Known for its bargain-priced cables, Monoprice has started to offer Apple-certified Lightning wall chargers for $13 a piece—substantially below the prices of versions from other vendors. The charger features a “captured” or non-detachable Lightning cable and a generic design, promising 1-Amp charging speeds. This is sufficient for iPhones and iPods, but below the peak recharging capabilities of iPads.
Monoprice is also offering a similar deal in $12 Lightning car chargers. Like the Lightning wall charger, the car charger offers only 1-Amp power, appropriate for full-speed iPhone and iPod charging. The car chargers are available now, while the wall chargers are listed as “coming soon.”
Mophie has announced Juice Pack Air ($100), a new battery case for iPhone 5. Juice Pack Air comes with modestly more battery capacity than Mophie’s recently-released Helium, packing a 1700 mAh battery compared to Helium’s 1500 mAh. It purports to double the iPhone 5’s battery power, though testing results of its predecessor and competing models suggest that this is highly optimistic.
An included micro-USB cable can charge both the iPhone 5 and Juice Pack Air together. Juice Pack Air comes in black — ready to ship in 7-10 days — or red and white, both of which ship on March 22.
Incase has announced its series of SYSTM cases, all of which use the lightweight impact protection material Poron XRD previously featured in G-Form cases. Vise ($50) is billed as the toughest SYSTM case, and features an internal shock-absorbing rubber cover with Poron XRD edges and corners, encapsulated by a two-piece outer hardshell. It snaps into place with a slide-lock and features a detachable rotating belt clip.
Chisel ($35) is a flexible case with a Poron XRD-lined interior and external hardshell. Hammer ($30) is a streamlined, rubber case with Poron XRD protective corners. All Incase SYSTM cases are available now.
An iPad casing manufacturer is facing sanctions from Chinese authorities for discharging waste that has turned a river “milky white.” A local water worker told the Financial Times that such waste incidents often occur weekly from a Riteng factory, which according to a waste water treatment employee has killed fish and made the river unusable for watering vegetables. Riteng is a subsidiary of Casetek, which said that the discharge was “just Chinese new year annual cleaning.” Casetek claimed the discharge had nothing to do with production — rather, it was due to a staff error during cleaning. Apple declined comment, but confirmed that Riteng does produce iPad back panels. [via Apple Insider]
Qualcomm has announced the RF360 Front End Solution, a family of chips designed to give next-generation devices global 4G LTE compatibility. The chips will support all seven cellular modes — LTE-FDD, LTE-TDD, WCDMA, EV-DO, CDMA 1x, TD-SCDMA and GSM/EDGE. All 40 cellular radio bands currently in use will be supported, as well as 2G, 3G, 4G LTE, and LTE Advanced, allowing companies such as Apple to make devices that will access all LTE bands, rather than just the small subsets offered in current iPhone and iPad models. The RF360 Front End Solution will be available in the second half of 2013.
Acquired some time ago by Amazon, long-time audiobook vendor Audible has released version 2.0 of free its iOS app, now optimized for iPad. The clean, redesigned interface features improved navigation and the ability to sign in with an Amazon account. Finished audiobooks can now be hidden from view, and up to three hours of audio can be downloaded over 3G and 4G networks while on the go.
Cordy 2 (free to try, $5 full game) is the side-scrolling followup to SilverTree Media’s acclaimed iOS action game Cordy. Owing some debt to Sonic the Hedgehog, the fast-moving Cordy makes his way through levels while picking up new abilities along the way, such as a double jump and Bionic Commando-style skyhook. Four levels can be played for free, and all 48 levels become available via a $5 in-app purchase. Multiple “packs” are also available for varying prices, which allow players to customize Cordy with different costumes and colors. If you’re into iOS side-scrollers, Cordy 2 is a fun time with the same style of 2.5-D graphics found in the original title.
