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How do you adapt to working from home, keep fit, maintain a social life – and maybe even cut your hair?

How to keep your hair in check Sali Hughes

Social media is awash with professional colourists pleading with absent clients not to reach for the box dye while theyre closed for business. This is partly because, like every service profession, hairdressing will take a financial beating during this crisis.

But professionals are also genuinely worried about their clients hair, and tell me theyre bracing themselves for a plethora of complex colour correction appointments when they finally reopen. Colour correction can be a long, drawn-out and expensive process, warns Luke Hersheson, my own stylist and creative director of Hershesons in London. Until we know when salons might reopen, its much safer to use a temporary fix, like a root touch-up spray or powder that shampoos out, he says.

He believes many women can buy a few more weeks by just changing where they part their hair. Theres usually more grey at the temples, so a centre parting is a good stopgap.

Top salon colourist Josh Wood isnt against box dyes he even sells them under the Josh Wood Colour brand in Boots. However, the secret to a successful home dye job, he says, is in knowing your limitations. Now is not the time to transform the colour of your hair, or for tricky techniques like balayage, ombre or bleaching, he says.

Try a root disguiser to touch up your hair colour, Sali Hughes suggests. Photograph: Rui Faria/The Guardian

Retouching roots or toning existing colour should be the extent of your ambition as an amateur. Wood suggests applying a moisturising hair mask a couple of days before colouring, and always choosing dye in one shade lighter than you think you need from the picture, as too dark is impossible to correct. Follow the box instructions to the letter, Wood says, starting at the greyest point usually the front and cover roots for twice the length of time as the lengths. He suggests enlisting your spouse or teen to do the back.

In any case, you must always, always do a skin test in advance, according to instructions, to minimise the risk of potentially serious allergic reaction. It can be a lifesaver.

Hersheson (whose team, like Woods, is offering video consultations during the crisis) points out that its worth considering whether social isolation might be a good opportunity to push through the pain barrier of transitioning to grey. Its also a good time to grow out an unwanted fringe you can clip it back and not worry about how that looks, and not have the stress of trimming it yourself, he says.

Hersheson counsels against trimming your fringe, unless youre very adept. But I have trimmed dozens of fringes in extremis, and if you think youre up to the job, heres my own technique:

  • Always start with clean, but dry hair never, ever cut when wet or even damp. Clip back the rest of your hair, leaving the dry fringe isolated and loose.

  • Comb through, and with the comb, gather the entire fringe into a single, flat, one-inch section at the very centre of your forehead.

  • Clamp it between two flat fingers at the bottom of the section, approximately 1cm from the hair tips (use a plastic freezer bag clip instead, if you prefer).

  • Take the sharpest scissors you own and cut up into the one-inch section of tips, naturally stopping at the fingers. Do not cut across, only upwards. When youve snipped the entire inch-wide section, release your fingers and comb through to assess the length, snipping away any single hairs you may have missed.

  • If its still too long (always preferable to too short), repeat the process, nudging fingers up only half a centimetre at a time, before combing through and checking.

How to socialise online Elle Hunt

Not only is it eminently possible to maintain your friendships under lockdown, talking to people other than those you live and work with is highly advisable if you are to emerge with your sanity intact. Our social lives pivot to video just means a bit more planning.

If its a large group you are trying to meet with, you can gauge everyones availability using the easy web scheduling tool Doodle.

The best platform to use is probably the one the majority of people already have an account with. If everyone is using an iPhone or Apple computer, use FaceTime. WhatsApp permits video calls with up to four participants but, without calling on WhatsApp Web, ties you to your phone.

For many, Skype is a tried and trusted classic that supports up to 50 participants though rarely seamlessly. Otherwise, most people have a Google account, making Hangouts a straightforward choice.

The video conferencing platform Zoom, which has seen its shares spike since the coronavirus outbreak, limits free group calls to 40 minutes but you can always call back.

No matter the platform , some lagging audio and frozen faces are inevitable, especially for large groups. Adding some structure such as a book club, quiz or a table-top role-playing game such as Dungeons & Dragons can be helpful in adjusting to an unfamiliar medium and minimising people talking over each other.

The Houseparty app a conversation with eight people. Photograph: houseparty

The Houseparty app might be geared more towards younger groups, having been a fad among kids a few years ago. But now it seems to be a royal platform of choice. Its amazing, I just press a button and all my family pop up, the Duchess of Cornwall reportedly told a friend. The app can alert you when your friends are online, allowing you to effectively drop in on them. It also has in-built games, for up to eight players at a time.

Some people have ramped up, or perhaps rediscovered, their love of gaming as a means of socialising at a distance, with popular games such as Minecraft, Fortnite and Call of Duty all allowing some in-play communication. It is also possible to play board games online, such as at Board Game Arena and for the more hardcore Tabletop Simulator.

For a more relaxed interaction and one that does not demand that you broadcast your face Netflix Party is a Google Chrome extension that permits you to sync your streaming with friends, like a remote movie night.

How to work from home Elle Hunt

Every longtime freelancer knows the secret to effective working from home: put your shoes on. Its really effective in cueing the mindset shift from home is where the couch is to productivity ninja.

