Apple launches Freeform: a powerful new app designed for creative collaboration

Ye releases MP3 Player designed to “challenge what an album can be”

American musician Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, and design technology company Kano have launched Stem Player, a pebble-shaped device that allows users to customise songs in the palm of their hand.

Stem Player lets users control the vocals, drums, bass and samples – the “stems” of a track – by swiping their fingers across the grooves of the device as they listen to music.

Stem Player lit up in red
Stem Player is an MP3 player that allows users to customise songs

“We wanted to create a living album that allows you to remix the songs, add effects and listen to the music differently each time you repeat use,” Bruno Schillinger, lead product designer at Kano, told Dezeen.

“It is a way to be a participant in the listening experience and it really challenges the idea of what an album can be.”

Stem Player connected to headphones
The Stem Player can be connected to headphones or speakers

The device gets its name from the music production term “stems” – individual sections that make up a song. Stem Player allows users to speed up or slow down different sections of a track, as well as reverse and loop parts of the song.

It also incorporates haptic feedback, as users slide their fingertips over the silicone-covered object and the lights flash in real-time to changes in the song.

A beige device connected to a Mac laptop
Users can download music onto the device and then remix the stems

The designers see this “return to primal interactions” as an antidote to popular MP3 players on the market, which are usually controlled by users tapping or scrolling on black screens.

“One thing that we set out to do from the beginning was to use very primary dots of light and colour to signify function,” explained Schillinger.

“The grooves in it – the channels that you slide your finger across – are supposed to be a little bit like meditation stones that you can stroke to make you feel calm,” he added.

A man putting a Stem Player into his pocket
The portable device can fit in pockets

With this brief in mind, the team set about creating something that could be intuitively used by children. The interface is designed so that it reveals itself as you watch it, with the stems pulsing to the data.

For example, you can watch the vocal stem move up and down as the artist speaks, and the speed of your loops is mirrored by the pace at which the lights move.

Users can listen to music directly from the MP3 player, which can also be connected to headphones and speakers using bluetooth or cable.

In their quest for simplicity Ye and Kano looked to nature for inspiration, which is why the Stem Player resembles a smooth pebble.

“Kanye has this mantra where nothing should have sharp edges and everything should be rounded as it is in nature,” explained Schillinger.

“As a result, we also looked beyond stones and pebbles and were really inspired by ancient artefacts.”

A hand holding a Stem Player against the sky
Users slide their fingers across the grooves and lights to alter tracks

Ye and Kano have been working together on the device since meeting at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2019 and believe that the Stem Player has the potential to revolutionise music in a similar way to the iPod.

“[It] lets you go from listening to music to creating and then you’re building new creations – but then at a press of a button, you go back to listening,” James Hicks, lead designer at Kano, told Dezeen.

“I think that way to move from consuming something to creating something in single seamless transition is something that doesn’t really exist anywhere else in music.”

A Stem Player on sand
The beige device looks similar to a round pebble

Playing it on the device will also be the only way people will be able to listen to Ye’s upcoming album Donda 2, in a move that Ye and Kano believe will give control back to the artist – especially when compared to releasing the album on a streaming site like Spotify.

This is Ye’s first music-playing device, but the musician is no stranger to product design. His previous projects include footwear line Yeezy and an ongoing partnership with high street retailer Gap.

Mac Studio designed with customer feedback & Pro Workflow team feedback in mind

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The Mac Studio and Studio Display were built with pros in mind, say Apple executives, because modularity, connectivity, and performance are what matter most.

Details about the development and design choices made for the Mac Studio were shared in an interview with three Apple executives. They are Xander Soren, Director of Product Marketing, Pro Apps, Tom Boger, Vice President of Mac & iPad Product Marketing, and Shelly Goldberg, Senior Director, Mac & iPad Product Design.

They spoke with about the Mac Studio and what it means for the next generation of creative pros. The interview touched on Apple Silicon, front-facing ports, and the new cooling system.

