Apple Inviting Some Users to Beta Test New HomePod Software

Apple is inviting some AppleSeed members to test the new HomePod software as well as the new versions of iOS, iPadOS, and macOS, according to reports on the MacRumors forums.


Those invited to test the new ‌HomePod‌ software will be able to try out new features ahead of release. With the update, the ‌HomePod‌ is gaining support for third-party music services for the first time, a feature that will allow the speaker to work with Spotify, Pandora, and other music options by default without the need to use AirPlay.

‌HomePod‌, which serves as a home hub option for HomeKit, is also getting a new feature that will let it announce when a HomeKit-connected doorbell has been rung.

Apple’s ‌HomePod‌ software is usually tested internally and is not typically provided to developers, so we’ll need to wait to see if a version is eventually added to the developer site or distributed to public beta testers. If not, most users will need to wait until the new software is released in the fall to try it out.

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Apple is inviting some AppleSeed members to test the new HomePod software as well as the new versions of iOS, iPadOS, and macOS, according to reports on the MacRumors forums.


Those invited to test the new ‌HomePod‌ software will be able to try out new features ahead of release. With the update, the ‌HomePod‌ is gaining support for third-party music services for the first time, a feature that will allow the speaker to work with Spotify, Pandora, and other music options by default without the need to use AirPlay.

‌HomePod‌, which serves as a home hub option for HomeKit, is also getting a new feature that will let it announce when a HomeKit-connected doorbell has been rung.

Apple's ‌HomePod‌ software is usually tested internally and is not typically provided to developers, so we'll need to wait to see if a version is eventually added to the developer site or distributed to public beta testers. If not, most users will need to wait until the new software is released in the fall to try it out.
Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Caution)

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HomePod Gaining Support for Third-Party Music Services

Later this year, Apple is adding third-party music support to the HomePod, which will allow the speaker to work with services like Spotify and Pandora by default.


At the current time, third-party music services like Spotify can only be streamed on the ‌HomePod‌ using AirPlay and an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. The new feature will presumably allow Spotify and other music services to be set as the default music service, letting users ask Siri to stream music by specifying “with Spotify” at the end of a request.

Apple didn’t mention the tidbit while introducing its new software updates, but the feature was highlighted when Apple was introducing new HomeKit features.

In a ‌HomeKit‌ slide covering the new Home app, there’s an icon of the ‌HomePod‌ along that reads “third-party music services.” Support for third-party music services was rumored ahead of the release of iOS 14, with Bloomberg suggesting Apple would implement the feature.

The new ‌HomePod‌ software is not available yet, so third-party music service support won’t be able to be tested at this time. The ‌HomePod‌ is also getting a new option that will allow ‌Siri‌ to announce when a HomeKit-compatible doorbell is rung.

(Thanks, Chris!)

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Later this year, Apple is adding third-party music support to the HomePod, which will allow the speaker to work with services like Spotify and Pandora by default.


At the current time, third-party music services like Spotify can only be streamed on the ‌HomePod‌ using AirPlay and an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. The new feature will presumably allow Spotify and other music services to be set as the default music service, letting users ask Siri to stream music by specifying "with Spotify" at the end of a request.

Apple didn't mention the tidbit while introducing its new software updates, but the feature was highlighted when Apple was introducing new HomeKit features.

In a ‌HomeKit‌ slide covering the new Home app, there's an icon of the ‌HomePod‌ along that reads "third-party music services." Support for third-party music services was rumored ahead of the release of iOS 14, with Bloomberg suggesting Apple would implement the feature.

The new ‌HomePod‌ software is not available yet, so third-party music service support won't be able to be tested at this time. The ‌HomePod‌ is also getting a new option that will allow ‌Siri‌ to announce when a HomeKit-compatible doorbell is rung.

(Thanks, Chris!)
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Apple Releases New 13.4.6 Software for HomePod

Alongside iOS and iPadOS 13.5.1, Apple today released new 13.4.6 software for the HomePod. According to Apple’s release notes, the update includes general improvements for stability and quality.


The new ‌HomePod‌ software comes a little over a week after Apple released the HomePod 13.4.5 software, also with minor improvements.

‌HomePod‌ software is installed automatically on the ‌HomePod‌, but the ‌HomePod‌ can also be manually updated by following the instructions in our ‌HomePod‌ update how to.

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Buyer’s Guide: HomePod (Caution)

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Alongside iOS and iPadOS 13.5.1, Apple today released new 13.4.6 software for the HomePod. According to Apple's release notes, the update includes general improvements for stability and quality.


