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Apple to release leather “iPhone 5s Case?”

A number of photos on Weibo appear to show packaging for an Apple-made leather case called the iPhone 5s Case designed for the “iPhone 5s” and iPhone 5. The packaging reads “This case is made from natural aniline leather. Its appearance will change as you use it.” The leather version of Apple’s iPad Smart Cover case also uses aniline leather, suggesting that Apple will once again charge a fairly substantial price for this accessory.

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It’s notable that the packaging is specifically branded for the iPhone 5S, while also reading, “Compatible with iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s” — a lowercase “s” in the new device’s name, while omitting the older device’s name from the accessory’s official title. [via HDBlog.it (translated link)]

IK Multimedia debuts iRig Pro interface

IK Multimedia has announced the iRig Pro ($150), a universal digital mobile audio/MIDI interface for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. A pocket-sized, battery-powered interface, the iRig Pro is a step up from the company’s iRig HD. It “accepts virtually every type of audio and MIDI input” — dynamic or condenser microphones, guitars, line-level sources, keyboards, pads, and controllers are all compatible. The audio and MIDI inputs can be used simultaneously to control guitar or vocal software with foot controllers or pedals, for switching presets, and for controlling effects levels. A suite of IK’s music creation apps is also included.

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iRig Pro features a 1/4”-XLR combo input connector for use with standard XLR cables, a 1/4” mono line, or instrument signal cables. A switchable 48V phantom power supply can be used with studio condenser microphones. iRig Pro is powered by a 9V battery, and comes with three detachable cables that are compatible with Lightning, Dock Connector and USB connectors. IK Multimedia’s newest interface is set to ship this month.

Harman debuts HK Esquire, Onyx, JBL Spark speakers

Harman debuted its fall line of products today, notably including two Harman Kardon speakers and one JBL speaker. Borrowing design elements from the earlier Go + Play speaker system, the Harman Kardon Onyx Wireless Speaker System ($500) can use either Bluetooth or AirPlay to stream music. Built with four speakers and a 60-Watt amplifier, the circular Onyx also has a six-hour rechargeable battery inside. Harman Kardon also unveiled Esquire ($249), a square wireless portable speaker and teleconferencing system featuring dual audio drivers and dual noise-cancelling microphones. Esquire uses Bluetooth for up to 10 hours of wireless operation during music streaming and phone calls. An adapter with three built-in USB ports is also included for charging multiple devices at once.

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Harman also announced the JBL Spark ($129), a colorful cone-shaped wireless speaker system. Two 40mm drivers are included in the speakers, which can stream audio via Bluetooth. Spark includes a stainless steel hanging hook and fabric cord with inline controls, as well as a power adapter.

Jawbone introduces $180 Mini Jambox

Jawbone has introduced Mini Jambox ($180), the newest and smallest addition to its line of Jambox Bluetooth speakers. Made from a single piece of aluminum with three drivers inside, Mini Jambox weighs 9 ounces, is just over six inches long, and slightly less than an inch deep. Using Bluetooth 4.0, Mini Jambox streams audio from within 33 feet of a Bluetooth-enabled device. The speaker offers about 10 hours of continuous playback and packs a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. It debuts at a slightly lower price than the original Jambox did, though both models will now sell for $180 due to a post-release Jambox price drop.

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Jawbone has also released an app to access saved and streaming music on the new speaker. Offered in nine different color/design combinations, Mini Jambox comes with a micro-USB charging cable and 3.5 mm stereo cable. The speaker will be released late this month.

Pioneer Electronics debuts DDJ-WeGO2 DJ controller

Pioneer Electronics has announced its DDJ-WeGO2 compact DJ controller ($429). The iOS-compatible DDJ-WeGO2 includes a Lightning cable to connect to the controller to a compatible iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Featuring two jog wheels, the USB-powered DDJ-WeGo2 is compatible with Algoriddim’s recently updated djay 2 app.

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DDJ-WeGO2’s effects include Jog FX, which lets users combine multiple effects together with simultaneous control, and Pulse Control, which offers visual prompts through colored lights. The controller comes in black, white, and red. It will be released in October.

CableJive intros new dockBoss air

CableJive has released a new version of dockBoss air ($35), an adapter that lets users wirelessly stream audio from a device to a 30-pin audio dock. Unlike the recently released dockBoss 5, the new dockBoss air uses Bluetooth for wireless audio streaming, allowing for audio control from up to 33 feet away from a speaker dock.

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CableJive claims this version of dockBoss air has clearer audio and increased volume than the prior version. The new dockBoss air is available now.

Incipio acquires Braven

Incipio Technologies today announced the acquisition of Braven, a Utah-based company responsible for a collection of solidly-built wireless Bluetooth speakers. While Incipio previously focused mostly on protective accessories, it has been angling to get into the speaker business for some time, and expects the acquisition of Braven to “create a more diverse product offering.” Braven will remain based in Provo, Utah and the Braven brand will be maintained as a separate product line as part of the Incipio family.

