Tuesday Morning News

A really positive post on Apple’s PR outlet/newsroom talks about Apple’s Giving program, where Apple employees volunteer time or donate money, both matched by funds from Apple. In 2018, Apple employees volunteered for over a quarter of a million hours, and US $125 million donated across thousands of organisations worldwide. Whether that’s helping nurture economically disadvantaged kids in Ireland, sorting and distributing food to college students, or sending personal items of clothing along with notes of encouragement to trans folks, Apple employees are making a difference.

CNBC says Apple is in talks with at least three private medical insurance companies in the US to provide subsidised Apple Watch devices to seniors. The idea isn’t that the medical insurance company will then get access to that individual’s health data as usually happens with deals like these, but rather that the Apple Watch will pay for itself by preventing one emergency room visit thanks to the new fall detection and ECG features on the Apple Watch Series 4.

Apple’s third company-wide activity challenge kicks off in February, with the goal this time around being to close all three activity rings every day for the whole month. And like previous challenges, this year’s challenge comes with the reward of an exclusive black sport loop with activity-ring coloured accents. It’s not quite as nice as the black woven nylon with activity-ring coloured accent, in my opinion, but it’s still cool.

Sleep-tracking company Beddit was purchased by Apple in 2017, and in December last year, released some updated hardware that pulled some features and introduced a few improvements. MacRumors’ review of the Beddit 3.5 sleep tracker says the complaints about removed features are valid in their own right, but the improvements in sleep tracking accuracy shouldn’t be overlooked either.

AppleInsider tells us about playing music and podcasts on the Apple Watch, and while both can now be played directly from the Apple Watch sans iPhone, sometimes you’ll need an internet connection, and sometimes you won’t. Not to mention, you can’t play either using the Apple Watch’s built-in speaker, so you’ll need some kind of Bluetooth headphones or AirPods at a minimum. There’s icons that tell you what is playing from where, but things can be a little confusing if this is your first rodeo.

Another day, another unofficial Apple Music web player. Musish is the latest in Apple Music web interfaces with a look and feel that closely mirrors the Apple Music aesthetic, and like others you might have used, you’ll need to sign into your Apple ID to play music from the web via Apple Music’s public APIs. It’s also open source, if you want to see how it all works and/or suggest improvements or report bugs.

Spotify is testing an artist blocking feature in its iOS app that will let users block artists of their choosing to prevent them from appearing on algorithmically-generated playlists, searches, or charts curated by Spotify. No word on when or if this feature will roll out to all users or other platforms, but if you’re one of the lucky few, you can access the feature from the ellipsis menu on an artist page.

MacStories talks up Concepts, an iOS drawing app with an infinite canvas that lets you put together however many diagrams or scribbles that you want. While other apps may have handwriting recognition, or more organisation, sometimes you want more than just one standard sheet of paper, so being able to zoom out and start a new drawing in another place can come in handy.

Although, you’ll need an Apple Pencil to take advantage of it. And if you want your second-generation Apple Pencil to look more like its real-world counterpart, you can maybe do the same thing that one Reddit user did, sandpapering, dyeing, and painting his Apple Pencil to look exactly like a slightly-bigger version of the real thing.

Apple’s latest Shot on iPhone video gives us the story about American Samoa and Football Island, where athletes that are 56 times more likely to play in the NFL than anywhere else come from. While extra gear was used to help the iPhone capture the video, an iPhone XS was used to shoot all the footage in the short.

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