Posts

Apple Store Logo

Apple Invests $45 Million In Gorilla-Glass Maker For Future Products

Apple announced this week that they will be investing an additional $45 million in US-based Corning Incorporated, the maker of Gorilla Glass. 

Apple posted a news release regarding the investment claiming it will help “expand Corning’s manufacturing capacity in the US and drive research and development into innovative new technologies that support durability and long-lasting product-life.  

Embed from Getty Images

The investment will be pulled from Apple’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund which is valued at about $5 billion. The fund was initially established back in 2017 so that Apple could invest in new manufacturing jobs, as well as infrastructure in the United States.

Up until this point Corning had already received $450 million from that fund, and that initial investment worked to develop Apple’s newest ceramic shield screen technology which is found in the new iPhone 12 lineup. This new technology was created to make these iPhone’s even more drop resistant than previous iPhones which are already equipped with strong Gorilla Glass. 

Apple released a statement about the new ceramic shield technology and how it specifically works:

“The new material was enabled by a high-temperature crystallization step which forms nano-crystals within the glass matrix. Those specialized crystals are kept small enough that the material is transparent. The resulting material makes up the revolutionary Ceramic Shield.”

Embed from Getty Images

Apple initially used the Ceramic Shield “to fashion the new front cover featured on the iPhone in the iPhone 12 lineup. Prior to Ceramic Shield, embedded crystals have traditionally affected the material’s transparency, a crucial factor for the front cover of the iPhone because so many features, including the display, the camera, and sensors for Face ID, need optical clarity to function.”

Corning and Apple have been in business together since the original iPhone hit the market. Initially, Apple wasn’t even going to use Gorilla Glass technology in their phones, and instead were going to go with a scratch-prone plastic screen. However, when the invention of Gorilla Glass first emerged from Corning, the company made a last minute switch, and Gorilla Glass has been the staple of all iPhones ever since. 

Gorilla Glass itself has since been refined multiple times to become even more durable than it was 10 years ago. Beyond Apple the glass is found in many other popular mobile products from companies like Samsung, LG, and more. 

Apple hasn;t announced yet how exactly Corning will be using this new investment, however, the Gorilla Glass inventors have been working on new forms of bendable glass that could potentially work for a future foldable iPhone. 

While we may not know the specifics of the investment, it’s an exciting step for Apple and their future product line ups.

Apple Software

New iOS Update From Apple Includes App Tracking ‘Transparency’ Feature 

iPhone users will now be able to prevent advertisers from tracking them and their search activity across all the apps on their phone thanks to a new software update from Apple. Despite protests from advertisers and Facebook, the company introduces the new feature as a part of its iOS 14.5 update. 

The setting is listed in your phone as “app tracking transparency,” which will require all applications to ask for a user’s consent before they’re able to track their activity across all other apps and websites on their device. 

If a user decides to decline, the applications won’t be able to access the digital footprint that they normally can automatically, which allows them to track you from app to app. The prompt reads: “Allow [insert app name here] to track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites?” The prompt will appear with any app that requests access to that digital footprint. 

Embed from Getty Images

Apple initially announced that app tracking transparency would be implemented in all iPhones last summer, and was originally projected to be implemented in fall 2020, however, the company decided to delay the release of the update six months to give advertisers and other industry leaders time to prepare. 

Dan Levy, Facebook’s head of advertisements and business products, spoke out greatly with Facebook this past winter about Apple’s new policy. “The app transparency setting is about control of the entire internet. This is about a long-term view that is anti-personalized advertising and we think is trying to take the world back 10 to 20 years.” 

Facebook even went as far as to launch an advertising campaign arguing that “the real victim of the changes are your neighborhood coffee brewery, your friend who owns their own retail business, your cousin who started an event planning service and the game developers who build the apps you use for free. Those small businesses would lose out if they were no longer able to target customers with personalized adverts.”

Embed from Getty Images

Facebook’s not alone either, digital publishing house Axel Springer has filed a complaint on behalf of Germany’s biggest tech, media, and advertising companies, to the German competition regulator in which they argue that the new rules could lead to a 60% fall in advertising revenues for app developers. 

