Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative

A $100M commitment.

“Beginning in the United States and expanding globally overtime, the Initiative will challenge the systemic barriers to opportunity and dignity that exists for communities of colour, and particularly for the Black community, with special focus on issues of education, economic equality, and criminal justice reform.“

Tim Cook — Apple CEO.

Apple Music in Support of #BlackLivesMatter

Apple Music Black Lives Matters

One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain. So hit me with music, hit me with music now.

Bob Marley & The Wailers — Trenchtown Rock.

Nothing heals my heart and mind as much as music does, so naturally, as I occasionally do when I wake up, I launched Apple Music on Tuesday morning to play some tunes as I get ready for the day.

I appreciated seeing my music streaming service of choice, joining other services in the music industry using their respective platforms to stand in solidarity to raise awareness and speak up against injustices, given the protests against police brutality towards Black people in the United States.

For the first time since the launch of Beats 1 Radio on Apple Music, I tuned in to listen and left the station playing the whole day1. The shows were paused, but the music played on, uprooting a selection of uplifting tracks from a variety of artists that use their voices and influence to highlight, educate, and provide a sense of understanding around issues affecting Black communities and the culture.

Two tracks I’ve discovered that uplifted me:

Music has long been used as a communication tool to spread messages. At times like these, it’s great to witness platforms in the music industry that can reach a wider global audience standing in support of the Black voices that are helping educate, shape, elevate, and celebrate the culture.


  1. I seldom listen to Radio stations anymore. I generally listen to my playlists and Apple Music curated playlists.

Keyboard Brightness Control on iPadOS

Felipe Esposito, 9to5Mac:

9to5Mac has found references in iPadOS 13.5.5 beta code that points to new keyboard shortcuts that replace some of the function keys.

We’ve found evidence in code that suggests the existence of new keyboard shortcuts to change the brightness of the iPad screen or even the backlight of the keyboard.

Shortly after updating to iPadOS 13.5.5 Beta, I noticed the brightness keys on the function row of the standalone Magic Keyboard I currently use with my iPad Pro no longer function, so perhaps this lends credence to 9to5Mac’s findings.

Some functionalities get nuked only to make a return later during beta periods, so I’m I hoping this Magic Keyboard change is temporary as Apple implements the shortcuts to adjust the screen, and possibly keyboard brightness for the Magic Keyboard for iPad. The media keys on the standalone Magic Keyboard are operating as usual, though.

Nine Years of Siri

Nick Heer, Pixel Envy:

Given its age, inconsistency, slow response times, and unreliability, there is little doubt in my mind that Siri is one of modern Apple’s greatest software failures. I do not understand how, after a decade of development, it still struggles with fundamental expectations.

My confidence in Siri waned over the past few years, and the above quote sums up my sentiments exactly. It’s not a feature I use with any verve, anymore, though I keep persisting.

Cosmicast 2: A Podcast Player Devoid of Complexity

Cosmicast, a podcast player released a couple of years ago and recently redesigned from the ground up, is set to disrupt the two-horse race currently led by Overcast and Pocket Casts as the two coveted full-featured third-party podcast players on the App Store by offering on par features, platform access and unique design-centric delights.

Interface & Interactions

Cosmicast 2

One of the traits that help differentiate and establish uniqueness in Cosmicast is the bold approach to its design by semi-adopting the foregone skeuomorphic1 look and feel with the use of an animated spinning turntable on the player interface. Reminiscent of the tape deck found in the native Podcast app in iOS 6, it is sure to evoke nostalgic feelings. I’d love to see a selection of different record players and audio speakers like a gramophone, for example.

In keeping with today’s design standards, however, Cosmicast offers a single streamlined interface with gestures2 to access primary functions on the same interface directly. Accessing other core options can be done via an ellipses and settings button, which, understandably, takes your attention away from the current task on the single interface.

But with the use of gestures, simple button taps to reveal focused and straightforward modal windows, navigating and interacting with elements on the app is devoid of complexity even when swaying away from the current task. A simple dismissal of the modal window transports the user right back to their suspended state before entering the modal context. Such an approach eradicates complexity and makes me wish more apps consider adopting this approach to reduce navigational fatigue.

The app features playful interactions with the turntable, after all, what’s a turntable without the ability to scratch it. Users can scratch back and forth on the turntable to skip forwards and backwards, tap and hold to reveal episode details, chapters and all episodes from the current playing podcast episode.

Along with the spinning vinyl, the design aspect of Cosmicast is a real delight, even more so on the iPad, where I usually set my display auto-lock to never. I’d love to see a setting option to keep the screen awake while Cosmicast is active so that I can enjoy the delightful display of the spinning turntable when I’m not actively using the iPad.

Features and Discovery

Cosmicast

Feature parity is paramount if you want your app to stand a chance of being regarded as one of the best in its category. Cosmicast offers a lot of the existing core features found in some of the renowned podcast players on the App Store. In terms of appearance, the app supports Dark Mode with a selection of tint colours to alter the theme to your taste, along with a wide range of app icons.

