Categories
Apple

Apple’s Response to Covid-19

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.
Lastly,
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.

Source: Apple

Categories
Apple WWDC

Apple Announces WWDC 2020

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“.

Source: Apple

Categories
App Store Apple

Apple’s App Store Guidelines: Ads and Dating

Earlier this week Apple adjusted some of its App Store Guidelines. There have been some changes surrounding prompting for App Store reviews, Sign-in With Apple, building against the iOS 13 SDK, Push Notifications, and certain app categories. The latter two are the ones I want to focus on.

Ads

One area where users often complain is in regards to the push notifications that they receive from apps. While you can control whether or not you receive push notifications from an app, it is often not possible to specify the type of notifications that you receive.

The ability for some apps to be able to advertise to their users is paramount. Often this is done via in-app ads. However, other times this is done via push notifications. This can not only detract from a user’s overall experience, it goes against Apple’s App Store guidelines. The guidelines have now been modified

Push Notifications should not be used for promotions or direct marketing purposes unless customers have explicitly opted in to receive them via consent language displayed in your app’s UI, and you provide a method in your app for a user to opt out from receiving such messages.

This is a welcome change for both users and app developers. App developers will be able to advertise to users who actually choose to hear about new products and possible services. If you have an app that users enjoy and you have a new offering they will likely be more receptive to the new product.

My concern about this rule is that it will not be enforced as strictly that it should be. It is my opinion that Apple should give an app maybe two or three chances before pulling the app from the store. Repeatedly violating this app should result in a permanent ban of the app, if not the developer account. This would show app developers that Apple is serious about enforcing the rule.

There is another change that I think might have another angle that most would expect.

Dating Apps

Section 4.3 of the App Store Guidelines states:

Also avoid piling on to a category that is already saturated; the App Store has enough fart, burp, flashlight, fortune telling, dating, and Kama Sutra apps, etc. already. We will reject these apps unless they provide a unique, high-quality experience. Spamming the store may lead to your removal from the Developer Program.

The first few apps: fart, burp, flashlight, and fortune telling apps are very simple and easy to make and really do not provide much value. Dating apps on the other hand can provide new and innovative experiences. However, many of them are just simply slightly tweaked takes on the “swipe left or right”.

I think there is another aspect to dating apps that most might not think about. For dating apps you provide a significant amount of information like location, photos, interests and the like. This information, when linked to email address, can easily identify someone and this information can be provided to third-parties which then can be used to target you. Additionally, if the information gets into the hands of a nefarious entity, the information could be used against you.

I think this is why there is the line “unless they provide a unique, high-quality experience”. I interpret this to mean that if a company like Twitter or Facebook were to want to release a dating app, it would likely be approved, but if a company called “ACME Dating app” were to try and release a dating app, it likely would be rejected.

Closing Thoughts

The guidelines that govern the App Store are adjusted from time to time to reflect changes in society and trends in the App Store. The adjustments that Apple has made are changes that could improve the experience for everyone, provided that they enforce the changes like advertising within Push Notifications. Ultimately, only time will tell if the changes will ultimately help or hinder the experience of users.

Source: Apple, 9to5Mac

Categories
Apple Developer macOS Swift

Swift Playgrounds for Mac Now Available

In 2014 Apple introduced a new programming language called Swift. Swift took the best of existing programming languages and wrapped it into one. In 2016 Apple introduced a new way to work with Swift, called Swift Playgrounds.

Swift Playgrounds are, as the name implies, areas where you can play with the different aspects of Swift within a single area. Swift Playgrounds was introduced for iOS as an iPad-only app. Swift Playgrounds is no longer an iPad exclusive with the release of Swift Playgrounds on for macOS Catalina.

Swift Playgrounds on macOS is a Catalyst app. This means that it is the same code that is used with the iOS version of Swift Playgrounds. With this, it means that the app is the same as the iOS version, just available on macOS. Now that Swift Playgrounds is available on macOS you are able to use the existing playgrounds that you used on iOS on your Mac and vice versa. Additionally, any changes that you make on either platform will synchronize to the other.

The fact that Swift Playgrounds is on both platforms will allow those who may only have access to Mac and not an iPad the ability to learn how to code using Swift Playgrounds on the Mac. There is a version of Swift Playgrounds available within Xcode, but that does not have all of the same features, like code completion, the tutorials, and connectivity to the bluetooth accessories like Sphero.

If you have ever wanted to learn how to program, Swift Playgrounds is a great tool for doing so and now you can use it on your Mac. You can download Swift Playgrounds for free on the Mac App Store today. It does require macOS 10.15.3 or later.

Swift Playgrounds on macOS
Categories
Apple

Apple Updates Q2 2020 Guidance

It is not often that Apple updates the guidance that it provides to investors, however there are times when it is necessary. The first time was with Q1 2019 guidance. In that case it was due to a myriad of factors, including lack of sales in China and Emerging Markets and foreign exchange rates.

Apple is revising its guidance again with Q2 2020 numbers. The primary reason for this is due to the COVID-19, or Coronavirus, that has been a problem within Mainland China and that Apple is “experiencing a slower return to normal conditions than we had anticipated.” This means that Apple will not meet their revenue guidance. From Apple:

The first is that worldwide iPhone supply will be temporarily constrained. While our iPhone manufacturing partner sites are located outside the Hubei province — and while all of these facilities have reopened — they are ramping up more slowly than we had anticipated. The health and well-being of every person who helps make these products possible is our paramount priority, and we are working in close consultation with our suppliers and public health experts as this ramp continues. These iPhone supply shortages will temporarily affect revenues worldwide.

The second is that demand for our products within China has been affected. All of our stores in China and many of our partner stores have been closed. Additionally, stores that are open have been operating at reduced hours and with very low customer traffic. We are gradually reopening our retail stores and will continue to do so as steadily and safely as we can. Our corporate offices and contact centers in China are open, and our online stores have remained open throughout. Outside of China, customer demand across our product and service categories has been strong to date and in line with our expectations. The situation is evolving, and we will provide more information during our next earnings call in April. Apple is fundamentally strong, and this disruption to our business is only temporary. Our first priority — now and always — is the health and safety of our employees, supply chain partners, customers and the communities in which we operate. Our profound gratitude is with those on the front lines of confronting this public health emergency.

I think Apple is doing the right thing, from both a fiduciary as well as a humanitarian standpoint. They do have to legally report to the shareholders any changes that will affect their guidance. Regarding the humanitarian side, this is a very contagious virus and the health and safety of Apple’s direct employees as well as the works within the factories that produce their products.

I am sure that Apple, and the world as a whole, would prefer that COVID-19 virus was not an issue, but that is not the world we live in, and we all have to adjust accordingly.

Source: Apple