August 2020

on current events

Belkin is a company that makes a lot of gadgets for the iPhone and iPad ecosystem. They are now making disposable masks. And they will soon offer ComfortFit masks.

When a deaf man couldn’t read others’ lips, he created a better mask, reports the WaPo.

This `smart' mask Can Amplify the Speaker’s Voice and Translate Speech into 8 Languages. `A Japanese robotics company has developed a smart mask that can amplify voices, transcribe dictation, and translate speech into eight different languages—and they will be available to the public as early as September.'

How to think about masks, some smart advice:

How to Use Face ID with a Face Mask on iPhone & iPad. The new idea here is to add an alternate appearance to Face ID taken with your mask folded in half, covering one side of your face. They write: `Thankfully there are some things you can do to give Face ID the best possible chance at working with a mask on, but it isn’t a science and even after following these steps we can’t guarantee that Face ID will behave correctly all the time. But hey, anything’s worth a shot if it could mean no more passcode entries, right?' (Note: Olga has not yet tested this. It's worth some experimentation.)

Meanwhile, New York City's MTA Urges Apple to Further Protect Riders During Pandemic. `MTA Chairman Patrick Foye said riders have been seen removing their masks to unlock their iPhones using Face ID, despite a recent software update by Apple that makes it easier for masked users to enter their passcode instead.'

other Apple and iOS news

Apple confirmed that next iPhone will be delayed 'a few weeks'.

[ RUMOR ] As rumors of the iPhone 12 have continued to build over the past few months, the one model that has the most excitement around it is the smallest 5.4" model.. The iPhone 12 is believed to be coming in 5.4", 6.7", and 6.1" sizes. `While the rumored 5.4″ screen size is larger than the 4.7″ screen size of the iPhone 7/8, the removal of the Home Button from the body allows the overall device size to be smaller.', reports

[ RUMOR ] `iPhone 12' will use magnets to simplify charging positioning, leak claims.

Apple and T-Mobile team up to offer up to 1 million discount iPads for distance learning in California.

`At Apple, we believe technology has the power to transform the learning experience for students at all levels,” said Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of Markets, Apps, and Services, in a statement. “We are proud the State of California has chosen iPad to facilitate remote learning, and during these challenging times we look forward to working with administrators and school districts across the state to help make learning more accessible for their students.'

Now that many more people are WFH, apple released a new ad:

An overview of Compact Siri in iOS 14. It's a nicer Siri interface. You can maintain your context you had before invoking Siri without losing your overall focus.

Apple has been sued and now is counter-suing on AirPods patent infringement. `Apple is firing back against Koss's patent lawsuit with a filing of its own, with Apple claiming not only that the personal audio manufacturer's claims are baseless, but also that it broke a confidentiality agreement,' reports AppleInsider.

Apple recently released an updated iMac lineup. The new 27-inch iMac features faster Intel processors up to 10 cores, double the memory capacity, next-generation AMD graphics, superfast SSDs across the line with four times the storage capacity, a new nano-texture glass option for the Retina 5K display, a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, higher fidelity speakers, and studio-quality mics.

Olga wondered about the fact that the 27'' iMac option does not offer any HDD or fusion drive options, only SSD. There is a much larger difference in target audience between the 20'' and the 27'' iMac now.

The new high-end 27-inch iMac is more 'pro' than the iMac Pro is, writes AppleInsider.

AppleTV+ continues with the Morning Show for another season. Emmy Nominations were announced recently and Jennifer Aniston Earned Her First Dramatic Emmy Nomination for 'The Morning Show', reports Entertainment Online.

Apple ad on iPad multitasking:

iOS 14 beta

Interested in trying it out? There is a public beta. Here is how you can try it.

Here are 8 Third-Party Home Screen Widgets That You Can Try Out Now on iOS 14.

iOS apps

Quarantine Chat is not exclusively an iOS app, but it comes with an iOS version. It helps connect random strangers, as all of us become isolated during quarantines. This is done in a private and secure way. `We simulate the magic of having a surprise conversation with someone—something that is becoming increasingly rare during the times of a viral epidemic.' It is free and international. Olga has been using it for about a month and recommends it highly.

Here is a profile of the creators by KQED: This Artist-Made App is Bringing Back Telephone Culture, One Call at a Time.

Screen-sharing & demo from Olga

Lee told us about CardPointers for Credit Cards. It helps you decide which credit card to use. You don’t have to give any personal details and it supports Sign In with Apple. Lee says he used to use Smorecard but deleted that in favor of this one.

