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Apple Events channel returns to Apple TV for today’s live stream

  • September 9, 2014
  • Apple,

Following Apple’s announcement last week that today’s event will be live streamed, the Apple Events channel has returned to the Apple TV, allowing viewers to view the live stream on a television via Apple’s set-top box. The event starts at 10 a.m. Pacific Time, and Apple is expected to reveal its newest iPhones, debut the iWatch, and announce an official release date for iOS 8, amongst other announcements.

Report: Both iPhone 6 models to launch September 19

Both the 4.7” and 5.5” iPhone 6 models will launch on Friday, September 19, according to iGen.fr. While the base model’s date is expected, considering past Apple timelines, it’s been unclear as to what the larger iPhone’s release date might be amidst reports of manufacturing delays. A June report did note both iPhones might be released at the same time, but numerous claims as to production issues have called a simultaneous release into question. It’s still very possible that the 5.5” iPhone — perhaps named the iPhone 6 Plus — could be released in relatively limited quantities on launch day.

New iPhone names: iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus?

A new report claims that Apple will name its new iPhones the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The 4.7” model would get the regular iPhone 6 name, while iPhone 6 Plus would be the 5.5” model, according to Macotakara. It’s also noted that the lineup will feature the same colors as the 5s, with 16GB, 32GB and 64GB options — whether there’s an 128GB model is unknown. While the report’s accuracy is unclear, we first suggested the possibility of a larger-sized iPhone being named iPhone Plus back in January 2013, as sources indicated that the “Plus” name was the correct moniker for what had previously been mistranslated as “iPhone Math.”

iWatch schematics reveal boxy body?

A Reddit user has posted (via 9to5Mac) alleged schematics of Apple’s iWatch, showing what appears to be a rounded rectangular body and circular bottom sensor opening. The renderings are consistent with Apple designs, although the chassis is nowhere near as futuristic as has been postulated over the last year or so. While there’s no definitive proof that these images represent the iWatch, the detailed schematics are marked with the name and logo of Apple supplier Quanta, and show individual button and audio components for the device. The Reddit poster also claims the iWatch will have a mic, speaker, and Siri. Other claims suggest that the battery will last more than a day, with a waterproof housing safe to about 20m (about 65 feet), and that eight versions will be introduced — two different-sized watches, each in four different colors.

Another recent report from 9to5Mac claims Apple’s upcoming wearable device will run third-party applications. A number of companies have already received Apple’s SDK for wearables, and Facebook is said to be one of these companies. The new device may also have its own App Store.

Latest iPhone 6 roundup: videos, battery, landscape interface details

A number of recent iPhone 6 reports have surfaced in recent days, with little time left before Apple is set to unveil its newest smartphone tomorrow. YouTube user PhoneEvaluation posted a video review of the alleged iPhone 6: in it, a man compares the device to the iPhone 5s, and shows a number of the new phone’s well-documented design features and physical details. More short videos allegedly showing Apple’s latest phone in action have been posted on Miaopai; none is particularly interesting, but most of the virtually identical iOS 8 apps are shown on the device, including a slightly updated Passbook icon with a red credit card stripe to indicate added payment functionality. Bank Innovation has reported that Apple’s mobile payment system in the iPhone 6 and iWatch will use token technology — transactions will feature codes that can only be used once.

Developer Steven Troughton-Smith tweeted (via 9to5Mac) that some 5.5” iPhone 6 apps switch to the iPad layout when the phone is in landscape mode. Separately, another video, posted on Nowhereelse.fr, alleges to show the rumored 2915 mAh battery in the 5.5” iPhone 6. All of the details regarding these devices are expected to be officially discussed tomorrow by Apple.

Video Review: Waterproof Grace Digital Ecostone and iHome iBN6 speakers

Our latest video review takes a look at two new waterproof Bluetooth speakers — Grace Digital’s Ecostone Bluetooth Speaker (reviewed here) and iHome’s iBN6 Waterproof Speaker (reviewed here). We’ll highlight some of the differences between these two similar speakers, which both earned the same iLounge rating. Check out our previous video reviews for Parrot’s Minidrones and Otterbox’s Agility Tablet System, as well.

Renowned industrial designer Marc Newson joining Apple

  • September 5, 2014
  • Apple,

Industrial designer Marc Newson is joining Apple’s design team, Vanity Fair reports. Newson, who collaborated with Apple SVP of Industrial Design Jony Ive for last year’s (RED) Auction, will join Ive’s team at Apple. The report notes that Newson will still be based in the U.K. as an employee, but he will make frequent visits to Apple headquarters in California. “I’m full of admiration and respect for the extraordinary design work that has been produced by Jony and the team at Apple,” Newson said. “My close friendship with Jony has not only given me a unique insight into that process, but the opportunity to work together with him and the people that have been responsible. I am enormously proud to join them.”

