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Apple updates MFi program with with specs for new Lightning audio cable, USB-C port

Apple has added specifications for USB-C ports and a Lightning to 3.5mm output cable to its Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod licensing program, 9to5Mac reports. The update will allow third-party accessory makers to include USB-C charging receptacles in certified iOS and Mac accessories. Accessory makers can also now create a Lightning to 3.5mm connector to allow iOS devices to be plugged directly into an auxiliary port. Previously users would be forced to use the Lightning to 3.5mm female adapter included with their device in conjunction with a male-to-male 3.5mm to connect, so this new cable spec should make things simpler for users looking to go that route for audio. Apple also announced a change to its MFi program logos, killing off the old device icons in favor of a simpler look with just the Apple logo.

Pair of patents provide look at waterproof Lightning connector, crumb-proof keyboard

A pair of patents show Apple’s interest in improving the seals on its devices, starting with a Lightning connector that creates a water-tight seal when inserted. Discovered by Patently Apple, one version of the Lightning connector features a tapered shape made of a “deformable material” that molds itself to the Lightning port to lock moisture out and keep the internal connections free from moisture.

Barclays claims AirPods with improved noise canceling features coming next year

Speculation has been ramping up around when we’ll see the next generation of AirPods, with some reports claiming we’ll see a new model with an upgraded wireless chip and “Hey Siri” support for calling up Siri without the need to physically tap the headphones as early as this year. But 9to5Mac reports Barclays thinks Apple could wait until 2019 to reveal new AirPods with improved noise-canceling features. The analysts claim we’ll see “design changes and improvements” over current AirPods, but earbuds using physical analog methods will have a tough time competing with electronic active noise cancellation now common in over-the-ear headphones. The previous report from Bloomberg speculated that Apple could be adding waterproofing to the AirPods by 2019, so it’s possible that the noise reduction claim is a happy coincidence created by the better seal.

August begins offering free 24-hour video recording plan for Doorbell Cam

August has announced that it will begin offering a free basic tier to the video recording service for its August Doorbell Cam, allowing all users to access the past 24 hours of videos recorded by the camera without the need to pay a subscription fee. For users who want to store all their camera videos for longer, August’s paid subscription plan remains available for $5/month or $50/year, and stores 30 days of video history, however the free plan allows recorded videos to be downloaded and shared, so users can choose to save important videos indefinitely without any additional subscription fees.

New Indiegogo project aims to improve iPhone anti-theft protection

A new project on Indiegogo, Safeskin, is looking to address one of the main limitations with Find My iPhone with a case that locks onto an iPhone and prevents it from being turned off. While it’s not clear exactly how Safeskin works to keep an iPhone powered on, it appears that it connects to the iPhone Lighting port, suggesting an electronic solution rather than something that simply interferes with the physical controls. The package will also include an Eye proximity sensor that pairs with the case to alert you when your iPhone gets out of range. No additional details on the product are yet available, although users who are interested can sign up on the Indiegogo product page to be kept up to date on further developments.

Mophie filing hints at first Qi-certified wireless charging battery case for iPhone X

While there are already battery cases on the market for the iPhone X, Mophie has filed an application with the Wireless Power Consortium to offer the first one that is Qi-certified, Mac Otakara reports. Today Mophie was granted the Qi certification for its Juice Pack Air for iPhone X, so an official announcement could be forthcoming any time. The filing claims the device will be able to extend call duration by up to 9 hours, but doesn’t include any word on then the case will become available. [via MacRumors]

Report: Development issues could hold up (or even scrap) Apple headphones

A new Bloomberg report backs an earlier KGI claim that Apple is developing a new pair of headphones under its own brand, but development issues might push back the product’s release. Delays due to design complications seem to be a theme with Apple’s recent push into high-end audio products, with both the company’s AirPods and HomePod pushed back from their initial targets after engineers had trouble tackling things like wireless audio synchronization. The HomePod even had an embarrassing issue arise after its launch despite missing it’s original release date, so it’s possible Apple is being particularly cautious this time around to get it right at launch. The new report didn’t specifically cite whether the problems are with the basic design or the audio components, but warned it’s still possible it could scrap the headphone project altogether despite initially targeting a launch as early as the end of this year. Apple already owns the successful Beats headphone brand, making it possible that a new entry into the crowded wireless headphone market would cannibalize the company’s own sales under that label.

