COVID-19

California shutters its phone-based COVID-19 exposure notification system

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California shutters its phone-based COVID-19 exposure notification system
CA Notify is no more.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

California introduced a COVID-19 exposure-notification system that used iPhone and Android to track interactions with infected people. And now that the U.S. government says the pandemic is over, CA Notify is shut down.

It’s possible Apple will eventually remove the underlying technology from iOS.

Violent protests over COVID-19 controls and pay erupt at world’s largest iPhone plant

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Protesters and police clashed Tuesday and Wednesday at Foxconn's plant in Zhengzhou, China
Protesters and police clashed Tuesday and Wednesday at Foxconn's plant in Zhengzhou, China
Photo illustration: Cult of Mac

Protests over unpaid bonuses, anti-COVID-19 controls and even food quality led police to clash with hundreds of workers at the world’s largest iPhone factory in China, reports indicated Wednesday.

Social media videos and witnesses in Zhengzhou, where Foxconn operates a giant factory nicknamed “iPhone City,” said police beat and detained protesters.

Apple kicks its return-to-office plan back into gear

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The walkway around Apple Park.
Apple Park will soon be busier.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Apple’s oft-delayed plan to require corporate employees to be in the office three days a week is reportedly back on.

Apple employees are already required to be in the offices two days a week. That will reportedly jump to three days a week starting in early September.

Apple ends face mask mandate for corporate employees at ‘most locations’

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The walkway around Apple Park.
Apple corporate employees will see a lot fewer masks at Apple Park.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Apple reportedly told its corporate employees the company’s face mask requirement is at its end. There are exceptions, though.

In March, the company removed the requirement for workers who had been vaccinated for COVID-19. After Monday’s policy change, it’s mostly come to an end for all employees.

Wait for Apple Studio Display stretches into August

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Wait for Apple Studio Display stretches into August
Global problems are leading to long delays in getting the Apple Studio Display to customers.
Photo: Apple

Anyone wanting a new Apple Studio Display needs to be patient. Order the high-end display now and you could be waiting until August for it. The accessory has apparently run into COVID-related production problems in China.

Unfortunately, there are several other Apple devices with very long wait times.

Here comes that Apple Watch redesign we’ve been waiting for [The CultCast]

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The CultCast podcast: Will Apple Watch Series 8 bring the redesign we've been waiting for?
Will Apple Watch Series 8 bring the redesign we've been waiting for?
Image: Cult of Mac

This week on Cult of Mac’s podcast: That big, flat Apple Watch redesign we expected in 2021 might arrive this year to soothe our lingering disappointment. The latest renders by Ian Zelbo, spurred by a tweet from leaker ShrimpApplePro, make Apple Watch Series 8 look quite appealing.

Also on The CultCast:

  • Is Cupertino about to “fix” Apple TV’s biggest problem?
  • The AR/VR headset Apple’s been working on for so long sounds like it’s almost ready for prime time.
  • Apple employees, like many other tech workers these days, just don’t want to report to the office. Who can blame ’em?

Listen to this week’s episode of The CultCast in the Podcasts app or your favorite podcast app. (Be sure to subscribe and leave us a review if you like it!) Or watch the video livestream, embedded below.

This week’s show is sponsored by Jamf Now and Squarespace. See below for special offers.

COVID-19 throws off Apple’s return-to-office plan yet again

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Apple leases new offices near to Apple Park
Getting employees back in Apple Park isn't going smoothly.
Photo: Duncan Sinfield

Apple reportedly slowed the pace at which it will require its corporate employees to return to the office. They were scheduled to be back at their desks three days a week starting later this month, but rising numbers of COVID-19 cases supposedly pushed that back.

Apple employees are still required to be in the offices two days a week.

Workers at Apple supplier Quanta riot over COVID-19 restrictions

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Workers at Apple-supplier Quanta riot over COVID restrictions
Quanta employees clashed with guards on Thursday night.
Photo: RFA

New video out of China shows workers at a MacBook assembly plant in Shanghai fighting with security guards. The Quanta Computer employees have been forced to live at their workplace for weeks amidst COVID-19 lockdowns ordered by the Chinese government.

The workers apparently hoped to leave the facility to go shopping.

Apple pushes February MacBook Pro orders back to June

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Apple pushes February MacBook Pro orders back to June
Buying a high-end MacBook Pro requires money and patience.
Photo: Cult of Mac

People who ordered a top-tier MacBook Pro in February are being notified that it won’t be delivered until June. The delay results from COVID-19 lockdowns in China hampering notebook assembly.

New orders also face delays of several months, making a refurbished 2021 MacBook Pro a better option for some buyers.

New China COVID-19 lockdowns could hit iPhone production hard

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A new wave of lockdowns in China could put Apple millions of units behind on iPhone production.
A new wave of lockdowns in China could put Apple millions of units behind on iPhone production.
Illustration: Cult of Mac

Analysts note that new COVID-19 lockdowns in China are hitting Apple’s supply chain hard. And the pain will likely worsen, with production falling behind by up to 10 million iPhones.

And this is not just about iPhones. Authorities have halted production at three key suppliers for iPhone, iPad and Mac assembly. Meanwhile, Apple is negotiating to reopen production lines, though success could be hard to come by, according to one analyst Friday.

This follows recent news of assembly and shipping delays on built-to-order MacBook Pro models.

Apple employees must begin dragging their sad asses back to the office

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Apple Park Close up
Apple Park will soon be humming with busy employees again.
Photo: Apple

Monday is the day Apple requires its corporate employees to start working in the office some of the time. The pandemic era when most of them could work from home all the time is over.

But everyone doesn’t have to be back in the office five days a week starting today. This is the beginning of a transition period, after which many workers will still be able to work from home a couple days of every week.

