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I know the iPhone is 11 years old, but sometimes it’s still amazing how much progress the ecosystem is making. Look at this month's Under-the-Radar Apps: One makes it easy to type on your watch! Another that locally monitors all the big internet services to protect your privacy. That’s a long way from Steve Jobs’ “sweet solution” for developers to make crappy web apps that basically become fancy bookmarks on your home screen! Got any little-known apps you’d recommend? Write back and tell us, so we can feature them next month.
1. This week’s update to the base model 13-inch MacBook Pro brought it a blistering 83 percent speed increase. Apple’s marketing materials call it “two times more powerful,” but 83 percent in independent benchmarks ain’t half bad. This base model retains its $1,299 price tag and also adds a Touch Bar, Touch ID and the associated T2 security chip, and a True Tone display. Not only is the machine a much better value than before, it’s better differentiated from the MacBook Air, which got a price reduction at the same time. — MACRUMORS
2. Troubled Apple supplier Japan Display Inc. has secured its 80 billion yen ($738 million) bailout funding. A group led by Chinese investment firm Harvest Group pulled it off, and the bailout included $100 million from a JDI customer reported to be Apple. The company missed the boat on the shift from LCD to OLED smartphone displays and nearly went under, but it still supplies LCDs and an increasing amount of OLEDs to Apple, so Apple couldn’t let JDI die. — REUTERS
3. #FollowFriday: @ryanburnett
Ryan Burnett is a user experience designer at Amazon based in Atlanta. He’s worked on Amazon’s mobile-friendly home page, its user research program, and the front end of an internal shipping application. In short, he designs important interfaces used by lots of people.
Burnett posted this 16-part Twitter thread this week showing lots of side-by-side comparisons of design changes between iOS 12 and iOS 13. Each tweet tells you what to look for and includes perfectly aligned screenshots to compare. If you’re interested in UI design, follow @ryanburnett and learn a thing or two!
4. Apple has begun shipping iPhone 6S and 7 devices made in India to European markets. Wistron Corp began manufacturing devices for Apple in India in 2016, and factories have reached between 70 and 80 percent capacity. Meanwhile, Foxconn facilities in India have begun producing XR and XS models that will go on sale domestically by August. This could help reduce prohibitively high prices for top-end iPhones in India. — ECONOMIC TIMES
5. “Sign in with Apple” is not a privacy silver bullet, according to companies that specialize in sneaky ways to track people online. “[O]ur match rate will be decreasing for sure,” says Kazuki Ota of Arm Treasure Data, but “I think the effectiveness, personally, will be limited.” Ota points out that people have tons of forms of identifying information online besides their email address and associated accounts, and companies like Arm Treasure Data exist to aggregate those for customers and help them track people in indirect but effective ways. — TECHREPUBLIC
6. Amazon Music is growing by 70 percent year over year, making it the fastest growing streaming service. Amazon has reached 32 million total subscribers. Spotify has 100 million premium subscribers worldwide, and Apple music cleared 60 million subscribers in June. Amazon is rumored to be working on a high fidelity streaming service and a new high-end Echo speaker to rival HomePod’s audio quality. Which music streaming service do you use, if any? If it’s not Apple Music, how good of a citizen is your chosen service on your Apple devices? Write back and tell us about your listening habits. — MUSIC BUSINESS WORLDWIDE
7. Apple is spending $15 million per episode to produce “See,” the sci-fi show staring Jason Momoa slated for its upcoming Apple TV+ streaming service. That’s what HBO spent per episode on the final season of “Game of Thrones,” and it’s also what Disney is spending on the Star Wars show "The Mandalorian" for its upcoming Disney+ service. — FAST COMPANY
8. Apple Park in Cupertino has been assessed at $3.6 billion, making it one of the world’s most valuable buildings. If you include computers, furniture, and agricultural equipment for tending to the property’s grove of trees, the value rises to $4.17 billion. With a property tax rate of around 1 percent, Apple pays around $40 million a year. — SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
9. Accessibility expert Shelly Brisbin has written a complete timeline of Apple’s hardware and software accessibility efforts. Apple first highlighted accessibility features for the iPhone in 2009 with 36 seconds in a keynote. These days, Apple devotes cinematic keynote videos and multiple segments to accessiblity features. — MACSTORIES
10. Under-the-Radar Apps of the Month: On the second Friday of each month, we’ll show you some new or newly updates apps you might not know about. What do you think of this month’s apps? Got an app you’d like featured here? Reply and let us know!
Kosta and Ashley Eleftheriou
If you’ve never tried, you might be surprised how usable Apple Watch is for jotting things down. FlickType is an app designed for the affordances of typing on a watch-sized screen, with a gesture-based way of typing that’s astonishingly accurate and way faster than Apple’s handwriting-like scribble method.
Timery is a beautifully designed client for time-tracking service Toggl. If you track your time for billing, there’s never been a more painless way. Timery lets you save color-coded timers for the stuff you do frequently and organize them with tags, and it has robust support for Siri Shortcuts, so you can start and stop them by voice.
If you don’t use two-factor authentication with time-based one-time passwords (TOTP) to protect your accounts, you should. If the reason you don’t is because it’s inconvenient to check a second device to log into things, that problem is now solved. Step Two is a lovely, legible TOTP app that syncs your tokens with iCloud, so you can get your login codes on all your Apple devices. That kinda reduces the security of requiring the physical presence of a single piece of hardware to log in, but your iOS devices are also protected by Apple’s two-factor login… right???
Jumbo is a privacy assistant that automatically audits your Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Amazon accounts to alert you to anything these services might be doing that violates your privacy. You can delete old posts, clear search history, manage permissions, and stop recordings, facial recognition, and location tracking. Best of all, as a good citizen of the Apple ecosystem, Jumbo handles all this locally on your device, so this sensitive stuff is not uploaded to any third-party servers that could just compromise your privacy another way.
Jon Mitchell has been a tech journalist since 2010. He covered Apple, Google, and the societal effects of social media for the storied blog ReadWriteWeb (now ReadWrite). He co-hosts Internet Friends, a podcast about life online with occasional lengthy digressions into Apple news. He’s the author of In Real Life: Searching for Connection in High-Tech Times from Parallax Press. He has recently, reticently returned to Twitter at @ablaze.
Editing team: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside), David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology), and Bobby Cherry (senior editor at Inside, who’s always on social media).