Learning Apps Have Boomed During the Pandemic. Now Comes the Real Test

After a tough year of toggling between remote and in-person schooling, many students, teachers and their families feel burned out from pandemic learning. But companies that market digital learning tools to schools are enjoying a coronavirus windfall.

Venture and equity financing for education technology start-ups has more than doubled, surging to $12.58 billion worldwide last year from $4.81 billion in 2019, according to a report from CB Insights, a firm that tracks start-ups and venture capital.

During the same period, the number of laptops and tablets shipped to primary and secondary schools in the United States nearly doubled to 26.7 million, from 14 million, according to data from Futuresource Consulting, a market research company in Britain.

“We’ve seen a real explosion in demand,” said Michael Boreham, a senior market analyst at Futuresource. “It’s been a massive, massive sea change out of necessity.”

co-founded Blackboard, now one of the largest learning management systems for schools and colleges. “You can’t train hundreds of thousands of teachers and millions of students in online education and not expect there to be profound effects.”

Tech evangelists have long predicted that computers would transform education. The future of learning, many promised, involved apps powered by artificial intelligence that would adjust lessons to children’s abilities faster and more precisely than their human teachers ever could.

improve students’ outcomes.

Instead, during the pandemic, many schools simply turned to digital tools like videoconferencing to transfer traditional practices and schedules online. Critics say that push to replicate the school day for remote students has only exacerbated disparities for many children facing pandemic challenges at home.

“We will never again in our lifetime see a more powerful demonstration of the conservatism of educational systems,” said Justin Reich, an assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studies online learning and recently wrote the book “Failure to Disrupt: Why Technology Alone Can’t Transform Education.”

Apps that enable online interactions between teachers and students are reporting extraordinary growth, and investors have followed.

Among the biggest deals, CB Insights said: Zuoyebang, a Chinese ed-tech giant that offers live online lessons and homework help for students in kindergarten through 12th grade, raised a total of $2.35 billion last year from investors including Alibaba and Sequoia Capital China.

Yuanfudao, another Chinese tutoring start-up, raised a total of $3.5 billion from investors like Tencent. And Kahoot, a quiz app from Norway used by millions of teachers, recently raised about $215 million from SoftBank.

raised $100 million. Now Newsela is valued at $1 billion, a milestone that may be common among consumer apps like Instacart and Deliveroo but is still relatively rare for education apps aimed at American public schools.

Nearpod also reported exponential growth. After making the video lesson app free, the start-up saw its user base surge to 1.2 million teachers at the end of last year — a fivefold jump over 2019. Last month, Nearpod announced that it had agreed to be acquired by Renaissance, a company that sells academic assessment software to schools, for $650 million.

Some consumer tech giants that provided free services to schools also reaped benefits, gaining audience share and getting millions of students accustomed to using their product.

more than 150 million students and educators, up from 40 million early last year. And Zoom Video Communications says it has provided free services during the pandemic to more than 125,000 schools in 25 countries.

But whether tools that teachers have come to rely on for remote learning can maintain their popularity will hinge on how useful the apps are in the classroom.

Nesi Harold, an eighth-grade science teacher in the Houston area, have used features on the app to poll students, create quizzes or ask students to use a drawing tool to sketch the solar system — digital tools that work for both live classroom and remote instruction.

“It allows me to broadcast the lesson to all of my learners, no matter where they are,” said Ms. Harold, who simultaneously teaches in-person and remote students.

one complaint: She can’t store more than a few lessons at a time on Nearpod because her school hasn’t bought a license. “It’s still pricey,” she said.

The future in education is less clear for enterprise services, like Zoom, that were designed for business use and adopted by schools out of pandemic necessity.

In an email, Kelly Steckelberg, Zoom’s chief financial officer, said she expected educational institutions would invest in “new ways to virtually communicate” beyond remote teaching — such as using Zoom for Parent Teacher Association meetings, school board meetings and parent-teacher conferences.

Mr. Chasen, the ed-tech entrepreneur, is counting on it. He recently founded Class Technologies, a start-up that offers online course management tools — like attendance-taking and grading features — for educators and corporate trainers holding live classes on Zoom. The company has raised $46 million from investors including Bill Tai, one of the earliest backers of Zoom.

