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 which he will reluctantly replace with a 2016 MacBook Pro 15, a MacBook Air 11, 9.7-inch iPad Pro, iPhone SE 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

October 21

AAPL: 116.60

Stock Chart

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) reports that the iPhone 7/Plus accounted for 43% of all iPhone sales in Q3 despite being available for only the final two weeks of the quarter. The research company estimates that the iPhone 7 notched up 31% of sales with the larger Plus model at 12%, reports … 

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An Australian surfing instructor has told 7 News that an iPhone 7 left in a car caught fire, destroying the vehicle.

Mat Jones says he had left the phone under clothes in his car while taking a surf lesson. When he returned, he was shocked to discover the vehicle filled with smoke.

It hasn’t yet been confirmed that the phone was the cause of the fire: Apple says that it is aware of the incident and is investigating.

Some commentators are drawing the inevitable but spurious comparisons with Samsung’s Note 7 fires …

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October 20

AAPL: 117.06

Stock Chart

IBM reported some pretty impressive stats this week. Not least among them the fact that 73% of IBM employees – the company whose personal computer division was once almost synonymous with Microsoft – want a Mac as their next PC. The company is currently equipping its employees with Macs at the rate of 1300 people per week.

Indeed, IBM Japan has gone as far as making Macs standard-issue: any employee wanting a Windows machine instead has to make a special request justifying their need.

The company said that it had to overcome a number of assumptions – or prejudices – in order to make the transition …

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Apple may not have officially stated that it’s launching new Macs this month, but the date is at least official and everyone is expecting it to be all about the Macs. Star of the show looks set to be a major revamp of the MacBook Pro line-up, with an OLED touch-bar replacing physical function keys as the headline new feature.

Trademark agent Brian Conroy (aka The Trademark Ninja) thinks he knows the name of the feature: the Magic Toolbar …

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October 19

AAPL: 117.12

Stock Chart

If you’ve ever asked your Facebook friends to recommend a restaurant, a new feature rolling out should make it much easier to check out the responses.

Facebook is using a combination of AI and simple keyword recognition to identify posts asking for recommendations, and will then prompt you to turn on the Recommendations feature. When you do, it will automatically add the restaurants’ Facebook pages to the thread, as well as populating a map with their locations.

Engadget reports that the new feature is intended for use not just with restaurants, but with a range of businesses …

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I’ve long been a fan of ScotteVest products: vests with a ridiculous number of pockets to hold all your technology; check out my detailed review of one of these for chapter-and-verse. The short version is that by putting all your tech into your clothing, you can get around the often-absurd limits some airlines impose on hand-baggage. Plus you can carry a lot of tech around town without the hassle of a bag.

The one drawback is that the vests aren’t exactly unobtrusive. You will always win any arguments with airline staff or security personnel, as there’s no limit to what you’re allowed to carry in your pockets, but it would be preferable to avoid such arguments in the first place. Scott’s latest product looks like it should achieve just that …

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Updated with Amazon statement, below

There’s no shortage of third-party chargers and cables sold for Apple equipment, some of them claiming to be the genuine article, but Apple has found that even Amazon has been selling counterfeit products labelled as the real thing. The products concerned were sold by Amazon directly, and not by a third-party Marketplace seller.

The items have now been removed from sale, and Apple is suing the company that made them …

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October 18

AAPL: 117.47

Stock Chart

I love the Apple ecosystem. It’s not perfect by any means, but I’d say that the vast majority of the time it lives up to Steve’s famous ‘it just works’ promise. It’s the main reason that I have two Macs, an iPad and an iPhone.

So when a big Apple fan deliberately moves outside of that ecosystem, that’s a sign that something is very wrong. And I do so not just in one area, but two. The common theme? iCloud …

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A report from last night suggests that Apple is planning to drop the 11-inch MacBook Air when it unveils new MacBook Pro models later this month.

Macotakara has an above-average track-record, but the move would – on the face of it – seem surprising. The 11-inch Air has always served two purposes. First, it has been the machine of choice for those who want a Mac in the sleekest possible form-factor. It of course lost that role when Apple launched the 12-inch MacBook, so that side of things makes sense.

