A report commissioned by the Biden administration this week recommended new legislation to make major changes to Apple's platform restrictions and App Store policies.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is the president's main advisor on telecommunications and Internet policy. In April last year, the NTIA announced that it had launched an investigation into competition in mobile app ecosystems. The investigation was triggered by an executive order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy from July 2021, with the aim of making recommendations for improving competition, reducing barriers to entry, and maximizing user benefit.
Months after its contents were shared with the White House, the NTIA this week published the "Competition in the Mobile Application Ecosystem" report – the first such report into Apple's ecosystem by a federal organization. On the basis of the investigation's findings, the report recommends:
The report says that new legislation and additional antitrust enforcement actions will likely be necessary to remedy existing issues and boost competition in mobile app ecosystems. See the NTIA's full report for more information.
Apple's ecosystem has come under intense scrutiny by governments around the world in recent years, including in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, the European Union, South Korea, Japan, and more, with a clear appetite from global regulators to explore platform restrictions around issues such as app sideloading, browser engines, and interoperability.
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Millions of working Americans don’t know where their next meal is coming from. We sent three photographers to explore hunger in three very different parts of the United States, each giving different faces to the same statistic: One-sixth of Americans don’t have enough food to eat.
Bronx, New York
Bronx, New York
On a gold-gray morning in Mitchell County, Iowa, Christina Dreier sends her son, Keagan, to school without breakfast. He is three years old, barrel-chested, and stubborn, and usually refuses to eat the free meal he qualifies for at preschool. Faced with a dwindling pantry, Dreier has decided to try some tough love: If she sends Keagan to school hungry, maybe he’ll eat the free breakfast, which will leave more food at home for lunch.
Dreier knows her gambit might backfire, and it does. Keagan ignores the school breakfast on offer and is so hungry by lunchtime that Dreier picks through the dregs of her freezer in hopes of filling him and his little sister up. She shakes the last seven chicken nuggets onto a battered baking sheet, adds the remnants of a bag of Tater Tots and a couple of hot dogs from the fridge, and slides it all into the oven. She’s gone through most of the food she got last week from a local food pantry; her own lunch will be the bits of potato left on the kids’ plates. “I eat lunch if there’s enough,” she says. “But the kids are the most important. They have to eat first.”
The fear of being unable to feed her children hangs over Dreier’s days. She and her husband, Jim, pit one bill against the next—the phone against the rent against the heat against the gas—trying always to set aside money to make up for what they can’t get from the food pantry or with their food stamps, issued by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Congressional cuts to SNAP last fall of five billion dollars pared her benefits from $205 to $172 a month.
On this particular afternoon Dreier is worried about the family van, which is on the brink of repossession. She and Jim need to open a new bank account so they can make automatic payments instead of scrambling to pay in cash. But that will happen only if Jim finishes work early. It’s peak harvest time, and he often works until eight at night, applying pesticides on commercial farms for $14 an hour. Running the errand would mean forgoing overtime pay that could go for groceries.
It’s the same every month, Dreier says. Bills go unpaid because, when push comes to shove, food wins out. “We have to eat, you know,” she says, only the slightest hint of resignation in her voice. “We can’t starve.”
Chances are good that if you picture what hunger looks like, you don’t summon an image of someone like Christina Dreier: white, married, clothed, and housed, even a bit overweight. The image of hunger in America today differs markedly from Depression-era images of the gaunt-faced unemployed scavenging for food on urban streets. “This is not your grandmother’s hunger,” says Janet Poppendieck, a sociologist at the City University of New York. “Today more working people and their families are hungry because wages have declined.”
In the United States more than half of hungry households are white, and two-thirds of those with children have at least one working adult—typically in a full-time job. With this new image comes a new lexicon: In 2006 the U.S. government replaced “hunger” with the term “food insecure” to describe any household where, sometime during the previous year, people didn’t have enough food to eat. By whatever name, the number of people going hungry has grown dramatically in the U.S., increasing to 48 million by 2012—a fivefold jump since the late 1960s, including an increase of 57 percent since the late 1990s. Privately run programs like food pantries and soup kitchens have mushroomed too. In 1980 there were a few hundred emergency food programs across the country; today there are 50,000. Finding food has become a central worry for millions of Americans. One in six reports running out of food at least once a year. In many European countries, by contrast, the number is closer to one in 20.
To witness hunger in America today is to enter a twilight zone where refrigerators are so frequently bare of all but mustard and ketchup that it provokes no remark, inspires no embarrassment. Here dinners are cooked using macaroni-and-cheese mixes and other processed ingredients from food pantries, and fresh fruits and vegetables are eaten only in the first days after the SNAP payment arrives. Here you’ll meet hungry farmhands and retired schoolteachers, hungry families who are in the U.S. without papers and hungry families whose histories stretch back to the Mayflower. Here pocketing food from work and skipping meals to make food stretch are so common that such practices barely register as a way of coping with hunger and are simply a way of life.