The new ‌HomePod‌ software comes a little over a week after Apple released the HomePod 13.4.5 software, also with minor improvements.

‌HomePod‌ software is installed automatically on the ‌HomePod‌, but the ‌HomePod‌ can also be manually updated by following the instructions in our ‌HomePod‌ update how to.
Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Caution)

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Apple Releases New 13.4.5 Software for HomePod

Alongside iOS and iPadOS 13.5, Apple today released new 13.4.5 software for the HomePod. According to Apple’s release notes, the update includes general improvements for stability and quality, with no new features mentioned.


The ‌HomePod‌ update is 13.4.5 and not 13.5, like the accompanying iOS update. When the beta testing period for iOS 13.5 first started, Apple released the betas as iOS 13.4.5, but swapped to iOS 13.5 due to a necessary SDK update for the Exposure Notification API.

‌HomePod‌ software is installed automatically on the ‌HomePod‌, but the ‌HomePod‌ can also be manually updated by following the instructions in our ‌HomePod‌ update how to.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer’s Guide: HomePod (Neutral)

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Alongside iOS and iPadOS 13.5, Apple today released new 13.4.5 software for the HomePod. According to Apple's release notes, the update includes general improvements for stability and quality, with no new features mentioned.


The ‌HomePod‌ update is 13.4.5 and not 13.5, like the accompanying iOS update. When the beta testing period for iOS 13.5 first started, Apple released the betas as iOS 13.4.5, but swapped to iOS 13.5 due to a necessary SDK update for the Exposure Notification API.

‌HomePod‌ software is installed automatically on the ‌HomePod‌, but the ‌HomePod‌ can also be manually updated by following the instructions in our ‌HomePod‌ update how to.
Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Neutral)

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Smaller, Lower-Priced HomePod Appears Increasingly Closer to Launching

Apple is rumored to have a smaller, lower-priced HomePod on deck for later this year, and there are increasing signs that the new model could be on the horizon.


In addition to Best Buy offering the HomePod on sale for $199.99 this week, Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman notes that Apple employees are now able to purchase up to 10 HomePods at a 50 percent discount, up from a limit of two. The larger purchase limit could be part of Apple’s efforts to clear out inventory of the current HomePod ahead of the new model.

Apple employees can also now buy up to 10 (up from 2) with their discount. These things are clearly on the way out. https://t.co/X0ey2QKbxC https://t.co/8sXDf6ifmr

— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) May 18, 2020

In addition, the HomePod was listed as “sold out” on Apple’s online store in the United States last week, although only briefly.

Over the last few years, Apple has been steadily making the HomePod more useful by adding features such as Handoff support, multi-user voice detection, ambient sounds, and multi-room audio, but Siri is still widely criticized. To that end, Gurman previously noted that the smaller HomePod will coincide with Siri improvements later this year.

At launch in 2018, the HomePod cost $349, but Apple reduced the price of the speaker to $299 in April 2019. Apple has never disclosed HomePod sales, instead grouping the speaker under its “Wearables, Home, and Accessories” category.

While the HomePod is positioned as a premium speaker, it has several low-priced competitors on the smart assistant front, including the Amazon Echo and Google Home, which can often be purchased for as little as $25. Apple’s smaller HomePod will likely have two tweeters, down from seven in the current model, according to Gurman’s previous reporting.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer’s Guide: HomePod (Neutral)

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Apple is rumored to have a smaller, lower-priced HomePod on deck for later this year, and there are increasing signs that the new model could be on the horizon.


In addition to Best Buy offering the HomePod on sale for $199.99 this week, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman notes that Apple employees are now able to purchase up to 10 HomePods at a 50 percent discount, up from a limit of two. The larger purchase limit could be part of Apple's efforts to clear out inventory of the current HomePod ahead of the new model.


In addition, the HomePod was listed as "sold out" on Apple's online store in the United States last week, although only briefly.

Over the last few years, Apple has been steadily making the HomePod more useful by adding features such as Handoff support, multi-user voice detection, ambient sounds, and multi-room audio, but Siri is still widely criticized. To that end, Gurman previously noted that the smaller HomePod will coincide with Siri improvements later this year.

At launch in 2018, the HomePod cost $349, but Apple reduced the price of the speaker to $299 in April 2019. Apple has never disclosed HomePod sales, instead grouping the speaker under its "Wearables, Home, and Accessories" category.

While the HomePod is positioned as a premium speaker, it has several low-priced competitors on the smart assistant front, including the Amazon Echo and Google Home, which can often be purchased for as little as $25. Apple's smaller HomePod will likely have two tweeters, down from seven in the current model, according to Gurman's previous reporting.
Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Neutral)

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HomePod ‘Sold Out’ on Apple’s Online Store

Apple’s $299 HomePod is no longer able to be purchased from the online store because it’s been out of stock since this morning.

