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Spigen AirPods Stand coming in mid-February

Spigen has created the first AirPods-specific charging stand, designed to hold the AirPods charging case upright while plugged in to charge. At $12, the stand could provide users looking to plug in the case without futzing with a cord each time a cheaper option than another Lightning dock. The dock’s opening requires an original Apple Lightning cable to fit through the dock opening. The AirPods Stand isn’t showing up on Spigen’s site yet, but is available for pre-order now on Amazon, promising to be in stock February 15. [via iPhone in Canada]

Rumor: Apple working on lightweight augmented reality glasses with Zeiss

Blogger Robert Scoble is stoking rumors that Apple is working with Carl Zeiss to create augmented reality optics after an encounter at CES. Scoble said he noticed that the Carl Zeiss booth was located in the AR section at CES despite not having any products to showcase. When he suggested to an employee that reason was, “Tim Cook didn’t let you,” Scoble said all of the “employees around me smiled nervously.” Other commenters on the thread said Carl Zeiss confirmed to them that they were “in development with a lead customer” on a pair of light AR or mixed reality glasses, but declined to say who the customer was. Scoble is speculating that the glasses could be released as early as this year, but given his sourcing it’s difficult to put too much stock in the rumor at this point. Zeiss currently offers the VR One Plus headset that turns smartphones into VR optical devices. [via Apple Insider]

Apple tops Greenpeace clean tech company list for third year

Apple has topped Greenpeace’s Click Clean list of the most environmentally friendly tech companies for the third year in a row. The report praises the company’s on-going leadership in matching its growth with an equal or larger supply of renewable energy. Apple led all other companies in its sector, with “A” ratings in energy transparency, efficiency and policy. Despite Greenpeace touting Apple “using [its] influence to push vendors, utilities, and governments to create access to renewable energy where previously there was none,” the company fell to a “B” rating this year in the advocacy department. Still, its total score of 83 percent was still enough to place Apple well-ahead of its nearest competitor, Facebook, at 67 percent. The report raised some concerns over Apple’s concentration of data center power demands in one location, worried that the high power need in such a small space might not align with the company’s renewable power goals. While the expansion of green tariff products — offered by utility companies to large customers looking to obtain certified renewable energy — is allowing Apple to supplement, the report raises concerns that the move doesn’t lead to new renewable energy development, instead relying on existing infrastructure.

Apple Music’s ‘Carpool Karaoke’ to feature different celeb hosts for 16 half-hour episodes

Apple Music’s upcoming Carpool Karaoke standalone series will consist of 16 half-hour episodes, Variety reports. The show, a spinoff of the popular segment on The Late Late Show with James Corden, will feature different hosts for each episode. Carpool Karaoke will also be “more of an interview series” — it’s unclear how much time will be spent talking, and how much time will be spent singing. A few of the host/guest combos have already been announced. While the show will feature pairings such as John Legend with Alicia Keys and Seth MacFarlane with Ariana Grande, other groupings might be more unexpected: Billy Eichner with Metallica and Michael Strahan with Jeff Gordon, for instance. No release date has been set yet for the show.

 

Apple releases iOS 10.2.1 beta 3, tvOS 10.1.1 beta 2, watchOS 3.1.3 beta 2 to developers

Apple has released the third beta of iOS 10.2.1 to registered developers today, after a holiday break of sorts — the second beta was released before Christmas. A public beta release should soon follow. While a recent tweet claimed an iOS 10.3 beta would introduce “theatre mode” this week, that seems unlikely to happen so soon. Additionally, Apple has also released both the second betas for tvOS 10.1.1 and watchOS 3.1.3 to developers.

Russia orders Apple to pull LinkedIn app

Apple has pulled the LinkedIn app from its App Store in Russia, The New York Times reports. The move came after Russia blocked the social networking site for not complying with local laws requiring them to store data on Russian citizens. Nicole Leverich, a spokeswoman for LinkedIn, said the company was “disappointed” in Russia’s decision, adding the move “denies access to our members in Russia and the companies that use LinkedIn to grow their businesses.” Apple confirmed it was asked to remove the LinkedIn app in Russia, but declines further comment on the issue. Apple also confirmed that China has indeed requested the company remove The New York Times’ app, illustrating the direct blocking of websites — common in more repressive countries — is now creeping into the App Store.

Samsung’s Gear S3, Gear S2, Fit2 smartwatches gain iOS compatibility

Samsung has announced its Gear S3, Gear S2 and Gear Fit2 smartwatches are now compatible with iOS. Depending on the model, users will need the Gear S or Gear Fit apps, now available on the App Store. The apps will guide users through the steps of pairing their devices and, once installed, allow the wearer to track routes, log distance traveled and monitor heart rate and calories burned. The apps also provide the ability to find a lost watch using the device’s built-in GPS.