The goal is to create a distinction, even one that is mostly symbolic, between work mode and home mode, especially now that you cannot go anywhere else. Setting up a home office, if only a dedicated corner of your kitchen table, that you can arrive at and leave at the days end will help (do make sure you leave).

Your new colleagues may also take some adjusting-to. Novelist Julie Cohen shared on Twitter her top tip for working around family, care of her marriage counsellor: a literal work hat. Train everyone (and yourself) that when youre wearing The Work Hat, they should leave you alone. (And when youre wearing it, you should only work), she tweeted. It will be a talking point on all those video-conferencing calls, too.

Be aware that whatever is visible behind you on your webcam will be under close scrutiny from your colleagues, and inform their judgments of your home, taste and private life. Style accordingly.

Can you recreate the coffee-shop ambience when working at home? The secret may be in the soundtrack. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Those more used to finding their focus in the informal-formality of a cafe or library are now seeking to replicate the effect at home. Gretchen McCulloch, linguist and author of Because The Internet, tweeted that her current strategy was mellow cafe songs playlist With coffee and sitting in a different part of my apartment than usual, recommending an additional background of an eight-hour YouTube stream of Magical Tearoom ASMR Ambience. With the sound of teaspoons tinkling on saucers and hissing espresso machines over gentle indie music, you wont believe its not Starbucks.

You can even fudge together your own overly sweet frappuccino concoction. On the video platform Tik Tok, enterprising teenagers have been filming themselves making dalgona coffee to replicate cafe coffee at home. It is easy to make, if high in caffeine and wasteful of milk: mix equal parts instant coffee, boiling water and sugar about two tbsp per person and whisk. Add more sugar to taste. Once the mixture is stiff and glossy, pour over milk and ice, stir and serve. And whisk it by hand, even if you have an electric maker. It takes ages; the morning will fly by.

How to keep fit in your home Zoe Williams

There is no shortage of material online about how to stay fit at home if anything, the proliferation is the problem. Choice is deadly to motivation, so start by trying to whittle down your options.

What do you want to do each day, and how long do you want to do it for? 15 minutes is reasonable, 30 shows a bit more backbone. Its more habit-forming to do some every day than an hour twice a week.

Joe Wicks, a phenomenally popular YouTube fitness coach, shows you how to keep fit at home. Photograph: The Body Coach via Getty Images

There are whole-week programmes, such as the book Be Para Fit, or Canadian Air Force Exercises, available on YouTube, that build in your rest days. You can also follow a particular person; Joe Wicks is the obvious one, Adrienne for yoga, and theyll do a daily workout which will make your decisions for you.

If youre of a more independent bent, do a timetable more like a classic cardio/resistance workout for two days, yoga on the third day, cardio/resistance the fourth, something fun like a dance routine on the fifth, resistance on its own for the sixth, yoga on the seventh.

If you used to do regular classes, check to see if theyve gone online; a live-streamed pilates class, at a fixed time, is much more conducive to discipline than roaming freely round WikiHow, trying to find some illustrations that look a bit like your instructor. If you already have some equipment in the house resistance bands, a skipping rope, a mat, a multi-function Fitt Cube you can build your own workouts around those. I would really recommend buying a mat, which youll need for all floor work.

Find the online instructor who irritates you least: over time, itll be a love-hate pendulum, but if you find their voice grating at the start, thats never going to work. If youre feeling nostalgic, almost all the classic workouts Cindy Crawford, Mr Motivator, Rosemary Conley are on YouTube.

Derrick Evans, aka Mr Motivator. Photograph: Sam Stephenson/Alamy Stock Photo

If you find all people basically annoying, there are some brilliant illustrated resources like DAREBEE Workouts. If you find it hard to watch and move at the same time, choose one workout and repeat it: after a week, youll be doing it from memory, which is good for morale. Swap it over after a fortnight, though, as theres evidence that you build fitness faster when you do things youre inept at.

Just because theres no professional asking you whether you have any injuries does not mean you can ignore your injuries. Look up first what to avoid with an gammy knee or similar, rather than typing routines for one rubbish knee into Google.

The single most important thing is: dont wait until you feel like it wait long enough, and youll never feel like it. In the words of the prophet Joe Wicks, the bit where you feel good is at the end of the workout, not the beginning.

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Short-form video app TikTok announced today it’s committing more than $250 million to support front-line workers, educators and local communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as an additional $125 million in advertising credits to public health organizations and businesses looking to rebuild. Some of these funds are being directed toward major health organizations, like the CDC and WHO, while other funds are aimed at helping individuals or smaller businesses.

The $250 million includes three separate efforts: the TikTok Health Heroes Relief Fund, TikTok Community Relief Fund and TikTok Creative Learning Fund.

The first is the most significant effort, as it provisions $150 million in funds for things like medical staffing, supplies and hardship relief for healthcare workers. Included in these distributions is $15 million to the CDC Foundation to support surge staffing for local response efforts through state and local governments, and $10 million for the WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. 