In France, consumer group Noyb argued the complete opposite, claiming that Apple should not only roll out the privacy tools as soon as possible, but also remove the ability for advertisers to see what you’re doing on your phone all together. “With our complaints we want to enforce a simple principle: trackers are illegal, unless a user freely consents,” said Stefano Rossetti, a privacy lawyer at Noyb.

Apple’s director of global privacy, Jane Horvath, wrote a letter to a slew of privacy and advertising groups to address these criticisms.

“We developed [app tracking transparency] for a single reason: because we share your concerns about users being tracked without their consent and the bundling and reselling of data by advertising networks and data brokers. 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.”

Apple Store Logo

Apple Announces New East Coast Research Hub That Will Create 3,000 Jobs ‘At Least’ 

Apple has unveiled plans to invest $1 billion in a new campus and engineering hub within the Research Triangle of North Carolina. The tech company claims that the project should create at least 3,000 new jobs in the area as well. 

Apple made the announcement this Monday, adding that the hub will establish the company’s first major east coast location, as well as its first entirely new US campus in more than two decades. Apple previously chose to expand its Austin, Texas campus instead of starting construction on the North Carolina campus back in 2018. A representative of the company claimed that “this project will be much more transformational than the expansion we would have gotten in 2018.”

Apple claimed that the hub will bring in plenty of jobs once its fully operational, including occupations in machine learning, artificial intelligence, software engineering, and “other new cutting edge fields.” 

Embed from Getty Images

The investment overall is predicted to generate more than $1.5 billion in annual economic benefits for North Carolina. Jeff Williams is Apple’s Chief Operating Officer who spoke about how exciting it was to be a North Carolina native and seeing this project come into fruition. 

“As a North Carolina native, I’m thrilled Apple is expanding and creating new long-term job opportunities in the community I grew up in. We’re proud that this new investment will also be supporting education and critical infrastructure projects across the state. Apple has been a part of North Carolina for nearly two decades, and we’re looking forward to continuing to grow and a bright future ahead.”

An Apple spokesperson claimed that hiring for the new campus is expected to “begin immediately.” Until construction on the 1,000,000 square foot campus is complete, Apple will be accommodating new workers in leased out local office buildings, and some workers will obviously be able to work remotely until the opening. 

“Even in a pandemic, North Carolina has been on a run with 10 companies and thousands of new jobs in both rural and urban North Carolina announced within just the last two months. Well it’s about to be 11 and this may be the biggest of them all,” Governor Roy Cooper said.

“The average salary for the new jobs Apple will create in North Carolina will be $185,000 per year. North Carolina is a place where cutting-edge ideas are born and everyone can find a place to succeed,” Cooper said.

Embed from Getty Images

President of the North Carolina Senate Phil Berger said: “there’s no question North Carolina is the best state in the country to live, work and do business. There’s a reason this transformative project isn’t happening somewhere else. We’re delighted that Apple chose Wake County as the site for its newest research and development campus. An investment of this magnitude is transformational for our community, bringing great jobs and long-term economic benefits.”

“It also proves that we have the right combination of talent and innovation to attract industry-leading companies who want an exceptional quality of life for their employees.”

“At this moment of recovery and rebuilding, Apple is doubling down on our commitment to US innovation and manufacturing with a generational investment reaching communities across all 50 states. We’re creating jobs in cutting-edge fields – from 5G to silicon engineering to artificial intelligence – investing in the next generation of innovative new businesses, and in all our work, building toward a greener and more equitable future,” Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, wrote in a statement. 

The announcement comes after Apple revealed that they plan to invest more than $430 billion and create 20,000 new jobs across America in the next five years. Additionally, the company will be establishing a $100 million fund to support schools and community initiatives in the Raleigh-Durham area, and other areas throughout North Carolina.

France Is Testing Digital Covid Travel Certificates For Vaccinated Individuals

France has become the first member state of the European Union to begin testing a digital Covid-19 travel certificate as a part of Europe’s larger plan to allow people to travel between countries more easily once they’re vaccinated.  