Both the white and space gray versions of the ‌HomePod‌ are currently listed as “Sold Out” on Apple’s website, perhaps due to supply chain issues.


There’s no word on when the ‌HomePod‌ might be back in stock from Apple, but customers who want to purchase one can still order from stores like Best Buy and B&H Photo.

There have been rumors suggesting Apple is working on a new low-cost, smaller version of the ‌HomePod‌ that will be released at some point later this year, but the current shortage is most likely a supply problem.

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Buyer’s Guide: HomePod (Neutral)

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Apple's $299 HomePod is no longer able to be purchased from the online store because it's been out of stock since this morning.

Both the white and space gray versions of the ‌HomePod‌ are currently listed as "Sold Out" on Apple's website, perhaps due to supply chain issues.


There's no word on when the ‌HomePod‌ might be back in stock from Apple, but customers who want to purchase one can still order from stores like Best Buy and B&H Photo.

There have been rumors suggesting Apple is working on a new low-cost, smaller version of the ‌HomePod‌ that will be released at some point later this year, but the current shortage is most likely a supply problem.
Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Neutral)

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HomePod Now Available for Sale in India

After announcing back in late January that the HomePod would be coming soon to India, the company today began sending out emails to customers letting them know that the Siri-powered smart speaker is now available.


Apple’s HomePod page in India now has a “Buy” button, although with the company not yet operating its own online storefront in the country, the button redirects to a search tool for local and online resellers. We’re not yet seeing ‌HomePod‌ stock at major retail partners Amazon.in, Flipkart, and Paytm, but presumably listings should be popping up shortly.

‌HomePod‌ is priced at ₹19,900 in India, which is equivalent to about $263 in the United States. That is roughly 10 percent below the normal $299 price in Apple’s home country, although we have been seeing some deals as low as $199 in recent weeks.

Siri support for an Indian localization of English was added to the ‌HomePod‌ with software version 13.3.1 back in late January.

(Thanks, Anmol and Karamjot!)

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Tag: India
Buyer’s Guide: HomePod (Neutral)

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After announcing back in late January that the HomePod would be coming soon to India, the company today began sending out emails to customers letting them know that the Siri-powered smart speaker is now available.


Apple's HomePod page in India now has a "Buy" button, although with the company not yet operating its own online storefront in the country, the button redirects to a search tool for local and online resellers. We're not yet seeing ‌HomePod‌ stock at major retail partners Amazon.in, Flipkart, and Paytm, but presumably listings should be popping up shortly.

‌HomePod‌ is priced at ₹19,900 in India, which is equivalent to about $263 in the United States. That is roughly 10 percent below the normal $299 price in Apple's home country, although we have been seeing some deals as low as $199 in recent weeks.

Siri support for an Indian localization of English was added to the ‌HomePod‌ with software version 13.3.1 back in late January.

(Thanks, Anmol and Karamjot!)
Related Roundup: HomePod
Tag: India
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Neutral)

This article, "HomePod Now Available for Sale in India" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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HomePod Operating System Now Based on tvOS Instead of iOS Amid Rumors of Smaller HomePod

Apple in March released new 13.4 software designed for the HomePod, alongside of the release of iOS 13.4 and tvOS 13.4. 9to5Mac recently looked at the ‌HomePod‌ code and says that Apple made a curious change with the new software — the ‌HomePod‌ operating system is now based on tvOS instead of iOS.


watchOS, tvOS, and the software that run on the ‌HomePod‌ are all variants of iOS, but each one is differentiated by tweaks made for the device the software is intended to run on, featuring unique interfaces, APIs, and more.

Unlike prior versions of the ‌HomePod‌ software, which were based on the operating system found on the iPhone and iPad, the ‌HomePod‌’s software is now derived from tvOS. Because the operating systems are the same at the core, this hasn’t resulted in any fundamental changes to the way that the ‌HomePod‌ works.

9to5Mac believes that shifting the ‌HomePod‌ software to a tvOS base has the potential to save Apple some work, as both the Apple TV and the ‌HomePod‌ are always-on devices that are plugged in to power and won’t need the same optimizations as versions of iOS. Both devices also operate as a Home hub for HomeKit, which may also be a key reason why the two now share code.