“I’m not coming up with some new advanced A.I. methodology,” Mr. Chasen said of his new app for video classrooms. “You know what teachers needed? They needed the ability to hand out work in class, give a quiz and grade it.”

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Learning Apps Have Boomed in the Pandemic. Now Comes the Real Test.

After a tough year of toggling between remote and in-person schooling, many students, teachers and their families feel burned out from pandemic learning. But companies that market digital learning tools to schools are enjoying a coronavirus windfall.

Venture and equity financing for education technology start-ups has more than doubled, surging to $12.58 billion worldwide last year from $4.81 billion in 2019, according to a report from CB Insights, a firm that tracks start-ups and venture capital.

During the same period, the number of laptops and tablets shipped to primary and secondary schools in the United States nearly doubled to 26.7 million, from 14 million, according to data from Futuresource Consulting, a market research company in Britain.

“We’ve seen a real explosion in demand,” said Michael Boreham, a senior market analyst at Futuresource. “It’s been a massive, massive sea change out of necessity.”

co-founded Blackboard, now one of the largest learning management systems for schools and colleges. “You can’t train hundreds of thousands of teachers and millions of students in online education and not expect there to be profound effects.”

Tech evangelists have long predicted that computers would transform education. The future of learning, many promised, involved apps powered by artificial intelligence that would adjust lessons to children’s abilities faster and more precisely than their human teachers ever could.

improve students’ outcomes.

Instead, during the pandemic, many schools simply turned to digital tools like videoconferencing to transfer traditional practices and schedules online. Critics say that push to replicate the school day for remote students has only exacerbated disparities for many children facing pandemic challenges at home.

“We will never again in our lifetime see a more powerful demonstration of the conservatism of educational systems,” said Justin Reich, an assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studies online learning and recently wrote the book “Failure to Disrupt: Why Technology Alone Can’t Transform Education.”

Apps that enable online interactions between teachers and students are reporting extraordinary growth, and investors have followed.

Among the biggest deals, CB Insights said: Zuoyebang, a Chinese ed-tech giant that offers live online lessons and homework help for students in kindergarten through 12th grade, raised a total of $2.35 billion last year from investors including Alibaba and Sequoia Capital China.

Yuanfudao, another Chinese tutoring start-up, raised a total of $3.5 billion from investors like Tencent. And Kahoot, a quiz app from Norway used by millions of teachers, recently raised about $215 million from SoftBank.

raised $100 million. Now Newsela is valued at $1 billion, a milestone that may be common among consumer apps like Instacart and Deliveroo but is still relatively rare for education apps aimed at American public schools.

Nearpod also reported exponential growth. After making the video lesson app free, the start-up saw its user base surge to 1.2 million teachers at the end of last year — a fivefold jump over 2019. Last month, Nearpod announced that it had agreed to be acquired by Renaissance, a company that sells academic assessment software to schools, for $650 million.

Some consumer tech giants that provided free services to schools also reaped benefits, gaining audience share and getting millions of students accustomed to using their product.

more than 150 million students and educators, up from 40 million early last year. And Zoom Video Communications says it has provided free services during the pandemic to more than 125,000 schools in 25 countries.

But whether tools that teachers have come to rely on for remote learning can maintain their popularity will hinge on how useful the apps are in the classroom.

Nesi Harold, an eighth-grade science teacher in the Houston area, have used features on the app to poll students, create quizzes or ask students to use a drawing tool to sketch the solar system — digital tools that work for both live classroom and remote instruction.

“It allows me to broadcast the lesson to all of my learners, no matter where they are,” said Ms. Harold, who simultaneously teaches in-person and remote students.

one complaint: She can’t store more than a few lessons at a time on Nearpod because her school hasn’t bought a license. “It’s still pricey,” she said.

The future in education is less clear for enterprise services, like Zoom, that were designed for business use and adopted by schools out of pandemic necessity.

In an email, Kelly Steckelberg, Zoom’s chief financial officer, said she expected educational institutions would invest in “new ways to virtually communicate” beyond remote teaching — such as using Zoom for Parent Teacher Association meetings, school board meetings and parent-teacher conferences.

