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Apple Maps Rolls Out COVID-19 Vaccination Sites

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Apple announced March 17 that iPhone users can now find COVID-19 vaccination locations on Apple Maps, the most recent in a series of developments aimed at mitigating the spread of the coronavirus and encouraging Apple users to stay healthy.

The new app capability was made in collaboration with VaccineFinder, a service from Boston Children’s Hospital that helps those who qualify find out where to get vaccinated. VaccineFinder partners with healthcare providers and pharmacies to keep patients informed on vaccine location, availability, and latest developments.

Apple Maps “placecards” for vaccine providers and pharmacies will display their information to users, including address, hours of operation, and more. The app already includes more than 20,000 locations, with plans to add more sites going forward. Businesses and clinics wishing to be included in the vaccine site group can sign up via Apple’s Business Registry.

COVID-19 testing sites have been available to search on the app since last year, and placecards for many businesses include special COVID-19 related information, like special takeout menus or adjusted hours. But as the vaccine becomes more readily available, this new functionality of Maps will only grow in necessity.

Siri has also been updated with each app development. Users can ask Siri, “Where can I find a COVID vaccine?” and Apple Maps will display relevant info. She can also inform users of the latest CDC guidelines for diagnosis and testing if asked, “Do I have COVID-19?” Siri will then provide helpful knowledge relating to symptoms and treatment.

I’m a writer and creative professional who loves pop culture, music, games, and anything else that allows people to express themselves and share their passion.

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Apple

Apple Says Its New Ad Engineer Has Left the Company After Misogynistic Comments Surface

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Apple said yesterday that Antonio Garcia Martinez has left the company, following internal backlash from Apple employees regarding misogynistic comments he had made in the recent past. 

Garcia Martinez was a brand new hire. Apple brought him on as a product engineer in its advertising platform group. He had previously worked at Facebook and Twitter, specializing in targeted ads; he also spent time on Wall Street.

Fellow Apple employees joined in petition to his involvement with the tech company, drawing attention to statements Garcia Martinez made in his 2016 book Chaos Monkeys, chronicling his experiences in Silicon Valley.

In the book, Garcia Martinez demeaned women in the tech industry, among other assertions deemed sexist, racist, and in contradiction to Apple’s work culture. “Most women in the Bay Area are soft and weak, cosseted and naive despite their claims of worldliness, and generally full of shit,” he wrote. 

Chaos Monkeys was a New York Times bestseller.

As an influential company that regularly touts its commitment to inclusivity and diversity, a hire like Garcia Martinez surprised many – especially those who work at Apple. 

In an internal memo, co-workers demanded “an investigation into how his published views on women and people of color were missed or ignored.” Over 2,000 employees signed, also criticizing the hire on social media.

In response to Garcia Martinez’s hiring and leaving, Apple told Bloomberg, “At Apple, we have always strived to create an inclusive, welcoming workplace where everyone is respected and accepted. Behavior that demeans or discriminates against people for who they are has no place here.” 

Apple naturally made a wise PR move in parting ways with the Silicon Valley bad boy, but one detail remains unclear – how did Garcia Martinez get hired at Apple in the first place? Were his controversial comments somehow overlooked, or did some Apple executive knowingly look the other way? 

While Apple has commented on Garcia Martinez’s dismissal, it has not addressed his initial hiring. Garcia Martinez has not made a statement.

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For iPhone, The Future May Be Foldable

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Rumors about an iPhone that folds have been around for quite some time now. At this point, announcement of a foldable iPhone would be considered less of a surprise and more of an expectation. 

A note to investors from renowned Apple analyst Ming Chi Kuo this week provides more details, further supporting foldable iPhone theories.

We know that Apple took out several patents on foldable tech as far back as a decade ago. And more recently, a Bloomberg report from early this year hinted at an actual prototype. 

Samsung already has foldable devices on the market. And companies like Microsoft and Motorola also currently boast foldable tech. The latter of which reinvented their extremely popular Razr from the early 2000s (which used to be the coolest phone ever) into a foldable smartphone. 

The future is foldable.

But it appears that Apple is scoping out competition with the intent to learn from their mistakes and release a better product, albeit later on. This fits Apple’s MO. While they’re not usually the first to bring cutting-edge tech to the market, they tend to do it with the sleekest design and the sharpest marketing.

According to Kuo’s note, Apple’s foldable iPhone will arrive in 2023, and feature an 8-inch display. He says Apple could ship up to 20 million units. 

The stock market seems to support these theories as well. Many analysts are currently calling Apple stock “dead money.” A significantly upgraded iPhone (far and away their best-selling product) in 2023 would fall in line with the tech giant’s usual market trend of one booming cycle followed by two slower ones. 

iPhone 12 momentum is slowing down, and some assume generations 13 and 14 will see only minor upgrades. Therefore, gen 15 would be the next big cycle, right on schedule for a folding iPhone in ‘23.

Kuo’s report also suggests the new device will be more than just a smartphone that folds. It will signal a revolution in tech.

“We predict that foldable devices will blur the product segmentations between smartphones, tablets, and laptops in the future. With its cross-product ecosystems and hardware design advantages, Apple will be the biggest winner in the new foldable device trend,” Kuo reports.

Could this new foldable iPhone become a “super-device,” eventually rendering tablets and laptops obsolete? It seems we’ll have to wait a couple more years to find out.

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The “Epic” Showdown Between Apple and Epic Games Is Underway

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The high-profile, high-stakes court battle between Fortnite developers Epic Games and Apple began yesterday. The case marks the biggest antitrust case in the tech world in a long time, with major implications for how money is handled online.

The trial is also the latest in a string of opposition to Apple, with heat from Facebook, Spotify, and Washington in recent months.

The argument is centered around Apple’s 30% commission for purchases made through the tech giant’s app store. Epic argues that this commission is unfair, that Apple holds an illegal monopoly in app sales, and that it abuses its power with anticompetitive behavior. The app store has been called a “walled garden,” keeping smaller developers out.

Apple argues that 30% is fair, and that amount is necessary to ensure Apple’s safety and privacy policies. According to Apple, Epic can sell its games on other platforms if it chooses. In order to sell on Apple’s platform, it’s perfectly appropriate to ask that developers play by Apple’s rules.

The trial is taking place as a result of Epic’s attempt to circumvent Apple’s policy by allowing players  to pay for in-app purchases through Epic’s own digital marketplace last year. Fortnite was promptly removed from the app store. Epic sued. Apple countersued. 

The case will be decided by U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, as both parties waive trial by jury. Gonzalez Rogers told lawyers she believes it will be a “fascinating trial,” as Epic has crossed major hurdles and won significant attention in its fight against Apple.

Epic CEO Time Sweeney took the stand on Monday, expressing a broader purpose for the lawsuit over simply recouping monetary damages. According to Sweeney, “Epic is solely seeking changes to Apple’s future behavior.”  

Epic will continue to face an uphill battle, as history has typically favored large corporations in antitrust hearings.

The trial is likely to drag out for some time, with a projected timeline of three weeks. Apple CEO Tim Cook is also expected to testify, though the date and time is still unknown.

Sweeney characterizes this struggle as a symbolic one. Judge Gonzalez Rogers will  not only determine the winner between Apple and Epic, but also set a key precedent in the way digital marketplaces are treated by U.S. law.

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