17+ ways Apple is responding to coronavirus

Apple is attempting to do as much as it can to contribute to the global response to the Coronavirus pandemic. We’ve identified 17 things Apple has done so far, quite apart from the work it will be doing behind the scenes to fix its supply chains, in the fight. 

Apple warned its investors 

Apple in mid-February warned investors that it would fail to meet its previous estimated revenue targets of $63 billion to $67 billion. At the time, it cited lower customer demand in Greater China, but this now seems to have become a global problem. The company’s stock continues to decline, though most analysts anticipate recovery toward the end of the year. 

WWDC will be held online, not in place 

Apple will not hold its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Jose this year. Instead of inviting thousands of the most important people in its community to get together in one place, the company will hold its conference online instead. It promises its show will still be packed with information. 

No March event? 

Apple had been expected to announce new products during a March special launch event. These were thought to be new iPad Pro models, new Macs and the iPhone 9/iPhone SE device. Apple did announce Macs and the new iPad Pro in a March press release, but th launch of its new, lower-cost iPhone may have been delayed on a lack of demand and logistical problems. 

Sharing the wealth 

Apple has donated in excess of $15 million to help support treatment of the sick and mitigate the economic impact of the crisis. This has included substantial donations in Italy. 

The company also supports two-to-one corporate matching for any employee donations that relate to coronavirus. The company is presently sourcing and donating millions of masks to health professionals in the U.S. and Europe. 

“To every one of the heroes on the front lines, we thank you,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a Tweet. 

Siri gets smarter 

Siri can now help you figure out whether you are suffering from COV-19. When you ask it a question such as: “Do I have the coronavirus?” you’ll be guided through a series of questions to help you answer the question. You’ll be advised to stay home or to request further help if your symptoms appear severe. 

App Store help 

The company is promoting telehealth applications in the App Store when customers ask Siri about coronavirus. It is accelerating the reviews process of COVID-19 applications from reputable sources to help make sure users have the best available information rather than false or misleading information. 

Apple News gets proactive 

There are lots of conflicting claims around COV-19. This is confusing and at a time when the global message needs to be utterly clear, Apple News has moved to curate the content it provides. It now provides a COVID-19 news section offering what it calls “verified” reporting from what it calls “trusted news outlets.” 

On iOS and iPad OS devices you’ll find a hand-picked set of headlines and links to a detailed coverage page. 

Staying in? Read a book 

Apple’s Books store in the U.S. now offers a small collection of free books (including audiobooks) for adults and children to keep you occupied while remaining isolated. 

Oprah has an Apple TV+ show on the topic 

Oprah has announced a new Apple TV+ show that will focus on the pandemic. 

“Oprah Talks COVID-19” is a new free to view Apple TV+ series featuring remote discussions with leaders and others affected by the disease. Oprah wants to provide insight, meaning and tangible advice to help us through the crisis.  

Apple has closed its retail stores 

Apple closed all its retail stores in China. Those stores are now open, but it has closed its stores everywhere else on the planet. 

The idea here is to limit contact between groups of people. Unfortunately, some customers whose devices were being repaired by Apple Geniuses may have been told they can’t now pick up their item until the stores open once again. 

Apple has committed that hourly workers will continue to receive pay “in alignment with business as usual operations.” 

Adopt remote working 

Apple has moved to flexible work arrangements worldwide outside of Greater China. It is urging workers to work remotely if they can. It is also urging those who must attend the workplace physically to  stay at least two meters apart. 

There have been reports that Apple’s culture of secrecy is making remote work quite hard to do – but that’s only to be expected, and problems have a tendency of getting solved. The company is also deep cleaning all its sites and offices. 

Caring for employee health 

Apple is introducing new health screenings and temperature checks across all its offices. The company has also moved to accommodate employees who need to take a leave of absence to accommodate personal or family health circumstances created by COVID-19 — including recovering from an illness, caring for a sick loved one, mandatory quarantining, or childcare challenges due to school closures. 

Promoting credible information 

Apple is promoting official government information videos via iTunes/Apple Music in the U.S., and also on its home page. 

Reduce bandwidth demands 

In line with other streaming media providers, Apple has committed to reducing the resolution of shows streamed through its Apple TV+ network in Europe. 

