Apple Pledges Substantial Donation With Medical Supplies to Italy’s First Responders and Medical Personnel

Apple CEO Tim Cook today announced on Twitter that Apple is making a substantial donation that includes medical supplies to Protezione Civile in Italy, with the funds set to help first responders, medical personnel, and volunteers working to combat the spread of the coronavirus in the country.


Apple last week said that it has made multiple donations to the global COVID-19 response to help treat the sick and lessen the economic and community impacts of the pandemic. Apple has so far donated $15 million worldwide.

The company is also matching all employee donations two-to-one to support COVID-19 response efforts locally, nationally, and internationally.


In a tweet yesterday, Cook also said Apple was supporting Silicon Valley Strong, a new Bay Area initiative to help those harmed by the coronavirus outbreak. Donated funds are used to help senior citizens, disadvantaged kids, and people struggling from food insecurity.

In an announcement sent out last week, Cook said that Apple is indebted to first responders, doctors, researchers, public health experts, and public servants globally working to stop the spread of the virus.
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.

And yet I have been inspired by the humanity and determination I have seen from all corners of our global community. As President Lincoln said in a time of great adversity: "The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew."

That's always how Apple has chosen to meet big challenges. And it's how we'll rise to meet this one, too.
At the current time, Apple has shut down all of its stores around the world outside of Greater China, where the infection seems to have abated for the most part. Apple employees able to do so are working from home, and those who cannot are still receiving their pay from Apple.
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Apple Closes All Retail Stores in Italy Due to Coronavirus

Apple is closing all of its retail stores in Italy as the coronavirus outbreak in the country continues to spread, with the stores set to be shuttered as of March 12.


Apple's website for Italian stores says that due to precautionary health measures currently in force, retail locations will remain closed until a later date. Italian customers are instructed to get online support for their devices.

The decision to close all Apple Stores in the country comes following a national quarantine enacted by the Italian government. People in Italy are required to stay in their homes except in situations of necessity for work and health circumstances.

All of the ‌Apple Stores‌ will be closed for the rest of the week, and it is not clear when they will reopen. Italy's mandatory quarantine will last through April 3, 2020.

Apple had previously closed stores in the most widely affected areas in Italy and was operating on reduced hours in some other locations. More than 12,000 people have been infected with the coronavirus in Italy, and there have been over 800 deaths.

(H/T SetteBIT)
Related Roundup: Apple Stores

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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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Apple Temporarily Closes Some Retail Stores in Italy Due to Coronavirus Outbreak

Apple will temporarily close one of its retail stores in Italy as the government grapples with the spread of COVID-19 in the country, which has experienced the worst outbreak of coronavirus in Europe so far.

Image via SetteBIT

Apple Oriocenter in the province of Bergamo will be closed on March 7 and 8, according to Apple's regional website, on orders from the Italian government.

The notice is the result of a decree of the President of the Council of Ministers issued last week that will see all medium and large retail stores, including commercial outlets inside shopping centers, shuttered over the coming weekend to halt the spread of the virus.

The decree covers the provinces of Bergamo, Cremona, Lodi, and Piacenza. Similar measures will also be undertaken in other Italian provinces.

Similar weekend closures occurred at Apple il Leone, Apple Fiordaliso and Apple Carosello on February 29 and March 1. Those closures were also government imposed.

The number of deaths has surged in Italy, which is now the country with the most deaths in the world outside of China, where the viral outbreak originated. In the last 24 hours, 27 people have died of the disease in Italy, bringing the total number to 79, according to the Civil Protection Agency.

Apple in early February closed all of its corporate offices, stores, and contact centers in China, but many stores have since reopened as the outbreak there appears to be slowing. There were 119 new confirmed cases in China on March 3, compared with 125 the day before.

An additional 38 people died on March 3, bringing the death toll in mainland China to 2,981. China has now had 80,270 cases since the virus first appeared in Wuhan province in December.