The TousAntiCovid app is a part of the nation’s overall contact tracing program, which has recently been updated to store negative Covid-19 test results on travelers’ mobile phones. The app is now being trialed on flights to Corisca and overseas to accommodate for vaccinated individuals as well. 

The trial is being extended from April 29th in order to include vaccination certificates as more citizens receive them. If the trial runs end up being successful, the application could eventually be used for entry into public events like concerts, festivals, and sporting events; officials did mention that the technology would not be used for entry into bars and restaurants. 

Embed from Getty Images

Cedric O, the minister for digital transition discussed how the trial in France will become one part of a larger more standardized system to be used all throughout Europe. Several other EU member states are already in talks with France over expanding the technology to reach more countries. 

The European commissioner for justice, Didier Reynders, said last week he expected “the EU’s digital green certificate to be operational by June 21st because the certificate is an urgent priority for southern European member states whose economies have been devastated by the pandemic.”

The program has not been referred to as a “vaccine passport” so that citizens know its not being created to discriminate against those who haven’t been vaccinated yet, especially since it’s original purpose was to carry negative Covid tests for travelers. 

Embed from Getty Images

Ideally, those who have a certificate of approval will be able to travel without quarantining, and will have proof of vaccination, negative testing, or antibodies all on their phone. Those in France being vaccinated this week, and the weeks after this, will receive a text message or email that will give them access to a state-certified online document that can be downloaded or printed out, or stored in the TousAntiCovid app. 

According to reports “the app will generate a secure QR code containing a range of information including the traveler’s name, the date and type of their test or vaccine, and details of the relevant doctor or laboratory, all of which can be checked against a national database.”

Several EU member states are already working on similar programs for their citizens, which has some experts concerned over how well multiple systems will work together. Data security and privacy is also being viewed as top concern. 

So far every app and digital proof of vaccination/negative Covid tests is in its trial phase, and they will likely continue to advance as vaccinations continue throughout the world.

Spotify on Phone

Spotify Announces New ‘Car Thing’ Device To Bring Music Streaming To Your Vehicle 

Spotify has announced that the “Car Thing experiment,” which it’s been working on for the past year, will become an official product that will ship to selected Spotify Premium customers who sign up!

Yes that’s right, Car Thing is the official name of this device, and it works by “syncing up with your car’s stereo system, either via Bluetooth or with an included 3.5mm aux cable. The idea is that Car Thing will work with all older cars that don’t use CarPlay or Android Auto, and still rely on older head units for their audio,” according to Tech Radar Magazine. 

Car Thing essentially looks like a smart phone that attaches to your car vent. Once synced to your car, the screen will display your favorite music, podcasts, playlists, and trending content on Spotify; essentially it shows you what appears on your “Home” screen when you log onto the Spotify app on your phone. 

Embed from Getty Images

All of your music library can be selected using touch controls, or a dial which is appropriately located in the upper right corner of the screen. There are also four quick select buttons on the top of the device to easily assist with skipping songs, pausing, or stopping music all together. 

Additionally, Spotify included a built-in voice assistant that can be used to control your music hands-free while your driving. You simply say “Hey Spotify” and you can change your playlist, pause your music, and so much more. 

“The player is expected to cost $79.99 (around £60, AU$100) when it’s available to the public, but Spotify will make it available for just $6.99 (the shipping cost in the US) for Spotify Premium subscribers who sign up on Spotify’s website to get one during the limited window,” according to reports. 

Embed from Getty Images

As of right now Spotify announced that Car Thing is only available for US customers, and the company has yet to reveal if it would become available internationally or not. Spotify made the official Car Thing announcement on their blog this month, in which they emphasized that the reasoning they created this product was to assist the Spotify users who complained that they couldn’t get Spotify in their older cars. 

“Our focus remains on becoming the world’s number one audio platform – not on creating hardware – but we developed Car Thing because we saw a need from our users, many of whom were missing out on a seamless and personalized in-car listening experience. 

“No matter the year or model of your vehicle, we feel everyone should have a superior listening experience.” 

