It should come no surprise that one of the biggest news items at the moment is the Covid-19 virus. Many people are currently in quarantine and have been practicing social distancing to help reduce the spread of the virus. There is a lot of information that is being shared by a variety of individuals that is false. Particularly during this time it is important to get the correct information
Today Apple, in conjunction with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to produce a new Covid-19 app that is also available on the web at apple.com/covid19.
With the app, or website, you can begin answering questions about symptoms that you, or someone else, have had. Some of these questions include symptoms, travel, if the person lives with someone who has Covid-19, and related questions.
There are a couple of things to note. First, “Your answers will not be shared with Apple or the CDC without your permission”. This means that it is completely anonymous. The second item is
By using this tool, you agree to its terms and that Apple will not be liable for any harm relating to your use.
Recommendations provided by this tool do not constitute medical advice and should not be used to diagnose or treat medical conditions.
Once you have finished the questionnaire, it will provide a recommendation, based upon your answers. One result that everyone should follow is:
You Should Practice Social Distancing
Help stop the spread. When outside the home, stay at least six feet away from other people, avoid groups, and only use public transit if necessary.
It is good to see Apple provide accurate and timely information.
Besides the app, Apple is helping in other ways, as outlined in a video by CEO Tim Cook.
In addition to yesterday’s announcement of a new pair of iPad Pro models, there were two other updates, to the MacBook Air and the Mac mini. Let us start with the Mac mini, as it is the more minor of the updates.
The Mac mini got a minor bump in base storage. The $799 Mac mini now comes with 256GB of storage standard, and the $1099 model starts at 512GB of storage. No other changes were made to the Mac mini. Now, let us look at the MacBook Air.
Apple updated the MacBook Air with a few new features. The first of these is a new lower price of $999 for the base model. This lower price will get you a 1.1GHz dual-core 10th generation Intel Core i3 processor, which means that the performance may be up to 2x, according to Apple. This can be configured with a 1.1GHz Core i5 or a 1.2GHz Core i7 processor.
Along with the updated processors, you will also get 256GB of storage; which is double the previous amount of 128GB. These are configurable up to 2TB of storage, if you need that much. The memory is a faster LPDDR4X. The previous models had LPDDR3 memory, so this memory difference is definitely part of the overall speed increase.
The next change is the fact that the MacBook Air can be connected to a 6K monitor up to a resolution of 6016-by-3384 at 60Hz. It is not likely that you will want to use the MacBook Air with a 6K monitor, but if you need to, you are able to do just that.
The last change is the biggest one, the keyboard. The previous MacBook Air used the “butterfly” keys, which could be problematic. The new keyboard is called the “Magic Keyboard”, and is similar to the keyboard on the 16-inch MacBook Pro. There is 1mm of travel instead of the 0.6mm of travel seen on the previous keyboard.
The MacBook Air is available for order now and will begin delivering next week.
Today Apple unveiled a pair of new iPad Pro models, the 2nd Generation 11-inch iPad Pro and the 4th Generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro. These two models are the same with the exception of the physical size. Both models still support the 2nd Generation Apple Pencil.
The new iPad Pro models have A12Z Bionic Chip. This is a slightly modified version of the A12X, which was in the previous generation iPad Pros. The new processor has 8 graphics and CPU cores, instead of the 7 GPU, and 8 CPU cores that were present in the previous models. This means that graphics and processing should be even faster. To quote from the press release
The eight-core GPU in the A12Z Bionic, along with an enhanced thermal architecture and tuned performance controllers, gives iPad Pro the highest performance ever in an iPad. Combined with the eight-core CPU and the powerful Neural Engine, which enables next-generation apps
Until we get our hands on the new iPad Pro and put it through its paces, it will be hard to see the real world improvement. One area where there will definitely be improvement is with the cameras.
The new iPad Pros have an all new redesigned cameras. They now include two cameras, as 12MP wide camera and 10MP ultra-wide camera, similar to the cameras on the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro. This means that you can now take wider pictures. This also means that there is a new physical capability, optical zoom out with the Ultra-wide camera. The new cameras also include 240fps recording on both cameras. The Ultra-wide camera is capable of recording at 60fps. There is one last new feature to the cameras and is new to iOS entirely, it is called a “LiDAR Sensor”.
Light Detection and Ranging, or LiDAR, “is used to determine distance by measuring how long it takes light to reach an object and reflect back…and opens up tremendous possibilities for augmented reality and beyond.” The LiDAR Sensor will be able to measure depth, which is absolutely necessary for Augmented Reality apps.
It will be interesting to see what App developers are able to accomplish with the new LiDAR Sensor.
