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Updated: 53 min 46 sec ago

EU Chief Wrong – Apple Not Working on Vaccine Passports With WHO

2 hours 7 min ago

EU Commission head Ursula von der Leyen has had to walk back on claims that Apple and Google are working with the World Health Organization on vaccine passports. She made the claim after meeting fellow EU leaders, but Bloomberg News reported it has been denied by the WHO.

Apple and Google Not Working on Vaccine Passports With WHO

After her meeting on Thursday, Ms. Von der Leyen said that it was “important to have a European solution” to the growing discussion around vaccine passports. “Google and Apple are already offering solutions to the World Health Organization,” she claimed. However, a WHO spokesperson pretty swiftly said that “neither Google nor Apple” had been involved in such a process. (The two tech giants, of course, combined earlier on the pandemic to create exposure notification systems.) In response, on Friday, a source close to Ms. Von der Leyen said that she understood that experts from some tech firms are working with the WHO on a private basis, however, none of them are Apple employees.

Google Adds App Privacy Labels to Gmail

2 hours 25 min ago

This week Google has finally made progress in adding App Store privacy labels to its apps. Gmail is the second app to get a label.

Gmail Privacy Labels

Google has been behind in adding privacy labels to its apps. Apple made this a requirement for developers with a deadline of December 8, 2020. Even Facebook added labels before Google.

Now we’re seeing progress with two Google apps getting these labels:

  • Gmail
  • YouTube

Apple added App Store privacy labels in iOS 14. You’ll find a label in every app page that tells you what user data (if any) the developer collects from you, what data is linked to your identity, and what data is shared with third-parties. Although not perfect the move is helpful for Apple customers who want more privacy.

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Facebook Comes Out Swinging on News in Australia and Personalized Ads

2 hours 44 min ago

Under pressure on multiple fronts, Facebook came out fighting this week. It reinstated the ability to share news links in Australia after a row with the country’s government and media producers. The company then also doubled-down on its support for personalized ads – something that sits at the heart of its row with Apple.

First, The News

On Tuesday, Facebook reinstated the ability to share new links in Australia. A few days earlier it had somewhat abruptly removed this in response to an incoming law in the country that would have required the social media giant to pay media companies for links shared. Explaining the decision, Facebook’s Vice President of Global Affairs Sir Nick Clegg wrote that the law was “like forcing car makers to fund radio stations because people might listen to them in the car — and letting the stations set the price.”

Interestingly, Facebook was joined in opposition by Sir Tim Berners Lee. In a submission, the inventor of the World Wide Web told lawmakers that he was “concerned that the Code risks breaching a fundamental principle of the web by requiring payment for linking between certain content online.”

Ultimately, Australia passed its law on Thursday. William Easton, Managing Director, Facebook Australia & New Zealand had already said his firm and the government had “been able to reach an agreement.”

Whatever merit one thinks Facebook’s argument holds – I can certainly see the philosophical problems Sir Tim highlighted but am not convinced at all by Sir Nick’s analogy with cars and radio – the idea that a key information source could turn off the taps to information is somewhat frightening.

As discussed on this week’s Media+ podcast, Apple is also in the news business. However, it has a different approach to Facebook (and is also a far less significant driver of traffic than Facebook).

Facebook Highlights Benefits of Personalized Ads Amidst Apple Tracking Row

Tensions have been ramping up between Apple and Facebook for weeks over incoming privacy updates in iOS 14. No surprise, but Mark Zuckerberg (who wants to “inflict pain” on Apple,) are sticking to their stance. Facebook launched a new initiative called Good Ideas Deserve to be Found that aims to highlight how personalized ads help people discover small businesses. The company said it was investing “continued investment in products and resources that can help small businesses navigate the road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

No doubt Facebook’s approach to both news and privacy will continue to be in the spotlight in the weeks and months ahead, as the clashes with Apple.

Apple’s ‘Truth Be Told’ Filming Shut Down by Protesters

4 hours 23 min ago

Protesters have caused Apple to pause its filming of “Truth Be Told” in Leimert Plaza Park in Los Angeles (via Deadline).

Leimart Park Filming

FilmLA, the film office of the Greater Los Angeles Region, permitted the filming to take place and it stopped at 3 PM because of protesters. They were angry over the fact that the city let filming take place in the park while simultaneously denying homeless people to congregate there. The Plaza is open during the day but city officials have restricted entry in recent months, citing the pandemic.

The report says “things got heated” and there were around 10 “Truth Be Told” crew members at the park. Nearby vendors wanted the filming to continue even though “some protestors said that they were there for the vendors themselves.” As the situation escalated LAPD arrived to the scene.