It can be tempting to ask families receiving food assistance, If you’re really hungry, then how can you be—as many of them are—overweight? The answer is “this paradox that hunger and obesity are two sides of the same coin,” says Melissa Boteach, vice president of the Poverty and Prosperity Program of the Center for American Progress, “people making trade-offs between food that’s filling but not nutritious and may actually contribute to obesity.” For many of the hungry in America, the extra pounds that result from a poor diet are collateral damage—an unintended side effect of hunger itself.
Help for the Hungry
As the face of hunger has changed, so has its address. The town of Spring, Texas, is where ranchland meets Houston’s sprawl, a suburb of curving streets and shade trees and privacy fences. The suburbs are the home of the American dream, but they are also a place where poverty is on the rise. As urban housing has gotten more expensive, the working poor have been pushed out. Today hunger in the suburbs is growing faster than in cities, having more than doubled since 2007.
Yet in the suburbs America’s hungry don’t look the part either. They drive cars, which are a necessity, not a luxury, here. Cheap clothes and toys can be found at yard sales and thrift shops, making a middle-class appearance affordable. Consumer electronics can be bought on installment plans, so the hungry rarely lack phones or televisions. Of all the suburbs in the country, northwest Houston is one of the best places to see how people live on what might be called a minimum-wage diet: It has one of the highest percentages of households receiving SNAP assistance where at least one family member holds down a job. The Jefferson sisters, Meme and Kai, live here in a four-bedroom, two-car-garage, two-bath home with Kai’s boyfriend, Frank, and an extended family that includes their invalid mother, their five sons, a daughter-in-law, and five grandchildren. The house has a rickety desktop computer in the living room and a television in most rooms, but only two real beds; nearly everyone sleeps on mattresses or piles of blankets spread out on the floor.
Though all three adults work full-time, their income is not enough to keep the family consistently fed without assistance. The root problem is the lack of jobs that pay wages a family can live on, so food assistance has become the government’s—and society’s—way to supplement low wages. The Jeffersons receive $125 in food stamps each month, and a charity brings in meals for their bedridden matriarch.
Like most of the new American hungry, the Jeffersons face not a total absence of food but the gnawing fear that the next meal can’t be counted on. When Meme shows me the family’s food supply, the refrigerator holds takeout boxes and beverages but little fresh food. Two cupboards are stocked with a smattering of canned beans and sauces. A pair of freezers in the garage each contain a single layer of food, enough to fill bellies for just a few days. Meme says she took the children aside a few months earlier to tell them they were eating too much and wasting food besides. “I told them if they keep wasting, we have to go live on the corner, beg for money, or something.”
Stranded in a Food Desert
Jacqueline Christian is another Houston mother who has a full-time job, drives a comfortable sedan, and wears flattering clothes. Her older son, 15-year-old Ja’Zarrian, sports bright orange Air Jordans. There’s little clue to the family’s hardship until you learn that their clothes come mostly from discount stores, that Ja’Zarrian mowed lawns for a summer to get the sneakers, that they’re living in a homeless shelter, and that despite receiving $325 in monthly food stamps, Christian worries about not having enough food “about half of the year.”
Christian works as a home health aide, earning $7.75 an hour at a job that requires her to crisscross Houston’s sprawl to see her clients. Her schedule, as much as her wages, influences what she eats. To save time she often relies on premade food from grocery stores. “You can’t go all the way home and cook,” she says.
On a day that includes running a dozen errands and charming her payday loan officer into giving her an extra day, Christian picks up Ja’Zarrian and her seven-year-old, Jerimiah, after school. As the sun drops in the sky, Jerimiah begins complaining that he’s hungry. The neon glow of a Hartz Chicken Buffet appears up the road, and he starts in: Can’t we just get some gizzards, please?
Christian pulls into the drive-through and orders a combo of fried gizzards and okra for $8.11. It takes three declined credit cards and an emergency loan from her mother, who lives nearby, before she can pay for it. When the food finally arrives, filling the car with the smell of hot grease, there’s a collective sense of relief. On the drive back to the shelter the boys eat until the gizzards are gone, and then drift off to sleep.
Christian says she knows she can’t afford to eat out and that fast food isn’t a healthy meal. But she’d felt too stressed—by time, by Jerimiah’s insistence, by how little money she has—not to provide in. “Maybe I can’t justify that to someone who wasn’t here to see, you know?” she says. “But I couldn’t let them down and not get the food.”
Of course it is possible to eat well cheaply in America, but it takes resources and know-how that many low-income Americans don’t have. Kyera Reams of Osage, Iowa, puts an incredible amount of energy into feeding her family of six a healthy diet, with the help of staples from food banks and $650 in monthly SNAP benefits. A stay-at-home mom with a high school education, Reams has taught herself how to can fresh produce and forage for wild ginger and cranberries. When she learned that SNAP benefits could be used to buy vegetable plants, she dug two gardens in her yard. She has learned about wild mushrooms so she can safely pick ones that aren’t poisonous and has lobbied the local library to stock field guides to edible wild plants.
