Microsoft announced its fourth quarter 2022 results yesterday, posting revenue of $52 billion, up 12% year-on-year. However, the company’s net income was relatively flat at $16.7 billion, at a much more modest increase of just 2%.
In a call with analysts, Microsoft chief financial officer, Amy Hood, said unfavorable foreign exchange rate movement within the quarter negatively impacted revenue and diluted earnings per share, while extended production shutdowns in China and a deteriorating PC market had contributed to a negative Windows OEM revenue impact of more than $300 million.
The scaling down of Microsoft’s operations in Russia also led to the company recording operating expenses of $126 million related to bad debt expense, asset impairments, and severance.
Microsoft’s cloud business continued to go from strength to strength however, surpassing $25 billion for the first time in a quarter and growing at 28% year-on-year.
Microsoft’s intelligent cloud segment—which includes Azure public cloud services, SQL Server, Windows Server, and enterprise services—was the primary beneficiary of that growth, up 20% for the quarter, at $20.9 billion.
Server products and cloud services revenue also increased 22% to $3.4 billion, driven by Azure and other cloud services, which saw revenue grow by 40%.
Microsoft also saw its productivity and business processes segment, which includes Office software, increase 13% this quarter to $16.6 billion.
Office Commercial products and cloud services revenue increased 9% to $807 million, while Office 365 Commercial revenue grew 15%. Office Commercial products revenue declined 32%, driven by a continued customer shift to cloud-based offerings.
LinkedIn revenue increased $768 million, or 26%, while Dynamics CRM products and cloud services revenue increased 19%, driven by its cloud-based Dynamics 365 growth of 31%.
While the other segments have performed well this quarter, Microsoft’s personal computing segment struggled, with revenue increasing by only 2%, totaling $270 million. The once-thriving PC market has been blighted with problems in the last 12 months, due to manufacturing shutdowns leading to a steep decline in PC shipments.
Gaming revenue also decreased to $259 million or 7%, with Xbox content and services revenue decreasing by 6% and Xbox hardware revenue decreasing by 11%.
If you use an iPad, Mac, or both to get things done, you’ll be looking at Stage Manager when it ships this fall. It’s Apple’s latest attempt to improve multi-tasking on iPads and is available on Macs running macOS Ventura. You enable and disable Apple Stage Manager in the Control Center on Mac and iPad.
What is Apple Stage Manager?
Introduced at WWDC 2022, Stage Manager shows Apple is attempting to create a more harmonious interface between Macs and iPads. Stage Manager is a multitasking feature designed to organize your desktop better. The idea is that the things you are doing can be up front, while all the other applications you need access to are easily available.
It’s just one way Apple is attempting to help you stay focused, including the recently announced Focus Modes, upcoming improvements to single sign-on and more.
For me, Stage Manager is best when used with Universal Control, as it enables you to have multiple open apps across your Macs and iPads, which makes it much easier to migrate between apps while having a unique overview of what you are doing – while using the same keyboard and mouse to handle them all.
What does Stage Manager do?
Open windows are shown at the left-hand side of the display in the form of small screenshots, which will seem familiar to anyone who uses Spaces on the Mac.
The idea is that the window of the app you are working with is displayed in the center, with other open apps and windows arranged on the left in order of recency. This makes it easier to dip in and out of other apps while maintaining a visual sense of what is there.
On iPads, users can create overlapping windows of different sizes in a single view, drag-and-drop windows from the side, or open apps from the Dock to create groups of apps for faster, more flexible multitasking. Stage Manager also unlocks full external display support with resolutions of up to 6K; this lets you arrange the ideal workspace, working with up to four apps on iPad and four apps on the external display.
[Also read: Review: Apple’s M2 MacBook Air]
How to enable Stage Manager on a Mac
Stage Manager is enabled by default on Macs running macOS Ventura, but you can switch it on and off using a toggle in Control Center. You are also able to change which apps are shown in Stage Manager, though you only get two choices: Show Recent Apps, which will show recently used apps on the left side, and Hide Recent Apps, which hides those apps until you bring your mouse to the left side.
(My observation after using my preferred “Hide Recent Apps” state: if you already use Hot Corners and Universal Control you may find this extra contextual load a little taxing, but it is worth persisting until it becomes habitual.)
You can also add Stage Manager to the Menu bar: Open System Settings>Control Center>Stage Manager and check Show in the Menu Bar.
How to use Stage Manager on a Mac
Launch the applications you want to use once you have enabled Stage Manager. Depending on your Recent Apps setting (see above) you’ll either see small icons depicting those apps appear to the left of your display, or will be able to invoke them by moving your cursor to the left edge of the screen. You can then drag the app you want to use along with your existing primary app from the left to the center.
The two apps are now grouped and available side by side in the Stage Manager window. They are also visually represented as two apps in the view.
To open a different app or pair of apps you must tap the icon in the Stage Manager view.
How to enable Stage Manager on an iPad
You also use Control Center to activate Stage Manager on an iPad – just swipe down from the top-right of the screen and tap the Stage Manager icon — it looks like a box with three dots to the left of it. Tap it again to switch it off. Once enabled, the apps you’re using will appear at the center of the screen with a left-hand section showing all your currently active (but unused) apps.
Another benefit for iPad users is that once you have enabled Stage Manager, you can resize windows by dragging the curved white line at the bottom right corner of an app. To close, minimize and find other options to handle an active app, just tap the three-dot icon you find a the top-center of the app; this is also the control you’ll use to ungroup apps, just tap the last (dash) icon.
How to use Stage Manager on an iPad
As with a Mac, you can set Stage Manager to show or hide Recent Apps and see which of your applications are currently active. To open a new app, or pairing of apps, just tap the icon in the Stage Manager view.
What do you need to run Stage Manager?
To run Apple’s Stage Manager UI you’ll need to be using a Mac or iPad running macOS Ventura or iPad OS 16. The feature is compatible with any Mac capable of running macOS Ventura, but is only available to iPads equipped with an Apple ‘M’ processor. That confines it to the current iterations of iPad Pro (11-in. and 12.9-in.) and the recently introduced iPad Air.
Macs that support macOS Ventura:
iMac (2017 and later)
MacBook Pro (2017 and later)
MacBook Air (2018 and later)
MacBook (2017 and later)
Mac Pro (2019 and later)
Mac mini (2018 and later)
If your iPad lacks an M1 chip or your Mac is not included in the above list, Stage Manager will not work.
A work in progress
Stage Manager is beta software, which means how it works or the features it provides could still change before the feature appears, in or after new operating systems ship in early fall. Drop me a line if anything changes and I’ll revise this guide.
Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.
This wacky ol’ World Wide Web of ours has plenty of good things going for it, but customization isn’t exactly its core strength.
For the most part, the web is what it is — a take-it-or-leave-it sort of affair. And especially when your business leans on lots of browser-based tools and services, as so many companies do these days, that can really limit how useful and efficient of an experience you and your teammates can have.
That’s precisely the problem a startup called PixieBrix set out to solve. PixieBrix lets you take total control of the web and make it work any way you want. That means you can simplify common website interfaces to eliminate distractions and optimize your environment, for one — but even more powerfully, it means you can add elements into websites and turn any standard site into your own custom, company-specific workspace.
Sound wild? It is. And we’ve just barely scratched the surface of what this thing can do.
A whole new way to work online
At its core, PixieBrix is a browser extension that integrates deeply with Chrome and allows you to mix and match a variety of “bricks” — or building blocks, in a sense — to change the way virtually any website looks and works. Each brick performs an action, anything from highlighting elements on a page to creating a prepopulated email. Many of the bricks automate tasks and/or integrate with popular business services, too, such as Asana, Google Workspace, HubSpot, Salesforce, and Zapier.
It’s a lofty concept to wrap your head around, and it’s easiest to understand with concrete examples. So let’s get right into the fun part and explore some of the specific ways PixieBrix could work for you — starting with some of the service’s premade “blueprints” that make website customization especially easy:
Using the service’s “Send to Slack with page title” blueprint, you could add a simple button onto any website that lets you share the site’s URL and title directly into any of your team’s Slack channels — without any secondary steps or extra effort required.
If your company uses Jira, the “New Jira issue from selected text” blueprint will add a special command into your browser’s right-click menu for creating a new Jira issue from whatever text you’ve selected on your screen — with a dropdown menu that even lets you select the specific project and add in extra contextual info on the spot, without ever leaving the site you’re viewing.
The “New Trello card” blueprint does the same basic thing but with cards in Trello.
Those are the PixieBrix equivalents of plug-and-play customizations. Where the service’s real power comes into play, though, is when you start digging in and getting your hands dirty with your own made-from-scratch modifications.
The web, your way
Fair warning: This part of PixieBrix isn’t for the faint of heart. But for anyone who’s comfortable with basic low-code tinkering, it isn’t too terribly technical — and in a company context, it’d likely be an IT person doing the initial setup, anyway, and then sharing the results with teams (more on that in a moment).
Once the PixieBrix extension is installed in Chrome, you can access its control panel by opening Chrome’s developer console — which is most easily accomplished via the Ctrl-Shift-I (or ⌘-Shift-i) shortcut. You’ll want to make sure the console is docked at the bottom of the screen, which you can do by clicking the three-dot menu icon in its corner.
Then, you’ll simply find the PixieBrix section within that area, and you’re off to the races.
