Apple releases iOS and iPadOS 13.4 with trackpad support

Apple has released software updates for the iPhone, the iPad, the Apple Watch, the Apple TV and the Mac. The biggest changes are on the iPad. Starting today, you can pair a mouse or trackpad with your iPad and use it to move a cursor on the display.

Apple unveiled trackpad support for iPadOS when it announced the new iPad Pro last week. While the company plans to sell a new Magic Keyboard with a built-in trackpad, you don’t need to buy a new iPad or accessory to access the feature.

When you pair a trackpad and start using it, Apple displays a rounded cursor on the screen. The cursor changes depending on what you’re hovering over. The cursor disappears and highlights the button you’re about to activate. It looks a bit like moving from one icon to another on the Apple TV.

If you’re moving a text cursor for instance, it becomes a vertical bar. If you’re resizing a text zone in a Pages document, it becomes two arrows. If you’re using a trackpad, iPadOS supports gestures that let you switch between apps, open the app switcher and activate the Dock or Control Center.

In addition to trackpad support, iOS and iPadOS 13.4 add a handful of features. You can share an iCloud Drive folder with another iCloud user — it works pretty much like a shared Dropbox folder.

There are nine new Memoji stickers, such as smiling face with hearts, hands pressed together and party face. Apple has tweaked buttons to archive/delete, move, reply and compose and email in the Mail app.

Additionally, Apple added the ability to release a single app binary on all App Stores, including the iOS and Mac App Store. It means that developers can release a paid app on the Mac and the iPhone — and you only have to buy it once.

Also, macOS 10.15.4 adds Screen Time Communication Limits, a feature that already exists on iOS. It lets you set limits on Messages and FaceTime calls.

When it comes to watchOS, version 6.2 adds ECG support for users in Chile, New Zealand and Turkey. Apple now lets developers provide in-app purchases for Apple Watch apps, as well.

All updates include bug fixes and security patches. Head over to the Settings app on your devices to download and update your devices if you haven’t enabled automatic software updates.

Flexport, Arnold Schwarzenegger and others launch a fund to get supplies to front-line responders

There’s a global shortage of available protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies for use by front-line responders working to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus, and the Frontline Responders Fund wants to channel donations to help address that shortage. The fund, which is seeking public donations via GoFundMe, will use all proceeds to cover the costs of transportation of these crucial supplies to the hospitals, clinics and public agencies that need them most.

Flexport is facilitating the deliveries via their supply chain management platform and services, and is receiving donations via their grant-making partner Charities Add Foundation of America (CAF), which facilitates the acceptance of charitable donations for Flexport.org, Flexport’s NGO for social good projects.

Already, Flexport has been taking steps to get equipment where it’s needed most: last week, it got 60,000 surgical masks, 34,000 gloves, 2,000 surgical gowns and 50 thermometers from MedShare to San Francisco’s Department of Public Health. But the organization wants to do more, both for SF and for other cites in that are looking for ways to shore up their own supplies.

“My neighbor is on the board of supervisors and she told me the city really needed help,” Flexport CEO Ryan Petersen said via email earlier this week. “Naturally our team stepped in and applied our knowledge of supply chains and logistics plus a long standing partnership with MedShare.org to get them PPE quickly. Now we’re scaling that effort to get more supplies for SF as well as other cities and hospitals that are also in desperate need.”

The funds made available through this fundraising effort will go to securing not only PPE, but also “testing kits, thermometers, ventilators and medicines,” according to the project’s GoFundMe page, based on what medical service providers deem to be highest priority in terms of need.

Petersen says that effectively all of his time now is focused on logistics to support these ongoing efforts, and it looks like it’ll remain that way for the foreseeable future.

Other organizations, including Apple, and now SoftBank, have been donating large volumes of N95 respirators, a key piece of front-line protective equipment. Flexport’s work could facilitate continued supply, leveraging their supply chain relationships, to ensure that equipment makes its way to front-line staff as fast as it’s able to be produced.

Donations can be made directly through the fund’s GoFundMe page, and the total raised is sitting at just under $3 million as of this writing — helped in large part by sizable donations from Silicon Valley leaders including Paul Graham, Jack Dorsey and Ron Conway, as well as celebrities including Edward Norton and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Flexport, Arnold Schwarzenegger and others launch a fund to get supplies to front-line responders

There’s a global shortage of available protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies for use by front-line responders working to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus, and the Frontline Responders Fund wants to channel donations to help address that shortage. The fund, which is seeking public donations via GoFundMe, will use all proceeds to cover the costs of transportation of these crucial supplies to the hospitals, clinics and public agencies that need them most.