Discovery is essential on media platforms. Cosmicast features a built-in directory that enables users to browse an extensive list of categories and topics regionally which automatically populates a list the most popular shows for your chosen region under the Popular tab.

Platforms and Pricing

Cosmicast is available as a universal purchase which gives you access across all platforms: iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS, and CarPlay support.

Following the revamp, Cosmicast started life again on the App Store with a single upfront one-off payment of £8/$10. The app has since switched to a subscription model due to needing ongoing funds for the continued development of Cosmicast. Users can opt for a monthly, yearly sub or a one-off lifetime payment of £23/$29. I find the subscription pricing reasonable, giving the list of feature parity and platform access.

Conclusion

In all my years using podcast players on iOS, from Instacast to Downcast, to the currently available selections leading the way, it is refreshing to see another new worthy contender in this category. I can firmly say Cosmicast belongs in the upper echelon of podcast players on the App Store.


  1. Some say it resembles the more modern Neumorphic design, you decide!
  2. A list of all the available gestures can be found and activated in Settings.

Apple 2020 Second Quarter Results

Apple Newsroom:

Total Revenue Grows, Services Revenue Reaches New All-Time High of $13.3 Billion.

Cupertino, California — April 30, 2020 — Apple today announced financial results for its fiscal 2020 second quarter ended March 28, 2020. The Company posted quarterly revenue of $58.3 billion, an increase of 1 percent from the year-ago quarter, and quarterly earnings per diluted share of $2.55, up 4 percent. International sales accounted for 62 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

Apple Gear Setup Challenge

Chris Wilson, started a fun little exercise after coming across a YouTube video about the Ultimate Apple Setup for $1000 and wondered about other price points. The budget spans across four different price points: £500, £1000, £2500 and £5000.

Andy Nicolaides published his picks on The Dent and proceeded to challenge a selected few.

Rules (Set by Chris):

  • You cannot use any other items, if you have a Mac Pro lying around your home, I don’t care.
  • The prices are based off Apple’s website.

I’m approaching this challenge with what I will buy for my needs given the specific budgets, rather than a recommendation based on the best bang for your buck.

Edit: ‪For each category, I looked at it as if I had no devices at all, starting fresh with the respective budget at hand. What would I buy? I’ll always get an iPhone first, it’s the affordable device that does pretty much ‘everything’!‬

Note: All products at the time of this publication are at Apple prices bought from the Apple Store.

£500 Price Point

  • iPhone SE (2020) 64GB - £419
  • iPhone SE Leather Case - £45
  • Apple 12W USB Power Adapter - £19
  • Belkin Anti-Glare Screen Protector - £14.95

Total: £497.95


£1000 Price point

  • iPhone SE (2020) 64GB - £419
  • iPad 7th gen 32GB (Wi-Fi Model) - £349
  • Smart Cover for iPad - £55
  • AirPods 2.0 (Non-Wireless) - £159

Total: £982


£2,500 Price Point

  • iPhone 11 Pro 256GB - £1,199
  • iPad Pro (2020) 12.9-inch 128GB (Wi-Fi Model) - £969
  • Smart Keyboard Folio - £199
  • Magic Trackpad 2 - £129

Total: £2496


£5000 Price Point

  • iPhone 11 Pro Max 256GB - £1,299
  • iPad Pro (2020) 12.9-inch 256GB (Wi-Fi Only) - £1,069
  • Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro - £349
  • Apple Pencil 2nd Gen - £119
  • Apple Watch Series 5 GPS (44mm) - £429
  • AirPods Pro - £249
  • HomePod - £279
  • Apple TV 4K 32GB- £179
  • LG UltraFine 4K Monitor - £629
  • Magic Keyboard (Stand-alone) - £99
  • Magic Trackpad 2 - £129

Total: £4,829

Take away the LG UltraFine 4K monitor, switch the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro to the Smart Keyboard Folio, the same for Apple Watch with the Series 4, throw in a 2018 12.9-inch iPad Pro instead of the 2020 model and you have my current ecosystem configuration of Apple products.

Why No Function Keys?

Matt Birchler, BirchTree:

Well, because there simply isn’t room…with this design, at least. See, even with what’s there now, my fingers get dangerously close to hitting the keyboard when it’s leaned back as far as it will go. Another row would technically be accessible, but it would be somewhere between uncomfortable and unreachable.

Matt has a good point regarding possible hindrances an extra row of keys on the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro would present. I don’t think they will be unreachable, just inconvenient and uncomfortable given the limited space between the base of the iPad and the keyboard depending on which one of the near-infinite angles of the iPad you have it on.

My initial thought was to make the Function keys half the size of the standard keys, perhaps, the same size as the inverted-T arrow keys. That still wouldn’t take away the issue at hand let alone other unseen possible technical challenges that may lie underneath. Lowering the keyboard set wouldn’t do any good for what is already a ‘tiny’ trackpad, either. Compromises had to be made.

Whatever the case, the Magic Keyboard is here, and it is what is it is. Like many ‘first’ Apple products, iterations will happen over time. That full no-compromise keyboard layout will find its way onto the iPad Pro, someday.