Orbotix announces Sphero 2.0 robotic ball

Orbotix has announced Sphero 2.0 ($130), the new edition of its iOS-compatible robotic gaming ball. Sphero 2.0 boasts a new motion engine that’s twice as fast as the original Sphero, and updated multicolor LEDs make Sphero 2.0 three times brighter than its predecessor.

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Sphero 2.0 also features brand new accessories — it comes with two ramps, and Nubby covers for harsher environments are sold separately. More than 25 apps now support Sphero. Sphero 2.0 will be released on Aug. 30.

Sony to launch iPhone-compatible lens cameras

Sony is reportedly readying the launch of two iPhone-compatible lens camera attachments, as allegedly leaked images show. One of two rumored cameras would have a short zoom Carl Zeiss lens and 20.2 MP sensor, while the other would have an long zoom lens and 18 MP sensor. Each accessory will apparently have a Wi-Fi/NFC wireless connection and SD card slot, and could be controlled through an iOS device.

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The lenses can be “magnetically attached” to a smartphone, according to the report. Pricing is unknown at this point, though similar Sony cameras carry prices of about $750 and $400, respectively. September 4 has been noted as a possibility for the release date. [via SonyAlphaRumors]

RHA debuts MA750i and MA600i in-ear headphones

British audio company RHA has announced two premium in-ear headphones, the MA750i ($130) and MA600i ($90). The MA750i in-ear headphones come with stainless steel housings and handmade dynamic drivers. A reinforced cable and remote and mic are also included on the headphones, which come with a carrying case and a selection of ear tips.

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The less expensive MA600i is constructed from aluminum. It also offers a remote and mic and carrying case with a set of ear tips. Both new RHA in-ear headphones are set for release on Aug 28.

Philips extends Hue with LightStrips and Bloom

Philips will soon be extending its Hue wireless lightbulb family with the addition of LightStrips ($90) and Bloom ($80), according to a report. LightStrips are flexible two-meter LED strips that can be placed in a wide variety of places, including around frames or fixtures. Bloom is a portable lamp with a 120-Lumen LED bulb that can be used to highlight parts of a room.

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Philips has incorporated the ZigBee LightLink wireless standard into the Hue line of products, which allows users to customize the lights’ intensity, color, and more. LightStrips and Bloom will be on sale in “the coming weeks,” according to the report. [via The Verge]

SMS Audio launches Street by 50 headphones

SMS Audio has released its new Street by 50 Over-Ear Active Noise Control Wired headphones ($280). The 50 Cent-branded headphones feature active noise cancellation, 40 mm drivers and leather memory foam ear cushions. With the rechargeable lithium ion battery, listeners can get up to 70 hours of music playback.

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The foldable headphones come with a removable cable with microphone, micro-USB cable, airplane adaptor, and carrying case. Street by 50 Over-Ear Active Noise Control Wired headphones come in silver or black and are available now.

Google ends Chromecast Netflix promotion

Google has ended its promotion offering three free months of Netflix with purchase of its new Chromecast dongle for HDTVs, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Due to overwhelming demand for Chromecast devices since launch, the 3-month Netflix promotion (which was available in limited quantities) is no longer available,” Google said in a statement. Users who purchased the iOS-compatible Chromecast before the promotion expired on Thursday will still be able to use their redemption code for three free months of Netflix. The deal applied to both new and existing Netflix subscribers and was a selling point for the dongle — the promotion’s estimated $24 value essentially enabled current Netflix users to purchase the Chromecast for a net cost of about $11.

Google unveils Chromecast for HDTVs, new Nexus 7

Google today launched notable new challengers to the Apple TV and iPad families, starting with Chromecast ($35), a plug-in dongle for accessing online videos and music on an HDTV. Chromecast is compatible with iOS devices — it uses the device as the remote, and to stream content to the TV. Users plug Chromecast into an HDTV, connect it to Wi-Fi, and the device controls streaming of content from the Internet, offering some of the functionality of an Apple TV at a much lower price point.

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Power is supplied to the dongle via an included USB power adapter. Content for the dongle comes from services such as Netflix, YouTube, and Google Play, as well as mirroring of one tab from Google’s Chrome browser. Customers who purchase Chromecast from Google Play, Best Buy or Amazon have an offer for three free months of Netflix — the offer extends to current Netflix subscribers, meaning that Netflix subscribers with the $8 a month streaming plan can get Chromecast for a net cost of about $11. Chromecast is available now.

