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Report: 2018 OLED iPhones to support Apple Pencil

A new report from Economic Daily News (via 9to5Mac) is adding its voice to a chorus of other recent rumours that Apple may be bringing Apple Pencil support to its 2018 OLED iPhone lineup. Although Apple Pencil support debuted on the iPad Pro almost three years ago, support for Apple’s stylus hasn’t arrived on the iPhone as many had hoped it would. A report last fall suggested that Apple was at least considering iPhone stylus support by 2019, particularly in light of some of the new handwriting and markup function in iOS 11. Now, reports are suggesting the Apple may in fact bring support to its OLED iPhone models this fall, in hopes of driving adoption of the higher-end models, and making it another feature that will differentiate the OLED models from the lower-cost LCD version expected to also arrive this fall. The move may not be entirely surprising, considering that Apple expanded the previously iPad Pro only feature to the lower-end iPad with the release of the sixth-generation model earlier this year, suggesting a desire to move toward universal support for the stylus across all iOS platforms.

Report: Upcoming AirPods wireless charging case will be Qi-compatible

According to a new report from Chinese publication Chongdiantou (via MacRumors), Apple’s upcoming wireless charging case for the AirPods will be compatible with any standard Qi charger. Although Apple announced the AirPods charging case last fall, its announcement alongside Apple’s AirPower charging mat left it unclear whether the AirPods case would use an Apple-specific charging method like the Apple Watch, or whether it would embrace the open Qi standard like Apple’s 2017 iPhones. Although the new AirPods charging case was originally expected to arrive late last year, that didn’t happen and Apple has been typically quiet about any updated release timeframe, although recent betas of iOS 12 have revealed images for the new case, suggesting that it’s likely to be released sometime this fall, probably alongside a second-generation model of AirPods. Although Chongdiantou has been in the news lately with claims about Apple bundling a new 18-watt USB-C power adapter with this year’s iPhones, and additional predictions that Apple will be releasing AirPower in September, as MacRumors notes, the publication lacks an established track record, so it remains to be seen if any of these reports will come to fruition.

Anki announces Vector, a new home robot with personality

Consumer robotics and AI company Anki has announced Vector, a new fully-autonomous little robot that builds on the technology of last year’s cute and brilliant Cozmo. Promising a major leap forward in consumer robotics, Vector will come alive with even more personality than its predecessor, and will include direct cloud connectivity over Wi-Fi, removing the need to rely on an iOS device to power its interactions, essentially becoming an always-on robotic pet who will have an awareness of surroundings through touch, sight, and sound. Like Cozmo, Vector will gain new features and more intelligence over time courtesy of software updates, but with a direct cloud connection, such updates will arrive autonomously over-the-air without the need for any user interaction. A high-res color IPS display will allow Vector to react to his environment and display his personality, and even respond to human touch via a capacitive touch sensor on his back. An “Ask Vector” feature will also allow him to provide answers to factual questions, provide weather reports, and set timers, allowing him to double as a home assistant, and he’ll also be able to take pictures, perform facial recognition, play games, and dance to music.

EU considering action to enforce mobile phone charging standards

The European Union is revisiting a 2009 agreement where hardware device manufacturers committed to using the micro USB standard for charging smartphones and other mobile devices, Reuters reports. According to EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager, EU regulators are considering what actions to take against phone makers who have not lived up to their agreements to adopt universal charging standards. The European Commission has long been pushing for companies to adopt a common charging connector in order to reduce waste — 51,000 tons yearly — from old chargers, as well as the challenges that it presents to consumers. Apple and 13 other companies voluntarily signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) back in 2009 committing to harmonize chargers for new smartphones as of 2011, with micro USB chosen as the new standard; however it was later speculated that Apple could fulfill its obligations under the agreement simply by including an adapter, such as the Lightning to Micro USB Adapter that the company released in 2012. However, the EU has recently suggest that it’s not happy with the status quo; in a response to an EU lawmaker, Vestager said that “Given the unsatisfactory progress with this voluntary approach, the Commission will shortly launch an impact assessment study to evaluate costs and benefits of different other options.” The EU does not name any specific companies, however, making it unclear whether the lack of progress refers exclusively, or even specifically, to Apple, particularly in light of the number of manufacturers who are moving from micro USB to USB-C as a new standard. [via 9to5Mac]

