Apple has been threatening sanctions against third-party accessory manufacturers that design iPhone and iPad products based on leaked and other unofficial device specifications, according to a new report by 9to5Mac. Last fall, prior to the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Apple reportedly required a number of accessory makers to sign agreements that would prohibit them from seeking out information about unannounced Apple devices. Manufactures were encouraged to sign the agreement or risk losing “future business opportunities that Apple and/or its affiliates may present” to them, and the agreement apparently includes language that could be interpreted as prohibiting developers from even reading any web site or newspaper that talks about upcoming Apple products, although it more specifically prohibits manufacturers from using “specifications from any source other than Apple” when developing new products for the iPhone and iPad.
To preserve its veil of secrecy, Apple traditionally only provides manufacturing specs after new devices have been formally announced, which places accessory makers at a disadvantage when it comes to getting products to market in a timely manner. This leaves customers with few options for things like cases other than Apple’s own offerings, which of course are generally made available simultaneously with a new product’s release. There has already been a stark decline in the number of third-party cases available in Apple Retail Stores, seemingly in favor of Apple’s own iPhone and iPad cases, which now take up approximately 75 percent of the display space in some stores. While there has been some speculation that Apple is simply making room for the Apple Watch, several sources have told iLounge that Apple Retail has been moving more toward a ‘boutique’ experience when it comes to cases, preferring to limit options to unique selections that it believes matches and enhances the aesthetics of its devices.
Typo Products LLC has been fined for violating the injunction barring it from selling its keyboard case, Reuters reports. Typo has been ordered to pay BlackBerry $860,600 in sanctions, in addition to attorneys’ fees and costs related to the violation of the injunction. Last year, BlackBerry won a preliminary injunction against Typo, banning the keyboard case from being sold in the U.S. due to a ‘likelihood” of patent infringement. Court documents revealed that Typo had sold approximately 19,000 of the original Typo keyboards after the preliminary injunction was issued, and while the company tried to make a case that BlackBerry could not demonstrate any lost sales as a result of Typo’s keyboards continuing to be sold, the judge noted that the company’s “not so clever attempts to evade the court’s preliminary injunction” were quite transparent. BlackBerry had asked the court for a fine of $2.64 million, refusing to comment further on the matter beyond a statement that the court order “speaks for itself.” In the order, the judge noted, “The amount of sanctions awarded is only a third of what BlackBerry sought and is directly tied to additional revenue that Typo could have expected from its illegal conduct.”
Typo released Typo 2 last fall, an updated version of the keyboard, redesigned to hopefully avoid further patent infringements claims while also adding additional features. The current case involved the original Typo keyboard, and according to a spokesperson for Typo, it has “no impact on the Typo 2 product currently in the marketplace,” or any other products the company is working on.
IK Multimedia has announced iRig Mic Studio ($180), the latest product in its lineup of iOS-compatible audio accessories. An ultra-portable large-diaphgram digital condenser microphone, iRig Mic Studio contains a 1” diameter back electret condenser capsule in an extremely compact enclosure, making it easy to take with you for making professional recordings anywhere. The mic provides a 24-bit A/D converter with a 44.1/48 kHz sample rate, a built-in low-noise preamp, and a 133dB SPL rating, promising to provide high-quality recording in a wide range of environments and applications. iRig Mic Studio will include a Lightning cable for connecting to an iPhone, iPad, and iPod, with a 30-pin Dock Connector cable option available for users of older iOS devices, and additional USB and micro-USB cables bundled for connecting to Macs and other devices. The microphone will also include a portable tabletop tripod stand. The mic is designed to work with any iOS app supporting Core Audio, and will specifically work with IK’s VocaLive and EZ Voice vocal recording and effects apps. iRig Mic Studio will be available this quarter.
TwelveSouth has released the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus versions of its signature BookBook case. As with prior versions, the new BookBook for iPhone 6 & 6 Plus ($60) combines a wallet and iPhone protection into a single, classic-looking leather book design. The new version also now adds a removable, sturdy shell case, however, allowing users to easily remove their iPhone from the wallet and carry it separately without losing protection. A hands-free stand has also been incorporated into the new design, allowing users to prop up their iPhone to an appropriate viewing angle for watching videos or conducting FaceTime calls. The new BookBook for iPhone 6/6Plus is available in Vintage Brown and Classic Black, and can be ordered online from TwelveSouth.com.
