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Review: Hifiman Ananda On-Ear Planar Magnetic Headphones

You never forget your first. We’ve owned and reviewed a lot of headphones over the years — some good, some bad, some expensive, some cheap — but there are very few to which we have an emotional connection. The Hifiman HE500, an open-back planar magnetic headphone originally released in 2011 for $899, was our first true audiophile headphone. It is a large, heavy headphone, its headband is not comfortable, its cable connectors are annoying to use, and it requires a ton of power to drive properly. It’s perhaps the least convenient headphone we own, but we’ll never sell it — the HE500 is the headphone that introduced us (and our friends & family) to true hi-fi headphone sound. Today we’re trying out a headphone that seems to be, in some ways, a spiritual successor to the HE500 in a more advanced, more versatile package — the Hifiman Ananda.


Apple Watch may face import tariffs

The Apple Watch could end up seeing new tariffs as a result of the U.S.-China trade war, according to a new report by Reuters. According to the report, recent government rulings on tariffs have put at least the original Apple Watch in an obscure subcategory of data transmission devices — alongside several Fitbit activity trackers and Sonos speakers — that would have them falling under one of the 6,000 codes that have been included in President Donald Trump’s most recent round of proposed tariffs. While the $200 billion list of tariffs is still in a public comment period, it is scheduled to potentially go into effect this fall, which would result in a ten percent tariff those devices, including the original Apple Watch, Fitbit’s Charge, Charge HR, and Surge models, and Sonos’s Play:3, Play:5 and SUB speakers. Notably, only the original “Series 0” Apple Watch is included in this particular tariff category, so the new policies may have no measurable impact, but it’s not inconceivable that existing models could be reshuffled into the same category, since there seems to be no reason — other than a bureaucratic error — as to why only one model of Apple Watch should fit into this tariff code and not others.


1Password gets Markdown support in Secure Notes, iMessage stickers

AgileBits has updated 1Password for iOS adding support for using Markdown to create rich text in secure notes — a feature that came to 1Password for Mac earlier this year) — along with a new iMessage sticker pack and numerous other fixes and improvements. Markdown support allows users to create much more sophisticated secure notes complete with headers, bold and italic text styles, bulleted and numbered lists, and even tappable links, effectively bringing 1Password’s Secure Notes capabilities into the mainstream. A new set of 1Password Stickers for iMessage also allows fans of 1Password to share cute iconography with their friends and family, and the update also fixes two serious bugs with searching and creating new entries. [via 9to5Mac]

Daily Deal: USB Wall Charger With Hidden Camera

For Friday’s iLounge Deal, you can get the USB Wall Charger With Hidden Camera for only $49.99 — that’s 61% off the regular price. Disguised as a simple USB charger, the LizaCam USB Wall Plug actually houses a hidden camera so you can discretely keep an eye on your living space right from your wall outlet. A companion iPhone app lets you tap into the camera’s HD feed via Wi-Fi, and audio and video can be recorded to a micro SD card.

Get the USB Wall Charger With Hidden Camera now for only $49.99

Review: Fibaro The Button HomeKit Controller

Fibaro has expanded on its lineup of HomeKit compatible sensors with The Button, a new Bluetooth based accessory that allows HomeKit users to easily activate accessories or trigger entire scenes by simply pushing a button, the second new accessory we’ve seen that leverages the controller support that Apple added to HomeKit with the release of iOS 11 last fall to provide easier control for home automation accessories tied into HomeKit.