KGI’s Kuo still predicts three iPad sizes, including a high end midsize model

Well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is doubling down on his August prediction that Apple will release three iPads in the second quarter of 2017, claiming Apple will release 12.9”, 10-10.5” and 9.7” models. The 12.9” is expected to be the new version of the existing iPad Pro and the 9.7” will be a “low-priced option” aimed at entry-level tablet buyers. There’s still some uncertainty around the final size of the high-end 10-10.5” option, mostly because a narrow bezel design could mean the device fits into the current footprint of the 9.7” iPad Pro while providing a larger screen, but how far Apple will go in eliminating the bezels is still unclear.

Apple celebrates 10 years of the iPhone

Ten years ago today, Steve Jobs debuted the iPhone, which he called “a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone and a breakthrough internet communications device.” Apple is celebrating the iconic iPhone by heralding the many ways the device has changed the industry. Essentially creating the smartphone as we know it, the iPhone was the first device to introduce or popularize many of the features users take for granted today.

Apple Executive Team sees reduced compensation as Apple misses 2016 targets

Apple CEO Tim Cook and other members of Apple’s executive team have received less compensation in 2016 as a result of revenue and profit goals for the year being missed, the Wall Street Journal reports. In its regulatory filing from earlier today, Apple stated that its revenue and operating income for 2016 had missed both its targeted and its stretch goals — the first time the company has failed to surpass its stretch goals since 2009, and the first time ever during Tim Cook’s tenure as CEO. As a result, unlike in prior years, company executives did not receive the full cash incentives specified in their compensation packages. In total, Apple CEO Tim Cook received $8.75 million in compensation for 2016, down from $10.3 million the year prior — a 15 percent decline; other Apple executives named in the regulatory filings saw an average decline of 9.6 percent. Apple has faced declining revenue in 2016 as a result of the first prolonged slump in iPhone sales, which account for 63 percent of the company’s annual revenue.

Canadian Competition Bureau closes Apple iPhone antitrust investigation

The Canadian Competition Bureau has announced that it has closed its investigation into concerns of anti-competitive conduct between Apple and Canadian wireless carriers related to the iPhone, stating that no “abuse of dominance” was found by the Bureau. The move brings to an end the investigation that began over two years ago when the Competition Bureau ordered disclosures from Apple Canada and several wireless carriers in separate court filings outlining concerns that Apple had been unfairly using its iPhone bargaining power to encourage carriers to overprice rival phones or charge higher fees for related wireless services. The Bureau reports that in examining the contracts between Apple Canada and the various Canadian wireless carriers, it “did not find sufficient evidence to conclude that Apple has engaged in an abuse of dominance under the Competition Act” and released a position statement on its website detailing the Bureau’s investigation.

Instagram adds iPhone 7 Wide Color Support, Live Photos in Stories

Instagram has added support for wide color capture on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, along with the ability to convert Live Photos into Boomerangs in Instagram Stories. Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger tweeted the news out yesterday, noting in particular that the features are being rolled out in the existing Instagram app, with no update needed.

Instagram originally announced that it would be adding support for the new camera features in iPhone 7 at Apple’s event back in September, including the wider colors and Live Photos in Boomerang Stories announced today, along with a special color filter and one-finger zoom on the iPhone 7 Plus. Support for wide color capture and display should simply begin working, and users can add Live Photos to their Boomerang Stories by opening the Instagram Stories camera, swiping from the bottom of the screen to upload from the camera roll, and then selecting a Live Photo from the thumbnails that appear at the bottom of the screen. A 3D Touch on the screen will allow the Live Photo to be previewed as a Boomerang that can be shared in the current Story. [via TechCrunch]

Apple reports iOS 10 now on 76 percent of iOS devices

According to a recent update to Apple’s App Store Developer Page, over 76 percent of compatible iOS devices are now running iOS 10 as of Jan. 4, 2017, suggesting that iOS 10 is being adopted at a somewhat faster rate than iOS 9 was last year, which took until March to reach 79 percent of devices. The metrics presented on Apple’s App Store Developer page are measured based on App Store usage, and are therefore limited to those devices actually downloading apps from the App Store. [via iPhone in Canada]

Focalcrest debuts Mixtile Hub to bridge third-party devices to HomeKit

Internet of Things hardware developer Focalcrest Technology has announced Mixtile Hub, a new HomeKit-compatible multi-vendor bridging solution. The Mixtile Hub is designed to allow smart home devices from different brands to access the HomeKit platform, allowing compatible smart home products, surveillance devices, and probe sensors to connect through ZigBee and Z-Wave protocols. Mixtile Hub also acts as a normal smart home hub by itself to link devices from various manufacturers. In addition to remote control and voice control features, it supports auto-alarm and high-decibel warnings and battery backup to allow it to continue working even during a power failure. Pricing and availability have not been announced.

