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Apple Store’s search engine has come under scrutiny recently for favoring Apple’s company created apps in its results.  Scrutiny by regulators in Europe and the United States forced Apple to change its search algorithm in July. The New York Times had analyzed the search results for six years and found that Apple’s own apps ranked first with at least 700 search terms used in the store. According to the newspaper, the analysis since 2013 included a ranking of more than 1,800 specific apps for 13 keywords. The Wall Street Journal confirmed The Times reporting with its review that found similar results; Apple’s own apps often took priority. Before changes to the algorithm, when one searched for common terms such as “music” or “podcast,” Apple Music or Apple podcasts would come up and you’d see unrelated Apple apps, forcing Apple’s competitors down the lists. This is a natural result of the company’s tight control of the process.  iPhone apps can only be installed from Apple’s Store and Apple’s software competes with many of the independent developers in the store. Newspapers get involved when governments get involved.  This issue is the subject of a civil lawsuit in the US and the US Department of Justice is considering an Apple investigation. The Dutch are looking into it as well. Apple told The Times that it has made changes to help users better find the apps they are looking for.  After the changes, it appears that fewer of Apple’s own apps appear at the top of search results.

Apple’s fall conference was packed with new product announcements. First among them are the next generation iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro.  The base model comes with an attractive glass design, a choice of six colors, a 6.1-inch display, a spacial audio sound field, a dual camera system allowing for wider photos, a night mode for brightening photos taken in the dark and, what the company claims is, the highest quality video ever available in a smartphone.

The iPhone 11 Pro is even more advanced, with the highest pixel density of any prior Apple phone, a super display, machine learning accelerators, better battery capacity, water resistance and something called Filmic Pro App, which allows for making multiple videos at once in different directions.

The iPhone 11 will sell for $699 while the iPhone 11 Pro will sell for $999.

Another featured product was the Apple Watch that the company claims is helping people with health research. Multiple, ongoing studies include:

  • A hearing study researching how daily sound experiences influence long-term hearing health.
  • A women’s health study that focuses on how menstrual cycles influence infertility and osteoporosis.
  • A heart and movement study that monitors the heart to understand its influence on overall human health.

Apple’s research promises users the right to data privacy.

Apple Watch Series 5 offers several new safety features including fall detection and international emergency calling. The Series 5 Apple Watch starts at $399. The Series 3 is still available at a lowered price of $199.

The 7th generation iPad comes with a large 10.2-inch display with 3.5 million pixels, a wider viewing angle for photos and claims to be two times faster than top selling PCs.

On the content front, trailers for the Apple TV Plus program lineup where shown to what was reported to be a great response. Many of the shows will be available starting November 1st for $4.99 per month.

The company also revealed a new subscription service for accessing games, editorial content and personalized recommendations called Apple Arcade. It will be available starting on Sept. 19th for $4.99 a month – with a one-month free trial.   You’ll have to raid the piggy bank for all these toys.

Scientists are now using phone movements to predict personality traits. Many interesting correlations have been found between certain personality traits and phone usage style. Patterns of physical activity and social activities also predict a person’s personality type. Researchers have used tiny sensors on people’s phones to track their behavioral patterns. The speed and length we tend to walk often shows patterns about our personality types. Some of the patterns noticed from the study include the following. People with consistent movements on weekday evenings were generally more introverted. Agreeable people had more random activity patterns and were busier on weekends and weekday evenings. Friendly and compassionate females made more outgoing phone calls than any other group. Conscientious and organized people didn’t typically contact the same person frequently in a short amount of time. Sensitive and neurotic females checked their phones a lot during the night; in contrast, sensitive and neurotic males did the opposite. Inventive and curious people made and received less phone calls than others. Study leader Nan Gao said that the results of the study have exciting potential applications. Gao thinks the results of this study could be used to improve social media and online dating. He also thinks that we can use self-knowledge of our own personalities to improve our lives. It will be interesting to see how technology-based research might be able to improve our social lives in the future.