Boger said people care about performance, connectivity, and modularity. That’s why the Mac Studio has plenty of ports and is not integrated with the display.

“So the goal with Mac Studio was to give them a computer that can do it all,” said Boger. “Up until now, if you wanted the pinnacle of performance in the personal computer space, you had to buy a very big, noisy tower that sat on the floor under your desk. You’d accidentally kick it and It’s hard to get to the back of it if you need to get to the IO.”

The solution was cramming everything into a smaller desktop that could fit on your desk. He stated that competitive desktop towers can be up to 17 times larger than the Mac Studio.

The Studio Display was created to compliment the Mac Studio, so Apple gave customers what they’d been asking for — the 27-inch iMac 5K panel in a reasonably priced monitor.

Apple says there are over 2000 holes in the Mac Studio enclosure

Apple says there are over 2000 holes in the Mac Studio enclosure

When discussing thermal considerations, Goldberg described the new system for cooling. The holes drilled into the enclosure required Apple to develop a special-purpose machine. It drills them at about three holes per second.

The two fans were developed specifically for the enclosure as well. Goldberg said the impeller is divided vertically, so they can tune the pitch of the blades on the impeller separately for the top and bottom section. That means more control over acoustics, airflow, and thermal performance.

“That’s something that we’ve never done before and it’s kind of an evolution in our understanding of blower design,” said Goldberg. “So it’s really exciting to bring that to the Mac Studio. You have this amazing power density in a product that is small enough to sit on your desk.”

The executives describe the process of building their computers as symbiotic. The silicon and case are designed in tandem, one giving feedback to the other rather than building a case after the fact or vice versa.

Apple also listens to its customers and experts, Boger responded when asked about outside input. Not only is the pro workflow team still providing insider feedback, but Apple also reaches out to developers about specific issues and reads customer feedback on forums and websites.

The interview concludes with commentary about the high-end performance and Apple’s goals. The executives repeat Apple’s usual talking points, like “Our goal at Apple has never been to sell the most products. It’s been to sell the best products.”

User-facing ports makes the experience better for customers

User-facing ports makes the experience better for customers

Soren did offer some insight into pro software like Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro. The M1 Ultra accelerates workflows like those found in Apple’s pro apps, and that may be drawing some users back from Windows.

“We’re happy to say that the trends for Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro are up and to the right,” said Soren. “We’ve had more customers than ever before and back to back years of record sales.”

This was attributed to multiple factors including extending the free trial for Final Cut Pro to 90 days and adding a trial to Logic. Also, the pandemic gave people more time to experiment with workflows and software, so more people sought out Apple’s pro software.

The Mac Studio and Studio Display were announced during a March Apple event. Some rumors expected Apple to refresh the iMac Pro, but instead, the company released what it considers a “modular” desktop and monitor.

GameSir X2 review: a fantastic controller designed with the mobile gamer in mind

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Take your mobile gaming to the next level with the new GameSir X2, a plug-and-play controller designed to work with Apple Arcade, Xbox Game Pass, Stadia, and more.

Mobile gaming is a rapidly growing industry, and now thanks to game services such as Apple Arcade and Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass, the iPhone is gaining traction as a gaming device.

However, when used on its own, the iPhone’s glassy touch-screen doesn’t do it for us. We’d rather have something more familiar, like a controller.

That’s where the GameSir X2 controller comes in. It’s a plug-and-play controller designed to emulate other, more familiar handheld gaming setups.


Like many smartphone controllers, the GameSir X2 can be expanded to fit different-sized iPhones. It extends from 100 millimeters to 173 millimeters, which can accommodate any current iPhone model. In addition, the movable Lightning connector allows you to insert and remove your iPhone without fear of damaging your Lightning port.

We tried it with an iPhone 11 and found that it worked great. The X2 also features a nice rubberized backing where your iPhone will sit, making it feel very secure.