Mr. Chasen, the ed-tech entrepreneur, is counting on it. He recently founded Class Technologies, a start-up that offers online course management tools — like attendance-taking and grading features — for educators and corporate trainers holding live classes on Zoom. The company has raised $46 million from investors including Bill Tai, one of the earliest backers of Zoom.

“I’m not coming up with some new advanced A.I. methodology,” Mr. Chasen said of his new app for video classrooms. “You know what teachers needed? They needed the ability to hand out work in class, give a quiz and grade it.”

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Do You Seriously Need To Stop Using WhatsApp?

WhatsApp’s privacy backlash has returned—you need to make a change to your account or risk losing access to all your messages. WhatsApp’s nightmare start to 2021 has also exposed a much more serious problem that could be a game-changer for the platform. Millions more could leave. Should you do the same?

Don’t worry, WhatsApp assured its two billion users when hit by a privacy backlash earlier this year—we don’t share that much data with Facebook and we were overly hasty when we said you can delete your account unless you accept our new privacy policy by February 8. And so, despite the headlines urging users to ditch WhatsApp, despite soaring installs for Telegram and Signal, the sensible advice was to stay put.

Fast forward a few weeks, though, and the WhatsApp situation has taken a turn for the worse. It now seems clear that all those angry user complaints have prompted nothing out of WhatsApp beyond a smart PR campaign and a short delay. We appear to be right back where we started. And this has raised some very serious concerns.

In response to the privacy backlash, WhatsApp rightly pointed out that its end-to-end encrypted messages are protected against any snooping, including from WhatsApp itself. The company also pointed out, rightly again, that the change of terms simply enabled Facebook business customers to chat to you on the platform.

But WhatsApp, which says security and privacy are in its DNA, is owned by the world’s most avaricious data harvesting machine. And so, it’s unsurprising that WhatsApp’s PR blitz has ignored the metadata harvesting issue. “Metadata—data about your data,” Cyjax CISO Ian Thornton-Trump explains, “is almost as powerful as the actual data.”

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Let’s not forget that the backlash came in two parts. First, Apple introduced its privacy labels, and it was immediately clear that WhatsApp collects much more of our data than Signal, Telegram and iMessage. Whether or not that data is shared with Facebook is important, but not as important as the rationale for collecting it in the first place.

Have you read WhatsApp’s privacy policy? Likely not. In it, WhatsApp says, “we use all the information we have to help us operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our services,” and that “we share your information to help us operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our services.”

WhatsApp also says that “Facebook and the other companies in the Facebook family may use information from us to improve your experiences within their services such as making product suggestions (for example, of friends or connections, or of interesting content) and showing relevant offers and ads.”

Remember—if the product is free, then you’re the product.

“Other apps,” WhatsApp has now told users, “say they’re better because they know even less information than WhatsApp—we believe people are looking for apps to be both reliable and safe, even if that requires WhatsApp having some limited data.”

But it isn’t “limited data.” It’s a long list of data, all linked to your identity. We know why WhatsApp wants your metadata—because it tells us in its privacy policy. And no-one claims Signal or iMessage or Telegram are unreliable or unsafe because they collect less data from their users. And how does WhatsApp collecting your data for advertising tally with it “requiring” your data to keep its app “reliable and safe?”

This isn’t complicated. WhatsApp’s privacy label is awful. It’s the only leading secure messenger that harvests “data linked to you,” including your device ID, for “developer’s advertising and marketing.” It also collects your contact info, user ID and device ID for ominously vague “other purposes.” Other messengers collect your data to tailor functionality. WhatsApp is harvesting it for other reasons.

The second part of that backlash, the forced change of terms, hit hard because it seemed WhatsApp was collecting this data and sharing it with Facebook—that was the misreporting. It’s all good, WhatsApp said, we don’t share all your data with Facebook. But suddenly WhatsApp had shone a light on the fact that there is some data sharing. The fact this isn’t new is hardly the point. Those privacy labels are stark.

More importantly, the rationale behind collecting all this data in the first place was downplayed. It seemed that WhatsApp’s was taking the view that the backlash would blow over and we would all forget. We collect it because we need it, was the message. But there was no word on exactly what was being used, and how. This is your data. You have the right to know what’s being collected and how it’s being used.

