Tag Archives: Apple

Apple is Reopening Stores with COVID-19 Safety Measures

Apple announced its approach to reopening Apple Stores. They have created a Find a Store search tool that people can use to find out if the Apple Store near them has reopened. Apple is making changes in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In every store, we’re focused on limiting occupancy and giving everybody lots of room, and renewing our focus one-on-one, personalized service at the Genius Bar and throughout the store.

Additional changes include the requirement that their teams and customers all wear face coverings. Apple will provide them to customers who don’t bring their own. Temperature checks will be conducted at the door of the store. Posted health questions will screen for those with symptoms, like cough or fever, or who have had recent exposure to someone with COVID-19.

Those who do not wish to comply with these efforts are probably not going to be allowed inside an Apple Store. That said, Apple will allow for curb-side-pick-up and drop off. Or, you can make your purchase online, and Apple can ship it to your home or make your new items available for pick-up at an Apple Store.

Apple will be conducting deep cleanings that place special emphasis on all surfaces, display products, and highly trafficked areas.

Things are going to change inside and outside Apple Stores. I think most people will comply with the mask requirement, especially those of us who have been making it a practice to wear masks when outside. But, there is likely to be someone who decides to have a tantrum because they refuse to wear a mask. I expect there will be photos on social media about that.

It will be interesting to see how these health and safety requirements hold up whenever Apple releases the newest version of one or more of their products. People tend to get queue up in lines outside Apple Stores before the store opens on the day a new product becomes available for sale.

Will people wait their turn in a socially-distanced line outside the store? Or will they attempt to push past the employees who are checking for masks and taking temperatures of customers? I suppose it comes down to whether an individual values their health more, or less, than the newest Apple product.

Apple Acquired NextVR

Apple Inc. confirmed to Bloomberg that it has acquired NextVR. Bloomberg reported that NextVR is a Newport Beach, California, startup.

9to5Mac reported that NextVR provides VR experiences with headsets from PlayStation, Oculus, HTC, Microsoft, and Lenovo headsets. It also holds patented technology that that it uses to support high quality video streams of music and sporting events to VR headsets. According to 9to5Mac, NextVR holds over 40 technology patents in total.

Since the news of the acquisition, NextVR posted this message on its website:

NextVR is Heading in a New Direction

Thank you to our partners and fans around the world for the role you played in building this awesome platform for sports, music and entertainment experiences in Virtual Reality.

This makes me wonder how long the companies who make those VR headsets can continue to obtain experiences from NextVR, now that it has been acquired by Apple. Right now, it is unclear what will happen to NextVR’s partnerships with the NBA, Fox Sports, Wimbledon and other live music and sporting events.

Will Apple keep those connections intact, or cut them? My best guess is the answer to that question depends on whatever Apple’s plans are for NextVR.

Apple will Gradually Reopen US Retail Stores

Apple plans to start gradually reopening at least some of its retail stores in the United States starting next week, 9To5Mac reported. This will be exciting news for those who can’t wait go into an Apple Store to replace the Apple products they are currently using with newer versions.

According to 9to5Mac, Apple confirmed the store reopenings in a statement, part of which says:

We’re excited to begin reopening stores in the US next week, starting with some stores in Idaho, South Carolina, Alabama, and Alaska. Our team is constantly monitoring local health data and government guidance, and as soon as we can safely open our stores, we will.

We’ve missed our customers and look forward to offering our support. With many working and learning from home, our primary focus will be providing service and support at the Genius Bar. We’ll open initially with additional safety procedures including temperature checks, social distancing, and face coverings to ensure customers and employees continue to stay healthy. Our new social distance protocol allows for a limited number of visitors in the store at one time so there may be a delay for walk-in customers. We recommend, where possible, customers buy online for contactless delivery or in-store pick up…

CNBC reported that the reopening of Apple Stores is a sign that operations for the company are slowly getting back to normal during what Apple CEO Tim Cook called the “most challenging global environment” the company has ever experienced. CNBC also reported that Apple has only six stores in the states it mentioned in the statement, and that Apple did not confirm that all of those stores will be opening next week.

Personally, I think Apple is making a smart choice by gradually opening US Apple Stores, instead of opening them all at once. It gives the company a chance to see if customers are willing and able to comply with social distancing protocols, temperature checks, and the requirement to wear a face mask before going into an Apple Store. My best guess is if people can do those simple things, then Apple may consider opening more stores.

If it turns out that too many customers refuse to comply, it will be fairly easy for Apple to close down the few stores that were reopened. How soon the Apple Store near you will open up depends largely upon the behaviors of those who visit the first ones that Apple reopens.

Apple Will Host Virtual Worldwide Developers Conference

Apple announced it will host its annual Worldwide Developers Conference virtually, beginning June 22, in the Apple Developer app and on the Apple Developer website for free for all developers.

The decision to hold the conference online, and not in-person, is not a surprise considering the realities of COVID-19. It’s nice that Apple wants to keep people safe and healthy.

Now in its 31st year, WWDC20 will be an opportunity for millions of creative and innovative developers around the world to get early access to the future of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS, and to learn from Apple engineers as they work to build app experiences that enrich the lives of Apple customers around the globe.

Developers are encouraged to download the Apple Developer app where additional WWDC20 program information – including keynote and Platforms State of the Union details, session and lab schedules, and more – will be shared in June. Information will also be made available on the Apple website and by email.

In addition, Apple announced the Swift Student Challenge It is an opportunity for student developers to showcase their love of coding by creating their own Swift playground. Swift Playgrounds is a revolutionary app for iPad and Mac that makes learning the Swift programming language interactive and fun.

Now through 11:59 p.m. PDT on May 17, student developers from all over the world can submit to the Swift Student Challenge by creating an interactive scene in a Swift playground that can be experienced within three minutes. Winners will receive an exclusive WWD20 jacket and pin set.

