Ben Lovejoy

@benlovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer who started his career on PC World and has written for dozens of computer and technology magazines, as well as numerous national newspapers, business and in-flight magazines. He has also written two novels.

He is old enough to have owned the original Mac, and still has his Mac Portable in a cupboard as he can’t quite bear to part with it, despite the fact that he has no idea where the power supply is. He is occasionally tempted to turn up to a Genius Bar with it.

He currently owns a rather upgraded MacBook Pro 17, a MacBook Air 11, iPad Air 2, iPhone 6 and Thunderbolt Display 27 – and suspects it might be cheaper to have a cocaine habit than his addiction to all things anodised aluminum.

He thinks wires are evil and had a custom desk made to hide them, known as the OC Desk for obvious reasons.

He considers 1000 miles a good distance for a cycle ride, and Chernobyl a suitable tourist destination. What can we say, he’s that kind of chap.

He speaks fluent English but only broken American, so please forgive any Anglicised spelling in his posts.

If @benlovejoy-ing him on twitter, please follow him first so that he can DM you if appropriate. If you have information you can pass on, you can also email him. If you would like to comment on one of his pieces, please do so in the comments – he does read them all.

Ben Lovejoy's Recommended Gear

May 13

AAPL: 90.52

0.18
Stock Chart

We heard last month that Apple has a team of around 100 people working on revamping the search functionality in the iOS App Store. If true, it’s long overdue because App Store search is a truly terrible experience. You know it, I know it, developers know it, everyone in the world knows it – except, it had always appeared, the Apple execs in charge of it.

If Apple is actually going to fix App Store search so that it works, that’s excellent news. But one part of the report sounded distinctly less encouraging.

One of the methods that Apple is considering is paid search. Essentially, developers and companies could pay to have their app shown more prominently in search results.

That gives the impression that Apple is more focused on generating additional revenue than delivering a great user experience …

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The best-known Unified School District program to provide an iPad to every student may have ended disastrously, but a similar program elsewhere appears to have been rather more successful.

In LA, Apple ended up repaying $4.2M to settle a claim by the LAUSD following a failed program that led to a federal review concluding it had been doomed from the start – and corruption investigations by both the FBI and SEC.

But a $42M program to supply iPads to all 20,000 students in Coachella Valley Unified School District has been declared a success …

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9to5toys 

May 12

AAPL: 90.34

-2.17
Stock Chart

While Apple has denied a report that it was planning to stop selling music downloads in either two years or 3-4 years, the denial to Re/code was somewhat vague.

Apple rep Tom Neumayr wouldn’t expand on [the ‘not true’] comment, except to make it clear that he was responding to both timelines proposed in today’s story from Digital Music News.

And really, nobody should be surprised if the broader report is true: that Apple has discussed how and when it might exit the music download business …

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I like to think I’m pretty handy with a camera, but am definitely an amateur when it comes to video. Unlike some of the talented videographers we have here on the team, my idea of video editing is to throw a bunch of clips into iMovie, add cross-dissolves between them, drop in a music track and call it good.

But even that level of video editing can be surprisingly time-consuming, which creates something of a dilemma. I enjoy having a video record of things like fun bike rides, but don’t want to spend hours creating them. So for a group ride at the weekend, I tried a different approach that took hardly any time and seemed to work surprisingly well …

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9to5google 

Apple has told the families of two teenage boys lost at sea that it has been unable to recover any data from the iPhone belonging to one of them. The families had hoped that content on the phone might have provided clues as to what happened.

14-year-olds Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen failed to return from a boating trip last July, but their 19-foot boat was boat was found drifting 100 miles from Bermuda back in March, and on it was an iPhone belonging to Stephanos. Apple agreed last month to attempt to recover data from the phone, but the SunSentinel reports that the company’s efforts were unsuccessful …

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May 11

AAPL: 92.51

-0.91
Stock Chart

I once teased an American friend about the fact that only 36% of Americans hold a passport, compared to 83% of Brits. He quite rightly pointed out that in America you can fly for six hours and still be in the same country – Seattle to Miami, for example – while Brits can fly for an hour or so and be in any one of a dozen different countries. (I later did a bit of Googling and found he could even have said 11 hours: New York to Honolulu.)

For that reason, this feature request may be most relevant to Europeans and frequent business travellers, but I think it’s one that would at least fall into the nice-to-have category for anyone who travels.

