Siri Logo

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.

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Cosmicast 2 Podcast player

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.

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.

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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.

Magic Keyboard

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.

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iPhone SE 2020

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.

Watchsmith

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.

LumaFusion

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.

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