Zagg acquires Braven from Incipio

Zagg has announced that it plans to acquire Braven from Incipio Group, adding the company’s premium rugged speaker lineup to its existing product portfolio. Braven, which began as an independent speaker company, was acquired by Incipio in 2013, although it continued to be run as an entirely separate division with its original branding. With its acquisition by Zagg, it appears Braven will move into a similar position under the new parent company, which also acquired Mophie in 2016 and continues to operate it as a separate brand. According to the press release, Zagg will acquire all intellectual property rights and product development capabilities, including Braven’s engineering and product design teams, while backing up Braven with Zagg’s retail, distribution, and supply chain strengths. “As a leading mobile lifestyle company, today’s announcement marks an important milestone for our company,” said Chris Ahern, CEO of Zagg. “Braven is a category creator and leader in technology, and expands our house of brands into new segments of the large and growing audio category while leveraging our global distribution to rapidly scale the company. Together, we look forward to continuing the Braven brand heritage of developing intelligently designed products with cutting-edge innovation and craftsmanship that will thrill even the most demanding outdoor adventurers and audio enthusiasts.” The terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed.

Twelve South announces AirSnap case for AirPods

Twelve South has announced AirSnap, a stylish new protective case for Apple’s AirPods. Featuring full-grain leather, AirSnap is specifically designed to fit the encased AirPods while still offering easy access to the earbuds and the charging port without any need to remove the case. AirSnap is crafted from the same leather as Twelve South’s RelaxedLeather iPhone cases, and is designed to develop a unique patina over time for a personalized weathered look and feel. A built-in metal carabiner clip helps keep AirSnap attached to a bag, backpack, or even a keychain, and a secure snap closure is used to ensure that AirPods are protected with no risk of them falling out of the case when on the go. AirSnap is available from Twelve South in Black, Deep Teal, and Cognac colors for $29.99.

Logitech to acquire Blue Microphones

Logitech has announced plans to acquire Blue Microphones, the venerable studio-quality microphone company that’s known for unique gems such as the Spark, Raspberry, and Nessie. In the announcement, Logitech CEO Bracken Darrell stated, “Logitech’s acquisition of Blue Microphones will accelerate our entry into a growing market, and offers another way for us to help bring people’s passions (from music to blogging) to life. Joining with Blue is an adjacent opportunity for us – a new way to grow – with additional synergies related to our existing gaming, PC webcam and audio categories. It’s exciting!” Blue Microphones CEO John Maier added that, “Blue and Logitech have a lot in common. Both companies work at being small, fast and hungry, crafting great products with cutting-edge design and technology. We’re an established leader in the broadcasting space with a strong product portfolio. Logitech has design at its heart, tech know-how and global reach. Together we can do amazing things.” Blue produces a very unique and popular lineup of studio quality microphones used by music artists ranging from Bob Dylan to Imagine Dragons, and from Blue’s announcement, it would seem that Logitech will be continuing to operate Blue as an independent brand, joining its other recent acquisitions such as Ultimate Ears and Jaybird.

Latest iOS 12 beta reveals rumoured AirPods wireless charging case

New images found by 9to5Mac in the developer beta of iOS 12 released earlier today reveal what is very likely Apple’s new wireless AirPods charging case. While the difference is extremely subtle, the new images show the case with an LED displaying either a green or an amber light, indicative of charging status. The new charging case will possibly be included with the second-generation AIrPods that are expected to arrive this fall, but will also reportedly be sold separately for users who simply want to upgrade their original AirPods case to add wireless charging. Reports last fall suggested Apple would have a new AirPods wireless charging case much sooner, so it’s unclear whether those original rumours were off of whether Apple has experienced internal delays similar to problems it has encountered with its AirPower charging pad.

Tablo adds Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound via firmware update

Tablo has announced the addition of Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound to its lineup of OTA DVRs. Rolling out gradually to existing users via a new firmware update (2.2.22), the new feature will allow Tablo devices to capture and pass AC3 surround sound audio through to supported viewing devices. The Tablo team notes that the feature has been a long time coming due to the problems with the DVR hardware only being engineered to deliver a single audio stream, and not all devices — especially mobile devices — being able to decode AC3 audio. While the single stream is still an issue, as more mobile devices are beginning to support surround sound, the team felt that it was a good time to begin offering the feature, although users will still have to make the choice between gaining surround sound on supported devices and maintaining compatibility with playback on other mobile devices that can’t handle the Dolby Digital stream. Surround Sound must be toggled globally, and when enabled, devices that can’t decode the AC3 stream will get no audio at all. Note that all current Apple devices are capable of surround sound decoding, including not only the Apple TV, but also an iPhone, iPad, or iPod running iOS 11 or later, and even a Mac using the Safari browser.

