December 1, 2020

on current events

Good news: more vaccines are seeking approval to become available as soon as possible. For example, Moderna's vaccine claims 94.5% efficacy and it’s even easier to distrbute than Pfizer’s, as it does not require the super cold temperature.

Immunity to the Coronavirus May Last Years, New Data Hint, the NYTimes reports. This is still not yet determined with certainty, of course.

The pandemic is still with us for months, at least. Here’s how to organize your masks and other supplies.

Which U.S. states are using Apple’s Exposure Notification API for COVID-19 contact tracing?

Apple announced expansion of its partnership with (RED) to combat HIV/AIDS and COVID-19. Through December 7, Apple is donating $1 for every purchase made with Apple Pay on, in the Apple Store app, or at an Apple Store to the Global Fund’s COVID-19 Response. Apple’s 14-year partnership with (RED) has raised almost $250 million to fund HIV/AIDS programs.

Liza Donelly is an artist & cartoonist for the New Yorker magazine and for CBS. Here is a recent drawing on her iPad using the app Paper:

iOS & Apple news

Forbes reviews iPhone 12 Pro Max. `The iPhone 12 Pro Max is the best phone Apple has made, by a country mile. The stunning display, beautiful design, quicksilver performance and knockout cameras add up to something special… if you like the idea of something so big it’s like a tablet, but feels like a phone, if you want the best cameras Apple has made, and if you need great battery life and fast performance, then look no further.'

iPhone 12 water test: We tested it way beyond the claim, reports CNET. They tested it in the cold waters of Lake Tahoe. they write:

(cont'd) `We know the iPhone 12 can handle spills and splashes, but Apple may be downplaying just how water-resistant this phone really is. The iPhone 12’s IP68 rating means it can survive up to 19.6 feet (6 meters) of water for 30 minutes. This applies to all four iPhone 12 models: the iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. But we discovered that like its predecessor, Apple’s newest iPhone can handle a great deal more than that. Both of the iPhone 11 models far exceeded the official rating, surviving a 39-foot dive in salt water in Monterey Bay, California. This year we took a brand-new iPhone 12 for a swim in the frigid fresh water of Lake Tahoe, on the other side of the Golden State, to test it out. '

Podcasts are becoming more and more prevalent, Apple has created a web browser for podcasts, so that you can now embed Apple podcasts on a website, reports TechCrunch. They write: `When visitors happen upon the embedded web player, they can interact with the podcast immediately by playing the episode and by opening the Apple Podcasts app for iOS, iPadOS or macOS to learn more about the program or to add it to their existing podcast subscriptions.'

Apple Fitness+ is approaching its release as `with advertising initiatives and teases from instructors being spotted on social media, indicating that the new subscription service may be launching imminently', reports MacRumors.

Apple and Boys & Girls Clubs partner on innovative new workforce development program: Atlantic City educators reimagine after-school learning to lift a community. Apple is donating 2,500 Macs and iPads to Boys & Girls Clubs across America. `Tucked inside the 48 blocks that make up Atlantic City in New Jersey, a small group of determined educators is hard at work. They’re reimagining traditional after-school programs so the students in this community have the tools they need to build their dreams. This transformation is taking place at a set of new technology labs created by the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City as part of their 21st Century Academic Enrichment Program. The labs, which focus on STEAM — science, technology, engineering, art, and math — as well as design and career training, are equipped with iPad and Mac computers provided by Apple.'

the new Macs

The Verge reviews Apple’s M1 MacBook Air: ‘Performs like a pro-level laptop’. `The new MacBook Air with Apple’s M1 chip is a triumph.'

Joanna Stern of the WSJ and John Gruber of Daring Fireball, on the new M1-based Mac laptops. They are praising the new Macbooks for exceeding expectations:

For comparisons between Macbook Air vs the Pro, take a look at the video below for a detailed look at the differences you can expect. The answers depend on your goals. It will be worth it if you need to squeeze more performance out of your machine. But watch the video, see if these differences matter to you.