“We wouldn’t eat healthy at all if we lived off the food-bank food,” Reams says. Many foods commonly donated to—or bought by—food pantries are high in salt, sugar, and fat. She estimates her family could live for three months on the nutritious foods she’s saved up. The Reamses have food security, in other words, because Kyera makes procuring food her full-time job, along with caring for her husband, whose disability payments provide their only income.
But most of the working poor don’t have the time or know-how required to eat well on little. Often working multiple jobs and night shifts, they tend to eat on the run. Healthful food can be hard to find in so-called food deserts—communities with few or no full-service groceries. Jackie Christian didn’t resort to feeding her sons fried gizzards because it was affordable but because it was easy. Given the dramatic increase in cheap fast foods and processed foods, when the hungry have money to eat, they often go for what’s convenient, just as better-off families do.
It’s a cruel irony that people in rural Iowa can be malnourished amid forests of cornstalks running to the horizon. Iowa dirt is some of the richest in the nation, even bringing out the poet in agronomists, who describe it as “black gold.” In 2007 Iowa’s fields produced roughly one-sixth of all corn and soybeans grown in the U.S., churning out billions of bushels.
These are the very crops that end up on Christina Dreier’s kitchen table in the form of hot dogs made of corn-raised beef, Mountain Dew sweetened with corn syrup, and chicken nuggets fried in soybean oil. They’re also the foods that the U.S. government supports the most. In 2012 it spent roughly $11 billion to subsidize and insure commodity crops like corn and soy, with Iowa among the states receiving the highest subsidies. The government spends much less to bolster the production of the fruits and vegetables its own nutrition guidelines say should make up half the food on our plates. In 2011 it spent only $1.6 billion to subsidize and insure “specialty crops”—the bureaucratic term for fruits and vegetables.
Those priorities are reflected at the grocery store, where the price of fresh food has risen steadily while the cost of sugary treats like soda has dropped. Since the early 1980s the real cost of fruits and vegetables has increased by 24 percent. Meanwhile the cost of nonalcoholic beverages—primarily sodas, most sweetened with corn syrup—has dropped by 27 percent.
“We’ve created a system that’s geared toward keeping overall food prices low but does little to support healthy, high-quality food,” says global food expert Raj Patel. “The problem can’t be fixed by merely telling people to eat their fruits and vegetables, because at heart this is a problem about wages, about poverty.”
When Christina Dreier’s cupboards start to get bare, she tries to persuade her kids to skip snack time. “But sometimes they eat saltine crackers, because we get that from the food bank,” she said, sighing. “It ain’t healthy for them, but I’m not going to tell them they can’t eat if they’re hungry.”
The Dreiers have not given up on trying to eat well. Like the Reamses, they’ve sown patches of vegetables and a stretch of sweet corn in the large green yard carved out of the cornfields behind their house. But when the garden is done for the year, Christina fights a battle every time she goes to the supermarket or the food bank. In both places healthy foods are nearly out of reach. When the food stamps come in, she splurges on her monthly supply of produce, including a bag of organic grapes and a bag of apples. “They love fruit,” she says with obvious pride. But most of her food dollars go to the meat, eggs, and milk that the food bank doesn’t provide; with noodles and sauce from the food pantry, a spaghetti dinner costs her only the $3.88 required to buy hamburger for the sauce.
What she has, Christina says, is a kitchen with nearly enough food most of the time. It’s just those dicey moments, after a new bill arrives or she needs gas to drive the kids to town, that make it hard. “We’re not starved around here,” she says one morning as she mixes up powdered milk for her daughter. “But some days, we do go a little hungry.”
Crops Taxpayers Support With Subsidies
How Subsidized Crops Affect Diet
Tracie McMillan is the author of The American Way of Eating and a Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University. Photographers Kitra Cahana, Stephanie Sinclair, and Amy Toensing are known for their intimate, sensitive portraits of people.
The magazine thanks The Rockefeller Foundation and members of the National Geographic Society for their generous support of this series of articles.
Maps and graphics by Virginia W. Mason and Jason Treat, NGM Staff. Help for the Hungry, sources: USDA; Food Research and Action Center; Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Stranded in a Food Desert, sources: USDA; City of Houston; U.S. Census Bureau. Crop Subsidies, research: Amanda Hobbs. Sources: Mississippi Department of Human Services; Environmental Working Group; National Cancer Institute.
What can you get for ten dollars?
A new report from the US Department of Commerce says Apple and Google act as "gatekeepers" to the mobile app ecosystem, resulting in a lack of competition that's harmful to consumers. It recommends new legislation and antitrust enforcement to "level the economic playing field."
The control Apple and Google have over app marketplaces -- Apple's App Store on iOS and the Google Play Store on Android -- has potentially led to higher prices and reduced innovation, the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration says in the report, published Wednesday. Since app makers can publish only through these official marketplaces, "innovators have very limited avenues for reaching consumers," says the report.