Yes, WhatsApp is a free platform. And they are completely entitled to say we collect certain data fields and use those to send you ads that might be relevant. We, as users, can then choose whether that’s acceptable to us or not. What they’re not entitled to do is obfuscate, to talk around the subject and refuse to provide transparency, to say that it’s an inevitable and intangible part of this free service they offer.

WhatsApp isn’t helped by the fact that it’s owned by Facebook, and Facebook’s privacy labels appear worse than their peers in each category. As bad as WhatsApp is, Facebook Messenger is much worse, Instagram and Facebook itself worse still. And when you consider that this is all part of the slow process of integrating Facebook’s various platforms at the back-end, it’s not a good sign for the future.

Ironically, most users accept that some form of data collection is a price worth paying for free platforms. But there has to be a limit. And there has to be transparency. It is impossible to argue that the data collection is proportionate with the services on offer. Facebook reported $28.1 billion in revenues last quarter—it’s not scraping a living.

WhatsApp’s specific backlash has been blown out of proportion. The change of terms is more benign than it was (mis)reported at the time. WhatsApp’s owner, Facebook, wants to enable its business customers to communicate with you on WhatsApp, and only if you agree to those contacts. If you do, though, some of those messages might be stored off of WhatsApp, outside its fabled end-to-end encryption.

This is a non-issue. Who cares about the security of your messages with your dry cleaner or supermarket—especially given you have opted in each specific chat? But it still breaks WhatsApp’s existing data handling terms and so the change needs to be made. As WhatsApp says, it needs to sell services to keep the messenger free. But the change has opened WhatsApp to belated scrutiny on its metadata—and that has not gone well. WhatsApp’s privacy issue is not going to be put back into its Pandora’s Box.

You now have a few weeks to accept WhatsApp’s new terms. After that, WhatsApp has now confirmed in a not especially helpful FAQ, “you won’t have full functionality of WhatsApp until you accept. For a short time,” it says, “you’ll be able to receive calls and notifications, but won’t be able to read or send messages from the app.”

WhatsApp says that “if you haven’t accepted by [May 15], WhatsApp will not delete your account,” but you will, effectively, lose use of your account after “a short time.”

So, what does this actually mean? You will still be able to access the account for a while, albeit you won’t be able to read or send any messages. In WhatsApp’s terminology, your account will seemingly become “inactive.” And here WhatsApp’s policy is clear. “To maintain security, limit data retention, and protect the privacy of our users, WhatsApp accounts are generally deleted after 120 days of inactivity. Inactivity means the user hasn’t connected to WhatsApp.”

All of this is confusing. WhatsApp hasn’t said it will delete accounts after that “short time,” or even how long a grace period that is. But the media is reporting that deletions will take place and that’s not being corrected.

Even WhatsApp appeared confused over its plans as it delayed the February 8 deadline for accepting the new terms. On January 15th, WhatsApp said “we will make sure users have plenty of time to review and understand the terms—rest assured we never planned to delete any accounts based on this and will not do so in the future.”

That implies that accounts won’t be deleted. And maybe they won’t—despite headlines warning exactly that. I asked WhatsApp again whether they would confirm any of this, and they declined to answer. All WhatsApp says is that it has “extended the effective date to May 15th. If you haven’t accepted by then, WhatsApp will not delete your account. However, you won’t have full functionality of WhatsApp until you accept.”

Of course, one could be more cynical about a tweet sent on January 15, mid-backlash, that assured users that accounts would not be deleted over the change of terms, “we never planned to delete accounts based on this and will not do so in the future,” which was followed a month later by the news that accounts would be at best locked out and at worst deleted if terms are not accepted by May 15.

WhatsApp also declined to comment on this apparent contradiction.

Back in January, I advised users to stick with WhatsApp, albeit to maybe trial other options, particularly Signal, in parallel. I said there was no reason to ditch WhatsApp, that the issue around the change of terms had been overblown. But the way WhatsApp has managed this situation might just change that advice.

This was an opportunity to listen and engage, not to blitz users with slick PR while sticking to Plan A. Apple has changed the game by introducing privacy labels and removing ad tracking. Platforms either need to step up and change how they behave, or they risk losing users to alternatives that will. Facebook has made its stance against Apple’s changes clear. WhatsApp is doing the same.

