Apple stores could open as soon as mid-April

Closed in Tulsa.
Photo: Brad Gibson / Cult of Mac

Apple told its retail employees that it will likely start reopening Apple Stores sometime during the first half of April, according to memo sent to various store employees on Tuesday.

Apple shuttered 467 of its stores outside of China as a precaution as COVID-19 rapidly advanced around the world.

Plague Inc. devs donate big bucks to fight coronavirus


Plague Inc., a game about a pandemic, might a little too real for government regulators.
Plague Inc. will fight the real thing.
Screenshot: Ndemic Creations/YouTube

The developers of the game Plague Inc. will donate $250,000 to fight the real-life plague, COVID-19, currently gripping the globe.

Ndemic Creations said it will split the money between the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

Yellowed Apple retail sign from 1978 might pull in $20,000


apple retail sign up for auction
Pre-Apple Store retail efforts.
Photo: Nate D. Sanders Auctions

Apple’s retail origins were far less glossy than today’s glass shrines known as Apple Stores. If a dealer wanted to sell an Apple II in 1978, the fledgling computer company provided a 4-foot-by-5-foot acrylic sign in a metal frame. On the face was a rainbow Apple logo over the words “apple computer.” No capital letters.

Bidding on one of those original signs starts at $20,000 in an online auction that ends in three days.

Affinity apps free to photographers and designers during COVID-19


Affinity Photo for iPad
Affinity Photo for iPad.
Photo: Serif

Imaging software companies have been stepping up to support photographers and artists with work drying up because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Joining Adobe and Skylum, Serif is offering three months free access to its Affinity suite of apps, which includes Affinity Photo for Mac and iPad. If trial users like Affinity they can purchase the apps for 50 percent off the retail price.

Add this cute U2-inspired iPod toy to your play list


iBoy stretch goal looks like U2 special edition iPod
This iBoy is red and black to look like the U2 special edition iPod.
Photo: Philip Lee

Of all of Apple’s creations, the iPod is a sentimental favorite. For many, it was their first Apple device.

An iPod-inspired action figure called iBoy could be your gateway to other Apple-inspired toys from Hong Kong toymaker Philip Lee.

FaceTime humor amid coronavirus is the laugh we all need


FaceTime coronavirus
FaceTime has been handy but is no replacement for face-to-face time.
Screenshot: Eva Victor/Twitter

With COVID-19 lockdowns walling us off from friends and family, the FaceTime feature on iPhones and iPads is saving our social lives.

But glitchy audio and periodic freezing of the video stream add to our mounting self-isolation frustration.

February smartphone shipments hit historic low


iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max
Smartphone shipments, including iPhones, were significantly down in February.
Photo: Apple

Worldwide smartphone shipments took a much-anticipated nosedive in the month of February as the COVID-19 outbreak began to spread around the globe.

Strategy Analytics reported Friday a 38% drop in shipments, the worst ever since smartphone sales began more than a decade ago.

Small Apple-related companies grappling with COVID-19 impact


WaterField Designs
Self-isolation orders in San Francisco emptied this studio at WaterField Designs.
Photo: WaterField Designs

Gary Waterfield should be collaborating with colleagues today over the hum of sewing machines producing an elegant leather crossbody laptop bag.

The small-batch tech backpacks and shoulder bags of WaterField Designs since 1998 have attracted discerning Apple users. Waterfield likes to time a new production run with an Apple product launch.

But when Apple unveiled the new MacBook Air and iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard this week, the handful of WaterField employees were stuck in their San Francisco-area homes on one of the strictest lockdowns since the coronavirus invaded American soil.

WaterField crossbody bag carries a MacBook and iPad in Portrait Mode


WaterField Designs Hitch Crossbody Laptop Brief
The vertical carry better distributes the weight.
Photo: WaterField Designs

A new MacBook Air or iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard deserves protection that smells good.

Hear the name WaterField Designs and the part of the brain connected to the nose instantly recalls the rich scent of full grain leather.

One day after Apple announced its two newest products, the small-batch San Francisco manufacturer unveiled the Hitch Crossbody Laptop Brief, in two sizes with two padded compartments for both an iPad and MacBook.