Olloclip has announced a new iPod touch adapter ($10 for two), which will allow fifth-generation iPod touch owners to use Olloclip’s 3-in-1 Photo Lens for iPhone 5, as well as a fourth-generation iPod touch adapter compatible with its earlier add-on lens system for the iPhone 4/4S. Each version of the the 3-in-1 Photo Lens comes with three lenses: the fisheye lens, the wide-angle lens, and the macro lens, which applies roughly a 10x multiplier. In addition to selling the adapters separately, Olloclip will include the iPod touch adapters with the purchase of new iPhone 5 and 4/4S Olloclip 3-in-1 Photo Lenses, each sold for $70.
Back shells for the new iPad mini have allegedly been leaked on the Chinese WeiPhone forums (translated link). Due to the unclear sourcing for these images, it is difficult to determine if the shells are legitimate Apple parts, but they appear to depict a device with the same size and general shape as the first-generation iPad, thickened only slightly at the edges. Sources have indicated the new iPad mini will have a Retina screen, which in the third-generation iPad demanded additional battery capacity, lighting, and processor power relative to the prior model, necessitating a slightly thicker rear shell.
Additional shots of the alleged iPad mini backs are featured below.
Apple has released iOS 6.1.3 beta 2 to developers for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This is notably the second version of the one-time “6.1.1” beta, containing the same Japanese-focused enhancements to the Maps application; Apple changed the name after releasing 6.1.1 and 6.1.2 patches to fix bugs with iOS 6.1. The beta is available through Apple’s developer portal. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple faces a class action lawsuit in Brazil regarding the introduction of the fourth-generation iPad, according to Brazilian newspaper Jornal do Comércio (translated link). Two separate allegations are made in the lawsuit: first, that Apple’s deviation from its yearly product cycle update is “planned obsolescence,” affecting customers who just purchased a third-generation iPad, which had only been available in Brazil for five months before the fourth-generation model was released. The second allegation maintains that Apple didn’t effectively communicate the discontinuation of the third-generation iPad in Brazil, such that some consumers unknowingly bought “what was already an obsolete version.” Brazilian newspaper O Hoje (translated link) notes the suit seeks replacement iPads for Brazilians who bought third-generation iPads, as well as penalties for “improper commercial practices, misleading advertising and product offering,” such as a 50 percent reimbursement of the amount each customer paid for the third-generation iPad, and/or a 30 percent fine for each unit sold in the country. [via MacRumors]
A patent application from Apple published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office reveals details about a “wearable accessory device” that could hint at its plans for the rumored “iWatch.” Originally filed on Aug. 17, 2011, the patent application for “Bi-stable spring with flexible display” describes a wearable accessory device that includes a flexible display, coupled to a bi-stable spring—a bendable surface that can lock into two positions, like a slap band. The patent also notes that “[w]ith a touch screen user input a user can accomplish a number of different tasks including adjusting the order of a current playlist, and reviewing a list of recent phone calls,” phrases that suggest possible functionality for the device.
One included image shows the accessory as a bracelet, worn around the wrist. The wearable video device would have a “flat state” and “curled state” and an “electronic module in communication with the flexible display.” As an example, the application lists snaps or velcro as possibilities for securing the device to a wrist, though the patent’s abstract points out such a device could be “easily worn in a number of convenient locations.” [via Apple Insider]
During its partial introduction of the PlayStation 4 video game console on Wednesday, Sony announced a new app that will let an iOS device become a “second screen” for PlayStation 4 games. The upcoming PlayStation App will allow iPhone and iPad users to download PS4 games to play at home, remotely watch other gamers play, and see additional information on the screen when playing a PS4 game. As an example, Sony said an adventure game could use the app to let players see maps on their iOS devices. According to Sony, the PlayStation 4 will be available “this holiday season,” though pricing, region-specific release dates, and the final form factor of the console have not yet been made public.
iSkin has announced its Revo 360 ($40) and Fuze 360 ($50) cases for the iPhone 5. Both cases notably include iSkin’s new ProTouch Titan screen film, which was unveiled at CES this year, promising to increase the screen’s impact resistance enough to withstand a strike by a hammer. Revo 360 is a form-fitting silicone case with a removable belt clip/media stand, promising shock absorption as well as antimicrobial protection from odor and stain-causing bacteria.
Fuze 360 features a soft inner layer and impact-resistant hard shell for extra protection; metallic accents mix with an anti-slip rubber-coated finish. Both cases are available at iSkin’s website and at retailers “in the coming weeks.”