The NTIA suggests several changes to Strengthen app store competition, such as letting consumers choose their preferred default apps, use alternative app stores and delete and hide preinstalled apps. It also says Apple and Google shouldn't be allowed to favor their own apps over competitors and should allow app developers to use alternative in-app payment systems.
The report is the latest move by the Biden administration to rein in Big Tech. Biden published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal last month saying tech platforms that get too big "promote their own products while excluding or disadvantaging competitors — or charge competitors a fortune to sell on their platform."
Both companies pushed back on the report on Wednesday.
"We respectfully disagree with a number of conclusions reached in the report, which ignore the investments we make in innovation, privacy and security -- all of which contribute to why users love iPhone and create a level playing field for small developers to compete on a safe and trusted platform," an Apple spokesperson said in a statement.
Google said it disagrees with how the report characterizes Android. "NTIA recognizes the importance of interoperability, multiple app stores and sideloading, which Android's open system already supports -- all while ensuring privacy and security," a Google spokesperson said.
The NTIA didn't immediately respond to a request for additional comment.
Apps are big business for Apple and Google. The App Store reportedly brought in revenue of $72 billion for Apple in 2020, while Google Play earned more than $38 billion that year. The control Apple and Google have over their app marketplaces spurred a lawsuit by Fortnite-maker Epic Games. The companies also face scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators, who are concerned that their approach stifles competition and artificially inflates prices.
The Biden Administration thinks Apple and Google “act as gatekeepers” over their respective mobile ecosystems. A report from the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) published yesterday states that the current mobile app store model is “harmful to consumers and developers.” The NTIA wants changes, including for Apple to open up its app store and for both companies to reduce the “hurdles” developers have to scale to compete for app store window space.
The NTIA says it’s a problem that consumers cannot easily use apps from outside the respective app stores on both the Android and iOS platforms and that “they should be able to choose their own apps as defaults, use alternative mobile app stores and delete or hide pre-installed apps.”
Now, Android allows for most of these use cases: you can choose a default mobile browser and launcher on any Android device from any manufacturer with Play Store access. You can also obtain other app stores—like F-Droid, the open source repository—and sideload apps from them as you like, though the latest versions of Android have gotten much more stringent on the types of apps that can be installed since introducing app bundling. Some Android interfaces, like Samsung’s OneUI, also allow you to disable apps and remove preloaded ones if they’re not in use.
Apple’s iPhone doesn’t allow for that kind of editing, though iOS 14 introduced an “app drawer” that lives off the main home screens of the device. That’s where pre-installed apps that you don’t use go to hide from the main page, so you don’t have to deal with accidentally tapping on them. The NTIA wants to allow consumers to scrub apps entirely from the interface. “App store operators should not be able to ‘self-preference’ their apps in an anticompetitive manner,” says the report.
It isn’t easy to obtain apps from outside of the App Store on iOS. While you can technically jailbreak Apple’s mobile operating system and obtain apps from a source like Cydia, it effectively voids the warranty. If something goes awry, you can’t get your phone fixed at the Genius Bar. You can, however, change your default mobile browser and use a PC or Mac to unofficially access alternate app stores like AltStore.
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The NTIA also wants both companies to address “limits on in-app purchasing options.” This has an air of Epic v. Google, as that was a landmark case for why Google (and Apple) should allow games like Fortnite to use their payment system instead of going through the app stores. Google and Apple require that any purchase made through its stores provide a cut of the transaction, which is why there’s been so much pushback from third parties.
The Biden administration asked the NTIA in 2021 to study the mobile app market to reach these conclusions. We reported at the time that this was a mass initiative to look into the business practices of the five most powerful tech companies and telecoms and pharmaceutical giants.
Apple and Google have spoken out against the report since it was published. “We disagree with how this report characterizes Android, which enables more choice and competition than any other mobile operating system,” Google spokesperson Julie Tarallo McAlister told Bloomberg. Apple told Ars Technica that “third-party apps are among the most popular on the App Store, contributing to a robust app economy that includes millions of apps and supports hundreds of thousands of US jobs.”
Over the last several years, Apple has set a general trend of holding its first special event of the year in March or April. It’s only January, but rumors already show that Apple has a number of different announcements in store for the first part of the year.
Is Apple planning a March event for this year? That remains to be seen, but here’s what could be announced if it does…and it likely all comes down to the fate of one product.
expand full story
Every child deserves a bright future, yet COVID has been a horrific disruptor to progress around reducing child hunger in America.
With 30 million children in the U.S. depending on school for meals, school closures and loss of family income mean food insecurity rates will rise.
Not only has the pandemic has left millions of families financially strapped and stretched to the limit as they juggle work and helping kids with remote learning, it has brought illness, loss and desperation to millions of families.
Children are missing out on the social, emotional and academic fundamentals of childhood. Too many are experiencing hardships and trauma that will echo through their lives and communities for years to come. In short, the pandemic has robbed kids of the normalcy that is essential to their healthy growth and development.
Urgent action is needed to ensure all America’s children can reach their full potential.