This website: shows you what apps are ready to run natively on the new M1 processor.

photography & video

Read the camera review:The iPhone 12 Pro Max: Real Pro Photography, by Halide app's Sebastiaan de With. He shows the difference in the iPhone 12 Pro Max sensor, both in comparison to the older sensor, and also shows in practical terms what the bigger sensor can do. The lower the light, the more value the sensor provides He concludes: The iPhone 12 Pro Max is a Pro photographer’s iPhone. And we couldn’t be more excited to start building for it.'

Apple commissioned everyday experiments using an iPhone 12 and `a different perspective to turn the everyday into something extraordinary.’ Take a look at the fun:

Also commissioned by apple, Dark Universe shot on iPhone 12 Pro. The goal was to push the new Dolby Vision and low-light capabilities of the iPhone 12 Pro to the limit, `we challenged ourselves to capture darkness itself.’ Take a look:

And here is a behind-the-scenes look at creating the Dark Universe shooting:

iOS apps

This is a macOS app (not for iOS): ViDL is a Mac app that lets you download videos from YouTube and also from hundreds of other websites for offline viewing and safekeeping. The app is free.

Reflection is an app for journaling. It also helps create self awareness by guiding you to do monthly and yearly reflections. The app is free but also alsooffers pro features as a paid app. Your data is private and secure, and it offers sign-in with Apple.


Released just yesterday, the latest episode of In The Bubble is an interview with Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of Brown University's School of Public Health, onThe Next 3 Stages of COVID-19. Dr Jha gives his projections for 2021.

At the end of each year, Apple highlights `the best of', including apps and more. Today, they released Apple's picks for top podcasts, books, and audiobooks of 2020, Macrumors reports.

tips & tricks

With iOS 14, the call interface has become compact. Here is how to use the compact interface on iPhone.

How to migrate data fron an old iPhone to a new one, using iTunes, which is the fastest way. (If you have macOS Big Sur or Catalina, this method uses Finder instead of iTunes.)

An alternative method uses a wireless method from your od iPhone to the new one, or uses iCloud. Fair warning: this method is easy and nice if you don’t have a lot of data, but this method is NOT fast, especially if you have a lot of photos, videos, or just a lot of data in general. Also, be aware that if you need to leave the house with your new iPhone before the transfer completes, or interrupt this method several times, there is a chance you might have to start over, or might not complete and you could effectively lose the data that did not finish transferring.

How to save audio messages, automatically or manually.

How to See All of Your Apple Watch Apps in an Alphabetical List Instead of a Grid.

Recall that iOS provides and option to hide photos from view. You can start with your Photostream, or in any Album, and tap Select, to select the photos you want to hide. (Or, you can be viewing one individual photo that you want to hide.) Tap the share icon, and then tap Hide. This will hide the photos you selected and will place them in an album called Hidden. You can choose to hide or show this album in iOS Settings > Photos. When enabled, the Hidden album shows up un your Album list under Utilities.

To set up a timer on your iPhone, you can navigate to the Clock app, then to the Timer tab. But if you want to set a timer even faster, you can go to Control Ceter and long-press the timer icon. This will pop up a vertical bar that you can control to set your time right there (it avoids the Clock app).

If you want to select many emails at once, to move them or to delete them, you can tap Edit an select the ones you want. However, there is a much faster way: in your mailbox list view, use 2 fingers to tap and drag. Nice isn't’ it?

Camera tip: you can take a photo by pressing the volume button on the side (you can choose the Up or Down button, they work equally well). You can also press and hold a Volume button to engage the video quickly. Hold it for the recording and release to end. This is especially good when there is something you need to capture quickly.

Recall that if you enable location data for your photos, you can get extra benefits from your Photos app (such as to place your photos on a map, to search by location, and many more). However, there is a potential downside: you might not want to include location info when sharing a photo. Luckily, you have this option: when you click on the share button, tap Options> (near the top of the window) and un-select the Location data.