Reservations about the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro

Looking at the product shots the moment after Apple announced the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro, I instantaneously had reservations that needed addressing before I splash out for one.

Firstly, and more importantly, my use case: The question was not will it fit in my current workflow but rather, how much will I use this new iPad accessory. The Magic Keyboard for iPad with its cantilever design somehow had me envisaging desktop as the more practical use case, which doesn’t bode well with my current configuration needs that require a certain level of elevation.

As I mentioned in my iPad Pro desk setup entry:

Using the iPad with the Smart Keyboard attached in a desktop environment peering down on the screen for prolonged periods started to cause a little bit of pain at the back of my neck and shoulders (I’m 6’4”). I decided to nip things in the bud and reconfigure my setup into a more ergonomic structure to avoid pain in the long run.

My use of the Smart Keyboard Folio reduced significantly in favour of an iPad stand with an external keyboard and trackpad. I currently have the iPad stand sitting on the iPad Pro box to elevate it even higher while I continue to shop around for a decent desk monitor riser. The Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro, although slightly taller in profile when compared to the iPad Pro in a Smart Keyboard Folio, still won’t meet the height adjustments my current setup affords me. This shortcoming rules out the use of it on my desk on a prolonged basis, which begs the question whether there is any immediate need upgrading to the Magic Keyboard for iPad given I currently spend 95% of my iPad use on a desk, which is my preferred environment.

Secondly, the cantilever design with the iPad overhang close to the keyboard: How will it affect typing when reaching out for the top row keys? Was this an oversight or did Apple expect that everyone will be able to manoeuvre their fingers in and out of that gap like the nimble hummingbird in the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro Ad1, without consistently hitting the bottom of the iPad? Of course, this will be subject to the size of one’s fingers and how you type. It is why I’m hoping it won’t be an issue for me, and if it is, I hope I will be able to adapt over time.

Thirdly, the lack of Function keys on the Magic Keyboard for iPad; I have grown attached to and depend on using the brightness, volume and media keys on the external Magic Keyboard — designed for Mac but compatible with the iPad Pro. There’s always some form of media playing in the background when I’m at my desk. Being able to easily alter the state of these functions without having to reach for the iPad adds to the convenience of my setup. And it is a convenience I do not wish to lose. I do not want to be in a situation where I have to do this!

Granted, none of the above reservations is a deal-breaker for me, and I’ll even admit to developing a certain level of admiration for it even before getting my hands on one — Apple products in these modern times tend to have this effect. Right now though, as of writing this, I don’t need the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro, but I want it, and I’m sure I’ll be picking it up at some point down the line. Glad to see people that need it now and got their hands on one enjoying the delights it presents.


  1. My favourite Apple product Ad. Ever!

The 2020 iPhone SE

Apple Newsroom:

Apple today announced the second-generation iPhone SE, a powerful new iPhone featuring a 4.7-inch Retina HD display, paired with Touch ID for industry-leading security. iPhone SE comes in a compact design, reinvented from the inside out, and is the most affordable iPhone. The new iPhone SE is powered by the Apple-designed A13 Bionic, the fastest chip in a smartphone, to handle the most demanding tasks. iPhone SE also features the best single-camera system ever in an iPhone, which unlocks the benefits of computational photography including Portrait mode, and is designed to withstand the elements with dust and water resistance.

The second-generation iPhone SE, a hybrid: iPhone 8 chassis, iPhone XR camera optics, iPhone 11 internals. Original 2016 iPhone SE starting price point but, with bigger storage.

The smartphone industry has a seen a meteoric rise in the ’budget’ smartphone sector over the past few years with manufacturers continuing to cement their presence on that end of the spectrum.

Apple, with all intensive purposes, has come out with a smartphone so purposefully designed and priced. The budget-friendly user demographic be they the average consumer, or the tech nerd that prefers, and held onto their home button adorned iPhones while waiting for an upgrade with today’s advanced features will have a hard time not upgrading. The iPhone SE is the upgrade they’ve been waiting on. And I suspect it will have the same success as the original iPhone SE did.

“iPhone 11 Pro called. It wants its chip back.”

While catering to the above mentioned demographic, Apple seemed to have also deliberately drawn a line for Android handsets in the same budget-friendly category with the addition of the fastest chip found on any smartphone1 — the propriety A13 Bionic chip which currently operates on the flagship iPhone 11 series. Coupled with other notable improved features, Apple is also targeting another demographic; Android users on a budget wanting to switch to iOS. Granted, most users from this category may not care much about processors. Still, the rest of the iPhone SE feature set it is undoubtedly enticing, especially when you factor in timely software updates for the next two to four years, given most users’ reluctance to upgrade.

Other notable upgrade benefits:

  • One year free Apple TV+ subscription.
  • iPhone SE AppleCare+ from £79.
  • Every iPhone SE (PRODUCT)RED purchase contributes directly to the Global Fund to combat COVID-19.

The fact that the starting price point remains the same as the original iPhone SE released four years ago but with improvements on every aspect of the phone — hardware and software — is quite astonishing.


