Ben Lovejoy


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

November 18

AAPL: 117.29

Stock Chart

Having started out with my first impressions a week ago, highlighted my core questions and decided on Monday that the iPad Pro couldn’t replace my iPad Air 2 (only be an additional device), it’s time to make my decision.

I think between us at 9to5Mac we’ve been putting the tablet through its paces in a pretty comprehensive fashion! We don’t always reach the same conclusions about devices, but in this case I found myself agreeing with the bottom-line of each of my colleagues who’ve been trying it.

Dom described it as a giant Netflix machine, and it certainly is. With that huge screen and extremely loud speakers, movies and TV shows are very compelling, and – unlike a MacBook with the same size screen – you don’t feel like you’re looking at a work device.

Zac saw it as the best entertainment iPad, and I agree with that – with the single proviso that it’s just too big for comfortable ebook reading in bed. But reading ebooks on your lap is a delightful experience. Magazines are just wow. Casual web-browsing – sat on the sofa, just passively consuming content rather than planning to act on it – is a joy. In portrait mode, you can see a decent chunk of a page at a time, everything is big enough to read comfortably and it just feels like a much more relaxing experience than using a MacBook or a smaller iPad where you have to do more scrolling.

Jeremy found that it sat awkwardly between two devices – not feeling like a better alternative than either his iPad Air 2 or his MacBook Pro when it comes to either work or play. I agree 100% on the work side of the equation. I’m more sold on the play side of things, but given that I like to read in bed every night, ultimately I’d have to agree that my iPad Air 2 is a complete solution where the iPad Pro isn’t.

But it’s not just my colleagues’ views I’ve been reading, it’s yours too – in the comments on my earlier diary pieces. So let me address a couple of those before delivering my own final verdict …

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A Goldman Sachs investment note argues that Apple has huge potential for generating more recurring revenue, suggesting an opportunity to generate an additional $7.6B a month, reports Business Insider. The company points to the rumored Apple TV subscription service as one future source of monthly revenue.

In a recurring revenue framework, we have constructed an average revenue per user (ARPU) metric that captures the installment plan pricing of the iPhone ($32/month), assumed installment plans for the other hardware products, and services (e.g. Music at $10/mo, TV at $40/mo) … 

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Planning documents obtained by the Chicago Tribune reveal Apple’s spectacular plans for a new flagship store on the north bank of the Chicago River. Fittingly for the city which was home to Frank Lloyd Wright, the design echoes the Midwestern Prairie Style buildings created by the famous architect.

Apple confirmed the plans to the Tribune, which reports that they have already been granted approval, with a formal presentation set to ‘rubber-stamp’ the decision on Thursday …  expand full story


November 17

AAPL: 113.69

Stock Chart

Nobody who watched the news coverage of the terrorist attacks in Paris could fail to be moved by the scenes and the stories emerging from it. It was undeniably a horrific series of events, and it’s only human nature to want action to be taken to reduce the likelihood of future such atrocities.

But there is always a danger at such times that emotion, rather than rational thought, will drive government policy-making. I won’t get into the broader theme there, as there are more appropriate forums for that, but there is one aspect that is very much on-topic for us: the battle between Apple and governments over encryption.

There have already been unattributed reports that the terrorists in Paris used encrypted communication. I have no idea whether there is any specific evidence for that, but it would hardly be damning were such evidence to emerge: it would be frankly astonishing if they hadn’t.

There are three reasons why Apple is right to maintain that it will continue to offer end-to-end encrypted communication no matter how much governments in the USA, UK and elsewhere may protest …  expand full story

T-Mobile is extending its popular Music Freedom service, which allows unlimited use of Apple Music and other streaming music services without eating into your data allowance, to MetroPCS prepaid customers – albeit under a slightly different name. T-Mobile said that its Music Unlimited service would be available on a range of plans, starting from just $40/month.

Music Unlimited includes more than 30 music streaming services, including Apple Music, Pandora, Spotify, Slacker, iHeart Radio, and Google Play Music. Music Unlimited is available to new and existing MetroPCS customers on Metro’s new $40, $50, and $60 unlimited plans.

The company is also offering a Binge On equivalent, known as Data Maximizer. This compresses streaming video streams down to DVD quality to allow customers to stream three times as much video content for the same data usage …  expand full story


November 16

AAPL: 114.18

Stock Chart

Things have moved on rather a lot since I gave my first impressions and highlighted my core questions in choosing between my existing iPad Air 2 and the iPad Pro. Further usage of it has made it abundantly clear that the iPad Pro cannot replace a standard iPad. It’s ridiculously over-sized for reading or watching Netflix in bed, and there are other times when the smaller version was simply more convenient.

But I do still love that screen! It’s great for casual web-browsing – better than either my MacBooks or iPad Air 2. It’s fantastic for viewing photos. It’s great for ebooks so long as you’re not trying to read them in bed. Magazines are amazing. Netflix is great with the huge screen and really loud speakers. Split View makes it a genuine multi-tasking device.

So, the question now is: send the iPad Pro back, or keep both devices? I said last time that I really couldn’t see a justification for having that much cash invested in iOS devices. One commentator responded to this with “Ah, just do it” – which I have to confess is a well-argued position.

I’d certainly find that easier to justify if it could earn its keep as a mobile writing device, so that was my next experiment …  expand full story


Apple has announced that it will power all of its operations in Singapore from solar energy, the first company in the city-state to do so. The scheme will also provide electricity to around 9,000 public-owned homes.

