Design-obsessed Apple crafts its own face mask [Updated]

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Apple-shield
This was Apple’s original face shield. It has a new model now.
Photo: Apple

Apple designed its own face mask because of course it did. A company long known for setting itself apart from the competition with superior design couldn’t use over-the-counter masks to protect employees and customers from COVID-19.

Instead, the team that ordinarily designs Macs and iPhones dreamed up their own face covering for Apple employees, including the people that work in Apple retail stores.

Some iPhone owners refuse iOS 13.7 update over fear of COVID-19 contact tracing

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iOS 13.7 contact tracing feature: Life-saver, or NSA spy tool?
Life-saver, or new NSA spy tool?
Photo: Lewis Wallace/Cult of Mac

Some iPhone owners are refusing to install Apple’s latest software update for fear of being tracked. iOS 13.7, which Apple released Tuesday, makes COVID-19 contact tracing easier for government health agencies to implement — but some people claim its true purpose is more sinister.

“Another step towards a totally surveillanced state,” said one iPhone user on Twitter — and many others continue to voice similar complaints and fears.

iOS 13.7 brings contact-tracing update and other new features [Updated]

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iOS 13.7 includes COVID-19 Exposure Notifications without an app.
iOS 13.7 brings optional COVID-19 Exposure Notifications without needing any other application. But only in limited areas.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple released iOS 13.7 on Tuesday, with an update that makes it easier for public health agencies to take advantage of the recently launched COVID-19 Exposure Notifications system.

The software brings other new features, too. The update improves iCloud Drive folder sharing, and adds new Memoji stickers.

Surprise! Apple isn’t done with iOS 13 yet

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iOS 13.7 developer beta: iPhone's use in the fight against COVID-19 continues to grow.
iPhone's use in the fight against COVID-19 continues to grow.
Photo: Brian McGowan/Unsplash CC

Apple seeded the first beta of iOS 13.7, along with an iPadOS equivalent, to developers on Wednesday. These include a coronavirus-related change Apple considers important enough to justify a system-software update that includes no other new features.

With iOS 14 expected to launch soon, it would be easy to assume that Apple is done releasing new versions of iOS 13. Nope.

COVID-19 forces temporary closure of Montreal Apple Store

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Apple Sainte-Catherine closes due to COVID-19. Here's the store during happier, less socially distanced times.
The Apple Sainte-Catherine store during happier, less socially distanced times.
Photo: Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose/Flickr CC

The Apple Sainte-Catherine store in Montreal will be closed “until further notice” due to COVID-19 conditions.

“We take this step with an abundance of caution as we closely monitor the situation and we look forward to having our teams and customers back as soon as possible,” Apple said. The company would not confirm whether there was a positive case of COVID-19 at the store

Virginia launches first US COVID-19-tracking app using Apple-Google API

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Virginia's COVIDWISE contact-tracing app uses the Exposure Notifications API developed by Apple and Google.
Contact-tracing app is now live.
Photo: Virginia Department of Health

Virginia launched its COVIDWISE contact-tracing app Wednesday, becoming the first state to use Apple and Google’s Exposure Notifications API to fight COVID-19.

The app uses Bluetooth Low Energy to anonymously track people’s interactions. Then it notifies users who have likely been exposed to infected individuals so they can take appropriate precautions, such as isolating themselves.

Surging iPad sales help Apple stay world’s No. 2 computer-maker

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MacBook, iMac and iPad are all computers
All of these are computers, and all contributed to Apple’s growing share of the global computer market.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

Strong sales of iPad and Mac during Q2 2020 propelled Apple closer to taking the lead in the worldwide computer market. But they weren’t quite enough to push Lenovo out of the top spot, according to a market-research firm.

Still, the Mac-maker stayed ahead of rivals HP, Dell and Samsung as the global computer market grew 14% year over year.

Apple asks UK landlords for rent cuts despite record earnings

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apple.store.regent.street.london.1
One of Apple's flagship retail stores in the UK.
Photo: Richard Shrum for Cult of Mac

Despite pulling in record earnings last quarter, Apple reportedly asked the landlords of its U.K. retail outlets to cut their rent by a massive 50%, The Sunday Times reports.

The newspaper says Apple is also asking for a “rent-free period” as the COVID-19 pandemic plays out. In return, the company says it will extend its leases for a lengthy period — although some of the stores in question have several years left on their lease agreements.

Apple was the only smartphone maker to grow over the past quarter

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Apple has raised $220 million to fight AIDS-related deaths in Africa
iPhone's about the only smartphone thriving during lockdown.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Apple has defied the odds by consistently growing its business through the COVID-19. But just how amazing that is isn’t apparent until you compare Apple’s iPhone success in Q2 to other smartphone makers.

According to a new report by research company Canalys, Apple was the only vendor to grow its smartphone shipments during the April through June quarter. Apple shipments increased 25% from the previous year. That made it the only smartphone maker to experience positive growth during the period.