Apple is now enforcing more stringent requirements for case manufacturers in its Made for iPhone (MFi) program, 9to5Mac reports. The new requirements are intended to ensure that cases provide better protection for Apple devices from impact, as well as providing proper glass coverage. Case makers will now be required to ensure that devices are protected from drops of up to 1 meter onto a hard surface, from any possible device orientation. Cases will also be required to protect an iPhone, iPad, or iPod’s glass when resting flat on a surface such as a table, providing a buffer of at least 1mm between the cover glass and a flat surface — this can be accomplished either by including full screen protection or having the front lip of the case protrude slightly to keep the glass from touching a flat surface.
The report also notes that Apple is now listing a number of restricted substances and materials in order to lessen the environmental impact of MFi cases. The list of newly restricted substances includes “Formaldehyde, Endangered species of flora and fauna, PFOS, PFOA, PBDE, PBB, and Phthalates.” While companies are not required to be part of Apple’s MFi program simply to produce cases for Apple devices, Apple’s licensing program provides certification for third-party accessories, allowing manufacturers to include a “Made-for-iPhone/iPad/iPod” logo on their packaging.
Bose products might be making a return to Apple Stores, according to a new report from French blog iGen.fr. A report earlier this fall speculated that Apple’s acquisition of Beats may have caused the company to end its retail relationship with Bose, possibly due to the exclusive deal between Bose and the NFL that prohibited players form wearing other branded headphones during televised interviews. This latest report suggests that Apple and Bose may have now come to some kind of new agreement and that Bose products may begin reappearing on Apple Store shelves as early as next week.
Update: A number of Bose products have indeed turned up again on Apple’s online store.
In case you missed it last week, iLounge has released the Best of the Year Awards for 2014, highlighting this past year’s top accessories, apps, games, and more. Our editors have picked the best of the best in more than 25 categories, narrowing down a list of thousands of potential products. The list has been expanded from previous years and is now available here on the site, with no download needed, just in time for your holiday shopping. Click here to discover all the winners and notable runners-up!
Beats by Dr. Dre has announced the first new product in its lineup since the company was acquired by Apple last spring. The Solo2 Wireless ($300) on-ear headphones add wireless Bluetooth capabilities to the popular Solo2 headphones. It’s noted that the new Wireless headphones offer the same sound and design as the original Solo2. Users can take phone calls, skip songs, and change the volume using the “b” button and volume buttons on the side. The built-in rechargeable battery allows up to 12 hours of wireless playback, with a fallback to a wired connection if the batteries aren’t charged. Solo2 Wireless will be available later this month at Apple and other select retailers, with a Red version also being sold exclusively by Verizon Wireless.
Fitness company Nautilus has announced that it is officially adding support for iOS 8 HealthKit to its Bowflex Max Trainer and Nautilus 616 products, allowing users to send workout data directly to iOS 8’s new Health app. The Bowflex Max Trainer will be getting HealthKit integration this month, with the Nautilus 616 Cardio series following “closely.” These Nautilus workout machines use Bluetooth Smart technology to transfer workout details including calories burned, heart rate, distance covered, and workout time to companion apps on the user’s iPhone or iPod touch. The apps then sync all workout data with the iOS Health app, as well as continuing to allow Nautilus users to integrate with other third-party applications and the company’s own online services.
iLounge has released its Best of the Year Awards for 2014, highlighting the past year’s top accessories, apps, games, and more. Our editors have picked the best of the best in more than 25 categories, narrowing down a list of thousands of potential products. In the past, iLounge has released a Buyers Guide containing our annual awards — the list has been expanded and is now available here on the site, with no download needed. Click here to discover all the winners and notable runners-up!
Jawbone has announced two new fitness trackers, UP3 ($180) and UP Move ($50). UP3 is being billed as “the world’s most advanced tracker.” The wristband tracker boasts advanced sleep tracking and uses a bioimpedance sensor to automatically measure resting heart rate. Other sensors on the tracker include an accelerometer, a skin temperature sensor, and an ambient temperature sensor. UP3 is water-resistant up to 10 meters (about 33 feet), and Jawbone claims the tracker can go a full week without a recharge.
UP Move is a less advanced tracker — it’s comparable to Misfit’s Flash. It counts steps and tracks sleep, and can be clipped to an article of clothing. UP Move can also be worn as a watch by adding a separately purchased strap for $15. Both UP3 and Up Move will be available this year.