It’s also possible that iOS 14 will end support for devices with the A8 chip, such as the ‌iPad‌ Air 2 and the ‌iPad‌ mini 4, and the ‌HomePod‌ is equipped with an A8 chip. Due to the possible end of support in ‌iOS 14‌, swapping over to a tvOS base will allow Apple to keep pushing ‌HomePod‌ updates for the foreseeable future.

Rumors have suggested that Apple is developing a new smaller version of the ‌HomePod‌ that’s more affordable, which is set to launch in 2020, and that’s another possible reason for the code shift. 9to5Mac says that there are two new models of the ‌HomePod‌ referenced in iOS 13.4, though there is no additional information about them.

Just this morning, a Bloomberg report said that Apple is working on a new HomePod speaker that will be about half the size of the original, while maintaining the same design. Though it has faced delays, Apple is planning to launch the new ‌HomePod‌ in the second half of the year. It will feature a lower price the current ‌HomePod‌, helping Apple compete with cheaper speaker options from companies like Amazon and Google.

On a separate but related note, 9to5Mac says that a “trusted source” has said that the next-generation ‌Apple TV‌ that’s been rumored for months now could be equipped with the same A14 chip that Apple is planning to use in the iPhone 12, which suggests a fall launch for the device. Both a new ‌Apple TV‌ and an updated ‌HomePod‌ could perhaps see similar launch dates this September or October, but there’s no concrete word on launch timing for either product.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer’s Guide: HomePod (Neutral)

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Apple in March released new 13.4 software designed for the HomePod, alongside of the release of iOS 13.4 and tvOS 13.4. 9to5Mac recently looked at the ‌HomePod‌ code and says that Apple made a curious change with the new software -- the ‌HomePod‌ operating system is now based on tvOS instead of iOS.


watchOS, tvOS, and the software that run on the ‌HomePod‌ are all variants of iOS, but each one is differentiated by tweaks made for the device the software is intended to run on, featuring unique interfaces, APIs, and more.

Unlike prior versions of the ‌HomePod‌ software, which were based on the operating system found on the iPhone and iPad, the ‌HomePod‌'s software is now derived from tvOS. Because the operating systems are the same at the core, this hasn't resulted in any fundamental changes to the way that the ‌HomePod‌ works.

9to5Mac believes that shifting the ‌HomePod‌ software to a tvOS base has the potential to save Apple some work, as both the Apple TV and the ‌HomePod‌ are always-on devices that are plugged in to power and won't need the same optimizations as versions of iOS. Both devices also operate as a Home hub for HomeKit, which may also be a key reason why the two now share code.

It's also possible that iOS 14 will end support for devices with the A8 chip, such as the ‌iPad‌ Air 2 and the ‌iPad‌ mini 4, and the ‌HomePod‌ is equipped with an A8 chip. Due to the possible end of support in ‌iOS 14‌, swapping over to a tvOS base will allow Apple to keep pushing ‌HomePod‌ updates for the foreseeable future.

Rumors have suggested that Apple is developing a new smaller version of the ‌HomePod‌ that's more affordable, which is set to launch in 2020, and that's another possible reason for the code shift. 9to5Mac says that there are two new models of the ‌HomePod‌ referenced in iOS 13.4, though there is no additional information about them.

Just this morning, a Bloomberg report said that Apple is working on a new HomePod speaker that will be about half the size of the original, while maintaining the same design. Though it has faced delays, Apple is planning to launch the new ‌HomePod‌ in the second half of the year. It will feature a lower price the current ‌HomePod‌, helping Apple compete with cheaper speaker options from companies like Amazon and Google.

On a separate but related note, 9to5Mac says that a "trusted source" has said that the next-generation ‌Apple TV‌ that's been rumored for months now could be equipped with the same A14 chip that Apple is planning to use in the iPhone 12, which suggests a fall launch for the device. Both a new ‌Apple TV‌ and an updated ‌HomePod‌ could perhaps see similar launch dates this September or October, but there's no concrete word on launch timing for either product.
Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Neutral)

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Apple Offers Employees Deep Discounts on HomePod and Beats Headphones

Apple is offering employees significant discounts on products that include the HomePod and Beats headphones, according to details on the deals shared by MacGeneration and 9to5Mac.


Apple is said to be clearing stock of Beats headphones and HomePods, providing them to employees through an internal deals program. The ‌HomePod‌ is available at a 50 percent discount, dropping the price to $149.50, while Beats are also available at a reduced price.

There’s no confirmed word on why Apple is offering HomePods and Beats headphones to employees at a discount, but in the case of the ‌HomePod‌, there are rumors that Apple is working on a new lower-cost model that could come out at some point this year.

Apple may also simply have excess ‌HomePod‌ and Beats stock due to reduced sales or a miscalculation in production.