Other filming locations are being secured and it’s unlikely “Truth Be Told” will return to Leimart Plaza Park.


Review: ‘Billie Eilish – The World’s a Little Blurry’ on Apple TV+ is One For The Fans

4 hours 58 min ago

I confess I’m not a Billie Eilish fan. It’s not my kind of music and, let’s be blunt, I’m at least 15 years too old. However, I was intrigued to watch the The World’s a Little Blurry documentary on Apple TV+ to get an insight into one of the globe’s biggest stars.

Fans Will Love ‘Billie Eilish – The World’s a Little Blurry’ on Apple TV+

I’m sure if you’re one of the millions of Billie Eilish fans around the world you will lap up every second of this R.J. Cutler-made documentary. It’s intimate, honest, and, in parts, compelling. However, for those of us who don’t already gush over her every Instagram post and have her music on repeat, this is not a good entry point to Billie Eilish-land. There are almost no explanations of who the various people hanging around the singer are, and little context provided for the uninitiated on much else.

One thing I do rather admire about this Apple TV+ original is the fact it does not try to make Billie Eilish some kind of perfect, serene figure. Indeed, at some moments she comes over as distinctly spoilt. There’s one scene in which a manager is providing some advice to the tired and grumpy star while her mother massages her neck which is underneath a stack of very heavy, expensive-looking chains, and gets no thanks. At various other points, she complains that she hates songwriting as her brother, Finneas O’Connell tries to guide her through the recording and writing process.

Teenage Struggles

There are other moments though when you’re reminded just how young Billie Eilish is (she turns 18 during the course of the movie,) and that actually what is being asked of a mere teenager is ridiculous. We see her perfectly normal struggles with a boyfriend, fangirling of Justin Bieber, and desire to pass a driving test (followed by a typical Dad safety lecture when she does). At the same time, she is giving everything when performing for thousands of people and the assorted nonsense that comes with. As the singer insightfully comments after being dragged through a cringe-inducing meet and greet session on tour:

I can’t have one moment.

On that, you can’t help but have sympathy. The ability of someone that young to constantly put on a smile and perform in whatever context is staggering.

Billie Eilish with Finneas Finneas The Super Producer

Although he doesn’t obviously dominate the documentary, arguably the real star is brother Finneas O’Connell. He’s the producer and songwriter behind the biggest Billie Eilish hits. Four years older, he’s a constantly reassuring and humorous presence for his sister, including on stage. He’s the one that gets work recorded on time – including the upcoming Bond theme tune. (This happens while she complains that “I’m gonna get made fun of by the Internet when I do it.”) His undoubted talent is acknowledged by family members throughout.

Why Billie Eilish Apple TV+ Doc Looks Like ‘The Office’

Billie Eilish Goes Global

At two hours and 20 minutes, Billie Eilish – The World’s a Little Blurry feels a bit too long and self-indulgent. Lots of elements, such a tour bus and plane shots, as well as live performances, reoccur. Although I’m sure fans will lap up every second, most of the points made in the film could have been made more succinctly. It does though all culminate in a staggeringly successful night at the Grammy awards for the siblings that leaves viewers in no doubt the scale of their achievement – from recording an album in a bedroom to truly global superstardom in months.

It’s clear why Apple TV+ would want a Billie Eilish movie, and why fans would want to watch it. And it’s not like this is a bad documentary. At all. It’s just probably not one for anyone who doesn’t have Bad Guy playing on repeat.

TikTok Settles Class Action Lawsuit for $92 Million

5 hours 20 min ago

TikTok has agreed to a US$92 million settlement over a class action lawsuit alleging the app illegally tracked and shared data from its users, many of whom are minors (via NPR).

TikTok Lawsuits

The settlement is among the largest privacy-related payouts in history, the result of 21 federal lawsuits mostly filed on behalf of minors, some as young as six years old. They all claimed that TikTok collected personal user data without consent to share with third-parties, some based in China.

A TikTok spokesperson said that the company disagrees with these claims but decided a settlement was in its best interest. “Rather than go through lengthy litigation, we’d like to focus our efforts on building a safe and joyful experience for the TikTok community.”

Investigators found that TikTok went to “great lengths” to hide its data collection and data sharing by deliberately obfuscating its source code.

Under the settlement, TikTok can no longer record biometric data or track users’ location using GPS. The company says it will stop sending data overseas and won’t collect data on videos in draft before users publish them.

The settlement is waiting for final approval by U.S. District Judge John Lee of the Northern District of Illinois.

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How Apple is Going Back to The Future With Its Designs

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 22:30

Some of the designs of recent Apple products, particularly, but not exclusively, the iPhone, leave longtime users with a sense of deja vu. Cult of Mac took a good like at how Apple is going Mac back to the future.

