Harman has announced a collection of new speakers, earphones, a new in-dash system at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, including updates to its popular JBL Clip and JBL Charge speakers, a new headphone partnership with Under Armour, and a new top-of-the-line speaker in its Quincy Jones series.
The company has released two new versions of its popular portable speakers. The new JBL Clip 2 ($60) is an ultra-compact speaker designed to attach anywhere with a new built-in smart carabineer. It also features a ruggedized, IPX7 waterproof design and fabric casing, eight hours of playtime from the built-in rechargeable lithium ion battery, speakerphone support with noise and echo cancellation, and an integrated 3.5mm audio cable for those who need or prefer a wired connection. It’s expected to be available this spring.
The JBL Charge 3 ($150) has been updated with an IPX7 waterproof design, and is available in five colors. You can wirelessly connect up to three smartphones or tablets to the speaker at once to take turns playing audio, and the 6000 mAh power bank gives you up to 15 hours of playtime and can charge an iPhone, iPad, or other USB powered device on the go. Dual external passive radiators provide powerful bass, a built-in speakerphone features noise and echo cancellation, and JBL Connect support lets users link multiple JBL Connect-enabled speakers together.
iHome has unveiled a collection of several new products at this year’s CES, including an updated version of its original HomeKit-enabled SmartPlug, a new model building on its Kineta speaker lineup, and several new speakers and clock radios.
The new iHome Control iSP8 SmartPlug ($50), expands on the company’s original HomeKit-enabled plug, adding power consumption monitoring capabilities and compatibility with Android, Nest, Wink, and more in addition to the iOS HomeKit support. A remote control is also included in the package to allow the plug to be used without a smartphone or tablet.
The new Kineta K5 ($70) builds on the new K-Cell battery equipped speakers iHome debuted last year with a new design, Bluetooth-enabled wireless FM clock radio, and built-in speakerphone. It’s equipped with Reson8 speakers and includes the same K-Cell battery technology as the original models — a removable battery pack that can be popped out to recharge mobile devices on the go.
Just before this year’s CES officially kicks off, IK Multimedia has unveiled iRig BlueTurn ($70), a new compact Bluetooth-based page turner for musicians, designed to allow hands-free navigation of set lists, scores, lyric sheets and more on iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Mac. BlueTurn is a small foot controller with two backlit soft-touch buttons, similar in design to the company’s earlier iRig BlueBoard MIDI controller. iRig BlueTurn can be paired with IK’s own iKlip Stage setlist management app as well as many other popular page-turning and document viewing apps. iRig BlueTurn is expected to be available in February 2016.
Incipio has announced a collection of new ClamCase iPad keyboard cases for the iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 4. The new cases incorporate the signature, patented 360-degree hinge design from the previous models, while adding more productivity-enhancing features such as backlit keyboards and backup battery power. The ClamCase Pro for iPad mini 4 ($130), expected in Q1 of 2016, features a Lithium-ion battery and Bluetooth 3.0 chip for months of keyboard use on a single charge, and one-touch pairing to automatically sync the keyboard case to the iPad mini 4. It will be available in White/Silver and Smoke Gray. ClamCase+ for iPad Pro ($170) and ClamCase+ for iPad Air 2 ($150) will be available in Q2 of 2016 in Gray, Gold, and Silver. It will include a backlit keyboard with adjustable brightness, built-in sensors to activate the wake and sleep functions, and an integrated Apple Pencil slot.
While CES 2016 doesn’t actually start until Wednesday, companies are already announcing new products from the show. Griffin has introduced a number of new products, including Travel Power Bank ($70) for Apple Watch. Travel Power Bank is a portable 800 mAh battery with a built-in Apple Watch charger. Griffin claims Travel Power Bank can deliver four full charges to an Apple Watch before it needs recharged, which makes it an ideal accessory for a trip. It even comes with a keyring to attach to a set of keys or a hook. It should be available in the second quarter of 2016. Also for Apple Watch, Griffin has unveiled Uptown Leather Band ($60) and Trainer Watch Band ($40), a silicone band. Both of those are set for a Q3 2016 release.
Apple is preparing to release new accessibility-related accessories early next year, Macotakara reports. Such accessories may be released sometime from January to March 2016. It’s unclear what these accessories may be at this point, but Apple has repeatedly shown a commitment to increasing accessibility options for the disabled and impaired within its products, and releasing dedicated accessories for these users seems like a natural next step. Conceivably, such products could be introduced quietly during the next few months, or unveiled at a spring event with other new products.
