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Google announces $3.2B Nest acquisition

Google has announced it has agreed to acquire Nest for $3.2 Billion. Nest Founder and CEO Tony Fadell was formerly senior vice president of Apple’s iPod division, and has been referred to as the “father of the iPod.” The company is best known for its Nest Learning Thermostat, and recently released its Nest Protect Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Detector.  Apple currently sells both products online and in its retail stores. Nest will continue to operate under Fadell with its own brand identity. The deal is expected to close “in the next few months.”

Google CEO Larry Page said in a statement, “Nest’s founders, Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers, have built a tremendous team that we are excited to welcome into the Google family. They’re already delivering amazing products you can buy right now — thermostats that save energy and smoke/CO alarms that can help keep your family safe. We are excited to bring great experiences to more homes in more countries and fulfill their dreams!”

Fadell said in the same statement, “We’re thrilled to join Google. With their support, Nest will be even better placed to build simple, thoughtful devices that make life easier at home, and that have a positive impact on the world.” Reports suggested that Fadell left Apple on less than fond terms, and Nest has continued to hire former Apple engineers to work on its products.

Harman/Kardon shows Blu-Ray, Bluetooth + AirPlay systems

Harman/Kardon recently announced its BDS 3D Blu-Ray systems, the BDS 580 ($1,099) and BDS 280 ($510). The iOS-compatible Wi-Fi Blu-Ray players have built-in AirPlay and Bluetooth functionality, enabling iPads, iPhones, and iPods to stream content directly to the receiver. Dolby Volume is included, which balances the volume between loud and quiet scenes without user involvement.

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The BDS 580 is a 5.1-channel, 325-watt system, while the BDS 280 is a 2.1 channel, 130-watt system. Release dates are unknown at this point, as both Blu-Ray systems are only listed on Harman/Kardon’s European website.

Griffin debuts ShopKeep Mobile for iPod touch

Griffin and ShopKeep POS announced ShopKeep Mobile for iPod touch, a new handheld cloud-based point of sale system that works in conjunction with Griffin’s Olli case. Reliant on Apple’s least expensive iOS device rather than an iPhone or iPad, the platform is a complete handheld point of sale system featuring an encrypted credit card swiper and laser barcode scanner.

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ShopKeep Mobile includes QuickBooks integration, a customer database, emailed receipts, and printer support, among other features. Griffin says the system is currently in production beta, and interested customers can register for updates at the ShopKeep Mobile website.

Apple device theft driving NYC larcenies

New York City has seen decreases in many major crimes during the last 12 years, with the exception of grand larcenies — a category which is increasingly being driven by the theft of Apple products, the Wall Street Journal reports. The New York Police Department attributes a rise in grand larcenies from last year to the trend of stealing electronic devices, and Apple products made up more than 18 percent of all grand larcenies last year. The NYPD tracks Apple device thefts specifically due to their frequency. An Apple spokeswoman said that Apple has “led the industry in helping customers protect their lost or stolen devices” with the 2009 release of the Find My iPhone app, which the NYPD recommends Apple users activate. The police department also has its own program that allows people to register their e-devices.

iLounge’s 2014 CES Best of Show Awards announced

iLounge has announced our 2014 International CES Best of Show Award winners and finalists. We’ve picked the absolute best products we’ve seen at CES — a very select list of Best of Show winners and Best of Show Finalist winners. ZeroChroma took home the Best Overall Product award for its Folio Slide for iPad mini with Flux-Stand. Incipio/Braven also netted four awards — two Best in Show awards and two Finalist awards. For all the award winners and the best products, click here.

Tuesday at CES: Over 30 new reports

The official opening of the 2014 CES was absolutely packed with new iPad, iPhone, iPod, and Mac product debuts—so many that you mightn’t have caught them all yesterday. Here’s a recap of the over 30 company reports we filed from the show on Tuesday, ahead of our annual Best of Show Awards announcements coming later today.