(Via AppleInsider.)


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Apple Forced to Add Notice About iPhone Slowdown Saga on Italian Homepage

Last year, the Italian Competition Authority hit Apple with a 10 million euro fine over "dishonest commercial practices" related to an iPhone performance management system it introduced in iOS 10.2.1 without informing customers. The antitrust watchdog said the update was a form of planned obsolescence.


As a result of the investigation, Apple has been forced to add a consumer protection notice about these "incorrect" practices on its Italian homepage. The notice, loosely translated below, was spotted by setteBIT on Twitter.
Apple, Apple Distribution International, Apple Italia, and Apple Retail Italia have led consumers in possession of an iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s Plus, or iPhone 6s Plus to install iOS 10 and subsequent updates without providing adequate information about the impact of that choice on the performance of the smartphones and without offering (in a timely manner) any means of restoring the original functionality of the devices in the event of a proven decrease in performance following the update (such as downgrading or a battery replacement at reasonable costs).

This practice was assessed incorrect, pursuant to Articles 20, 21, 22, and 24 of Legislative Decree No. 206 of the Italian Consumer Code by the Italian Competition Authority.
For those who need a refresher about the iPhone slowdown saga, read our lengthy FAQ. Here's a key excerpt:
Why is Apple slowing down some older iPhone models?

iPhones, like many other consumer electronics, are powered by lithium-ion batteries, which have a limited lifespan. As the battery in your iPhone ages, its ability to hold a charge slowly diminishes.

A chemically aging battery can also have increased impedance, reducing its ability to provide a sudden burst of power when demanded by other components in an iPhone, such as the CPU and GPU. A battery's impedance will also temporarily increase when it has a low charge and/or in cold temperatures.

A battery with a high enough impedance may be unable to provide power quickly enough to the iPhone when needed, and Apple safeguards components against the drop in voltage by shutting down the device.

Apple recognized that iPhones unexpectedly shutting down on users is not a good experience, and starting with iOS 10.2.1, it quietly implemented a power management feature to prevent these shutdowns.
Last year, Apple denied any kind of planned obsolescence by flat out stating that it never has and never would do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience, to drive customer upgrades.
We have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades. Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that.
Apple eventually eased concerns by introducing a Battery Health feature in iOS 11.3, with an option to disable the performance management system, and discounting the price of iPhone battery replacements throughout 2018.


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Italy Fining Apple 10M Euros for ‘Dishonest Commercial Practices’ Related to iPhone Throttling

Nearly one year after reports began circling about Apple's throttling of older iPhones with degraded batteries, Italy's antitrust authority is now fining Apple 10 million euros (about $11.5 million USD) for "planned obsolescence" of its smartphones (via The Korea Herald). The fine on Apple follows Italy's investigation into iPhone battery slowdowns that began back in January, and the Italian authority is also fining Samsung $5.7 million for similar reasons.

In a statement, the Italian authority said that "Apple and Samsung implemented dishonest commercial practices" with their respective smartphones, thanks to operating system updates that "caused serious malfunctions and significantly reduced performance, thus accelerating phones' substitution."


This is the definition of planned obsolescence, which Apple has refuted numerous times in the past. Most recently, Apple's VP of marketing Greg Joswiak called the idea of planned obsolescence "the craziest thinking in the world."

According to Reuters, Apple was fined more than Samsung because it failed to give customers clear information about how to maintain or eventually replace smartphone batteries.
The anti-trust body said in a statement that some Apple and Samsung firmware updates “had caused serious dysfunctions and reduced performance significantly, thereby accelerating the process of replacing them”.

It added the two firms had not provided clients adequate information about the impact of the new software “or any means of restoring the original functionality of the products”.
When the reports began circulating in December 2017, claims were made that Apple was deliberately slowing down older iPhones that weren't operating at peak battery performance. In a response, Apple said it was aiming to smooth out the high power draw peaks that can result in shutdowns and other problems in older devices so that its customers had "the best experience."