The GameSir X2 stretches to accommodate all current iPhone models

We will note that we did need to remove our iPhone case for it to sit comfortably within the controller. Yet, thanks to our relatively soft case from Casetify, changing out our case for gaming sessions is hardly a problem.

It feels pretty similar to other handheld gaming consoles and controllers. It features two joysticks, a directional pad, four buttons in an X-Y-A-B configuration, four bumper buttons, and four additional buttons at the top and bottom “inner corners.” It feels very much like a Switch — especially with the red and blue accents under the joysticks.

The Lightning charging port

The Lightning charging port

One feature we really appreciate is that you can charge your iPhone while you’re using the controller. You simply have to plug your iPhone cable into the charging port on the bottom left side of the controller, and voila — uninterrupted gaming to your heart’s content.


Hands down, the best feature of the X2 is that it’s plug-and-play. You just unlock your iPhone, insert it into the controller, and you’re good to go. No fuss, no muss.

As far as the responsiveness goes, it’s top-notch. The buttons are wonderfully tactile, there’s no noticeable lag like sometimes can be with Bluetooth, and it feels good in your hand. Additionally, it’s rated for a minimum of three million clicks on each button — roughly the same as the Xbox One’s controllers and one million more than the Playstation 5’s.

The included carrying case is a great way to keep your GameSir X2 handy and damage-free

The included carrying case is a great way to keep your GameSir X2 handy and damage-free

We found that it is a wonderful controller for our favorite Apple Arcade titles, and it will work just as well for anyone who subscribes to a cloud gaming service.


If you’re already invested in an all-you-can-play game service like Apple Arcade or Xbox Game Pass, it’s a no-brainer. The GameSir X2 is a thoughtfully designed product that makes your iPhone feel like a first-rate handheld console.

  • Rated to last as long or longer than current-generation console controllers
  • Wired connection makes the controller truly plug-and-play
  • Comfortable design
  • Lightning charging port, allowing you to charge your iPhone while playing
  • Users may need to remove an iPhone case before use

Where to buy

Founder of Black-Owned Podcast Network Launches Newly Designed Mobile App to Over 3 Million Users

Meet Bennie Randall, the mastermind behind Bshani Radio which has been named as one of’s Top 20 Independent Podcast Networks. Just recently, Bennie has proudly launched a new version of the company’s mobile app for iPhone and Android devices. Users can get the app for free from the company’s official website or download it directly from the Google Play Store and Apple’s iOS App Store.

In 2017, Bennie became one of the first entrepreneurs to launch a Black-owned podcast network under his brand “Bshani” – an acronym for “Bennie Sees His Artistic Nature Inside” – with the intention of giving independent entrepreneurs and thinkers a platform to present their expertise. The app emphasizes exclusive and original content as hosts take on a wide variety of topics discussing relationships, business, and everything else that matters to today’s listeners.

Last year, Bshani Radio launched a series of new and exclusive podcasts made available only within the app including What Tanisha Said, Late Night with Bennie Love, Real Talk with AH3, Prayer for Everyone, and Black Entrepreneur Radio. In addition to exclusive content, the new app integrates a slew of new features to enhance the listener experience and encourage feedback and engagement.

The redesigned Bshani Radio mobile app contains new, highly requested features including:

• Instant download of Bshani Radio App, no signup required

• Multi-App usage without interruption allowing users the freedom to scroll through other applications including social, email, and web browsers while their favorite podcast continues to play in the background

• Brand new exclusive and original content

• Enhanced Feedback Features: Listeners can leave a 60-second audio message to their favorite host(s) with just one click within the app

• Use smaller storage space: Only using 23.7MB on iPhones and 2.1MB on Androids

• Airdrop the app to any TV, laptop, or other devices that allow sharing

• In-app alarm clock & weather notifications

• “Favorite” functionalities to keep tabs of episodes and instantly play them back on demand

The four-year-old Bshani Podcast Network has over 4,000 episodes between its two channels. 70% of the listeners are women and 30% are men. The app is a global podcast app that welcomes all listeners, sponsors, and podcast hosts. For more details, visit their official web site at

Apple previews powerful software updates designed for people with disabilities

Cupertino, California Apple today announced powerful software features designed for people with mobility, vision, hearing, and cognitive disabilities. These next-generation technologies showcase Apple’s belief that accessibility is a human right and advance the company’s long history of delivering industry-leading features that make Apple products customizable for all users.