Google also debuted its new Nexus 7 tablet as an improved rival to the iPad mini. The 7” tablet display comes in at 1920x1200, with a 323 ppi pixel density — almost twice that of the iPad mini. Nexus 7 also packs dual-stereo speakers, a 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, 2GB of RAM, and two cameras — 1.2MP for the front camera and 5MP for the back. It will ship with Android 4.3 and will hit the market July 30. A 16GB model with Wi-Fi is $230, or $99 less than the comparably specced iPad mini, and the 32 GB model is $270, undercutting the $429 mini. A 4G LTE 32GB model is $350, or $209 less than the comparable iPad mini LTE version.

Google also announced it will bring textbooks to Google Play Books, mirroring Apple’s addition of textbooks to the iPad in the iBookstore. All five major textbook publishing houses have signed on to the service, which lets users purchase textbooks or rent for six months. The new service will work on iOS devices, and it should arrive in early August. [via 9to5Google]

Beats debuts revamped Studio headphones

Beats Electronics has unveiled its redesigned Beats Studio headphones ($300). The new Studio headphones come with an enhanced 20-hour rechargeable battery, dual-mode adaptive noise canceling, and “reengineered sound.” An auto on/off switch helps conserve battery power, and a battery gauge lets users monitor power. The battery can be recharged via micro-USB cable.

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The new Beats Studio headphones come with the company’s new DSP software, Beats Acoustic Engine. Beats also claims the new Studio headphones are lighter and stronger than the previous edition, with softer ear cups and a more comfortable headband. Coming in black, white, and red, Beats Studio headphones will be available in August.

Plantronics debuts BackBeat Go 2 wireless sport earbuds

Plantronics has launched its BackBeat Go 2 stereo earbuds ($80). The lightweight, wireless Bluetooth earbuds feature listening time up to 4.5 hours or talk time of up to 5 hours with the included microphone. Plantronics’ DeepSleep hibernation mode keeps the BackBeat Go 2 earbuds charged and ready for use for up to six months. The BackBeat Go 2 is also sweatproof for moisture protection.

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The earbuds feature an iOS-ready battery status meter, and voice prompts that alert users about remaining charge and device pairings. Three eartip sizes are included. An alternate version sold for $100 includes a charging case, capable of adding an hour of listening time after only 20 minutes of charging, in addition to offering up to 14.5 hours of listening time when fully charged. BackBeat Go 2 is available now in black or white.

Cypress Semiconductor intros Lightning audio dev kit

Cypress Semiconductor has announced a new development kit that allows companies to quickly create audio accessories for iOS Lightning devices. The CY8CKIT-033A PSoC 3 MFi Digital Audio Development Kit for Lightning is being offered to developers for $199, and as the name suggests, it streamlines the process of designing a custom system-on-chip (SoC) solution to process “bit-perfect” USB digital audio data from Lightning devices.

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Cypress notes that Apple’s Made for iPod/iPhone/iPad (MFi) connectivity specification has become very complex, now running more than 250 pages long with numerous changes and revisions. The CY8CKIT-033A incorporates the latest MFi specifications and is MFi-licensed, letting developers use a software solution to prototype hardware for Lightning audio accessories such as speakers and musical instruments. Over 100 components are found in the PSoC Creator software, which uses a drag and drop interface to lay out the processor’s feature; support for Lightning, older Dock Connectors, MIDI and USB interfaces are all included. Developers interested in the Kit will need to obtain an Apple MFi license before buying the kit directly from Apple’s MFi web site.

Griffin launches PowerDock 5 device charger

Griffin today announced the release of its PowerDock 5 ($100), a device charger that can hold up to five iOS devices at once. First seen at CES 2013, PowerDock 5 takes up about as much desk space as an iPad, featuring five USB charging ports and a clear backrest to prop up each iOS device. Each port features 10-watt, 2.1 amp charging—enough for full-speed recharging of non-Retina iPads, as well as all current iPhones and iPods.

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Because of its design, PowerDock 5 allows devices to be charged while still in their cases. However, USB cables are not included. PowerDock 5 is available now.

CableJive debuts dockBoss5 30-pin adapter

CableJive has introduced dockBoss5 ($30), an adapter that converts a 30-pin Apple-compatible dock into a universal charging station, complete with audio output. The adapter uses a full-sized USB port, allowing for non-Dock Connector devices to charge or play audio.

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CableJive’s dockBoss5 comes with a three-foot USB to micro-USB cable and a three-foot audio connection cable. Users can self-supply Lightning to USB cables for connection of recent-model iPods, iPhones, and iPads. It is available now.

Just Mobile debuts Gum++ Backup Battery

Just Mobile has released the Gum++ ($90), a new stylish high-capacity backup battery for smartphones, tablets, and other USB-powered devices. The Gum++ incorporates a 6000mAh battery encased in a glossy, durable hard ABS shell, and provides enough capacity to recharge an iPhone up to 3 times or add additional charge to an iPad, including the ability to provide up to 2.5A of current for full-speed iPad charging.

The Gum++ is available in a range of colours and is bundled with a USB-to-micro-USB cable for recharging the battery from any USB power source.

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