Capcom announces all six classic MegaMan titles now available for iOS

Capcom has released the entire series of original 8-bit Mega Man games for iOS devices, following reports last month that the series would at least be landing in Japan in early 2017. Coming only a few weeks after the Blue Bomber’s birthday, this release represents the first time that all six of the original 8-bit Mega Man games have been available on any smart device platform, 29 years after Mega Man first landed on gaming consoles. The iOS adaptations of the game are optimized for mobile devices with adjustments to game speed, and are designed to appeal to both long-time fans and newcomers to the series. Each title is available separately from the App Store for $1.99, including the original Mega Man through Mega Man 6.

Leviton debuts HomeKit-compatible Decora In-Wall Dimmers and Switches

Leviton has announced a new lineup of HomeKit-compatible Decora Smart lighting control accessories. Two new in-wall dimmers and a new in-wall switch will provide direct HomeKit integration with no additional hubs or bridges required, with support for Apple’s iOS 10 Home app and Siri-based voice control, as well as Leviton’s own Decora Smart Home iOS app. The new products include a 1000W Universal Dimmer, 600W Universal Dimmer and a 15A Universal Rocker Switch, all of which follow Leviton’s well-known Decora brand design motif with true rocker paddles, along with embedded LEDs to display illumination level. Advanced lighting control and customization is also available via the Decora Smart Home app, including bulb type, adjustable fade rate, minimum/maximum brightness levels and more, and the new switches also support multi-way lighting scenarios — such as hallways or staircases — in which one fixture is controlled by two devices. Common color change kits and screwless wall plates are also available for the new smart switches. Leviton Decora Smart HomeKit-enabled lighting control accessories are expected to be available this April. Pricing has not yet been announced.

Carrier adds HomeKit support to Côr Thermostat

Carrier has announced the addition of HomeKit support to its Côr Thermostat, allowing users to control their home comfort system using the iOS 10 Home app or Siri voice commands. Côr will also offer support for HomeKit triggers to provide interaction with other HomeKit-compatible products. Originally announced two years ago at CES 2015, Carrier’s Côr is a smart thermostat that provides advanced home heating and cooling features like smart setback to intelligently adapt the thermostat for greater efficiency and energy savings. The HomeKit-enabled Carrier Côr Thermostat is expected to be available in early 2017. Pricing has not yet been announced.

Google Calendar iOS app can now track workouts via HealthKit

Google has released an update to its Google Calendar app for iOS devices, adding integration with Apple’s HealthKit framework for automatically tracking completion of fitness goals. Last year, Google added a new “Goals” feature to Google Calendar, allowing users to schedule goals for various recurring activities such as workouts, however users who wanted to keep track of their goals were required to mark them completed manually. The latest version of Google Calendar for iOS can now read workout data directly from Apple’s Health app, allowing daily workout goals to be automatically marked as completed within the Google Calendar app. The app can also now use workout data from HealthKit to tailor future goal schedules to times that more accurately reflect actual workout times.

Honeywell announces Lyric HomeKit-compatible security cameras

Honeywell has announced that it will be bringing HomeKit compatibility to its Lyric Home Security and Control System, as well as adding two new Lyric Camera models to its home security ecosystem. Lyric HomeKit compatibility will be made available to both current and future Lyric Security customers via a software update, and will make Honeywell’s Lyric system one of the first pro-installed and pro-monitored security systems to integrate with HomeKit. The Lyric Security controller will remain the hub for securely arming and disarming the Lyric system — however, users will also be able to use Siri voice controls and the iOS 10 Home app to interact with the Lyric system, and set HomeKit triggers to receive notifications on their iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. HomeKit compatibility for the Lyric Home Security and Control System is expected to be widely available within the first three months of 2017.

D-Link announces Omna 180 HomeKit-compatible Camera

D-Link has announced its new HomeKit-compatible Omna 180 Cam HD (DSH-C310), representing the company’s first entry in its new Omna family of HomeKit-enabled devices. The Omna 180 features a 180-degree field of view to provide monitoring for an entire room along with full HD 1080p video quality and advanced HomeKit security with end-to-end encryption and authentication between the camera and an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. HomeKit compatibility will also allow users to very quickly set up the 180 Cam HD using the Apple Home app in iOS 10.1, and will let users receive rich lock screen notifications showing a video snapshot of what’s happening whenever motion is detected. The Omna 180 Cam HD also integrates into HomeKit for setting rules and triggers so that it can activate other devices and scenes whenever motion is detected. The Omna 180 provides dynamic bitrate adjustment for optimal video streaming performance, two-way audio with a built-in microphone and speaker, infrared night vision, and local recording of video onto a microSDXC card. The home camera is expected to be available in Q1 2017; pricing has not yet been announced.

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