Apple focuses on what’s next amid coronavirus outbreak

Apple continues to plan new devices and components, even as the COVID-19 outbreak shows little sign of slowing down.

The tech giant still intends to release a new high-end iPhone this year, according to reports this week, but there’s debate over whether it will ship when most expect it to.

Meanwhile, Apple is considering changing the processor that it uses in its Macs, and a leaked memo says the company is considering opening its retail stores in April. Oh, and don’t bend the new iPad Pro.

Here are this week’s Apple news highlights

Apple’s $1 trillion market cap

Apple’s market capitalization, a measure of the value of the company’s value, slipped below $1 trillion this week. After reaching an all-time high of $327.85 in February, the company’s shares have declined 25%. Those shares rebounded 9% from Monday and Wednesday, closing at $247.74 on Friday, at a market value of $1.08 trillion.

Apple’s new COVID-19 app

Apple partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the White House Coronavirus Task Force on a new COVID-19 website and app. The tools will let users answer the app’s questions about their risk factors for contracting COVID-19, as well as the symptoms they are experiencing. Apple will also share relevant information about COVID-19 and guidance about how users can protect their health. The free app is available to Mac, iPhone, and iPad users. People who are Windows or Android can access the information through an Apple website.

An iPhone debate

Will Apple’s next high-end iPhone, believed to be called the iPhone 12, actually be available in September, as expected? It’s unlikely, a Nikkei report said this week. The Japanese news outlet’s sources said that Apple may delay the iPhone 12 to October or November over fears consumer demand will still be sluggish in September, when the company typically releases new high-end phone. However, a report by Digitimes this week said the company still plans a September release. As always, only Apple knows the truth—and it’s not saying anything.

Aiming for a move to ARM

Apple plans to replace Intel processors in its Mac with chips designed by processor-architecture company ARM, TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo told investors this week. Kuo expects Apple to start shifting to the new chip

Read more: https://fortune.com/2020/03/28/as-iphone-questions-surface-apple-contemplates-reopening-its-retail-stores/

Crowdsourcing vs. coronavirus: Inside the global push to 3D-print masks and ventilator parts

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Earlier this month, as the coronavirus pandemic began exposing a dangerous lack of ventilators and protective equipment, Wia CEO Conall Laverty mused on Twitter about the availability of lifesaving equipment. “What’s the status of ventilator availability in Ireland?” Laverty tweeted. “Do we need to start building some?”

As a founder of a cloud platform that connects Internet of things hardware with services, Laverty is no stranger to working with a widespread community to build a variety of things. And when Laverty connected with two other tech founders, Colin Keogh and David Pollard, the trio formed Team OSV—short for open source ventilator⁠.

“Within a week, the community has grown from a few guys in Ireland to over 2,500 engineers, designers, and medical professionals in more than 55 countries,” Laverty tells Fortune.

With the coronavirus outbreak leaving hospitals short on ventilators and protective equipment, 3D printers have spun up globally to address the desperate need for lifesaving equipment. Now 3D-printing efforts are taking shape around the world, with everyone from large operations to hobbyist 3D printers volunteering to help.

“What we’re seeing right now is short-run production—traditional product cycles are long,” Greg Kress, CEO of 3D-printing company Shapeways, tells Fortune. “3D printing is a stopgap for the problems we are facing today.”

Breathing life into 3D-printed ventilators

Prior to Team OSV’s ramp-up, Keogh had already connected with three engineers in Canada who had been working on 3D-printed ventilator designs. Within a week, the engineers created several prototypes that are being tested in the community. Laverty says he hopes the ventilators will be trialed in hospitals as early as next week.

Team OSV’s global group congregates on a Slack channel, where they share what’s working and what isn’t. The project has grown beyond ventilators to the manufacture of face masks and contactless thermal cameras that can tell if someone has a fever, one of the symptoms of COVID-19.

But Laverty’s open-source effort is just one of many currently circulating online. For instance, more than 4,800 people with 3D printers have, via a public Google Doc, signed up to help print everything from face shields to

Read more: https://fortune.com/2020/03/28/coronavirus-3d-print-masks-ventilator/

Fujifilm antiviral drug emerges as a promising underdog in the coronavirus treatment race

Japanese conglomerate Fujifilm, most famous for its film and instant cameras, does more than sell point-and-shoots: it also makes medical equipment, anti-aging skincare, hair products—and now a potential coronavirus treatment.

