The latest edition of iLounge Weekly, our weekly newsletter covering all things iLounge, will be arriving in subscribers’ inboxes early next week. iLounge Weekly is a summary of the week’s best news, reviews, and feature articles we’ve published, and it also features giveaways and accessory discount offers from various companies. There’s still plenty of time to sign up and receive this week’s edition — just use the simple form below to submit your email address, if you haven’t done so already.
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Also, this is your last chance to enter our iBattz Mojo Vogue Battery Case Giveaway. In our Giveaway of the Month for August, iLounge and iBattz are giving away 5 Mojo Vogue Battery Cases for iPhone 4/4S, bundled with Dedicated Battery Chargers. To enter, simply fill out and submit the form on the giveaway page—the giveaway will end tonight—August 31, 2012—at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!
Wahoo Fitness has announced the KICKR Power Trainer, a new full-size bike trainer designed to work with iOS and Mac fitness apps. Users will be able to set resistance, measure power, and complete workouts using an app on their iOS devices which can connect to the bike using Bluetooth 4.0 or ANT+ technology to make in-ride adjustments and simulate real world courses. The Power Trainer is expected to include support for popular third-party fitness and cycling apps such as Kinomap and TrainerRoad, ideally allowing the device to work with the user’s preferred fitness app.
Wahoo is known for its bike sensors, such as the recent Blue SC. The KICKR Power Trainer will be available in November; no pricing information is available yet.
After nine years of steady third-party accessory growth for its devices, Apple faces a potentially serious ecosystem disruption this year, multiple reliable sources have confirmed to iLounge. With only two weeks remaining before the expected debut of the next-generation iPhone, Apple has not offered third-party developers the components or engineering details necessary to build docking accessories for the new device—the first iOS product expected to ship without Apple’s now-ubiquitous 30-pin Dock Connector, which will soon be replaced across all future Apple pocket and tablet devices. Noting the time required to manufacture and ship new products, the sources suggest that new iPhone-specific electronic add-ons will likely miss the upcoming holiday season, apart from whatever accessories are released by Apple itself.
Rumors of a smaller Dock Connector replacement have circulated for years, and the new component has recently been spotted in leaked cables, next-generation iPhones, and even parts apparently intended for other iOS devices. References to the new connector have also been found in beta versions of iOS 6. Despite these disclosures, however, Apple has not made the connectors available for developers to test or purchase, or discussed its new authentication chips, both of which might stop existing accessories from working, or limit their functionality with new Apple devices.
While the broadly available Micro-USB standard was suggested as a possible replacement for the 30-pin Dock Connector, sources suggest that Apple’s switch to a proprietary new connector will enable it to control the entire supply of available parts, as well as developers, since third-party versions of the new connector will likely be either unavailable or unreliable for months. One source expects that Apple will introduce a more stringent version of its Made For iPod/iPhone/iPad (“MFi”) licensing program alongside the new connector, complete with more elaborate testing requirements and perhaps higher fees. It remains possible, however, that Apple may merely attempt to dominate the 2012 holiday market by selling its own accessories—perhaps including adapters for older accessories—then supply new connectors and chips to developers in 2013.
Apple’s MFi program was grudgingly accepted by most developers years ago as a necessary cost of doing business with the Cupertino company, adding additional costs to iPod accessories once Apple began to sell electronic components and require per-unit licensing fees, collectively described by some as an “iPod tax.” The subsequent “Works With iPhone” program generated industry-wide grumbles based on new Apple approval and testing procedures, which were blamed for delaying the release of early iPhone electronic accessories for roughly a year, as well as restricting the variety of accessories that could be developed without Apple’s consent. Apple has since been criticized for problems with its AirPlay licensing program, which offers developers a wireless, dock-less alternative for streaming music to Wi-Fi-equipped accessories. AirPlay add-ons have been plagued by audio drop-outs and other issues, leading to complaints and mass returns by disappointed consumers, the costs of which have largely been absorbed by developers.
Withings has introduced the Wireless Scale WS-30, its latest iOS-compatible health product, as a sequel to its 2010 Connected Scale. Now equipped with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, the new scale offers secure access to weight and BMI data through the company’s free Withings Health Companion app, which features goal setting, coaching, and weight graphs.
Individual users are recognized by the scale, which can keep track of eight different profiles, and the accessory can be set up using Bluetooth and an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. The scale will be available in late September in Europe for approximately $190, a higher price than its predecessor; no North American release date or pricing has yet been announced.
One of Apple’s component suppliers, Sharp, may be falling behind in its production of screens for the new iPhone, according to a new report from Reuters. According to an anonymous source familiar with Sharp’s production operations, the company may be struggling with high production costs, and has questioned whether Apple might provide a financial incentive to accelerate production. For its part, Sharp was expected to begin mass production of LCD screens from its Kameyama plant in Japan, and although it is considered common knowledge that the company produces screens for Apple, it has never officially acknowledged that Apple is among its customers.