  1. The cheapest iPhone in Apple’s portfolio has a more powerful processor than most sub £800+ Android Flagships.

Enhance Apple Watch Complications with Watchsmith

Introducing Watchsmith - David Smith:

Watchsmith is an application that seeks to give you complete control over the appearance and utility of your Apple Watch.

First, it provides a wide array of complications. Each of these is completely customizable, with controls for things like font, color, hand type and location. The initial set is just over 50 unique complications, with dozens more planned down the road. My goal is to provide a complication for just about every use and let you make it look just how you want. In the absence of 3rd-party watch faces, this is the closest I can get to making my own watch faces.

Second, rather than simply providing a static display of the complication you configure, Watchsmith lets you dynamically schedule the complications to appear on your watch face. This is done using time based triggers (with plans for additional trigger types down the road).

In a world where Apple Watch third-party Watch Faces are non-existent, it is refreshing to see a Dev pushing the envelope of what is possible to modify existing functionalities available on the Watch Face in such an astounding way. Such capabilities give users some semblance of Watch Face customisation they so desire. For those that like to have more granular control over the customisation of their Apple Watch complications, Watchsmith is here to fulfil that desire with 96,605 permutations of complication styles and settings1.

My favourite feature in Watchsmith is the ability to schedule complications.

The Apple Watch is perhaps the mobile device I spend the least amount of time tweaking after the initial setup of Watch Faces and complications I needed. I use the Infograph Modular Watch Face — one of the faces that allow for more complications to be displayed — which shows my upcoming Reminder task in the middle to keep me on track when I have a lot of essential tasks to complete while I’m at work.

Outside of work, I have two California Watch Faces configured; one with a light background and one with a dark background with the date on the top sub-dial, and one of the weather complications on the bottom sub-dial. I have the same background setup for the Meridian Watch Face but with a few more complications — these are my two favourite Watch Faces. I use the Numerals Duo Watch Face with the cocoa colour palette for all occasions where I don’t need to see any info other than just the time.

The Apple Watch is great to have as part of my ecosystem of Apple devices, and I enjoy wearing it daily, but it doesn’t play a pivotal role in my setups like the iPhone and iPad at this point, which puts my need for such a tool at a low priority. I may take another look at Watchsmith at some point down the road, provided I have a severe need for such extended capabilities and Apple hasn’t added similar functionality on the Apple Watch. For now, I’m keeping it minimal and simple.


  1. Watchsmith is free to download. Some complications are locked with a Premium membership subscription of £1.99/month or £19.49/year.

LumaFusion Video Editing Tutorials

Doing work on the iPad is a hotly debated topic, subjective and objective, depending on what your work is, of course. When it comes to video and audio media productions, some YouTubers, filmmakers, and podcasters, for example, are performing all work involved with their creative media processes using just the iPad, from start to finish, with professionally-looking results.

Chris Wilmshurst, a videographer, has put together a few LumaFuison tutorials (with more to come) aiming to help you learn and utilise some of the primary and more advanced features in LumaFusion. The tutorials are very well put together, easy to follow along and digest. Videographers and filmmakers will benefit from these tutorials.

LumaFusion by LumaTouch is one of the more popular and preferred pro video editing and effects app available on iOS that provides a robust set of features that in many respects rivals some of the more common counterparts found on traditional PC’s.

The 11-inch iPad Pro

Josh Ginter, The Sweet Setup:

Apple’s 11-inch iPad Pro is, quite simply, a joy to pick up and hold. It’s wonderfully light and the edges are rounded off and soft, making for a great couch and lounge chair device. This, and the narrower aspect ratio, combine to make the 11-inch iPad Pro the ultimate device for watching movies, reading books, and browsing the web — all the tasks Mr. Jobs proudly pounded into our shimmering eyeballs back in 2010.

Somehow, I think this 11-inch iPad Pro is the exact device he envisioned all along.

My dedicated use for the iPad Pro has always been for desktop use, primarily, hence why I have forever gone for the 12.9-inch model since the iPad Pro debuted in 2015. I have, however, over the years, pottered around with the idea of switching to the smaller 11-inch iPad Pro which offers more ergonomic flexibility for tasks — like Josh described — that doesn’t involve the constant use of an external keyboard so that I can utilise the iPad more in those environments. But somehow, using the 12.9-inch iPad Pro in a traditional desk setup environment instils a discipline of concentration and energy in me.

Using the iPad this way deviates from the intended inception of the iPad as a touch-first device, I know! It is why I still keep a folio case around for moments I want to battle the lackadaisical feeling of lounging with the bigger, heftier iPad — which also helps maintain the familiarity of the software keyboard and use of touch to interact with the iPad.

Using the folio case to prop up the iPad makes it easier to deal with the cumbersome size and reduces the awkward nature of wielding the 12.9-inch iPad. Still, it sure doesn’t come close to the comfortability the 11-inch iPad Pro offers when casually using the iPad.

Third-party Cookies now Fully Blocked by Default on Safari

John Wilander, Webkit Blog:

Cookies for cross-site resources are now blocked by default across the board. This is a significant improvement for privacy since it removes any sense of exceptions or “a little bit of cross-site tracking is allowed.”

