Benjamin Mayo


Benjamin develops app for iOS and writes about Apple news, product reviews and more on 9to5Mac and his personal blog. Follow Benjamin on Twitter to keep up with his latest projects. You can also email him directly.

Support Benjamin by buying his apps on the App Store, Bingo Machine and Writing Aid.

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AAPL: 109.50

Stock Chart

A notable omission from the iBooks library has been Harry Potter, the most successful literary book series. JK Rowling, the author of Harry Potter, has kept eBook rights exclusive to her own website until today. This morning, Apple announced that all seven of the books are finally available to buy in the iBooks app to be read on iPhone, iPad and Mac.

The books include more than just the text of the story. The ‘enhanced editions’ feature brand new interactive elements, animations, ‘elaborate’ artwork, notes from the author and exclusive covers.

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October 6

AAPL: 111.31

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The Rock Jaw Alfa Genus V2 headphones ($49.90) are not especially meant as a replacement for EarPods, but that’s how I see them. Apple’s bundled EarPods have a lot of positives. They are ‘cheap’, lightweight and small. You can chuck them in a bag or pocket without worrying too much. This is in stark contrast to Beats on-ear and over-ear headphones, for example, which are expensive, bulky and heavy. However, EarPods leave much to be desired in regard to sound quality.

It turns out the Rock Jaw Alfa’s fill this gap nicely. They have the same portability as EarPods but with a focus on also providing great sound to listen to. They aren’t perfect but they are pretty great value earbuds. Read on for our full review …

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October 5

AAPL: 110.78

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Apple has declared that Apple Pay is off to a “great start” almost a year after its launch with the company seeing steady growth in Apple Pay transactions every month. In a statement to Bloomberg, the company said:

“We’re off to a great start and we are seeing continued, double-digit monthly growth in Apple Pay transactions since launch,” Apple said in an e-mailed statement.

Apple Pay launched last year with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in the US. The service expanded to the UK a few months ago. In Apple’s January investor call, Cook claimed 2015 was “the year of Apple Pay”. However, Bloomberg notes that not everyone is as thrilled with the mobile payments service as Apple is. At both Panera Bread and Firehouse, Apple Pay transactions make up low single-digit percentages of overall purchases…

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October 4

AAPL: 110.38

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As we reported last week, Philips is readying new HomeKit enabled smart home accessories, including new lights with better color reproduction and a HomeKit-compatible bridge box, for early October launch. However, it seems that some of the new products have appeared on sites like Amazon and Best Buy a bit prematurely, as Philips is yet to officially acknowledge the new devices.

This is not a complete list of what Philips has in the wings, more should surface soon …

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October 3

AAPL: 110.38

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The Apple TV is launching later in October but many of the details about the device remain under wraps. At the announcement, Apple announced that the Apple TV Siri universal search feature will include data from iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Showtime and HBO. Many had hoped that Apple would be more open with this feature, allowing Siri to incorporate data from third-party services without requiring a special Apple partnership. In a move that will please many, Tim Cook has announced that Apple will offer an API for universal search, after all, via an interview with Buzzfeed.

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September 30

AAPL: 110.30

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Apple has officially released OS X El Capitan for the Mac, adding some new improvements as well as bringing parity with changes in iOS 9, released two weeks ago. OS X El Capitan (version 10.11), can be installed on any Mac that runs OS X Yosemite: simply download the free update from the Mac App Store. The release does not feature anything radically new — like the major visual overhaul that came last year — but there are new features as well as a strong focus on overall performance and stability improvements.

Here’s what’s new in Apple’s latest version of the Mac operating system …

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September 29

AAPL: 109.06

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Update: We’re hearing the date for the new HomeKit bridge is October 6th … In addition, Philips has officially confirmed that the old box will not be getting HomeKit compatibility in any form. However, it will continue to receive other software updates. You can buy the new HomeKit bridge from here.

Philips is finally ready to join the HomeKit ecosystem with a new box that will act as a bridge between the Apple HomeKit standard and its range of smart internet-connected lightbulbs. As shown in the images above, provided by sources, the new box looks very much like an Apple TV — a rounded rectangle ‘puck’ with indicator lights showing connectivity status.

