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Satechi announces Aluminum Type-C Mobile Pro Hub for iPad Pro

With Apple’s recently-announced iPad Pro models making the switch to USB-C, Satechi has announced a new Aluminum Type-C Mobile Pro Hub that’s specifically designed for iPad Pro users who want to fully take advantage of the new universal port compatibility. While USB-C means that any of Satechi’s other USB-C hubs and adapters can also be used with the new iPad Pro, the new Mobile Pro Hub features only those expansion ports that are fully compatible with the iPad, avoiding issues like overheating that users may encounter with other adapters, and it’s designed with compactness in mind so that you can more easily take it on the go with you. The hub includes a 4K HDMI port for connecting to an external display, USB-C PD 3.0 charging to keep not only the iPad Pro but also other USB-C devices powered up, in both directions, plus a 3.5mm headphone jack and a standard USB 3.0 port for fast data transfer of external USB keyboard connectivity. The new Aluminum Type-C Mobile Pro Hub is available now for pre-order in either silver and space gray at Satechi.net for $44.99 (25 percent off), and is expected to ship in mid-December at the normal price of $59.99.

Apple posts second developer betas of iOS 12.1.1, tvOS 12.1.1, first watchOS 5.1.2 beta

Apple has pushed out a second set of betas for iOS 12.1.1 and tvOS 12.1.1, continuing the cycle for the updates which are expected to polish up the FaceTime UI along with other fixes and improvements. The releases are also accompanied by a new beta of watchOS 5.1.2, following the actual release of watchOS 5.1.1 earlier this week to fix installation problems users had encountered with the original watchOS 5.1 update.

Twelve South’s PowerPic hides a wireless charger in a picture frame

Twelve South has just announced PowerPic, what is possibly the most unique approach to a Qi-enabled wireless charger we’ve yet seen. Designed as a New Zealand Pine picture frame, PowerPic actually conceals a 10-watt wireless charger behind your favourite photo. Users can simply set their iPhone against the photo to begin charging, and Twelve South promises that it will even work through iPhone cases up to 3mm thick. PowerPic is currently available in black or white color options that will hold any 5” x 7” photo, and as an added bonus, Twelve South has setup a gallery of free iPhone backgrounds and printable frame images for those who want to create a seamless look between the two devices. PowerPic will retail for $89.99, however Twelve South is offering PowerPic at an introductory price of $79.99 through the holiday season, and offering an additional promotion allowing customers to purchase a second unit for an addiional $10 off.

Spotify Connect will no longer require a Premium subscription

Spotify will begin allow its free customers to take advantage of direct streaming via Spotify Connect-enabled speakers, according to The Verge, although individual hardware manufacturers will need to push out a firmware update to bring their speakers up to Spotify’s latest SDK to enable the feature. Once enabled, however, users will be able to enjoy higher-quality Wi-Fi steaming to their speakers that feature Spotify Connect, eliminating the need to keep the playback device within Bluetooth range. While Spotify’s free tier will still be ad-supported, and there will a limit on how many tracks can be skipped, the move should offer a boon to those who haven’t been able to take advantage of the Spotify Connect feature, or who may have been paying up exclusively for that feature.

Report: Apple’s AirPods top Best Buy sales charts for October

Despite the lack of any new updates, Apple’s AirPods are continuing to sell very well, with a new report by Thinknum revealing that they took top place on Best Buy’s sales charts in the month of October, inching up from an already impressive second place spot in September. Thinknum uses sales-rank data from Best Buy to publish a list of the top-selling products every month, and notes that AirPods scored number one in October, beating out Amazon’s Fire TV Stick, which held the top spot in September. According to Thinknum’s data, the average category sales rank for AirPods was 11.38 over 29 days. While the Amazon Fire TV Stick moved to second place, with an average category sales rank of 14.62, Apple’s Lightning-to-3.5mm Headphone Adapter took third place with an average rank of 19.69. While it’s possible some of this may be the result of pent-up demand anticipating a new set of AirPods would be announced in September, it seems clear that nobody was waiting for an announcement at Apple’s Oct. 30 event. [via 9to5Mac]

OtterBox announces Defender Series for 2018 iPad Pro lineup

OtterBox has announced new versions of its Defender Series cases for the 2018 iPad Pro lineup. The Defender Series Case for iPad Pro (11-inch ($89.95) and for iPad Pro (12.9-inch) (3rd Gen ($129.95) provide the rugged protection that OtterBox has become known for, with a triple-layer design that includes an outer slipcover and hard, shock-absorbent shell to protect against drops and fumbles. The case also features a built-in screen protector, full port coverage, and an included shield stand that doubles as a cover while on the go. The new Defender Series cases will be available soon on otterbox.com; users can sign up on the product pages to be notified when they’re available.

