Apple Says Only Reputable Coronavirus Apps Will Be Accepted on App Store, Recognized Entities Can Get Developer Fee Waived

Apple today announced that it is evaluating COVID-19 coronavirus-related apps critically to ensure data sources are reputable and that developers presenting these apps are from recognized entities such as government organizations, health-focused NGOs, companies deeply credentialed in health issues, and medical or educational institutions.

Apple says only developers from one of the above types of recognized entities should submit an app related to COVID-19, adding that entertainment or game apps with a COVID-19 theme will not be allowed on the App Store.


The full announcement:
The App Store should always be a safe and trusted place for users to download apps. Now more than ever that commitment takes on special significance as the world fights the COVID-19 pandemic. Communities around the world are depending on apps to be credible news sources — helping users understand the latest health innovations, find out where they can get help if needed or provide assistance to their neighbors.

To help fulfill these expectations, we're evaluating apps critically to ensure data sources are reputable and that developers presenting these apps are from recognized entities such as government organizations, health-focused NGOs, companies deeply credentialed in health issues, and medical or educational institutions. Only developers from one of these recognized entities should submit an app related to COVID-19. Entertainment or game apps with COVID-19 as their theme will not be allowed.

We understand the need to get these apps into the hands of customers as soon as possible. We encourage developers that meet this criteria to select "Time-Sensitive Event" on the expedite request form to ensure prioritized review since App Store review may take longer.

If you are developing an app on behalf of a client, please advise your client to add you to the development team of their Apple Developer account. If your client does not yet have an Apple Developer account, they can enroll in the Apple Developer Program. Nonprofit organizations, accredited educational institutions, and government entities that plan to distribute only free apps on the App Store can request to have their annual membership fee waived, if based in an eligible country.
This is one of many measures that Apple is taking in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Apple Employee Tests Positive for Coronavirus in Ireland

Apple today confirmed that an employee has tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus at its campus in Cork, Ireland. In a statement issued to Independent.ie, Apple said the individual has gone into and remains in self-isolation.

Apple employees working at its Cork campus in 2017

As a precaution, Apple has asked some of its employees to stay at home while it assesses the situation in accordance with guidance from health authorities:
One of our employees in Cork has been confirmed to have Covid-19.

We are closely coordinating with the local health authorities who feel the risk to others is low, and the individual remains in self-isolation.

As a precaution, we have asked some of our team members to stay at home while we work with the Health and Safety Executive to assess the situation. We are continuing to regularly deep clean all our offices and stores and will take all necessary precautions in accordance with guidance from health authorities.
To our best knowledge, this is the first confirmed case of an Apple employee testing positive for COVID-19 in any country.

Apple has reportedly encouraged its employees in Cupertino and many other locations to work from home this week if possible. Another report this week claimed that Apple has offered its retail employees and some other hourly workers unlimited sick leave if they experience COVID-19 symptoms, with no doctor's note required.

Apple like many companies is taking various other precautions in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak, including suspending "Today at Apple" sessions in the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Italy, China, and select other locations. It is also looking like an inevitability that Apple will cancel WWDC 2020 as a physical event, with other large developer conferences like Google I/O and Facebook F8 having already been canceled.
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Santa Clara County Bans All Gatherings of 1000+ People After Coronavirus Death

The County of Santa Clara's Public Health Department today issued a mandatory order that requires all mass gatherings of 1,000 or more people in Santa Clara County to be canceled.


Santa Clara County includes cities like Cupertino, Palo Alto, Mountain View, and San Jose, and it is the county where Apple's two main campuses are located along with many of its satellite offices.

Last week, county officials issued guidelines suggesting that companies in the area minimize or cancel large in-person meetings and conferences, but the new ban is a requirement that will prevent any major gatherings.

The ban takes effect at 12:00 a.m. Pacific Time on March 11 and for now, will last for three weeks. Santa Clara County is putting the ban in place as it waits for more widespread testing and for more details on how COVID-19 spreads.
"This is a critical moment in the growing outbreak of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County. The strong measures we are taking today are designed to slow the spread of disease," said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County Health Officer. "Today's order and new recommendations will reduce the number of people who develop severe illness and will help prevent our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed. This is critically important for anyone with healthcare needs, not just those most vulnerable to serious illness from COVID-19."
The three-week ban will only last until the beginning of April, but ahead of when the mandatory ban was in place, tech companies had already started canceling events. Both Facebook and Google have canceled planned developer events set to take place in May that would have had around 5,000 attendees.

Apple still has not made any announcements about WWDC, which is typically held in June at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California, and the length of this ban will not affect June plans, but with the growing number of coronavirus cases in the county, Apple may cancel the event as a precaution.

Apple could still provide WWDC content in a digital format with online presentations for media and developers, but it's not entirely clear what the company's plan is at this time. We should be hearing soon, as Apple normally announces WWDC info right around this time in March.