To be eligible for the challenge, you must: be 13 years of age or older and be registered for free with Apple as an Apple developer or be a member of the Apple Developer program. You must also be enrolled in an accredited academic institution or official homeschool equivalent; or a STEM organization’s educational curriculum; or enrolled in an Apple Developer Academy; or have graduated from high school within the past 6 months.

Apple and Google Released a FAQ About their Coronavirus Tracker

Earlier this month, Google and Apple announced a joint effort to enable the use of Bluetooth technology to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. As you may have expected, people had questions about how that contact tracing technology would work.

In response, Apple and Google released a Frequently Asked Questions PDF with more information. Some of it explains what contact tracing is, how it works, and how it can help slow the spread of COVID-19. It also covers how their contact tracing system will protect user privacy.

Here are some key points about user privacy:

  • Each user will have to make an explicit choice to turn on the technology. It can also be turned off by the user at any time by uninstalling the contract tracing application or turning off exposure notification in Settings.
  • This system does not collect location data from your device, and does not share the identities of other users to each other, Google or Apple. The user controls all data they want to share, and the decision to share it.
  • Bluetooth privacy-preserving beacons rotate every 10-20 minutes, to help prevent tracking.
  • Exposure notification is only done on device and under the user’s control. In addition people who test positive are not identified by the system to other users, or to Apple or Google.
  • The system is only used for contract tracing by public health authorities apps.
  • Google and Apple can disable the exposure notification system on a regional basis when it is no longer needed.

However, the FAQ also makes it clear that government health authorities will have access to the information facilitated by the app. “Access to the technology will be granted only to public health authorities. Their apps must meet specific criteria around privacy, security, and data control. The public health authority app will be able to access a list of beacons provided by users confirmed as positive for COVID-19 who have opted into sharing them. The system was also designed so that Apple and Google do not have access to information related to any specific individual.”

The FAQ states a user can choose to report a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 to their contact tracing app. The user’s most privacy-preserving beacons will be added to the positive diagnosis list shared by the public health authority so that others who came in contact with those beacons can be alerted. I don’t see how that can be done without the app being able to identify one individual user from another.

It comes down to how much you trust your government to use the information from the app to help people. This sort of heath information can be used to prevent people from being eligible for health insurance coverage, or to be discriminated against in other ways. Personally, I am not going to use this app.

Apple Announced Second-Generation iPhone SE

Apple announced the second-generation iPhone SE, a powerful new iPhone featuring a 4.7-inch Retina HD display, paired with Touch ID for industry-leading security. It will be available for pre-order beginning Friday, April 17, starting at just $399 (US), and comes in three colors: black, white, and (PRODUCT)RED.

iPhone SE is powered by the Apple-designed A13 Bionic, the fastest chip in a smartphone, to handle the most demanding tasks. iPhone SE also features the best single-camera system ever in an iPhone, which unlocks the benefits of computational photography including Portrait mode, and is designed to withstand the elements with dust and water resistance.

The 4.7-inch Retina HD display with True Tone adjusts the white balance to match the ambient light for a more natural, paper-like viewing experience. The vibrant wide color gamut Retina HD display offers incredible color accuracy, and supports Dolby Vision and HDR10 playback. iPhone SE uses Haptic Touch for Quick Actions – such as animating Live Photos, previewing messages, rearranging apps and more – as well as contextual menus.

The iPhone SE also features the Home button, designed with sapphire crystal to be durable and to protect the sensor, and a steel ring to detect a user’s fingerprint for Touch ID. Personally, I like having Touch ID on my iPhone 6, and would want my next phone to have it, too.

The coolest thing about the iPhone SE is the A13 Bionic (which was released with iPhone 11 and iPhone 13). It is the fastest chip ever in a smartphone and provides unparalleled performance for every task iPhone SE handles. Apple says it is perfect for photography, gaming and augmented reality experiences.

I have three games that I play on my iPhone, and I’m interested in seeing how the iPhone SE handles Pokémon GO. Apple says the A13 Bionic enables great battery life for iPhone SE, which means gamers will be able to play longer without having to stop and recharge their phone.

Apple and Google Partner on COVID-19 Contact Tracing Technology

Google and Apple announced a joint effort to enable the use of Bluetooth technology to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, with user privacy and security central to the design.

Since COVID-19 can be transmitted through close proximity to affected individuals, public health officials have identified contract tracing as a valuable tool to help contain its spread. A number of leading public health authorities, universities, and NGOs around the world have been doing important work to develop opt-in contact tracing technology.

To further this cause, Apple and Google will be launching a comprehensive solution that includes application programming interfaces (APIs) and operating system-level technology to assist in contact tracing. Given the urgent need, the plan is to implement this solution in two steps while maintaining strong protections around user privacy.

In May, both companies will release APIs that enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities. These official apps will be available for users to download via their respective app stores.

In the coming months, Apple and Google will work to enable a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform by building this functionality into the underlying platforms. This is a more robust solution than an API and would allow more individuals to participate, if they choose to opt in, as well as enable interaction with a broader ecosystem of apps and government health authorities.

Apple and Google stated: “Privacy, transparency, and consent are of utmost importance and effort, and we look forward to building this functionality in consultation with interested stakeholders. We will openly publish information about our work for others to analyze.”

I understand that Apple and Google are trying to do something that could, potentially, reduce the spread of COVID-19. I can see where having public health authorities involves with the project is important, as that would be a good way to ensure that credible information is presented.

It is wonderful that the project will be opt-in for users. Nobody likes it when companies go ahead and opt-in someone without asking for their permission. My biggest concern about this contact tracing project is that a government could try and us the data to cause harm to people.

Google and Apple really need to get this right when it comes to user privacy.