The issue is mobile roaming charges. Use your iPhone in your own country and all-you-can-eat calls and texts are typically pretty affordable, with data being the main thing that determines how much you pay for your plan. But however much you pay for data at home, that’s nothing compared to roaming charges overseas …

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electrek 

The Apple ID websites appleid.apple.com and iforgot.apple.com are not working properly for some users, with reports of a variety of glitches starting from yesterday afternoon. Some are reporting that the sites are completely down for them, while others describe problems ranging from being trapped in password-update loops to problems updating verification devices.

I was able to verify one of the problems myself …

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May 10

AAPL: 93.42

0.63
Stock Chart

As long-time readers will know, I’ve long been a fan of Siri. As I’ve often noted, it’s my primary means of interacting with my iPhone (part of the reason I don’t need a larger screen). I dictate most of my messages, and if it’s possible to ask Siri to do something for me rather than doing it myself, I do.

But Siri does have one major failing: it has no access to third-party apps. There are countless apps where I’d love to be able to get Siri to do the heavy lifting, as I wrote last year in a Feature Request:

What I can’t yet do is ask the time of my next train home, despite having an app on my phone that can answer that question. I can’t ask it to show me today’s Timehop, nor can I ask it to post that to Facebook. I can’t ask it to post something to a Hipchat or Slack chatroom. I can’t ask it to call an Uber car. I can’t ask it to translate ‘Where is the nearest pharmacy’ into Mandarin. I could name many other examples, but you get the idea.

If Apple offered an API to allow third-party developers to take advantage of Siri, I’m confident that many would do so. And I’m certainly not alone in wanting that – in our poll, 95% of you agreed with me.

But it turns out that Siri’s original developers wanted to take things a step further …

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Until today, Canadians who wanted to use Apple Pay had only one option: a non-bank-issued American Express card. That’s finally changed as the first two of Canada’s ‘big five banks’ joined today, with the remaining three confirmed for ‘the coming months,’ reports the Financial Post.

Starting Tuesday, Interact debit and major credit cards issued by Royal Bank of Canada and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce will support the payments technology, which allows users to load cards onto their iPhones and Apple Watches and make in-store purchases using their devices.

Two smaller financial institutions also add Apple Pay support today …

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9to5toys 

Apple has today been granted a patent for an iPad Smart Cover with more smarts than usual: it incorporates a built-in display, and even a Wacom-style drawing tablet.

The patent illustrates a number of different ways the Smart Cover display could be used, from simply extending the iPad’s own display through text-only displays of things like reminders to a combined display and touchpad. Some of the options show the display acting as a full input device too, allowing both handwritten notes and drawings.

While we of course add our usual disclaimer that Apple patents way more things than it actually makes, two element of this patent have actually made it into production …

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You might have thought that the health & fitness labs Apple created to help develop the Apple Watch might have been closed once the product had launched, but a piece in Time reports that they are still operating 12 hours a day, six days a week.

I was recently able to visit one of Apple’s labs dedicated to sports and health. For 12 hours a day, six days a week, Apple brings in Apple employees of every shape, condition and ethnicity to do various exercises and monitor them with the most sophisticated medical systems available. Apple has seven full-time nurses in the facility I visited, using medical monitoring equipment that can determine all types of heath related data points.

ABC gave us a look inside one of the labs in the run-up to the launch of the Watch last year, when we learned that they include climate chambers which allow the company to simulate a wide range of different environments, but this latest report does include a new claim …

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9to5google 

May 9

AAPL: 92.79

0.07
Stock Chart

I addressed one big issue with Apple Music last week – and was very surprised to see from the poll results just how widespread the issue was. But while discussing that issue, we happened across a Reddit thread that I thought contained a really great idea: give the iOS app Smart Playlist functionality via Siri.

I may complain a lot about the bloated nature of iTunes, a single app that tries to do way too many different things, but I do really like it as a pure music player. One of the features I love is Smart Playlists, which you can use to do all kinds of funky things.

For example, maybe you have some music you really love but haven’t listened to for a while? Create a Smart Playlist where Rating is 5 and Last Played is not in the last year. Been listening to the same stuff too much lately? Create a playlist where Last Played is not in the past month. Feeling nostalgic? A playlist where Year is a particular year …

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electrek 

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