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Olloclip unveils Studio mounting + accessory system for iPhone 6/6s/6s Plus

Olloclip has introduced Studio ($90), a new mounting and accessory system for iPhone 6/6s and iPhone 6 Plus/6s Plus. Studio is built around Studio Case, an Olloclip-compatible case not completely dissimilar to the company’s prior Ollocase. However, Studio also incorporates an integrated rail mounting system, and it comes with a number of accessories, including a kickstand, finger grip, cold-shoe adapters, and clips to attach a tripod or handles. Studio is available to pre-order, and it should be ready to ship by early February.

iHome unveils new SmartPlug, speakers at CES 2016

iHome has unveiled a collection of several new products at this year’s CES, including an updated version of its original HomeKit-enabled SmartPlug, a new model building on its Kineta speaker lineup, and several new speakers and clock radios.

The new iHome Control iSP8 SmartPlug ($50), expands on the company’s original HomeKit-enabled plug, adding power consumption monitoring capabilities and compatibility with Android, Nest, Wink, and more in addition to the iOS HomeKit support. A remote control is also included in the package to allow the plug to be used without a smartphone or tablet.

The new Kineta K5 ($70) builds on the new K-Cell battery equipped speakers iHome debuted last year with a new design, Bluetooth-enabled wireless FM clock radio, and built-in speakerphone. It’s equipped with Reson8 speakers and includes the same K-Cell battery technology as the original models — a removable battery pack that can be popped out to recharge mobile devices on the go.

Parrot debuts Disco fixed-wing drone

In advance of this year’s CES 2016, Parrot has debuted an entirely new fixed-wing drone design. The new drone, named Disco, features an ultra-light flying wing design for an entirely new flying experience from traditional quadcopter-style hovering drones. Disco features an auto-pilot along with multiple sensors such as an accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, barometer, Pitot tube, and GPS to provide it with data to effectively control its flight and make it simple for even novice users to get up and flying quickl. Take-off is automatic — the user simply needs to throw Disco into the air and it will gain altitude autonomously and turn in the sky until you take control of it. Parrot Disco can reach speeds of up to almost 50 mph without losing stability and is equipped with a front camera for an immersive point-of-view flying experience, and it can be paired with the Parrot Skycontroller and FPV glasses for a “head in the clouds view.” Users can also create app-enabled flight plans for autonomous flight, and Disco can remain in the air for up to 45 minutes on a single battery charge. Disco is expected to be available later this year; pricing has not yet been announced.

Apple debuts special edition Apple Watch models for Chinese New Year

Apple is releasing a limited edition of the Apple Watch Sport model in honor of the Chinese New Year. Debuting in new yellow gold aluminum and silver aluminum finishes, the new editions are paired with bright red straps, a color traditionally associated with good luck in Chinese culture. The special Chinese New Year editions sell for the same price as the standard Apple Watch Sport model, and are only available in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia from Jan. 15 to Feb. 22, although Apple is taking pre-orders as of today. [via Mashable]

IK Multimedia debuts iRig BlueTurn, iKlip A/V

Just before this year’s CES officially kicks off, IK Multimedia has unveiled iRig BlueTurn ($70), a new compact Bluetooth-based page turner for musicians, designed to allow hands-free navigation of set lists, scores, lyric sheets and more on iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Mac. BlueTurn is a small foot controller with two backlit soft-touch buttons, similar in design to the company’s earlier iRig BlueBoard MIDI controller. iRig BlueTurn can be paired with IK’s own iKlip Stage setlist management app as well as many other popular page-turning and document viewing apps. iRig BlueTurn is expected to be available in February 2016.

Incipio expands ClamCase’s iPad case lineup

Incipio has announced a collection of new ClamCase iPad keyboard cases for the iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 4. The new cases incorporate the signature, patented 360-degree hinge design from the previous models, while adding more productivity-enhancing features such as backlit keyboards and backup battery power. The ClamCase Pro for iPad mini 4 ($130), expected in Q1 of 2016, features a Lithium-ion battery and Bluetooth 3.0 chip for months of keyboard use on a single charge, and one-touch pairing to automatically sync the keyboard case to the iPad mini 4. It will be available in White/Silver and Smoke Gray. ClamCase+ for iPad Pro ($170) and ClamCase+ for iPad Air 2 ($150) will be available in Q2 of 2016 in Gray, Gold, and Silver. It will include a backlit keyboard with adjustable brightness, built-in sensors to activate the wake and sleep functions, and an integrated Apple Pencil slot.

iDevices debuts four new HomeKit products

iDevices is expanding its HomeKit lineup with four new home automation products that the company is debuting at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Building on the iDevices Switch and iDevices Thermostat, the new product lineup now includes a light socket, wall switch, dimmer switch, and wall outlet. The iDevices Socket allows users to screw in any standard light bulb to control their lighting via HomeKit and the iDevices Connected app, and the Socket includes dimming functionality as well as a customizable multicolored LED night light. The iDevices Wall Switch and Dimmer Switch accessories can be installed in place of any standard, single light switch to control home lighting remotely via Siri/HomeKit and the iDevices Connected app. Both feature customizable LED night lights and support both single pole and three-way switching setups. The iDevices Wall Outlet provides an installable version of iDevices Switch — it can replace an existing wall outlet with the ability to control, monitor, and schedule power to both outlets individually. The iDevices Socket is expected to be available for sale in Q1 of 2016, while the Wall Switch and Dimmer Switch are scheduled for release in Q2 2016, and the Wall Outlet for Q3 2016. Pricing has not yet been announced.

