In a recent interview with The Verge, Energous CEO Steve Rizzone stated that his wireless charging startup is on track to begin shipping its long-range wireless charging solutions by the end of 2017, likely in tandem with the key partner that Energous signed a deal with two years ago. While Rizzone has repeatedly declined to state the name of this partner, he did note that the partnership is with “one of the largest consumer electronic companies in the world,” with most speculation pointing in Apple’s direction.
I cannot tell you who it is, but I can virtual guarantee that you have products from this company on your person, sitting on your desk, or at home.
Energous first unveiled its long-range wireless charging solutions at CES two years ago, with promises to begin shipping by the end of 2015. However, those plans changed after the company signed a deal with a “key strategic partner” just a month after the 2015 show ended. The partnership deal gave Energous’ new partner exclusive rights to be the first to ship its charging technology, as well as leading to a renewed focus on miniaturizing the technology. Many initially speculated then that Apple was the “key partner” that Energous was working with, and a new report last month noted that Energous was teaming up with Dialog Semiconductor, one of the largest suppliers of power management chips for Apple’s iOS devices.
Apple has announced that the 2017 began with the busiest day ever for the App Store, with over $240 million in customer purchases made on Jan. 1, 2017. The year 2016 was also a record-breaking year for the App Store overall, with developers earning over $20 billion — an increase of more than 40 percent from 2015, representing about a third of the total developer earnings over the course of the entire eight year history of the App Store. App Store purchases in December 2016 topped $3 billion; top grossing apps included Monster Strike, Fantasy Westward, Clash Royale, and of course Pokémon GO, while Super Mario Run was the most downloaded app globally on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, after breaking records with 40 million downloads in the first four days after its Dec. 15 release. Apple also added that through its Apps for Earth and Games for (RED) campaigns, developers helped to raise over $17 million for the World Wildlife Fund and (RED).
Apple has announced that it will release its Q1 2017 financial results on Tuesday, January 31. As usual, the company will conduct its conference call at 5 p.m. Eastern time that day. Apple previously provided guidance for Q1 of revenue between $76 billion and $78 billion, and gross margin between 38 percent and 38.5 percent. As always, iLounge will provide coverage of the results.
Nuvyyo has announced Tablo LIVE, a new single-tuner Wi-Fi connected device that allows users to quickly and easily transform any over-the-air television antenna into a smart receiver for watching live TV on the iPhone, iPad, iPod, and Apple TV. Building on its popular Tablo TV OTA DVR, Tablo LIVE provides a more cost-effective turnkey solution for users who just want to stream live TV without the need for DVR capabilities. Users can connect Tablo LIVE directly to their OTA antenna without having to worry about where their television is located, and stream over-the-air television via their home Wi-Fi network to the Tablo app on just about any digital media platform, including the Apple TV. Apps for Tablo LIVE will provide a user-friendly interface to browse an on-screen 24 hour grid guide with episode and series details, and launch live broadcast TV streams directly from the guide. Notably, unlike the Tablo DVR, there wil be no monthly fee for TV guide data for Tablo LIVE users. Tablo LIVE is expected to be available later this year for $99. In addition, Nuvyyo is currently developing Tablo CLOUD, a DVR storage solution that can be used with the Tablo LIVE device to provide online recording storage and DVR functionality. Tablo CLOUD will be subscription-based and provide a fixed number of hours of cloud-based DVR storage for a single monthly fee. Pricing, plans, and availability for Tablo CLOUD have not yet been announced.
Apple has removed The New York Times’ apps from the App Store in China in response to a request from Chinese authorities, The New York Times reports. Both the English and Chinese language apps were removed from the App Store in China on Dec. 23, with Apple being told by Chinese officials that the app “is in violation of local regulations.” The move seems to affect only The New York Times’ apps, as other international publications such as The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal remain available in the Chinese App Store. The Chinese government began blocking The Times’ websites in 2012 following a series of articles on then-prime minister Wen Jiabao, although the government is said to have been struggling in recent months to prevent readers from using the Chinese-language app.