Safari continues to pave the way for privacy on the web, this time as the first mainstream browser to fully block third-party cookies by default. As far as we know, only the Tor Browser has featured full third-party cookie blocking by default before Safari…

Jasper Patterson, 1Password Blog:

Starting in Safari 13.1 for Mac and iOS 13.4, there are some additional changes to Intelligent Tracking Prevention. Information a website stores in local storage will now be erased if you don’t visit that website at least once every 7 days. This affects full-featured web apps like 1Password that use local storage for legitimate purposes. For example, 1Password stores your Secret Key in local storage. If your Secret Key is removed from Safari and you don’t have it stored anywhere else, you won’t be able to access your account.

The 2020 iPad Pro

Mike Rockwell, Initial Charge:

But I can say with certainty that the iPad Pro is an excellent computer. It’s the most powerful I’ve ever owned and runs the most exciting operating system on the planet alongside my favorite applications.

I’m still using my 2018 12.9-inch iPad Pro and won’t be upgrading to the 2020 model, but this sums up my exact sentiments towards the iPad Pro, even at near two years old.

Ulysses Writing and Text Editor App

In celebrating the iPads upcoming tenth anniversary since launch, the MacStories team is having a week-long write-up covering various aspects of the iPads ten-year history. Three articles have been published so far including one where the team ‘explore the most impactful iPad apps of the decade’.

One of the apps featured in that article is the writing and text editor Ulysses, where Ryan Christoffel wrote:

Ulysses offers a unique twist on Markdown editing, offering full Markdown support but opting to hide certain syntax – most notably URLs – behind visual content blocks. This approach isn’t for everyone, but I absolutely love it. I have a hard time using traditional Markdown editors now because I’ve grown so spoiled by the way Ulysses hides links, displays image previews automatically, and by some of its other design choices. The editing interface is clean, minimal, and enables customization of key details like font, font size, and text spacing. When you write for a living, the last thing you want to do is stare at a displeasing editor design, so this is very important.

Another strength of Ulysses is its top-notch export features, several of which I use all the time. Exporting to PDF provides an array of beautiful style options, more of which can be downloaded online or even customized yourself on the Mac. I also export to plain text Markdown regularly so I can save my drafts in Working Copy when collaborating with Federico and John. The most crucial export option for me, however, is WordPress publishing. This feature works flawlessly, offering access to all the tools you’d want such as tags and categories, and it’s something you just won’t find in practically any other Markdown editor.

There is no shortage of excellent text editors on iOS and iPadOS, thankfully. I have dabbled with some, and used some extensively: Bear, iA Writer, and Ulysses, with each offering their unique interfaces and feature-sets. Ulysses has been the text editor I used the most and Ryan has outlined all the reasons why I stuck with it in the quote above.

Although I don’t write for a living, I certainly enjoy writing Chambyte and in doing so, seek out the best tools for the job that fits my use-case and preference. For now1, Ulysses is the text editor that ticks all the boxes for me, especially when it comes to the way it handles linked URL’s in a visual content block as you write, which helps maintain a clutter-free interface. I too, love this feature amongst many of its comprehensive list of features it has to offer.


  1. I took advantage of Ulysses’ 50% Off Sale and subscribed for a year, which is due for renewal in August 2020. In my efforts to limit app subscriptions, I will decide whether to renew or use other apps like iA Writer that offer similar capabilities.

Apple Acquires Dark Sky Weather App with its API

Adam Grossman, Dark Sky Blog:

Today we have some important and exciting news to share: Dark Sky has joined Apple.

Our goal has always been to provide the world with the best weather information possible, to help as many people as we can stay dry and safe, and to do so in a way that respects your privacy.

There is no better place to accomplish these goals than at Apple. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to reach far more people, with far more impact, than we ever could alone.

Dark Sky Weather app to this day remains the longest third-party weather app I’ve used on iOS. What drew to me to Dark Sky was its rich collection of meteorological conditions and granular custom notifications that enables you to receive down-to-the-minute alerts on various weather change patterns. For example, users can set a custom notification as follows; notify me at 7 pm if the temperature falls below/rises above 10° at any time/during the day/overnight.

I’m excited about such functionalities coming to the native iOS Weather app which hasn’t seen any significant improvements since iOS 7. This is good news as I continue my shift to using native apps on iOS and iPadOS.

iPadOS Cursor Support with Magic Trackpad 2

Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad 2
Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad 2

I have used a Bluetooth mouse as a pointing device since iPadOS added compatibility through AssistiveTouch as part of the Accessibility features. I recently got the Magic Keyboard to complete the pairing for my desktop mode external pointing and typing input peripherals, and they both worked amazingly well. Using an adaptive accessory via AssistiveTouch to replicate touch was a taster to the possibilities of full mouse cursor support on iPadOS. iPad users like myself longed for full native cursor support and the interest kept growing over time. Apple took notice.

