April 2022


Bookmark it: COVID.gov. A one-stop shop website for all Covid resources, including vaccines, boosters, masks, test-to-treat locations (no need to go to your doctor and potentially delay treatment, as Covid treatments work only when administered early on), and general info on Covid in your area.

ProjectN95.org provides N95 masks that are vetted to be real. (Stay away from fake ones, and there are many fake ones online, including Amazon, unfortunately. You cannot usually tell a real and a counterfeit one, just by looking.)

iOS and Apple news

Apple announced Worldwide Developers Conference returns in its all-online format. `Apple today announced it will host its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in an online format from June 6 through 10, free for all developers to attend'.

Apple Business Essentials now available for small businesses. `Apple announced that Apple Business Essentials is now available to all small businesses in the US. The new service brings together device management, 24/7 Apple support, and iCloud storage into flexible subscription plans. Apple also unveiled new AppleCare+ for Business Essentials options that can be added to any plan. Additionally, a two-month free trial will be available to all customers, including those who have been using Apple Business Essentials in beta.'

Apple Business Essentials. Watch the brief intro movie.

Apple put the spotlight one Lettering artist Belinda Kou on the power of creative community, following your passion, and iPad Air.

Apple’s movie “CODA” won historic Oscar for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. “CODA” becomes the first film with a predominantly Deaf cast to win Best Picture, star Troy Kotsur is the first Deaf male actor to win an Oscar, Siân Heder wins Best Adapted Screenplay, and Apple becomes the first streaming service honored with Best Picture at the Academy Awards

iOS 14.5 has been released (and 14.5.1 with some fixes). Here is an overview of the new features, by Macrumors, and a video overview:

iOS 14.5 update includes Universal Control, an almost `magical' feature that has been in the works for a while. Watch:

And lastly, in case you are among the many who have been confusing these excellent features, here is Apple’s Universal Control vs Sidecar Explained, by the good people of Macrumors:

Alaska Airlines is replacing check-in desks with iPad Pros, reports Fast Company. `Alaska Airlines is testing switching out the traditional check-in desk and replacing it with a bank of iPad Pro tablets.' `[ ... ] ]iPad Pros—mounted in special stands and connected to bar-code scanners and bag-tag printers.' The test is underway at San Jose airport.'

( cont'd ) `They also include self-serve drop-off points where you can hand over checked bags once you’ve tagged them. And passengers on departing international flights can choose to use facial recognition at the gate rather than wrestle with passports and boarding passes, shaving precious seconds off the embarking process.'

Apple launches the first driver’s license and state ID in Wallet with Arizona. `Additional states to follow, including Colorado, Hawaii, Mississippi, Ohio, and the territory of Puerto Rico'.

New Yorker cartoonist Liza Donelly used her iPad Pro, an apple Pencil, andPaper app to live-draw the Oscars last week.

Apple CEO Tim Cook to Speak at Global Privacy Summit in Washington D.C. Next Week, reports Macrumors. `The International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) today announced that Apple CEO Tim Cook will headline this year's Global Privacy Summit, which will take place in person on April 11 to April 13 in Washington, D.C. Cook will provide the conference's keynote speech on April 12 at approximately 9:15 a.m. Eastern Time. His speech will be live-streamed on YouTube.'

Apple Adds Postpartum Workouts to Fitness+


Last chance to enter is TODAY (tonight!): 15th Annual Iphone Photography Awards. Take a look at previous years winning entries to get a sense of the caliber of photography.

iOS apps

Olga did a demo of Endless paper. This is an excellent app, especially for brainstorming an idea or planning an event or anything else. It's an infinite canvas that you can move in any direction, pinch in and out, and continue taking notes or sketching. There is no other app like it. It's especially good for an iPad mini whose screen is smaller. Olga reports using it daily, it has become one of her most essential iPad apps. It is also a game-changer for the saller iPad Mini.

Streaks got a prestigious Apple Design Award. It is an app that is primarily designed to help you build habits you want to establish. However, it can alos be used for other tasks, such a tracking a medication (even a temporary one, say for a month) and it's more fun to use than a To-Do app. Olga did a demo.

Lee told us about Nerdle which is a take on the popular Wordle but with numbers and arithmetic. You can save this web-based game as a shortcut on your iPhone or iPad and it will be like running an app.

Scribd offers e-books, audiobooks, magazines, sheet music and podcasts. More background on Scribd. They offer a month free to try it out, and beyond that it's a subscription that you may cancel any time, for $10/mo.

In the crowded space of podcast apps, Hark provides a fresh angle: `Hark editors curate amazing podcast moments into one-of-a-kind playlists.' You can choose areas of interest and listen to super short bits and pieces to get a quick sense of a podcast: 1-3 mins each. You can listen to clips or bookmark them for later. Why Hark gives an overview. Olga did a demo.