The new privacy terms are fine to agree—there’s nothing to worry about there. But WhatsApp’s stubborn data collection and refusal to budge or even review the situation is pure Facebook. This is the clearest sign yet as to the direction WhatsApp is heading. So, do you seriously need to stop using WhatsApp? Maybe this time you do.

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Why You Should Stop Using Gmail On Your iPhone

If you’re one of hundreds of millions of people using the Gmail app on your iPhone, then Google’s stark new data harvesting disclosures should serve as a serious warning. You should delete the app from your phone today—here’s why.

The news this week that Google will not develop secretive new methods to track its users across the internet is very welcome. Ignoring the fact that its existing stance on tracking is now under investigation, it’s good that, yet again, Google is finally hurrying after Apple on the privacy front, before it falls too far behind.

Protecting the privacy of users is a philosophy—a fairly binary one at that. You either believe it’s the right thing to do, or you don’t. And if you appear to be ticking boxes, with times changing around you, then it comes across as fairly hollow. Whether you’re an Apple or Google fan, iPhone or Android, Safari or Chrome, you’ll know that privacy is core to Apple’s DNA—that simply isn’t the case when it comes to Google.

As ESET’s Jake Moore points out, “Apple is ramping up its privacy claim, firing on all cylinders to keep their users’ data protected. With data firmly being the currency of the 21st century, Apple, as ever, is thinking outside the box with how it operates.”

More evidence of this in recent days, as Google has belatedly started adding privacy labels to its most popular titles on Apple’s App Store—including YouTube and Gmail, with more to follow. I’m sure it’s just an unfortunate coincidence that Google stopped updating these apps at the exact time Apple mandated that any updates needed to carry such labels and is only now putting those in place. 

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MORE FROM FORBESWhatsApp Beaten By Apple’s New iMessage Privacy UpdateBy Zak Doffman

These privacy labels have become a game-changer in a world where smartphone users and their information has become a product fueling the staggeringly sized mobile marketing industry. As alarming as browser tracking might be, when an app on your phone can tap into all of the information it carries, and then use that to algorithmically determine how best to manipulate you into buying goods and services, that’s worse.

Some have suggested that Google might have been carrying out work behind the scenes to tone down its data harvesting. I doubt that’s true at any scale. And so, here’s a different theory. If you need to cross a minefield, then better someone else goes first. The global media storm awaiting the results of Apple’s privacy label launch was just such a minefield, and Google was able to watch (and learn) as Facebook went first.

Not only did Facebook’s various missteps plot something of a path, but they also took the sting out of the media response—privacy labels were news for a while, and then that inevitably faded. There has certainly been no first mover advantage here. Countless articles appeared on the release of Facebook’s (alarming) privacy labels. WhatsApp’s woes, in particular, become something of a viral storm. Google’s delayed and now gradual approach has triggered a much more muted response. 

And so, to Gmail. Google’s email app, the most popular productivity install on Apple’s App Store, finally has a privacy label. We can now see each data category and field in which Gmail can tap into your data, collecting it and processing it for its own use and subject, of course, to its own privacy policy. 

Google is a data harvesting machine in the same way as Facebook. And when it comes to platforms like Gmail, which is linked to your Google account and the other services you consume, there are multiple ways to collect your data and monitor your activity. And with a content-rich email platform like Gmail, there’s more than just metadata which Google can analyse to infer things like “which ads you’ll find most useful,” in its own words, and “the people who matter most to you online.”

Gmail’s privacy label is not pretty—you can see it below. The contrast with Apple Mail is stark, and so the comparison with Outlook may be more potent. Not only are Gmail’s labels much longer, but it captures your identifiers in every category. Gmail is also the only one of these three leading iOS email apps that passes your identifier and location data to third-party advertisers. Think that through for a moment.

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” security researcher Sean Wright points out. “Contrasting the apps makes it pretty obvious what the differences are.”

Gmail can gather most of the information on its privacy label from your use of the platform itself, whichever app or browser or client you use. But there are data fields that your phone provides that Google may not have been given access to—your location, your contacts, your search history, for example. And while the privacy labels are just an indicator of the most harvesting an app can do—they don’t tell us exactly what’s being taken and for what purpose, it tells us what we need to know.