4 takeaways from Apple’s 2022 shareholders meeting

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4 takeaways from Apple’s 2022 shareholders meeting
If you’re an Apple shareholder, you should have received one of these in the mail.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple CEO Tim Cook had a meeting today with his many bosses: Apple shareholders. He answered questions about dividends, COVID-19 and more.

And a vote at the Apple 2022 shareholders meeting requires the Board of Directors to carry out an audit of the company’s civil rights policies. But several other proposals were voted down.

Apple removes face mask requirements for corporate and retail employees

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Apple's CEO and Spanish singer Rosalía take a selfie with Madrid Apple employees.
Apple employees have a lot to celebrate.
Photo: Tim Cook

Apple is dropping the requirement for most of its corporate employees to wear masks, but there are still limitations. And the company has begun allowing some of its retail employees to take off their face mask at Apple Stores.

The policy change takes place as the surge of COVID-19 cases caused by the omicron variant is essentially over.

How to turn on COVID-19 exposure notifications on iPhone [Updated]

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Manage COVID-19 exposure notifications on iPhone
There's no good reason not to have exposure notifications enabled.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

With the omicron variant fueling lightning-fast spread of COVID-19, it’s a good time for iPhone owners to take advantage of the exposure notifications feature built into iOS. By simply enabling this feature, you will get an alert after being exposed to someone who tests positive for the virus — as long as they also have contact notifications turned on, and they report their test results.

For obvious reasons, this automatic version of contact tracing works more effectively if more people utilize it. If you discover that you’ve been in close contact with an infected person, you can take appropriate steps (getting tested, staying away from vulnerable people, etc.)

We’ll show you how to take control of COVID-19 exposure notifications on your device.

Omicron variant triggers wave of Apple retail store closures

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covid.19.coronavirus.graphic2
Look who’s back.
Photo: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The new, highly transmissible COVID-19 variant reportedly forced Apple to shut down around 20 of its retail stores in the United States. Coronavirus cases continue to rise dramatically because of the omicron variant, with the daily national average more than doubling in the past two weeks.

Those planning to return a gift at a brick-and-mortar Apple Store, or use a gift certificate, should check to see if it’s open before heading out.

Apple delays return to offices indefinitely, gives all employees $1,000

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Apple Park Close up
Apple's headquarters will remain empty for the foreseeable future.
Photo: Apple

Apple CEO Tim Cook emailed corporate employees on Wednesday to confirm the company is yet again delaying its return to offices. He also said Apple will give all employees $1,000 to spend on home office equipment.

Apple told employees in November that they were expected to return to their workstations on February 1. But with Covid-19 cases again on the rise around the world, that date is now “yet to be determined.”

Face masks go back on at Apple Stores across U.S.

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iOS 13.5 makes signing into your iPhone wearing a mask.faster.
You’ll once again be required to wear a mack in Apple Stores, no matter who you are.
Photo: cottonbro/Pexels

A growing number of Covid 19 cases has reportedly forced Apple to reinstate the face mask mandate at all its U.S. retail locations.

The Mac-maker had begun relaxing the mask requirement in the fall when cases were dropping. But Apple has now reversed course because of a surge.

The Morning Show comes down with a terminal case of COVID-19 [Apple TV+ review]

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Everybody's anxious for a reminder of the early days of COVID-19, right?
Everybody's anxious for a reminder of the early days of COVID-19, right?
Photo: Apple TV+

In The Morning Show season two finale, COVID-19 finally arrives, in case you missed that news cycle so much you needed to see it covered again on Apple TV+’s show about a news show.

If you were secretly hankering for such a thing, you’re in luck. Alex comes down with COVID-19, and Cory doesn’t want to cancel the launch of the network’s streaming app. Our interest has waned, so whatever, right? Let them do whatever they want. Just put down this sick dog of a show already.

Apple again postpones when employees must drag their sad asses back to the office

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Apple Park Close up
Apple employees will be back in the office soon… maybe.
Photo: Apple

Apple corporate employees must start working part-time in the office beginning on February 1, according to a company email that quickly leaked out.

But the Mac-maker has been forced to move back the date when employees to return to the office several times. It could happen again.

Some Apple retail stores drop face mask mandates

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

Starting Friday, many people will be able to visit a U.S. Apple Store without wearing a mask. It’s not a universal change — an Apple company memo that leaked out indicates that removing the mask requirement depends on “vaccinations, testing, and case counts” in the area of each retail store.

Reportedly, about a third of stores will see the change. But that’s only the start.

iOS 15.1 adds SharePlay, iPhone 13 Pro camera options and more

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Don’t install the iOS 15.1 beta if you plan to get an iPhone 13 ASAP
Apple released iOS 15.1 and iPadOS 15.1 on Monday.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple rolled out iOS 15.1 and iPadOS 15.1 on Monday with the anticipated inclusion of SharePlay, a feature missing from the recent iOS 15 release. Today’s update also brings camera improvements for iPhone 13 Pro models, enables adding COVID-19 vaccination records to Wallet, and includes a bunch of other features.

If you’re in the upgrading mood, you can download iOS 15.1 and iPadOS 15.1 now. (Note for Mac owners: macOS Monterey is now available as well.)

Halloween-worthy Razer Zephyr face masks sell out in minutes at $99 each

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Peace, and may nontoxic respiration be with you.
Peace, and may nontoxic respiration be with you.
Photo: Razer

If you decided to walk down to the neighborhood supermarket wearing your new Razer Zephyr “wearable air purifier” and a lab coat, you might cause a major panic. Unless you did it on Halloween, maybe. That’s how “airborne toxic event” these badass things look.

They’d be a little scary even without the lab coat. “Breathe in the future with the Razer Zephyr,” says the company’s website, with seemingly unintentional menace.