“Marc is without question one of the most influential designers of this generation,” Ive said in a statement. “He is extraordinarily talented. We are particularly excited to formalize our collaboration as we enjoy working together so much and have found our partnership so effective.” Newson has been commissioned by a number of large companies for his work. His personal website offers a good look at his many designs over the years.

Report: iWatch battery life could disappoint

The battery life for Apple’s iWatch might be “disappointing,” The Information reports. According to the article, “People who have talked to Apple about the watch said that Apple employees have set low expectations.” It’s unclear just how long the device will last in between charges — a March 2013 report claimed the company was aiming for battery life of four to five days, but it’s tough to envision those numbers in light of this new report. A recent report claimed the iWatch will charge wirelessly. [via Business Insider]

Redesigned Apple Store app version 3.0 adds new features

  • September 5, 2014

Apple has updated its Apple Store app to version 3.0 with a number of new features, ahead of the company’s upcoming event. The app has been redesigned for iPhone and iPod touch and now allows users to start shopping on one device and finish on another — you can start on a Mac, for instance, and complete the order on your iOS device. A new Stores section shows users the closest Apple Stores, along with workshops and events at those shops. Additionally, the iPad version of the app now lets users make One to One reservations.

Tim Cook says Apple to add more security alerts

Apple will soon issue more security alerts to users in an effort to boost privacy, CEO Tim Cook told The Wall Street Journal. The company will alert users when an account password change is attempted, when iCloud data is restored to a new device, or when a device logs into an account for the first time. New notifications will start in two weeks, and users will be able to make immediate changes — the account password can be changed, or Apple’s security team can be alerted to the issue.

Cook said Apple could have done more to prevent incidents like the recent celeb photo hack. The company could have better informed users about hackers, and played up the importance of better passwords. “When I step back from this terrible scenario that happened and say what more could we have done, I think about the awareness piece,” Cook said. “I think we have a responsibility to ratchet that up. That’s not really an engineering thing.” Apple also plans on “aggressively” pushing people to use its two-factor authentication in iOS 8.

iLounge Game Spotlight: BioShock

  • September 5, 2014

Seven years ago, 2K Games impressed PC and console gamers with BioShock, an atypically engrossing action game that built upon Valve’s Half-Life and Ion Storm’s Deus Ex — first-person titles that transcended the shooter genre thanks to deep storylines and less gunfire-focused gameplay. BioShock’s hooks were a combination of Art Deco-inspired graphics, a large dose of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, and jitter-inducing audiovisual set pieces. Last week, the full game arrived for iOS devices at a $15 asking price, and although it has some predictable issues, it’s impressive enough to be our Game of the Week.

Without discussing too much of the storyline, BioShock starts as you survive a watery plane crash, swimming your way from flaming wreckage to a lighthouse in the middle of the ocean. Before you’ve even caught your breath — one of hundreds of little details brought to life by strong audio accompaniment — you’re riding an elevator down to Rapture, a city hidden beneath the sea. Littered with Objectivist signs and videos inspired by Rand’s classic book Atlas Shrugged, Rapture is a city filled with people who were genetically modified into zombie-like killers. Your first injection with a syringe of “EVE” gives you electric blue veins and the ability to fire lightning bolts at enemies; other EVE powers and traditional weapons become available as the story continues.

Withings unveils Home video monitor

Withings has announced Home ($220), an HD camera with environmental sensors, designed for video and audio monitoring. The camera offers HD video up to 1080p with zoom, and two digital microphones allow for two-way talk. Users can receive notifications based on events such as movement or crying. Each time an event is detected, Home takes a photo and a video, and stores it for two days. The clips can be downloaded and kept free of charge, and additional cloud recording plans will also be available.

Home also monitors indoor air quality, temperature, and humidity in a house. A Bluetooth Smart ready device, Home is compatible with 2.4GHz b/g/n Wi-Fi networks. Withings offers a free Home Monitor app to use with the Home camera, which is compatible with Apple’s HomeKit and IFTTT. No release date has been announced yet.

Report: Apple negotiated lower card transaction fees for mobile payments

  • September 4, 2014

Apple has successfully negotiated lower card transaction fees for its upcoming mobile payment system, according to Bank Innovation. The Cupertino company has reportedly reached deals with American Express, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Capital One, and Bank of America. Apparently, Apple has convinced the financial institutions to consider the mobile payments as “card present” transactions, and has settled on a reduced “card present” rate, as well. Apple’s Touch ID feature and a secure NFC chip reportedly enable the company to assume some of the fraud risk, and Apple has agreed to accept all cards from the issuers, thus helping to secure those discounted rates. [via 9to5Mac]

NYT: iWatch to have flexible screen, wireless charging; iPhone 6 to get one-handed mode

Another new report has surfaced on the verge of Apple’s introduction of the iWatch and iPhone 6, this one from The New York Times. According to the report, Apple’s iWatch will have a flexible display panel covered by sapphire. The device will also utilize wireless charging. On the new iPhones, the Times reports that a one-handed mode will be available. That mode — which can be switched on or off — will make it easier to use the larger devices with one hand. As noted in a number of other reports, the devices will use NFC for mobile payments. Apple has reportedly teamed up with Visa, American Express, and MasterCard for the system.

