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

Today

AAPL: 113.09

0.21
Stock Chart

We’ve been hearing for some time now that Apple is working on an all-glass front for next year’s iPhone, with the Home button and Touch ID sensor built into the display itself. The touch-sensitive Home button on the iPhone 7 is likely intended as a stepping stone toward that goal, and an Apple patent published back in May described the technology Apple is most likely to adopt: ultrasonic imaging.

Demonstrating that this is not just a concept but technology that works in the real world, Chinese brand Xiaomi has today launched a new phone that uses that exact type of embedded fingerprint reader. The mi 5s and mi 5s Plus both use an ultrasonic fingerprint reader built into the glass …

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If you love watching YouTube videos on the move but hate large data bills, Google has good news for you: it is introducing YouTube Go, an app specifically designed to minimize mobile data usage.

The bad news is that YouTube Go will initially be available only in India, but the company has said that it will be rolled out to other countries later, and hinted that both the U.S. and Europe are on the list.

The app seems pretty clever, offering four separate ways to reduce mobile data usage …

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9to5toys 

Major League Baseball has updated its MLB At Bat to provide direct access to video highlights from the Notification Center – provided you have an iPhone which supports 3D Touch. When you see a notification on your lock screen, you can 3D Touch it to play the video – though you do have to unlock your phone to view it.

You don’t need 3D Touch for the two other enhancements, though …

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September 26

AAPL: 112.88

0.17
Stock Chart

Now that Siri has finally arrived on the Mac, Apple’s intelligent assistant just got a whole lot more useful. But some users are finding that this has only increased their frustration – because the service is unable to cope with more than one language.

Making Siri bilingual might, at first glance, seem an unreasonable request. After all, it’s taken speech recognition a very long time indeed to reliably understand one language at a time. I first tried a prototype system way back in the 1980s, when it was utterly hopeless. I’d try another one every few years, but it’s only in the past seven or eight years that it’s been any good.

But there are many places in the world where it’s extremely common to speak more than one language. In particular, speaking English and a local language is the norm in many countries. Which means that you may well be speaking to Siri in English but asking it to find, for example, a German place. Or speaking to Siri in Dutch but asking it to call someone with an English name …

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Tonight’s debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is likely to be the most-watched presidential debate in history. A little background:

The first debate for the 1960 election drew over 66 million viewers out of a population of 179 million, making it one of the most-watched broadcasts in U.S. television history. The 1980 debates drew 80 million viewers out of a 226 million. Recent debates have drawn decidedly smaller audiences, ranging from 46 million for the first 2000 debate to a high of over 67 million for the first debate in 2012.

There’s no shortage of ways to watch the debate, whether that’s on broadcast TV, Apple TV, Mac, iPad or iPhone – here are just a few of them …

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9to5google 

September 23

AAPL: 112.71

-1.91
Stock Chart

Apple used the word ‘courage’ recently to describe its decision to remove the headphone socket from the iPhone 7, and much fun was poked at the company by those who missed the reference. But what I personally found far more courageous was Apple effectively admitting that it got the original Apple Watch user-interface badly wrong, and completely revamping it in watchOS 3.

Glances never worked. They were supposed to be a fast way to see information from your favorite apps, and to go on to quickly open those apps when required. In reality, neither objective was achieved: data was slow to load, and so were the apps.

And the side-button for immediate access to contacts was simply the waste of a button. Using the Watch Dick Tracy-style for phone calls was never more than a novelty, and sending scribbles and the like to contacts was even more of a gimmick.

So Apple had the courage to abandon both. Glances are gone, replaced by the app Dock, and the side button has been repurposed to access it. These two changes have transformed my use of my Watch …

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Amazon Echo speaker with intelligent voice assistant
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We first heard suggestions that Apple was working on its own equivalent to Amazon’s Echo – an intelligent voice-controlled assistant in a speaker – in the run-up to WWDC back in May. A subsequent report suggested that the device would feature a camera capable of facial-recognition to identify household members and set preferences.

Little more has been heard since then, but a new Bloomberg report says that the product now exists in prototype form and has begun testing outside the lab …

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electrek 

Reuters reports that Japanese regulators are considering taking action against Apple for possible antitrust violations. Three Japanese carriers are the main focus of the investigation, but it appears that Apple may also be implicated.

Japan’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said that NTT Docomo, KDDI Corp and Softbank Group were refusing to sell older surplus iPhone models to third party retailers, thereby hobbling smaller competitors. Apple was not named in that report, but two senior government sources told Reuters that regulators were also focusing on Apple’s supply agreements with all three carriers.

It’s reported that it is Apple’s contract terms that ultimately prevents older model iPhones being made available for sale within Japan …

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September 22

AAPL: 114.62

1.07
Stock Chart

While Apple makes rather modest water-resistance claims for the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, suggesting nothing more demanding than a cycle ride in the rain, that hasn’t stopped people putting them through some rather more extreme tests.

We’ve already seen the phone survive immersion in water, soda and coffee, and even dropped into 35 feet of water. This latest test has pro surfer Kai Lenny take the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus out into the waves …

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9to5toys 

The rivalry between Apple and Samsung may be about to intensify: the WSJ reports that the iPhone maker is considering opening up an Apple Store very close to Samsung’s HQ in Seoul, South Korea. Perhaps very close indeed!

Apple looked at sites across the street from the Samsung ’s longtime headquarters in Seoul, according to people familiar with the matter.

The move could be a very smart one for Apple …

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When I tried the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, one of the things that put me off was the quality of the keyboards available at the time. The only one I could get hold of on day one was the Logitech Create, which I found ugly and not a great typing experience. The Apple Smart Keyboard, that I got to try later, was a bit prettier but still not fantastic to type on.

What I really wanted at the time was for Brydge to bring out a version of its iPad keyboard for the 12.9-inch model. It eventually did so, and I got the chance to try it this week …

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9to5google 

September 21

AAPL: 113.55

-0.02
Stock Chart

We live in an age when we’re seeing smart everything. All those things that used to be dumb – watches, door locks, electrical sockets, lightbulbs and so on – are now smart, and controlled by an iPhone. As someone who loves home automation, I think it’s great. But I have to admit that even I can’t decide whether an iPhone-controlled smart candle is taking things just one step too far …

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Kantar reports that Apple has retained its dominance of the smartwatch sector, even as overall growth has started to slow. The data is based on sales as of July of this year, so pre-dating the launch of the Apple Watch Series 2.

Apple continues to dominate this segment with a 33.5% share, although that lead shrank slightly in the last three months as the market awaited the Apple Watch Series 2 announcement. The EU4 countries show a similar trend, with […] Apple leading at 31.8%.

The company says that the Apple Watch Series 2 seems ideally placed to appeal to those intending to purchase a wearable within the next 12 months, offering the two key features they are seeking …

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electrek 

One of the new features of macOS Sierra is that it can automatically ‘manage storage’ on your Mac. What this means is, if you’re getting low on SSD space, macOS can automatically upload older and larger files to iCloud and then delete them from your Mac. When macOS deletes a file, it leaves an alias that will download the file from iCloud as required.

Effectively, you don’t have to worry about how much physical storage your Mac has – you can just treat it as an infinitely large drive and macOS takes care of shifting things back and forth from the cloud as required.

That’s great in theory, but there seem to be a few flaws in practice …

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