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

January 25

AAPL: 99.44

-1.98
Stock Chart

At its current rate of expansion, Apple could conceivably hit its October goal of 40 retail stores in China within a couple of months. The company has just announced that its 33rd Apple Store in China will open on 31st January, making it the fifth new store in the country in one month …  expand full story

January 15

AAPL: 97.13

-2.39
Stock Chart
9to5toys 

The security researcher who identified a serious flaw in Apple’s Gatekeeper reports that the vulnerability remains despite two security patches applied by the company. Each, he says, only blocks the specific apps he used to demonstrate the method.

Gatekeeper in theory allows users to ensure that their Mac will only run apps downloaded from the Mac App Store – or alternatively, signed by a known developer if you opt for a lower level of protection. But Patrick Wardle last September found a major vulnerability in this protection which would allow any malicious app to be run no matter what Gatekeeper setting was chosen.

Wardle informed Apple, which issued a security patch in response, but Wardle has now reverse-engineered the patch and found that it provides only extremely limited protection …

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With a recent European Commission ruling making it look more likely than ever that Apple’s tax arrangements in Ireland will be declared illegal, Bloomberg has been doing the sums on how much the company may owe in back tax. The total? More than $8 billion.

Apple funnels all its European revenue through Ireland, where a special agreement with the Irish government means that it pays just 2.5% tax instead of the normal 12.5%. A long-running European Commission investigation into the legality of this arrangement was recently extended and expanded its scope.

Assuming the agreement is ruled to be illegal, it would be the Irish government – and not Apple – who broke the law, but Apple would still have to pay the difference between the tax it actually paid and the full amount that would have been due without the deal. The company warned shareholders last year that it may have to pay ‘material’ back taxes, but the figure calculated by Bloomberg is much larger than earlier estimates …

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9to5google 

January 14

AAPL: 99.52

2.13
Stock Chart

Korea’s ET News claims that Samsung will become Apple’s primary supplier of OLED display panels, stating that an agreement has “practically been decided.” Samsung is reportedly gearing-up for the contract with an initial investment of between $2.49B and $3.32B in plant and equipment, rising to $7.47B depending on order levels.

Apple currently uses OLED displays in the Watch. Rumors that it will switch to OLED for the iPhone have been doing the rounds for many years, but have been getting much more specific of late. The switch is said to be happening in 2018, with Apple recently reported to be ‘close to agreement‘ with suppliers. The most recent report named both Samsung and LG as likely suppliers …

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While we’ve heard tales of gloom and despair from other Apple suppliers, leading analysts and media alike to suggest that the iPhone market might be contracting for the first time ever, it’s rather a different story with key Apple chipmaker TSMCFocus Taiwan reports that its 2015 earnings were the highest in its 29-year history.

The company posted NT$306.57 billion (US$9.15 billion) in net profit for 2015, a 16.2 percent annual increase. TSMC’s 2015 earnings per share was NT$11.82, compared with NT$10.18 the previous year, and its consolidated sales rose 10.6 percent to NT$843.497 billion, it said.

Profits and earnings per share were also record-breaking …

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electrek 

An Apple patent application published today reveals an idea for an interesting variation on the magnetically-closed Milanese Loop band that allows it to do much more than simply secure the Apple Watch on your wrist.

By using a careful arrangement of magnet orientations, the band can transform itself into a protective case when travelling, a stand on a bedside table or desk – or a Mac accessory …

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January 13

AAPL: 97.39

-2.57
Stock Chart

With a growing number of business meetings these days taking place via Skype, Microsoft has made it easier than ever to schedule and join a Skype call in the Outlook iOS app. Version 2.1.3 of the iOS Outlook app adds Skype integration.

Make any meeting a Skype call simply by flicking a switch, then access the call when you need to with just a tap. Now when you say “I’m joining the call now”, you’ll actually mean it. To give it a try, simply turn on the “Skype Meeting” switch when creating or editing an event.

The update also adds a new view designed to provide a clearer sense of your schedule …

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Phil Schiller said in 2013 that “education is in Apple’s DNA,” and it’s no exaggeration. The company’s commitment to the education sector was there from the very beginning. Steve Jobs told the Smithsonian that he wanted to donate a computer to every school in the U.S. as long ago as 1979.