Specifically, Apple ditched the curved edges that graced every iPhone since 2014’s iPhone 6, reverting to the squared-off edges of previous devices. That was perfectly OK with me: The iPhone 5 remains probably my favorite iPhone design in history. By borrowing (you can’t exactly steal your own designs) some of that classic phone’s design elements, and then offering some truly up-to-date tech in the form of all-display OLED screens, 5G, and A14 chips, Apple merged old and new in a compelling package. But that’s not the end of Apple’s newfound willingness to reference what worked in the past. Apple’s next MacBook Pro apparently will take a backward leap to move forward. Rumors indicate the laptop will revive the beloved MagSafe charger. And it reportedly will restore ports like HDMI and an SD card reader that disappeared half a decade ago.


HyperGear Quake Wireless Speaker with Built-in Power Bank: $44.99

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 21:42

We have a deal on the HyperGear Quake, a Bluetooth speaker with a built-in 5,000mAh power bank you can use for charing your other devices while you’re listening. Aimed at outdoor use, the Quake is built to be rugged. It’s $44.99 through our deal.


If This, Then That: Apps Working Together

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 21:25

Ever wished your apps could talk to each other? For example, wouldn’t it be nice if you could ask the Weather app to send you the weather forecast every morning via iMessage or email? Or provide a notification when it’s about to rain? Or instruct all the smart lights in and around your home to automatically turn themselves on and off at sunset and sunrise, respectively?

Introducing IFTTT

If so, you’ll love IFTTT (which stands for “If This, Then That”), a free platform that helps apps and services work better together. To get started, visit the appropriate App Store and download the free IFTTT app for your iPhone or iPad. Now launch the app, set up your free account, and then tap the Explore button near the screen’s bottom.

The instruction sets you create with IFTTT are known as Applets, and the Explore page displays a variety of applets created by others. I recommend spending some time with these pre-built applets before you attempt to build an applet from scratch.

How it Works

To learn more about an applet, tap it once to open it and then tap the Connect slider to enable it. Once enabled, tap the little gear in the top-right corner to see (or modify) the way it works. For example, my weather report applet lets me specify a time, location, and daily forecast contents (such as current temperature, predicted high and low temperatures, humidity, etc.).

My weather report applet customized for Austin, TX.

When you’ve got the hang of how applets created by others work, try making one from scratch by tapping the Create button at the bottom of the main screen.

Once you’ve enabled (connected) an applet, you can trigger it by tapping its button in the IFTTT app. You can also choose to display it as a widget in your iDevice’s Today View or as a button in the IFTTT app on your Apple Watch.

My Favorite Applets

I have dozens of applets, but the two I use most are:

  • Save Mac Geek Gab Show Notes to Evernote: This applet monitors the RSS feed for Mac Geek Gab and creates a note in Evernote containing the Show Notes for each new episode.
  • Panic Button: This priceless applet lets me get out of awkward situations quickly and easily by calling my iPhone and playing a pre-recorded message (which I pretend is something urgent I must attend to). It’s sneaky but ever so useful.

While the IFTTT standard plan is free (forever) and lets you run unlimited applets created by others, you can only make three custom applets of your own. If you find yourself needing more than three (as I do), you can subscribe to the Pro plan, including unlimited applet creation, multi-step applets, conditional logic (if this, then that), and technical support for $3.99 a month or $39.99 a year.


macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 Prevents Devices Being Damaged by Some Third-Party USB-C Hubs And Docks

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 21:16

Apple released macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 on Thursday. The update looks to prevent damage to certain Macs that are connected to some powered third-party USB-C hubs and docks.

macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 Now Available

To get the update either click on the pop-up that appears in Notification Center or go to Settings > Software Update and click Update Now. The note accompanying the update explains:

macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 prevents MacBook Pro (2019 or later) and MacBook Air (2020 or later) models from incurring damage when they are connected to certain third-party, non-compliant powered USB-C hubs and docks.

Earlier this month, Apple released macOS Big Sur 11.2.1 to addresses battery charging issues suffered by users with older MacBook Pros.

Apple Insiders Share Steve Jobs Stories on Clubhouse to Mark His 66th Birthday

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 21:00

Steve Jobs would have turned 66 on Wednesday. To mark the occasion, the Computer History Museum hosted a conversation about the Apple co-founder on Clubhouse the day before. It included contributions and never told before stories from insiders like Mike Slade, who was Mr. Jobs’s special adviser between 1998 and 2004, former Apple CEO John Sculley along with his wife Diane, and member of original Mac team Andy Hertzfeld. The full conversation is now available to watch and listen to.