Griffin debuts Travel Power Bank for Apple Watch, Survivor bags + iPad Pro case, more

While CES 2016 doesn’t actually start until Wednesday, companies are already announcing new products from the show. Griffin has introduced a number of new products, including Travel Power Bank ($70) for Apple Watch. Travel Power Bank is a portable 800 mAh battery with a built-in Apple Watch charger. Griffin claims Travel Power Bank can deliver four full charges to an Apple Watch before it needs recharged, which makes it an ideal accessory for a trip. It even comes with a keyring to attach to a set of keys or a hook. It should be available in the second quarter of 2016. Also for Apple Watch, Griffin has unveiled Uptown Leather Band ($60) and Trainer Watch Band ($40), a silicone band. Both of those are set for a Q3 2016 release.

CarPlay arriving in new Ford models this year

Ford has announced that Apple’s CarPlay will be coming to its SYNC 3-equipped cars starting this year. All 2017 models featuring Ford’s SYNC 3 system will be able to use CarPlay, and owners of 2016 models featuring SYNC 3 will also “have an opportunity to upgrade later in the year.” The new Ford Escape will be the first to take advantage of CarPlay. While car companies have generally been slower to adopt CarPlay than many anticipated, there’s been a bit of a surge recently — in addition to Ford, Mitsubishi, Volvo, and Hyundai have all announced upcoming CarPlay availability in certain models.

Report: iPhone 7 Plus to have 256GB model, larger battery

A new report claims that Apple’s upcoming iPhone 7 Plus will have an larger 256GB option, in addition to a bigger battery, further differentiating the larger 5.5” iPhone from the 4.7” iPhone 7. The report comes from Chinese site MyDrivers — the site also recently reported that a 4” iPhone will be arriving in April. It’s unclear if all the iPhone 7 Plus’ base storage capacities would increase, or if the 256GB will simply be an extra model. (We personally wouldn’t mind seeing both new iPhone 7 models starting at a 32GB base capacity at least, given the space now needed for larger apps and photos.) The larger battery claim — that the 7 Plus will get a bump to 3100 mAh from its current 2750 mAh battery in the iPhone 6s Plus — seems questionable, given Apple’s penchant for thinness, though the company could seek improved battery life through a number of other ways, as well.

Happy New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day from iLounge!

Happy New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day! iLounge will be back to our full publishing schedule on Monday, Jan. 4. We’re ready for a new year of Apple products and accessories. For a look back at 2015, check out our Best of the Year Awards and dive into our news and review archives if you want to go deeper. See you in January!

Apple Watch ‘four times’ more accurate than iPhone at timekeeping

In an interview with Mashable, Apple’s VP of Technology Kevin Lynch, who is widely regarded as one of the main architects behind the Apple Watch, explained how the wearable device has been designed to maintain extremely accurate time synchronization. Lynch noted that not only is the Apple Watch designed to be “extraordinarily accurate,” but that any two Apple Watches will remain in perfect synchronization, which can be demonstrated by holding them side-by-side and viewing the second hands moving in “perfect unison.” In the interview, Lynch describes the complex processes that Apple uses to maintain such highly accurate synchronization, including “curating” their own network of “Stratum One” Network Time Protocol (NTP) servers synchronized with atomic clocks at the U.S. Naval Observatory via GPS satellites, which then pass time information on to iPhones — those then synchronize time with Bluetooth-connected Apple Watches, incorporating corrections for time delays in communication.

Apple to pay $347 million in Italian back taxes

Apple has agreed to pay €318 million (about $347 million) in taxes owed to Italy’s inland revenue service, according to a new report by La Repubblica. Stemming from an investigation that began in 2013, Apple’s Italian subsidiary allegedly failed to declare more than €1 billion ($1.3 billion) in revenue to the country’s tax authorities — a report that was confirmed as accurate by the Italian tax office. The final agreement came after several months of negotiations which appear to have resulted in Apple still being required to pay the full amount demanded by the Italian tax authorities for the 2008-2013 tax years. Apple was accused of transferring Italian profits to its Irish subsidiary in order to benefit from Ireland’s lower corporate tax rates by declaring its Italian subsidiary to be a “consultant” to the Irish company. Apple’s European operations are headquartered in Ireland, and Apple came under investigation by EU regulators last year, who suggested that the company’s tax deals in that country may in fact be illegal under EU law; EU regulators are expected to issue a ruling soon in the matter. [via The Local]

Apple accused of deliberately crippling older iPhones with iOS 9 upgrade

A new class action lawsuit alleges that Apple deliberately slowed down older iPhones with its latest iOS 9 upgrade as part of a planned obsolesce strategy, AppleInsider reports. The lawsuit was filed with a New York district court on Tuesday and seeks $5 million in damages, claiming that Apple was aware of potential compatibility issues when it released the iOS 9 software update for the iPhone 4S. The Plaintiff, Chaim Lerman, is accusing Apple of engaging in “deceptive trade practices” and “false advertisement” by claiming iOS 9 was compatible with older models, stating that the reality is that the update “significantly” interferes with iPhone 4s performance and that since users are preventing from downgrading once iOS 9 has been applied, owners are left with “an inoperable device” with no choice but to buy a newer model.