Tommy Mysk, one of the researchers who caught TikTok snooping on iOS clipboards and Facebook downloading user links, explains that “while the Gmail app might be able to collect more info than Gmail in a web browser, the majority of the issues highlighted by the privacy labels still apply anywhere you use Gmail. Google has gigantic computing capabilities. They can infer all the data on their backend service.” 

Clearly true. But if we don’t pick and choose the apps we install based, at least in part, on the data they collect from us, then we send the message that it’s open-house on our information, that anything goes. If you access Gmail on your iPhone using a browser or through Apple’s own mail client, then Google is collecting less of your data and you are exercising more control. You are sending a message. As for the fact that Google collects so much data at the backend—well, that might be a reason to ditch Gmail altogether.

Absent any controls, Cyjax CISO Ian Thornton-Trump warns that “the ‘collection’ of all these data points may be fed into an AI model which may spawn a host of ethical questions around your inbox. Purchase confirmations could indicate health, marital status, political and religious persuasion, births and deaths… Will AI make suggestions that are crass, inappropriate or even offensive?”

This isn’t a suggestion that Gmail is taking steps in this direction—although users can judge their levels of SPAM and draw their own conclusions as to the algorithms operating behind the scenes. “I often wonder if email has become so noisy that it’s now become nearly unmanageable and if there is any profiling for advertising?” Thornton-Trump says. But it’s a warning that where all this data is open, not encrypted between senders and recipients, then it can be accessed. Facebook, by way of example, admits to monitoring Messenger content for compliance with its policies.

Gmail isn’t the only Google app now coming under scrutiny following these data disclosures. The privacy label for Classroom, for example, an app many have been forced to use as they homeschool their kids, is pretty depressing given what it’s being used for and that it’s mandated by many schools.

“Google’s primary business model is based on advertising,” Wright says, “and this shows in terms of the amount of data they collect from individuals. You could argue this is somewhat ok if you are not paying for that service, but what for their paid services like Workspace?”

I haven’t included Google’s YouTube, which has an even worse privacy label, because as a marketing platform that’s par for the course. Unsurprisingly, YouTube passes a lot of that data to advertisers. It’s very different with apps used for work and private communications. But, worryingly for Gmail users, it’s the only one of the four Google apps in the chart below that says that it passes your data to advertisers.

“It does seem like Google took a bunch of Edward Snowden presentations,” Thornton-Trump says, “and said ‘we should do this. Imagine the marketing and advertising opportunities if we monitor everything someone does online.’”

With Gmail in particular there are parallels with Facebook Messenger. If you know that a company has built a business mining and monetizing your data, then you need to beware the data you make readily available. WhatsApp’s defense against its own privacy backlash was to highlight its end-to-end encryption, the privacy of your actual content. You don’t get that with Messenger. And you don’t get that with Gmail.

Andy Yen, Founder and CEO of uber-secure ProtonMail, tells me that “it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see how much personal data Gmail collects. Google’s entire business model revolves around collecting as much private information on users as possible in order to benefit advertisers and other third parties. Even Apple Mail collects more data than it needs. It’s possible to provide reliable email while collecting minimal information.”

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According to Moore, “iPhone users with the Gmail app are breaking Apple’s desired ecosystem. But as Apple Mail allows Gmail accounts to be used, this latest revelation may make those people use the native Apple Mail app instead to reduce data leakage.” So, delete the Gmail app on your iPhone. If you’re sticking with Gmail itself, then you can use Apple Mail as the client.

Google was approached ahead of publication and asked about Gmail’s data harvesting, why it is out of step with similar apps, and why users should not switch to other clients instead of Google’s own app. The company did not provide a response.

Whether you’re on iPhone or Android, the last two years has seen the biggest ever shift toward protecting our privacy. But only if we use the tools that are in place to disable trackers and limit data capture, and if we judge the apps and services that we use by the liberties they take. What happens next is down to all of us.

“The amount of data connected to us can be extremely powerful and lucrative,” Moore says. “But the more people understand the trade-off behind our apps, the more companies will start to sway in removing such linked data.”

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Apple Loop: New iPhone 13 Leaks, Apple’s App Store Problems, M1 iMac Uncovered

Taking a look back at another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes the latest iPhone 13 leaks, the stubborn lightning port, Google Photos bonus, pressure on the App Store, Apple Stores’ opening doors, and the M1 iMac…

Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).