Curating podcasting content 

Apple’s podcasts app now features a row of reputable Coronavirus-related content. The company is also focusing more on personal development topics through its podcasting service. 

Maintaining support 

MacRumors cites an internal memo to Apple Authorized Service Providers in which Apple says its network of authorized repair shops will receive maximum payouts for qualifying product repairs for the months of March and April. 

Apple Card assistance 

The consequences of what is taking place are impacting everybody and creating real hardship for many. Apple Card users have been told that if they need help making it through, they can enroll in a new customer assistance program that will allow them to skip their March payments.  

You should pay attention 

Apple isn’t doing all of these things out of a sudden attack of altruism or as a contribution to some twisted form of April Fool’s joke. 

It is doing them because it knows we face a global problem that, if left unchecked, will overwhelm global health provision services, cost vast numbers of lives, and generate an economic slow-down akin to the Great Depression, or worse.   

Some of those consequences may now be unavoidable

Cook recently said: 

“There is no mistaking the challenge of this moment. The entire Apple family is indebted to the heroic first responders, doctors, nurses, researchers, public health experts and public servants globally who have given every ounce of their spirit to help the world meet this moment. We do not yet know with certainty when the greatest risk will be behind us.” 

That Apple is applying the full extent of its energies in this attempt should make even the greatest cynic wake up to the need to practice social distancing, hide indoors and wash their hands. 

Those small steps seem the least we can do for medical staff across the entire planet who are even now risking (and in many cases, losing) their own lives on the front line of our struggle against this disease. 

Are you an Apple, iOS or Mac developer who is offering free services, or augmenting existing ones to help in this struggle? Please drop me a line and I’ll let people know. 

Source: https://www.computerworld.com/article/3533361/17-ways-apple-is-responding-to-coronavirus.html 

Yelp offers $25M free Ads to Small Businesses

As restaurants struggle to stay afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic, Yelp says it will offer $25 million in relief to support independently owned restaurants.

“To get through this challenging and uncertain time, it’s important that we all come together as a community … and to help lift those hit hardest by the impact of this pandemic,” Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO of the online restaurant-review company, wrote Friday (March 20) on Yelp’s blog. 

He said the company is waiving advertising fees for small eateries and bars that remain open during the crisis. Firms will also receive free access to Yelp page upgrades to help facilitate communication of information like reduced operating hours. 

Yelp is creating a banner alert that establishments can place on their review pages with special messages to customers. Businesses will be able to indicate if they’re temporarily closed, have adjusted their hours or are only open for takeout and delivery. Stoppelman said Yelp will also add a “contact-free” delivery option to a food ordering app that it offers in partnership with Grubhub. 

The relief efforts are available to independently owned or franchised restaurants or nightlife spots in Canada or the United States (including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Firms must also have fewer than five locations and must have purchased their products directly through Yelp rather than via a third party. 

Yelp’s data show that patronage at U.S. restaurants has fallen by 54 percent over the past week, and 69 percent for nightlife businesses. 

“We know businesses of all kinds are having to adapt and make rapid changes,” Stoppelman said. 

The assistance comes as governors in five states – Massachusetts, California, Ohio, Illinois and Washington – have ordered bars and dine-in restaurants to shut down in an effort to slow COVID-19’s spread. 

Source: https://www.pymnts.com/coronavirus/2020/yelp-offers-free-ads-to-restaurants-bars/amp/

Amazon, Walmart among companies hiring during coronavirus

Amazon plans to hire 100,000 employees, Walmart is looking for 150,000 

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to hit the United States, certain professions have been called into action: health care professionals, first responders and workers who stock the shelves. Amazon and Walmart are two top companies hiring in the last category, and each is bolstering their staffs with employees who help provide cleaning supplies and other essential goods. 

Amazon said it is looking to hire 100,000 new workers for its U.S. warehouse and delivery wings in order to keep pace with rising demand during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The company also plans to pay workers at its U.S. fulfillment centers an extra $2 per hourthrough April, as well as offer pay bumps to employees in other countries. 

Amazon expects to spend $350 million in wage bumps in the United States, Europe and Canada. 