A number of users of the Mophie Juice Pack Air have reported problems with the battery case not being recognized or properly charging iPhone 5 devices following iOS updates. While the specific reasons are unclear, there have been reports since iOS 7.0 and iOS 7.1 of iPhones suddenly showing a message that the accessory may not be supported, usually following an iOS update; similar issues have been reported following the recent release of iOS 8.1. Some users have reported temporary success with workarounds such as using an iPad 10W power adapter or charging the iPhone and battery case separately a few times. Notably, Mophie has recommended the latter procedure when users have reported compatibility errors, although not all users have had success with that particular method, even when using Mophie-supplied cables and recommended power adapters. Mophie’s cases are notably carried in Apple Stores, and were amongst the very first to receive Apple’s Made For iPhone Lightning certification after the iPhone 5 was released.
The Mophie Juice Pack Air charges the iPhone and the battery case in sequence, and accessory-related error messages occasionally appear when the accessory transitions between charging the iPhone and charging its own battery, suggesting that there may be a handshaking issue with Apple’s authentication chips. However, it appears that authentication chip-related components in the case may be failing entirely over a longer time period, ultimately resulting in the case not being recognized by iOS, and the connected iPhone refusing to accept a charge. Reports have varied regarding problems with pass-through charging and charging directly from the case’s battery, but there appears to be a correlation between new iOS version updates and problems with the Mophie cases. It’s possible that changes to Lightning authentication in later iOS versions may be affecting compatibility with previously certified “Made For iPhone” accessories, an issue that would be Apple’s responsibility to resolve.
Fitbit has announced three new additions to its lineup of wristband fitness and health tracking products. The first, Charge ($130) is a reinvention of Fitbit’s Force product, providing activity tracking of steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, and floors climbed. It features an OLED display that displays the time of day and real-time fitness stats, a high-quality, water-resistant textured wristband design with an improved clasp, and up to seven days of battery life. Charge, which is available now, also supports caller ID from a connected iPhone or other mobile device, with vibrating alerts and display of the caller’s name or number.
Charge HR ($150) expands on the features in Fitbit Charge by adding continuous wrist-based heart rate monitoring using Fitbit’s proprietary PurePulse optical heart rate technology, which uses LED lights to detect blood volume changes on the wrist. The heart-rate monitoring feature provides more accurate reporting of stats such as all-day calorie burn and workout intensity, although the feature drops the battery life down to five days.
Olloclip has introduced its new 4-in-1 lens system for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus ($80), with a new design that works with both the front and rear camera. The package includes fisheye, wide-angle, macro 10X and macro 16X lenses, along with three wearable pendants for carrying the lenses. The Olloclip 4-in-1 Photo Lens for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus is available in five lens and clip color combinations. It can be pre-ordered from Olloclip’s web site and is expected to ship in late November.
Logitech has announced a new series of home automation products, the Harmony Living Home line. The products include the Logitech Harmony Ultimate Home remote ($350), which features a 2.4” color touchscreen and can control up to 15 compatible home entertainment devices. A button-only remote, the Logitech Harmony Home Control ($150) controls up to 8 home entertainment devices. The hardware looks to be very similar to last year’s Harmony Ultimate Universal Remote Control and Harmony Smart Control, but with new functionality.
Both of those remotes come with the Harmony Home Hub ($99), which can also be purchased separately. The hub uses RF, IR, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi to relay commands from the remotes or the Harmony Mobile iOS app to selected home devices. Also included in the line is the Harmony Hub Extender ($130), which can control other devices such as locks, lights, garage doors, and sensors through ZigBee or Z-Wave. The Extender should hit the market in December, but the rest of the lineup should arrive sometime this month.
Microsoft has announced the Universal Mobile Keyboard, a new Bluetooth keyboard designed to work specifically with iOS devices, as well as Windows and Android devices. The new keyboard incorporates a switch to choose the appropriate device mode and dedicated iOS keys such as CMD in their proper locations. The Universal Mobile Keyboard is also notably a Made-for-iPhone/iPad/iPod touch product, and is designed to be very portable and quick and easy to set up on the go. It is expected to sell for $80 and become available for purchase in October. [via 9to5Mac]
Our newest video review takes a look at Logitech’s new Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480 (reviewed here). The keyboard can switch between multiple iOS devices using Bluetooth, and a built-in stand holds the devices, as well. Be sure to check out our past video reviews, including last week’s Grace Digital Ecostone and iHome iBN6 waterproof Bluetooth speakers.
Philips has debuted the first Lightning connector headphones, Fidelio M2L. According to Pocket-lint, Philips claims the headphones can deliver high-quality 24-bit audio using built-in DAC and amplification. The Fidelio M2L headphones use two 40mm speaker drivers and are said to offer noise isolated audio with dynamic bass. Philips’ Fidelio M2L will be available in December for €250 (about $323).
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.
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.