Apple releases minor iOS 12.1 update for iPhone XR

Apple has released a new version of iOS 12.1 specifically for the iPhone XR, MacRumors has discovered. The updated iOS 12.1 build has a build number of 16B94, only one small increment higher than the original 12.1 release, which is build 16B93 (by contrast, the first iOS 12.1.1 beta, also released last week is build 16C5036c). While the iPhone XR shipped with iOS 12 when it launched on Oct. 26, users were able to install the original iOS 12.1 release last week, and this new slightly incremented version does not appear to be offered as an update for those devices that have already updated, which suggests that the new version is only designed for customers who have not yet updated their iPhone XR from iOS 12.0, but it’s otherwise unknown why Apple has made this minor change for the iPhone XR.

Focal unveils new 100 Series outdoor loudspeakers

High-fidelity speaker maker Focal has just launched two new outdoor loudspeakers to round out its 100 Series Integration Collection. Designed to withstand the rigours of being installed outdoors, the 100 OD6 and 100 OD8 are the first Focal products to be IP66-certified, featuring high levels of both dust and water resistance so that they can stand up to all weather conditions, and also sport a high-density, UV-treated Polypropylene damping cabinet for protection against outdoor sunlight. Each speaker is also equipped with a reinforced, notched aluminum bracket for secure yet easy installation in just about any outdoor space, and features a 180-degree rotation angle for optimal sound diffusion, and are available in either a black finish or a white finish that can be easily painted to match your decor.

Nike+ Run Club gains Apple Watch Series 4 support and Siri Suggestions

Nike has updated its Nike+ Run Club app with support for the Apple Watch Series 4 and iOS 12 Siri Suggestions. The new version of NRC now includes two new complications for the Series 4’s Infograph watch face, one of which is a button to simply quickly launch the app while the other is a more detailed corner complication that shows a running total of distance for the month. The new version also ties into the iOS 12 Siri Suggestions feature to offer up recommended times to take a run based on your running history. The new version is available as a free update, and Nike recommends using it with watchOS 5.0 or later for the best results. [via 9to5Mac]

Despite USB-C port, new iPad Pros still don’t support external storage devices

While Apple loudly touted the switch from Lightning to USB-C on the new iPad Pros last week as a boon to professionals, there’s still one category of devices that will be left mostly out in the cold for now. As The Verge’s Nilay Patel points out in his review, despite the USB-C port, external storage devices still don’t play any better with iOS 12.1 on the new iPads than they did via Apple’s USB-to-Lightning connector on prior devices. The limitation, of course, is that the iOS Core Storage framework doesn’t (yet) provide any ability to talk to any storage beyond the device’s own internal flash memory. This is the same reason that existing flash-based Lightning adapters like Kingston’s Bolt Duo and Naztech’s Xtra Drive Mini both require their own, vendor-specific apps. In short, external storage continues to face the same challenges on iOS 12.1, even with the introduction of USB-C on the new iPad Pro models.

Apple updates iTunes Remote app for new iPad Pros

Apple has released an update to its iTunes Remote app for the new 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models announced last week — a surprisingly quick update for an app that took almost a year to gain iPhone X support, leaving many to fear that Apple had abandoned it entirely, and also making it one of the first Apple apps to be updated for the new iPad Pro lineup. Version 4.4.1 of iTunes Remote also includes improvements to network connectivity along with simpler access to Now Playing and AirPlay controls, along with new shortcuts to play and shuffle playlists and albums. Apple notes that the latest version works best with iTunes 12.7.5 or later.

iPhone XS LTE performance ‘crushes’ iPhone XR in cellular tests

Last month PCMag conducted a series of tests that showed how well the Intel-based iPhone XS performed compared to last year’s iPhone X along with several Qualcomm-modem-equipped competitors, and now the publication has published a new set of results demonstrating how the LTE performance of the iPhone XS significantly outpaces that of the iPhone XR. PCMag once again worked with Cellular Insights and Rohde & Schwarz to conduct the tests, which were done using LTE Band 4, which is the most common LTE frequency used in the U.S. In every test, the LTE performance on the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max handily beat out the iPhone XR, regardless of signal strength or even network technology. In fact, the iPhone XR basically performed very similarly to last year’s iPhone X — not surprising when you consider that it’s still only a 2x2 MIMO phone, versus the 4x4 MIMO support on the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max.

olloclip announces new Pro Series and Intro lenses

Olloclip has expanded its lineup of mobile photography lenses with the addition of new Pro Series and Intro Series lenses, rounding out the Connect X line that lets iPhone photography enthusiasts capture more artistic and creative shots than the standard lenses allow for. The new Pro Series introduces a Super Wide Pro lens that provides a wider field of view with the least amount of distortion yet seen on any of olloclip’s wide angle lenses, plus a new Telephoto Pro that offers the same 2X magnification as olloclip’s other telephoto lenses, but gathers more light for brighter photos. Each of the Pro Series lenses sells with a lens attachment clip for $119.99, or can be purchased individually for $99.99 for those who already have the appropriate clip. The new Intro Series kicks off with a single combined Wide-angle and Macro combo lens. The Wide Angle lens has a slightly more spherical effect than the Essential Series Super Wide lens, and is designed for things like selfies, group video chats, or just capturing a bigger picture with the iPhone camera. Unscrewing the outer lens reveals a Macro lens that allows for sharp focus on small objects for extreme closeups. The Wide-Angle + Macro Intro lens kit is available for $39.95 with an attachment clip, or $19.99 individually. Both lenses are compatible with all of olloclip’s current mounts, including the Multi-Device clip, the iPhone X clip, and all future iPhone attachment clips.