The county's decision to blanket ban all events of 1,000 or more people comes as Santa Clara County experienced its first death due to the coronavirus. Santa Clara County has a total of 43 known COVID-19 cases, with more in other counties in the Bay Area.
Related Roundup: WWDC 2020

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Apple Sold 60 Percent Fewer iPhones in China Last Month Compared to February 2019 Amid Coronavirus Restrictions

Apple sold fewer than 500,000 iPhones in China last month amid the ongoing curbs on travel and transport, according to government data shared on Monday (via Reuters).

Shipments of Apple devices slumped to 494,000, from 1.27 million in February 2019. In January, their shipments had held steady at just over 2 million.
That amounts to an almost 60 percent slump in iPhone sales – worse than IDC's forecasted drop in overall smartphone sales of roughly 40 percent in the first quarter due to the impact of coronavirus.

China's restrictions on public movement were enforced in late January just ahead of the Lunar New Year Festival and remained in place throughout most of February, which appears to have crippled demand for smartphones.

According to data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, mobile phone brands shipped a total of 6.34 million devices in February, down 55 percent from 14 million sold in February 2019.

Android brands like Huawei and Xiaomi suffered the worst, with shipments collectively declining from 12.72 million units in February 2019 to 5.85 million.

Apple closed all 42 of its retail stores in China at the beginning of February as the outbreak in China worsened, but most of the stores have re-opened, albeit operating with shortened hours. New infections and deaths reported in China have been declining in recent weeks, according to government data, suggesting the virus may have peaked there.

Apple in mid-February announced that its financial guidance for the March quarter would fall short due to the COVID-19 outbreak. During the January earnings call, Apple said it expected to see revenue of $63 to $67 billion in the March quarter, but that is no longer a goal the company will be able to meet.

Apple cited lower customer demand in China and constrained ‌‌iPhone‌‌ supplies worldwide as the factors leading to lower than expected revenue.


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DigiTimes: Apple’s Travel Restrictions Could Delay iPhone 12 Launch Until October

Apple's ban on its engineers from traveling to Asia in the wake of the coronavirus has affected the development of its next-generation iPhone which could result in a delayed fall launch, claims a new report today from DigiTimes.


According to the supply chain-focused Taiwanese publication, Apple has extended the deadline by one month to the end of April for the removal of a set of travel restrictions preventing its engineers from making business trips to Asia, and the restrictions have delayed the engineering verification tests (EVTs) for the 5G iPhones at manufacturing facilities in China.
Related supply chain makers had originally expected the rescheduled EVT procedures to be carried out by the end of March enabling the kick-off of volume production of the new ‌iPhone‌ devices in June, said the sources, adding that a further delay of EVT tests to the end of April could postpone the volume production by another 1-2 months.

Judging from the revised EVT schedule, Apple's product launch for the next-generation ‌iPhone‌ devices could to be postponed to October, said the sources.
The claim follows a Bloomberg article published over the weekend that quotes a report from Bank of America analysts suggesting Apple's 5G iPhone release could be delayed by a month this fall.

Apple's travel restrictions were first reported late last month. The restrictions apply to several countries hit by the coronavirus outbreak, including China, which is an issue because Apple engineers often visit China at this time of year to prepare for the manufacturing of new iPhones.

Production of new devices usually kicks off in the summer, but during the first months of the year, Apple employees visit China to perfect assembly processes with manufacturing partners like Foxconn.

These delays could eat into the time Apple needs to finalize orders for chips and other ‌iPhone‌ components that need to be made well in advance of when full production begins. However, supply chain experts told Reuters in late February that Apple still has time to keep the ‌‌iPhone‌‌ schedule on track, despite the travel restrictions.

"We have instituted specific travel restrictions in a few countries including China, South Korea, and Italy," Apple said in a memo sent out to employees last week. Apple is recommending that employees manage meetings through phone calls and video chats instead.

Apple plans to release four new ‌iPhone‌ models in the fall, according to respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. The all-OLED lineup is said to consist of 5.4-inch, two 6.1-inch, and 6.7-inch models, all of which will support 5G.

DigiTimes predicts that overall shipments of 5G-enabled smartphones will be much lower in the first-half of 2020 than originally expected, due to the influence of the outbreak.

Related Roundup: iPhone 12

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Tim Cook Offers Work From Home to Most Apple Staff Amid Coronavirus Concerns

Apple CEO Tim Cook has today offered employees at most of its global offices the ability to work from home, and announced new policies in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

Image via David Paul Morris/Bloomberg


Employees at several global offices have been told to "feel free to work remotely if your job allows,” for the week of March 9 to 13, according to an internal memo that was obtained by Bloomberg and later confirmed by an Apple spokesman.

This extends the company’s policy from Friday, which encouraged employees in California and Seattle to work remotely, to almost all of Apple's corporate locations in South Korea, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland, and the U.K.

