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 maxed-out 2016 MacBook Pro 15, a MacBook Air 11, 9.7-inch iPad Pro (LTE 128GB), iPhone SE (64GB), Apple Thunderbolt Display and an Apple Watch (series 1) – 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 Favorite Gear

AirPods may make for convenient listening on the move, but having one fall out of your ear and drop to somewhere inaccessible – like a storm drain – can be an expensive event.

But a little old-fashioned ingenuity can save the day, as the CEO of an app development company demonstrated …

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If you use Google Photos on your iPhone and iPad (and you should), you can now use AirPlay to view selected photos on your Apple TV. Google quietly added the feature in an update to the app yesterday…

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9to5toys 

A U.S. ban on carrying laptops and tablets in the cabin of inbound international flights may be extended to European countries, including the UK. Any electronic device larger than a phone would have to be placed in hold baggage.

The U.S. government currently applies the ban to flights from 10 airports, mostly Middle Eastern and North African. The measure was introduced last month, the Department of Homeland Security stating that it was in response to intelligence suggesting that terrorists planned to smuggle explosives inside consumer electronics items …

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Yesterday

AAPL: 143.64

1.37
Stock Chart

Growing evidence that the iPhone 8 may go on sale significantly later than the usual September timeframe speaks volumes about the very different approach Apple is taking to this year’s flagship model. It is breaking not just one, but two of the cardinal rules in the How To Be Apple manual.

Rule 1 is that the company avoids ‘bleeding edge’ technology. When new tech rolls around, the company watches and waits while other manufacturers do the trial-and-error bit. Apple launches only when it is satisfied that the tech is stable and that it has figured out the optimal way to employ it.

We saw this with the iPod. The first portable media player was invented in 1979, and the first actual mp3 player went on sale in 1998. Apple waited until 2001 to release the iPod. The first smartphones went on sale in the mid-1990s; the iPhone wasn’t released until more than a decade later. The first phone to have a fingerprint reader was the Motorola Atrix in 2011; Apple didn’t add one to the iPhone until two years later …

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9to5google 

Unusually for me, there aren’t many words in this drone diary – mostly I’m going to let the video do the talking!

When I reviewed the Litchi app last time – an app that lets the drone fly completely autonomously on a pre-programmed path – I mentioned a plan I had in mind for a future project at that tumbledown castle.

The plan was to take a dancer there and shoot a dance routine from the air in a beautiful setting. This required the cooperation of the weather, but it all came together earlier this month. It was a lot of fun, and I think the result really shows the value of a video camera you’re able to position exactly where you want it – whether up high or down low …

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We learned yesterday that Tim Cook almost pulled Uber from the App Store over the way it was tracking iPhones and tricking Apple engineers. Uber had seemingly found a way to ‘fingerprint’ individual iPhones even after the app was removed, and had taken steps to try to hide this behavior from Apple – one of many questionable business practices the ride hailing firm has made in recent years.

Mr. Kalanick told his engineers to “geofence” Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., a way to digitally identify people reviewing Uber’s software in a specific location. Uber would then obfuscate its code from people within that geofenced area.

The original NYT piece suggested that Uber was somehow able to track iPhones even after they had been erased, but well-connected John Gruber has come up with what seems like a more probable description of what the company was and wasn’t doing …

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April 21

AAPL: 142.27

-0.17
Stock Chart

Regular readers will know I’m a big fan of Scrivener, having used the app to write three novels, two novellas and a travel guide. But when I accidentally found myself working on a screenplay for a comedy series, I thought I’d try the industry-standard software for the job: Final Draft.

Final Draft comes highly recommended, used by all the top studios and praised by such screenwriting talents as Aaron Sorkin, James Cameron, JJ Abrams, Sofia Coppola and more. Ben Stiller said that ‘Final Draft is the only screenwriting software I have ever used, and it is the only one I ever will use.’

But priced at a hefty $250 for the Mac app and another $20 for the iPad companion app, it’s not a trivial investment for most of us. So what does it do to earn such praise and justify the cost … ?