Apple ‘Salted The Earth With Subpoenas’ in Case With Epic Games, Says Judge

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 20:33

A California magistrate declared on Wednesday that “Apple has salted the earth with subpoenas,” during its legal standoff with Epic Games, Law360 reported. However, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas S. Hixson ultimately ruled that Valve, the firm behind the popular Steam gaming software, has to hand over certain pricing and sales data as part of the case.

Valve to Hand Over Data to Apple in Epic Games Case

Valve is amongst a number of third-parties that have become caught up in the escalating battle between Apple and Epic Games. It had argued it did not have to give the data to Apple. Meanwhile, Apple’s counsel, Jay P. Srinivasan, claimed that the Valve data will help support his client’s definition of a relevant market and demonstrate that App Store rules did not limit Epic Games. “This is a prominent player to complete the picture of the relevant market,” he said.

Valve’s representatives argued the demand was overly burdensome. However, the judge ruled it now has to provide aggregate historical sales and pricing data, amongst other information, on 436 games sold through Steam. “It’s my understanding, for lack of a better word, Apple has salted the earth with subpoenas, so don’t worry, it’s not just you,” Judge Hixson told the Valve’s counsel. The judge did though limit the amount of data it had to handover to that from 2017 and beyond. Apple had wanted it from 2015.

Twitter Announces ‘Super Follows’ and Communities

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 20:28

Twitter announced a couple of features on Thursday that will arrive in the future and change the nature of its platform.

The payment feature, called Super Follows, will allow Twitter users to charge followers and give them access to extra content. That could be bonus tweets, access to a community group, subscription to a newsletter, or a badge indicating your support.

Twitter also announced a new feature called Communities, which appear to be its take on something like Facebook Groups. People can create and join groups around specific interests — like cats or plants, Twitter suggests — allowing them to see more tweets focused on those topics.

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Doctor Mac on Apple Arcade – TMO Daily Observations 2021-02-25

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 19:47

Bob “Dr Mac” LeVitus joins host Kelly Guimont today to chat about Apple Arcade and why Bob has become a casual fan of Apple casual gaming service.

New Paramount+ Service Will be $5 a Month With Ads

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 19:30

Paramount+ is a rebranded and expanded version of CBS All Access. In a virtual investor event on Thursday executives revealed pricing. It launches March 4.

And they said that Paramount+ will cost $4.99 per month with ads in the U. S. (less than the $5.99 charged for CBS All Access), or $9.99 without ads and with additional sports, news and live TV content. There are also plans to bundle this with the company’s premium subscriptions, such as Showtime.

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CleanMyMac X Gets Redesign and M1 Mac Support

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 19:13

On Thursday MacPaw announced a redesign of its CleanMyMac X app as well as native support for Apple’s new M1 Macs. The update is available on MacPaw’s website and the version in the Mac App Store will receive the update in a week.

CleanMyMac X Redesign

The team says this is the app’s biggest visual update in the last few years. Here are the most noticeable changes:

  • Modern and clean look. MacPaw refreshed the colors, simplified the shapes of UI elements, and removed unnecessary details to help you focus on important things.
  • Fancy glass-like icons look stunning and stand for CleanMyMac’s intuitiveness and transparency.
  • Literally outstanding sidebar menu provides easier navigation.
    The elegant CleanMyMac X icon looks simpler and lighter but still remains familiar.
  • A a new dimension for a more in-depth experience. Subtle 3D Parallax animations and interactive hover effects will make the process of maintaining your Mac more exciting.
  • Powerful micro animations will draw your attention to what’s important at a particular moment.

The update also lets CleanMyMac X perform additional “junk cleaning.” A new feature in the System Junk Module can clear out universal binaries. This is code that lets apps run on both Intel and M1 Macs. But since M1 Macs don’t need the Intel part of the code, it can be removed in this update to save disk space.

Importantly, the update also allows the app to remove the recent Silver Sparrow malware plaguing Mac users.

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Why Apple TV+ Movie ‘Cherry’ is Personal for Directors Anthony and Joe Russo

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 18:48

Ahead of the launch of Palmer on Apple TV+ on February 26, there was a premiere on February 23. AppleInsider reported on how the story had a personal element for directors Anthony and Joe Russo.

“Like many of us, we’ve had personal experiences with loved ones who have had either addiction problems, overdose problems, even involving death,” Anthony Russo said. “So the issue of the opioid crisis was very present in our personal lives.” “But even beyond that, it felt like it was a very timely issue, something that we really wanted to address now, in the hopes of being able to play some small part in how this issue unfolds for people and evolves.”