The most important piece of the puzzle is the “Add” command at the left side of the PixieBrix panel. Click that, and you’ll find a list of elements you can add into whatever website you’re currently viewing.
And that’s where PixieBrix starts to show its true efficiency-enhancing muscle. Let’s look at some examples of the sorts of productivity-minded modifications you could make on, say, LinkedIn:
You could use PixieBrix’s “Button” option to add a native-looking button into the top of every LinkedIn profile that grabs the person’s or company’s name from the page and then fetches Google search results related to it — and/or even sends that same info into a shared document or chat channel — as a simple point of reference.
You could create a native-looking button anywhere on LinkedIn that’d extract certain bits of info from the page and then save it all into specific columns of a shared spreadsheet — if, say, you wanted to have a simple one-click way to create a collection of promising job candidates and hang onto all the relevant info from their LinkedIn profiles.
And you could use the “Sidebar Panel” option to create a collapsible custom sidebar that shows you every news article specific publications have written about the company or person whose profile you’re viewing — for instance, every article that’s appeared with their name on computerworld.com.
And all of that’s still just scratching the surface of what PixieBrix can do. The service is in the midst of adding even more capabilities, with an expanded array of interactive elements for areas like that sidebar panel and a fresh round of funding to support that growth.
A team-based philosophy
The main challenge with PixieBrix, as we alluded to a moment ago, is that setting up your own web-wide customizations isn’t exactly the most intuitive process. I consider myself fairly tech-savvy, and even I felt a little overwhelmed trying to navigate the service’s web of options and variables.
But here’s the important thing to remember: In a company context, every average schmo wouldn’t be getting into the nitty-gritty of this setup. Instead, it’d be centralized — and someone from IT would likely do the initial configuration and then use PixieBrix’s team management dashboard to make certain customizations available for specific people or departments.
And that is something PixieBrix makes incredibly painless. Once you have whatever customizations your company requires all set up and ready, it’s literally just a few quick clicks on the PixieBrix dashboard to deploy any or all of those profiles to anyone or everyone in your business.
And that’s where PixieBrix makes its money, by the way: While the service is free with certain limitations for individuals and small teams, you have to start paying once you reach a size of six users or more — $10 per user per month for the starter-level Pro plan or $30 per user per month for the fully featured Business plan.
For the power to bend the web to your will and make all of your company’s tools more consistent and connected, that might just be a price worth paying.
I’m a cloud expert. No, really! Onalytica lists me in its 2022 Who’s Who in Cloud. But that doesn’t mean I always recommend the cloud for every business. Sometimes, servers in your office make the most sense.
When? Here’s my checklist for when to turn to local servers instead of the cloud.
The big promise of the cloud was always that it would save you money.
But it’s never that simple for all the talk of the cloud’s operational expenses (OPEX) inherent advantage over in-house capital expenses (CAPEX).
To realize those savings, you must know exactly what you’re doing and need the cloud’s ability to quickly and easily provision computing power.
Cloud costs are more complicated than they first look.
Sure, a public cloud can start off cheap, but the monthly bill jumps as you put more of a workload on those virtual machines (VM) and container instances. True, a cloud offers much-needed flexibility if you’re a startup with a growing workload or one that varies significantly.
But it’s a different story if you have a steady, predictable workflow,
Cloud pricing can also become extremely complex.
I find nothing surprising in Flexera’s 2021 State of the Cloud report, which found in its survey that “respondents self-estimate that their organizations waste about 30% of their cloud spend.”
Is that all? I’m sure it’s more. Some businesses, such as Apptio, Flexera, and ServiceNow, offer services to lower your cloud subscription costs.
They wouldn’t exist unless there was a real and pressing need for their offerings.
There’s also always the temptation to over-provision your cloud. If you decided to run things locally, you probably bought the most firepower you could get.
You knew you would live with a server for at least three years and wanted to be ready for increased demand.
That same attitude doesn’t work with the cloud.
You should get what you need for your current workloads. When you need more, you’ll need to learn how to efficiently use auto-scaling, bin packing, right-sizing, and resource scheduling.
All of these are difficult to master.
If, on the other hand, you buy some servers, you, well, own them. So you won’t need to pay a monthly fee. Once they’re paid off, you can use that server until it goes castors up.
Managing them is also, comparatively speaking, easier.
In-house IT help isn’t cheap, but then neither is cloud support. Yes, all the major public cloud providers offer free cloud support tiers, but, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
A related issue involves control. With local hardware, you control the horizontal, and you control the vertical. So yes, you can control much of what happens on your cloud instances, but you have even more control over your local hardware and software.
Preserve in-house apps
If you have legacy applications running on-premises — and who doesn’t? — you won’t have to worry about porting them to the cloud.
As anyone who’s ever tried to move a program to the cloud knows, it’s never easy.
Whether you’re trying to lift and shift or refactor your application, it takes time and effort.
And, yes, money.
Does your work require a lot of bandwidth?
If, say, you’re running a video production shop, the time needed to move a scene back and forth from a cloud-based server can throttle your production.
For example, suppose you’re using Pixar RenderMan in-house to produce photorealistic 3D videos for your forthcoming game; you can move data at up to 10 gigabits per second (Gbps) on your production LAN.
Sure, you can pay for an Internet connection to deliver that speed, but they don’t come cheap.
Most cloud providers have gotten much better about data privacy, but what’s more private than having all of your data located on-premises?
Oh, sure, storing sensitive data locally has problems too, but at least you’ll know where to look if your customer data goes missing.
And you’ll have your own backups if that does happen. Right!?
What will work best for you depends on the above factors and more.
But the point I’m really trying to convey is that just because seemingly everyone is using the cloud, you don’t have to.
Indeed, for many small businesses, local servers still make a lot of sense.
I’ve spent some time using one of the new M2-based MacBook Air laptops introduced at WWDC 2022. It delivers everything Apple promises — and if you’re looking for a notebook, but don’t need the horsepower of a MacBook Pro, you still get plenty of power and performance in this Mac.
Ending an era in bright silence
The MacBook Air (a review model from Apple) dispenses with the classical (and hugely popular) wedge shape that helped define the range. Apple’s newest machine is slim (0.4 inches high), occupies 20% less volume than before, and sports a design that very much brings it into line with the aesthetics across Apple’s range – rounded corners, thin, rectangular. I see it as similar to (but thinner than) a MacBook Pro. These design decisions matter because the MacBook Air is Apple’s most popular notebook, which de facto means it is also the company’s most popular Mac. (The assumptions is that Apple’s notebooks outsell its desktops by at least two to one.) The MacBook Air is also fanless, which means no matter what you ask it to do, it will be quieter than a whisper in the silence of the night.
The Mac weighs just 2.7 pounds. Dimensions are 0.4-in. by 12-in. by 8.4-in. The last-generation model with an M1 chip weighs 2.8-pounds and is roughly the same size, though 0.6 inches at the thickest point. (The last ever Intel model weighed 2.75 pounds and was about as thick. You’d be forgiven to see some consistency here.)
Open it up and you’ll find a beautiful self-illuminating Magic Keyboard with a full set of function keys and Touch ID. As a Butterfly Keyboard veteran, I find it a joy to use a decent keyboard with comfortable action. The screen is splendid, too — a 13.6-in. Liquid Retina display with P3 support for a billion colors at 500 nits of brightness. You get much more display, too, as the Mac has thinner bezels. The only compromise is the appearance of a notch to hold the 1080-pixel webcam and mic.
For the record, I have no problem with that notch; I quite like it — and it does add a few pixels to the 16:10 display.
While the display is not as bright as the XDR ProMotion displays in the high-end MacBook Pros, it is a big improvement over the M1 screen and a leap forward in contrast to the last-generation Intel MacBook Air.
While it’s tempting to simply compare this Mac with the last available model, the truth is that with millions sold, it’s going to be MacBook Air users still on Intel chips who are likely to be the biggest cohort purchasing these machines. They get a larger, brighter display and a processor that delivers a major increase in performance. If they use Photoshop, they’ll see huge performance benefits from a move to Apple Silicon.
How’s the M2 chip’s performance?
I opened 27 Safari tabs (I refuse to use Chrome unless I must); an 18-track GarageBand project; watched an Apple TV show in picture-in-picture mode; played a YouTube video in Safari; had Apple Music playing; and used Pixelmator to render a series of effects on an open 10GB image (with Mail open and while working on an 18-track GarageBand project).
Usually, that’s more than enough activity to make an Intel Mac stutter, certainly after 20 minutes. (If you need a Mac to handle more intense computational tasks such as professional image or movie editing, programming, or data analytics, then a MacBook Pro likely makes more sense.) But the M2 MacBook Air I tested didn’t struggle at all. It didn’t even get warm, meaning it’s equal to any task most of us would throw at it.
Oh, one more thing — if you don’t push the Air to the limit, you can expect up to 15 hours of wireless web browsing and 18 hours of video playback on a single charge. Even with all the work I asked the Mac to do, the battery held up. You can use the Air all day and still have enough left in the tank to watch a movie in the evening. When you do, the four-array speakers provide a beautifully balanced and detailed sound at a decent volume, though I doubt you’ll get complaints from the neighbors.
M2 MacBook Air test data
Attempting to quantify the performance, I ran a series of Geekbench 5 tests; these returned results in line with the aggregated data published on that site: Single Core performance, 1,882; multi-core, 8,696.