watchOS 5.1.1 expected to be released today to resolve problems with 5.1 update

Apple is expected to push out a minor maintenance release of watchOS later today, according to a report by 9to5Mac. The watchOS 5.1.1 release is expected to resolve issues that some users had with updating to watchOS 5.1 last week, as well as fixing a few other small issues. 9to5Mac has gotten its hands on the release notes for the new version, noting that they specifically omit any mention of the issue with “bricking” devices, and that they otherwise include the same points as the original watchOS 5.1 update that was released last week. Apple posted developer betas of iOS 12.1.1 and tvOS 12.1.1 las week, although a watchOS 5.1.1 beta was conspicuously absent this time around, which would make sense if Apple simply planned to roll it out directly to users, bypassing a beta cycle entirely for that version.

German Apple Pay launch imminent

After a false start two years ago, it looks like Apple Pay may now finally be launching in Germany, with German banks actually notifying customers via e-mail this morning that the mobile payment service is coming. Apple’s German Apple Pay page merely notes that the service is “coming soon,” however two German banks, HVB and Bunq have updated their own web sites and reportedly sent out e-mails to customers announcing “imminent support” for Apple Pay, according to a report by MacRumors. Apple’s German website suggests that supported bank sand cards will include boon, comdirect, Edenred, Fidor Bank, Hanseatic Bank, and Vim Pay.

Apple adds new category for AirPlay 2 receives to HomeKit accessories page

Apple has added a new category for AirPlay 2 Receivers to its Home Accessories page, joining the list of HomeKit-compatible accessories such as lights, switches, thermostats, and door locks. While the list of AirPlay 2 compatible receivers appears to be completely dominated by Denon right now, the list will presumably expand as other manufacturers come on board by adding AirPlay 2 support, either retroactively or to new models. A separate category for AirPlay 2 Speakers was added to the page a few months ago, highlighting products from Bang & Olufsen, Libratone, and Sonos, along with Apple’s own HomePod.[via 9to5Mac]

Spotify for Apple Watch enters beta testing

It looks like Spotify may finally be arriving on the Apple Watch, according to a user on Reddit, a Spotify beta tester who noted the addition of a watchOS app in the latest TestFlight build. At this point, it appears that the Spotify watchOS app functions primarily as a remote for controlling playback from the main Spotify app on the iPhone, and features playback controls and access to a list of recently played tracks. Offline playback is not yet supported, although that could be added in a future update, either during the beta cycle or after the release of an initial version to the public, and users also note that the watchOS app has not yet been optimized for Apple’s Series 4 models. [via MacRumors]

Apple to stop reporting iPhone, iPad, and Mac unit sales in Q1 2019

During the earnings call following its quarterly financial results yesterday, Apple made the rather surprising announcement that, beginning in Q1 2019, it will no longer be reporting specific unit sales for iPhones, iPads, and Macs. Apple last adjusted its approach to product unit sales four years ago, when it noted in its Q4 2014 earnings call that the iPod would be moving to a new “Other Products” category, alongside the Apple TV, Apple Watch, and Apple-made accessories such as AirPods, cables, and chargers. While the 2014 move wasn’t entirely surprising in light of the waning popularity of the iPod and the slow rise of the Apple Watch, it’s more interesting that the company will no longer be reporting unit numbers for its flagship products, which are of course the biggest sources of Apple’s revenue.

Apple Q4 2018: $62.9B revenue, 46.9M iPhones + 9.7M iPads sold

Apple reported its third quarter 2018 financial results today, with 46.9 million iPhones and 9.7 million iPads sold. The company posted quarterly revenue of $62.9 billion and quarterly earnings of $2.91 per diluted share, up 41 percent from the year-ago quarter. Apple also noted that revenue from services reached $10 billion for the first time, representing an increase of 27 percent from Q4 2017. For Q1 2019, Apple is providing guidance of revenue between $89 billion and $93 billion, and gross margin between 38 percent and 38.5 percent.

Apple launching pilot program to provide repairs to vintage devices

Apple is launching a pilot program that will allow for repairs to certain Apple products that have been otherwise placed on Apple’s vintage and obsolete products list, most recently including the iPhone 5, according to a report by 9to5Mac. The “Repair Vintage Apple Products Pilot” program will extend the time frame for repairs for older devices, subject to the availability of parts. According to the report, the list initially includes only the iPhone 5 and recently-obsoleted MacBook Air and iMac models, although the iPhone 4S — which will become vintage on Nov. 30 — is also expected to be included, and Apple will reportedly be adding more older products to the list. The program will cover repairs for all included devices at Appel Stores and other authorized Apple service providers worldwide, however it sounds like Apple will not actually be producing any new parts for vintage/obsolete devices, but rather simply allowing whatever stock of components exists to be used to allow for repairs to be provided for as long as supplies last.

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