In addition, TikTok, which is owned by Chinese internet giant ByteDance, said its employee matching program will deliver aid to organizations like the Red Cross and Direct Relief.

TikTok also said it’s working with global and local partners to deliver masks and other personal protective equipment to hospitals in India, Indonesia, Italy, South Korea and the U.S., among others. Earlier this month, TikTok announced it had donated 400,000 hazmat medical protective suits and 200,000 masks to protect doctors and front-line medical staff in India, for example.

The TikTok Community Relief Fund, meanwhile, is focused in particular on vulnerable communities impacted by COVID-19.

This effort involves allotting $40 million in cash for local organizations that serve representatives of TikTok’s user community — including musicians, artists, nurses, educators and families. The fund has already been used to donate $3 million to After-School All-Stars, which is providing food for families who had previously relied on school lunches, and $2 million for MusiCares, which supports artists, songwriters and music professionals whose livelihoods have been disrupted.

As a part of the Community Relief Fund, TikTok will also be matching $10 million in donations from its community.

The third effort, TikTok’s Creative Learning Fund, will provide $50 million in grants to educators, professional experts and nonprofits working on distance learning efforts. TikTok sees itself as a potential home for creative remote learning efforts, but didn’t announce any specific plans on this front.

Outside of the funds themselves, TikTok is extending ad credits to health organizations and SMBs.

The company is providing $25 million in prominent “in-feed” advertising space for NGOs, trusted health sources and local authorities, allowing them to share their important messages with millions of people, it said. Other major tech companies, including Google, Facebook and Twitter, have done the same on their own platforms.

TikTok noted it has worked to spread educational information in other ways, as well, having hosted live streams from representatives of WHO, IFRC and other popular voices in public health and science, including Bill Nye the Science Guy. There’s also a dedicated section in TikTok with other resources: the COVID-19 Resources Page on TikTok’s Safety Center. And it has partnered with creators on campaigns like #HappyAtHome, which airs live programming at 8:00 PM ET/ 5:00 PM PT on Fridays and has other themed experiences planned during weekdays.

TikTok will also offer $100 million in advertising credits to small and medium-sized businesses trying to get back on their feet in the months ahead. This effort hasn’t yet started, as it will depend on the decisions made by public health authorities about the re-opening of businesses, the company explained.

“We understand that these are challenging times for everyone,” wrote TikTok president, Alex Zhu, in an announcement. “Alongside businesses, governments, NGOs, and ordinary people across the globe stepping up in this critical moment, we are committed to offering the very best that we can to help out humanity. Together, we will persevere through this time of crisis and emerge a better community and part of a world that we fervently hope will be more united in common purpose than it was before,” Zhu added.

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The spread of COVID-19 has already had a significant impact on the mobile app industry, and that will continue in the years to come. According to a revised 2020-2024 market forecast from app intelligence firm Sensor Tower, a sizable increase in app downloads for industries like remote work and education will lead to a large surge in app installs for the early part of 2020 and beyond, despite other decreases in downloads for ridesharing and fast food apps. However, the expected economic downturn resulting from COVID-19 will somewhat dampen revenue growth in the years ahead, the report found. Despite this, mobile app spending worldwide will continue to grow and will even double by 2024.

COVID-19’s impact on app stores’ revenue

Though COVID-19 is having an impact on the app stores’ revenue, growth remains strong.

Worldwide consumer spending in mobile apps is projected to reach $171 billion by 2024, which is more than double the $85 billion from 2019. This total, however, is about $3 billion (or 2%) less than the forecast the firm had released prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Still, it’s notable that even the slowest-growing regions on both app stores, Apple’s App Store and Google Play, will see revenue that’s over 80% higher than their 2019 levels by the year 2024.

The app stores will also hit several milestones during the next five years.

For starters, global spending in mobile apps will surpass $100 billion for the first time in 2020, growing at approximately 20% year-over-year to hit $102 billion.

Remarkably, the forecast also predicts that revenue from non-game mobile apps is expected to surpass that of mobile games for the first time by 2024, driven by the growth in subscriptions — particularly Entertainment, Social Networking, Music and Lifestyle app subscriptions.

By this time, mobile games will reach $97.8 billion, or around 41% of total consumer spending. The App Store will account for a sizable chunk of that spending, with ~$57 billion in mobile game revenue in 2024 versus Google Play’s ~$41 billion.

The App Store, not as surprisingly, will also maintain its sizable lead in consumer spending through 2024, accounting for 67% of total revenue across both it and Google Play. It will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 15.8% compared with Google Play’s 13.2%.

The top five countries by revenue will remain unchanged through 2024: China, U.S., Japan, Great Britain and Taiwan. China will continue to be a top market, despite regulations on app and game publishing, and will reach $35 billion in App Store spending alone by 2024.

COVID-19’s impact on downloads

In terms of app downloads, the forecast predicts a lasting lift from the impacts of COVID-19.

By 2024, downloads will reach 183.7 billion, up 9% from the earlier forecast that came out before COVID-19 that had initially accounted for 7 billion fewer installs.

Much of this download growth is happening this year, when first-time app downloads are poised to reach 140.3 billion, up 22% from 2019.