In very broad strokes, that means you’re getting performance on par with a 2019 Mac Pro with an Intel Xeon chip, faster than an M1 iMac and in the same ballpark as most M1-powered MacBook Pro systems.
How does it compare with the last-generation Intel MacBook Air?
That system delivered single core performance of 1,053 and 2,811 multicore with the Intel i5 chip. On paper, at least, anyone upgrading from an Intel Air will see an immediate and obvious boost in performance. If you’re considering equipping your team with these machines, that makes for an immediate productivity benefit that will help keep staff happy, too.
What fast are the M2 Air’s read/write speeds?
There have been multiple reports that the entry-level model with a 256GB drive uses a single SSD chip, which makes for slower read/write speeds. The MacBook Air in hand was not that model; it offers 1TB of storage, so this limitation is not reflected in my test results.
However, it is important to note that the 256GB model will deliver slower read/write speeds, so I recommend you upgrade to the 512GB or 1TB alternatives instead.
So, what did I experience? Blackmagic disk speed tests showed a write speed of around 4145MBps and read speeds circa 2627MBps at 1GB stress. At 5GB (maximum load), writes fell to around 2400MBps, while read speeds held steady. That’s in a test suite, of course, and in my experience actual performance remains faster than I’ve experienced with the M1 Macs, which frankly blew me away.
Your experience may vary, of course, and I do suggest that anyone needing really fast read/write speeds for work may well be running tasks more suitable to one of Apple’s Pro series.
Memory bandwidth for the Unified Memory has reached 100GBps in the M2 Air, up from 68.25GBps in the M1. That’s a nice improvement, but don’t neglect that the M1 Pro chip offers 200GBps. So if memory bandwidth matters to you, you might need to go Pro. For most of us, the air beats expectations.
What M2 MacBook Air model did I test?
I tested an 8-core Air with a 10-core GPU equipped with 16GB of memory and the aforementioned 1TB flash storage. This is not a standard model; both the storage and memory are upgrades. As tested, this Air I sells for $1,899 — $700 more than the entry-level M2.
Apple’s decision to loan me this particular configuration for review suggests that if you are in the market to buy one, it makes sense to pay for the extra RAM if you want equivalent performance. Eagle-eyed readers will note that the $1,899 price means the cost falls just $100 short of the 14-in. MacBook Pro with an M1 Pro chip. Of course, getting the 10-core CPU in the Pro will cost an additional $600 for a total $700 additional spend.
Confusing, isn’t it?
Apple now offers Macs in so many build-to-order configurations that the actual price structure has become opaque. This makes it harder to decide what you need and always leaves just enough temptation to spend a little more.
Apple makes great computers, but is also very, very good at creating upsell opportunities, which is what I think is happening here.
Are there any M2 Air problems?
As I write this, reports are emerging to claim these Macs get scratched easily. I can’t comment on that as I’ve not experienced it. But it’s worth considering when choosing from the four available colors (Silver, Space Gray, Starlight, and Midnight). In general, dark aluminium shows blemishes more.
Another complaint is that the Mac will only run a single external display, albeit at 6K.
The inclusion of just two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports could be a dealbreaker for some, though for me this pain is compensated for by the addition of a braided cable and MagSafe 3 port. MagSafe, of course, is a charging port that should automatically decouple from the Air in the event someone trips over the power cable.
The value of that protection is not lost on anyone who has ever dropped a Mac. Displays make such a remarkable sound when they hit the floor — though it’s usually hard to hear above your own screaming.
And that brings me to the FaceTime camera. It’s great that Apple has upgraded this to 1080p, at last. It’s an improvement that should have taken place a long time ago, but does mean that remote and hybrid workers will come across better in the next team meeting, warts and all.
Who should buy the M2 MacBook Air?
If you already have an M1 MacBook Air, you probably don’t need to upgrade to the M2. If you’re running an Intel Mac of almost any kind, however, you’ll achieve an immediate performance boost when you move to Apple Silicon.
Always get the best Mac you can afford. When you do, accept that Apple will introduce a better model of what you just acquired years before you are ready to upgrade. You should also pay for additional memory, as this is one of the best ways to boost performance and future-proof your device.
Don’t neglect that Apple still offers the M1 MacBook Air for just $999. This is an excellent price for an also excellent machine, and if you’re looking for a second Mac, or a machine to make available as a resource to desktop-based teams, that may well be the way to go. Yes, the M2 model is better, but the M1 remains a huge improvement above older laptops, including Intel-based MacBook Pros.
In general, if you’re looking for a notebook to become your regular ride, for most users the M2 MacBook Air’s fanless design, fantastic battery life and clear bright screen — and its impressive performance per watt — add up to a machine you’ll use happily and productively for years.
No wonder Mac share is increasing in both consumer and enterprise markets.
Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.
After I wrote about NetApp’s Spot PC last month, I had a surprisingly nice call with Spot PC’s general manager, Jeff Treuhaft. He reminded me that this is still a very young offering and, given that, it makes more sense to focus on the product, not the channel or the brand. So, while Treuhaft didn’t disagree with my thoughts, he suggested NetApp has a plan to deal with issues once the Spot PC has proven itself in a few initial deployments.
Given that the plan isn’t yet in place and because of confidentiality about the move, Treuhaft couldn’t share more. So, I want to focus on what it could be and how it could transform the PC experience into something less aggravating and closer to what users say they want.
Currently NetApp sells Spot PC through an existing channel of managed service providers (MSPs).
Partnering or merging to create a new class of PC company
The world we live in is very different than it was even a few years ago. Rather than working in the office being the norm — and working from home the exception — we seem to be locking down on either a solid work-from-home model or a hybrid of work from home and office. Some of the reports I’m seeing from companies that demanded employees return to the office indicate that this forced march is resulting in unsustainable levels of resignations and that employees are migrating en masse to competitors who promote aggressive work-from-home policies.
But work-from-home has significant support problems. You can’t cost effectively send out techs at scale and, given that support is also likely remote, you also can’t always assure that user problems are addressed timely. Thus, the focus must be on reducing the number of problems any user — particularly a remote user —must deal with.
The Cloud PC, which is the latest iteration of the Thin Client, would seem to be an ideal path; it tends to be more flexible (you can specify you just want an instance with more performance), more secure, and potentially less expensive, both initially and over time due to economies of scale. Particularly for those at home, it’s better, faster, and cheaper than a traditional PC approach.
The issue, as I pointed out last month, is that NetApp isn’t known as a PC vendor. And until that lack of brand identity is corrected, it will massively reduce NetApp’s potential in the market.
But what if NetApp partnered or merged with another company to address these problems? And who would it partner with?
Lenovo and Cisco for the win?
NetApp has two long-term strategic partners who could address the problems associated with brand issues and Spot PC. Both Lenovo and Cisco (disclosure: both are clients) have capabilities that could flesh out Spot PC and make it far more capable than it is. Lenovo has what was the old IBM PC division, and IBM was dominant back in the days of terminals — which Spot PC, to some degree, emulates. Lenovo has a significant set of desktop management tools that could be pooled with this NetApp effort for an end-to-end deployment and support solution from a brand that is well regarded.
Cisco has what is arguably the most robust provisioning program for remote employees. It allows employees to go to a store like Best Buy and get the networking and collaboration tools they need in a complete, approved, and highly reliable package. Those tools could also be remotely configured and combined with Spot PC to create what is basically a plug-and-play Spot PC ecosystem.
This would also lay a foundation for either an extended deeper partnership between the companies or a merger to create an entity that would rival the old IBM or the current Dell Technologies in size, scope and (given Lenovo’s significantly stronger presence in China) potential reach.
While Treuhaft could not share a plan that does not yet exist for the next phase of Spot PC, I think a potential path to success would include bringing firms like Lenovo and Cisco on board. That would allow for the creation of an end-to-end Cloud PC solution that can be deployed effectively on-premise — and work particularly well for in-home offices while lowering support costs and increasing security.
If the companies have the will, we could see the emergence of either a new kind of deep partnership or a fascinating merger as the industry moves to reimagine the PC.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but our favorite virtual helper is losing some of its location-sensing smarts.
Yes, oh yes: For reasons unknown, Google’s in the midst of quietly pulling back Assistant’s ability to handle reminders based on your physical location — y’know, the “remind me to do something when I get to this place” sorts of commands that have long been possible on Android. It’s part of a broader confusion campaignrealignmentof Google features that seems to be placing more emphasis on the company’s Tasks service and its integration with other Google apps.
Blah, blah, blah — yadda, yadda, yadda. We can yammer on all day about the silliness of this shift and the comedic gold of Google’s never-ending flip-flop habit. And let’s be honest: We almost certainly will, one of these days. But not today, gersh dern it.
Today, I want to turn our focus to some little-known location features Assistant still has in its grasp — ’cause while it may be losing that one location-related option, Assistant still possesses some powerful ways to interact with our whereabouts. It’s just up to you to realize they’re available and then remember to use ’em.
Assistant location trick No. 1: The self-location spell
We’ll start with the simplest command of the bunch but one that can be surprisingly helpful in the right situation. Clear your throat, practice your finest fancy-person voice, and say the following to your favorite Android phone:
Hey Google: Where am I?
It may sound like the sign of an existential crisis, but that six-syllabled incantation will cause your Android-dwelling Assistant to pop up an actual map with your exact current location. You can tap it to view it in full, slap it to put a smudge on your screen and make yourself look silly, or utter a Keanu-like “whoaaaaa” to let Assistant know you’ve ingested mass quantities of peyote.