Steven Aquino:

It’s my understanding the development of the iPadOS 13 AssistiveTouch pointer feature was “handed off” internally, from the Accessibility group to the broader iOS team for more expansive integration. This is good—if anything, it shows Apple has noticed the AssisitiveTouch pointer feature has gained traction for “mainstream” users. To wit, iPad aficionados saw that you can use a mouse with an iPad and they pounced on it.

Many have tried imagining the direction and approach of how Apple will implement full native cursor support on the iPad. Most imagined outcomes limited to borrowing cues from macOS, because it is the platform that uses a traditional pointer, and also based on the belief of the two platforms expected convergence.

Apple has done a tremendous job rethinking cursor support with new enhanced ways of interacting with navigational and other UI elements along with new rich visual feedbacks that respects the touch-first environment of iPadOS. The implementation befits the current paradigms of a touch interface, which helps maintain familiarity. These new behaviours have breathed new life and much-needed excitement on iPadOS.

The new extensive cursor support redesigned specifically for the iPad is one of the most consciously designed feature additions the iPad has ever seen.

Magic Trackpad 2

During my initial trial of the new cursor support using the Logitech mouse, Immediately I knew I needed a compatible peripheral built to more precisely accommodate the native functions without the need for AssistiveTouch. For that, there’s currently no better than the Magic Trackpad 2.

Using gestures on Magic Trackpad 2 to interact with elements on iPadOS brought me close to the touch interactions I’m familiar with when using the iPad without external peripherals. This alone makes the Magic Trackpad 2 the best companion for the iPad in maintaining the interactive familiarity with the OS when in desktop mode. Whether or not I’ll get the upcoming Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro will depend on my in-store trial when it is released. For now, I am a Magic Trackpad convert happily joining the many iPad users it is delighting.

The compatibility of external peripherals such as keyboards, mouse and trackpads extends the iPads flexibility and gives more options to use the iPad in full desktop mode. iPad Pro stand, Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad 2 is now my default desk setup going forward. And I love it.

Fortune’s 100 Iconic Designs of Modern Times Features Eight Apple Products

Fortune Magazine is celebrating the 60th anniversary of putting together a project aimed at discovering and listing the 100 best-designed products of the ‘modern era’ by recreating the same survey in 2019. The survey, according to Fortune, took over a year to complete, again partnering with the IIT Institute of Design (ID) to compile the list of the top 100 iconic designs of this modern era.

Top of the list, is yours truly, the original Apple iPhone (2007):

“An iPod, a phone, an Internet communicator” was how the late Steve Jobs announced the iPhone to the world in 2007. At the time it was an impressive claim. Now it seems like a massive understatement for a device that changed how we live.

Followed by the Macintosh (1984) in second place:

Apple started the personal computer revolution with the Apple II, but the Macintosh defined the category.

“The Macintosh was not the first personal computer, nor was it the first one with a graphical user interface, but it was the first complete product that took all these ideas and more into a complete package. It became a computer one could understand and interact with using both language and vision, typing and drawing. It changed the way we relate to a computer.” — Johan Redstrom, professor, Umeå University.

The rest of the Apple products featured on the list are scattered but all remain in the top 65:

  • Original iPod (2001)
  • MacBook Pro (2006)
  • App Store (2008)
  • iOS (2007)
  • Apple Watch (2015)
  • Apple Pay (2014)

You can see the full list from the source below.

Source: Fortune

A Timeline of Apples Handling of COVID-19

The outspread of COVID-19 and the impact it is having on everyday life cannot be understated. Governments, Businesses, Health Organisation entities are doing what can be done in efforts to delay and hopefully halt the outspread, for the sake of humanity.

Below is an updated timeline of Apple’s efforts combating the outspread.

Updated with new developments…

FEB 17, 2020 — Investor update on quarterly guidance:

Our quarterly guidance issued on January 28, 2020 reflected the best information available at the time as well as our best estimates about the pace of return to work following the end of the extended Chinese New Year holiday on February 10. Work is starting to resume around the country, but we are experiencing a slower return to normal conditions than we had anticipated. As a result, we do not expect to meet the revenue guidance we provided for the March quarter due to two main factors.


MAR 13, 2020 — Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference 2020 kicks off in June with an all-new online format :

Cupertino, California — Apple today announced it will host its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Now in its 31st year, WWDC 2020 will take on an entirely new online format packed with content for consumers, press and developers alike. The online event will be an opportunity for millions of creative and innovative developers to get early access to the future of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS, and engage with Apple engineers as they work to build app experiences that enrich the lives of Apple customers around the globe.

Apple also announced it will commit $1 million to local San Jose organizations to offset associated revenue loss as a result of WWDC 2020’s new online format.


MAR 13, 2020 — Apple’s COVID-19 response:

Giving Back:

Apple’s committed donations to the global COVID-19 response — both to help treat those who are sick and to help lessen the economic and community impacts of the pandemic — today reached $15 million worldwide.

We’re also announcing that we are matching our employee donations two-to-one to support COVID-19 response efforts locally, nationally and internationally.

Offices and Stores:

We will be closing all of our retail stores outside of Greater China until March 27.