Griffin Technology has unveiled Griffin Home, a new lineup of smart, app-powered appliances designed to simplify everyday routines. The new collection includes a Connected Toaster, Connected Coffee Maker, and Connected Mirror, as well as two new charging devices, the PowerBlock Beacon and PowerJolt Beacon. Griffin’s new Connected Toaster ($100) is a Bluetooth-enabled smart toaster that can be controlled by a companion iOS app to allow users to set personalized settings. The two-slot toaster features digital temperature adjustment and settings for bread type, darkness, and even gluten-free breads. The Connected Coffee Maker ($100) is a Bluetooth-enabled 12-cup drip coffee machine that allows users to adjust coffee strength and save their preferences using the companion iOS app. Griffin’s Connected Mirror ($1000) displays time, weather, and status messages from other Griffin Home products, and users can customize the smart mirror with the companion iOS app to choose which information is displayed on the mirror.
Chamberlain has announced that it is bringing HomeKit support to its lineup of MyQ-enabled garage door openers in 2017 in the form of new Smart Garage Hub and HomeBridge accessories. The new devices will allow iOS users to interface with their MyQ garage door openers and other related devices via HomeKit and Siri commands, including features for opening, closing, and checking the status of their garage doors. The MyQ HomeBridge, expected to be available in April, will bring HomeKit access to existing MyQ Garage installations as a retrofit device to upgrade MyQ Garage garage door openers; the Chamberlain Smart Garage Hub is expected to arrive in July to provide support for non-MyQ garage door openers. Both devices will be available on the Chamberlain website, while the Smart Garage Hub is also expected to be sold at major home-improvement, electronics, and online retailers.
Apple has announced plans to invest $1 billion in a new SoftBank technology fund, the Wall Street Journal reports. The SoftBank Vision Fund, announced last October, is hoping to raise $100 billion to finance development of new technologies. An Apple spokesperson said “We believe their new fund will speed the development of technologies which may be strategically important to Apple,” noting that Apple has already been working with SoftBank for many years. SoftBank itself is investing $25 billion into the fund, while Saudi Arabia’s government is investing $45 billion. Other potential investors include the sovereign-wealth fund of Abu Dhabi, the Qatar Investment Authority and Qualcomm.
Twelve South has announced ActionSleeve, the first ever armband for Apple Watch. ActionSleeve is designed for athletic use in activities like kickboxing and CrossFit, where your wrist may not be the ideal location for your Apple Watch. Instead, ActionSleeve lets users place Apple Watch on their upper arm instead, while still providing activity tracking. ActionSleeve keeps all controls accessible while protecting the Apple Watch from nicks and dings, and it provides consistent skin contact for improved heart rate monitoring. ActionSleeve will retail for $30; users can order it online from twelvesouth.com today. It’s expected to land in select Best Buy stores on Jan. 9.
Kanex has introduced its new GoPlay Sidekick wireless controller for iOS and Apple TV. The $60 Bluetooth controller is compatible with most controller-supported games on the App Store and claims to provide up to 20 hours of gameplay with its rechargeable battery. The pocket-sized controller’s clamshell case doubles as a stand for your device while playing a game. The controller features a standard four-button layout and includes a D-pad, two analog joysticks and left and right trigger buttons. The controller is specifically designed for Apple devices, even going so far as to use a Lightning cable to charge. The GoPlay Sidekick will be available starting in February.
Incipio’s new OX case for iPhone 7 and 7 Plus brings back the headphone jack, allowing users to once again listen to music while charging their device. The case features forward-facing speaker vents, while providing both a 3.5mm headphone jack and a Lightning port for charging along the bottom. The $60 OX case will be available in black, green, and purple in the first quarter of this year.
PureGear’s new HomeKit-enabled PureSwitch allows users to control a single outlet from anywhere. Each PureSwitch can be used with Apple’s Home app and linked to a scene. PureSwitch can be programmed to work on a particular schedule so that devices like lamps, fans and small space heaters come on whenever you want (provided they’re switched on when they’re plugged in). Unlike some other smart outlets, PureSwitch also includes a USB port that provides power to another device at the same time. PureSwitch costs $40 and will be available for pre-order starting January 16.
ConnectSense is expanding its line of HomeKit-enabled products with a new Bluetooth Extender, Bluetooth Temperature & Humidity Sensor, and Bluetooth Water Sensor. The new Bluetooth Extender allows users to remotely control its Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) sensors and devices when they’re out and about, because otherwise the sensors require a local iPhone or other device to connect to the Internet. True to their names, the Bluetooth Temperature & Humidity Sensor and Bluetooth Water Sensor monitor sensitive areas of the home for the presence of moisture or extreme temperatures. The Bluetooth Temperature & Humidity Sensor can be linked to a HomeKit-enabled thermostat to regulate temperate in areas that are far away from the thermostat’s temperature monitors, and the Bluetooth Water Sensor can detect water leaks in places like the basement or laundry room before they can cause permanent damage. Both sensors use two AAA batteries.