The Apple VR/AR mixed reality headset is one of those products that's perpetually rumored but never seems to materialize — though that could soon change. Apple hasn't officially announced the device, but we know the company has big plans for augmented reality. The VR/AR headset is the next step on that journey.
It's worth noting that the VR/AR headset is totally different from the rumored Apple Glasses. Those are said to be purely AR-focused and aren't likely to arrive anytime soon. Meanwhile, the VR/AR headset could be here as soon as 2023, and it's likely to compete with the Meta Quest 2, PSVR 2 and all the other best VR headsets.
We've seen several reports coming out regarding Apple VR/AR, including next-generation display technology and its potential price and release window. We've even heard rumors about the display for the Apple VR/AR Headset 2, the theoretical successor to Apple's still unannounced mixed reality headset. Now that Samsung, Google and Qualcomm have teamed up to work on XR projects, it's clear the mixed reality headset business is going to heat up in 2023.
Here's everything you need to know about the Apple VR/AR mixed reality headset that's expected to arrive at some point this year.
Rumors around the Apple VR/AR headset had suggested a March 2023 reveal with orders not shipping until Fall 2023. That comes from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who now thinks Apple might push back its headset preview. Now Gurman thinks it will happen in June at the Worldwide Developer Conference, as Apple races to address hardware and software issues.
That's consistent with what analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has claimed regarding a Spring 2023 or Summer 2023 reveal, with a fall launch after that. He suggests that the continued delays appear to be due to production problems causing delays to both the announcement and retail launch. But it seems now that those delays have been resolved as rumors coalesce around a springtime reveal.
In a Medium post (opens in new tab), exploring several aspects of the VR headset market, Kuo describes Apple as "a game-changer for the headset industry," and predicts that Cupertino's first headset will lead a new wave of products from others trying to emulate its ideas, and boost in demand for associated AR games and apps. He's also claimed a second generation (plus a cheaper edition) is supposedly coming in 2025.
A Bloomberg (opens in new tab) report unearthed possible trademarks linked to Apple's VR/AR headset, including Reality One, Reality Pro and Reality Processor (opens in new tab). More recently a report from Bloomberg suggested "Reality Pro" would be the name Apple opts for.
According to reports, the Apple VR/AR mixed reality headset is designed to be a precursor to Apple Glass. The AR lenses are supposed to offer an "optical see-through AR experience," according to Ming-Chi Kuo. However Apple Glasses may not arrive for a long time, with Apple reportedly delaying the project due to technical challenges.
In other words, based on everything we've heard, Apple Glass is designed to look and act like an ordinary lightweight pair of glasses. We're talking about glasses that are able to project information, and presumably imagery, onto its lenses
The Apple VR/AR mixed reality headset is expected to be like a typical VR headset, but one with a number of exterior cameras and sensors that unlock bonus functionality.
That way Apple's VR and mixed reality headset can offer body tracking, and incorporate real-world environments in a virtual space. Plus, the Apple VR headset could incorporate a see-through experience that can deliver a form of augmented reality. So, it's not quite like the Oculus Quest 2, which is VR-only.
However Mark Gurman has claimed that the Apple headset will be designed for short trips into VR — rather than jumping on the 'metaverse' bandwagon like so many others. In fact Apple is said to have declared metaverse if "off limits". Users will be able to use the mixed reality headset for communication, content viewing and gaming, but it won't be a device you wear all day, or as a replacement for real life.
Still not sure what the difference between mixed reality, augmented reality and virtual reality actually is? We have an explainer that tells you exactly what mixed reality is and what Microsoft, Meta and Apple have planned for it.
Reports on the Apple VR/AR mixed reality headset price have been mixed. But rumors suggest a developer focus, so pricing may center around attracting programmers.
Tim Cook has spoken at length about how AR is Apple's end goal. The headset is reported to be the first stage in the company's wearable AR ambitions. The headset's main goal is reportedly to prepare developers for the launch of Apple Glass, and ensure the specs have app support for launch. Apple's main incentive is not to make money, and reports claim the headset's price will reflect that.
That being said, Mark Gurman has claimed the headset will be heavy on gaming, media consumption and communication, suggesting Apple is designing something with consumers in mind. Maybe this could mean a cheaper second-gen headset later. However, that doesn't necessarily mean the first-generation headset won't be expensive, or a primarily designed for developer use.
While Apple's VR and mixed reality headset is supposed to be expensive, reports are divided on how expensive it's set to be.
A report from The Information claims that Apple's VR headset will be as high as $3,000. Gaming VR headsets rarely cost more than $1,000, though the Microsoft Hololens 2 does cost a whopping $3,500.
Mark Gurman claims that the headset could cost upwards of $2,000. That price tag is supposed to account for the headset's hardware, which could include the Apple M1 Pro chip, an extended development time and the usual increased markup applied to other Apple products.
However, Ming-Chi Kuo has now reported that the final price should be between $2,000 and $2,500. This has since been refuted by a Bloomberg report, claiming that the headset would indeed be priced at $3,000.