On the heels of yesterday’s news that Hue was set to begin blocking uncertified third-party bulbs from the Hue ecosystem due to “interoperability” issues, the company has now rapidly reversed course as a result of customer feedback. Philips has revised the notice on its developer blog, noting that while the decision was “made in good faith” to ensure an optimal customer experience, the company underestimated the impact that it would have on customers, and that in view of this it has decided to reverse the software upgrade so that lights from other brands will “continue to work as they did before” with the Hue system. The post notes that the company is working on the reversal of the upgrade and will soon confirm when this will be available to affected customers.
Philips is still encouraging third-party accessory makers to join the Friends of Hue partnership program so that their devices can be tested and certified to work seamlessly with Hue, and notes that customers using uncertified lights will likely still experience the same incompatibility issues that they have in the past, although Philips will no longer stand in the way of customers using other ZigBee LL capable accessories.
The Federal Aviation Administration has announced its new registration program for owners of “small unmanned aircraft,” known to most as drones. The program will require owners to register all drones weighing between 0.55 and 55 pounds, including payloads such as on-board cameras. A short list of examples has been compiled by the FAA — for instance, Parrot’s Bebop Drone must be registered under the new program. The normal registration fee is $5, but that will be waived for owners who register within the first 30 days (Dec. 21, 2015 to Jan. 20, 2016).
Apple has quietly replaced its old Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader with an improved model that supports USB 3.0 transfer speeds now possible with the iPad Pro. The size, shape and $30 price of the accessory remain unchanged, and older iPads will still top out at USB 2.0 transfer speeds, making the new card reader most useful to iPad Pro owners. As before, inserting the reader into an iPad or iPhone with an SD card inside automatically opens the Photos app and organizes your pictures. [via iDownloadBlog]
iFixit has posted a teardown of the new Apple Pencil. The report notes the basic specs of the Pencil, noting a new Apple model number of A1603, and draws comparisons to the Microsoft Surface Pen and 53’s “iPad Pencil,” the latter of which oddly bears the same Pencil name and continues to be sold by Apple in its retail stores. The Apple Pencil box includes a spare tip along with a Lightning-to-Lightning adapter to allow users to charge their Pencils using any available Lightning cable instead of connecting the device to the bottom of their iPad. A Lightning Connector cap keeps that end covered when not in use, snapping into place with magnets, although it’s small enough to be easily lost when not attached to the Pencil.
In an interview with the Telegraph, Apple’s Chief Design Officer Jony Ive explained the pains Apple has taken create a totally new drawing experience with the Apple Pencil accessory for the iPad Pro. The pencil’s sensor-filled tip gives the device capabilities no other stylus has, making it able to deliver a bold dot when pressed down hard on its tip or produce a lighter fanned effect when gently brushed on its side, just like a real pencil. But creating a device sophisticated enough to deliver those abilities created other challenges since, unlike a traditional stylus, the Apple Pencil needs to be charged. Ive admits plugging the pencil into an iPod through its Lightning connector removes some of the natural and intuitive feel the company worked to maintain with the device, but said his team endeavored to make it as simple as possible. “We don’t like to have to charge multiple devices and manage them either so one of the things we’ve worked extremely hard on is the actual process of charging.”
Apple opened online orders of the new iPad Pro today, and many Apple Stores across the US are showing the item is available for in-store pickup for those who don’t want to wait. The in-store pickup option currently doesn’t appear when placing an order from Canada. Those opting for shipping when they place an order online can expect to get their device Monday free of charge or Friday if they’re willing to pay an extra $19. Canadian orders don’t appear to offer the expedited shipping option either, with only free delivery arriving Monday listed as an option. And regardless of where customers are shopping, Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard accessories for the new device are showing 3-4 week delays for availability, so be prepared to wait for the full experience.
On his tour of London this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook pushed the idea that the new iPad Pro is as versatile a product as the company has ever made with features that appeal to a broad range of users. In his interview with The Telegraph, Cook said the new tablet has the screen and speakers to give the average media consumer a much more robust viewing and listening experience, but when paired with the company’s keyboard case the device is powerful enough to replace a user’s notebook or desktop computer and challenge the PC’s dominance in the workplace. “I think if you’re looking at a PC, why would you buy a PC anymore? No really, why would you buy one?” Cook said.
When paired with the Apple Pencil, Cook said the device is the first of its kind to give creatives a true alternative to putting pencil to paper for sketching. Addressing criticism that the Apple Pencil is a stylus that users don’t need since their finger can do the same job, Cook told The Independent that the Apple Pencil has won over artists by going far beyond what a stylus can do. “The traditional stylus is fat, it has really bad latency so you’re sketching here and it’s filling the line in somewhere behind. You can’t sketch with something like that, you need something that mimics the look and feel of the pencil itself or you’re not going to replace it,” Cook said. “We’re not trying to replace finger touch, we’re complementing it with the Pencil.”
