PureGear’s new HomeKit-enabled PureSwitch allows users to control a single outlet from anywhere. Each PureSwitch can be used with Apple’s Home app and linked to a scene. PureSwitch can be programmed to work on a particular schedule so that devices like lamps, fans and small space heaters come on whenever you want (provided they’re switched on when they’re plugged in). Unlike some other smart outlets, PureSwitch also includes a USB port that provides power to another device at the same time. PureSwitch costs $40 and will be available for pre-order starting January 16.
ConnectSense is expanding its line of HomeKit-enabled products with a new Bluetooth Extender, Bluetooth Temperature & Humidity Sensor, and Bluetooth Water Sensor. The new Bluetooth Extender allows users to remotely control its Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) sensors and devices when they’re out and about, because otherwise the sensors require a local iPhone or other device to connect to the Internet. True to their names, the Bluetooth Temperature & Humidity Sensor and Bluetooth Water Sensor monitor sensitive areas of the home for the presence of moisture or extreme temperatures. The Bluetooth Temperature & Humidity Sensor can be linked to a HomeKit-enabled thermostat to regulate temperate in areas that are far away from the thermostat’s temperature monitors, and the Bluetooth Water Sensor can detect water leaks in places like the basement or laundry room before they can cause permanent damage. Both sensors use two AAA batteries.
Netatmo has introduced two new smart home products to its home security line, the Smart Smoke Alarm and Indoor Security Siren. The HomeKit-compatible Smart Smoke Alarm sounds an 85 dB alarm to alert anyone inside the home when smoke is detected, and sends a message to a user’s iPhone that specifies which room contained the smoke. There’s no limit on how many Smart Smoke Alarms a user can install, and all can be accessed through Netatmo’s security app or Apple’s Home app and independently named based on their location. For false alarms, the sound can be silence manually or from the app. The device includes a 10-year battery that will last for the life of the detector. The Smart Smoke Alarm runs weekly diagnostics to make sure it’s in working order and delivers those reports to the app.
The newly announced Instant Switch from iDevices allows users to place a Bluetooth control switch anywhere in their home, instantly pairing with most other iDevices Smart Home products (anything but a thermostat) without a hub. Instant Switch can even be paired with a hard-wired iDevices Wall or Dimmer Switch to instantly create a three-way control configuration. The switch comes with a built-in level and adhesive backing for easy mounting anywhere in the house, but can also be installed into the wall like any two-screw switch. Two small batteries give the Instant Switch enough power to run for two years. Instant Switch comes with a single faceplate, but a double faceplate is also available for those wanting to create a dual switch by mounting two Instant Switches side by side. The Instant Switch will be out in mid-2017 and will cost $50.
Elgato is expanding its line of Eve HomeKit devices, announcing the Eve Extend and Eve Aqua at CES this week. As the name implies, Eve Extend expands Bluetooth coverage inside a user’s home, connecting through the local Wi-Fi network and acting as a bridge for accessories within its range. For those with houses that have several problem areas, multiple Eve Extends can be operated at the same time. Extend can even control connected devices outside the house, provided they’re within range.
Apple has announced it will give away a pair of Beats Solo3 headphones to customers in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Singapore who buy certain Mac or iPhone devices, in honor of Chinese New Year. The promotion starts at 8 a.m. on January 6 and will run as long as supplies of the special (PRODUCT)Red Beats headphones last. Most Apple computers qualify for the deal, but the new MackBook Pro with Touch Bar and Mac Mini are excluded. On the iPhone side, customers will need to buy a 6s, 6s Plus, 7, or 7 Plus to get the deal.
In a pair of tweets, tech writer Sonny Dickson claims that the first iOS 10.3 beta will be released on January 10 and will include a new “Theatre Mode.” Dickson claims the feature will have a popcorn-shaped control center icon—hinting that like its name suggests, Theatre Mode would be intended for video viewing—but didn’t provide much more information on Twitter. In a brief conversation with 9to5Mac, Dickson said it’s possible Theatre Mode could be a version of the Dark Mode option that already exists on tvOS and macOS.