In addition to this, Apple is now implementing new efforts to expand deep cleaning procedures and maximize interpersonal space. Fewer places will be available at Today at Apple sessions and the Genius Bar to reduce human density in Apple stores.

On the corporate side, Apple is rolling out managerial changes to prevent the spread of coronavirus for employees who still have to come in due to the demands of their work.

In line with other major tech companies, Apple has guaranteed that it will continue to pay hourly contract workers their normal wages globally.

Apple has been significantly impacted by the coronavirus given its global presence and supply chain based in China, resulting in major stock price fluctuation. There have been reports of iPhone shortages and analysts predict that the upcoming 5G iPhone may now be delayed.


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Apple’s Upcoming 5G iPhone Could Be Delayed Due to Coronavirus

Apple's hotly anticipated 5G iPhone could be delayed to due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to a report from Bank of America analysts quoted by Bloomberg. The analysts believe Apple's ‌5G iPhone‌ release could be delayed by a month this fall.

iPhone 12 Pro concept via EverythingApplePro

In addition to delays of Apple's "‌iPhone 12‌," analysts also believe Apple's rumored "iPhone 9" or "iPhone SE 2" release date could also be pushed back "a few months," citing both supply chain issues and weaker demand for devices as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. The release of new devices will "depend on how production ramps back up in April and May."

Apple's stock has fluctuated over the past few weeks amid fears of COVID-19. Since its record high of $327.85 on February 12, shares have fallen by as much as 13 percent.

Just a few weeks ago, Apple announced it will not meet its revenue goals for the March quarter due to the impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic in China. Apple has said it is continuing to monitor the situation and will provide additional information on its quarterly earnings call in April.

The effects of ‌COVID-19‌ have been changing each day, so it remains to be seen how much more of an impact the virus will have on Apple's 2020 plans.

Related Roundup: iPhone 12

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iPhone 11 Models Seeing Shortages in NYC

The supply of iPhone 11 models in New York City is dwindling, according to a report from the New York Post. The constrained supply is likely due to the ongoing effects of COVID-19.


Wireless retailers, in particular, are either out of stock or are facing low numbers of ‌iPhone 11‌ and iPhone 11 Pro models. According to the report, many retail employees believe the cause of the shortage is due to "low stock and infrequent shipments, with little guidance as to when things might get back to normal."

According to an AT&T employee, iPhone inventory is low because carriers are storing the devices in warehouses instead of in retail stores. This could be an effort to control the supply chain in case of any major device shortages. The employee added, however, that customers could arrange a two-day delivery on devices requested in store.

The effects of ‌COVID-19‌ are being felt across the globe. Amid coronavirus concerns this week, SXSW 2020 has been canceled and Apple has encouraged its employees in Silicon Valley to work from home.

Related Roundups: iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro

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Apple Encouraging Employees in Silicon Valley to Work From Home Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

As the coronavirus continues to spread in Santa Clara County where many of Apple's corporate offices are located, Apple is now encouraging employees in the area to work from home today if they are able to, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman.


Apple has asked employees to do so as an "additional precaution," and working from home is a recommendation rather than a requirement as some employees may have jobs that require being in the office.

Yesterday, Santa Clara County asked tech companies in cities like Cupertino, Palo Alto, Mountain View, and San Jose to "consider use of telecommuting options for appropriate employees."

There are 20 known cases of coronavirus in Santa Clara County, and several other suspected cases. Cupertino, which is where Apple Park and Infinite Loop are located, is a part of the county.

Employers have also been asked to suspend nonessential employee travel, which Apple has already done, and cancel large in-person meetings and conferences. It is still unclear what Apple plans to do about WWDC, which normally takes place in June in San Jose.

For the last few years, Apple has announced WWDC dates in mid-March, so we could soon hear news on whether WWDC will take place or if Apple will substitute some kind of digital event.

Though corporate employees are able to work from home if possible, Apple's retail store locations in the Bay Area remain open. Apple has, however, implemented "deep cleaning" protocols to keep retail workers and customers safe from the virus.


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‘Today at Apple’ Sessions Suspended in Italy Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

"Today at Apple" sessions have been suspended at all Apple Stores in Italy through at least March 19, as noted by setteBIT and iMore, presumably as a precautionary measure due to the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

Italy has been hit particularly bad by the coronavirus outbreak, with nearly 4,000 infections reported in the country, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The country has temporarily closed schools and banned some large gatherings in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.


Apple Stores remain open for business in Italy for the time being, beyond one location at the Oriocenter shopping mall northeast of Milan that will be closed this weekend due to Italian government orders.

Today at Apple sessions have also been suspended in China and Hong Kong.

Related: COVID-19 Coronavirus: Impact on Apple's iPhone, Mac and WWDC

Related Roundup: Apple Stores

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