Eventually, it was discovered that Apple quietly implemented a power management feature into iOS 10.2.1 that prevents older iPhones from shutting down during times of peak power draw, which rolled out in January 2017. Because the feature was not widely publicized until the accusations against Apple took place, many customers felt deceived by the company. In response, Apple apologized for not better explaining its actions and now offers $29 battery replacements for the iPhone 6 and later until the end of the year. On January 1, 2019, battery replacements will cost $49.

Furthermore, iOS 11.3 launched in the spring with detailed information about battery health so that customers can know if the state of their battery is impacting processor performance. With the update, the power management feature can also be turned off.

Over the course of the year, an increasing amount of countries and customers have investigated or sued Apple over "secretly throttling" older iPhones. In the spring, Apple faced more than 60 class action lawsuits over the incident, and these eventually became consolidated in one courtroom in the U.S. District Court for Northern California.

In an earnings call over the summer, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained that Apple has never done an internal analysis on how many people have bought a battery replacement instead of purchasing a new iPhone, because that statistic wasn't a factor in their decision to offer the discounted batteries. "It was never about that for us," said Cook. "It was about doing something great for the user. Treat users and customers well and you have a good business over time. That's how we look at that."


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Apple Pay Cash Likely to Launch in Europe Imminently

Apple Pay Cash, Apple's mobile peer-to-peer payments service, could be available sooner rather than later in some European markets.

French tech blog iPhon.fr reports today that an iPhone user in France discovered screens on his new Apple Watch and iPhone XS Max overnight inviting him to set up Apple Pay Cash using a credit card issued by a French bank. Similar reports are also coming in from Apple device owners in other European countries.


Apple Pay Cash arrived on iOS devices in December 2017, although it's currently only officially available to users in the United States. The system allows for quick person-to-person money transfers, much like competing services Square Cash and Venmo.

In addition to the setup screens shared over social media, an Apple support page for Apple Pay Cash has been discovered localized in German that went live on Apple's servers on September 30.


Apple Pay Cash can be transmitted via iMessage and funds are instantly added to the recipient's Apple Pay Cash card in the Wallet app.

When new users receive money for the first time, the funds are added to their new Apple Pay Cash card once they accept Apple's terms. The card's funds can then be used to make purchases using Apple Pay in stores, in apps, and on supported websites, or withdrawn to a bank account within one to three business days.

When Apple Pay Cash does arrive outside the U.S., Apple device owners wanting to use it will need an iPhone 6 and later, iPhone SE, any iPad Pro model, a fifth-generation iPad, iPad Air 2, or iPad mini 3 running iOS 11.2 or later.

Update: One MacRumors reader has found a link to an Apple Pay Cash support page localized for Austria, while support pages have also been discovered for Italy, Poland, Sweden, and Russia.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay

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Apple Previews New Piazza Liberty Store, Opening Thursday in Milan

Apple today premiered this week's opening of Apple Piazza Liberty in the center of Milan, Italy. Set to open its doors on Thursday, the retail location features a dramatic glass fountain that serves as the entrance to the store and a backdrop to the large outdoor amphitheater.

The piazza, clad in Beola Grigia, a stone used throughout Milan, will be open to the public 24 hours a day and will host special events year-round amongst 14 Gleditsia Sunburst trees planted in the area.

"There's no better expression of our vision for Apple stores serving as modern-day gathering places than Apple Piazza Liberty," said Angela Ahrendts, Apple's senior vice president of Retail. "In a city with such rich history of art, entertainment and creativity, it's an honor to establish a space where anyone can be inspired to learn, create and connect with their neighbors."
Apple Piazza Liberty will host a variety of Today at Apple sessions, taking in photography, filmmaking, music creation, coding, design and more. This September, Apple Piazza Liberty will also host a special month-long Milan Series, where 21 local artists will share their visions for the creative future of Milan, as previewed on a special Apple.com web page.