Apple seeking relaxed labeling in India, Chinese suppliers reportedly won’t shift to U.S. production
Apple is petitioning the Indian government to relax its product labeling rules for iPhones manufactured in India, The Economic Times reports. Apple’s concern is that the Indian regulatory requirements to print product-related information directly onto devices will clutter up the iPhone’s minimalist design; it’s said to be among several concessions Apple is seeking from India after expressing its intention to begin manufacturing there. Apple wants to instead provide those required product details either in software or on the product packaging, rather than having to etch them directly onto the iPhone itself.
Sylvania and LEDVANCE have announced the first standalone smart bulb compatible with Apple’s HomeKit ecosystem, providing a lighting solution that can be integrated with Siri, Apple’s Home and other third-party HomeKit apps without requiring the use of a separate hub. The Sylvania Smart Multicolor A19 bulb can be screwed into any standard light socket and will use a Bluetooth low-energy connection to communicate with HomeKit. It can be controlled directly from Siri or any HomeKit-compatible app, and it can be added to scenes and other HomeKit automation routines. The Sylvania Smart Multicolor A19 bulb is expected to be available on Amazon in early 2017 in the U.S., and pricing has not yet been announced.
A supplier in Taiwan is claiming Apple could add a 5” iPhone to its lineup next year, featuring a dual camera setup that stacks the lenses vertically instead of horizontally, Macotakara reports. The supplier claims Apple has plans to release the mid-sized iPhone alongside its current iPhone and iPhone Plus sizes in a “7s” generation. Unlike other reports that Apple is working on a third, more impressive iPhone, this source believes all three models will have the same basic internal specifications, but adds that the new “iSight Duo” vertical cameras are under consideration, at least in the 5” model.
Happy holidays from iLounge! Our editorial staff is currently on Christmas break, and we will return Wednesday, Dec. 28, with new updates. In the meantime, check out our Best of the Year Awards for 2016 to help with last-minute and (post-holiday gift card) shopping. For anyone finding a new Apple device under the tree, our Tips archive should be of great help. Also be sure to check out our full review of Apple’s new, completely wireless AirPods.
Niantic has released an update to its popular Pokémon GO game for iOS devices, adding the promised support for Apple Watch. While players will still need to pull out their iPhone to hunt for Pokémon, the Apple Watch app allows users to perform many other in-game functions such as hatching eggs, viewing level progress status, receiving alerts of nearby Pokémon and PokéStops, and more. Users will also be able to start workouts from within the Pokémon GO Watch app, and view stats such as calories burned, distance walked, and items collected. A Watch Face Complication also provides status updates, such as how far the user needs to walk to hatch an egg.
Apple has debuted a major update to its web-based iCloud Photos app at iCloud.com, presenting a new user interface that more closely resembles the macOS Photos app. A new sidebar is enabled by default which provides more streamlined browsing of photo albums, although as in the corresponding macOS app, users can choose to toggle the sidebar off using a button at the top of the screen. Multiple photos can now be selected, and action buttons in the top-right corner will apply to all selected photos, allowing you to share, download, delete, or file several photos at a time; individual photos can also be organized into albums via drag-and-drop into the sidebar. Viewing an individual photo also now displays a carousel of thumbnails at the bottom of the screen, allowing you to quickly browse through other photos in the same album.
Notably, the new web Photos app doesn’t yet include the complete list of smart albums from the macOS and iOS versions, omitting such albums as People, Places, Selfies, and Depth Effect, and hasn’t yet added support for the new macOS Sierra and iOS 10 features such as memories, people, and places.