Apple has announced that the iPad Pro will be available for purchase online Wednesday and is set to arrive at Apple Stores and other retailers later this week. The Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard accessories will also be available for online order Wednesday. The announcement confirms previous reports that Apple would start selling the device on Wednesday and explains why Sam’s Club listed the iPad Pro as launching in its stores on Friday. It appears other third-party retailers have different sale dates listed for the device — Staples, for instance, has an availability date of Nov. 25.
Months after recalling the Beats Pill XL over battery overheating concerns, Beats has revealed the Beats Pill+ ($230), the company’s first speaker offering since it was bought by Apple last year. Not yet available for purchase, the Pill+ features four front-facing speakers, with Beats claiming users will be able to sync up playback with a second speaker using its dedicated app. The new speaker has a Lightning port for charging, boasts a 12-hour battery life on a 3-hour charge and is able to charge an iOS device while playing music. Beats Pill+ will be available in black and white color options, and it will launch in November.
Mobile device accessory maker Incipio Technologies has acquired Incase Designs, which specializes in laptop bags and cases for Apple devices. The move comes on the heels of Incipio buying up iPad keyboard case and peripheral manufacturer ClamCase this June and two years after the company acquired speaker manufacturer Braven. Incase’s product lines further expand Incipio’s reach into Apple-specific accessories, while Incipio’s distribution network will allow Incase to expand its market globally. Financial terms of the deal remain confidential, but like Braven and ClamCase, Incase will continue as its own standalone brand with its own headquarters.
Zagg has announced the release of its new Bluetooth keyboard lineup for the iPad Pro and iPad mini 4. Three new iPad mini 4 keyboards include the Slim Book ($120), Folio with backlit keys ($100), and Folio with non-backlit keys ($80), which will be available for order on Sept. 15 for the Slim Book and Sept. 25 for the Folio models. Two new iPad Pro keyboards are also coming in November — the Messenger Universal ($70) and the Slim Book Pro ($140). All of the new keyboards provide device protection, 135-degree viewing angles, and two-year battery life along with multi-pairing so that they can be used with multiple iOS devices or even Macs. On Thursday, Logitech introduced its Smart Connector-compatible keyboard for iPad Pro, Create, so it hasn’t taken long to see third-party accessories for Apple’s upcoming large-screen iPad.
Logitech has announced Create, the first third-party keyboard for Apple’s upcoming iPad Pro. The new full-sized keyboard will be compatible with Apple’s new magnetic Smart Connector. Create automatically connects to the iPad Pro when docked in the typing position, and the keyboard is powered by the iPad Pro itself. Create is said to be made of “tightly-woven premium fabric,” but few other details are known at this time. It will be released when the iPad Pro launches. Logitech has yet to reveal pricing information for the new accessory, but Apple’s own upcoming Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro will cost $169 at launch.
Ahead of Apple’s announcement tomorrow, 9to5Mac is reporting the new iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus and iPad Pro are expected to feature a next-generation version of the Force Touch display, likely to be called “3D Touch Display.” The new screens will be able to detect and act on three different levels of pressure — a tap, a press and a deep press. Sources said this improvement allows Apple to add new shortcut gestures to apps in the iPhone version of iOS 9, eliminating the need for multiple button pushes to do things like starting navigation in Maps or adding songs to a playlist in Music.
In addition to the new screen, 9to5Mac said the iPad Pro base model will feature four stereo speakers and 64GB of storage — substantially higher than the 16GB starting capacity of previous models. The new iPad will likely also come in a 128GB model and be available with built-in LTE capabilities like current iPad Air and iPad Mini lines, but will feature an A9X chip considered to be a large leap over the iPad Air 2’s A8X. Upscale models are expected to cost more than $1,000, placing them closer to the price point now reserved for a smaller MacBook than that of the most expensive iPad currently on the market. Even with the top of the line model, Apple is expected to make customers buy the Force-Touch-integrated stylus and Bluetooth keyboard separately, further upping the price for those looking for a more robust experience. The company is rumored to have two versions of the keyboard in the works, with one similar to the Apple Wireless Keyboard previously sold with Macs and iPads and another that doubles as a case. While the new iPhones will probably be available in rose gold, the iPad Pro will start with the gold, silver and space grey colors we’ve already seen. Pre-orders may start in October, but production issues and supply constraints could keep the iPad Pro from shipping until the end of November.
Logitech has announced its new Logi BLOK family of cases for the iPad Air 2, the first group of products to appear under the new Logi brand, which was introduced last week. The family includes the Logi BLOK Protective Shell ($40), the Logi BLOK Protective Case ($70), and the Logi BLOK Protective Keyboard Case ($130), all of which feature square corners to help protect the iPad. Logitech indicates the cases have been tested to withstand drops from up to six feet high and onto surfaces such as hard concrete, providing good drop protection with much less bulk and weight than many ultra-protective cases. The cases are expected to be available in August, with black, red/violet or teal/blue color options.