The Alto Collection is coming August 13th to The Epic Games Store, Xbox and PlayStation 4. Recall that the game has won an Apple design Award. The developers have `combined Alto’s Adventure and Alto’s Odyssey into one unified experience. Join Alto and friends and explore the vast, open deserts and placid ivory snows together in one collection on more platforms.'

With so many people staying home and working from home for extended periods of time, more and more are cutting their own hair or are considering new hair colors. Why not? Perfect365 is an iOS app that let you try different hair colors (or makeup) virtually, before you make a commitment. Pink hair? Green highlights? Yes, you can try it all.

Aaptiv is an app for exercising anywhere. Their main premise is that it's audio-based only, like a coach in your ear. Just recently, they introduced video with coaches for those who want the visual cues.


The Decode/Recode podcast by Kara Swisher is coming to an end. (They will be starting a new series in September!) Meanwhile, they are re-releasing some recent greatest hits, including: an interview with Tim Cook. It originally aired in April 2018, took place in Chicago right after Apple announced iPads for education. It's still a very worthwhile interview, listen to Tim Cook talk about Apple.

In the Bubble, with Andy Slavitt, is another podcast series that has a lot of interviews on the global pandemic and all its ramifications on society. Andy Slavitt is a former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). His podcast series is very interesting but especially the episode What No One Knows about Covid 19, released July 22. It's an interview with `epidemiologist Larry Brilliant. Larry, who helped eradicate smallpox and is hard at work on coronavirus, grades our performance on a scientific, sociological, and political basis. He also shares everything that science knows, and doesn’t know, about the way the novel coronavirus is transmitted and infects us.'

tips & tricks

A blind person demonstrates how she uses iPhone:

Sometimes friends ask for advice: should I buy a mac now? Should I wait? These questions have many possible answers, but this Buyer's Guide is always good to have.

Here is a tip for anyone who wants to prevent a kid or anyone from, say, messing up or deleting your iPhone photos. Set a passcode for Screen Time and then set a one-minute limit on the app you want to lock out (in this case, the Photos app). Once you do that, the photo app will be locked and can only be unlocked with your special screen time passcode.

Here is how you do this:

Settings > Screen time. Set a passcode of your choice.

Then go to App Limits. Add a Limit. Then select the Photo app (under Creativity).

Then choose 1 min.

From now on, the Photos app will work just like before, but it will require a passcode to access.

You can apply the same trick to any app you want to restrict similarly.

Roger S. points us to Shane’s latest Video gives great examples on how Siri can be used to control HomeKit devices. Shane writes: `Siri doesn't always get the most credit as a smart voice assistant. But you may be surprised at how much she is capable of when it comes to controlling your HomeKit smart home. In this video we're going to review my top 10 favorite ways to use Siri for controlling my smart home!'

Note that the video is chapterized. There are 10 tips.

gadgets & accessories

Look at a side by side comparison, for iPad Pro: Logitech's $160 Folio Touch vs. Apple's $300 Magic Keyboard. This is an interesting initial overview.

Lee told us at our last meeting about his Apple Watch taking a swim. Many of our electronics take a swim from time to time. Alex recommends these Bheestie products, such as the Bheestie original. It is designed to removed moisture away from electronics fast and well. Here is How to Use Bheestie, from their blog.


Panera Bread now offers 3% Daily Cash Back when using Apple Card with Apple Pay in the Panera app, on or for at-register purchases in bakery-cafes nationwide. More general info about Apple card, at Apple's website.


UCLA launches major mental health study to discover insights about depression, in a collaboration with Apple and Apple Watch. `The research will utilize Apple technology including iPhone, Apple Watch and a Beddit sleep-monitoring device. Making the connection between quantifiable data and symptoms of anxiety and depression could enable health care providers to note warning signs and prevent the onset of depressive episodes, track the effectiveness of treatment and identify causes of depression.'

(continued) The study comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted lives and spurred a focus on anxiety and depression, and when physical distancing requirements have made scientific research challenging.

92-year-old farmer survives 21 foot fall from ladder. He was all alone and injured badly. He credits Apple Watch for saving his life watch this brief News video on the story from KETV.

Apple has released First Public Beta of watchOS 7 to Public Beta Testers. Anyone who wants can try it!

Lee's previous apple watch (Apple Watch 4) had died. Thankfully he was able to get a full reimbursement of the cost from his credit card’s extended warranty program. He has been debating whether buy a new Apple Watch 5 now or wait until the Apple Watch 6 comes out in the fall.