Apple’s next-generation iPhone is expected to be announced at an event in mid-September, and released shortly thereafter. Since Apple routinely uses multiple screen suppliers, it is unclear whether a delay at one supplier will have any impact on Apple’s release schedule. Moreover, Apple also schedules subsequent international product release dates over the course of several weeks, allowing the company to limit broader worldwide availability without affecting its initial domestic launch.
Zagg has announced Zaggkeys Pro ($100) and Pro Plus ($120), two new ultra-thin Bluetooth keyboards for iPad. Like Logitech’s Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, both keyboards use an iPad Smart Cover-style magnetic closure to close upon and protect the iPad’s screen when not in use.
Very little information on the keyboards has been released by Zagg, beyond the fact that each has dedicated function keys to operate specific iPad features, and the Pro Plus keyboard comes with optional keyboard backlighting. Both products use Bluetooth wireless to connect to the iPad, and include rechargeable batteries. They’re set for a late September release.
Overnight, Apple unveiled some major changes to the iOS 6 beta version of the App Store, and the tweaks seem to be heavily inspired by Chomp. Chomp, a search and app discovery startup, was acquired by Apple earlier this year.
The new Chomp-inspired App Store search features a considerably larger tile-based display of results, making comparatively poor use of both small and large iOS device screens, a point that has already inspired complaints from some App Store developers. Notably, the redesigned App Store features remain in beta form and subject to considerable change before iOS 6 is released next month. In other updates to the App Store, Genius and Purchased sections have been added, and the iTunes Store has been updated to again include a Podcast search function. [via MacRumors]
Two new iPad device models discovered in a developer’s app logs may represent the “iPad mini,” blogged Instapaper creator Marco Arment. The entries were marked as the never-before-seen “iPad2,5” and “iPad2,6,” which Arment speculates are likely Wi-Fi and cellular versions of the new iPad, most resembling an iPad 2, with an A5 processor and a 1024x768 display. Arment notes that he’s “never had a device show up there that didn’t end up being a real, about-to-be-released Apple device.”
According to The Korea Times, Samsung plans to immediately sue Apple if it releases products using LTE mobile technology, which is widely expected to be incorporated within the next-generation iPhone. The threat initially appears to be serious, as data from Thomson-Reuters shows that Samsung holds 12.2 percent of current LTE patents. However, Apple already sells the third-generation iPad in an LTE-capable version, and is believed to have purchased cellular chips with valid licenses to the underlying LTE technologies.
The Apple-Samsung conflict shows no signs of ending, even after last week’s court decision in Apple’s favor. As reported by The Korea Times, Samsung’s lawyers are preparing to counter every issue in which the jurors found in favor of Apple, and planning to wage a patent war against Apple across 10 different countries. In addition, Samsung is discussing modified Galaxy designs with major cellular providers, and the company is partnering with Microsoft to alleviate its dependency on Google’s Android, as well as placing the legal dispute entirely in the hands of Samsung Vice Chairman Choi Gee-sung.
Garmin has announced two coming updates for its StreetPilot Onboard and Navigon series of iOS navigation apps that will add major new features including public transportation routing and improvements to pedestrian navigation. The new transit feature, known as Urban Guidance will be available as an optional $5 in-app purchase and will allow users to consider public transportation options such as trains, trams, busses and water taxis when calculating pedestrian routes. Users will be provided with walking directions to the most appropriate transit stop and can look up detailed information on which line to take and where to get off. The real colours of transportation lines will also be reflected within the app to help users correlated the in-app directions with the appropriate transit stops.
The updates will also include Last Mile Navigation, a new feature designed to allow users to more effectively continue their journey by foot after parking their vehicle. Users will be advised about parking locations near their destination where users can park their car, saving their location in the app, and then automatically switch into pedestrian mode for walking directions to their final destination. The app will also provide directions back to the car’s saved location for the return journey. In addition, Garmin has also announced that the Google Street View feature introduced to the Navigon app earlier this year will be introduced to its StreetPilot Onboard app for the iPhone, alone with Navigon’s optional Panorama View 3D terrain view. The new StreetPilot Onboard and Navigon app versions are expected to be available sometime this fall as free updates for existing users.
Griffin has introduced the Survivor Custom case ($50) for iPhone 4 and 4S. Like its predecessor Survivor, the Survivor Custom is constructed from a shatter-resistant polycarbonate frame and wrapped in silicone rubber, together meeting or exceeding Department of Defense ruggedization standards. It also comes equipped with a built-in screen protector and hinged plugs that seal the Dock Connector, headphone port, Hold Switch, and volume controls. Customization is a major feature, as the silicone wrap, shell and belt clip can be mixed and matched with numerous color options for no extra cost. Survivor Custom is available now from Griffin’s web site.
According to Reuters, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Larry Page have been talking behind the scenes about a number of intellectual property matters, including continuing mobile patent disputes between Apple and Google, as a prelude or alternative to a lawsuit between the companies. The two CEOs are expected to chat again in the coming weeks, after a reported delay of a meeting scheduled for tomorrow. One source envisions a possible truce between Apple and Google regarding basic Android features, but the scope of the discussions are unknown.
A jury ruled in favor of Apple last Friday in its patent and trade dress trial against Samsung, awarding $1.05 billion to Apple, which then requested a sales ban on eight Samsung phones. Samsung uses Google’s Android software, which is at the core of numerous iPhone competitors, including devices sold under Google’s own name. Apple and Google reportedly declined comment.