In any case, the cost of entry is going to be high and certainly a lot higher than other stand-alone VR headsets. For example, the Oculus Quest 2 costs $300 by comparison.
The Information (opens in new tab)'s reported claims that the VR/AR headset will feature 12 tracking cameras that can feed information to two 8K displays in front of the user's eyes. On top of that, the headset will also reportedly feature LiDAR sensors. However, this report was contradicted by Display Supply Chain Consultants, or DSCC, which claims that Sony is making 4K 4000 x 4000 displays for Apple's headset with a 1.4-inch diagonal. It is important to know that in its comments DSCC did mention that LiDAR was still a possibility.
For those that don't know, LiDAR uses lasers to measure distance, which can gather the area of a space quickly and accurately. A device can use this info to better place objects in AR, and has already been used this way on high-end iPad Pro as well as the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max.
DSCC also suggests that Apple might cram in three displays total inside its headset. There could be the two Sony-made 4K displays mentioned above, as well as one larger lower resolution AMOLED display on the back. This, according to the report, would allow Apple to create a foveated display.
A foveated display refers to the fovea that sits at the back of a person's eye, along the retina. The fovea helps with sharpening central vision. A foveated VR headset could use eye tracking to help focus an image on what the user is looking at while lowering the resolution around the periphery. This video by YouTube channel SweViver does an excellent job explaining fixed foveated rendering (FFR).
There is some credence to the rumors of Sony developing the display panels for the mixed reality Apple headset. recent reports suggest that the Apple headset will use OLEDoS panels, which use silicon instead of glass substrates to create unbelievable resolutions. Sony, Samsung and LG are all working on OLEDoS panels, with Sony and LG rumored to provide displays for the first generation of the Apple VR/AR headset and Samsung and LG to provide displays for the second generation.
The main feature of the Apple headset is mixed reality. According to Mark Gurman, the headset will include external cameras which are currently being used to test features like hand-tracking and gesture control. Part of this includes the possibility of being able to type in the air with a virtual keyboard.
At least one report claims that Apple isn't focusing on games for its AR/VR headset. That seems like a curious decision, given how early adopters are often attracted to features like gaming.
Rumors suggest that the Apple VR/AR headset will not rely on sensors alone. Sources have told The Information that users will be able to wear a "thimble-like" device on their finger to help with hand tracking and other controls. The latest reports also claim that there will be a Digital Crown, similar to the one on AirPods Max, to switch between AR and VR modes.
A lot of power is going to be needed to keep all this going, and Gurman's report claims that the headset will feature Apple's "most advanced and powerful chips." Apparently, the chip inside Apple's VR headset will be more powerful than the newly-launched M1 Mac chip.
According to a later report from Gurman, the headset will come with the new M2 chip and 16GB of RAM. It may not be the most powerful chip in the Apple Silicon range, but it dopes offer a good balance of power and energy efficiency.
Speaking of specs, a newer report from Kuo has the headset tipped to get a brace or processors, suggesting Apple won't be scrimping on power.
"The higher-end processor will have similar computing power as the M1 for Mac, whereas the lower-end processor will be in charge of sensor-related computing," Kuo predicts.
Similarly, The Information (opens in new tab) reports that there will be two processors on board the headset, with the main processor the equivalent of the M2 chip slated to come out later this year in devices like a new MacBook Air.
According to Kuo, all that hardware will also need a significant amount of power. To the point where the headset will apparently come with a 96W MacBook charger to keep everything powered on. It's also been suggested that an external battery pack may be necessary, which will offer 2 hours of battery life.
Not so long ago, Kuo also shared that the device could get hand gesture controls as well as object detection features, which could be enabled through "highly sensitive 3D sensing modules."
"The AR/MR headset can detect not only the position change of the user or other people’s hand and object in front of the user's eyes but also the dynamic detail change of the hand," he predicts. As an example, Kuo suggested when users change their hand from a clenched fist to an opened hand, the machine could track this movement and create an image of a balloon floating away as if released.
More details have emerged in another Information report about auto-adjusting lenses and a separate battery pack being part of the headset. Not having the battery built in sounds a little inconvenient for using the headset, but being able to rely on the internals to adjust to your vision does sound welcome.
Apple's recent patent wins could also shed light on some other expected features, including finger gestures. Recent patent filings from Apple indicate that it wants to integrate wearables with its VR/AR mixed reality headset — and possibly Apple Glasses. These inventions would allow users to use wearables ranging from two Apple Watches to a VR glove to execute finger gestures. These gestures could allow users to do a range of tasks, from scrolling through pages to hanging up a phone call.
A patent discovered by Apple Insider (opens in new tab) reveals that Apple has been working on some smart rings, which can be used to track finger and hand movements. This could be employed with the VR and mixed reality headset, to boost the capabilities of the external cameras.