Assistant location trick No. 2: The instant sharing system
The next time you find yourself trying to meet up with a client, a colleague, or a camel that’s camouflaged as a kindly koala, remember this invaluable Assistant command:
Hey Google: Share my location.
Those five words will cause your invisible Android companion to cough up a couple o’ contacts it thinks you might want to invite to your current spot. If they aren’t the mammals you need, you can simply say the name of the person with whom you want to share, provided they’re in your contacts — or you can tap the option on your screen at that moment to pick another contact manually.
Once you do, Assistant will send a link over to the human and/or koala-masquerading camel you choose, and they’ll be able to see your exact whereabouts with just one more tap of their finger/snoot.
Assistant location trick No. 3: The place-remembering genie
We’ve saved the best for last today — especially if your noggin is as mushy as mine is and as ineffective at remembering even the most basic info.
This final command is supremely helpful for storing a specific location in your Android phone’s virtual brains and then helping you get back to it at any point in the future. I actually had no idea it even existed up until a couple weeks ago, when a question came up over in our Android Intelligence Platinum Community Help Desk that inspired me to do a little digging.
So dig this — all you’ve gotta remember are these six magic words:
Hey Google: Remember where I parked.
Whether you’re actually thinking about parking or trying to remember a location for any other purpose, that command will cause Assistant to store your current physical location in its vast virtual banks.
And when you want to find your way back to it, no matter how long it’s been, you can say Hey Google: Where’s my car? to get an interactive map to that same spot — or Hey Google: Navigate to my car to jump right into a step-by-step navigation.
If you’d rather avoid the parking-specific lingo or store multiple locations at the same time, you’ve got one other exceptional option here — though it’s a bit more complex. Warm up that thirsty throat of yours and sing out the following, preferably with some over-the-top operatic flair:
Hey Google: Remember this location.
That’ll cause Assistant to prompt you to give your current location a custom name — anything you’ll be able to remember (“Meatball Central,” “My Happy Spot,” “That Place Where I Met the Creepy Camel,” etc). And then, when you want to get back to that area again, you can tell Assistant to navigate to followed by whatever specific name you used.
And remember, too: If you really miss Assistant’s location-based reminders, you can still make the same thing happen by creating a new note in Google Keep and then setting up your reminder there. It isn’t quite as simple as the spoken Assistant command method — but hey, if there’s one bit of consolation to be had here, it’s that Google will almost certainly shake things up again and introduce some other method for handling that soon.
Get six full days of advanced Android knowledge with my completely free Android Shortcut Supercourse. You’ll learn tons of time-saving tricks for your phone!
Apple seems to have confirmed what we already knew: times are tough, and while the company will continue to invest in product development, it will be freezing investment in some of its departments, according to Bloomberg.
Showdown for the slow down
We don’t know which parts of Apple’s business will be affected. Bloomberg simply says the company will no longer increase headcount in some departments next year. Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and other tech firms are also slowing recruitment in response to unyielding economic headwinds.
That’s not the same as eliminating jobs, of course, and, at least in Apple’s case, the freeze is not company-wide, affecting only some parts of the vast business. Tesla, meanwhile, has laid off hundreds of workers and closed at least one research facility.
What parts of the company may be hit?
It’s reasonable to think that in the context of recession Apple may decelerate the rate at which it opens new stores. Having said that, it’s worth remembering that Apple opened its first two retail stores in May 2001, just one year after the dot-com bubble burst in early 2000. In other words, Apple has in the past succeeded with more long-term bets laid against prevailing market headwinds.
We’ll find out what impact those headwinds have had on Apple’s business in the current quarter on July 28, which is when the company next reports its financial results.
We do know that there’s been an expectation sales will slow as consumer demand softens. During its last fiscal call, Apple did warn of a bumpy quarter with sales down by as much as $8 billion, quarter-on-quarter.
Beneath the hype
Despite these potential points of pain, there have been some positive insights in the last 13 weeks. Macs are gaining market share in the declining PC market. iPhones remain popular in China — Apple’s share of the market continues to increase. Some supply chain problems seem to be improving. But what isn’t improving is consumer confidence as we face the veritable four horsemen of insecurity: disease, increasing food and energy prices, pestilence of the environmental kind, and war.
Apple’s reported actions simply confirm that when the horsemen ride out, the going gets tough. Credit Suisse chairman Axel Lehmann told CNBC that while some tech companies may not make it through the next chapter, “the fundamental trends will remain, that technology and digitization will be important, new business models.”
[Also read: Apple (almost) says, ‘If you want to collaborate, stay apart’]
While analysts have cut current targets on Apple stock in response to the headwinds, the company seems well-poised for further growth atop those new emerging business models.
Where the puck is going
Not only has its move to Apple Silicon given the company’s Mac sales a big impetus in enterprise markets, but its focus on making technology that is both personalized and private (such as its health products) continues to give the company a strong argument as its products become essential components of the connected future Lehmann envisions.
This digital transformation is driving — and will likely continue to drive — strong growth for Apple in the enterprise and for companies providing services to support such use.
In other words, even in a potentially recessionary market, Apple still has strong opportunities for growth. The Bloomberg report makes it clear that Apple intends to chase that growth. It even specifically notes the company has no plans to slow its product announcement cycle, and we anticipate it will launch a completely new AR Glasses family in 2023. Apple innovated its way through the dot-com bust and will continue to use the same strategy this time around.
Meanwhile, Apple’s installed base is generating additional opportunities for services income. Apple’s services business has now become a bigger business than IBM, which shows how shrewd Apple management was to diversify its business mix to make it less reliant on pure hardware sales than before.
Analysts at Evercore recently predicted Apple’s services would generate $100 billion in revenue by 2024.
“While the nervous market backdrop is creating a fearful environment for tech stocks, we believe Apple’s growth story remains well intact despite the shaky macro. Apple remains our favorite tech name,” wrote Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives.
Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.
When it comes to Android and privacy, we’re accustomed to seeing things move in a certain direction.
It’s simple, really: With each new Android version, it usually gets easier to manage your privacy and understand how your information is being used. And we typically get more front-facing tools and under-the-hood improvements that allow us to handle that stuff intelligently. Obviously, right?
Of course right. And that’s precisely why it’s so puzzling to see the latest change Google’s rolling out to the Android privacy picture — a change that feels like backwards progress and a real disservice to those of us who care about being fully aware of what we put on our phones.
In case you haven’t heard, Google just introduced an update to its Play Store interface that removes the long-standing option to see exactly which permissions an app requires before you install it. I noticed it the other day and thought I was losing my mind (which, to be fair, is always a distinct possibility) — but then code-sleuthing superstar and Esper Senior Technical Developer Mishaal Rahman confirmed that the change was, in fact, actually happening and not just a figment of my imagination.
The shift appears to be connected to the launch of the Play Store’s new Data Safety section, which Google introduced a while back but is making mandatory for all apps as of today. Which, I mean, okay — I get it. Most average Android-owning organisms probably don’t look at the more detailed and technical breakdown of app permissions all that often, and Google’s undoubtedly got oodles of data that influenced this decision.
But even so, removing the ability for all of us to see that sort of information and have an easily accessible objective overview of everything an app wants to do on our devices sure seems like a step in the wrong direction.
So what’s an enlightened Android device owner to do, other than hope Google comes to its senses and brings that more detailed info back into view?
Let’s think it through more closely.
The Play Store and Android permissions evolution
Before we dive in, it’s worth zooming in a bit to chew over what exactly is changing here and what it actually means.
Traditionally, every Play Store app listing has had a link to view the entire list of permissions the associated app could require on your phone. That means you could be aware of exactly what types of data and areas of your phone the app wants to interact with and could then make a proactively informed decision as to whether that all seemed like a sensible situation for you.
That was then. Now, you see a broader but also less intricate summary of privacy-related info instead — which, it’s worth noting, is not generated automatically based on the app’s actual behavior and capabilities but is instead up to each developer to report:
On the one hand, that new Android Data Safety panel definitely does provide a lot more context about what exactly an app is doing with your info and why, and it puts into slightly more of a plain-English form that an average (alleged) human might actually understand. That’s clearly a good thing.
But at the same time, it omits the subjective, exhaustive, machine-generated facts about the precise list of Android permissions each app requires and instead forces you to rely on the developer’s disclosures — which may or may not always be accurate, honest, and complete.
In the case of Facebook, for instance, the new Play Store Data Safety panel doesn’t mention that the app wants the ability to read your phone’s status and identity, to view all network and Wi-Fi connections, to route calls through the system, and to download files without any notification. Those details might not matter to everyone, but they sure seem important.
And they’re exactly the sorts of nuances that get lost with this new approach.
The Android permissions workaround
So what’s the answer, then? Unfortunately, it isn’t exactly simple anymore.
One option that’s been batted around a bit in Android enthusiast circles is the notion of downloading a third-party Play Store alternative called Aurora, as that storefront does still list out specific app permissions. But there’s a catch: Aurora is a non-officially-sanctioned and not technically authorized alternative Play Store client. And that means you’d have to venture out into the wild and install it from outside of the Play Store — which (a) is something that’s difficult to recommend on any broad level (especially when company-associated devices are involved), and (b) opens up the door to some tricky terms-of-service issues, since Google doesn’t actually allow third-party apps to act as Play Store interfaces in that way.
