December 2020

The first vaccine has been approved by the FDA and medical workers has started being vaccinated. Two more vaccines are in the pipeline for approval. About 20 million Americans are expected to be vaccinated by the end of 2020, and about 50 million by the end of January. Projections are that by June 2021, all Americans will have access to vaccine for COVID.

by Liza Donnelly of the New Yorker

However, in the meantime, the pandemic is spreading fast. We have few more months of mask-wearing and social-distancing until vaccines can protect us.

Pima County health director tests positive for COVID-19, reports the AZ Daily Star. COVID 'outbreak' in Pima Health Dep't includes Director Cullen, reports Tucson Sentinel, Dec 16, 2020. `Dozens of county workers testing positive for coronavirus.’

Pima warns over 'catastrophic' COVID: Stay at home — even on Christmas, reports Tucson Sentinel, as of Dec 14, 2020.

Apple's CEO Tim Cook says Most Staff Won’t Return to Office Until June 2021, reports Bloomberg.

iOS Digital Notebooks

Recall that GoodNotes is one of the best iOS apps for handwritten notes, especially on an iPad. It is beautiful, natural like paper, and digitally searchable. It's very powerful app.

As your GoodNotes notebooks grow, they can be more challenging to organize or navigate. Amethyst & Garnet offers digital notebooks that answer this challenge nicely. These notebooks are like templates that can be used with GoodNotes to offer structure and organization. Kieran is the creative force behind this. She lives in Sydney, Australia. She writes:

`My life was hectic even before I had my 2 boys and once I did it seemed that I had no time to do everything I needed to and it felt like the stuff I did finish was messy and unorganised. I began to create little planners and lists to help me structure my life and allow me to have a bit of breathing space. It has made such a wonderful difference in my life and it allowed me to open my first business which involved selling digital artwork. I thought that it would only seem logical to share my planners and organizational tools with others in the hope that it may help someone else in the same boat that I was in. I take a lot of pride and spend a lot of time in my work; researching, designing and adding as many designs as possible when I'm not busy with my little family.’

Kieran will join our Zoom meeting today for a live discussion of her work.

Olga recently bought 10 digital notebooks (landscape orientation) from Amethyst & Garnet and recommends it highly. She reports using a tabbed notebook for all her notes and planning. Kieran offers many more styles and digital notebooks, including some for teaching, gardening, journaling, and more.

iOS & Apple news

Apple could block apps that don't comply with new privacy feature, Reuters reports. Recall that a couple of weeks ago, Apple affirmed that the feature was forthcoming but they wanted to give developers tme to adjust. With Rel 14.3, the new feature is here and the App store requires developers to declare their privacy policies explicitly before you download their app. More on this in links below.

NPR reported: He Designed A Smartwatch App To Help Stop His Dad's Nightmares. A developer was inspired by his dad’s PTSD to help him cope and end his suffering. The app works with an Apple Watch to treat PTSD-related nightmare disorders.

Many years ago, Steve Jobs pointed out that Adobe Flash is not appropriate for mobile devices and predicted its demise. At the time, Adobe and many others protested and objected loudly. This month is marks the official sunset for Adobe Flash, for all systems: desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets: Adobe Flash Player EOL General Information Page .

Apple Music is now available on the new Google Nest Audio.

Reuters reports that Apple CFO Luca Maestri and apple’s ex Design chief Jony Ive are mentioned as possible Ferrari CEO candidates.

Warner Brothers announced that its slate of 17 new movies coming up will be released simultaneously at the movie theaters and to HBO Max for streaming, reports Hollywood Reporter.

Recall that HBO Max is available as a standalone app, with an independent monthly subscription via iOS / App store ($15/month). Users can start and stop this subscription any time. Users do not need to have an HBO cable TV subscription for this.

iOS 14

iOS 14.3 has been released. It includes support for Apple Fitness+ and AirPods Max. It also adds the ability to capture photos in Apple ProRAW format on iPhone 12 Pro, introduces Privacy info on the App Store, ew wallpapers, and other features & bug fixes.

A lesser known feature of iOS 14.3 enables Siri to replicate sounds, reports MacRumors. You can ask ‌Siri‌ questions like "what does a humpback whale sound like?" or "what does a lion sound like?" to have ‌Siri‌ play the sound of a whale or a lion.

With the release of iOS 14.3, cardio fitness notifications are available on iPhone. `Apple Watch can monitor and classify cardio fitness, a strong predictor of overall health,’ Apple reports.