CNET reports that Apple is partnering with local clean energy provide Sunseap.

The Cupertino consumer electronics giant has partnered with Singapore’s largest clean energy provider, Sunseap Group, who will provide power to Apple’s 2,500-person corporate campus and retail store. Energy will be obtained from solar panels laid on the rooftops of 800 buildings.

Retail head Angela Ahrendts also confirmed to The Strait Times earlier reports that it is opening its first Apple Store in Singapore, with hiring underway …

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Apple CEO Tim Cook has ruled out the possibility of Apple merging iOS and OS X to create a single category of device. Speaking to the Irish Independent, Cook said that such a device would be too compromised.

“We feel strongly that customers are not really looking for a converged Mac and iPad,” said Cook. “Because what that would wind up doing, or what we’re worried would happen, is that neither experience would be as good as the customer wants. So we want to make the best tablet in the world and the best Mac in the world. And putting those two together would not achieve either. You’d begin to compromise in different ways.”

He said that some were reading too much into the way Apple has brought the two platforms closer together …
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November 13

AAPL: 112.34

Stock Chart

I posted my first impressions of the iPad Pro yesterday, and having spent much of the past 24 hours mostly using it rather than my MacBook, I now have more of a sense of why Tim Cook thinks it could be a laptop replacement.

While most reviewers dismissed that, and I would certainly join them in doing so when thinking of you or I, it’s easy to forget that we are not normals. We want the power of pro apps, and the ability to do plenty of multitasking. We’re a very different user case to the average non-tech user who rarely ventures further than email, web, chat and a bit of light photo-editing.

I’ve said before that when non-tech friends ask me for advice on which laptop to buy, I quiz them on what they want to do with it and often end up recommending an iPad and keyboard instead. With the increased screen size of the iPad Pro, I can see myself doing that even more often in the future. Sure, it’s expensive for what it is, but it’s a hassle-free, flexible device with the option of built-in LTE. For many, that makes it a better option than a MacBook.

In my usage so far, I’ve been impressed by quite a lot, have some grumbles – and have two key concerns about the possibility of the device replacing my much-loved iPad Air 2. Let’s start with the good news …  expand full story


With both the iPad Pro’s Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil showing availability of 4-5 weeks, and neither available in-store, Apple has issued a brief statement to Mashable acknowledging the issue and promising ‘regular shipments.’

Customers are very excited for iPad Pro, Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard. We have limited supply of Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard in Apple Retail stores. Our stores will continue to receive regular shipments and we encourage customers to visit for online availability and delivery dates … 

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November 12

AAPL: 115.72

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This could be dangerous to my wallet. The last time I ordered an Apple gadget, confident that I wouldn’t be keeping it, I turned out to be wrong. Very wrong.

My view of the iPad Pro before mine arrived was very clear: this was a corporate device. It’s going to be great for carrying around lots of A4 documents to view at almost full size. It’s going to be a fantastic presentation tool for one-on-one meetings.

But I didn’t see it as a consumer device. It does nothing a standard sized iPad can’t do – though I was sure my colleague Dom was going to be right in describing it as a killer Netflix machine.

But will it, like the Watch, win me over in my arbitrary one-week trial … ?  expand full story


ArsTechnica has been putting the iPad Pro through its paces in a whole raft of benchmark tests, comparing it to other iOS devices as well as to MacBooks and Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4.

When it comes to other iPads, nothing comes close in Geekbench tests. In single-core tests, the iPad Pro gets an overall score of 3233 against 1831 for the iPad Air 2. The much newer iPhone 6S gets closest, at 2537.

In multi-core tests, the differences look far more modest, but there’s a twist …  expand full story

November 11

AAPL: 116.11

Stock Chart

Apple’s design chief Jony Ive told the Telegraph that while his own team has worked using paper sketchbooks for more than 20 years, they are for the first time starting to use the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil instead.

Many of us in the design team have worked together for 20 plus years. We’ve always drawn in our sketchbooks, and for the first time – despite flirting with some alternatives a couple of years ago – I’m seeing people starting to use the iPad and Apple Pencil. Our personal experience has been that there are definitely affordances and opportunities now that you have a much more natural and intuitive environment to make marks, there are clearly things you can do sketching and writing on the iPad which you could never dream of doing in the analogue world.

He said that while he’d started off demonstrating it, he’d then found himself using it for his work …  expand full story


I’ve long recommended the MacBook Air to friends who want something a little more capable than an iPad but don’t need their machine to do any heavy lifting. But recent experience has now led me to go rather further …

I’ve written at length about why I’m doggedly sticking to my four-year-old 17-inch MacBook Pro as my main machine. The tl;dr version is that I really like working on a large screen, and I also like having all my files on board when travelling – something I can do because I upgraded it to 2 x 1TB SSDs.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that it fell victim to the GPU problem that has afflicted a number of 2011-2013 MacBook Pros. The first symptoms were everything slowing to a crawl when connected to my 27-inch Thunderbolt display, followed by random crashes and then the characteristic graphics distortion that confirmed the logic board as the culprit.

The good news was that Apple would fix it free of charge under its Repair Extension Program. The bad news was that it would take a week, during which time my second Mac – a Mid 2013 11-inch MacBook Air usually used exclusively as a mobile writing device – would have to take over all its duties. I wondered how well it would cope …  expand full story

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