The patent also mentions being able to detect objects the user is holding, including an Apple Pencil. That means the headset will be see what you want to do, and alter its functionality accordingly. So if you hold an Apple Pencil it sill know you want to hand write something, as oppose to typing. And so on
Per analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, he believes that Apple will use "3P pancake lenses" that will have a folded design to allow light to reflect back and forth between the display and lenses. This could allow for a headset design that's compact and lightweight.
Ming-Chi Kuo also claims that the headset will come with Wi-Fi 6E support, which would allow it to connect to a separate device and transfer large amounts of data with low latency. This means the headset could allow a separate device, like an iPhone or Mac, to do all the hard work and beam it to the headset without the need for a physical cable.
Not doing all the processing in the headset itself will also mean Apple can help keep the weight low and preserve battery life for much longer than it would have lasted otherwise.
On top of all these possibilities, a report from The Information claims that Apple will add iris scanning tech to the VR/AR headset. The idea is that the headset can authenticate the user as soon as they put it on, which will be beneficial for situations where multiple people share the same device. It may also be used to authenticate purchases, the same way Face ID and Touch ID are utilized on iOS devices.
If that wasn't enough, a new report from The Information claims that the Apple VR/AR headset will let users create their own apps — regardless of whether they know how to code or not. This feature will apparently run through Siri, allowing people to use the headset to scan real world objects and transform them into digital assets. User-created apps will also be allowed to appear on the app store, though they will no doubt need to pass Apple's strict approvals process.
According to a report by The Information from early 2021, the outlet received design sketches of what Apple's mixed reality headset might look like. This is apparently based on early prototype work by Apple engineers and may not reflect the final product.
Concept artist Ian Zelbo also created some renders of a possible headset design, based on The Information's leak from earlier in the year.
Regardless, with this being Apple, we'd expect the mixed reality headset to sport a bit of slick industrial design with a lot of user ergonomics in mind.
For what it's worth, Ming-Chi Kou has claimed the Apple headset will weigh between 300 and 400 grams (a little less than a pound) when it debuts. A lighter version is in the works for a subsequent release, Kou adds.
A whole new device form factor requires a tweaked operating system, and it looks like that’s what Apple will be providing, with reference to “realityOS” in App Store upload logs by eagle-eyed developers. A second appearance of this name, along with "xrOS", was found in the code for the Windows 11 Apple Devices app.
There's not much information on this potential software, but it would make sense for Apple to come up with a custom OS for it's VR and AR gadgets. We'd hazard a guess that such an operating system would have more in common with iOS than macOS.
Current reports and rumors suggest that Apple's AR/VR mixed reality headset will have a professional and developer focus. The idea is to ensure developers have a real device so they can get to grips with designing apps for augmented reality, ahead of the eventual launch of the Apple Glasses AR specs.
We've read reports that suggest that Apple's AR/VR headset could cost as high as $3,000, whereas other reports suggest a device that's "several thousand dollars."
But with the Apple Glasses still reportedly several years away, time may change the appeal of the Apple headset. After all, the more time developers have with it, the more apps they can release, and the more interesting it will be to own. That's assuming the price tag doesn't continue to put people off.
Granted, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has stated that Apple could be looking to launch a second-generation headset in 2024. He expects this headset to sell 10 million units, rivaling the Oculus Quest 2. Maybe this headset will have much larger mass-market appeal.
Long-term comfort: The problem with most VR headsets is that they're not ideal for long-term use. Discomfort generally increases after about 30 minutes. Of course, the more comfortable the headset is from the start, the longer you'll be able to keep going.
If Apple can design the AirPods Pro in such a way that you can forget they're there, it can certainly ensure its mixed reality headset is as pro-comfort as possible.
Solid battery life: Currently, the battery life on standalone headsets isn't great. The Oculus Quest 2 only lasts two to three hours, depending on what you're doing. We want Apple's VR and mixed reality headset to offer at least this much battery life, but ideally more.
A focus on fitness: With possible integration with Apple Fitness Plus and the Apple Watch, the Apple headset could be a game changer for fitness. You could use the device during workouts and see your progress as you follow along with personal trainers.
Proper AR: If Apple is going to kick start its wearable AR efforts with a mixed-reality headset, we want to see some proper AR features. Users will always be aware that the headset is in place, but Apple should, at the very least, do everything it can to make sure that any see-through AR functionality is as realistic as possible. That means good image quality, no noticeable lag, and a good field of view.
No gimmicks: If the mixed reality headset really is a developer device that's being released to the public, the least Apple can do is make sure there's a reason to have one. Don't release the headset for the sake of it, especially if it really is that expensive. provide people an real reason to pick one up for themselves, beyond the logo.
New data sheds light on the problem of food insecurity among military families. Syracuse University researcher provides some insight, and military spouse comedian Ashley Gutermuth shares how she’s using her platform to help.
