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Apple closing down internal Slack channels where employees debate remote work


Solve the problem or delete the channel?
Photo: Stephen Phillips/Unsplash CC

Apple is closing down internal Slack channels to stop employees discussing remote working options, reports Zoe Schiffer from The Verge.

Many Cupertino employees are currently engaged in a Cold War of sorts with their employer over the remote working arrangement coming out of the coronavirus pandemic. As the arguments flare up among staff, Apple has taken the step of shuttering the Slack channels where these are taking place.

Apple sells 33% more iPads in 2020 than it did the year before


How tablet shipments break down.
Photo: Counterpoint Research

The global pandemic was bad for many industries. One sector it was good for was the worldwide tablet market, led by Apple’s iPad. According to a new report by Counterpoint Research, Apple sold a third more iPads in 2020 than it did in 2019. In the first quarter of 2021, it expanded its share to a massive 37% of the global tablet market — including hitting an all-times sales record in Japan.

“The basic iPad models accounted for 56% of the overall iPad shipments in Q1 2021,” said Senior Analyst Liz Lee said. “The iPad Air and iPad Pro series came next with 19% and 18% shares, respectively. Since consumers are constantly concerned about prices and portability, the latest iPad 8 emerged as the top-selling model. Launched in October 2020, the iPad Air 4 ranked second on the bestseller list as it was a huge hit with consumers looking for cost-effectiveness as well as high specifications.”

Apple Stores in US will start dropping mask requirements this week


Why Apple Watch’s iPhone unlock will change your freakin’ life
Wave goodbye to masks at some Apple Stores.
Photo: Ivan Samkov/Pexels CC

If you’ve been dreaming of seeing the bottom half of people’s faces in Apple Stores (odd dream, admittedly!), you’ll get your wish starting this week as many Apple Stores in the U.S. begin loosening their mask requirements.

This comes as major retailers are increasingly getting back to normal as the coronavirus pandemic subsides. Apple has been one of the more cautious parties when it comes to in-store mask policies. The likes of Walmart, Trader Joe’s and Costco have already ditched mandatory mask rules. But Apple was said to be holding back.

Seattle study will loan participants Apple Watch to see if it can help predict COVID


Apple Watch Series 6
This could prove to be a game-changer for Apple Watch capabilities.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Can the iPhone and Apple Watch help predict illnesses like COVID-19? That’s the question being asked by researchers from Apple, the Seattle Flu Study, and the University of Washington — and you can help them answer it. And get loaned an Apple Watch for the duration of the six-month study for your troubles.

The study is currently recruiting for participants who live in the greater Seattle area. Participants must have “higher than normal risk of respiratory illness because of frequent exposure to other people through work or other activities, health conditions, or other factors.”

Apple and Google block UK contact-tracing app update over privacy concerns


The NHS COVID-19 app relies on a framework jointly developed by Apple and Google.
Apple and Google teamed up to build their contact-tracing API last year.
Screenshot: NHS

Both Apple and Google have blocked an update to England and Wales’ Department of Health contact-tracing app, built using the tech giants’ API.

The update was intended to be released to coincide with the relaxation of lockdown measures in the United Kingdom. However, it apparently breached one of Apple and Google’s main rules: Apps built with the contact-tracing technology are not allowed to gather location data that could track users.

Coronavirus delay may have fanned flames of iPhone 12 anticipation


iPhone 12 review
The iPhone 12 has been a big hit for Apple.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

When the coronavirus pandemic hit last year, one of the many, many impacts of the spread was the delaying of Apple’s iPhone 12 series. While Apple and its suppliers were able to claw back some of the lost time, the iPhone 12 devices were ultimately pushed back to late October and early November, rather than the usual September release.

But while this might have been frustrating for Apple and customers alike, a new piece of research suggests it may have actually been a net positive. According to Counterpoint Research, the delay could turn out to have been a prudent move for Apple. It reports:

Coronavirus game dev blasts Apple’s blanket ban of COVID-19 apps


Corona Control Game
Too hot for the App Store? That's what temperature checks are meant for.
Photo: Florian Mueller

When Florian Mueller submitted his latest game to the App Store, he didn’t think it would end with him filing a complaint against Apple with the European Union, the U.S. Department of Justice and other antitrust authorities around the world.

But that’s exactly what happened after Apple rejected his Corona Control Game due to its COVID-19 theme. Google, which barred Mueller’s game from the Google Play store, is also named in his complaints.

Germany-based Mueller, who has another career as a blogger on legal issues, is not happy with how Apple and Google handled his game submission.

“When [Apple and Google] rejected the game at the beta-testing stage, I was indeed surprised that they took issue with it in such a fundamental way they wouldn’t even let us distribute it to testers,” Mueller, 51, told Cult of Mac.

Apple Watch could spot COVID-19 symptoms a week before it strikes


Apple Watch Series 6
Two studies suggest Apple Watch could be a useful diagnostic tool.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Smartwatches such as Apple Watch could detect COVID-19 infections a week before the wearer feels sick or would test positive for the novel coronavirus, two medical studies suggest.

Since such devices can identify subtle changes in heart rate that might indicate an early infection, they could spot asymptomatic individuals, who make up a sizable proportion of COVID-19 cases.

New lockdown measures close all Apple stores in the UK


It's not clear when Apple Stores in the UK will open again.
Photo: Richard Shrum for Cult of Mac

Apple temporarily closed all its brick-and-mortar stores in the United Kingdom on Tuesday as a result of new COVID-19 lockdown measures imposed by the government.

Twenty of the 38 U.K. Apple stores were already closed due to coronavirus. However, new national lockdown measures that came into place Tuesday shuttered the other 18.

Apple boots secret partying app from the App Store


Vybe Together
No longer to be found in the App Store.
Photo: Vybe Together

Apple has booted an app from the App Store accused of helping promote secret indoor parties during COVID-19 lockdowns.

The Vybe Together app was connected with a TikTok account (also removed) that promoted New York-area parties. While its creators claim that they weren’t encouraging law-breaking behavior, clearly both Apple and TikTok disagreed.