In addition to increases in non-game apps — like education, grocery delivery or remote work apps — mobile game downloads will grow 30% year-over-year in 2020 to reach 56.2 billion, compared with 10.4% growth between 2018 and 2019.

By 2024, mobile games will account for 41% of new installs, or 74.8 billion.

The early indication is that China will see a massive increase in downloads in 2020, particularly in the Games and Education categories. This follows a drop in downloads over the past few years, due to government regulatory practices, like the games licensing freeze.

The U.S. will see a similar spike in downloads this year, also due to COVID-19. For 2020, this will lead to a 27% year-over-year increase in downloads. But by 2021 and in the years that follow, growth will settle around 7% annually from 2021 to 2024 in this market.

During the forecast time frame, download growth will slow in India and Brazil, as the markets become more saturated, while growing in Latin America (up 58%) and Asian markets outside of China (up 82%).

Another notable milestone may take place in 2022, when the U.S. pulls ahead of China in terms of App Store downloads to reach number one. The U.S. has been narrowing the gap between the two in recent years, from 3.5 billion in 2017 to 1.1 billion in 2019. It will continue to close the gap during parts of 2020 and 2021, as well.

Other top countries for downloads in 2024, besides the U.S. and China, include Japan, Great Britain and Russia.

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Spotify has been slowly rolling out a redesigned mobile app in small sections — first with an update to podcast pages, then to other parts of the experience. Today, the company is revamping the most critical part of the Spotify app: the home screen. Now, when Spotify users launch the app, they’ll notice the new home screen greets them depending on what time of day it is with a “Good Morning,” “Good Afternoon” or “Good Evening,” for example. But the screen’s content and recommendations will also change with the time of day, Spotify says, and the content has also been better organized so you more easily jump back in or browse recommendations from the main page.

Before, Spotify’s home screen emphasized your listening history by putting at the top of the page things like your “Recently Played,” “Your Top Podcasts” and “Your Heavy Rotation.”

Effectively, the update separates the app’s home screen into two main parts: familiar content on top and new or recommended content on the bottom half.

Now, the home screen reserves six spots underneath the daily greeting where you can continue with things like the podcast you stream every morning, your workout playlist or the album you’ve been listening to on heavy rotation this week. This content will update as your day progresses to better match your activities and interests, based on prior behavior.

Beneath these six spots, the home page will display other things like your top podcasts, “made for you” playlists, recommendations for new discoveries based on your listening and more.

The concept for the new home screen is similar to what Pandora recently rolled out with its personalized “For You” tab late last year. Like Spotify, Pandora’s tab also customizes the content displayed based on the time of day, in addition to the day of the week and other predictions it can make about a customer’s mood or potential activity, based on prior listening data.

Pandora’s revamp led to double the number of users engaging with the personalized page, compared with the old Browse experience, it says. Spotify, too, is likely hoping to see a similar bump in usage and engagement, as users won’t have to dart around the app as much to find their favorite content or recommendations. That way, they’ll be able to start streaming more quickly after the app is launched, potentially leading to longer sessions and more discovery of new content.

Spotify to date has defined itself by its advanced personalization and recommendation technology, but its app hasn’t always been the easiest to use and navigate — especially in comparison to its top U.S. rival, Apple Music, which favors a simpler and cleaner look-and-feel. Its recent changes have tried to address this problem by making its various parts and pages easier to use.

Spotify says the updated home screen will roll out starting today to all global users with at least 30 days of listening history.

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After recently tweaking its design to better showcast podcasts, Spotify today announced it’s giving its entire mobile experience a refreshed look-and-feel. Starting initially with the iOS app, both Spotify Free and Premium users will notice the app has a more consistent, streamlined look, new in-app icons, changes to how cover art displays, and more.

The new app has a simpler, universal Shuffle Play button which now saves you a click by letting you tap once to start shuffling songs and playing them.

Action buttons used by Premium users, including “like,” “play,” and “download,” are now grouped in a row at the bottom-center of the screen instead of spread out around the interface, as before. The downloading button for Premium users has also been updated so it looks the same as the one used for downloading podcasts.

Not only does grouping actions make for a more intuitive experience, it also better lends itself to using Spotify with just one hand. That’s definately been more difficult to do in the past, as actions were on far sides of the screen or even buried away in the More menu at the top right — causing you to have to reach all the way around the screen with your (hopefully) long thumb or use the app two-handed.

The refreshed app is also easier to browse visually, as it’s now displaying a track’s cover art in all views — except, obviously, the album view. This way, when you’re scrolling through lists of songs, you won’t have to read every title — you can just scan the screen for the cover art instead. Plus, songs you’ve previously “liked” will show the heart icon next to the the track name as another visual clue.

Though the individual tweaks on their own are subtle, the overall goal is to make Spotify’s app easier to use. This is an area that Spotify has struggled with, to be fair. The app tends to be praised more so for its clever personalization technology and wide range of curated playlists — not its design. Some users switching over from Apple Music, which has a cleaner and brighter feel, find Spotify lacking.