Colleen Heflin is the chair and professor of public administration and international affairs and associate dean of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. She is also a faculty affiliate at the Center for Policy Research and the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion. As a research and policy scholar for nearly 20 years, Heflin is regarded as a national expert on food insecurity, nutrition and welfare policy, and the well-being of vulnerable populations. Heflin’s research has helped document the causes and consequences of food insecurity, identify the barriers and consequences of participation in nutrition programs and understand the changing role of the public safety net in the lives of low-income Americans. Heflin has published over 70 research articles and her work has appeared in leading journals. Her research is regularly funded by the National Institutes for Health, U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Russell Sage Foundation. From 2012-2017, Heflin was supported by a five-year award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service as Family Self-Sufficiency and Stability Research Scholar to explore how multiple program participation affects vulnerable families’ well-being.
Ashley Gutermuth is a New Jersey-based stand-up comedian and actor. She appeared on “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon, where she was chosen by Jerry Seinfeld to win the Seinfeld Challenge. In 2021, she won the headliner category of the U.S. Comedy Contest. Gutermuth has performed for The World Series of Comedy, The New York Underground Comedy Festival and The North Carolina Comedy Festival. She has also appeared on shows with Chris Kattan (SNL), Steve Hytner (Seinfeld) and Michael Winslow (Police Academy, America’s Got Talent), among many others. Gutermuth regularly posts on social media, and her hilarious videos of her stand-up and life as a military spouse have exploded to over 50 million views.
The Spouse Angle is a podcast breaking down the news for military spouses and their families. Each episode features subject-matter experts and military guests who dive into current events from a military perspective — everything from new policy changes to research on family lifestyle challenges. The podcast is hosted by Natalie Gross, a freelance journalist and former Military Times reporter who grew up in a military family.
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Everyone is vulnerable in some way, whether it's to natural disasters, chronic diseases or hunger. But some are more at risk than others because of what they are exposed to socially, economically and environmentally. This phenomenon is known as social vulnerability. It refers to the attributes of society that make people and places susceptible to natural disasters, adverse health outcomes and social inequalities.
In terms of income distribution, South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world. The impact of COVID-19 on the economy has worsened this inequality and increased social vulnerability among poor people. Poverty is inherently associated with food insecurity—a state in which socially vulnerable people can't get enough nutritious and safe food.
Although these social inequalities are well documented in South Africa, not enough is known about the link between social vulnerability and food insecurity for the country as a whole.
Previous studies that investigated the relationship between social vulnerability and food insecurity have been limited to certain places, such as the poor and rural Eastern Cape province or the crowded urban area of Soweto. A better understanding of social inequalities at a national level might help the government provide social relief where it's needed most.
With this in mind, we conducted a nationally representative survey of the prevalence of social vulnerability in the country. We looked at a range of socio-economic, demographic and geographical variables to see who is socially vulnerable. We also investigated the associations between social vulnerability and household food insecurity.
We conducted our study in October 2021 with 3,402 individuals we recruited across the nine provinces of the country. We used a statistical technique to transform the trial of 3,402 into a nationally representative trial of 39.6 million people, aged 18 years and older.
We measured social vulnerability using a social vulnerability index tool developed by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which we adapted for South Africa.
We also used a modified version of the Community Childhood Hunger Identification Project questionnaire to quantify food insecurity.
All the respondents were asked:
The study showed high levels of social vulnerability in the country linked to food insecurity. Over 20.6% of the South Africans in our trial were socially vulnerable, and 20.4% food insecure. This amounts to about 7.8 million people out of our trial of 39.6 million people.
We also found that the most vulnerable groups in the country were Africans—as opposed to white people or people of Asian or mixed descent.
Also most vulnerable were
people living in rural areas
those with low socio-economic status
people without high school certificates
adults older than 45.
These findings are not surprising, given that these groups are known to have higher levels of poverty. But the findings are still important because they paint a troubling picture in which social inequality remains a major and persisting national challenge. It needs urgent and efficient solutions.
The government uses various initiatives to address social inequalities in the country to good effect. These include public education and health services, school feeding schemes and the tax exemption of staple foods such as brown bread and rice.
Social grants are the largest source of support for many vulnerable groups. They are the government's primary response to poverty, food insecurity and inequality.
The well-established grants system reaches 18.4 million beneficiaries (about 31% of the population).
Despite such efforts, social inequalities have consistently remained high. They are also unlikely to be eradicated with the current social initiatives because of several complex factors. These include the fact that social grants are unable to keep up with inflation in food prices.
Another problem is that recipients use the funds for many non-food necessities—such as clothing and transport costs. Other contributing factors are the gaps in the formulation and implementation of policies to address food insecurity.
There's also a lack of collaboration from different stakeholders in the food system. For example, policymakers often view food insecurity as a rural issue. So, a majority of initiatives to address the problem focus on solutions related to food production. Yet, urban areas are also vulnerable to food insecurity as they depend more on the cash economy than rural areas.
In view of our findings, government and other stakeholders need to implement creative and targeted social strategies to reduce and eliminate food insecurity in highly vulnerable groups. Improving the economy and education system should be the main areas of focus in addressing social inequalities in the country.
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
Citation: Hunger in South Africa: Study shows 1 in 5 are at risk (2023, February 16) retrieved 19 February 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-02-hunger-south-africa.html
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