Apps of the Week: The Met, Iconic, Infinity Blade 1.4 + more

New Apps

The Met (free) — The country’s largest art museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, has released its own official app — The Met. A great starting point for visiting the museum, the app lets users browse listings of current exhibitions and daily events. Museum admission, membership, and event tickets can all be purchased from the app, as well. Though it’s best for visitors, The Met will likely be of interest to many art fans, as the attractive app lets users learn about highlighted works. Now it just needs a museum map.

Star Walk Kids ($3) — Following the recent release of Star Walk 2, Vito Technology has released Star Walk Kids, a new version of the astronomy guide just for kids. You can tell the difference from the get-go, as his version has a simpler, cartoonish style. The children’s app also comes with short animated films and voice narration.

Apple announces live stream for September 9 event

  • September 4, 2014

Apple has announced that it will live stream its September 9 event. The company’s website now has a “live” page featuring a countdown clock to the time of the event. Apple users are also offered a link to add the event to their calendars. It’s expected that Apple will reveal its newest iPhones and debut its iWatch next Tuesday.

WSJ: iWatch, iPhone 6 to both have NFC

Both Apple’s upcoming iWatch and iPhone 6 will include near field communication, The Wall Street Journal reports, adding its voice to the chorus of those expecting Apple to use NFC in upcoming devices. NFC is “central” to Apple’s plans for a mobile payment system, the report notes. The report also claims the iWatch will come in two sizes, both featuring a “curved organic” LED screen. While Apple plans on taking preorders for the device before it goes on sale — it’s still believed the watch will hit the market next year — pricing information is still unknown at this time.

New report alleges continued violations at Apple supplier

  • September 4, 2014
  • Apple,

A new report released by Green America and China Labor Watch titled “Two Years of Broken Promises” accuses Apple of failing to fix violations at supplier Catcher Technology in Suqian, China. Many violations found in a 2013 investigation at the supplier — violations which were shared with Apple — were reportedly seen again in an undercover investigation conducted this August. Employees are said to work excessive overtime and long shifts while standing, and employees working with “potentially toxic” chemicals are without proper protective equipment. The report notes those workers have suffered skin and eye irritation and “are at risk for more serious health problems.”

In total, China Labor Watch counted 22 violations at Catcher in a number of categories, which is more than the organization found at the same supplier in 2013. Despite Apple’s recent announcement that it has banned the use of benzene and n-hexane in iPhone and iPad assembly — the Green America/CLW report says this is “an important step forward for the company” — the company is still drawing criticism for its handling of chemicals. Apple told The New York Times that its May audit of the Suqian plant “found some concrete areas for improvement in Catcher’s operations, and we worked with Catcher to develop a corrective action plan.” The company has immediately sent a team to visit the plant in light of the new allegations.

Orbotix launches Ollie by Sphero

Orbotix has officially launched Ollie ($100), the new app-controlled toy by Sphero. First seen at CES 2014 as Sphero 2B — the two-wheeled robot earned an iLounge Best of Show award — Ollie can travel up to 14 mph and get up to one hour of play on a full three-hour USB charge. Ollie is controlled using an app and connects to an iPhone or iPad via Bluetooth Smart, boasting a range of 30 meters (98 feet). The toy’s polycarbonate body features a built-in LED glow.

Ollie is customizable, with a variety of tires and hubs to be available for purchase — the toy comes with one set of tires and hubs. Shipments of Ollie will begin arriving on September 15, according to the company website. A limited black edition, Darkside Ollie ($150), comes with extra tires and hubs and will hit the market on November 1.

Harman Kardon debuts Infinity One, Esquire Mini, Soho Wireless + JBL Charge 2

Harman Kardon introduced its fall lineup today, including its new premium portable Bluetooth speaker, Infinity One ($300). Infinity One has passive radiators which claim to make the small speaker sound like a much larger system. The water-resistant speaker also includes a 5V 2.1A output for charging. Now available for preorder, Harman Kardon expects Infinity One to ship on November 9.

Additionally, Harman Kardon’s Bluetooth-equipped Esquire Mini ($150) is a smaller, more rectangular version of its Esquire (reviewed here). The new Soho Wireless headphones are a Bluetooth update of its Soho headphones (reviewed here), and JBL Charge 2 is an update of JBL Charge (reviewed here). While JBL Charge 2 is in stock and ready to ship, Esquire Mini is expected to ship on September 18, and Soho Wireless is listed as coming soon.

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