Aside from going down that road, you’ve got a couple possibilities worth pondering:
1. Rely on a web-based Android app marketplace to cross-reference an app before you download it
A web-based marketplace called F-Droid lists loads of Android apps and makes ’em available for direct download — and it lists out all the permissions an app requires in a clear and easy-to-find form.
And while F-Droid is intended to act as a full-fledged alternative Android app market, you can just as easily use it as a simple point of reference before you download an app normally from the Play Store. It’ll just give you a window into the app’s exact permissions ahead of time, now that the Play Store won’t.
The only downside, extra effort aside, is that F-Droid is missing a lot of major app titles that are present in the Play Store. So there’s a decent chance you might not find what you’re seeking there. But it’s at least one option for a proactive approach in light of Google’s vexing permissions visibility change.
2. Look at an app’s permissions immediately after you install it
This is really the best all-around answer for most people at this point, even if it isn’t entirely optimal: After you’ve installed an app, it’s actually quite easy to dig in and see exactly what permissions the app is capable of accessing on your phone.
Just open up your standard Android system settings and look for the Apps section. Open it, then look for the line labeled “See all apps.” Tap that bad boy and tap it good.
Next, find and tap the app in question and then select “Permissions.” That’ll show you a basic list of core permissions the app requires — but to get the full unabridged list, you’ll need to perform one last step: Tap the three-dot menu icon in the upper-right corner of the screen, then tap the all-important “All permissions” option tucked away in that menu.
And with that, you’ll finally be privy to every form of data the app can possibly see or interact with on your phone.
Remember, too, that with more advanced and sensitive sorts of permissions, apps have to explicitly ask for your authorization before they’re able to act. So even with the app installed on your phone, it’s not automatically gonna be able to do anything especially eyebrow-raising until you get a prompt and deliberately give it the go-ahead.
This method isn’t perfect, and it’s certainly a lot less logical than being able to see all those permissions directly in the Play Store. But the info is still available, at least, if you know where to look.
And if you combine this approach with the Play Store’s new Data Safety section and all of your standard Android app-selecting smarts, you’ll have an effective way of keeping tabs on your apps and exactly what sorts of info they’re able to access.
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It’s been 15 years since the iPhone gave rise to the modern smartphone, and mobile now sits at the center of almost every thing we do. So it matters that US shoppers will soon find retailers prepared to take contactless payments using iPhone’s new Tap to Pay feature.
The retail experience is a mobile experience
One of the biggest US payment services providers, Adyen, has officially commenced support for Tap to Pay in its merchant networks and retailers.
Based (we think) on technology Apple purchased with Mobeewave in 2020, Tap to Pay lets retailers accept payments using an iPhone XS or newer from iPhones, contactless cards, and digital wallets from any provider choosing to support the system. Realistically, this represents the latest evolution in the mobile transformation of the retail customer journey we’ve been experiencing since Apple’s Steve Jobs climbed the stage in 2007 to show us a mobile phone that could also play music and had a real web browser.
Apple’s moves into retail have never been particularly disguised. The company runs its own global network of highly profitable retail stores and has used them to try out its ideas.
Mobile transformation of everyday life
Even before your iPhone became your wallet, consumers used the devices to check prices while in a shop (“Showrooming”), to source discount codes, and engage with manufacturers. Apple has simply moved with these demands, introducing supporting tools such as Maps, Apple Business Chat, Apple Pay, ARKit, and (in iOS 16) an expansion of tools to create and use indoor maps.
The company may have been mocked when company retail chief Angela Ahrendts introduced a new approach to retail in which stores became “town squares” and Jony Ive designed attractive pots to contain forests of indoor trees in Apple retail stores.
That mockery masked Apple’s willingness to explore how mobile technologies could support personalized, next-generation shopping experiences, increasing customer loyalty, connectivity, and, of course, revenue. Retailers, experiencing the same changes in shopping habits, watched closely; as Apple’s solutions emerged they continued to adopt them.
The future of retail?
Back in 2018, CFO Luca Maestri boasted Apple was experiencing, “industry-wide adoption of iOS at thousands of retailers, from neighborhood boutiques to many of the best-known retailers in the world.”
He said nine out of the top 10 global retailers used iOS at that point, mainly to help provide personalized customer experiences.
Tap to Pay brings even more aspects of the customer journey to the mobile fold. Easy to use and deploy, it may even enable retailers to deliver another set of innovations, meeting the same demands for mobility, personalization, and autonomy that are now also transforming how we work as employees demand more.
“Together, we have already put iPhones in the hands of thousands of store associates. Now, these devices can become payment terminals with no additional hardware,” said Stephan Schambach, founder and CEO of NewStore, one of the networks enabled by Adyen.
Adyen is not the only payments firm to adopt the service. Square, Stripe, Chase, Clover, GoDaddy, North American Bancard, and Worldpay all plan to follow suit, Apple says.
Convergence seems simple, but it’s not
“Today’s consumer is a savvy shopper, armed with more product knowledge than ever before,” Rodney Bryant, IBM Global Business Services Retail Industry Lead for the Apple Partnership Team, told me in 2017. “The convergence of physical and digital in retail is driving customers’ desire [for] a convenient, personalized experience.”
Five years later, we’ve seen that convergence accelerate across daily life, with personalization and improved experiences becoming just as important when it comes to the workplace as it now is in stores.
Apple, meanwhile, seeks to turn its hard won customer loyalty into gold dust with a slew of online and offline services, and with its BNPL system preparing to help cash-strapped consumers tap those iPhones to keep buying stuff — even when they probably shouldn’t.
Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.
Even Apple must surely now see that the future of work is a technology challenge. Solving that challenge will demand new generations of office equipment designed to support much deeper experiences of remote and hybrid collaboration, and solutions must reflect the needs of employees.
Searching for a collaboration superstar
Corel offers up fresh insights from its Collaboration Survey, which polled 2,027 office workers in the US, UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and Australia. It found that 54% of enterprise employees believe poor collaboration tools are a problem and 70% believe they limit productivity and waste time.
So, what’s the state of play?
Reading between the lines, businesses need to think much more deeply to ensure the tools they supply are appropriate and sufficiently good that workers will use them. They need to provide ease of use and functionality, and people need to be properly trained in how to use them.
Corel’s data shows:
27% claim businesses aren’t investing in the right tools.
25% agree that collaboration tools have poor functionality.
22% of employees say they aren’t using the tools at their disposal.
21% of employees state they aren’t trained to use the tools.
What are the characteristics of a good collaboration solution?
Corel’s data suggests that tools must be platform agnostic, must work across every device, and should enable multiple people to work on the same project at the same time. They needs to support people working asynchronously, be simple and intuitive, and improve the employee experience.
Because those tools that get used most effectively will inevitably be those that employees like using. (Here are six virtual collaboration tools you might want to try.)
We’ve always known this, of course. Think back to the pre-pandemic years, when the twin mantras of employee choice and employee experience taught us that no business should insist workers use poorly designed software. There has long been a reactionary belief that work-related products should be hard to use because they are used for work, but the advent of the iPhone and BYOD should have ended such thinking.
No modern business should rely on an interface that’s not developed with employee experience in mind — particularly when Corel’s survey shows 41% of workers have left, or would consider leaving, their job because of poor collaboration at work.
It is also worth noting a recent MindGym survey; it showed the transformation of the workplace is also taking its toll on managers, 70% of whom feel burnt-out as they struggle to get a grip on these changes.
Business leaders must recognize their employees need help at senior and junior levels.
Relevance is a business challenge
While simplicity is a design challenge, relevance is a business challenge. That’s why employers seeking collaboration tools should speak to their teams first, engage with them to find out what challenges they face, and work to identify and select the most appropriate solution for that unique set of needs. That’s how Volvo improved its own field services teams.
That’s not to say that every firm will find a one-fits-all solution. But employee engagement and collective decision-making can at least help optimize success. You aren’t investing in autonomous decision making (a vital quality to remote work) if you insist on forcing people to use ineffective tools chosen in the boardroom.
At the front end of your business, the employee experience is your business, not ancillary to it, which means your choices impact how workers experience their day.
[Also read: Enterprise tech? Don’t forget to make it human]
It’s not rocket science.
Shiny happy people holding hands
A happy employee will use the tools you provide and boost your bottom line. Tools that don’t get used because you’ve forced them onto your employees are far less likely to achieve success.
That’s true across in-person teams, but is far more an issue for remote teams, which need high degrees of loyalty and engagement to succeed.
And yet, despite these realities, some managers insist on hierarchical approaches to remote work. That’s why 78% of employees say leadership could be doing more to boost collaboration.
“Respondents reported issues with their company failing to invest in the right tools (27%), current tools lacking necessary functionality (25%), a complete lack of access to collaboration tools (22%), and lack of training on the tools they do have access to (21%),” Corel’s survey says.
Employees say they need videoconferencing, remote access, and instant messaging, of course. But they also seek tools for mind mapping, concept creation, and direct collaboration such as design and review.
Where tomorrow shines
The jury has already returned its verdict on remote and hybrid work. Since the pandemic struck, we’ve learned that hybrid and remote working can be productive, but having the right tools helps maximize that opportunity. Even Apple knows this, which is why it continues to try to find its own new models for work.