Adonit’s stylus-holding iPad Air/mini shell
Bluelounge’s Mac-ready USB port extender and MacBook stand
California Headphone Company & sister companies’ new speaker, cases, and headphones
ConnecteDevice’s new smartwatches
En & Is’s iPhone-sized sound amplifiers
HMDX/Jam’s Bluetooth speakers and headphones
iBattz’s new battery cases
iCoreGear’s Mac hub and iPad speaker
Idapt’s new mobile batteries, chargers, and stands
iDevices’ new Bluetooth thermometers
IK Multimedia’s music accessories
IN1’s tool-holding iPhone case
iPort’s iPad Air and mini charging docks
Lenmar’s new batteries for Mac and iOS
Lepow’s new batteries and bag
MarBlue’s new cases
Mobee’s new stands and chargers
MacLocks’ new security solutions for iPads
Mimobot’s new batteries and USB flash drives
Mophie’s new battery cases
myCharge’s new battery packs
MyKronoz’s new watches
Native Union’s new Lightning cables
Noble Locks’ new digital security lock for Macs and iPads
Odoyo’s new iPhone 5c-specific battery case
Otterbox/Lifeproof’s new resilient cases
Powerocks’ new batteries
PureGear’s new armband and case for iPhones
Rokform’s new motorcycle and stroller iPhone mounting solutions
Skech’s new iPhone and iPad cases
Speck’s new iPad and iPhone cases
The Joy Factory’s new styluses and stands
Yellow Jacket’s new iPhone case-slash-stun gun

iOS 7.1 beta 3 released

Apple has released its third beta for iOS 7.1, including bug fixes and improvements. The beta also notably features redesigned swipe to power off graphics, tweaks to the look of the Phone application for iPhones, and a variety of other cosmetic changes. iOS 7.1 beta 2 was released in mid-December.

Monday at CES: 25 new previews

iLounge saw more new Apple accessories on Monday as top developers continued to reveal their new products at the 2014 CES. Our CES mini-site already has dozens of new reports — here’s more of what we’ve seen.

ZeroChroma’s Flux-Stand cases
Scosche’s MagicMount system and new boomBottles
iHome’s waterproof industrial speaker iBN26
Stelle Audio’s Pillar bags and new speaker colors
Incipio’s new collection including Bluetooth batteries and controllers
Braven’s wireless distribution and Bluetooth speakers
Just Mobile’s new Lightning docks and AluPen Digital
LaCie’s Fuel battery-powered Wi-Fi hard drive
Seagate’s Backup Plus Fast, the first portable 4TB hard drive
Brookstone’s ambient noise generators and a digital bartending scale
Thinium’s Lightning wall chargers and batteries
Goji’s Bluetooth door lock
Typo’s keyboard
The Martian Notifier smart watch from Martian Watches
Speakers and baby monitors from Philips
Tylt’s battery packs
Hyper by Sanho debuted a HyperJuice Expand battery collection
ION Audio’s PA systems
Gameloft’s Brothers in Arms 3: Sons of War
BuQu Tech’s battery pack for its wireless charging system
iHealth showed wearable Bluetooth health monitoring devices
Zagg’s ZaggSparq plug-in battery packs
myCharge’s battery packs
Pebble’s metal version of its smart watch
iDevices had a kitchen version of its Bluetooth cooking thermometer

Sunday at CES: 20 new Apple accessory previews worth seeing

It was a busy Sunday as leading developers began to unveil their first round of new Apple accessories at the 2014 CES. Our CES mini-site is packed with photos and details - here’s a quick summary of what we’ve checked out so far.

Behind-the-scenes photos of the iLounge Pavilion North Hall under construction
Behind-the-scenes photos of the iLounge Pavilion LVH area under construction

Belkin’s new WeMo LED Smart Bulbs, Crock Pot (!), and Maker
Clearview Audio’s new clear speaker
Dropcam’s iOS Wi-Fi camera, Dropcam Pro
EnerPlex’s solar-charging iPhone 5/5s battery case
Griffin’s new Merchant case, StudioConnect HD and PowerMate Bluetooth
Holi’s new LED desktop lamp
Macally’s new Bluetooth keyboard, battery pack, and car mounts
Netatmo’s June sun exposure wristband
Olloclip’s new iPad lens and iPhone 5s-ready lens colors
Orbotix’s Sphero 2B
Parrot’s Minidrone and Jumping Sumo
Soundfreaq’s Pocket Kick, Double Spot, and Sound Rise
SteelSeries’s Stratus iOS Bluetooth Game Controller
STM’s Dux, Drifter, and Skinny Pro
Supertooth’s Disco 4
Sen.se’s Mother and Motion Cookies trackers
Swissvoice’s next-gen ePure and Voice Bridge
uNu’s Ultrapak rapid-charging battery packs for iPhone and iPad
Withings’ Aura active smart sleep system

Expect much more today, with updates regularly posted to CES.iLounge.com!

iLounge is live at the 2014 CES: follow us at CES.iLounge.com!