IK Multimedia has announced iRig KEYS ($100), a portable universal MIDI controller keyboard for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Weighing slightly less than 1 1/2 pounds, and measuring roughly 20 inches long, the controller features 37 velocity-sensitive mini keys, plus five soft-touch buttons and one volume/data knob that can be customized for different purposes. It’s also both Core MIDI and USB compliant, arriving complete with a Dock Connector cable for iOS device attachment. iRig KEYS can be powered by Apple’s devices for brief periods of time, or longer via the USB port, and two free apps are included. It will be available this fall.
A new report from Bloomberg notes that UK-developed FinFisher spyware, originally developed for government and law enforcement use, is capable of taking control of an iPhone and other mobile devices. Researchers at the University of Toronto Munk School of Global Affairs’ Citizen Lab discovered that FinFisher can secretly track a user’s location, monitor e-mails, text messages and calls, as well as turning on a device’s microphone. An iPhone can become infected with the software when a user clicks on a malicious fake link. It’s presently unclear as to whether any iPhones are in fact infected; the report suggests that iPads may be susceptible, as well.
FinFisher was developed by Gamma Group, which markets a monitoring product called FinSpy Mobile to government and law enforcement agencies. Gamma has suggested that the software was somehow stolen from its sales demonstration server, and researchers have concluded that the spyware installs on iOS devices using a developer’s security certificate. Apple has not yet commented on the subject.
LaunchPort has announced its new AP.3 magnetic sleeve ($150) for the new iPad and iPad 2. Available in black or white, AP.3 fits on the iPad, enabling it to magnetically mount to a base station or wall station for inductive charging.
While mounted, the sleeve can be rotated 360 degrees. Launchport is selling the previously-released WallStation and BaseStation mounts separately for $200 each. The new AP.3 ships at the end of September.
Another patent awarded to Apple this week suggests that an upcoming iPhone could change settings according to its location. The patent concerns itself with enforcing “policy” on a wireless device, enabling the phone to adapt its settings when in a particular “range of policy.” This invention could create alerts using GPS, WLAN communication, and cellular triangulation, already standard technologies in Apple’s Location Services feature.
The patent suggests that dynamic settings could be used to automatically disable noises, lights, and communication with other devices in areas such as a movie theater or a classroom, evolutions of the current geofencing technology found in iOS 5. If the patent is implemented in an iPhone, it’s unclear what effect the new technology would have on battery life, as frequent use of Location Services tends to reduce run time. [via Apple Insider]
Speck has been granted a patent for the company’s groundbreaking CandyShell case, which was originally released in 2009, and followed up with numerous sequels since then. The patent is for a device case with a flexible inner layer, hard exterior layer, and adjoining side surfaces, joined together to form a one-piece housing. This design was at one point considered impossible to manufacture, but has since been widely copied by other case makers, who may be forced to start making modifications in light of Speck’s patent.
JayBird has announced the Freedom Sprint ($129), a new pair of wireless Bluetooth earbuds. Also known as JF4, Freedom Sprint is 40 percent smaller than Jaybird’s prior-generation JF3 Freedom earbuds, reviewed here, and offer a slightly diminished 4.5 hours of playtime for wireless music and calls, sport-ready ear grips, and micro-USB charging. Unlike competitors, JayBird also offers a lifetime warranty against sweat, as well as a free three-month premium membership to MapMyFitness. Freedom Sprint is available now.
Customers planning on swapping out last year’s iPhone 4S for the next iPhone can now do so on Apple’s website, using the company’s Reuse and Recycle Program. Using a third-party solution provided by PowerON, Apple’s site offers a quote based on the model and condition of the iPhone, then determines the actual value of the phone after receiving it. Customers receive an Apple gift card with the trade-in balance. Currently, the iPhone 4S in excellent condition has an estimated value of $345 for a 64GB model, while a 32GB 4S is valued at $330, and a 16GB 4S gets a maximum price of $285. Notably, third-party vendor Gazelle is also offering iPhone trade-ins with a guaranteed offer to lock in a price until Oct. 1. The company is currently offering $333 for a AT&T 64GB iPhone 4S in “flawless” condition, paying cash rather than store credit; the same iPhone 4S model on Sprint or Verizon will fetch $330.
T-Mobile’s employees have been instructed to sell “against” the iPhone starting on September 21, according to images of T-Mobile internal communications. While the company is known to have pursued agreements with Apple to sell the iPhone, it has repeatedly been left behind as rivals—recently including even regional carriers—have come on board. A screenshot suggests that T-Mobile will not be carrying the next-generation iPhone, and thus is preparing to sell competing devices directly against it.
A second screenshot notes that T-Mobile stores will now display new Monthly4G SIM kits, specifically designed to appeal to customers who bring their own iPhone 4/4S devices to the network. It reads, “This new format includes a Micro SIM kit, which is compatible with the iPhone 4 and 4S, allowing customers to bring their unlocked iPhones to the T-Mobile Network.” [via TmoNews]