Today’s changes may not address those problems. Spotify still loves its dark theme and its app is still busier than it needs to be — mainly because it’s had to cram podcasts into the same app as music, while Apple breaks them out separately. But the update makes the app a bit easier to use and navigate, which is particularly important when it expands to global markets where a simplified experience could be key to its adoption among first-time mobile users.

The changes are arriving starting today on iOS, but you may not see them until the rollout completes.

Spotify says the new look will be “coming soon” to Android users.

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During a trip to Shenzhen, China, in 2017, Danielle Baskin came down with mononucleosis, a virus that led her to stay home for several weeks upon returning to San Francisco.

Baskin, a voracious entrepreneur and artist who runs multiple businesses, spent a significant amount of time on the phone while avoiding human contact during those weeks.

Baskin had already been working on a voice-chat system at the time to keep in touch with her self-employed and freelance friends who similarly spent hours at home each day. Max Hawkins, a nomadicartist and computer scientist, spoke with Baskin regularly during her time under self-quarantine.

As is often the case when faced with any problem, Baskin began thinking of ways in which technology could be utilized to improve her situation. Speaking with the Daily Dot, Baskin says thats when the idea for Stereo, a voice-chat app for people with mono, came about.

I wish I could talk on the phone to other people with mono and ask them what movies theyre watching and other stuff, Baskin recalled thinking. It would be nice to talk to them because I know were going through a similar experience together at this moment.

But Stereo never came to be, as other projects took precedent. A similar app did come to fruition in 2019, however, known as Dialup, a voice-based social network that connects friends over the phone at random times without revealing their actual phone numbers. Baskin says the app has traditionally been used to connect conferences, organizations, remote teams, and particular interest group.

But when the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak began, a light went off in Baskins head. What if people under coronavirus quarantine could speak to one another just like she had envisioned during her time with mono?

I remember that feeling of isolation and how getting phone calls would completely change my mood, Baskin said.

Talking to friends isnt the same as the daily social interactions many experience with strangers while getting groceries or a cup of coffee, though. Thats when QuarantineChat was born.

Based on Baskin and Hawkins voice-chat app Dialup, QuarantineChat simulates the serendipitous connections with strangers you would otherwise be missing while stuck inside.

We simulate the magic of having a surprise conversation with someone in publicsomething that is becoming increasingly rare during the times of a viral epidemic, a description on the apps website states.

Signing up is simple. Simply enter your phone number on the QuarantineChat website to receive a download link for Dialup. Once downloaded, users will automatically be enrolled in QuarantineChat. Conversations can be had entirely over WiFi or cellular data, meaning all calls are free.

When a random call does come in, users will see QuarantineChat Redial! on their caller ID. Upon answering, users will be automatically taken to the Dialup app to connect with a fellow QuaratineChat participant.

Whether the virus has affected you, or youre worried, or you live in the woodsyour phone might ring and connect you to another interesting person you should meet, the QuarantineChat site adds. COVID-19 is not a lighthearted matter, but we hope this project brings people moments of joy in an otherwise dark time.

Baskin says several dozen people have signed up so far, with the majority of users appearing to come from Iranian timezones. Irans Deputy Health Minister Alireza Rais announced on Monday that the country has seen 1,501 infections and 66 deaths due to the virus. On Tuesday, statistics from John Hopkins University noted 2,336 infections and 77 deaths.

The Daily Dot downloaded the app and received a phone call on Monday evening announcing that a random individual would soon be on the other line.

Welcome to QuarantineChat, a voice says, set to elevator-style jazz music. Were about to connect you to another person somewhere in the world to discuss anything thats on your mind. Please hold while we connect you.

The first caller, a woman from Los Angeles, was not quarantined but had similarly signed up for the app in the hopes of speaking to an individual affected by the coronavirus.

Although the app is designed only to connect you to one individual per session for the time being, Baskin connected the Daily Dot to another caller as well.

The second caller, Shahzad, a 32-year-old Pakistani man living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) city of Dubai, had not been infected by the coronavirus either but learned about the app while on Facebook.

The UAE has seen 21 confirmed cases of the coronavirus since the outbreak began. Shahzad described the situation in Dubai as relatively calm.

Dubai is not bad actually, Shahzad said. Theyre pretty active in controlling all these coughs that are going on and theyre pretty strict about it.

A third call attempted to connect over the app but failed, possibly due to the other partys poor internet connection.

Given that anyone can download the app, it remains uncertain if anyone who has signed up thus far is actually under quarantine or is merely curious about speaking to someone who is. Either way, given the apps focus, such calls can offer a unique perspective into how other countries citizens perceive the outbreak.

Baskin says another random call will be made in the coming days, once again connecting those who have signed up for the service.

This is not the first idea Baskin has had in the wake of the coronavirus. The artist is also in the process of designing respirator masks that have the wearers face printed on them. This would allow users to unlock their phones with facial recognition while staying safe in a dystopian world filled with wildfires, air pollution, and viral outbreaks.