But the 11-inch machine also served a second role since the plastic MacBooks were phased out: as the entry-level machine designed to bring new customers into the Mac world. In particular, it appealed to students on a tight budget – customers whose lifetime value to Apple would be huge once hooked on Macs from a young age. It’s not a market Apple would want to abandon.

So what might Apple be planning if the rumor is true … ?

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October 17

AAPL: 117.55

Stock Chart

If you want to know what products a company like Apple plans to launch, trademark filings can be a good way to find out because anyone can search them. Apple’s registration of the trademark ‘Apple Watch’ was a bit of a giveaway, for example.

But there is one way tech companies can keep them secret for the first six months, and it’s a method Apple has used no fewer than 343 times: taking advantage of section 44(d) of the US Trademark Act …

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[Update: Additional details below the fold.]

I suggested last week that Apple’s apparent move to remove security tethers from demo devices in its retail stores likely wasn’t too risky thanks to a range of hidden security measures, and we’ve been hearing a little detail on how some of these work.

Apple has long had special OS images for demo devices. You can’t, for example, set a passcode on a iOS device and then lock it, and Macs revert to their original state after a reboot.

Apple regularly tweaks these images. For example, at one time you could go into Safari and change the homepage to any site you liked; there’s now a lock-out to prevent this.

One security feature on the current display models of both iOS devices and Macs is designed to instantly render them useless if someone removes them from the store …

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Tim Cook has told the Nikkei Asian Review that the company hopes that Apple Pay will help to bring about a cashless society. The statement was made a month before the iPhone 7 becomes the first iPhone to support FeliCa, the contactless payment standard used in Japan.

We would like to be a catalyst for taking cash out of the system. We don’t think the consumer particularly likes cash.

Cook also spoke rather mysteriously about the work that will be performed by the R&D center the company is building in Yokohama, expected to open in March …

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We learned a few weeks ago that Apple would be opening a major new UK campus inside the iconic Battersea Power Station building. A developer video has now given us a sneak preview of how the $17B redevelopment will look once it is complete in 2021 – and it’s pretty spectacular.

As we mentioned last time, Apple will be the main tenant of the building, which will also be home to shops, leisure facilities and luxury residential apartments …

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October 14

AAPL: 117.63

Stock Chart

Following speculation that Apple may be looking to acquire Sonder Keyboard, the startup yesterday confirmed to us that it has been in discussions with Apple’s procurement board. Coincidentally or not, the company’s website was not accessible at the time of writing (that may simply be yesterday’s story driving too much traffic to it, of course).

Sonder was not the first company to make a keyboard with dynamically-assigned keys. Patents for the idea go back as far as the 1970s, and the first commercially-available one was the German-made LC Board in the 1980s.

The Optimus Maximus was one of the better-known examples of the technology, later superseded by the Optimus Popularis, in which each key is an individual color LCD display. At $1500, it hasn’t exactly made it into the mainstream, and other examples have come and gone.

But Sonder’s approach has a realistic shot at making dynamic hardware keyboards a mainstream technology …

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When Apple unveiled its swimproof Apple Watch Series 2, it showed off a special Nike+ edition, which will be available in a choice of four colors. It told us that the price would be the same as the standard version, at $369, but didn’t tell us when it would go on sale.

As French site WatchGeneration spotted, Apple has now updated its website to reveal that the Nike+ edition will go on sale on October 28. It differs from the standard Apple Watch Series 2 in three ways …

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If you have an iPhone 4 or Late 2010 13-inch MacBook Air in need of repair, you may need to act quickly: Japanese site Macotakara is reporting that Apple will declare both products obsolete from the end of the month. This means that Apple will, with a a couple of exceptions, no longer offer parts or repair services for these products.

You’re already out of luck for the CDMA version of the iPhone 4, which lost support last month, along with three Macs.

The 3rd-generation AirPort Extreme and 2nd-generation Time Capsule will reportedly meet the same fate on October 31 …

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