Meanwhile, Walmart plans to hire 150,000 temporary workers by the end of May for its stores and distribution centers. It said some roles could become permanent over time. 

The company also said it will expedite its application time from two weeks to one day. 

“We know millions of Americans who are usually employed are temporarily out of work, and at the same time, we’re seeing strong demand,” Walmart President and Chief Executive Officer Doug 

McMillon said in a statement. “We’re looking for people who see Walmart as a chance to earn extra money and perform a vital service to their community.” 

Other big brands are hiring quickly, too, including Dollar Tree and 7-Eleven. Amazon’s stock ticked up 5 percent in the last five days, while Walmart’s jumped 1 percent. 

Source: https://www.foxbusiness.com/lifestyle/amazon-walmart-among-companies-hiring-during-coronavirus  

Apply Now: European Innovation Council Accelerator program: Commission calls on innovators to combat coronavirus, sets aside €164 million in ‘fast funding’

The European Commission is calling on innovators – whether they be startups or ‘regular’ SMEs – to apply for fast-track funding from the European Innovation Council Accelerator program in an effort to combat COVID-19.

At present, the Commission has set aside a budget of €164 million in what it refers to as a “bottom-up call” for companies to submit technological innovations that could help in treating, testing, monitoring or other aspects of the Coronavirus outbreak.

The deadline is Wednesday 18 March at 5PM CEST, so better hurry up if that means you – or spread the word in your local ecosystems and communities to make sure the awareness spreads in time for the tight deadline.

Important to note: there are no predefined thematic priorities and applicants with innovations related to COVID-19 will be evaluated in the same way as other applicants, the Commission promises.

The ultimate goal is to create or accelerate innovations to combat the coronavirus outbreak, whether through EIC grants or ‘blended financing’ (basically a mix of grants with equity funding, which the European Innovation Council has started experimenting with recently) or by facilitating access to alternative investment sources.

For more information on the European Commission’s various activities in response to the virus outbreak, please go here.

Feature image creditGerd Altmann / Pixabay

Source: Tech Eu

WhatsApp unveils $1M grant, info hub to fight coronavirus rumors

WhatsApp  has long grappled with its platform being used to spread misinformation. In the latest move, today it announced two initiatives to fight specifically against fake news and other misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Facebook -owned instant messaging service announced the WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub — in partnership with the WHO, UNICEF, and UNDP — to offer simple, actionable guidance, general tips and resources for users around the world to be better informed about the disease and hence reduce the spread of rumors.

WhatsApp said it is working with the WHO and UNICEF to provide messaging hotlines for people around the world to use directly. These hotlines will provide information and will be listed on the WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub. It did not share exactly when the hotline will be ready for use.

The messaging firm said it is also donating $1 million to the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN). The $1 million grant will help in fact-checking for the #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance, which spans more than 100 local organizations in at least 45 countries.

WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub

The grant will aim to train people to use the advanced features within WhatsApp Business, including the WhatsApp Business API. Expanding the presence of these IFCN certified fact-checking organizations could help ensure local communities are aware and responding to potential harmful rumors, the firm said.

The announcement today comes days after it became apparent that WhatsApp, which is used by more than 2 billion users, continues to face issues with how its platform is used to spread false information worldwide.

“We are also pleased to be able to partner with the Poynter Institute to help grow the amount of fact-checking organizations on WhatsApp and to support their life saving work to debunk rumors. We will also continue to work directly with health ministries around the world for them to provide updates right within WhatsApp,” said Will Cathcart,  Head of WhatsApp, in a statement.

In a statement, Baybars Orsek, Director of IFCN, said, “the timely donation from WhatsApp will help the fact-checks published by the CoronaVirusFacts Alliance to reach wider audiences and, in consequence, help people sort facts from fiction during this avalanche of information that WHO called an ‘infodemic.’”

“The International Fact-Checking Network also looks forward to discovering ways to understand the spread of health related hoaxes on WhatsApp in different formats and to make tools available for fact-checkers to detect and debunk misinformation on the messaging app,” he added.