Some short Hark clips:

Olga did a demo to remind us how easy it is to sign and return a document your receive via email. You can do it on your iOS device and you never have to leave your Mail app. You do not need to directly download or save anything. This capability is built in to iOS. Olga demoed how she signed a consent form she received from her dog's vet.

Notarize.com is an online service to let you notarize anything you want. It also has an app. Here is a demo:

RPlate is a digital license late for your car. It comes with an app to monitor and customize it. These licene plates are available in Arizona, California and Michigan. In get one and register in Arizona. Once registered, it's legal everywhere in the US.


Here is this Podcast Will Putin's Information Iron Curtain Backfire? FBI agent Watts `believes platform interruptions and restrictions to operations of many Western companies — including Apple, Microsoft, Netflix, Oracle, Cogent, Visa and Mastercard — mean Putin is playing a dangerous game at home. The result could be disastrous: “We’re worried about Kyiv falling today. I’m worried about Moscow falling between day 30 and six months from now.''

tips & tricks

With iOS 15, a bit of Apple magic -- yes it works!!

How to How to get a notification if you leave an item or device behind:

gadgets & accessories

Apple Pencil 2 is virtually indestructible. Apple includes an extra tip in the box, just in case you lose yours or it gets damaged. Olga reported that she lost her extra tip and also apparently damaged her original. Apple sells extra Pencil tips in a pack of 4.

privacy & security

Telegram is the app of choice in the war in Ukraine despite experts' privacy concerns, reports NPR. `As the war in Ukraine rages, the messaging app Telegram has emerged as the go-to place for unfiltered live war updates for both Ukrainian refugees and increasingly isolated Russians alike. Public or private feeds of photos and videos that can be set up by one person or an organization. The channels have become popular with on-the-ground journalists, aid workers and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who broadcasts on a Telegram channel. The channels can be followed by an unlimited number of people. Unlike Facebook, Twitter and other popular social networks, there is no advertising on Telegram and the flow of information is not driven by an algorithm.'

(NPR report cont'd) `Despite Telegram's origins, its approach to users' security has privacy advocates worried. "There is a significant risk of insider threat or hacking of Telegram systems that could expose all of these chats to the Russian government," said Eva Galperin with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has called for Telegram to improve its privacy practices.` `Individual messages can be fully encrypted. But the user has to turn on that function. It's not automatic, as it is on Signal and WhatsApp. "There are a lot of things that Telegram could have been doing this whole time. And they know exactly what they are and they've chosen not to do them. That's why I don't trust them," Galperin said.

(NPR report cont'd) `But Telegram says people want to keep their chat history when they get a new phone, and they like having a data backup that will sync their chats across multiple devices.'

Listen to the 3-min report:

Facebook says Apple's Privacy Measures to Cost Facebook $10 Billion in 2022, reports Macrumors.

Apple broke Facebook’s ad machine, reports Vox.

Facebook’s Stolen Privacy Ecosystem, writes John Gruber: `I often turn to the analogy of Facebook’s profiting from exploiting users’ privacy — and complaining about Apple now giving users control being bad for business — to that of a pawnshop complaining about the police cracking down on a burglary spree that the pawnshop had profited from.'

Google Launching Privacy Sandbox to Limit Ad Tracking on Android, Calls 'Blunt Approaches' Like Apple's 'Ineffective', Macrumors reports. `Google's approach is striking a different tone, with Snapchat, who had previously said ATT presented a "risk" to its business, saying in a statement that it is "excited to collaborate with Google to develop new privacy-preserving standards for Android." Google said it would receive input across the industry as it builds Privacy Sandbox over the next two years.'

TikTok Can Circumvent Apple and Google Privacy Protections and Access Full User Data, 2 Studies Say, Yahoo reports.

(cont'd) `TikTok can circumvent security protections on Apple and Google app stores and uses device tracking that gives TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company ByteDance full access to user data, according to the summaries of two major studies obtained by TheWrap that appear to confirm longstanding concerns raised by privacy experts about the popular video-sharing app. The studies, conducted by “white hat” cybersecurity experts that hack for the public good, were completed in November 2020 and January 2021. TheWrap verified the studies and confirmed their conclusions with five independent experts.

(cont'd) `When asked by TheWrap, reps for TikTok — whose parent company ByteDance has had ties to the Chinese government — declined to confirm or deny the validity of the research.'

general news and crossover

The Annual Webby Awards Nominees have been announced (the `Oscars of the Internet'). Start voting here.

Even if you don't want to vote for many of these categories, just take a look, as you will probably discover many interesting people, websites, services, etc.

For those who have listened to In the Bubble podcast about the Covid-19 pandemic, the past 18 months, Andy Slavitt has been nominated for best host. Vote for him if you have found this podcast valuable.

The Best Cell Phone Plans, as reviewed by The Wirecutter.

Does your Airbnb or hotel have a hidden camera? Experts share tips for protecting yourself.

A reminder: Apple makes it easy to donate to Ukraine via iTunes sending funds to Unicef.

next iPUG meeting

Our next meeting is on Tuesday, May 3, at 7 pm.