Mophie releases new lineup of Powerstations with Lightning inputs

Mophie has announced a new lineup of power packs designed exclusively for Apple devices, featuring an Apple Lightning connector for power input as opposed to the more traditional micro USB port. The new powerstation models allow users to use a standard Lightning cable to recharge the battery pack, avoiding the need to pack an additional cable when travelling, since the same cable can also be used to charge an iPhone, iPad, or iPod directly. The new battery packs are available in four different configurations: the standard powerstation and powerstation plus each provide 6,040 mAh of power with two USB ports, with the base model priced at $60 and the plus model replacing a USB port with a built-in Lightning connector and priced at $80. Powerstation plus XL sports a 10,000 mAh battery and features a built-in Lighting connector and single USB port, while the powerstation XXL provides 20,200 mAh of capacity with three USB ports; both models sell for $100. The powerstation plus XL also uniquely features the ability to recharge wirelessly from any Qi-enabled charging pad. The new lineup is available exclusively from Mophie’s web site and in Apple Stores.

Wemo Mini adds direct HomeKit support via software update

Wemo has released a software update for is Wemo Mini smart switch that retroactively adds HomeKit support to the smart plug, CNET reports. What’s especially interesting about this update is that it represents the first sofware-only HomeKit implementations to arrive since Apple opened up the possibility last year at WWDC. Previously, HomeKit accessories have required a hardware security chip to integrate with Apple’s home automation ecosystem, requiring many vendors to either release entirely new accessories or provide HomeKit bridges to act as gateways. Belkin in fact released its own Wemo bridge earlier this year to tie in all of its existing Wemo accessories, but now thanks to Apple’s new software protocols, the Wemo Mini can simply be updated to allow it to tie into HomeKit without any requirement to use the bridge. It’s unclear how many other Wemo accessories will be getting the HomeKit software treatment, although the company tells CNET that it’s considering updating the Wemo Dimmer, in the very least. We’ll be putting the newly HomeKit-enabled Wemo Mini smart plug through its paces in the next couple of days, so stay tuned for a more in-depth look at how it all fits together.

Apple may be tightening USB Restricted Mode in latest iOS 12 beta

A new report from AppleInsider suggests that Apple may be tightening its new USB Restricted Mode even more, following a report last week that security researchers had found a loophole that could be used to work around the new security feature. While we have been unable to reproduce this in our own testing, according to AppleInsider, the fourth beta of iOS 12 has now removed the one-hour window during which a USB data device can be connected to an iPhone, basically requiring users to unlock their iPhone each and every time a computer or other USB data accessory is connected. The restriction still doesn’t appear to apply to Apple USB chargers or audio accessories such as Apple’s own Lighting EarPods, although some non-Apple charging and audio devices may still be affected depending on how they communicate with the Lightning port.


Daily Deal: Syncwire UNBREAKcable

For Thursday’s iLounge Deal, you can pick up the Syncwire UNBREAKcable for only $10.99 — that’s 42% off the regular price. This heavy-duty cable lives up to its name with a tinplate interior, a TPE jacket exterior, and wrapped internal wires so it won’t easily break or fray. Rated for more than 30,000 bends, this could be the last cable you’ll ever have to buy.

Get the Syncwire UNBREAKcable now for only $10.99

Doorbell category vanishes from Apple’s U.S. HomeKit page

Apple appears to have removed the “Doorbell” category entirely from its U.S. HomeKit accessories page, according to a report from 9to5Mac. The category previously featured the August Doorbell Cam with HomeKit support “coming soon.” August promised over two years ago to offer a retroactive update to is original August Doorbell Cam, however the company never said anything further about the feature after that, and the feature was conspicuously missing when the upgraded [August Doorbell Cam Pro][4] was released last year. Ring also promised earlier this year that HomeKit support would still be coming, despite its acquisition by Amazon. It’s unclear why Apple has removed the category, but it seems clear that for whatever reasons, Apple and its partners have been struggling to deliver on HomeKit integration for doorbell cameras, despite the otherwise expanding HomeKit ecosystem, which already includes several normal security cameras. The change also currently only appears to affect Apple’s U.S. HomeKit page — both the category and the August Doorbell Cam remain listed on the HomeKit accessories page in several other countries, including Canada, Australia, and the U.K., although it’s uncertain whether this is truly a U.S. specific change or Apple simply hasn’t updated the page in other countries yet.

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