WhatsApp’s parent firm on Friday committed to match $20 million in donations to support global relief efforts for COVID-19 coronavirus. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, said the platform was committing $10 million for the United Nations Foundation (UNF) and World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund and an additional $10 million for the CDC Foundation, which will launch its Facebook Fundraiser in the coming weeks.

On Tuesday, Facebook also said it planned to award $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 small businesses in some 30 countries to address COVID-19’s economic impact.

Source: Tech Crunch

Facebook is offering $100M in cash grants

Facebook is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries where we operate

We know that your business may be experiencing disruptions resulting from the global outbreak of COVID-19. We’ve heard that a little financial support can go a long way, so we are offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits to help during this challenging time.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/business/boost/grant

Amazon: $5 million to the Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund

Hundreds of businesses across the region are being negatively affected by the economic effects of COVID-19 as many businesses, including Amazon, have employees working from home. These businesses support thousands of local jobs. They’re our friends and neighbors, and we believe it’s important we help them confront the economic challenges they face due to reduced foot traffic.

Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund

Apply for a grant now.

As we all adapt to the changing circumstances, we know we have an important role to play in supporting our neighborhood small businesses.

How to apply for a grant
Our goal with this fund is to help our neighborhood small businesses maintain their livelihood, and continue to foster a vibrant community.

To be eligible for a grant, recipients must have fewer than 50 employees or less than $7 million in annual revenue.

Interested neighborhood small businesses can apply for grant support by completing this application. We will review applications as they are received and for those determined to be eligible for a grant, we will disburse funds as quickly as possible. Businesses are eligible to apply for additional grant support due to reduced foot traffic over an extended period of time.

SOURCE: https://www.aboutamazon.com/job-creation-and-investment/neighborhood-small-business-relief-fund#do-businesses-need-to-pay-back-the-funding

Gates Foundation, Wellcome, Mastercard Launch $125M Coronavirus Accelerator

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and Mastercard have committed $125 million to establish an accelerator with an immediate focus on COVID-19 and a long-range plan to fight viral pathogens. [NIAID-RML]

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said today it is partnering with Wellcome and Mastercard to commit $125 million in seed funding toward an accelerator created to speed up development of treatments for COVID-19.

The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator is designed to bring together resources and expertise to lower the financial and technical risk for academia, biotech, and pharmaceutical companies, while ensuring that new treatments are accessible and affordable to people in low-resource settings.

The Accelerator will identify, assess, develop, and scale-up new and repurposed drugs and biologics, with an immediate focus on COVID-19 and a long-range plan to fight viral pathogens through work on broad-spectrum antivirals or immunotherapies, according to the Gates Foundation.

“Viruses like COVID-19 spread rapidly, but the development of vaccines and treatments to stop them moves slowly,” Mark Suzman, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said in a statement. “If we want to make the world safe from outbreaks like COVID-19, particularly for those most vulnerable, then we need to find a way to make research and development move faster. That requires governments, private enterprise, and philanthropic organizations to act quickly to fund R&D.”

The Gates Foundation will contribute up to $50 million—half of the $100 million it committed last week toward efforts against COVID-19—while Wellcome will chip in an equal amount and the Mastercard Impact Fund, up to $25 million.

Mastercard created the impact fund in 2018 by committing 20% of its savings from U.S. and European tax-cutting laws toward establishing the non-profit organization, with plans to award up to $500 million in charitable grants.

“Our experience with financial inclusion shows us the importance of building a network of parties who bring not only their capital, but complementary assets and skill sets to the table, and we welcome other partners concerned about inclusive growth to join this effort,” added Mike Froman, vice chairman of Mastercard.

The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator will operate jointly as an initiative of its funders, drawing on expertise from inside and outside their organizations.

According to the Gates Foundation, the Accelerator will pursue several aspects of the development cycle to streamline the pathway from candidate product to clinical assessment, use, and manufacturing. To identify candidate compounds, the Accelerator will:

  • Test approved drugs for activity against COVID-19;
  • Screen libraries of thousands of compounds with confirmed safety data, and
  • Consider new investigational compounds and monoclonal antibodies.

Drugs or monoclonal antibodies that pass initial screening would be developed by an industry partner. The Accelerator will rely on biopharmas to contribute compound libraries and clinical data, as well as commercialization and other expertise needed to scale up successful drugs and monoclonal antibodies.