iLounge’s editors have arrived in Las Vegas for the 2014 CES, and we’re already scoping out the latest Apple accessories under wraps at the gigantic Las Vegas Convention Center. On our new CES mini-site, you’ll find behind-the-scenes photos and early details from the show. Keep checking out the site over the next week, as we’ll be updating it frequently with new info and imagery.

iLounge Weekly coming Monday, sign up now

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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AT&T offers T-Mobile users up to $450 in credits to switch

AT&T announced today that is now offering T-Mobile customers up to $450 in credits to switch their phone service over to AT&T. The deal, available for a limited time, allows T-Mobile customers to switch to AT&T and trade-in their current smartphone for a promotion card of up to $250 that can be used toward AT&T products and services, with the actual value of the trade-in based on the make, model, and age of the user’s current smartphone. AT&T will also offer an additional credit of $200 per line for T-Mobile users who transfer their wireless service to the carrier and choose a NextSM plan and either buy a device at full retail price or active a device they already own.

iBeacon ‘scavenger hunt’ game planned for 2014 CES

Announced by Apple in mid-2013 as an application of new Bluetooth low-energy (LE) technology, iBeacon will be used to power what the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) describes as “the first promotional iBeacon-based scavenger hunt,” rewarding a “limited number” of attendees with special prizes for collecting virtual badges scattered throughout the show. Attendees will find instructions on gathering badges within CEA’s official 2014 CES app, which will wirelessly look for iBeacons within 100 feet of an iOS or Bluetooth 4-equipped Android device, tallying each badge discovered during the hunt. The first three people to gather all of the badges will receive a “special prize,” with other prizes for people who complete the hunt during the rest of the show.

According to CEA, the hunt was developed in partnership with iBeacon vendor Radius Networks and Bluetooth SensorTag chip provider Texas Instruments. Having deployed iBeacon with mixed results in its retail stores last December, Apple does not appear to have anything to do with the promotion.

Apps: 2014 CES, Sonic & All-Stars Racing, Southwest 2.1 + Tweetbot 3 3.2.1

The Consumer Electronics Association’s free 2014 International CES app is devoted to next week’s Consumer Electronics Show. A list of exhibitors is featured, as are floor maps of the gigantic show. Events and keynotes are also listed, in addition to speakers and conference sessions. If you’re going, make sure to stop by the iLounge Pavilion. We’ll see you there!

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Sega has released Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed ($5), a new racing game featuring Sonic, Tails, and the rest of the gang. Cars, boats, and planes can all be raced through changing courses full of alternate routes and power-ups. Four-player multiplayer is supported online and locally. The game also supports iOS controllers.

Apple denies working with NSA on iPhone spying

Reacting to a recent report from Der Spiegel, Apple said it has never worked with the NSA to create any sort of backdoor entry for iPhone monitoring. The report claimed the NSA has the ability to access Apple’s iPhones through a secret spyware program named DROPOUTJEEP. According to alleged NSA documents, data could be downloaded or uploaded from an iPhone, while messages, voicemails, the device’s address book, microphone, camera, and location can all be accessed without the user noticing.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Apple said: “Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including iPhone. Additionally, we have been unaware of this alleged NSA program targeting our products. We care deeply about our customers’ privacy and security. Our team is continuously working to make our products even more secure, and we make it easy for customers to keep their software up to date with the latest advancements. Whenever we hear about attempts to undermine Apple’s industry-leading security, we thoroughly investigate and take appropriate steps to protect our customers. We will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who’s behind them.” The initial report notes the program was still being developed at the beginning of 2008. Though the software implant required physical contact with the device, the document notes remote installation would be “pursued for a future release.”

Happy New Year 2014 from iLounge!

Happy New Year from the entire iLounge team! We’ll be on a limited publication schedule today as we begin 2014 with our families and friends.

There’s no question that 2013 was a slower year for Apple than we (and most people) expected. Like 2012, most of the year went by without major iPad, iPhone, or iPod product news, as Apple again waited until fall to release everything from new iOS software to the widely anticipated new iPad and iPhone models. The year’s best Apple and third-party releases are in our 2014 iPad/iPhone/iPod Buyers’ Guide, which is free to download and enjoy. A timeline showing the year’s major milestones is inside, as well.

We’re excited to head out to Las Vegas later this week to prepare for the International Consumer Electronics Show’s biggest iLounge Pavilion yet. The 2014 International CES officially kicks off next Tuesday, and we expect a lot of news to hit the wires before and during the show.

Feel free to browse through our archives until we return, and please join us for our upcoming CES live coverage. Once again, Happy New Year!

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