In all of our offices, we are moving to flexible work arrangements worldwide outside of Greater China.

All of our hourly workers will continue to receive pay in alignment with business as usual operations. We have expanded our leave policies to accommodate personal or family health circumstances created by COVID-19 — including recovering from an illness, caring for a sick loved one, mandatory quarantining, or childcare challenges due to school closures.


MAR 14, 2020 — Ensuring the Credibility of Health & Safety Information:

To help fulfill these expectations, we’re evaluating apps critically to ensure data sources are reputable and that developers presenting these apps are from recognized entities such as government organizations, health-focused NGOs, companies deeply credentialed in health issues, and medical or educational institutions. Only developers from one of these recognized entities should submit an app related to COVID-19. Entertainment or game apps with COVID-19 as their theme will not be allowed.


MAR 16, 2020 — Temporary Retail Store Closures FAQ:

Q: I want to return a product I recently purchased but the 14-day return period will end before March 28—what should I do?

A: Don’t worry. We’ll accept your return up to 14 days after we reopen.*

*Exclusions: Contracted iPhones (US, CA, JP, AU); Carrier financing (US only); Trade-in devices (value of device can be given in form of gift card)


APR 5, 2020 — Apple Sourced 20M Masks, Designing and Producing Face Shields for Medical Workers:

How to assemble the Apple designed Face Shield:


APR 7, 2020 — Apple Music Quietly Starts $50 Million COVID-19 Advance Fund for Indie Labels:

These are difficult times for the music industry globally. Livelihoods are at risk, with multiple sources of income that our industry relies on vanishing overnight. Apple has a deep, decades-long history with music, and we are proud to be in close partnership with the best labels and artists in the world. We want to help.

Today Apple Music is announcing the creation of a $50 million-plus fund available as advances on future royalties to independent labels, to help them pay artists and maintain operations.


APR 10, 2020 — Apple and Google Partner on COVID-19 Contact Tracing Technology:

Across the world, governments and health authorities are working together to find solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic, to protect people and get society back up and running. Software developers are contributing by crafting technical tools to help combat the virus and save lives. In this spirit of collaboration, Google and Apple are announcing a joint effort to enable the use of Bluetooth technology to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the virus, with user privacy and security central to the design.

Since COVID-19 can be transmitted through close proximity to affected individuals, public health officials have identified contact tracing as a valuable tool to help contain its spread.

[…]

All of us at Apple and Google believe there has never been a more important moment to work together to solve one of the world’s most pressing problems.

Privacy-Preserving Contact Tracing.


APR 14, 2020 — Apple makes Mobility Data Available to aid COVID-19 Efforts:

Apple today released a mobility data trends tool from Apple Maps to support the impactful work happening around the globe to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This mobility data may provide helpful insights to local governments and health authorities and may also be used as a foundation for new public policies by showing the change in volume of people driving, walking or taking public transit in their communities.

Apple Maps Mobility Trends Reports.


MAY 7, 2020 — Apple Awards $10M from Advanced Manufacturing Fund to COPAN Diagnostics:

Apple today announced it is awarding $10 million from its Advanced Manufacturing Fund to COPAN Diagnostics, a market leader in sample collection kits that play a critical role in COVID-19 testing. This funding will allow COPAN Diagnostics to rapidly accelerate their supply of sample collection kits for hospitals across the United States, expanding production from several thousand today to more than one million kits per week by early July.


WWDC 2020 ‘All-new Online Format’

Apple Newsroom:

“We are delivering WWDC 2020 this June in an innovative way to millions of developers around the world, bringing the entire developer community together with a new experience,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “The current health situation has required that we create a new WWDC 2020 format that delivers a full program with an online keynote and sessions, offering a great learning experience for our entire developer community, all around the world. We will be sharing all of the details in the weeks ahead.”

As expected, Apple joins the ever-expanding number of tech companies cancelling planned live interpersonal events this year. The current measures put in place to combat the spread of COVID–19 of the novel Coronavirus outbreak inevitably made holding its annual Worldwide Developer Conference in its usual standard format an impossibility.

Giving the vagueness of the announcement with more details to be revealed in the ‘weeks ahead’, seems to me work on the new format is still an on-going process. I’m intrigued to learn more about how exactly Apple will present this ‘all-new online format’, and how it will compare to the efficacy of their live in-person events. The success of this ‘all-new online format’ will no doubt fuel the discussion on the necessity of WWDC being a live event going forward.


Update: MAY 5, 2020 — Apple to host virtual Worldwide Developers Conference beginning June 22:

Apple today announced it will host its annual Worldwide Developers Conference virtually, beginning June 22, in the Apple Developer app and on the Apple Developer website for free for all developers. The company also announced the Swift Student Challenge, an opportunity for student developers to showcase their love of coding by creating their own Swift playground…

Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing:

WWDC20 will be our biggest yet, bringing together our global developer community of more than 23 million in an unprecedented way for a week in June to learn about the future of Apple platforms.

