Apple announces new privacy features

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Greetings friends! I am your personal technical columnist. I’ll take the wheel for today’s introduction.

This week is important to Apple, which is hosting its annual conference for software developers making apps for Apple phones, tablets, watches, and computers. The company kicked off the week-long event with a video presentation broadcast on Monday, outlining its new features.

The presentation was packed with jargon and deeply technical stuff that only engineers would understand. But here are the news that may interest you:

  • Apple is making it harder for apps to track you. Unbeknownst to many of us, thousands of apps we lovingly use on our smartphones have invisible trackers that run in the background. Trackers may be collecting and sharing our personal information, such as our location, email address, and phone number, with companies and other entities in order to serve targeted ads. You cannot enable or disable application tracking.

    That may change soon. Apple said that starting this fall with its upcoming mobile operating system, iOS 14, it will require so-called third-party apps to request its permission to track it down.

    Apple will also give iPhone and iPad users more control over how their location is shared. Instead of sharing your precise location with an app, you will be able to share your approximate location, giving the developer a rough idea of ​​where you are. That might come in handy if you’re using a news app, for example, and want to see articles about your hometown, but don’t want to accurately share where you live.

    In the past, Apple and Google have required apps to request permission to access sensors, such as their camera and microphone. These new protections expand Apple’s efforts to provide users with greater transparency and control over the data collected from us. (Your move, Google)

  • The Mac is about to make a big change. Have you ever noticed how slow Macs feel compared to Apple mobile devices? Macs use Intel processors, but mobile processors have outperformed Intel chips in terms of speed and power efficiency. Even the cheapest new Apple phone, the $ 399 iPhone SE, in some ways outperforms more powerful Mac laptops, which cost more than $ 2,500.

    That’s why it’s a big deal that Apple this week announces the start of Apple’s transition from Mac to silicon, which will be based on the same chip architecture that powers iPhones and iPads. If all goes well, we can expect Macs with more nimble performance and much longer battery life, and they should also be able to run iPhone and iPad apps.

    The transition to Apple chips is expected to take two years. If you buy a Mac in 2022, it must be powered by an iPad, but it works with a mouse and keyboard.

  • Apple Watch is trying to be more useful during the pandemic. Apple said the next version of the Apple Watch operating system, WatchOS 7, would take advantage of the watch’s motion sensors to detect when you’re washing your hands, and it will start a 20-second timer to make sure you wash well. The watch will also use its sensors to track sleep patterns. These are relatively minor new features, but we could all use better sleep and hygiene these days.

Thanks to Brian for teaming up with me. This is Shira Ovide for the rest of the office today.

The past few months have been a LOT. As the stress on our bodies, finances, families, and minds has built up, it has become more difficult to seek help, as doctors and mental health specialists paused to see patients in person due to fears of coronavirus.

But a silver lining, said Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, psychologist and founder of the mental health resource Therapy for Black Girls, is that online therapy sessions have been more rewarding for some people, though that hasn’t been true for everyone. .

For some, eliminating face-to-face interaction from therapy makes difficult conversations easier. “Adding a screen is a sufficient barrier where perhaps it is safer to share something,” said Dr. Bradford.

Dr. Bradford had advice for people seeking therapy right now through online dating. During virtual sessions, try to find a private and personal space, even if it means taking a video call alone in your car, while walking or in the bathroom with the door closed.

He also advised people to give themselves time to transition after the sessions are over, rather than returning directly to family or work obligations.

Dr. Bradford also said that people should not be afraid to find a new therapist if their current one is not a good combination, for example, a professional who does not respond to the additional stress some black people feel.

For cost-conscious people, Dr. Bradford said that some individual therapists and apps like Talkspace offer free appointments, and several health insurers have been waiving copays for people to talk to therapists practically during the coronavirus.

And nonprofit groups like the Loveland Foundation, Open Path Psychotherapy Collective, and Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation offer financial assistance or lower-cost options for people seeking therapy.

Baby swans rescued! Look how blurry they are! (Thanks to my colleague Dodai Stewart for sharing this.)

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