The Accelerator also plans to work with regulators to align criteria and develop manufacturing capacity with industry, reasoning that an accelerated pathway to bringing effective treatments to patients will be about one year for products that have current regulatory approval, or candidates with existing clinical data—and longer for compounds less advanced in their development, with limited existing clinical data.

The Accelerator said it intends to de-risk the pathway for new drugs and biologics for COVID-19 and future epidemic threats, ensuring access in lower-resource countries. To that end, the Accelerator intends to work with the World Health Organization, governments, and global regulatory agencies—as well as private sector funders and organizations providing fast and flexible funding at key stages of development.

“Science is moving at a phenomenal pace against COVID-19, but to get ahead of this epidemic we need greater investment and to ensure research coordination,” stated Jeremy Farrar, PhD, director of Wellcome. “The Therapeutics Accelerator will allow us to do this for potential treatments with support for research, development, assessment, and manufacturing.”

Source: GenegNews

Rihanna’s foundation donates $5 million to help fight coronavirus

By Alaa Elassar, CNN

Updated 1333 GMT (2133 HKT) March 23, 2020

(CNN)Rihanna’s foundation has donated $5 million to various organizations assisting with coronavirus relief efforts.The Clara Lionel Foundation announced the donation in a statement on Saturday.”When we first began this year, never could we have imagined how (the coronavirus) would so dramatically alter our lives,” the foundation said.”It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, this pandemic will affect us all. And for the world’s most vulnerable, the worst may be yet to come.”The foundation donated the money to Direct Relief, Feeding America, Partners in Health, The World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund and the International Rescue Committee, among others.The foundation said its goal is “to immediately mobilize a broad response working with on-the-ground partners.”

The funds will go towards local food banks, accelerating testing in countries like Haiti and Malawi, and protective equipment for frontline health workers.The donation will also help protect Native communities by providing them with resources to fight the virus.Rihanna started the Clara Lionel Foundation in 2012.

The nonprofit organization, named in honor of her grandparents, funds education and emergency response programs around the world.Other celebrities — including Justin Timberlake, Donatella Versace and many NBA players — have also donated funds to help schools, hospitals and food banks overwhelmed by the pandemic.

Source: CNN

Microsoft’s biggest event of the year goes virtual due to the coronavirus spread

Microsoft’s Build developer event is no longer taking place in Seattle

By Tom Warren@tomwarren  Mar 12, 2020, 9:36pm EDT

Microsoft’s Build developer conference is the latest tech event to be affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The software giant was planning on holding its annual developer conference in Seattle from May 19th to May 21st, but Microsoft has decided to make it a “digital event.” A Microsoft spokesperson sent along this statement:

The safety of our community is a top priority. In light of the health safety recommendations for Washington State, we will deliver our annual Microsoft Build event for developers as a digital event, in lieu of an in-person event. We look forward to bringing together our ecosystem of developers in this new virtual format to learn, connect and code together. Stay tuned for more details to come.

The new coronavirus is spreading through the US, and several states have made emergency declarations. The World Health Organization has declared it a pandemic. Here are the basics:


Build is one of Microsoft’s biggest news events of the year, despite being primarily focused on developers. The software maker typically uses Build to preview the latest changes to Windows, Office, and other software and services. Microsoft is planning on disclosing more about its dual-screen plans at Build this year, for both Android and Windows 10X.

Microsoft’s cancelation follows Google’s similar move to scrap its own I/O developer event and the many other events, sports seasons, and gatherings that have been canceled. Doing so is an important step in improving public health and stemming the spread of the coronavirus, as Nicole Wetsman explains:

Applying social distancing measures to the extent the system allows, though, is the best defense against the spread of the novel coronavirus, particularly without vaccines or treatments available. The goal isn’t to eliminate the disease entirely, but to keep cases from appearing all at once. During a pandemic, that can mean the difference between a severe outbreak and one that’s more manageable.

How exactly each big tech company will pivot its conference to a virtual one remains to be seen. Summer developer conferences are a place for big keynotes and announcements, but they’re also essential for developers who get a chance to mingle with engineers who work on big platforms and with each other.

Article source: The Verge.