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electrek 

Apple’s commitment to environmental sustainability is well established, but the company is going one step further in its new Danish data center. In addition to powering the center entirely from renewable energy, the company is capturing the waste heat generated and feeding it into a district heating system, to warm local homes …

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Confide, an app which bills itself as a totally confidential messaging service, is being sued for allegedly failing to live up to its security claims. Used by White House staff, the subscription-based service claims that its disappearing messages are proof against both screenshot and even being photographed …

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April 20

AAPL: 142.44

1.76
Stock Chart

Update: The latest version of Chrome now shows the correct URL.

Most phishing attacks – links that send you to a fake website in the hope that you’ll login with your real credentials – are usually easy to detect. Emails are often generic, rather than using your registered name. Grammar is poor or the wording is weird. The email will threaten closure of your account if you don’t take urgent action, and so on.

If you did miss all these clues and click on the link, the URL would show that it’s not really the site that it claims to be. But one demonstration site created by a Chinese security researcher shows how it’s possible to visit a fake website that seemingly shows the correct https://www.apple.com URL in a browser window …

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Out with the old glass staircase, in with a new ceramic one?
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When we learned yesterday that Apple seemingly plans to replace the iconic glass cube of the Apple Store at New York’s 5th Avenue, the reason wasn’t clear. However, some architectural models that have just come to light might explain the reason and give us a sneak preview of the new design of the flagship store.

Apple replaced the glass cube once before, back in 2011, when it was able to reduce the number of glass panes from 90 to just 15, resulting in a much cleaner look. But this time we’ve learned that the replacement cube may not look any different to the existing one …

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9to5toys 

There’s an acronym widely used for setting goals: SMART. There are a few different versions of this floating around, but one common one is that objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Apple’s stated commitment to stop mining the earth and build all products from recycled materials would seem to fail on two of these criteria.

It isn’t currently achievable. It simply isn’t realistic today for Apple to obtain all of the materials it requires in the quantities it needs at a viable price without mining some of them, and there’s no saying when it might become so.

It’s also not time-bound. Apple has given no indication of when it might reach its goal. Anyone can claim almost anything will be achieved – however far-fetched – without specifying a timeframe.

But while Apple’s objective isn’t SMART, that doesn’t make it either meaningless or useless …

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In a move seemingly intended to keep physical payment cards relevant in the age of Apple Pay, Mastercard has been running pilot trials of credit and debit cards with an embedded fingerprint reader. The company says that the cards require no power, and are no thicker than standard cards …

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April 19

AAPL: 140.68

-0.52
Stock Chart

Three months after the Chinese government forced Apple to remove the New York Times apps from the Chinese version of the App Store, it seems the government is now unhappy with some of the live streaming apps available. Reuters reports that a government agency plans to ‘summon Apple’ to a meeting to demand restrictions.

Internet regulators in China’s capital plan to summon Apple to urge the American firm to tighten its checks on software applications available in its Apple Store, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Wednesday.

It also appears that this won’t be the first time government agencies have raised the topic of live streaming apps with Apple …

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9to5google 

I reviewed the Oneadaptr Twist+ World Charging Station back in 2015. This is a slot-in replacement for the plug section of a MacBook/Air/Pro charger, allowing it to be used in most countries around the world.

An Apple power brick with this permanently attached has lived in my travel bag for the past couple of years, alongside the cables I carry with me. But when Apple slightly changed the design of the charger for the 2016 MacBook Pro, it no longer fit – a problem the company has solved with the latest version …

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Following Apple’s announcement that it expected to stop using Imagination Technologies’ GPU designs in iPhones and iPads within two years, UBS has put together a forecast of the financial impact.

UBS predicts that Apple will initially reduce the royalty rate it pays on each iPhone and iPad produced to just ten cents per device before ceasing payments altogether after two years …

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electrek 

If you didn’t quite get your fill of nostalgic games from the Macintosh emulator released earlier this week, you can now download and play the classic military SF strategy game StarCraft on your Mac – free of charge. The freebie includes the Brood War expansion pack.

Developer Blizzard Entertainment has made the move as a way to promote a 4K remastered version due for release in the summer …

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