Apple Fitness+ has just launched. Apple offers `A new fitness experience for everyone, powered by Apple Watch. World-class workouts by the world’s best trainers. New workouts added every week. Work out how and where you want.’ You can try it for free for a month, pay $10/month or $80/year. Alternatively, it is also bundled with Apple One subscription.

Apple Fitness+: Everything You Need to Know About Apple's Workout Service, a very good overview, by MacRumors.

Apple Fitness+ Works on iPhone and iPad Without an Apple Watch. However, it is designed to work best with an Apple Watch. Nonetheless, it's functional on an iPhone or iPad. Apple TV requires an Apple Watch.


Apple introduced the new Airpod Max headphones.

AirPods Max combine a custom acoustic design, H1 chips, and advanced software to power computational audio for a breakthrough listening experience with Adaptive EQ, Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency mode, and spatial audio. AirPods Max come in five gorgeous colors, including space gray, silver, sky blue, green, and pink. They are available now, though high demand make shipping dates miss the holiday gift season.

AirPod Max sounds really good, reports Rolling Stone. `The mark of good audio equipment is the ability to hear every piece of a song with great clarity, and that’s true here.'

In a thorough overeview, with lots of photos, AirPods Max Review summarizes, `The most comfortable and impressive-sounding headphones I've ever used’. The downside is the price, he reviewer says.

Apple TV+

Apple TV+ released a trailer for `Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry’, which premiers Feb 26:

Available on Apple TV+, `Earth At Night In Color,’ which uses cutting-edge camera technology to witness life after dark, in a new docu-series, narrated by Tom Hiddleston. Here is the trailer:

iOS apps

Have you come across a flower or plant you wanted to identify? iNaturalist is an app that lets you identify plants and animals with visually similar suggestions and verification by dedicated contributors. It connects you with a community of scientists and naturalists who can help you. Additionally, if you record and share your observations, you ad the a shared body of data that helps scientists doing research on nature. The app is free.

TimeScroller is an iOS app that lets you quickly see scroll through times of the day and see the time corresponding to other cities around the world simultaneously. It's very simple, easy, and well designed.

AnyList has been updated to offer folders and icons for organizing your various lists. Additionally, the app offers widgets that are customizable. The widgets can show a preview of a chosen list or multiple lists or meal plans. The widget also works as a shortcut to the list(s). (Olga gave demo.)


The Dec 9 episode of Outside podcast is a special interview of Apple CEO Tim Cook. It’s an extended interview that covers a lot of topics, including Apple’s philosophy and approach to design, overall goals, health, fitness, privacy, and more. Tim Cook on Health and Fitness.


A recent episode of In the Bubble podcast tells us how and when we will get the vaccine. Toolkit: Where and When Can I Get the Vaccine? Get answers about the science from Dr. David Agus, and the logistics from CVS Health's Tom Moriarty. Andy asks them your questions about when you can get it, which one you'll get, and more. Plus, a fun little bit of vaccine history from David.

tips & tricks

It is possible to enable a virtual Home Button’ on iPhones running iOS 14 (and also iOS 13). This might be useful for devices that have a physical home button that is damaged (iPhone 8 and older) or devices that have FaceID (iPhone X and newer), if the user wants extra controls. To enable this option, go to Settings > Accessibility > Touch > Assistive Touch and turn it on. Hoe to create a virtual home button is an article that describes this for iOS 13 (which is very similar). The button you get is a floater which you can move anywhere you like.

gadgets & accessories

Surge protectors: Add smart home capabilities to multiple devices with HomeKit surge protectors, reports 9to5mac.

9to5Mac Gift Guide: The best HomeKit gifts in 2020 for safety and security

For photography and videography, Moment offers high quality iPhone external lenses and other gear.

Logitech Circle View Doorbell With HomeKit Secure Video Launches at Apple, reports Macrumors.


Future Apple Watch Could Gain Touch ID and Under-Display Camera, reports Patently Apple.

Wristcam Adds a Pair of Cameras to Your Apple Watch, reports Macrumors.

privacy & security

Recall that Apple has a Privacy webpage with an overview of all the ways in which it protects user privacy, and a list of privacy features.

Learn more about App Store Privacy and the choices you have to control your data with this new feature.

The EFF reports on Police Will Pilot a Program to Live-Stream Amazon Ring Cameras. This is the exact opposite of what Ring executives have repeatedly denied.

adieu 2020, welcome 2021

Today is our last iPUG meeting for 2020. We say goodbye to a tumultuous year and we hope for a brighter and better one with 2021. Thank you to all. Wishing you a happy, safe, and peaceful holiday season.

Our next iPUG meeting is on Tuesday, January 5, 2021.