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Apple is celebrating International Women’s Day with a full month of events across its retail stores, App Store and other platforms, including Apple TV, plus its Apple Books and Apple Podcasts applications. In March, Apple’s retail stores will host more than 5,000 “She Creates”-branded sessions as part of its “Today at Apple” event series focused on highlighting female leaders, artists, entrepreneurs and creators.

More than 100 sessions in select stores will be led by notable women, including co-chair of the Women’s March Linda Sarsour, as well as musicians Meghan Trainor and Victoria Monét and designer Carla Fernández. Two new sessions featuring the music of Alicia Keys are also now available, including a Music Lab where participants deconstruct her song “Underdog” and remix their own version with GarageBand.

In addition, a new Art Lab session called “Playful Portraits” will draw inspiration from three female artists from New York (artist Jade Purple Brown), Tokyo (illustrator Niky Roehreke) and Warsaw (illustrator Jula Borzucka). In these, participants will transform everyday photos into art using patterns, stickers and colors using the third-party Procreate app on iPad Pro.

Elsewhere across Apple’s platforms, the company will celebrate International Women’s Day with a variety of activities, including curated content on the App Store, Apple TV, Apple Podcasts, Apple Books and Apple Watch.

Notably, the U.S. App Store will feature an App of the Day and Game of the Day highlighting the work of female developers, designers and entrepreneurs every day during the month of March.

So far, Apple has featured titles like female-focused investing platform Ellevest, inspirational podcast network app Seneca Women and female-founded political donations tracker Goods Unite Us, for example. These are labeled with a “Women’s History Month” badge on the App Store’s Today tab. The App Store will also feature editorial content that celebrates women helping build apps and games.

On the Apple TV app, the company is offering an International Women’s Day round-up featuring collections that highlight women’s contributions to movies and TV, including “Bold New Voices,” “Women Directing Women,” “Rebellious Icons” and “Recent Watershed Moments in TV.” It’s also offering extended trials to Starz, BritBox, History Vault and Lifetime Movie Club, where customers can find female-focused shows and movies.

On the actual date of International Women’s Day, March 8, Apple will launch a curated collection of podcasts called “Changing the Narrative,” featuring women podcasters and shows.

Apple Books will showcase famous women’s favorite book picks, and Apple Watch users will be able to earn a special award and sticker set for Messages when they walk, run or wheelchair workout for 20 minutes or more on March 8.

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Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the Extra Crunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all.

The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads in 2019 and $120 billion in consumer spending in 2019, according to App Annie’s recently released “State of Mobile” annual report. People are now spending 3 hours and 40 minutes per day using apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus.

In this Extra Crunch series, we help you keep up with the latest news from the world of apps, delivered on a weekly basis.

This week, we look at YouTube TV’s decision to stop revenue-sharing with Apple, another mobile voting app with serious flaws, new Apple launches in coding and AR, Microsoft’s game-streaming service Project xCloud arrival on iOS and other notable app news and trends, including WhatsApp’s big 2 billion user milestone, and more.


YouTube TV fights back against Apple’s cut of in-app subscription revenue

This week, YouTube emailed customers subscribed to its YouTube TV service by way of Apple’s in-app purchases to let them know that this subscription offering will be discontinued starting on March 13, 2020. Current subscribers will have their subscription canceled automatically on their billing date after March 13, the letter said.

This is a pretty severe way for Google to end its subscription revenue-sharing with Apple, however. Most companies that decide to shut off in-app subscriptions still continue to honor those from existing subscribers — they just stop selling to new customers. In YouTube TV’s case, it’s actually ending its relationship with all its customers on Apple devices with the hope they’ll return and resubscribe. That’s quite a risk, given that YouTube TV is not the only streaming TV service out there, and customers getting their subscription canceled may take this opportunity to shop around. The timing is also poorly thought-out, given that YouTube TV just picked up new subs following Sony’s PlayStation Vue shutdown — and now it’s kicking them out.

The move makes Google the latest company to rebel against Apple’s 30% cut of all in-app payments (which drops to 15% in year two). A growing number of app publishers are refusing to share a cut of their revenue with Apple — even saying that Apple’s decision to charge this fee is anti-competitive. For example, Spotify believes Apple’s fee makes it more difficult to compete with Apple’s built-in music service, and has raised the issue repeatedly to regulators. Netflix also stopped paying the “Apple tax” over a year ago.

Mobile voting app Voatz, used by several states, was filled with security flaws

Above: Voatz, via The NYT

Last week, we looked at how a smartphone app meant to tabulate votes from the caucuses really screwed things up in Iowa. This week, MIT researchers took a look at mobile voting app Voatz, which has been used to tally votes for federal elections in parts of West Virginia, Oregon, Utah and Washington as part of various mobile voting pilot programs. The researchers found the app was riddled with security flaws that would let attackers monitor votes or even change ballots or block them without users’ knowledge. Attackers could also create a tainted paper trail, making a reliable audit impossible — despite Voatz’s promise of using blockchain technology to increase security. One security expert, speaking to VICE, called the app “sloppy” and filled with “elementary” mistakes.

Coming on the heels of the Iowa caucus mobile voting disaster, this latest news delivers another huge blow to the promise of mobile voting in the U.S.