If you want to decipher your iPhone’s Model number -- or if you are considering purchasing one used -- go to Settings > General > About to read the serial number. The first letter tells you: M = was purchased new, F = refurbished, N = replacement, P = personalized; Also, the letters after the numbers refer to where the iPhone was intended to be sold: LL = USA, X = Australia/New Zealand, CH = China, BR = Brazil, J = Japan, C = Canada. Here is more detail on the Serial Number meaning.

Calculator tip: if you entered a wrong number in the calculator you can swipe over it to delete the last digit (repeat for more).

Also, for a quick calculation, just use the Spotlight search: swipe down to invoke Spotlight search, then just type the quick calculation, such as 55/34.

gadgets & accessories

With iPhone 12, Apple introduced magsafe and the ability to choose a magnetic wallet on the iPhone backside. Here is an overview, especially since we cannot easily go to an Apple store to see these up close:

Roger S. has been happily using this Portable Charger for Apple Watch.

There are many good options that are power strips combining USB A and C charging as well. Olga recently got this One Beat power strip and recommends it.

This Cable Management Box helps reduce clutter created when many cables are used on a power strip. It helps reduce dust accumulation on the strip and it lessens the visual clutter as well.

Zens Launches Modular Wireless Charging System for iPhone, AirPods, and Apple Watch, reports Macrumors. Here are the modular chargers.

For more unique technology accessories, Etsy continues to have many choices. Take a look at Home Tech Accessories listed on Etsy.

Need to exercise at home? This Smart Rope Rookie comes with an app to track your activity.

And finally, the HomePod Mini seems to be in very high demand. Her eis a nice overview:


A reminder: watchOS makes the Walkie Talkie app available. How to use Walkie Talkie on your watch to talk to friends & family. It's very useful as a quick complication on the watch. It requires a one-time setup and then you tap and hold and talk to someone very quickly

Apple Watch credited with detecting heart problem in Ohio resident. `Zachary Zies, a 25-year-old recent graduate from Ohio State University, is a long-time sufferer of Friedreich's Ataxia, a rare genetic disease that can affect the brain, spinal cord, and heart, which can cause impairments in speech and difficulty in walking, among other issues. In a recent incident, an issue with Zies' heart was discovered by the Apple Watch,' reports AppleInsider.

Clicker is a free app for iOS and for watch as well. All it does is lets you count something. On the watch, it works as a complication and it's very handy. You single-tap to increment the count (0, 1, 2, 3, and so on). If you made a mistake and need to reduce the count, you can tap-and-hold, which gives you the option to subtract or erase the whole count.

Apple is said to be investigating using Apple Watch to continually measure blood pressure, reports AppleInsider. This is based on a patent by Apple with this aim.

privacy & security

Mary Anne poins us to this summary of the Terms of Service & Privacy policy, highlighted in the Nest thermostat review, by The Verge. Here is the relevant summary of Nest's ToS:

Recall that Apple is planning a new privacy feature that requires users to give explicit permission before letting apps track them for advertising purposes. The enhancement was added in iOS 14 operating system in September, but a requirement that all apps use it was delayed until early 2021. Apple indicated that the delay in the release of this feature is to give 3rd party developers a little more time to adjust. Bloomberg News reports Apple Defends Delay of Privacy Feature, Slams Facebook. Bloomberg reports ` [Apple] criticized Facebook’s approach to advertising and user tracking, according to a written reply sent to several human rights and privacy organizations, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Human Rights Watch.'

(cont'd) Bloomberg quotes this excerpt from Apple's letter: `By contrast, Facebook and others have a very different approach to targeting. Not only do they allow the grouping of users into smaller segments, they use detailed data about online browsing activity to target ads. Facebook executives have made clear their intent is to collect as much data as possible across both first and third party products to develop and monetize detailed profiles of their users, and this disregard for user privacy continues to expand to include more of their products.'

next iPUG

Our next iPUG meeting will be on Wed, December 16, 2020.