Earlier this week, Apple filed an antitrust lawsuit against two patent lawsuit companies affiliated with Nokia, The Street reports. In the filing, Apple accuses Acacia Research Corp. and Conversant Intellectual Property Management of colluding with Nokia “to extract and extort exorbitant revenues” from Apple and other mobile device manufacturers. Both of the named companies purchased portfolios of patents from Nokia after the Finnish company sold the majority of its cellphone business to Microsoft in 2013. In the suit, Apple claims that since Nokia has basically exited the cellphone business, it has become a company “bent on exploiting the patents that remain” in its portfolio. Further, since Nokia still retains a financial stake in the patents that it sold to Acacia and Conversant, Apple alleges that these two companies are “willing conspirators” that “have conspired with Nokia to use unfair and anticompetitive patent assertions to improperly tax the innovations of cell phone makers.”
Nokia has announced that it has filed several complaints against Apple in Germany and the U.S. alleging infringement of a number of Nokia patents. The patents in question cover what Nokia refers to as “fundamental technologies used in today’s mobile devices” such as display, user interface, software, antenna, chipsets, and video coding. A total of 32 patents are currently listed in the suit, and Nokia says it is in the process of filing “further actions” in other jurisdictions. Nokia claims that it has tried to reach an agreement with Apple for “several years” to license Apple’s use of the patents, and is now taking legal action as a last resort. According to Nokia’s announcement, Apple agreed to a license to cover some patents from the Nokia Technologies portfolio in 2011, but has “declined subsequent offers” by Nokia to license other patents that are “used by many of Apple’s products.”
Apple has released the first developer beta of watchOS 3.1.3, following of the first last week’s release iOS 10.2.1 and tvOS 10.1.1 betas. The sparse release notes suggest this latest watchOS release is focused primarily on bug fixes and other minor improvements, although it’s notable that this latest beta skips a minor version from last week’s public release of watchOS 3.1.1.
For the first time since the Apple Watch’s release last year, Apple is selling refurbished versions of the device on its website. Aluminum case 38mm Series 1 Apple Watches are selling for $229, or 14 percent off the standard price, with 42mm versions going for $20 more. Customers interested in the newer model can also get a stainless steel Series 2 watch from the refurbished site, with the 38mm costing $469 and the 42mm costing $509. As with all of Apple’s refurbished products, the company promises the product meets its usual quality standards and offers the same one-year warranty that comes with new devices.
In a statement posted on Nintendo’s website, the gamemaker confirms that Super Mario Run was downloaded more than 40 million times in its first four days, setting a new App Store record. The endless runner has roared to success despite mixed reviews — our own App Diary had mixed feelings, as well. The Wall Street Journal reports Nintendo shares have fallen more than 16 percent since the game’s launch, with investors citing concerns over Nintendo charging a one-time fee, rather than using an in-app purchase model like the one that made Pokémon GO so successful. While Super Mario Run is expected to generate $15 million in its first month, Pokémon GO made $100 million between July and September by adding additional paid content. While expanding the game to Android could make more money for Nintendo, a company spokesman confirmed there are no plans to release any additional content for the game, either free or paid.
Manufacturing documents allegedly leaked from Chinese suppliers claim Apple is working on releasing three iPhone models in 2017, with the deluxe version codenamed “Ferrari,” Chinese blog cnBeta reports. The documents—obtained from a Weibo user known to leak information from Apple’s supply chain—line up with previous rumors that Apple will be releasing a modestly updated iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus alongside a radically redesigned iPhone with an edge-to-edge OLED screen. The source claims the flashier model will feature a divided internal design, with a thinner two-tier motherboard connected to the Wi-Fi and cellular communications systems by a flexible cable to save space. The SIM card is also expected to move to the bottom of the device as we’ve previously seen in the iPad Pro, freeing up some room inside the case. [via Apple Insider]
Apple has released the second beta of iOS 10.2.1 to registered developers, which appears to be focused primarily on bug fixes and minor improvements. A corresponding tvOS 10.1.1 beta has not yet been released, and new watchOS betas remain conspicuously absent.