On the Rumoured iPad Full Cursor Support

The recent spate of rumours about upcoming Apple hardware and software features published by 9to5Mac have sparked and brought back a few conversations, especially regarding the iPad. One such rumour is the addition of a trackpad to the Smart Keyboard and rich system-wide mouse cursor support on the iPad.

Like clockwork, and as expected, echoes of the iPad losing its identity by extensively enhancing support to the Smart Keyboard and now full mouse cursor input can be heard all over Apple communities.

Jason Snell, Macworld:

The iPad will never stop being the iPad. That means it will never stop being a device that’s built from the ground up on touch interfaces, and that excels when you hold it in your hands. But it also means that it’s flexible enough to go beyond that base configuration, if and when you need it to. Bring it on.

The iPad is currently the more flexible device offering the best of both worlds. The Mac unable to provide the same flexibility (at this point), seems to have given reason for many die-hard Mac users who, for years, wished for the Mac to offer touch input to have a severe dislike towards the iPad gaining all these capabilities. It has always been a matter of when and not if Apple will ever provide full mouse cursor support on the iPad.

As I’m trying hard to contain my excitement from this rumour, I will, in the meantime, join Jason and shout it out loud — BRING. IT. ON!

NetNewsWire 5.0 for iOS Overview

NetNewsWire 5.0
NetNewsWire 5.0 on iPhone

The iOS App Store is not short of great RSS Readers. My current favourite RSS client is Reeder 4 by Silvio Rizzi — I love the elegance, simplicity, and the number of RSS services it can connect to should I ever part ways with Feedly.1

Reeder 4 recently had issues with automatic background syncing with the Feedly service, which coincided with my time Beta testing NetNewsWire for iOS — the highly popular and respected open-source RSS Reader for Mac under development for iOS. As I patiently waited for Reeder 4 to sort out its sync issues, I switched to using NetNewsWire on my iOS devices and loved it. It boasts the same simplicity I found in Reeder 4 but even faster when it comes to fetching and updating feeds.

NetNewsWire is not littered with complicated features as it prioritises speed and reliability to provide an app free of unruly bugs that weakens the experience. The app currently offers Feedbin and Feedly RSS account sources and feeds saved locally on your iOS device. It provides the expected staple features you come to expect in RSS clients on iOS; timeline feed sorting, article and layout options, subscription OPML import and export options.

NetNewsWire values quality over a plethora of ‘Power Features’, which bodes well for the minimalist that wants to launch the app and consume content in the purest form with excellent readability. Such simplicity makes for a compelling reason to give NetNewsWire a good try and see how it fits your use case.

NetNewsWire 5.0 is free to download on the iOS App Store.


  1. Currently on Feedbins 14-day free trial as I explore using RSS clients to consume Newsletters. ↩︎

Automating Siri Loudness on the HomePod

Following Apple’s suspension of Siri data analysis by contractors and introducing changes to Siri Data Protection, I opted in to help Siri improve by learning from the audio sample requests.

I would’ve turned off the Listen for “Hey Siri” setting on the HomePod otherwise due to the crazy amount of accidental wake up triggers whenever Siri thinks it heard anything relatively close to the “Hey Siri” command. The response loudness can be quite startling and disturbs the peace, especially at night if the HomePod was left on a loud volume before entering a Paused state.

The only accessory I currently have in the Home app is the HomePod. Once set up, I created an Automation for ‘When Anyone Leaves Home’ which uses the iPhones geolocation capabilities to detect when away from home and puts the HomePod into a Paused Audio state. I never gave the Home app much attention after that initial setup apart from launching it to update the HomePods software. Thus, I never thoroughly familiarised myself with all the Automation options it offered; one of which is a way to set a Time of Day volume control that automatically reduces the HomePods volume, which also reduces how loud Siri responds.

HomePod on the Home App
Automation on the Home App

Matthew Cassinelli put together a guide on how to create a custom Automation from the Home app that adjusts the HomePods volume based on Time of Day. This guide came in very handy, and I have now spent some time familiarising myself even more with the Home app and setting up a few Automations and Scenes.

‘Do Not Disturb’ is a default setting on iOS which silences calls and notifications when a user triggers the option or activated based on a schedule. The HomePod needs a similar feature in the HomePods settings rather than buried behind the Automation options. In the meantime, the above Automation guide is an adequate solution.

iPod Classic Kept Alive by Modders

Melanie Ehrenkranz, OneZero:

Apple may have discontinued the last of the click-wheel iPods years ago, but Pichi is part of a growing community of tinkerers giving the devices new life. It’s not just for nostalgia (though that’s part of it): iPod modders say they earnestly view the devices, with a few modern tweaks, as a superior way to listen to music. That this elite audio quality is packaged in a device that is also dear to their heart makes it even better.

It’s not just the sanctity of the sound or the lag-free listening experience that draws people to early iPods. It’s also that making modifications is, especially compared with working on modern Apple devices, fairly easy.

Fascinating to learn there’s a thriving community out there keeping the iPod Classic alive years after Apple discontinued them. Reading that piece evoked nostalgic feelings about my time with the iPod Classic and that click-wheel goodness. I truly loved that thing!

Source: 512Pixels via OneZero.