Corel’s Chief People Officer, Scott Day, said in a statement:
“This survey underscores the alarming cost of inadequate collaboration tools and highlights that organizations of all sizes are limited by the quick fix solutions that were implemented at the beginning of the pandemic.
“Rather than improving employees’ ability to be productive, these stop-gap solutions are frequently a barrier to getting work done and can significantly impair hybrid and remote workers’ overall productivity. Listening to employees, creating an environment in which people want to work, and investing in simple and intuitive collaboration tools is what will set businesses up for success in 2022.”
Meet me in the crowd
The future of work is a technology challenge. Understanding what that means requires a close collaboration both within and across teams. It may also necessitate conversations with key partners to ensure systems interoperate effectively.
And don’t neglect to consider the lessons of Shadow IT – which is how your employees are already asking for help to get work done.
Corel’s Collaboration Survey Report 2022 is available to download.
Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.
All these years — approximately 7,967 since I first started using and writing about Android — and somehow, rather miraculously, I’d never outright broken a phone.
Impressive, I know. But don’t let yourself get wrapped in awe yet, my fellow drop-dreading denizen: My streak of impeccable Android phone protection has officially come to a crashing halt.
Now, I didn’t technically drop my phone, mind you. And I didn’t technically break it myself, either. But it was definitely broken. And it happened on my watch.
While the experience isn’t one I’d recommend to anyone, it provided a powerful reminder that even the most obsessively cautious Android-appreciating animals among us are bound to slip up and run into an unfortunate situation like this sooner or later. (For some Android phone owners — hi, honey! — these sorts of butter-fingered mishaps seem to happen with almost shocking frequency.)
And more than anything, it forced me to think through some smart steps we should all keep in mind to keep our information safe whenever our precious Android companions crash and tumble.
My broken Android phone backstory
First things first, it’s worth mentioning that these steps are mostly relevant in an instance when your phone either won’t power on or can’t be used in any normal way — but is still technically running.
That’s exactly what happened to me. Long story short, a 45-pound dumbbell rolled off the (allegedly) flat bench where I had it resting during a workout and rolled right onto my poor Pixel 6. Seriously — what are the odds?!
Amazingly enough, the phone didn’t shatter. You had to look really closely to even notice any outward signs of damage, in fact. But, as I quickly discovered, the screen would no longer turn on — at all. And aside from allowing my lovely stream of obscure 80s power ballads to continue entertaining my ear holes, that meant the phone was mostly useless.
Luckily, I had still insurance active from my original Google Store purchase, and I was able to get a replacement device within a couple of days. But that also meant I had to send the broken old phone back as part of the process.
And that, in turn, meant all of my personal and work-related information could have ended up in someone else’s hands — since I had no way to get into the phone and perform a standard factory reset.
So here’s what I did — and what I’d strongly suggest doing yourself, if/when you find yourself in a similar situation. It’s a three-step process that’ll protect your data and your sanity when your phone is impossible to interact with:
Step 1: Force a factory reset
Little-known fact: Even when you can’t swipe and tap your way through your phone’s on-screen menus, you can still reset the thing and remove all of your accounts and data. It’s just up to you to realize it’s possible and then remember how to do it.
It’s pretty forkin’ easy, though: Just type find my phone into the Chrome address bar on any computer where you’re signed into the same Google account that’s connected to your phone. That’ll pull up the official Google Find My Device tool.
From there, it takes just a couple more clicks to select the damaged device, locate it, and then use the “Recover” option to permanently erase every last morsel of info from the thing and reset it remotely.
Now, if your phone were completely dead, this wouldn’t work, of course. But as long as it’s still powered up and running — even if you can’t actually get into it — this is a great way to get all your info off of it before putting it in someone else’s grubby paws.
Step 2: Confirm your Google account disconnection
Even after resetting your phone, it’s worth taking an extra few seconds to head over to the “Your Devices” section of the Google Account website. That’s where you can ensure that the phone has no lingering connection to any Google account you’d had connected.
Just look for the phone’s name on that page, and if you see it, click it and then click the “Sign out” option on the screen that comes up next.
If you had more than one Google account associated with the device — like, y’know, a personal account and a work one — be sure to sign into each account separately on that Google Account site and repeat the process.
Step 3: Sign yourself out of Messages
If you use Google’s Android Messages app, this final step is both one of the most important and one of the easiest to overlook.
Messages, as you may know, relies on a next-gen messaging standard called RCS to power its next-gen “Chat” feature. That’s what allows you to have contemporary messaging features like encryption, typing indicators, and read-message alerts anytime you’re chatting with someone who’s also using the service (or using another RCS-compatible app).
That’s generally a good thing — right? Of course right. But the presence of that standard does add one extra wrinkle into our broken-Android-phone conundrum: When you stop using one Android device and move into another, your Messages account can often stay linked to the old device — and that means (a) any messages sent to you via that system will still arrive on that phone, and (b) you’ll likely run into trouble when trying to sign into the Messages “Chat” system on any new device.
Once more, the fix here is easy, so long as you know about it: Just pull up this official Google Messages help page in the browser of any phone or computer where you’re signed in. Scroll down to the bottom, and you’ll find a form where you can enter your phone number to remotely disable and sign out of all connected devices.
The system will send you a text message to confirm the sign-out. So long as your broken Android phone is technically powered on and running, you should be able to see it and copy the code by opening the regular Messages web app on your computer.
And with that, your busted old clunker should be completely clear of all connections and sensitive info — and you can safely proceed with shipping it back to the manufacturer, bringing it into a repair shop, or doing whatever you see fit.
Now you know. And now you can move on from your next broken Android phone without any extra worry — and focus instead on starting your next record-setting streak of damage-free delight.
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Across digital transformation efforts, recognition is growing that communication and collaboration are increasingly important — even as some processes become automated. More and more, developers are looking for ways tech can boost teams in a hybrid age.
With that in mind, I spoke with Alykhan Jetha (AJ), the president and CEO at Marketcircle, to get his views on the leadership qualities the future of work will need.
A little Daylite on the future workplace
Marketcircle’s Daylite is a CRM solution for Apple products. It’s built for collaboration, both externally and within internal teams. The software itself integrates customer relationship management, scheduling, contact, sales, and project management into a single Ma-c, iPhone-, or iPad-native application.
Over the years, the company has enhanced Daylite to maximize the value of customer connections, including the capacity to hold useful data on historical interactions. Most recently, the company updated the sync system Daylight uses so it keeps more users and larger quantities of data synchromized.
At its most basic, some see Daylite as an Apple-only alternative to Salesforce. It’s because the company already creates tools for hybrid teams that Jetha’s insights into the future of work will be valuable to other enterprise professionals. This Q&A offers up some of the insights he had to share.
What are the three most important qualities for leadership when managing remote teams? “Having the right people in the right place is essential, but how do you get there?
Know and understand your core values. This is important when hiring people because it makes the other steps (below) easier.
Take time to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the people you have. You may gather this information through one-to-one meetings or by spending specific time with them.
Know and understand where the company is going (or at least where the team is going), so that you can attempt to place the right people in the right jobs.
Recognize that people are sometimes not a good fit for certain position/situations. Try to find a better fit for them. Listen so you can (hopefully) recognize these situations. If the problem persists across multiple projects, then the person may not be a good fit for the company.
Ensuring constant alignment around goals. In a remote environment, that constant alignment is even more important. [At Marketcircle] we do this in the following ways:
We have a quarterly ‘all hands’ meeting during which we remind people what our long-term goals are.
We have a monthly ‘all hands’ meeting in which we remind people of our quarterly goals and where we are with those goals. We must address the inevitable challenges and delays.
Each team has a weekly ‘huddle’ during which monthly or quarterly goals are re-iterated.
“[You need to] eliminate or minimize information silos. One of the patterns that we see a lot is what we would call silos of information or duplicate information. In a remote environment, it can be even more challenging to have your teams on the same page. One way to make a business more efficient is to bring all that information — including notes and conversations you’re having or the deals and projects that you’re working on — together. This way everyone can speak to customers in a unified way. That saves time. (It’s also something Daylite enables.)
“Provide a safe environment so that questions/problems/solutions can be discussed in public (Slack/Teams) channels. (Though obviously people or personal problems should not be discussed in public channels.) Some people refer to this as ‘asynchronous communication.’
“Manage interruptions and constant work. There are two other common patterns we see, one is constant questions/answers on Slack/Teams, so much so that it crosses work hours (notably due to timezone differences). You need to set some boundaries otherwise it will lead to burnout for some people and the inability to produce actual work for others.”
Emotional connection is essential to teams — how can technology help management establish strong connections with employees they may never have met? “Prior to us being remote, we were a small bunch. We would eat lunch together, play games and enjoy all kinds of activities. By doing that, without us even realizing it, we were sharing our values and learning to trust each other.
[Also read: Apple MDM industry outlook: M&A on the way]
“When we went remote, we suddenly didn’t have the opportunity to bond over these activities, so now we had to be much more deliberate about these connections and much more repetitive.
“What worked for us was finding ways of incorporating technology we use for work, such as Slack, Zoom, and Confluence into our team-building strategies. In Slack, for example, we have channels that are specifically designated for us to share common interests that are not necessarily work-related, such as cooking, photography, music, etc. We also encourage our teams to use Zoom to socially meet. Even Daylite plays a big role in our team building. Anytime we need to schedule a team lunch, one-on-one or any gathering, we can easily look up our team’s schedule and find a time that works.”