The 1st Generation 11-inch iPad Pro and the 3rd Generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro had four speakers for audio and would automatically adjust depending on the orientation. The new iPad Pros have that as well. However, the change with the new models is in the number of microphones. There were five microphones on the previous models, and there are on the new models but they are now “Studio Quality”, similar to the speakers in the 16-inch MacBook Pro. This should improve sound quality for your videos.
The iPad is great with touch, however sometimes you need a physical keyboard to be able to handle the input. Previously, this can be accomplished using any Bluetooth keyboard or the Smart Keyboard Folio. There is a new option called the “Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro”. The Magic Keyboard is more than just a simple keyboard, but it is also an iPad Stand that can be adjusted to whatever viewing angle you need for your iPad Pro.
The Magic Keyboard for each model is significantly more than a regular case or stand. The 11-inch model is $299 and the 12.9-inch model is $349. Both will be available in May and will be available in over 30 languages, so you will be able to get the keyboard that is right for you.
One thing that should also be mentioned is that the Magic Keyboard will be compatible with the 1st Generation 11-inch iPad Pro as well as the 3rd Generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
The new iPads come with iOS 13.4. iOS 13.4 brings a new feature that some might expect to never arrive, trackpad support. This is not the same as the accessibility pointer support that has been in iOS 13, up until now. You can now use a connected mouse or trackpad and a cursor will appear on the screen. It will only show up on screen when you are using the mouse or trackpad. Some developers will need to improve their applications in order to fully utilize the new cursor support.
The iPad Pro models are available in the same size, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB. models, and are available in both Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + Cellular models. What has changed is the price of all of the models, except for the base price.
The 11-inch iPad Pro is $799, $899, $1099, and $1299 respectively. For the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the prices are $999, $1099, $1299, and $1499. You can order the models today and they will be delivered starting on March 25th.
Covid-19 has become a global pandemic. Many companies, states, and other local governments are taking extraordinary steps to help curb the infection rate. The state of Illinois is going to great lengths by closing all schools for two weeks. Many companies are cancelling large gathering and having their staff work from home for extended periods of time. Apple is no exception. To quote Apple
We will be closing all of our retail stores outside of Greater China until March 27. We are committed to providing exceptional service to our customers.
The note from Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook continues:
In all of our offices, we are moving to flexible work arrangements worldwide outside of Greater China. That means team members should work remotely if their job allows, and those whose work requires them to be on site should follow guidance to maximize interpersonal space. Extensive, deep cleaning will continue at all sites. In all our offices, we are rolling out new health screenings and temperature checks.
All of our hourly workers will continue to receive pay in alignment with business as usual operations. We have expanded our leave policies to accommodate personal or family health circumstances created by COVID-19 — including recovering from an illness, caring for a sick loved one, mandatory quarantining, or childcare challenges due to school closures.
Apple’s committed donations to the global COVID-19 response — both to help treat those who are sick and to help lessen the economic and community impacts of the pandemic — today reached $15 million worldwide.
We’re also announcing that we are matching our employee donations two-to-one to support COVID-19 response efforts locally, nationally and internationally.
Apple closing its stores is no real surprise. They did the same thing in China during the height of its infection, so it would make sense to do the same in other parts of the world. It is also good to see Apple donating money to help those affected by the virus, as well as continuing to pay hourly workers.
It is likely that you are aware that there is an international pandemic known as Covid-19. The highly transmissible virus is a problem and in order to minimize the spread, it is best to avoid large gatherings where transmission is possible.
In order to avoid having anyone contract the virus with 5,000 developers gathering in one place, Apple is changing the format of this year’s WorldWide Developer Conference (WWDC) to an online format. For a vast majority of Apple’s 23 million registered developers experience Apple’s WWDC in an online-only format. In fact, the number of developer who can actually attend WWDC is 0.022% of all developers.
Apple will still hold a keynote and online sessions. To quote Phil Schiller, Senior Vice President of Marketing:
“The current health situation has required that we create a new WWDC 2020 format that delivers a full program with an online keynote and sessions, offering a great learning experience for our entire developer community, all around the world. We will be sharing all of the details in the weeks ahead.”
One of the downsides to moving to an online format is the fact that San Jose, where WWDC has been held the last few years, will lose out on a significant amount of revenue because of the conference. In order to help San Jose, Apple is going to provide $1 million to San Jose organizations to help offset the loss.
My prediction is that next year’s WWDC will return to an in-person conference, although some of the changes made this year will still be incorporated into next year’s conference. I hope to be able to watch the keynote in June, but either way I will be writing a post about what Apple announces. It will be interesting to see how this year’s WWDC goes.
You can keep up to date with what Apple announces by “email, in the Apple Developer app and on the Apple Developer website“.