The new HomeKit box will be available in October and connect existing Philips Hue accessories to the Apple platform. The bridge box will be sold standalone as an official ‘Works with Apple HomeKit’ compatible accessory as well as in new combo sets, also depicted above. These sets include new bulbs with a few improvements over the current models …

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Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 14.54.57

Apple has updated its Privacy website with details about how the company uses your data to serve the newest iOS 9 and iPhone 6s features, like Apple Pay, Apple News and Hey Siri. Consistent with Apple’s messaging, they reiterate how everything they make is designed to store as little personal information as possible with anonymity wherever possible. Contrary to other reports, the Tim Cook cover letter fronting the Apple Privacy page is not new and has been posted on the website for some time.

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September 28

AAPL: 112.44

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The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus have new cameras on the front and rear as well as featuring the new Live Photos mode, a combination of photo and short 3 second video, which is enabled by default. The quality of both cameras has been considerably improved, beyond the raw increase to 12-megapixel back camera and 5 megapixel front camera.

However, there have been some reports of customers getting grainy, bad photos on the new iPhone 6s in low-light scenarios, despite Apple touting the new cameras’ improved low-light performance. Whilst its true that you will always get better-looking shots in well-lit environments, it turns out that having Live Photos enabled significantly impacts the photo quality in dark shots. Why?

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Following two weeks of preorders and the public launch on Friday, Apple today announced it has sold over 13 million iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus in the first three days of availability.

The company had previously stated it was on pace to beat last year’s 10 million unit sales record and has cleanly done so, topping its previous record by 3 million units. Apple iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus will be available in an additional 40 countries beginning October 9th. It is worth noting, however, that China was not part of the initial rollout for iPhone 6, distorting the comparison somewhat.

Tim Cook, Apple CEO, says iPhone 6s sales are ‘phenomenal’ …

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September 25

AAPL: 114.71

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The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus launch today, with a pressure sensitive 3D Touch screen being touted as one of the phone’s flagship new features. Apps can take advantage of 3D Touch in many ways, such as using firm presses to reveal quick actions on the Home screen or use Peek and Pop metaphors to quickly preview content from within the UI.

Naturally, Apple has added 3D Touch features to its own apps. Try firmly pressing on a link from within Safari, or quickly call one of your Favorites by using the Phone app’s 3D Touch quick actions. You can even force press on the keyboard to enable trackpad cursor input. However, as is true in most cases, the most interesting innovations come from the third-party App Store community.

We’ve compiled a list of the best third-party apps that have updated to include 3D Touch features, so you can try them out on your brand new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus …

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September 23

AAPL: 114.32

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Pixelmator today released the latest version of its photo editor for iPhone and iPad, Pixelmator version 2.1. The update brings full support for iPad iOS 9 multitasking, the ability to import and edit 8K resolution images, Open-In-Place document management across iOS and more.

As part of general improvements for iOS 9, such as adoption of Apple’s new system font (San Francisco) in the UI, the primary change is the addition of the iPad multitasking support. This means Pixelmator can now be docked to the side of the screen using Slide Over. On more recent iPads, you can also pop Pixelmator into Split View for true 2-app side-by-side multitasking.

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September 22

AAPL: 113.40

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The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are launching in just four days time and right on schedule the embargo on reviews have been lifted. Apple is touting the new phones as major updates over the 6 and 6 Plus, with 12-megapixel camera and 4K video recording, ‘3D Touch’ pressure-sensitive display to enable quick actions across the OS, Live Photos and more. We’ve already seen an early hands on with the iPhone 6s thanks to an early delivery but now the official tech reviews are live.

So what’s the verdict? We’ve rounded up the highlights below from those lucky enough to get the phones early …

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Apple has discretely included a great troll into a recent Apple Watch support document on the Friends interface. Read the initials, clockwise, in the screenshot to see what’s up.

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 11.01.54

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September 21

AAPL: 115.21

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Ahead of the official launch on Friday, Apple has now sold out out of all iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus on in the US and worldwide, twelve launch countries in total. The earliest delivery quote you can now get for a new iPhone is September 29th. The iPhone 6S Plus has been sold out for about a week now and now the 6s has followed suit, four days ahead of release.

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Apple has confirmed launch details for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus — unsurprisingly the new phones go on sale Friday at 8 AM. Apple says that customer response to the iPhone 6s has been “incredibly positive” although the company is yet to release concrete preorder figures.

Apple also announced that iOS 9 has the fastest rate of adoption of any previous iOS release, with  50% of devices already using iOS 9, which was released last Wednesday.

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