In late February, when the coronavirus had sickened 80,000 people worldwide—on Friday the total topped 530,000—and the World Health Organization had not yet declared a pandemic, shares in Fujifilm Holdings Corp soared after Japan’s health minister said the government was considering using a drug called Avigan, also known as favipiravir, to treat patients sickened by COVID-19.

More than a month later, favipiravir has showed promise in two trials involving coronavirus patients, with more countries, all desperate for an answer to COVID-19, prepare to test its effectiveness.

An obscure drug—until now

Favipiravir initially was developed by Fujifilm Toyama Chemical as an anti-influenza drug. Japan approved it for clinical use in treating influenza in 2014. Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare—which did not respond to an emailed request for comment—maintains a stockpile of favipiravir.

Yet the drug remained relatively obscure—it’s not available on the market in Japan—until the coronavirus outbreak. Now, clinical trials in several countries are studying favipiravir’s effectiveness in combatting COVID-19, with some already reporting good results.

Trials done with 340 patients in the Chinese cities of Wuhan and Shenzhen found that favipiravir was “clearly effective in treatment” of COVID-19 Zhang Xinmin, the director of the China National Center for Biotechnology Development said on March 17.

Zhang said patients who received favipiravir tested negative for the virus in a shorter period of time than patients in the control group, and said favipiravir has been recommended to medical teams treating COVID-19.

JAPAN-HEALTH-EBOLA-PHARMA-FUJIFILMFujifilm’s Avigan tablets, displayed in Tokyo on Oct. 22, 2014, have emerged as a possible treatment to COVID-19, though more study is needed.KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images

Three days later, Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said his country was importing millions of doses of Avigan to treat COVID-19 patients.

Authorities in Italy, which has been badly hit by the c

Read more: https://fortune.com/2020/03/28/coronavirus-treatment-drug-antiviral-favipiravir-avigan-fujifilm/

‘Après-ski is a virus spewer’: Health officials shut down this Austrian Alps village over coronavirus fears

Lured by its lively reputation, tourists like to pile into the Kitzloch bar for rollicking music and filling Teutonic food after a long day hitting the slopes in the Austrian Alps.

Conveniently located next to a cable car station and enjoying top marks on Tripadvisor, it’s part of a thriving après-ski party scene in the Tyrolean village of Ischgl. 

Yet calls go unanswered and its website has gone dark after it emerged that the after-ski bar and restaurant along with others in the winter resort town may have unwittingly served as a breeding ground for the coronavirus. 

Despite its 1,600 year-round inhabitants, Ischgl appears to have played an important role in spreading the virus across Europe by infecting travelers returning to countries as distant as Iceland and Norway.

Speaking to Austrian national daily Der Standard, Tyrolean virologist Robert Zangerle provided a blunt assessment of what he believed was responsible for multiplying the infection: “Après-ski is a virus spewer.”

A closed après-ski bar is seen on March 13, 2020, in Ischgl in Tyrol, Austria, as the winter season ended earlier this year because of the coronavirus epidemic. Austria tightened its coronavirus response by announcing the closure of nonessential retail businesses, suspending flights to France, Spain, and Switzerland, and locking down two western communities in Tyrol particularly affected by the coronavirus, the Paznaun valley with tourism hotspots such as Ischgl and Galtuer as well as Saint Anton am Arlberg. (Photo by JAKOB GRUBER / APA / AFP) / Austria OUT (Photo by JAKOB GRUBER/APA/AFP via Getty Images)

Health officials across Europe have since added Tyrol to the list of red zones alongside the likes of China, Iran, Italy, and parts of New York City. Since March 13, all ski lifts have ground to a halt, and snow caterpillars lie dormant after the winter season ended prematurely amid a nationwide curfew lasting through Easter. 

The events that transpired in Ischgl can only be described as a case study in downplaying a deadly contagion, demonstrating how authorities persistently underestimated the risks of infection rather than err on the side of caution. 

A first warning sign emerged on Feb. 29 when more than a dozen passengers that left Munich for Iceland’s Keflavik Airport

Read more: https://fortune.com/2020/03/28/coronavirus-austria-alps-skiing-outbreak-covid-19/

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