Apple has offered similar deep discounts on products to employees a few times in the past, and provides smaller discounts on all of its products for employees who want to make a purchase through an employee store.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer’s Guide: HomePod (Neutral)

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Apple is offering employees significant discounts on products that include the HomePod and Beats headphones, according to details on the deals shared by MacGeneration and 9to5Mac.


Apple is said to be clearing stock of Beats headphones and HomePods, providing them to employees through an internal deals program. The ‌HomePod‌ is available at a 50 percent discount, dropping the price to $149.50, while Beats are also available at a reduced price.

There's no confirmed word on why Apple is offering HomePods and Beats headphones to employees at a discount, but in the case of the ‌HomePod‌, there are rumors that Apple is working on a new lower-cost model that could come out at some point this year.

Apple may also simply have excess ‌HomePod‌ and Beats stock due to reduced sales or a miscalculation in production.

Apple has offered similar deep discounts on products to employees a few times in the past, and provides smaller discounts on all of its products for employees who want to make a purchase through an employee store.
Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Neutral)

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Apple’s Work on New Upcoming Products Progressing Normally as Employees Adjust to Telecommuting

Apple’s development of upcoming products is progressing as usual despite the fact that Apple employees around the world are working from home, according to a new report today out from Bloomberg.


Apple is still working on new versions of the HomePod, Apple TV, MacBook Pro, budget iPads, Apple Watch, iPhone, and iMac, all of which could be released “as early as later this year” and have been previously rumored for release in 2020. Apple’s software updates are also on track and are expected to be debuted in June at a digital version of WWDC.

Along with this information about Apple’s product development plans, Bloomberg highlights many of the same telecommuting challenges shared earlier this morning in a report from The Information. Though work is progressing on new products, there have been some minor hardware development setbacks.

Some employees who do work that requires hands-on development are still being allowed into Apple’s Silicon Valley offices, but in other parts of the world like Italy, Germany, and Asia, stricter work restrictions have prevented that from happening. Apple has put a heavy emphasis on confidentiality while employees are working from home, letting them know that it’s “critical to keep confidential work confidential.”

Apple has been allowing engineers to take home early versions of future devices since March, which is normally not allowed, and there is heavy oversight.

Taking home a future product requires the green light from the vice president of an employee’s organization. That list of staff with future devices at their homes also is sometimes reviewed by Apple’s senior vice presidents, the management team run by Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook.

Apple has also “clamped down” on which employees are able to take home future versions of new software, including iOS 14, which has already leaked. Employees working on ‌iOS 14‌ and other software updates must also receive approval from Apple’s executive team.

Employees at Apple Park, Infinite Loop, and other Bay Area offices could be working at home through at least May 1, as the Bay Area is expected to extend its shelter in place mandate. When other offices around the world reopen will depend on local guidelines.

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Apple's development of upcoming products is progressing as usual despite the fact that Apple employees around the world are working from home, according to a new report today out from Bloomberg.


Apple is still working on new versions of the HomePod, Apple TV, MacBook Pro, budget iPads, Apple Watch, iPhone, and iMac, all of which could be released "as early as later this year" and have been previously rumored for release in 2020. Apple's software updates are also on track and are expected to be debuted in June at a digital version of WWDC.

Along with this information about Apple's product development plans, Bloomberg highlights many of the same telecommuting challenges shared earlier this morning in a report from The Information. Though work is progressing on new products, there have been some minor hardware development setbacks.

Some employees who do work that requires hands-on development are still being allowed into Apple's Silicon Valley offices, but in other parts of the world like Italy, Germany, and Asia, stricter work restrictions have prevented that from happening. Apple has put a heavy emphasis on confidentiality while employees are working from home, letting them know that it's "critical to keep confidential work confidential."

Apple has been allowing engineers to take home early versions of future devices since March, which is normally not allowed, and there is heavy oversight.
Taking home a future product requires the green light from the vice president of an employee's organization. That list of staff with future devices at their homes also is sometimes reviewed by Apple's senior vice presidents, the management team run by Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook.
Apple has also "clamped down" on which employees are able to take home future versions of new software, including iOS 14, which has already leaked. Employees working on ‌iOS 14‌ and other software updates must also receive approval from Apple's executive team.

Employees at Apple Park, Infinite Loop, and other Bay Area offices could be working at home through at least May 1, as the Bay Area is expected to extend its shelter in place mandate. When other offices around the world reopen will depend on local guidelines.
This article, "Apple's Work on New Upcoming Products Progressing Normally as Employees Adjust to Telecommuting" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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