I thought if there was just one computer in every school, some of the kids would find it. It will change their life. We saw the rate at which this was happening and the rate at which the school bureaucracies were deciding to buy a computer for the school and it was real slow. We realized that a whole generation of kids was going to go through the school before they even got their first computer so we thought the kids can’t wait. We wanted to donate a computer to every school in America.

The company couldn’t afford it in those days, but Steve lobbied Congress to introduce a bill that would have created sufficient tax breaks to make it possible. That attempt failed, but Apple did succeed in brokering a tax deal in California that saw the company donate an Apple IIe to every school in California. Apple led the PC market in education for a time, and even created education-specific Mac models.

More recently, Apple appeared set to bring its educational success into the iPad era in 2013 when it announced a $30M deal (that would eventually have been worth a quarter of a billion dollars) to equip every student in the LA Unified School District with an iPad. If that program had succeeded, it would have created a template for rolling out similar ones across the whole of the USA. Instead, it failed catastrophically, and it now appears that Chromebooks are winning where iPads have failed …

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January 12

AAPL: 99.96

1.43
Stock Chart

A new patent awarded to Apple today suggests that the company’s audio plans for future iPhones may go beyond reportedly ditching the 3.5mm headphone socket in favor of Lightning and Bluetooth. The patent is very densely-worded, but seemingly describes a method of getting higher-quality and higher-volume audio from speakers built into slimmer devices.

Apple’s statement of the problem is clear enough.

Given the area constraints imposed on many portable electronic devices, it is increasingly difficult to provide high-quality audio sound output and pickup without hindering the ability to make portable electronic devices smaller and thinner. Consequently, there is a need for improved approaches to provide high-quality audio sound output and/or pickup from portable electronic devices as they get smaller and thinner.

The language describing Apple’s proposed solution is less clear, but from a combination of this and the accompanying diagrams, I at least have a working theory of what is being suggested …

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9to5toys 

Personally, I’m a coward where betas are concerned. Trying one on a secondary device is fine, but I tend to steer clear of them on my daily drivers.

But the iOS 9.3 beta, released yesterday, was a big one! There was Night Shift, that gradually warms the colors on the display to match our natural circadian rhythms, making it easier to fall asleep after staring at the screen until late. Notes secured by Touch ID. Better access to health data. Improved Apple Music integration within CarPlay. Improved personalization for News. And additional 3D Touch functionality for the stock apps.

Not only that, but our usage so far suggests that it’s an extremely stable beta, with no issues at all noted yet …

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While the number of U.S. retailers who accept Apple Pay has grown seven-fold between the launch of the service and the end of last year, usage appears to be lagging behind that curve. A survey by Phoenix Marketing found that even in the cases of retailers with the highest levels of Apple Pay usage, only a minority of customers use the payment method there more than once a month.

The survey also noted that 47% of Apple Pay users had experienced a failed transaction at least once, and that a handful of states account for half of all payments made using the service.

As someone who lives in the UK, where contactless payment first launched in 2008, none of this surprises me – and I don’t think it’s anything for Apple to worry about …

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9to5google 

January 11

AAPL: 98.53

1.57
Stock Chart

If you’re feeling jealous of any friends grandfathered into an existing AT&T unlimited data plan (especially since ‘unlimited’ was redefined from ‘5GB before throttling kicks in’ to ’22GB before throttling if congested’), the company has good news: it is  launching a brand new version of unlimited data tomorrow.

Pricing starts at $100/month for a single line, plus $40 for each individual line. Unfortunately, there’s bad news too. As The Verge notes, there are some pretty big catches – the biggest of which is that you need to be a DirecTV or U-Verse subscriber to even  be eligible, which of course adds to the cost if you don’t already have a subscription …

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electrek 

An unlikely report from Chinese site MyDrivers accompanied by an even unlikelier-looking graphic claims that Apple’s new 4-inch phone will not be named the iPhone 6c, as expected, but will instead be dubbed the iPhone 5e. The letter ‘e’ supposedly stands for ‘enhanced.’

Now, the latest news shows, this new machine might be called iPhone 5e (I did not expect), as the letter “e” represents enhanced [referring to] the addition of Apple Pay, NFC and VoLTE Features.

The report also claims that the spec of the phone will be lower than previously rumored, having an A8 processor and 1GB RAM rather than the expected A9 and 2GB. This would essentially give it the same internals as the latest iPod touch …

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