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 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.

Today

GOOG: 630.38

-7.23
Stock Chart

google-self-driving-car

The accident record of Google’s self-driving cars speaks for itself, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still bugs to be worked out. Ironically, though, one of those bugs demonstrates just how capable the cars are.

When one of the cars encountered a cyclist doing a trackstand (balancing while stationary by making tiny back-and-forth movements) at a four-way stop, the car came to a halt every time the cyclist moved forward an inch or so. The recent encounter in Austin, Texas, was described by the cyclist on web forum Road Bike Review …  expand full story

code

One of the backend improvements in Apple’s upcoming iPhone and iPad operating system update iOS 9 is a strengthening of app security when accessing data from webservers. The new App Transport Security (ATS) feature ensures that only connections encrypted using HTTPS are permitted. There’s just one problem with that: not all advertisers use HTTPS, so ATS will stop some ads appearing in apps.

Google has responded by providing developers with five lines of code that allow them to disable ATS …  expand full story

August 27

GOOG: 637.61

8.99
Stock Chart

A report in the WSJ suggests that Amazon is most likely abandoning plans to make any further smartphones after the failure of the Fire Phone.

In recent weeks Amazon has dismissed dozens of engineers who worked on its Fire phone at Lab126, its secretive hardware-development center in Silicon Valley, according to people familiar with the matter […]

The company told some smartphone engineers earlier this year that further phone development would be shelved, though one of the people said Amazon has shifted the effort to its hometown of Seattle … 

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August 26

GOOG: 628.62

46.56
Stock Chart

WhatsApp for Android has received a worthwhile set of improvements in the latest update, now available via Google Play.

You can now set custom notifications for individual contacts and/or groups, allowing you to choose tone, vibration, popup notification and light settings for particular contacts. You can also mark a chat as unread, and there’s a low data usage option for voice calls. As noted by NDTV, there are also a few more enhancements …  expand full story

August 25

GOOG: 582.06

-7.55
Stock Chart

August 20

GOOG: 646.83

-14.07
Stock Chart

gartner

New data from Gartner suggests that Samsung saw its worldwide sales fall by 5.3% year-on-year, its market share dropping from 26.2% in Q2 2014 to 21.9% in the same quarter this year. The company lost ground to both Apple and Chinese brands Huawei and Xiaomi.

Despite the launch of new S6 models, Samsung’s premium phones continued to be challenged by Apple’s large-screen iPhones. Samsung lost 4.3 percentage points in market share and declined 5.3 percent in unit sales in the second quarter of 2015.

Samsung was hit hardest by Huawei, which saw sales growth of 46.3%, followed by Apple, which increased its sales by 36% …  expand full story

Google’s Amazon Prime competitor, Google Express, is closing its two delivery hubs and looking instead to outsource its delivery operations, reports Re/code.

Google Express, the search giant’s same-day delivery service, is shutting down its two delivery hubs in San Francisco and Mountain View, Calif., according to sources […]

Rising costs of the drivers and vehicles are likely one rationale. According to multiple sources, Google is trying to curb these by outsourcing its delivery to other on-demand startups and has held initial talks with multiple companies, including Postmates and Flywheel … 

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August 19

GOOG: 660.90

4.77
Stock Chart

Google and Intel have developed what looks like the ultimate augmented reality smartphone, combining Google’s Project Tango tech to map and track 3D environments with Intel’s RealSense camera sensor, which isolates and scans 3D objects within those environments.

Engadget reports that the two companies have so far produced a developer prototype of the smartphone, with a consumer device expected to be released further down the line. While there will doubtless be serious applications for the technology, it’s augmented reality gaming that is likely to get the most attention …  expand full story

blackphone-2

The security-focused Blackphone 2, announced at Mobile World Congress back in March, is now available for pre-order, shipping sometime next month. With the company now focused on bulk sales to enterprise rather than to consumers, the webpage doesn’t reveal pricing, which likely depends on volume. The existing model came in at $629.

While Android wouldn’t necessarily be the obvious starting point for a smartphone whose selling-point is privacy, the company says that the combination of its Android-based Silent OS and own-brand apps ensures that data is secured and communications are encrypted …  expand full story

August 18

GOOG: 656.13

-4.74
Stock Chart

galaxy-note-5-drop-test

If you’re eagerly awaiting the chance to get your hands on Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 5, a new PhoneBuff drop test suggests that – like the Galaxy S6 – you’ll either want to be confident you won’t drop it, or start looking for cases …  expand full story

August 17

GOOG: 660.87

3.75
Stock Chart

If we want to understand why the percentage of women in working in the tech sector has dropped from 35% in 1990 to just 26% today, asking some women in tech for their thoughts on the issue seems like a smart thing to do. Re/code is doing just that, in a new video series entitled The 26%: Women Speak Out on Tech’s Diversity Crisis, and a Google X robotics expert was first in line …  expand full story

August 14

GOOG: 657.12

0.67
Stock Chart

Engadget noticed that Google’s Project Ara team had posted a confusing series of tweets about its Project Ara modular smartphone, making it unclear how the company now plans to proceed.

After a long period of radio silence following a photo posted from Google I/O back in May, the project’s Twitter account posted first that it had some updates to share, then that there would be a “market pilot re-route” but “don’t worry, #ProjectAra isn’t going anywhere, #just recalculating” …  expand full story

128GB

Update: Samsung has informed The Verge that the listing of 128GB versions was a mistake, and that they do not have plans to sell either the Note 5 or S6 Edge+ with 128GB of storage.

While Samsung’s launch of the Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note 5 mentioned only 32GB and 64GB storage options, a number of people noted that Samsung’s U.S. website is also listing 128B versions of both devices …  expand full story

August 13

GOOG: 656.45

-3.11
Stock Chart

google-security

Google’s Android security lead Adrian Ludwig has posted a detailed description of the security update recently issued by Google for Nexus devices. The update was designed to address the Stagefright vulnerability which has been described as the  “worst Android vulnerability in the mobile OS history.”

On August 5, 2015, we released an over-the-air (OTA) update for Nexus 4/5/6/7/9/10 and Nexus Player devices that includes several security fixes. The patches for these fixes have also been released to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) source repository.  These issues are categorized and provided in decreasing order of severity.  We have also provided an assessment of each issue, given the information we have at the time of the publication of this bulletin … 

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August 12

GOOG: 659.56

-1.22
Stock Chart

snapdragon-820

Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 820 chip, which has been rumored to be powering the Huawei-made 5.7-inch Nexus due to ship later this year, will come with a new Adreno 530 GPU, says the chipmaker. The new GPU will offer improved battery-life when watching movies or playing graphics-intensive games, and will also offer significantly improved image-processing when taking photos, said Tim Leland, head of Qualcomm’s visual processing group.

Our Adreno 5xx-class GPU, brings an entirely new level of imaging to smartphones, and is designed to allow Snapdragon-powered devices to capture ultra-clear, vivid photos and videos regardless of motion and lighting conditions and display them with the color accuracy that nature intended … 

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