Apple to Celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day Across its Services

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 17:52

Apple will use its array of services to highlight female voices during Women’s History Month and on International Women’s Day, it revealed on Thursday. It will feature female voices and work across the App Store, Apple TV app, Apple Music, Apple Arcade, Apple News, Apple Podcasts, Apple Books, and more.

Apple Marking Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day

In the App Store, users will be able to read exclusive interviews with female developers and browse an Apps Made by Women Collection. During March, which is Women’s History Month, there will also be an App of the Day and Game of the Day from a woman creator. Furthermore, Apple Arcade will showcase games featuring powerful female characters.

Over on Apple Music, there will be Visionary Women playlists and original shorts films. Apple Music Radio and Apple Music TV will feature female-fronted content continuously on March 8, International Women’s Day. Apple Books will take a similar approach, highlight the work of trailblazing women. Apple Podcasts, meanwhile, has a variety of shows featuring powerful female voices, and on March 1, ABC News will launch a new podcast. Called In Plain Sight: Lady Bird Johnson, it will tell the story of former First Lady Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Johnson.

Apple News is also going to highlight stories of women’s history. On International Women’s Day itself there will be a spotlight collection of articles celebrating contemporary leaders. Female-led content is also going to be highlighted on the Apple TV app.

Maps, Fitness+ and Today at Apple Sessions Highlighting Female Voices

Apple Maps is getting in on the action too. There will curated guides made in collaboration with Altas Obscura, Complex, Michelin Guide, HER, and Street Art Cities. Michelin-starred female chefs and rising stars around the world, businesses in Los Angeles, and street art by women artists in New York will all be highlighted.

On March 8 there will be an International Women’s Day challenge on the Apple Watch. Fitness+ will launch a collection of 24 workouts soundtracked but female-only playlists too. There will also be a new Time to Walk episode featuring Korean-born writer Min Jin Lee, author of the New York Times bestseller Pachinko.

In addition to all of this, there will be three Today at Apple sessions featuring illustrator and designer Sara Andreasson, photographer and filmmaker Camila Falquez, and documentary photographer and filmmaker Bethany Mollenkof. They are in partnership with design and art publisher It’s Nice That and focused on redefining beauty and inclusion.

Target Announces Apple Shopping Experience for Online, Retail

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 17:13

Retail giant Target announced on Thursday that it plans to add an Apple shopping experience for customers. It debuts first online and will roll out to certain retail locations this month, and additional locations this fall.

Target Apple Shopping Experience

The new shopping destination offers an even easier way to shop for Apple products at Target by bringing these products and accessories together in one space that has been designed for guests to experience new products through demonstrations and knowledgeable Target Tech Consultants, who will receive specialized training from Apple.

Christina Hennington, executive vice president and chief growth officer at Target:

Apple products are popular with Target’s guests, and this new, dedicated shopping experience offers enhanced service and expanded offerings, building on our strength as a go-to destination for electronics. This new model was created with Target’s guests in mind, and we’ll continue to learn and enhance the experience through future rollouts later this year.

Target Retail Locations

These Target stores will be the first to get Apple shopping:

  • T2180    (Monticello, MN)
  • T0324    (San Jose, CA)
  • T1397    (Oklahoma City, OK)
  • T2516    (Allen, TX)
  • T1766    (Hurst, TX)
  • T1797    (Austin, TX)
  • T1032    (Irving, TX)
  • T1354    (San Antonio, TX)
  • T0687    (Gainesville, FL)
  • T1790    (Orlando, FL)
  • T1820    (Clearwater, FL)
  • T2848    (Miami, FL)
  • T1159    (North Wales, PA)
  • T2764    (Newark, DE)
  • T1266    (Woburn, MA)
  • T1532    (Nashua, NH)
  • T1915    (Latham, NY)

Other stores will be included this year and beyond.

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Apple Donates to Non-Profit Encircle to Help LGBTQ

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 16:05

Utah non-profit Encircle’s mission is to support young LGBTQ people with community resource centers. Apple, among others, has made donations, the company announced on Thursday.


Apple donated US$1 million dollars to Encircle, as well as iPads and other products to help the non-profit expand its virtual programs. The non-profit helps LGBTQ people and their families through services like therapy, Friendship Circles, and an open door policy for its community centers. Because of the pandemic many of these services couldn’t be offered during lockdown.

As one parent said:

Encircle gave me the confidence to be an advocate for my child, because I saw so many other parents being advocates for their children. It was very lonely at first. But here was this whole network of people that I could call. You meet these other families, and you realize you’re not alone.

So far, over 10,000 people have visited Encircle centers every year.

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