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Braven intros new speakers at CES, including the BRV-XXL and BRV-BLADE LE

Braven has announced several new speakers at this year’s CES, expanding its active and rugged speaker lineup with new options across the board. The new Braven 105 ($60) and Braven 405 ($100) wireless speakers add to the company’s Active Series, and the new BRV-XXL looks like an absolute beast of a speaker. Braven’s parent company, Incipio, also introduced a few new interesting items at the show.


Braven’s massive new BRV-XXL ($350) is designed to bring earth-crushing HD sound to any indoor or outdoor event. It features a tank-like design, titanic surround sound, and more, along with a 14-hour playtime, and a built-in 15600 mAh battery that can charge up iPhones and iPads. It’s built from aircraft grade aluminum and ABS, meaning it can withstand accidental falls, sand, dirt, dust, and rain (it’s IPX5 waterproof rated). NFC provides one-touch connectivity for compatible devices and it includes on-board controls for adjusting bass, treble, volume, and skipping tracks, and a 3.5mm microphone input allows you to use it as a PA system as well. If that weren’t enough, it even sports a built-in bottle opener on the carrying strap.

PhotoFast introduces MemoriesCable 1M

PhotoFast has announced MemoriesCable 1M, a new version of the popular MemoriesCable that provides users with even more reach. MemoriesCable is an MFi-certified Lightning cable for charging an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch that also includes up to 128GB of built-in flash memory storage directly in the connector. Supported by PhotoFast’s i-FlashDrive ONE app (the same app used with the i-FlashDrive MAX), users can store and backup data from various cloud-based services as well as popular social media accounts. MemoriesCable 1M is expected to start shipping at the end of January.

Withings debuts Thermo Wi-Fi Thermometer

Withings has announced Thermo ($100), a new iOS-connected Wi-Fi thermometer. Using revolutionary HotSpotSensor technology, Thermo gives you precise results with a simple one-touch gesture, syncing your temperature readings via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth with the companion Thermo iOS app. Sixteen infrared sensors and the patented HotSpot sensor provide a highly-accurate temperature reading against the temple in under two seconds without requiring contact with any bodily fluids, while the app lets you store and track temperature readings, get reminders, and input related symptoms or medications right on your iPhone. Temperatures and related information are stored in a Thermo diary that can be easily shared with your doctor at any time. When taking readings, the Thermo unit will also provide color-coded temperature feedback based on the user’s age profile to help you easily understand the reading.

Netatmo unveils Presence outdoor smart home camera + more at CES

Building on its Welcome Smart Home Camera, Netatmo has debuted Presence, a new outdoor security camera designed to automatically detect the presence of people, cars, and animals. Using a new “Smart-Sight” feature, Presence analyzes in real-time if somebody is loitering around the outside of your house, or if a car enters the driveway or a pet is in the yard; the camera is able to understand what it sees and notify the user appropriately if something is detected in the monitored area. Infrared night vision provides recording at night, and an integrated smart floodlight can be activated to capture bright color videos even in the dark, to scare off unwanted visitors, or light up the way. As with the company’s Welcome Smart Home Camera, Presence provides entirely customizable settings for notifications and activity recording, and stores videos locally on an internal micro SD card for privacy. In addition, users can establish smart zones to determine specific areas to monitor activity within, and optionally transfer recorded footage to a personal FTP server. Videos are captured in full 1080p HD with a 100-degree field of view and a detection range of 20 meters. Presence is expected to be available in the third quarter of 2016. Pricing has not yet been announced.

Harman announces Charge 3, Clip 2 speakers + more at CES 2016

Harman has announced a collection of new speakers, earphones, a new in-dash system at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, including updates to its popular JBL Clip and JBL Charge speakers, a new headphone partnership with Under Armour, and a new top-of-the-line speaker in its Quincy Jones series.

The company has released two new versions of its popular portable speakers. The new JBL Clip 2 ($60) is an ultra-compact speaker designed to attach anywhere with a new built-in smart carabineer. It also features a ruggedized, IPX7 waterproof design and fabric casing, eight hours of playtime from the built-in rechargeable lithium ion battery, speakerphone support with noise and echo cancellation, and an integrated 3.5mm audio cable for those who need or prefer a wired connection. It’s expected to be available this spring.

The JBL Charge 3 ($150) has been updated with an IPX7 waterproof design, and is available in five colors. You can wirelessly connect up to three smartphones or tablets to the speaker at once to take turns playing audio, and the 6000 mAh power bank gives you up to 15 hours of playtime and can charge an iPhone, iPad, or other USB powered device on the go. Dual external passive radiators provide powerful bass, a built-in speakerphone features noise and echo cancellation, and JBL Connect support lets users link multiple JBL Connect-enabled speakers together.

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.

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