Proposed PowerPod Case aims to add wireless charging to existing AirPods

A new project on Kickstarter is gearing up to add wireless charging capabilities for current AirPods without the need to replace the AirPods case. The new PowerPod Case is a silicon case that goes over the standards AirPods case, not unlike many other cases we’ve already seen for AirPods, but in this case, PowerPod adds Qi charging capabilities that promise to allow the AirPods to be recharged from any standard Qi wireless charging pad. The PowerPod Case is expected to retail for $40, which will likely be less than the price of Apple’s new wireless charging AirPods case, and has the added environmental benefit of not requiring that you replace the existing AirPods case.

Report: Apple planning to release high-end headphones this year

Hot on the heels of rumors that Apple will be updating its AirPods, well-respected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is telling investors to expect Apple to release a pair of high-end headphones later this year, 9to5Mac reports. Kuo expects the over-the-ear headphones to be an Apple product with an all-new design, not branded under the Apple-owned Beats label. The report doesn’t detail the specific features that would be included in the headphones, but they would likely feature improved sound quality, noise-canceling and battery life over AirPods given Apple’s ability to pluck the best of Beats technology for its own headphone line. Kuo also backed the rumored release of new AirPods, claiming they will come with an improved W1 chip and a case that features a redesigned hinge to facilitate wireless charging.

Report: Apple on-track to begin selling AirPower in March

Japanese blog Mac Otakara has confirmed an earlier report from The Apple Post which reported that Apple’s new AirPower charging mat will be launching sometime next month in both Apple and Best Buy stores. The AirPower Qi charging mat, announced by Apple last fall, will provide the ability to charge the new iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus models, alongside an Apple Watch and specially-encased AirPods. Neither report offers a specific launch date nor any information on pricing.

Report: Apple planning upgraded AirPods for later this year

Apple is currently working on two significant upgrades to the AirPods, according to a new report from Bloomberg, suggesting that Apple intends to regularly release updates to the wireless headphones. According to people familiar with the matter, a new model of AirPods could be coming as early as later this year which would include an upgraded wireless chip and “Hey Siri” support for calling up Siri without the need to physically tap the headphones. Apple also already reportedly has a subsequent model in the design stages for 2019, which would add water resistance.

Leaked Nokia memo: No path forward for digital health business

After very public problems with regulators forced Nokia to disable key features of its Body Cardio scale, a leaked memo obtained by The Verge reveals that the company’s strategic review of its digital health business shows the division may be in big trouble. Nokia’s chief strategy officer Kathrin Buvac wrote that, “Rather than only falling in love with our technology, we must be honest with ourselves. Currently, we don’t see a path for [the digital health business] to become a meaningful part of a company as large as Nokia.” While the memo stops short of saying Nokia will shutter its digital health business — which began in 2016 when the company acquired French startup Withings for $190 million — Buvac said Nokia is now looking to become “a business-to-business and licensing company.”

Twelve South adds iPhone X version of its SurfacePad case in exclusive colors

Twelve South has released an iPhone X version of its popular SurfacePad case. Like other SurfacePad cases, this one sticks to the back of the device using the company’s SurfaceGrip adhesive and provides a thin layer of protection around the front and back of the device. The case includes automatic sleep/wake functionality when the case is open and closed. Like previous SurfacePad cases it folds into a stand to watch videos and includes slots to hold credit cards. The $50 case comes in the standard black and also cognac and teal colors specific to the iPhone X.

Just-funded Plux wireless charging pad will have room for iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods

With Apple’s AirPower charging pad still yet to be released, competitors have been popping up with their own offerings that provide more features at what could prove to be a lower cost. The recently funded Plux is one of them, offering a 10W fast charging Qi-compatible multi-device charging pad large enough for an iPhone, AirPods and an Apple Watch. The pad also comes with a stand converter that allows for the use of Face ID and Nightstand Mode. While The Apple Post has quoted unnamed Best Buy sources that claim Apple’s AirPower charging pad will debut in March, there’s been no talk about price, so it’s hard to say whether the eventual $89 price of the Plux will be more or less than Apple’s own offering (even though Plux’s promo materials estimates AirPower will cost $199). But it’s very likely the $39 early bird price (still available as of this writing) will be less — even undercutting $60 offerings currently available from Mophie and Belkin while providing a larger surface and a less platter-like appearance. The charger is available in white or black and also comes with an AirPods wireless receiver and AirPods holder.