Later this year, with software updates across all of Apple’s operating systems, people with limb differences will be able to navigate Apple Watch using AssistiveTouch; iPad will support third-party eye-tracking hardware for easier control; and for blind and low vision communities, Apple’s industry-leading VoiceOver screen reader will get even smarter using on-device intelligence to explore objects within images. In support of neurodiversity, Apple is introducing new background sounds to help minimize distractions, and for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, Made for iPhone (MFi) will soon support new bi-directional hearing aids.

Apple is also launching a new service on Thursday, May 20, called SignTime. This enables customers to communicate with AppleCare and Retail Customer Care by using American Sign Language (ASL) in the US, British Sign Language (BSL) in the UK, or French Sign Language (LSF) in France, right in their web browsers. Customers visiting Apple Store locations can also use SignTime to remotely access a sign language interpreter without booking ahead of time. SignTime will initially launch in the US, UK, and France, with plans to expand to additional countries in the future. For more information, visit

“At Apple, we’ve long felt that the world’s best technology should respond to everyone’s needs, and our teams work relentlessly to build accessibility into everything we make,” said Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s senior director of Global Accessibility Policy and Initiatives. “With these new features, we’re pushing the boundaries of innovation with next-generation technologies that bring the fun and function of Apple technology to even more people — and we can’t wait to share them with our users.”

Apple seemingly stops sales of ‘Designed by Apple in California’ photo book


After nearly three years in print, Apple appears to have halted sales of “Designed by Apple in California,” a massive photo book that chronicles 20 years of the company’s iconic consumer electronic designs.

While a dedicated “Designed by Apple in California” mini-site remains live on Apple’s servers, links to purchase the book from Apple’s online storefront are no longer active.

Conducting a search in the Apple Store app for iOS yields similar results. Entering the title’s first few letters auto-fills the search text box with what appears to be a valid entry under the “Products” category, but executing the query yields only a list of Apple-designed accessories.

The apparent halt to sales arrives some two months after stock began to dwindle. A Reddit thread in late June noted large versions of the book were sold out with no estimated return date.

Considering time on market and demand, Apple potentially ceased production of the book earlier this year or in 2018.

An ode to Apple’s industrial design team, “Designed by Apple in California” debuted in 2016 in two sizes — a $200 small version and a $300 large format copy — both of which contained 450 high-quality photographs of classic and contemporary devices. Going beyond simple hero shots, the hardbound book featured photos of products in various states of construction and, in some cases, deconstruction.

The work of Chief Design Officer Jony Ive, who presented the book in an accompanying Apple-produced video, is on display throughout. In fact, when Ive announced his coming departure in June, pundits commented that “Designed by Apple in California” was effectively a well-produced portfolio of his efforts at the company.

The new iPadOS powers unique experiences designed for iPad

San Jose, California — Apple today previewed iPadOS, the powerful operating system with a new name to recognize the distinctive experience of iPad. iPadOS builds on the same foundation as iOS, adding powerful new capabilities and intuitive features specific to the large display and versatility of iPad. Introducing new ways to work with apps in multiple windows, more information at a glance on a redesigned Home screen and more natural ways to use Apple Pencil, iPadOS also benefits from the great new updates in iOS 13, making it the perfect device for consumers and creative pros alike.

“iPad transforms how people work and express their creativity, and with iPadOS, we’re taking it even further by delivering exciting capabilities that take advantage of its large canvas and versatility,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “iPadOS delivers exciting features, including a new Home screen with widgets, more powerful multitasking and new tools that make using Apple Pencil even more natural.”