Netatmo has introduced two new smart home products to its home security line, the Smart Smoke Alarm and Indoor Security Siren. The HomeKit-compatible Smart Smoke Alarm sounds an 85 dB alarm to alert anyone inside the home when smoke is detected, and sends a message to a user’s iPhone that specifies which room contained the smoke. There’s no limit on how many Smart Smoke Alarms a user can install, and all can be accessed through Netatmo’s security app or Apple’s Home app and independently named based on their location. For false alarms, the sound can be silence manually or from the app. The device includes a 10-year battery that will last for the life of the detector. The Smart Smoke Alarm runs weekly diagnostics to make sure it’s in working order and delivers those reports to the app.
The newly announced Instant Switch from iDevices allows users to place a Bluetooth control switch anywhere in their home, instantly pairing with most other iDevices Smart Home products (anything but a thermostat) without a hub. Instant Switch can even be paired with a hard-wired iDevices Wall or Dimmer Switch to instantly create a three-way control configuration. The switch comes with a built-in level and adhesive backing for easy mounting anywhere in the house, but can also be installed into the wall like any two-screw switch. Two small batteries give the Instant Switch enough power to run for two years. Instant Switch comes with a single faceplate, but a double faceplate is also available for those wanting to create a dual switch by mounting two Instant Switches side by side. The Instant Switch will be out in mid-2017 and will cost $50.
Elgato is expanding its line of Eve HomeKit devices, announcing the Eve Extend and Eve Aqua at CES this week. As the name implies, Eve Extend expands Bluetooth coverage inside a user’s home, connecting through the local Wi-Fi network and acting as a bridge for accessories within its range. For those with houses that have several problem areas, multiple Eve Extends can be operated at the same time. Extend can even control connected devices outside the house, provided they’re within range.
Apple has announced it will give away a pair of Beats Solo3 headphones to customers in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Singapore who buy certain Mac or iPhone devices, in honor of Chinese New Year. The promotion starts at 8 a.m. on January 6 and will run as long as supplies of the special (PRODUCT)Red Beats headphones last. Most Apple computers qualify for the deal, but the new MackBook Pro with Touch Bar and Mac Mini are excluded. On the iPhone side, customers will need to buy a 6s, 6s Plus, 7, or 7 Plus to get the deal.
In a pair of tweets, tech writer Sonny Dickson claims that the first iOS 10.3 beta will be released on January 10 and will include a new “Theatre Mode.” Dickson claims the feature will have a popcorn-shaped control center icon—hinting that like its name suggests, Theatre Mode would be intended for video viewing—but didn’t provide much more information on Twitter. In a brief conversation with 9to5Mac, Dickson said it’s possible Theatre Mode could be a version of the Dark Mode option that already exists on tvOS and macOS.
Apple seeking relaxed labeling in India, Chinese suppliers reportedly won’t shift to U.S. production
Apple is petitioning the Indian government to relax its product labeling rules for iPhones manufactured in India, The Economic Times reports. Apple’s concern is that the Indian regulatory requirements to print product-related information directly onto devices will clutter up the iPhone’s minimalist design; it’s said to be among several concessions Apple is seeking from India after expressing its intention to begin manufacturing there. Apple wants to instead provide those required product details either in software or on the product packaging, rather than having to etch them directly onto the iPhone itself.
Sylvania and LEDVANCE have announced the first standalone smart bulb compatible with Apple’s HomeKit ecosystem, providing a lighting solution that can be integrated with Siri, Apple’s Home and other third-party HomeKit apps without requiring the use of a separate hub. The Sylvania Smart Multicolor A19 bulb can be screwed into any standard light socket and will use a Bluetooth low-energy connection to communicate with HomeKit. It can be controlled directly from Siri or any HomeKit-compatible app, and it can be added to scenes and other HomeKit automation routines. The Sylvania Smart Multicolor A19 bulb is expected to be available on Amazon in early 2017 in the U.S., and pricing has not yet been announced.