Udoq announces The Ultimate Apple Dock

Udoq has announced “The Ultimate Apple Dock” — a new limited edition of its Udoq Docking System in a package that’s specifically tailored to Apple users, and includes the company’s upcoming Qi wireless charging module. Available for pre-order on Indiegogo for $100 — 50 percent off the final price — The Ultimate Apple Dock includes the anodized aluminum udoq 400 charging station in dark gray along with two Lightning modules, an Apple Watch adapter module, and the new Qi wireless charging module, providing users with the ability to charge all current Apple devices, from iPhones and iPads to the Apple Watch, AirPods, and even the Siri Remote. Additional modules can be purchased separately for users who may want to charge older Apple devices using a 30-pin connector or micro USB and USB-C devices. Udoq’s Ultimate Apple Dock is expected to be available starting in November.

Yevo Labs releases new Yevo Air Wireless Earbuds

Yevo Labs has announced the release of Yevo Air, a new true wireless earbud that builds upon last year’s Yevo 1, adding a new design and more advanced technology to improve sound quality and Bluetooth connectivity. The new earbuds incorporate Bluetooth 4.2 and 6mm drivers, promising a louder and more fine-tuned sound experience with deep bass and an optimized EQ. They’re also sweat and splash-resistant for workouts, and include three size options of silicon ear-tips for comfortable listening and a redesigned storage and charging case that’s lighter and more compact. Yevo Air promises to deliver 3.5 hours of listening time on a single charge, with the case providing 10.5 hours more — a 15-minute quick charge in the case will provide an extra 45 minutes of use. Integrated controls also provide the ability to adjust volume, control music playback, answer phone calls, and easily access Siri. Yevo Air sells for $129 and is available now directly from Yevo Labs and select retailers.

Cavalier Audio debuts with Maverick artisan speaker system

Cavalier Audio has released the Maverick, an elegant new portable speaker that features Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Amazon Alexa voice control. Designed to combine strong audio performance with refined craftsmanship, Maverick features two active 20-watt drivers backed by two passive radiators plus a built-in battery that offers up to nine hours of play time. The premium design includes luxurious materials such as genuine wood with natural oil finish, custom-knit fabrics, distressed leathers, and machine-edged materials for a rustic and refined look. A leather charging base and a custom-stitched USB-C charging cable are included, along with a canvas carrying case for protecting the speaker on the go. Multiple Maverick speakers can also be linked together for a wider sound stage or multi-room audio, and in addition to Amazon Alexa, Maverick supports streaming from TuneIn, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Amazon Music, Pandora, SiriusXM, and Audible, although AirPlay is not supported. A companion iOS app can be used to configure and control the speaker, including assigning the programmable smart button to specific Spotify or iHeartRadio playlists. Maverick is $300 and can be purchased directly from Cavalier’s web site.

2018 iPhones may limit Fast Charging to certified chargers

Apple may be limiting fast charging for the 2018 iPhone lineup for specifically certified chargers, according to a new report from Japanese site Mac Otakara (via 9to5Mac). Although fast charging came to the 2017 iPhone lineup last year — and the iPad Pro before that — via the USB Power Distribution (USB-PD) standard, the new report suggests that Apple may be taking steps to ensure that only certified chargers will work by requiring that they support USB Type-C Authentication (C-AUTH), a newer standard that’s designed to protect against non-compliant USB chargers. According to the report, connecting to a charger that doesn’t support C-AUTH will limit the power draw to a mere 2.5 watts (0.5 amps) — the basic power draw supported by the original USB standard, and half the speed of the five-watt charger that Apple has traditionally bundled with new iPhones. Of course, is recent reports are accurate, Apple will be bundling the 18-watt power adapter with all of the 2018 iPhone models, so the issue will only affect users looking to pick up an additional power adapter — and with C-AUTH being supported by dozens of companies (and over a thousand belonging to the USB Implementers Forum), compliant fast chargers should be available from a number of different companies.

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.

Higher-power iPhone charger will only be available initially with new iPhones

Following reports earlier this year that Apple is likely to begin including a higher-power, 18 watt USB-C power adapter with 2018 iPhone models, Mac Otakara (via 9to5Mac) now reports that due to supply constraints, the new adapter will only be available bundled with the actual iPhone models, and not initially available to be purchased separately. According to the Mac Otakara report, Apple’s manufacturing partners will be running at full capacity just to make the adapters to be packaged with the new iPhone models, leaving no room for additional adapters to be produced. Of course, the upcoming 18 watt adapter is far from the only USB-C adapter capable of charging newer iPhones at full speed; Apple’s own 29W USB-C power adapter is already sold separately, and there are a large number of third party adapters already available, so the lack of initial availability of the new adapter shouldn’t be a problem.

