Apple delays return to office plans until 2022

The news: Apple has once again delayed plans for employees to return to the office, according to Mark Gurman (88.8% accurate, via Bloomberg).

  • The hybrid work plan, which will require employees to work Monday, Tuesday and Friday in the office each week, is now scheduled to begin in January 2022 (was previously October 2021)
  • ”The memo to staff, sent by human resources and retail head Deirdre O’Brien, added that the company does not currently expect to shutter its offices or retail stores. But she strongly encouraged staff to get vaccinated” Gurman says

Our take: Probably a good call considering the rise in virus cases, and following the trend that other tech giants have set.

Apple delays return to office plans until October ‘at the earliest’

The rumor: While Apple initially planned to have employees back at Apple Park for at least 3 days a week by September, plans have changed, according to Mark Gurman (89.1% accurate, via Bloomberg).

  • “Apple Inc. is pushing back its return to office deadline by at least a month to October at the earliest, responding to a resurgence of Covid variants across many countries,” Gurman says, citing “people familiar with the matter”
  • In recent weeks, some employees have circulated a letter asking Apple to reconsider forcing employees to return to the office in-person

Our take: I’m in no position to make a medical or scientific call on when the right time to return to the office is, amid COVID-19 and especially the new variants that are beginning to become widespread. This being said, I do think it is absolutely imperative that employees return to Apple Park as soon as possible to continue collaborating in-person to design the best products in the world. Plus, Apple spent an estimated 5 billion dollars on the spaceship, so of course they went folks to use it.

Apple adds new COVID vaccine functionality in update to Apple Maps

The press release: Apple just pushed an OTA update to Apple Maps that will help you find vaccination sites more easily.

  • First, there’s new integration with “VaccineFinder, a free, online service developed by Boston Children’s Hospital that provides the latest vaccine availability for those eligible at providers and pharmacies throughout the US. Users can find nearby COVID-19 vaccination locations from the Search bar in Apple Maps by selecting COVID-19 Vaccines in the Find Nearby menu”
  • In the press release, Apple also details how you can ask Siri about vaccination by asking, “Where can I get a COVID vaccination?”

Our take: Love that Apple is making it easier to find a vaccination location (this is really hard for a lot of us in the US right now).

iOS 13.7 released with ‘Exposure Notifications Express’

The news: Apple just released iOS 13.7 with significant improvements to the exposure notification system.

  • The new feature, Exposure Notifications Express, allows for COVID-19 exposure notifications with needing to download a specific government-issued app
  • iOS 13.7 marks the first time Apple has ever released an iOS X.7 firmware update

Our take: This is an interesting move considering that later this month, iOS 14 is releasing for everyone. Seems like Apple really wanted to push this out ASAP.

iOS 13.7 beta released with better COVID-19 notifications support

The news: Apple just released iOS 13.7 beta 1 to developers.

  • According to 9to5Mac, “iOS 13.7 lets you opt-in to the COVID-19 Exposure Notifications system without the need to download an app. System availability depends on support from your local public health authority”
  • This the first time Apple has ever released an iOS x.7 update
  • Apple has more details about exposure notifications here: http://covid19.apple.com/contacttracing

Our take: The barrier of needing an app to participate in exposure notifications always felt odd to me, and it seems the new update will allow anyone to opt-in. Pretty cool.