If you have an older model car, there are also already a multitude of devices on the market that can either plug into your car’s auxiliary cable, cassette player, or car lighter, depending on how old your vehicle is. These devices sync up with your phone’s audio via Bluetooth or direct connection. 

Apple Watch and Iphone Activity

How Technology Is Helping People Live A Healthier Life

Thanks to a wide variety of technology, it’s never been easier for people to start making healthier choices in their day-to-day lives.

Amazon Using ‘Fake’ Twitter Accounts To Defend Working Conditions 

Amazon has received a slew of criticism within the past year of the pandemic due to the harsh working conditions their warehouse/lower level employees have had to endure at the sake of their own health and safety. Now, a surge of “fake” Twitter accounts have emerged to defend the corporation and push back on criticisms presented during the pandemic. 

Many of the accounts are meant to be Amazon warehouse employees who love working for the company and believe Unions aren’t actually helpful. A majority of the account handles begin with “AmazonFC” followed by the first name of the “employee” and warehouse designation. The accounts often only tweet about Amazon in response to criticism and refute any tweets claiming the company enforces “robotic” working conditions that lead to “high injury rates.” 

Embed from Getty Images

One account, which has since been suspended, tweeted: “Unions are good for some companies, but I don’t want to have to shell out hundreds a month just for lawyers!”

This is not the first time Amazon has used social media to try to combat criticism. Many Amazon employee accounts from 2018 and 2019 have since been deleted due to exposure. Amazon did confirm, however, that the latest tweets being spread online were fake. 

“Many of these are not Amazon FC Ambassadors – it appears they are fake accounts that violate Twitter’s terms. We’ve asked Twitter to investigate and take appropriate action.” 

The spokesperson for Amazon who released the statement above refused to acknowledge how many Twitter accounts were run by real Amazon ambassadors and how the company regulates fake accounts. Bellingcat is an investigative journalism site that compiled a list of at least 56 Amazon Ambassador Twitter accounts. 

Embed from Getty Images

Some of the accounts only recently became active and were almost immediately suspended by Twitter. Some Twitter users have even created their own parody accounts to make fun of the corporation’s attempt at combating criticism. 

Recently, Amazon CEO Dave Clark and the official Amazon News Twitter account criticized Senator Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Congressman Mark Pocan over certain policies. Those tweets backfired for Amazon after it was revealed that Amazon engineers flagged the tweets because they were concerned that they were “unnecessarily antagonistic which would risk Amazon’s brand reputation.” 

Other leaked memos that initially sparked these fake Twitter accounts cited complaints from Amazon managers over delivery truck drivers leaving bottles of their urine and bags of their feces in trucks, despite the fact that Amazon’s PR account claimed all reports of workers needing to urinate in bottles to keep up with their workload was false. 

The National Labor Relations Board is also currently determining “whether to consolidate multiple complaints from workers over the past year alleging interference from Amazon against workers’ attempts to organize or form a union,” according to the Guardian.

Congress Questions Tech CEOs Over Role In Capitol Riot

Sundar Pichai of Google, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, and Jack Dorsey of Twitter all testified before two committees of the House of Representatives on “social media’s role in promoting extremism and the rampant spreading of misinformation” regarding the pandemic, Covid-19 vaccine, and election process.

Microsoft

Microsoft To Potentially Buy Discord In $10 Billion Deal

Microsoft and Discord are currently in talks to reach an acquisition deal worth $10 billion. Jason Citron and Stan Vishnevskiy are the programmers and entrepreneurs who founded Discord back in 2015 as a platform for people to talk while they play video games. The service is free and offers voice, video, and text chat, and has become extremely popular especially within the past year since so many people were stuck at home and investing in more at-home entertainment.

“During the pandemic, with people stuck at home and playing more video games than ever and also looking for ways to safely socialize, Discord became a hub for communities interested in the Black Lives Matter movement, homework help, book clubs and more, pitching itself as a place to talk,” said new Chief Financial Officer Tomasz Marcinkowski.

