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  1. Apple Store Down As Apple Believed to Prepare New Product Launches The Apple Store has gone down as part of what’s believed to be Apple’s typical modus operandi before new product launches. And while it sounds a little bit unusual for the Cupertino-based tech giant to take the wraps off a new production in mid-March, it’s believed that the company could unveil upgrades for the iPad and iMac lineups. Of course, details are still in the rumor stage, and it’s important to take them with a certain amount of skepticism, as they can always prove to be wrong. However, if we are to believe the existing speculation, then the iPad mini could be one of the models getting a small refresh, as Apple could use a new-generation processor, like the A11, but sell it with more storage options and at a lower price. At this point, the iPad mini can be yours for $399, and the only version that you can order features 128GB. Most likely, Apple is trying to make it more affordable by adding a 64GB version, though it remains to be seen how low the company can go in terms of pricing.March 25 eventThen, the 9.7-inch iPad could get a screen upgrade, but despite rumors of a 10.2-inch display, it’s rather unlikely for Apple to introduce such a change without a proper live event. As for the iMac, Apple could make some cosmetic changes in a way that would bring its desktop computer in line with today’s modern design trends. And while this makes sense given the last facelift was released in 2012, it’s once again rather odd to see Apple announcing such a dramatic update without holding a dedicated event just for it. Cupertino will be holding an event on March 25, and while nobody knows what’s on the agenda for the show, the company is expected to take mostly about services. Source
  2. Apple to close US retail stores and all others outside China until March 27th The company’s online store will remain operational Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge Apple is temporary closing all of its retail stores “outside of Greater China” until March 27th, CEO Tim Cook announced in a letter posted on the company’s website late Friday night. “The most effective way to minimize risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance,” Cook wrote. “We are committed to providing exceptional service to our customers.” The nationwide closure is among the first from a major retailer in the United States. But this extends far beyond the US, with every Apple location globally shutting down effective immediately — except for those in China. Apple’s online store will remain operational (as will the Apple Store app) during the downtime for physical retail locations, and customers seeking customer support can visit support.apple.com to find authorized repair shops that remain open or arrange mail-in service. “The global spread of COVID-19 is affecting every one of us,” Cook wrote. “At Apple, we are people first, and we do what we do with the belief that technology can change lives and the hope that it can be a valuable tool in a moment like this.” Employees affected by the stores closing up shop will still be paid. Here’s what Cook said on that and other adjustments Apple is making to accommodate workers impacted by the virus: All of our hourly workers will continue to receive pay in alignment with business as usual operations. We have expanded our leave policies 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. Apple’s “committed donations” to COVID-19 have reached $15 million, according to Cook, and the company will be “matching our employee donations two-to-one to support COVID-19 response efforts locally, nationally and internationally.” Like other large companies with a worldwide presence, Apple is strongly encouraging employees to work from home if their job allows for it. Apple recently reopened the China stores it closed soon after the initial spread of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19. “Though the rate of infections has dramatically declined, we know COVID-19’s effects are still being strongly felt. I want to express my deep gratitude to our team in China for their determination and spirit,” Cook said in his note. Earlier on Friday, Apple announced that WWDC 2020 will shift to an online-only experience — still with a keynote and developer sessions — when the conference happens this June. In that press release, Apple only mentioned the “current health situation” without addressing COVID-19 directly. Cook struck a somber but hopeful tone to close his letter. 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. Apple operates some of the most high-profile retail stores in the world and ranks first in the US for highest sales per square foot. Source: Apple to close US retail stores and all others outside China until March 27th (The Verge)
  3. Apple is temporarily closing more stores due to COVID-19 The move affects retail locations in Georgia, North Carolina and Texas. Apple Apple will temporarily close more than 20 of its retail locations in Georgia, North Carolina and Texas as coronavirus cases continue to climb in those states. In an update on its website first spotted by Bloomberg, the company indicates five Apple Stores in Georgia, five in North Carolina and about a dozen in Texas won’t be open to the public after they complete their regular hours on Friday evening. The closures include locations in major cities like Houston and Atlanta. If you left a device in for repair at one of those stores or have an appointment to pick up an online order, you can still visit them through to January 18th. “Due to current COVID-19 conditions in some of the communities we serve, we are temporarily closing stores in these areas,” a spokesperson for the company told Bloomberg. “We take this step with an abundance of caution as we closely monitor the situation, and we look forward to having our teams and customers back as soon as possible.” The move comes after Apple closed more than 50 retail locations in California due to the coronavirus pandemic last month. Separate from those concerns, the company has also temporarily shuttered its stores in the Washington DC area ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next week. Source: Apple is temporarily closing more stores due to COVID-19
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