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 Black Lives Matters

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.

Magic Keyboard

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.