Lumen releases world’s first pocket-sized ‘metabolism hacking’ device

Digital health and wellness company Lumen has announced a new pocket-sized device that promises to deliver weight management and performance data simply by analyzing a user’s breath. The new pocket-sized device monitors a user’s metabolism by analyzing the amount of CO2 and other gases exhaled by the user, sending the data to a companion iOS app that uses an AI engine to determine whether users are burning carbs or fat for energy and provide immediate nutritional guidance and real-time insights from that data, building a nutrition plan that’s personalized for each user’s metabolism. Plans can be customized to help users lose weight, optimize workouts, or reach other health and fitness goals. Lumen’s eponymous product was developed in partnership with renowned design company frog to provide a premium luxury user experience in a portable device that can be taken anywhere for use on-the-go, and has been in testing since 2017, where the company notes that more than 300 beta testers hav already lost an average of 6.8 pounds in 30 days by following Lumen’s tailored recommendations.

Apple patent suggests enhanced ‘Find My AirPods’ feature

A new patent reported by AppleInsider reveals that Apple may be working on a way to improve the technology in its “Find My AirPods” feature to allow users to better locate where lost peripherals may be located. Currently, the Find My AirPods feature, which was introduced in iOS 10.3, plays a sound through the AirPods that will help a user locate the lost earbud, but still requires the user to hear it. A new patent application filed last year, titled “Locating Wireless Devices,” would expand on the pinging function by using an array of two or more microphones on a device such as an iPhone to estimate the direction that AirPods are located in, and point the user in that direction. The patent also describes methods for using other sensors to determine the device’s physical location and using sound readings to determine the approximately location of the accessory, guiding the user to the spot with a compass-style user interface. Other possibilities include using audio in areas of the spectrum not normally audible to human ears, allowing for “silent” pinging that would provide location estimation without disturbing nearby users and avoid issues with noisy environments. As with most patent applications, the mere existence of a patent filing doesn’t guarantee that Apple is even working on a feature, much less that it will see the light of day, although this one seems like a logical extension of Apple’s current Find My AirPods technology.

AirPower to run stripped down version of iOS, now expected to arrive in September

Apple’s AirPower has gotten another more specific release date, this time from a slightly more reliable source, with Bloomberg reporting that the wireless charging mat is now on track for a September release. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman also provides some insight into why the release has taken longer than expected — although Apple only said “2018” when AirPower was announced last year, many anticipated the device would be available earlier in 2018, with some reports suggesting March. Gurman notes that although Apple has been quiet about AIrPower, saying basically nothing since the initial announcement, the company has been actively working on the accessory behind the scenes, dealing with challenges such as making sure the charger doesn’t overheat and addressing the complexity of the circuitry. Unlike traditional Qi chargers, the AirPower is designed to charge up to three devices simultaneously, support the Apple Watch, and allow users to place any of their devices anywhere on the charging mat rather than having to aim for a specific spot.

Sonos announces new Beam sound bar featuring AirPlay 2 and Siri

Sonos has announced Beam, a new compact sound bar speaker that will feature support for AirPlay 2, Siri voice control, and Amazon Alexa, making it the first speaker to support more than one voice assistant. Designed to sit in front of your TV, Beam measures 25.6 inches in length, and is designed for streaming music, TV, movies, and game sound, with voice-activated volume control as well to allow for hands-free sound adjustment. Beam can be used as a standalone soundbar or integrated with other Sonos speakers to create a surround sound system and add a subwoofer. Support for HDMI ARC allows for simplified connection to a home theatre system, and an optical audio adapter is included for systems that don’t have ARC support over HDMI. Beam is available for pre-order today for $399 and expected to ship late next month. In addition, Sonos also announced that it will be the promised AirPlay 2 support for its existing speaker lineup beginning next month as well. [via MacRumors]

Apple unveils new silicone iPhone case colors, Apple Watch bands

While this week’s WWDC Keynote was all about software, Apple has snuck in a few minor accessory updates in the form of new silicon iPhone case colors and Apple Watch bands, as spotted by AppleInsider. The new options, which are part of Apple’s normal seasonal color updates, include three new colors for the iPhone 8 and iPhone X silicon cases — peach, marine green, and sky blue — along with matching Apple Watch Sport Band options. The colors reflect Apple’s previous summer releases that focus more on light pastels that serve as a contrast to the darker tones that come with the fall iPhone releases. The pricing for the new colors remains the same as for all of the other cases, with the iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus versions selling for $39, iPhone 8 versions for $35, and Apple Watch Sport bands for $49.

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