Many business leaders complain that remote working lacks the opportunity for casual communication. Is that a management problem, or a technology problem? “I think that the last two years have accelerated the opportunity to communicate differently and optimize remote work solutions. A couple of years ago, you wouldn’t think of having so many customer meetings remotely. But the pandemic forced us to do it and then we learned that we can be more productive if we do some parts of our work remotely.
“There are still some communications that you can’t replace, such as face-to-face meetings — because you can’t replace that relationship-building part remotely. It’s not impossible, but it’s difficult. Going to dinner with a customer or having some of that social time is not something you can replace with a video meeting. But the frequency of business travel and in-person customer meetings will drop. To me, it means businesses will have more flexibility to have their employees work from home more frequently.
“One of the toughest things that we saw people go through during the pandemic was the fact that they were so used to sharing information verbally, whereas now, they must have systems in place to share the same information effectively and securely.
How can tech recreate informal spaces in which people can share and grow? “This is a difficult one to answer. We haven’t quite cracked this nut yet. We feel that some of the things we are doing can help, such as:
Providing safe spaces so people can comfortably ask questions and provide answers. This can have the organic benefit of others learning by observation even though it may not be in their current job scope.
Creating hobby spaces in which people interested in similar things can share and exchange ideas and knowledge freely. Some of this can translate into personal growth for others, such as discussing methods of balancing work/life).
The ‘alignment drumbeat’ can also help in terms of setting the expectation of goal setting and follow through.
“We need to keep working on this one.” [Author’s note: cf. Apple hybrid work challenges.]
When it comes to management, will tomorrow’s management skills look the same as today’s? “The pandemic took us from spending 100% of our work time in the office to 100% remote work. What I’m seeing now is a trend towards 60-70% at home, and 30-40% in-person or in the office. I think that trend will continue. I think it will be important that a whole team is working in one of the modes – i.e., the whole team is in office, the whole team is hybrid on the same days or the whole team is fully remote. Mixes and matches within a team will not work.)
“Of course, with such hybrid models, you need to be disciplined about where your data/information is. That unification of the information in one place allows you to have conversations with your customers without having to chase everybody right before a meeting to find out if they spoke to that customer and get an update of what’s been discussed.
“Tomorrow’s management skills will rely a lot more on having all your tasks in one system, in order that you know what each person is doing and when they’re doing it without having to constantly ask for updates. That saves time and it’s one of the things that Daylite allows.”
How can remote workforces best access success? “By giving them autonomy, which is easier to do when core values match, and the technology they need to be successful. We give them space in which they can do their best work, ensuring they know what we’re trying to accomplish and providing the tools they need to excel. Luckily for us, one of these tools is our very own product, Daylite, which is designed to help small and medium-sized teams collaborate and maintain productivity. Everyone in our team has access to our database and we ensure that all the information they need is always available to them. That’s how we provide an environment in which people can thrive.
“Knowing what kind of support each individual needs so they can maintain performance and growth is also critical to managing remote teams.”
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Apple device management is the beating heart at the center of the mobile hybrid enterprise, and vendors that support Apple’s MDM (mobile device management) platform are investing as they seek to build for future growth. At this stage in the evolution of the Apple device management industry, it appears we are on the edge of an M&A frenzy as players in that space seek to build unique identities designed to foster future growth.
Industry activity is intensifying
Jamf, arguably one of the biggest firms in the Apple MDM business, has been investing deeply in companies and services to extend the tranche of security and device management tools it can provide to its customers. These extend to powerful content monitoring, zero trust, and endpoint management.
Jamf CIO Linh Lam recently noted the acceleration of Apple’s enterprise market status, predicting: “The way the demand is growing and the expectations of younger generations joining the workforce, Apple devices will be the number one endpoint by 2030.”
More recently, we’ve begun to see entities from outside the Apple device management space begin to seek a way in. VMWare’s $1.17 billion acquisition of AirWatch in 2014 showed what was coming. Ivanti in 2021 purchased MobileIron. More recently, GoTo is in the process of acquiring cloud-based cross-platform device management provider Miradore. And arguably one of the larger illustrations of this kind was Apple’s 2020 acquisition of MDM vendor Fleetsmith, whose solutions have now been rolled inside Apple Business Essentials.
Elsewhere, Hexnode has entered a partnership with Keeper Security; JumpCloud in February acquired MYKI to expand its cloud directory platform; Kandji continues to attract investment capital as it plays its own long game; Addigy is working with Acronis (the latter also works with Jamf); and Mosyle recently closed a $196m funding round and introduced new solutions for enterprise customers.
The irresistible force
This activity has purpose, of course. As enterprises become increasingly digitized, the value of the device management market is expected to reach $28.7 billion by 2027.
To put that figure into context, that’s around four times the existing value, meaning there is huge scope for growth in the space, particularly around Apple devices.
We’ve looked before at the acceleration there, as Mac and iOS together now comprise around 23% of global mobile/PC consumer market share and a higher slice of enterprise/knowledge worker markets. When it comes to the Mac, Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa recently predicted Apple will seize 10.7% of the PC market in 2026 as Windows share slips. And, of course, a 2021 Dimensional Research survey found that 85% of IT decision makers say Apple devices are more secure.
With hundreds of millions of PC replacements now in sight as old Windows OS installations expire and companies seek to secure all endpoints against catastrophic business failure, the Apple side of this equation remains a highly attractive target for all these parties (and a few I probably forgot).
Carving out space in these markets means Apple MDM vendors are under some pressure to extend the functionality of the solutions they provide while also defining their own unique market position.
Many hope to achieve this by extending their core products with tools for security, remote support, and collaboration or by specializing in the needs of vertical markets such as education, healthcare, and manufacturing.
Why a wave of acquisitions may be on the way
Of course, with SAP, BlackBerry, Cisco, Citrix, IBM, Microsoft, Sophos, SOTI, and others also vying for some or all of the same business, smaller vendors must work hard to develop their own unique offerings. This suggests (at least to my jaded mind) that at some point relatively soon, we will see a wave of mergers and acquisitions as larger entities scoop up some of the smaller firms in a bid to offer more effective cross-platform MDM tools to enterprise customers and secure growth in a challenging market.
Quite a lot now depends on platform vendors, including Apple. MDM solutions providers live and die through the power of the APIs made available to them, which means that the addition of features and functionality is equally dependent on such system-level support.
All the same, if there’s a seemingly unexplored space that relates to these technologies, it likely extends to remote collaboration and autonomous security solutions.
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Depending how you look at it, Apple is gaining a fresh opportunity to explain why the charges it levies at the App Store are fair, or regulators are getting the chance to decide what the future shape of online business will be by defining what constitutes an acceptable profit margin in digital sales.
In either case, these decisions set precedents which can, presumably, be applied against other forms of business and retail. After all, if regulators define acceptable profit margins for one line of business, then they must adopt a consistent approach that can be applied across all industries. Right now, Apple seems to believe that for most transactions, the fair figure is zero or 15%, with those with the broadest shoulders paying more to support others.
Two sides to every story
What’s happening is that the UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal has decided to permit a Collective Proceedings Order (CPO, basically equivalent to a class action) to go to trial.
The action was brought in May 2021 by Dr. Rachael Kent, a lecturer in Digital Economy and Society Education at King’s College, London. It argues that Apple is engaged in unfair business practices by forcing developers to use its own payment systems and taking up to 30% commission. If the case succeeds, approximately 19.6 million UK customers who have purchased apps from the App Store will get a share of up to £1.5 billion compensation. More information concerning the background to this case is available at the UK Apple App Store Claim site.
At its simplest, the allegations are that the company breached the law by excluding competition and charging an unlawful level of commission on digital purchases in the App Store. These allegations boil down to a combination of three charges:
Unfair pricing (the 30% commission)
Unfair tying (by requiring app purchases use Apple’s own payment systems)
Exclusive dealing (by only supporting App Store purchases on its platforms)
Apple had attempted to get part of the claim that alleged unfair pricing withdrawn but was prepared to challenge allegations of exclusive dealing and tying in the court.
Apple faces growing global scrutiny
Apple’s App Store fees continue to face challenges worldwide. These include:
Perhaps the history also matters
What’s strange about many of these challenges is that Apple is not unique in levying its up to 30% charge. Most every platform operator charges something similar, with some demanding more.
Historically, Apple’s App Store upended then-existing models of software distribution. Developers had been coughing up much higher percentages for distribution through retail stores and had also had to take the risk of manufacturing CDs and boxes as well as distribution costs.
Apple’s store offered developers a much better deal and reflected existing digital service fees. Developers gained access to international markets, tools, and Apple platforms. Developers who didn’t charge paid no commission at all. More recently, those earning under $1,000,000 per year pay 15%.
Apple, meanwhile, invests in platform development, software development, fraud protection, payment systems, server, and other marketing/infrastructure costs to support its stall. That Apple’s 30% commission represents its profit margin is a myth — the company’s margins are certainly slimmer.
What does winning look like?
To win, accusers must prove Apple’s commission is excessive and its business practices unfair.
That’s going to involve the usual roll call of Apple developer critics providing statements to the courts and will doubtless see conversations concerning Apple’s costs against revenues and the extent to which App Store profits have grown.