Sennheiser releases Apple-exclusive version of Ambeo Smart Headset

Sennheiser has introduced a new all-back version of its Ambeo Smart Headset that will be sold exclusively in Apple Stores for $300. Unveiled last month at CES and designed expressly for iOS devices, the company’s new Ambeo headset connects via the Lightning port and features microphones on the outside of each earpice to provide 3D sound when recording audio or video, effectively creating what the company calls an “immersive life-like 3D sound.” The headset also leverages the external mics to employ noise-cancelling capabilities that let the user head outside sounds while listening to music. [via The Verge]

Tablo OTA DVR update adds advanced recording features

Nuvyyo has released a software update for its Tablo Over-The-Air DVR (iLounge rating: A-) bringing the more advanced and flexible scheduling and recording management tools that many users have been waiting for. The new features, which are rolling out as part of a firmware update to all Tablo DVR models, will allow users to adjust start and stop times for recordings, choose to keep only a specific number of episodes on a per-program basis, and choose which channel to record from when multiple channels are airing a given program. The new advanced recording features will be available to all customers with an active Tablo guide subscription once their devices have been updated to the latest firmware (2.2.18), which is being rolled out gradually over the next week, and can be accessed using most of Tablo’s apps, including the Apple TV and iOS apps, as well as the Safari-optimzied web app for Mac users. Full details can be found on the company’s blog.

Nokia pulls Pulse Wave Velocity feature from Body Cardio over regulatory issues

Nokia has been forced to disable the Pulse Wave velocity feature that allowed its Body Cardio scale to measure arterial stiffness and high blood pressure, according to an updated FAQ from the company. The scale used the speed at which heartbeat-generated vibrations spread out along arterial walls and the time it takes for blood to flow from the heart to the feet to go well beyond the measurements a normal bathroom scale can make. But In the company’s updated support document, Nokia said it has learned the PWV measurements “may require a different level of regulatory approval. In light of this, the decision was made to turn off the pulse wave velocity feature.”

Roland announces new app for creating split screen music videos

Venerable musical instrument maker Roland has released 4XCAMERA, a new video capture app for iOS devices. Although it’s a slight departure from the company’s usual offerings, 4XCAMERA is still targeted at musicians, with the goal of helping to create music videos that can combine up to four performances on a split screen. Users start by capturing a single video using the app, and can then use that initial video to record up to three more performances, adding new parts on each pass. Users can then apply one of 10 split-screen patterns and adjust volumes for each of the videos separately for the perfect sound mix before rendering a final video file that can be shared directly on YouTube or other social media sites.

Scosche unveils new BoomBottle, Rhythm24, and wireless charging solutions at CES 2018

Scosche has announced its 2018 product lineup, including an update to the company’s BoomBottle rugged portable speaker and Rhythm heart monitor and a new lineup of wireless charging and mounting solutions. BoomBottle MM is the company’s latest rugged waterproof speaker, building off the 2015 BoomBottle+, and features two six-watt speakers and two 40 millimeter passive radiators and is IP67 rated for dust and water protection. Additional new features include an auto-sensing indoor/outdoor equalizer and support for Scosche’s built-in MagicMOUNT technology so users can keep their iPhone magnetically secured to the speaker (although wireless charging is not included). A magnet on the bottom of the speaker allows it to be easily attached to a metal surface at virtually any angle, and it also includes a built-in bottle opener.

Zagg debuts InvisibleShield tempered glass front and back protection for iPhone X, 8, 8 Plus

For those torn between protecting their glass-backed iPhones and showing them off, Zagg’s InvisibleShield Glass+ Luxe 360 offers something in between. The two-piece protector covers the front and back of the iPhone X, 8 or 8 Plus and is made from “the toughest tempered glass on the market” with reinforced edges to prevent chips and cracks. The cases come in matching black, gold and silver colors for the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus and in black and silver for the iPhone X. The glass provides scratch protection and even resists the oil on your finger to lessen the smudges left by fingerprints. The case costs $70 and has a limited lifetime warranty for the life of the device.

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