Report: Samsung and LG to supply OLED screens for future iPhone models

Apple appears to be planning to source OLED displays from LG Display and Samsung Electronics, according to a new report from Reuters. The article, based on a report from the Electronic Times, adds more weight to other recent reports that Apple is testing AMOLED displays in a new Taiwanese lab in preparation to use the new screen technology in its next-generation iPhones as early as 2018. The report indicates that both LG and Samsung are close to a final agreement with Apple, although Japan Display was also reported to be in similar negotiations earlier this month. The new report also suggests that Apple will likely provide some funding to help with the investments, which are expected to require a combined $12.8 billion in capital expenditures to build up OLED production capacity to meet the new demand.

Apple files for Beats 2-5 trademarks

Apple filed for U.S. trademark applications in November for Beats 2, 3, 4, and 5, as spotted by French site Consomac. The applications use the same logo as Apple’s streaming radio station Beats 1. It’s previously been reported that Apple could create five more radio stations without having to negotiate new licensing terms. All signs certainly point to four new Apple Music stations at some point, perhaps in varied music genres or in different formats. While Beats 1’s Zane Lowe expressed some doubts about the longterm future of Beats 1, it seems as if Apple has very few concerns at this point. [via MacRumors]

Hyundai Sonata to get CarPlay in 2016

Hyundai’s Sonata will finally be getting Apple’s CarPlay in the first quarter of 2016, the Detroit Free Press reports. The car company announced in April 2014 that it would be bringing CarPlay integration to its Sonatas in 2015, but that never materialized. Additionally, Hyundai will now require Sonata owners to “buy an SD card with new software” to access CarPlay. It’s an additional charge that Android users don’t have to pay — Android Auto is already available in the cars for no extra cost.

Cool tips for that new iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or Apple TV you found under the tree

Merry Christmas! iLounge will continue to be on a limited publishing schedule for Christmas Day as we celebrate with our families. We hope you and all of yours are having a safe and happy holiday season!

Our tips and tutorial sections are a great place to get you going if you happened to find a new iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or Apple TV under the tree this morning. Get accustomed to some of the latest iOS 9 features on your iPhone or iPad with tips on engaging low power mode, adjusting video recording quality settings, and arranging your notification center. Or if you’re looking at a new Apple TV, check out our tips on checking your Siri Remote battery level, and reducing loud sounds. Got an Apple Watch? We can help you with seeing when your messages were received, getting directions from a Calendar notification, changing up your animated emojis, and answering calls on your wrist. Be sure to check out all of our tips to see all of the cool things you can do with your new Apple device.

Seasons Greetings! Our top picks in 2015, and more for your last-minute shopping

Seasons Greetings! iLounge will be on a limited publishing schedule on Dec. 24 and Dec 25. as we celebrate the Christmas holiday season with our families, returning on Monday, Dec. 28. We wish you and all of yours a safe and happy holiday season and hope that you find something nice under the tree!

If you’re looking for some last-minute gift ideas for the iPhone, iPad, or iPod fan in your family, be sure to check out our Best of the Year Awards 2015 for a list of the greatest stuff we saw this year across twenty-four different categories. Also, there have been some other interesting products that have come in since the Best of 2015 awards were published that are definitely worth a look — Apple released the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, and we saw a nice collection of speakers, and we also took a close look at the world of HomeKit just in time for the holidays.

Court dismisses final lawsuit in Apple iMessage case

A U.S. court has dismissed the single remaining lawsuit against Apple regarding the delivery of iMessages to former iPhone users, Business Insider reports. A former iPhone user originally filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple earlier this year after she switched to an Android device and found that she could no longer receive text messages from other iPhone users. Apple acknowledged the problem and released a fix in May, however the suit persisted until it was dismissed in August based on a lack of clear evidence that all members of the suit had in fact suffered an inconvenience due to “contractual breach or interference” related to the iMessage system.

Following the dismissal of the original class-action suit, however, three individual but related plaintiffs pursued their own separate action, accusing Apple of “intercepting” iPhone text messages in violation of the U.S. Federal Wiretap Act. Apple had requested that the suit be dismissed after it was discovered that two of the three plaintiffs had already disposed of their old iPhones after they had filed the suit, and were therefore unable to demonstrate whether they were affected by the issue. The case was dismissed by U.S. Judge Lucy Koh, in a single-paragraph order.

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