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There are a dizzying number of apps promising to get you in shape even if you cant get to a gym. But can any of them keep our writers moving?


Price 15.49 a month.
What is it? A full-service experience from the Hollywood star Chris Hemsworth: not just workouts, but a complete meal planner with food for breakfast, lunch and dinner a daily guided meditation and a daily motivational article.
The experience I immediately regret declaring myself intermediate as the app launches into a punishing pilates workout. I am not very flexible at all, and it turns out that my baseline fitness leaves much to be desired in terms of core strength.
More frustrating is the fact that the various workouts are introduced as videos. Clearly, this is supposed to emulate a real pilates class, but when my phone tells me to lie face-down on the floor I can no longer see the screen. It is frustrating to have to repeatedly break out of the pose to check the next movement.
Worth a download? Only if you are single, enjoy cooking and are willing to hand control of your life to an app.


Price $14.99 (11.40) a month or $99.99 a year.
What is it? A cheery selection of audio workouts with curated tunes.
The experience Before I start, the app asks me my fitness level, how many times I work out a week, how many weeks a month, what days I work out on, what machines I have access to, and what equipment I have to hand. None of this stops it from absolutely destroying me with bodyweight exercises but it is the thought that counts.
The instructors are great, with the right level of enthusiasm (read: grating in any other context). I am glad to have clear verbal instructions for how to do the exercises, rather than wishing I could just read a list of workouts from my screen. Video walkthroughs, available before and after the workout, help clear up any lingering concerns about form.
Worth a download? If you want to get fit to the tune of 75 a year, this is the app to spend your money on. AH

Alex gets in the spirit. Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian


Price Free; coaching from $1 a day.
What is it? A bizarre mix of a mediocre workout app and personal trainer upselling.
The experience You get what you pay for, and as a result the free version of Fitocracy is odd. The main workout app lets you set a goal, then pick workouts from a list, but the presentation of the workouts is much simpler than its competitors: just a list of exercises and reps, which you check off as you go.
The problem is that much of the app is effectively broken, with visual artefacts graphical glitches all over the place. Digging in, the cause is clear: really, the app is a gateway to a coaching business, where you can spend anything from $1 to $250 a month on a one-on-one consultation with a personal trainer.
Worth a download? If you want free, there is better; if you want a coach, head to your local gym. AH


Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian

Price 17.49 a year.
What is it? A simple and direct approach to strength.
The experience A popular approach to learning to lift free weights, 5×5 involves doing five sets of five reps of heavy weights, with three different exercises, three times a week.
It demands precisely what it does and no more. You need a gym, a squat rack, a barbell and a bench. You dont need to memorise a list of different exercises, nor wonder which equipment you are going to need today, nor, really, think.
StrongLifts is the best introduction to this type of workout there is, providing basic coaching and tracking, as well as just enough motivation to get you to lift the next set. It is my personal favourite: in a year, I have gone from struggling with a 20kg bar to reliably squatting my own weight.
Worth a download? Yes, if you have access to a gym and dont know what to do when you are there. AH

Nike Training Club

Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian

Price Free; 13.49 a month for the premium version.
What is it? Slick branded workouts with a generous free offering.
The experience Nike Training Club, the workout sibling to
the more popular Nike Run Club, feels less human than its competitors. While the personal trainers are front and centre, they mostly exist as silent models demonstrating the best form for each exercise.
That may suit a certain type of self-motivated student. Less helpful, for me, is the approach to equipment. I feel as if Nike expects me to have an incredibly well-stocked home with multiple dumbbells, a skipping rope and a bench or make myself hugely unpopular at the gym by seizing six things at once. That said, most of the app is available for free a price you cant beat.
Worth a download? Yes, if free is the magic number. AH

Sweat: Kayla Itsines Fitness

Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian

Price 14.99 a month or 88 a year.
What is it? The chance to have your workout (for the home and gym) and diet plan organised by not only one Instagram influencer, but five inspired by everything from
powerlifting and muay thai to yoga.
The experienceKayla Itsines was one of the first internet exercise influencers. She rose to fame with the Bikini Body Guides, her series of fitness ebooks (the name hasnt aged well). Itsines still offers the BBG programme, but it now includes variations for different fitness levels. This feels like an app that could stay fresh for well over a year. I like that there are modifications for various exercises, that it is easy to sync to Spotify, and that it put so much emphasis on rest and rehabilitation to enhance healing.
The meal-planning features are disappointing, though. There is no option to swap suggested recipes, but as some of the suggestions are as unimaginative as egg and salad roll, I imagine quite a few people would want to.
Worth a download? Yes for the exercise, at least.


Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian

Price $9.99 a month or $59.99 a year.
What is it? It is all about exercise on Sworkit, and there is a hell of a lot of it. You can choose from a variety of plans or one-off workouts, customisable by time or focused on body parts (Sworkit is quite invested in firming bums).
The experience This has one of the best interfaces for exercising of the apps I tried. It works in landscape, counts you in before the next exercise starts and has a preview window to mentally prepare you for the next move. You can alter music within the exercise window and set how long you want to exercise for, with sessions beginning at five minutes. It also has a great voiceover feature: think of the sort of thing a gym instructor might say, such as keep your toes pointing outward. The app sends out push notifications to encourage you to exercise, but the upkeep of a plan does not depend on exercising every day. So, beginners can set their own pace.
I cant work out if the instructor figures on Sworkit are AI or humans, but either way I liked them. Sworkit has tried to make its instructors diverse there are men and women in a variety of sizes. It is a small thing, but I appreciate not always having to follow someone with the figure of a goddess.
Worth a download? Yes, especially for beginners. None of Sworkits sessions require equipment, so if you ever work out at home or while travelling, it cant be beaten. CK

Fit Body with Anna Victoria

Price $16.99 a month.
What is it? The Instagram influencer Anna Victoria rose to fame with her downloadable workout plans known as the FBGs (or Fit Body Guides) and pictures of smoothie bowls. Here, she brings together her fitness and food advice in one app, offering 12-week exercise and nutrition programmes, including a customisable meal planner.
The experience The app provides a series of 12-week plans to last you 60 weeks (for home or gym, for weight loss or sculpting etc), a forum for users, a journal to log notes and a healthy-meal planner, which aims to spoon-feed the user into eating well (the nutrition section generates your recipes and grocery list for the week as well as reminding you when to drink water).

Coco tries out the apps. Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian

I couldnt get to grip with all of this, but when I tried it out there were some excellent features a nutrition guide that is not just about calorie-counting (although the variety of the dishes may bore food lovers), plus educational videos (such as breathing dos and donts) to help newcomers to regular exercise. The downsides? The app doesnt work in landscape mode, so checking the demo during workouts is difficult. Also, workouts often require equipment. I am not convinced the app would work for total novices (push-ups in week one for a woman seems ambitious, not to mention the amount of vicious burpees), while scanning future weeks leaves me wondering if it might get boring.
Worth a download? Unless you are a fan of Victoria and her style, I cant see it delivering enough. CK


Price 1.78 a week for training; 2.66 including nutrional information.
What is it? Touted as a digital personal trainer, this app has a cultish fanbase thanks to its detailed personalised fitness plans.
The experience You can join in with the short but intense fitness challenges, or a variety of running, bodyweight or gym workouts. Users can opt for workouts anywhere between 10 and 25 minutes long, and can select sessions based on parts of the body. So far, so normal. But it is the Coach programme that stands out. The personal plans are created by algorithms that pool the data of users with similar stats to chart your journey. Key to this is regular logging; you will record your details when you first start (height, weight, general fitness level) and log after each workout, telling the app how tough you found it.

Freeletics Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian

Freeletics promises its workouts will be hard, but not so hard that you give up. It is the feedback moments that allow it to alter your plan accordingly, based on the behaviour of other users who had similar experiences. As with a real coach, there are plenty of demo videos and tutorials to guide you through, plus helpful nudges to drink water and sleep well. The Coach can even detect if you are overtraining. Freeletics also has a fairly busy meetup community, providing some of the social elements of exercise that can be lost when training at home. Plus, the exercises dont require any equipment
Worth a download? Absolutely, if you have some experience of exercising it could be a little overwhelming for a total newbie. CK

30 Day Fitness Challenge

Price Free; from 1.99 a week for the premium version.
What is it? A 30-day programme with levels from beginner to pro.
The experience Month-long challenges have become a staple of modern fitness. This app capitalises on the idea that people can do anything if it is in short bursts, hence the idea of daily sessions for 30 days.
Most of the challenges are focused on a specific area there is the flat belly challenge and the slim arms challenge but nearly all involve a full-body workout. The video tutorials are clear and there are 400 workouts in the library if you feel like doing something completely different outside of the challenge. The end result should be that your overall fitness is improved.
Worth a download? Absolutely 30-day challenges may not be for everyone, but, unlike many other apps, there is plenty to do for free. CK

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Who doesnt love Tubthumping, the 1997 hit from the British rock band Chumbawamba? The banger hit No. 6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 the year it was released and topped charts in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand. He gets knocked down! And then gets back up again! Youre never gonna keep him down!

OKso maybe it is kind of repetitive. And was once named on a list of the 20 most annoying songs by Rolling Stone. In other words, probably a song that you dont want to, say, hear over and over and over again while enjoying a night out with friends.

But that is precisely what one poor woman was subjected to during a girls night out, as Twitter user Henpecked Hal shared on Twitter this week.

My wife left me home alone with the kids to go out drinking with her friends, he wrote. A lesser man might whine and complain, but instead Im just playing Chumbawambas 1997 hit Tubthumping over and over and over. On the jukebox at their bar. Using the TouchTunes app.

True to his word, Hal shared a screenshot of the touchscreen appas well as a devious screenshot of a text message conversation with his wife in which he diabolically strung her along with clues from the Tubthumping lyrics until she figured out he was behind it.

Waitwtf, she responded. ARE YOU DOING THIS???

While Hals wife may not have enjoyed the prank, the rest of the internet applauded his wherewithalquite literally, in a few instances.