Flexport is facilitating the deliveries via their supply chain management platform and services, and is receiving donations via their grant-making partner Charities Add Foundation of America (CAF), which facilitates the acceptance of charitable donations for Flexport.org, Flexport’s NGO for social good projects.

Already, Flexport has been taking steps to get equipment where it’s needed most: last week, it got 60,000 surgical masks, 34,000 gloves, 2,000 surgical gowns and 50 thermometers from MedShare to San Francisco’s Department of Public Health. But the organization wants to do more, both for SF and for other cites in that are looking for ways to shore up their own supplies.

“My neighbor is on the board of supervisors and she told me the city really needed help,” Flexport CEO Ryan Petersen said via email earlier this week. “Naturally our team stepped in and applied our knowledge of supply chains and logistics plus a long standing partnership with MedShare.org to get them PPE quickly. Now we’re scaling that effort to get more supplies for SF as well as other cities and hospitals that are also in desperate need.”

The funds made available through this fundraising effort will go to securing not only PPE, but also “testing kits, thermometers, ventilators and medicines,” according to the project’s GoFundMe page, based on what medical service providers deem to be highest priority in terms of need.

Petersen says that effectively all of his time now is focused on logistics to support these ongoing efforts, and it looks like it’ll remain that way for the foreseeable future.

Other organizations, including Apple, and now SoftBank, have been donating large volumes of N95 respirators, a key piece of front-line protective equipment. Flexport’s work could facilitate continued supply, leveraging their supply chain relationships, to ensure that equipment makes its way to front-line staff as fast as it’s able to be produced.

Donations can be made directly through the fund’s GoFundMe page, and the total raised is sitting at just under $3 million as of this writing — helped in large part by sizable donations from Silicon Valley leaders including Paul Graham, Jack Dorsey and Ron Conway, as well as celebrities including Edward Norton and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Survey shows growth in podcasts and voice assistants, little change in streaming

A new annual survey taken before the current COVID-19 crisis led to restrictions of movement in much of the U.S. suggests good news for Amazon, Facebook’s dominance unthreatened and continued growth in podcasting.

Edison Research and Triton Digital released their annual Infinite Dial survey last week, compiling data on consumers’ use of smart speakers, podcasts, music streaming and social media from 1,500 people (aged 12 and older) to compare year-over-year changes. Here are a few interesting findings:

Voice assistants and smart speakers

Sixty-two percent said they use a voice-based virtual assistant, most commonly via a phone or a computer. There has been a lot written about interactive voice as the next major medium for human-computer interaction after mobile phones, so it’s noteworthy to see that use of the technology is still associated with personal computing devices rather than hands-free smart speakers placed in the surrounding environment.

Smart speaker ownership did increase to 27% of respondents, up from 24% in 2019, even though respondents owned an average 2.2 speakers. In fact, the cohort that owned three or more speakers increased from one-quarter to one-third of owners in just a year, with Amazon Alexa continuing to dominate market share.

Mesa Biotech gains emergency FDA approval for rapid, point-of-care COVID-19 test

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is making use of its Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) powers to expand the pool of available COVID-19 testing resources in the U.S., and now you can add another rapid test that delivers results in just 30 minutes to the list. Mesa’s test is also small enough to be able to be used right at the frontline of care, including in clinics and hospitals, with multiple tests able to be run in parallel.

Mesa’s rapid test follows one from Cepheid that was approved on Monday. Both are PCR-based molecular tests, which identify the presence of virus DNA in a sample of a patient’s mucus. Both these tests prevent an important expansion of the technologies available to those looking to combat the spread of the new coronavirus, since they can provide lab-quality results, but can do so much faster, and without requiring transportation of the samples from the point of collection to off-site testing facilities.

On-site testing not only has advantages in terms of convenience and speedy return of results, but also in limiting the potential exposure of medical personnel to the virus itself. Testing on-site means you don’t need to worry about possible exposure to the virus for more people in the chain, including logistics and delivery people, as well as lab technicians and dedicated diagnostics people.

These tests will require that facilities are equipped with Mesa’s Accula testing system, but its equipment is already in use for testing flu, as well as other less serious equipment, and it was originally designed specifically to address use on the frontlines of efforts to combat global pandemics, including SARS before this.