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First Look: Orbotix Ollie by Sphero

We first saw Orbotix's Ollie ($100) by Sphero at CES 2014 and were immediately impressed. Unlike Sphero (review) and Sphero 2.0 (review), Ollie isn't a robotic ball — it's a quick little app-controlled robot with two wheels. Although it's not waterproof like the prior Sphero balls, Ollie can reportedly move at speeds up to 14 mph, and Orbotix claims it can run for one hour of play on a full three-hour USB charge. The customizable Ollie connects to an iOS device using Bluetooth LE for a range of 30 meters (98 feet). We'll be putting Ollie through its paces; check back later for our full review.

Apple quietly pulls back on 2014 CarPlay availability

Apple appears to be quietly pulling back on its promise of 2014 availability for CarPlay technology, with an update to its CarPlay page now removing any indications of 2014 availability for specific models. Apple originally announced earlier this year that CarPlay would be “available in select cars shipping in 2014”, and several other manufacturers including Audi, Hyundai, and Volvo had originally indicated that they would be delivering CarPlay in at least some 2015 models due to hit the market this year. However, Mercedes and Volvo have since both announced last month that they are now delaying CarPlay support until 2015. The specific reasons for the delay are unclear at this time. [via 9to5Mac]

iPhone 6 Plus users reporting bending iPhones

Several MacRumors readers have reported cases of iPhone 6 Plus units actually bending while being carried in pockets, merely days after the device launched. One user reported discovering that his new iPhone 6 Plus had bent slightly after only about 18 hours of sitting in a front suit pocket. While the problem of iPhones bending slightly isn’t new, the much larger but thinner profile of the iPhone 6 Plus increases the likelihood of this occurring, particularly when users attempt to carry the 5.5” device in a typical pants pocket. [Photo by hanzoh, courtesy of MacRumors]

FXNOW channel comes to Apple TV

Apple has added the FXNOW channel to Apple TV. It was reported in July that FXNOW would be arriving on Apple’s set-top box in the next 12 months — that time has already come. FXNOW is the on-demand service for FX, FXX, and FXM, and as such, the channel features a number of FX shows, and a surprising amount of popular movies, as well. Authentication of a cable subscription is required to access the content.

Apple airs two new iPhone 6 ads

Apple has posted two new ads for the iPhone 6, featuring Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake. The new ads, Huge (above), and Cameras, began airing last night and highlight the larger screens of the new models and the enhanced camera capabilities. [via 9to5Mac]

Review: Belkin WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set

The WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set ($100) is the newest entry in Belkin's lineup of home automation products that began two years ago with its WeMo Switch and WeMo Switch + Motion (iLounge Rating: B), and has been more recently expanding into everything from crock pots to humidifiers. While Belkin originally planned to stick to a "no screwdriver" rule with its WeMo devices to guarantee a solution that was easy for the average person to install and use, it was forced to depart from that with last year's WeMo Light Switch (iLounge Rating: B) in response to customer demand for more comprehensive solutions. Now, however, Belkin goes back to WeMo's roots with a lighting solution that is both functional and easy to install.

Apple to reportedly shutter Beats Music? (Update: No)

A new report from TechCrunch reveals that Apple may be planning to shut down its Beats Music subscription service. Citing “five sources, including several prominent employees at Apple and Beats,” the report notes that a number of engineers from the Beats Music team have already been moved to other projects at Apple such as iTunes. Although it remains unclear when this is expected to happen, all sources point to Apple planning to discontinue the Beats Music brand. Even more surprisingly, this news comes on the heels of an Apple TV Software Update that added the Beats Music channel, as well as promoting the Beats Music app for iOS devices, suggesting at least some commitment to the service by Apple. No information was disclosed about Apple’s future plans for streaming, so it is entirely possible that the company intends to fold Beats Music into some future service under the iTunes brand. [via 9to5Mac]

Updated: Apple has denied the report to Re/code, which suggests that the company may change the name of the service or otherwise integrate it into iTunes.

First Look: Western Digital My Passport Wireless

Western Digital's My Passport portable hard drives have all been appealingly small and ready to take pretty much anywhere -- except that they've depended on a computer for connectivity and power. Made entirely from plastic, My Passport Wireless ($180-$220) preserves the same compact design but is capable of fully wireless operation. A six-hour rechargeable battery and 802.11n MIMO Wi-Fi enable the 1TB or 2TB hard disk to stream media content to up to eight devices, using the company's My Cloud iOS app to browse content. One USB 3.0 cable and a wall adapter are included for times when you're able to connect to a data and/or power source. The neat twist here is an integrated SD card slot, which can be used to instantly share content over the same Wi-Fi connection; you can also use My Passport Wireless as a Wi-Fi hub, or get it to join your existing wireless network. We'll have a full review of My Passport Wireless soon.

Report: iOS 8 adoption rate estimated at 30%

Several research and analytics firms have reported that iOS 8 adoption has reached 30% following the first weekend of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus sales, based on in-app analytics reported by Fiksu, Mixpanel, Appsee, and Chitika. While this number is up from the estimated 15% adoption following the initial iOS 8 public release last week, it still falls short of the almost 50% of users that had updated to iOS 7 by this time last year. The higher adoption rates of course include the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, both of which come with iOS 8 preinstalled, which would account for at least some of the increase. Stats from Appsee also notably indicate that 2% of users are still on iOS 6.0. Apple has not yet released any official numbers for iOS 8 adoption. [via 9to5Mac]

 






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