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June 8, 2021

🚫 Good morning! There’s a very widespread internet outage happening as I’m writing this morning. Anything from Reddit to Twitch to the BBC to government sites are not loading. It’s not just you, but Twitter is still working if you need to ask if it is.

WWDC 2021

I watched WWDC last night and my iOS developer friends were delighted about things like Xcode Cloud and concurrency support built into Swift, along with things like App Store A/B testing to generate more downloads for app companies. Great for them.

Apple knows the show is mostly to impress and excite Apple users, though, even though its software features are often playing catch-up, but with better execution.

Here’s what we saw:

  • iOS 15: New privacy features for Mail and Siri, along with more granular detail into how often third-party apps with access to things like camera or GPS are accessing them.
  • Apple also rolled out better notification summaries, Live Text in photos, a bunch of new features for Messages including do not disturb and contextual limitations (for example, allow messages from colleagues to notify you during the day, and not your groupchat friends), cross-app drag and drop, updates to Weather and Apple Maps, and more.
  • FaceTime is also coming to the web, meaning Windows and Android users will be able to join FaceTime calls. Hilariously, this is what Apple mocked up to show an Android device alongside an iPhone (Twitter), something so off the beaten path I don’t even know what it is.
  • Apple also unveiled iCloud Plus as part of its paid iCloud plans, featuring random masked email addresses and a new private relay for encrypting device traffic. More on Apple’s VPN-like private relay(FastCo), which won’t be available in places like China.
  • iPadOS 15: Apple’s iPadOS 15 updates included introducing larger widgets and more freedom to place widgets anywhere, improved multitasking, an app drawer, and some useful features coming to iOS as well, such as a built-in web browser with extensions. 
  • There wasn’t a lot of other major tablet news, but it’s all clearly enough for my colleague Jon Fingas to write Apple’s iPadOS 15 is a wake-up call for Android tablet makers
  • That said, things like support for multi-users, a better Files app, better support for external displays, and a few other useful ideas weren’t touched on. Really, one of the best new features on the iPad was split-screen multitasking which has been around a while… another year of waiting for major iPad boosts?
  • For macOS and other accessories, the next major release of macOS will be called macOS Monterey. New features include Universal Control for seamlessly moving a mouse from a Mac to an iPad, and Macs get AirPlay too. 
  • watchOS, AirPods, Health, and more all saw some updates, with those rounded up here (TechCrunch).
  • One detail: Apple has introduced Siri for third-party devices now, too (The Verge).

Let’s get a couple of other things out of the way, too:

  • As you might’ve known by now, Apple didn’t reveal any hardware (no new MacBook Pros, as rumored) which is always a roll of the dice for WWDC. Those who went all-in on new hardware lost out.
  • Apple definitely copied a bunch of Android and Google developments and features, including, at least, Google Lens, Google Maps AR for directions, and elements like on-device natural language processing vs cloud computations.
  • The Google Lens copycat, via a new feature called Apple Live Text(The Verge), looks smooth.
  • And Apple tried to kill(Gizmodo) at least, Zoom, Citymapper, Multi-Device Keyboards and Mice, and Peloton Artist Series Workouts. It’s possibly trying to kill VPNs with the new iCloud Plus, and with random masked email addresses, maybe Hey, too.
  • Overall: nothing Apple announced or released was a game-changer, but it continues to advance its ecosystem in a mostly cohesive way we just don’t see from Google.

🌠 Google didn’t want Apple to get all the limelight, putting out a big Pixel feature drop just ahead of WWDC, which brings ‘astrolapse,’ Locked Folder, more to Pixel devices with its latest update (Android Authority)

📺 Also, Stadia is finally coming to Android TV, Chromecast with Google TV this month, 18 months after Stadia emerged (Android Authority)

👉 OnePlus CEO ‘leaks’ company’s own phone: The Nord N200 is coming to the US for under $250 (Android Authority)

📂 Report: Google, Vivo, Xiaomi foldable phones to launch in Q4 2021 (Android Authority)

🎧 The Jaybird Vista 2 are noise-cancelling earbuds that are tough as nails (Android Authority)

🔊 How software sounds in Slack, Windows, Alexa, and more, are created (CNBC).

🍏 Apple paid out millions after iPhone repair techs posted a customer’s nude photos to Facebook (The Verge).

🚓 Australian police and FBI net a huge number of “criminal underworld figures” in worldwide sting using encrypted app AN0M, which was developed by the FBI, and uh, wasn’t so encrypted. Expect a film about this any minute… (ABC). Hilariously, you can enter your details to see if you’re under investigation! (Twitter).

🤑 DOJ recovers 63.7 Bitcoins paid out in Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack (Engadget).

🤔 Tesla’s head of heavy duty trucking, an executive who’s been at the company for a decade and who previously led the entire automotive business from September 2018 until March 2021, has left the company (TechCrunch).

📉 The price of batteries has declined by 97% in the last three decades (Our World in Data).

⚡ MIT engineers have discovered a new way of generating electricity, possibly for use in tiny-scale applications (SciTechDaily).

🔨 Bosch opened a new billion-dollar chip plant in Germany to start making chips for power tools in July and automotive chips in September (Reuters).

🚀 Jeff Bezos will fly to the edge of space next month, along with his brother and the winner of an online auction (The Verge).

🧲 A new way to shape metal nanoparticles: magnetic field (Wired).

😷 “How can Rabies still exist and be as prevalent as it is, if it’s lethality is 99.99% and it’s disease cycle is relatively short?” (r/askscience).

Chart Tuesday

Here are all the countries with a higher life expectancy than the United States (World Health Organization 2019) (r/dataisbeautiful):

us life expectancy
  • Looking at the UN data, it’s amazing how much longer people are living between 2000 and 2019. Malawi went from an astonishing 44.7 years in 2000 to 65.6 years. Zimbabwe 46.6 to a still lowly 60.7.
  • The US, on the other hand, went from 78.6 in 2010, to 78.6 in 2015… to 78.5 in 2019.

All the best,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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