There will be live music in the location's amphitheater on the opening night by musician LIM, a "crazy self-portraits" session with Olimpia Zagnoli on July 27, a photographic laboratory with Piotr Niepsuj on July 28, and a "draw the summer" class on July 29.

"To work within one of Italy's historic piazzas is both a great responsibility and wonderful challenge," said Jony Ive, Apple's chief design officer. "We combined two fundamental elements of the Italian piazza — water and stone — adding a glass portal that creates a multi-sensory experience as visitors enter the store through a cascading fountain that seems to envelop them."
The store will employ 230 staff, many of whom have come to Milan from Apple stores around the world, according to Apple. Apple Piazza Liberty opens Thursday, July 26, at 5pm, and registrations for Today at Apple can be made now on Apple's website.


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Apple Maps Now Supports Transit in Estonia and Rome

Apple Maps now includes transit information for Estonia and the city of Rome, Italy, enabling users in the areas to navigate with public transportation.


In Rome, transit data covers the city's public metro lines, buses, and tram routes, as well as the local Trenitalia network which includes the Leonardo Express that connects Roma Termini station and Roma Fiumicino airport in Lazio.

Transit coverage across Estonia includes the capital Tallinn's bus, tram, trolleybus, and Elron train services, as well as the local links to the country's national rail network reaching through Tartu, Pärnu, and Narva.

The public transport information can be accessed by tapping the Transit tab or button in Apple Maps on iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple Watch.

Apple started adding transit information to Apple Maps three years ago, starting with Baltimore, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Sydney, Toronto, and China. Apple has since expanded transit coverage to additional cities around the globe.

Apple is gradually catching up with Google Maps' public transportation navigation coverage, which already includes Rome and cities in Estonia. Apple also recently revealed that CarPlay will support Google Maps, Waze, and other third-party navigation apps with a paired iPhone running iOS 12.

(Thanks, Ram!)


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Investigations into Apple’s iPhone Battery Slowdowns Spread to Italy and South Korea

Italy and South Korea on Thursday joined a growing list of countries in which class-action lawsuits and government investigations into Apple's iPhone battery slowdowns are underway.

Italy's antitrust body revealed it had opened a probe into allegations that Apple used iOS updates to slow older smartphones and push clients into buying new models (via Reuters). The Italian watchdog said Apple had failed to inform customers that the updates might have a negative impact on the performance of their phones, suggesting the company might have infringed four separate articles of the national consumers' code.


In a first among the recent wave of battery probes, Samsung is also suspected of orchestrating "a general commercial policy taking advantage of the lack of certain components to curb the performance times of their products and induce consumers to buy new versions," said the Italian watchdog. If found guilty, the two companies risk multi-million euro fines.

Meanwhile, a South Korean consumer group has filed a criminal complaint against Apple CEO Tim Cook, accusing his company of defrauding iPhone users by slowing down devices without warning to compensate for poor battery performance.

In its complaint, filed Thursday, the advocacy group Citizens United for Consumer Sovereignty accused Apple of destruction of property and fraud. According to Reuters, the group also represents around 120 plaintiffs in a civil damage suit filed against Apple earlier in January.

Apple has already admitted that it slows down some older iPhones with degraded batteries during times of peak power usage in order to prevent unexpected shutdowns, and accepts that it should have provided a clearer explanation when it introduced the power management feature in iOS 10.2.1.

Following an apology, Apple has implemented a battery replacement program that allows all customers with an iPhone 6, 6s, 7, 6 Plus, 6s Plus, 7 Plus, and SE to replace their batteries for a reduced fee through the end of 2018.

Apple has also said it is introducing better battery monitoring features in a future iOS update, which will include the ability for customers to turn off the power management feature it introduced in iOS 10.2.1. However, despite efforts to rectify the issue, the company is now facing lawsuits, state investigations, or consumer group probes in countries including China, France, and the U.S. over the controversy.


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