return to serving customers from our stores. We look at every available piece of data – including local cases, near and long-term trends, and guidance from national and local health officials. These are not decisions we rush into – and a store opening in no way means that we won’t take the preventative step of closing it again should local conditions warrant.

According to Bloomberg the Apple stores being closed are Waterside Shops and Coconut Point in Florida, Southpark and Northlake Mall in North Carolina, Haywood Mall in South Carolina, and Chandler Fashion Center, Scottsdale Fashion Square, Arrowhead, SanTan Village, Scottsdale Quarter and La Encantada in Arizona.

People who live near those Apple stores will be able to pick up device repairs at the stores this weekend. Bloomberg reported that Apple has not provided a timeline for reopening.

This could have been avoided if people had followed the directions given by the CDC to wash their hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, to stay at least six feet apart from other people, and to wear a mask. All of those methods help to stop the spread of COVID-19.