Embed from Getty Images

The site itself now has more than 140 million monthly users and has brought in over $100 million in revenue last year. Last December Discord also doubled its valuation to $7 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Users can create their own communities, or servers, on the platform which can range from having under 10 people, to hundreds of thousands. For Microsoft, the variation in communities on Discord is the biggest selling point. Microsoft in general has been looking for assets that would “provide access to thriving communities of users,” according to inside sources.

Discord’s popularity also stems from the fact that there’s no advertisements on it either. Instead, Discord offers a subscription service called Nitro that gives members the ability to customize tags next to their usernames, upload large files, and stream at a higher video quality; Nitro costs $10 a month and is how Discord makes its money.

Embed from Getty Images

The platform has also allowed smaller video game creators to have their own space where they can chat with fans and discuss ideas. Megan Fox is the founder of the independent game development studio Glass Bottom Games, and she uses Discord to create communities for all the games her company develops.

“We really just wanted to build a low-key community that was nice to hang out in. Our first game, Skatebird, is about birds on skateboards and has a Discord community of about 900 users that mostly use the server to talk about birds, or skateboarding. Our studio also has a channel solely intended for users to share your attempt at a kickflip. Many Discord servers lean on humor and inside jokes, which is part of the appeal,” Fox explained.

Rod Breslau is an esports and gaming consultant who believes that “if Discord is going to sell, Microsoft may actually be one of the safest places for it to go without experiencing any major changes. Their recent acquisitions of LinkedIn and GitHub were both hands-off acquisitions, so this would likely be the same.”

The deal is still in the talking stages, and there’s no actual confirmation regarding if Discord plans to sell or not.

Apple Store

Apple Maps Is Now Displaying Covid-19 Vaccine Locations 

Apple users can now ask Siri or search within Apple Maps to find nearby Covid-19 vaccination providers throughout the US, the app will also display important information such as operation hours, links, phone numbers to call for assistance, and more!

The company announced this week that it updated the Apple Maps app to include Covid-19 vaccination locations provided by VaccineFinder, one of the biggest resources currently being used by Americans to find a proper vaccine provider. VaccineFinder was initially developed by the Boston Children’s Hospital as a free service that provides the latest vaccine availability for those eligible at certain pharmacies or other providers. 

Embed from Getty Images

Now, users of Apple Maps can use the search bar within the application to find these locations by simply clicking the “Covid-19 Vaccines” button under the “Find Nearby” menu, which typically provides the locations of nearby restaurants, gas stations, and other useful locations. iPhone users can also now ask Siri “where can I get a Covid vaccine” to see the information as well. 

“The Apple Maps place card for each vaccine site will include the operating hours, address, phone numbers, and a link to the provider’s website, where Maps users can learn more about available vaccines and book appointments. The initial rollout includes more than 20,000 locations, with Apple adding more sites in the coming weeks,” according to Apple.

Besides just using data from VaccineFinder, Apple is using information that’s been collected from healthcare providers, labs, and other businesses that provide essential information regarding the pandemic. These establishments can also submit their information themselves through the Apple Business Register page; most businesses use this page when they’re first established so that customers can find them on their phones. 

Embed from Getty Images

One Apple validates an establishment’s essential information about testing or vaccination locations, it then uploads it directly onto the Maps app so users can see them displayed immediately. Additionally, “Apple Maps now displays COVID-19 modules on the business place cards for more than 4,400 locations, allowing retailers to communicate COVID-19-related information to their customers, like special shopping hours,” the company announced this week.

Siri can also be used to find nearby testing and vaccination locations. The digital assistant can also help identify outdoor dining establishments and places offering takeout. Siri can also provide guidance and essential resources provided by the CDC if she’s asked “How do I know if I have Covid-19?” 

Apple also recently announced the release of “a mobility data trends tool to support the impactful work happening worldwide to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This mobility data may provide helpful insights to local governments and health authorities, and may also be used as a foundation for new public policies by showing the change in volume of people driving, walking, or taking public transit in their communities. To learn more about COVID-19 mobility trends, visit apple.com/covid19/mobility.”