With approximately 900 votes from iLounge readers, our most recent poll—“What do you think the biggest trend in Apple accessories will be in 2013?”—has ended. With thousands of new iPod, iPhone and iPad accessories and several major trends we noted from manufacturers at the 2013 International CES, we asked readers to let us know what they thought would be the biggest trend in the Apple accessory market in 2013.
Forty-nine percent of respondents felt that we would see more Lightning accessories this year, essentially continuing the trend of wired and dock-based iOS device accessories. A general trend toward Bluetooth accessories was suggested by 25% of those responding, with Bluetooth speakers at 14% and general Bluetooth accessories at 11%. Of the remaining responses, 12% felt the trend would move more toward specialized and niche products, 6% toward more premium cases, and 5% to more successful independent projects growing from places like Kickstarter. Only 3% of responses suspected fewer AirPlay speakers this year.
Apple Chairman of the Board Arthur Levinson spoke at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business on Tuesday, and he described his experience running the company’s board of directors as “weird” after the death of Steve Jobs. Levinson said that he misses Jobs, and mentioned that “The Steve Jobs that was in the public eye was not, for the most part, the Steve Jobs that I knew.”
Describing Apple’s recent quarter as “phenomenal,” Levinson mentioned that a company’s short-term earnings mean very little, and noted that he felt confident about the company’s long-term goals. He also said that Apple’s board doesn’t have much input in the creation of new products. “The board is not there to define product specs,” Levinson said. “It’s there as a sounding board. It’s there as a resource. And ultimately, the board is there to hire and fire the CEO.” [via Fortune]
Apple Senior Vice President of Industrial Design Jony Ive recently appeared on the British children’s program Blue Peter, and offered some insight as to how Apple’s design team approaches new product categories, using a lunchbox as an example. “If we’re thinking of lunchbox,” Ive said, “we’d be really careful about not having the word ‘box’ already, you know, give you a bunch of ideas that could be quite narrow. Because you think of a box as being square, and like a cube. And so we’re quite careful with the words we use, because those can sort of determine the path that you go down.” In the segment, Ive also provides feedback on the lunchbox designs of youngsters, and receives a gold Blue Peter badge, the show’s highest accolade. [via Tom Davenport]
Apple’s largest manufacturing partner Foxconn has frozen its hiring across China. Bloomberg reports the decision was unrelated to iPhone 5 production, according to Foxconn spokesman Bruce Liu. However, the Financial Times (subscriber link) reports the hiring freeze is related to a slow down in iPhone 5 production, citing spokesman Liu Kun.
Apple’s recent hack, initially attributed to hackers out of China, is now claimed to have come from Eastern Europe. At least 40 companies — including Apple, Facebook, and Twitter — were targeted by malware from an Eastern European gang of hackers attempting to “steal company secrets,” according to a new report containing more details about the hacks. People familiar with the matter said the hackers want company secrets, research, and intellectual property they can “sell underground.” Company computers were initially infected by malware — implanted through a browser security flaw — at the iPhone developer site iphonedevsdk.com. Investigators have tracked at least one of the servers used by the hackers to a Ukraine hosting company. [via Bloomberg]
Apple has released iTunes 11.0.2, a minor update adding a new Composers view for browsing music along with several stability and performance improvements. The update specifically promises to improve responsiveness when syncing large playlists and fixes an issue where purchases may not appear in the iTunes library.
Apple computers were recently hacked by the same hackers who targeted Facebook, but it appears no data was stolen, according to Reuters. A “small number” of employee Macs were breached, but there is “no evidence that any data left Apple.” The company announced that a software tool will be released today to protect Mac users against the malicious software used in the attacks. Apple also released a statement to AllThingsD, saying that malware infected a “limited number of Mac systems through a vulnerability in the Java plugin for browsers. The malware was employed in an attack against Apple and other companies, and was spread through a website for software developers. We identified a small number of systems within Apple that were infected and isolated them from our network.” Facebook announced it was attacked on Friday, tracing the attack to unidentified hackers in China.