For most humans, many of these arguments will be as interesting as a discussion of the geology of Rockall or the chance to buy NFTs in the (yawn) ‘metaverse,’ but for the tech industry what’s really under scrutiny is cold, hard cash.
After all, for the courts to reach a decision as to what is a fair price for Apple to charge, they will also need to define what constitutes a fair price in more general terms. You can’t set such rules arbitrarily, which means any global entity offering online stores for digital services could perhaps be impacted by the decision.
And, of course, with every business today also being an online business, the repercussions could impact every enterprise. Think about it: In the context of an inflationary economy and growing wealth inequality, a decision that effectively defines a fair profit margin in one industry becomes a precedent for similar discussions in every industry.
It also seems likely that if such a decision is reached, other global digital software stores will be sucked into the discussion and should perhaps anticipate similar actions against them.
Do consumers win? Possibly a little, but given that running online services does have actual cost and that the decision will not be between 30% and free, but more likely between 30% and another figure probably higher than 10%, consumer benefit will be limited at best.
The court battle will take place at an unspecified date, presumably in 2023.
What the protagonists say
In a statement, Dr. Kent said: “A claim of this magnitude is always going to be heavily defended. The anti-competitive practices that we are alleging against Apple go to the heart of Apple’s business strategy, and with its almost unlimited resources, it will always make this a challenging fight.”
While Apple has not made a fresh comment at this time, the company last year said: “The commissions charged by the App Store are very much in the mainstream of those charged by all other digital marketplaces. In fact, 84 percent of apps on the App Store are free and developers pay Apple nothing. And for the vast majority of developers who do pay Apple a commission because they are selling a digital good or service, they are eligible for a commission rate of 15 per cent.”
Apple introduced reduced commissions for most developers in late 2020. Developers earning under a million dollars each year pay 15% commission, while those offering apps for free pay nothing at all. Despite these and other changes, the level of challenge and scrutiny Apple is facing continues to intensify, and it’s hard to predict what the overall impact of these decisions on Apple’s business will be.
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Apple has struck a big blow against the mercenary “surveillance-as-a-service” industry, introducing a new, highly secure Lockdown Mode to protect individuals at the greatest risk of targeted attacks. The company is also offering millions of dollars to support research to expose such threats.
Starting in iOS 16, iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura, and available now in the latest developer-only betas, Lockdown Mode hardens security defenses and limits the functionalities sometimes abused by state-sponsored surveillance hackers. Apple describes this protection as “sharply reducing the attack surface that potentially could be exploited by highly targeted mercenary spyware.”
In recent years, a series of targeted spyware attacks against journalists, activists, and others have been exposed. Names including Pegasus, DevilsTongue, Predator, Hermit, and NSO Group have undermined trust in digital devices and exposed the risk of semi-private entities and the threat they show against civil society. Apple has made no secret that it is opposed to such practices, filing suit against the NSO Group in November and promising to oppose such practices where it can.
“Apple’s newly released Lockdown Mode will reduce the attack surface, increase costs for spyware firms, and thus make it much harder for repressive governments to hack high-risk users,” said John Scott-Railton, senior researcher at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy.
“We congratulate [Apple] for providing protection to human rights defenders, heads of state, lawyers, activists, journalists, and more,” tweeted the EFF, a privacy advocacy group.
What does Lockdown Mode do?
At present, Apple says Lockdown Mode provides the following protections:
Messages: Most message attachment types other than images are blocked. Some features, like link previews, are disabled.
Apple services: Incoming invitations and service requests, including FaceTime calls, are blocked if the user has not previously sent the initiator a call or request.
Wired connections with a computer or accessory are blocked when an iPhone is locked.
Configuration profiles cannot be installed and the device cannot enroll into mobile device management (MDM) while Lockdown Mode is turned on.
Ivan Krstić, Apple’s head of Security Engineering and Architecture, notes that Lockdown Mode can be applied to devices that are already enrolled in an MDM service. “Pre-existing MDM enrollment is preserved when you enable Lockdown Mode,” he tweeted.
The company says it intends to extend the protection provided by Lockdown Mode over time and has invested millions in security research to help identify weaknesses and increase the integrity of this protection.
How to enable Lockdown Mode
Lockdown Mode is enabled in Settings on iPhones and iPads and in System Settings on macOS.
You’ll find it as an option in Privacy & Security, listed at the bottom of the page.
Tap Lockdown Mode and you’ll be told that this provides “Extreme, optional protection that should only be used if you believe you may be personally targeted by a highly sophisticated cyberattack. Most people are never targeted by attacks of this kind.”
The prompts also warn users that certain features will no longer work as you are used to. Shared albums will be removed from Photos, and invitations will also be blocked.
What is the scale of this threat?
These attacks don’t come cheap, which means most people are unlikely to be targeted in this way. Apple began sending threat notifications to potential victims of Pegasus soon after it was revealed and says the number of people targeted in such campaigns is relatively small.
All the same, the scale is international, and the company has warned people in around 150 nations since November 2021. A BBC report confirms hundreds of targets and tens of thousands of phone numbers leaked as a result of NSO’s Pegasus alone. Victims have included journalists, politicians, civil society advocates, activists, and diplomats, so while the numbers are small, the chilling impact of such surveillance is vast.
I believe that such technologies will become cheaper and more available over time, so it’s only a matter of time before they leak into wider use. Ultimately the very existence of such attacks — state-sponsored or not — makes the entire world less safe, not safer.
“There is now undeniable evidence from the research of the Citizen Lab and other organizations that the mercenary surveillance industry is facilitating the spread of authoritarian practices and massive human rights abuses worldwide,” said Citizen Lab Director Ron Deibert in a statement. Deibert told CNET he thinks Lockdown Mode will deal a “major blow” to spyware companies and the governments that use their products.
“While the vast majority of users will never be the victims of highly targeted cyberattacks, we will work tirelessly to protect the small number of users who are,” said Apple’s Krstić in a statement. “That includes continuing to design defenses specifically for these users, as well as supporting researchers and organizations around the world doing critically important work in exposing mercenary companies that create these digital attacks.”
There’s little doubt Microsoft and Google will also move to provide similar protection to users. Google and Meta already offer tools to secure the accounts of those who are at an “elevated risk of targeted online attacks,” but these tools don’t go nearly as far as Lockdown Mode.
Apple’s investments in security
Apple already makes vast investments in security. For example, the company is working with others in the industry to support password-free authentication, has built tools to mask IP addresses and continues to focus on user privacy.
The company will introduce a Rapid Security Response feature for its devices this fall, which will make it possible to deploy security fixes outside of full security updates and much more. Apple is even investing in improving the security of programming languages, further eroding potential attack surfaces.
The company has now announced further investment in the security community:
Apple has also established a new category within the Apple Security Bounty program to reward researchers who find Lockdown Mode bypasses and help improve its protections. Bounties are doubled for qualifying findings in Lockdown Mode, up to a maximum of $2,000,000 — the highest maximum bounty payout in the industry.
Apple is also making a $10 million grant, plus any damages awarded from the lawsuit it is pursuing against NSO Group, to support organizations that investigate, expose, and prevent highly targeted cyberattacks, including those created by private companies developing state-sponsored mercenary spyware. It is giving this money to the Ford Foundation’s Dignity and Justice Fund.
What will the Dignity and Justice Fund do?
The fund will make its first grants later this year, focusing initially on initiatives to expose the use of mercenary spyware. In the press release announcing the initiative, Apple tells us these grants will focus on:
Building organizational capacity and increasing field coordination of new and existing civil society cybersecurity research and advocacy groups.
Supporting the development of standardized forensic methods to detect and confirm spyware infiltration that meet evidentiary standards.
Enabling civil society to more effectively partner with device manufacturers, software developers, commercial security firms, and other relevant companies to identify and address vulnerabilities.
Increasing awareness among investors, journalists, and policymakers about the global mercenary spyware industry.
Building the capacity of human rights defenders to identify and respond to spyware attacks, including security audits for organizations that face heightened threats to their network
The fund’s grant-making strategy will be advised by a global Technical Advisory Committee. Initial members include Daniel Bedoya Arroyo, digital security service platform analyst at Access Now; Citizen Lab Director Ron Deibert; Paola Mosso, co-deputy director of The Engine Room; Rasha Abdul Rahim, director of Amnesty Tech at Amnesty International; and Apple’s Krstić.
Ford Foundation Tech and Society Program director Lori McGlinchey said:
“The global spyware trade targets human rights defenders, journalists, and dissidents; it facilitates violence, reinforces authoritarianism, and supports political repression. The Ford Foundation is proud to support this extraordinary initiative to bolster civil society research and advocacy to resist mercenary spyware. We must build on Apple’s commitment, and we invite companies and donors to join the Dignity and Justice Fund and bring additional resources to this collective fight.”
What else can you do?
Following revelations about NSO Group last year, Apple published a set of recommendations to help users mitigate against such risks. These guidelines do not even approach the kind of robust protection you can expect from Lockdown Mode, but it makes sense for anyone to follow such practices:
Update devices to the latest software, which includes the latest security fixes.
Protect devices with a passcode.
Use two-factor authentication and a strong password for Apple ID.
Install apps from the App Store.
Use strong and unique passwords online.
Don’t click on links or attachments from unknown senders.
Furthermore, Amnesty Tech is gathering signatures to demand an end this kind of targeted surveillance of human rights defenders. I’d urge readers to add their signature to my own.
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