Lates iPhone 13 Leaks 

A raft of iPhone 13 details this week, presumably from the supply chains getting ready to step up production – after all you can’t suddenly magic up ten million components as Tim Cook steps out on stage in September! Let’s start with the discussions over storage; it feels a racing certainly that Apple will offer 1 TB of storage as an option across the range – previously this was limited to the Pro iPhone models:

“Apple currently only offers this capacity as an option in its iPad Pro models, but the additional storage would make sense for iPhone owners, especially those taking advantage of new photography features like ProRAW. ProRAW files are 10 to 12 times larger than HEIF or JPEG files, which means users will need a great deal more on-device storage or else pay for larger amounts of iCloud storage space.”

MacRumors.

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Faster Screens For 13

Causing the most excitement in Apple circles is the news of the display. Noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggests the iPhone 13 family will support a faster refreshing screen of 120Hz. No doubt Android circles will point out just how long this tech has been available on their smartphones:

“The latest note from Kuo suggests that both the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max will work with 120Hz support (like ProMotion on the iPad Pro). The report also confirms earlier rumors that the display panel on the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max will work with LTPO tech for more power-efficient operation.”

SlashGear.

This Port Is Not For Changing (Just Charging)

The final details this week cover the ports on the new iOS smartphones. For all the talk of going portless, or joining the iPad Pro with a USB-C connector, the iPhone 13 looks to be sticking with lightning:

“”We believe that USB-C is detrimental to the MFi business’s profitability, and its waterproof specification is lower than Lightning and MagSafe,” continues Kuo. “Therefore, if the iPhone abandons Lightning in the future, it may directly adopt the portless design with MagSafe support instead of using a USB-C port.””

Apple Insider.

From Apple To Google

Apple’s online services have been in the news this week as well. First up is one of Apple’s own moves; you can now transfer your iCloud photos to Google Photos from inside Apple’s cloud. It’s not immediate, as Apple will perform checks to ensure ownership of the various services. It’s nice to have data portability from Apple’s system, although I feel that this should be something universal across every online platform:

“As outlined in an Apple support document, you can go to Apple’s privacy website and sign in to see the “Transfer a copy of your data” option. If you select this and go through all the steps, Apple will transfer your ‌iCloud‌ photos and videos to Google ‌Photos‌. Transferring photos and videos from iCloud Photos does not remove the content you have stored with Apple, but it provides a backup method and stores a copy of the content on Google ‌Photos‌.”

MacRumors.

App Store Pressure

Meanwhile the App Store’s use of a single payment system – Apple’s – is coming under more pressure. In the UK the Competition and Markets Authority has opened an investigation. But it’s the legislation progressing through Arizona that could be the first significant disruption. An amendment to HB2005 would stop app store operators from mandating a preferred payment service to Arizona based developers. It has cleared the House of Representatives, and is heading to the the Senate and then the State Governor:

“The bill opens the door to developers using third-party payment systems, thereby allowing them to bypass the industry standard 30 percent cut Apple and Google have collected for years. It’s not clear how the tech companies will respond, as the bill could have significant effects on their businesses in the state of Arizona while also putting pressure on them to change the rules for all developers everywhere. Both Apple and Google declined to comment.”

The Verge.

The Doors Are Mostly Open

Apple has opened all of its Apple Stores in the US, the first time since the shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. But don’t expect to just walk in anywhere, many of the stores are running ‘appointment only’ systems:

“Not all Apple stores in the U.S. are fully open for walk-in customers to go inside and browse, however. Customers should check Apple’s website before heading to their store in case it is appointment-only or service is limited in other ways.”

CNBC.

And Finally…

Apple started the Apple Silicon adventure with the lower end MacBook laptops and a revitalised mac Mini. Other models are sure to show up in the next 18 months, but YouTuber Luke Mian has taken the circuity and carefully hacked together an M1 powered 2011 iMac:

“Miani notes that the Mac mini motherboard is so small that it can fit snugly within the iMac chassis without any modifications. Using an HDMI display adapter from the Mac mini motherboard to the custom Apple iMac display connector was the vast majority of work on the project.Essentially, the Mac mini is running unmodified within the chassis of the iMac and using it as a display with the help of that adapter circuitry. This, however, comes with several limitations.”

Apple Insider.

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