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Report: Apple considering offering stylus-compatible iPhone as early as 2019

After debuting the Apple Pencil for the iPad Pro two years ago, the company is reportedly considering making its iPhones compatible with some form of stylus as early as 2019, The Investor reports. While Steve Jobs was famously against introducing a stylus with his touchscreen devices, Apple released the Apple Pencil aimed at artists and designers to mostly warm reviews. Apple also added handwriting and markup functions in iOS 11, making the Apple Pencil more useful across a wider variety of apps. The source claims Apple engineers are currently working on an iPhone that would work with a digital pen and is “also in talks with a couple of stylus makers for a partnership,” which could mean the stylus that comes with a future iPhone could be different from the Apple Pencil — possibly more compact.

Sonos bringing AirPlay 2 support to its speakers next year

Sonos has announced it will bring support for Apple’s AirPlay 2 standard to its speakers next year, allowing users to control the devices with HomeKit or Siri. AirPlay 2 integration will allow voice control of music in addition to providing the ability to listen to the audio from videos, apps and games through the speakers. The company also debuted its new Sonos One speaker ($199) during the event — the company’s first speaker with built-in voice controls. Once the AirPlay 2 update rolls out, other Sonos speakers will be controllable by voice through Apple devices, but it’s unclear at what point next year the update will arrive.

Apple Store begins selling AR teddy bear

Apple has become the exclusive retailer for toy startup Seedling’s Parker the Bear, an ordinary looking teddy bear that has some serious augmented reality capabilities when paired with the companion app. Parker comes with his own backpack, doctor’s kit and X-ray bibs that produce AR responses in the free app, relying on an iOS 11-equipped device to produce fun effects instead of electronics built into the toy itself. Exams will display Parker’s bones and organs, prompt kids to use 3D Touch functionality to get the bear to perform tests like taking deep breaths, and display other games and puzzles that increase Parker’s “happiness factor,” which in turn unlocks other AR effects. The toy is available for $60 from Apple or directly from Seedling. [via AppleInsider]

AirPods Wireless Charging Case rumoured to be available in Dec. for $69

During this week’s event, Apple announced that its AirPods wireless earbuds would also be supporting Qi-compatible wireless charging with its new AirPower charging mat expected to arrive next year. Swiss site MacPrime claims to have heard from Apple Switzerland that this charging support will be coming in the form of a new wireless charging case for the AirPods, expected to go on sale in December for $69.

Apple’s wireless charger set to debut in 2018; Belkin’s coming this week

Alongside its wireless charging-capable iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X models, Apple showed off its upcoming AirPower charging mat during yesterday’s keynote. While the accessory won’t be available until next year, it will be large enough to allow users to charge iPhones, Apple Watches and AirPods on a single pad (provided users have the new compatible AirPods case). The company didn’t say how much the charging pad will cost or a specific release date, only saying customers will see it sometime in 2018.

Report: Apple won’t launch wireless charging accessory for iPhones today

While Apple is expected to debut wireless charging technology compatible with Qi chargers in at least some of its new iPhones, well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims the company won’t be offering its own wireless charger when the devices launch today, 9to5Mac reports. Kuo said the company’s strict requirements for the charger’s RF specifications led to a delay in mass production, and it’s unclear how long it will be before Apple brings a wireless charging accessory to market. It’s possible Apple would announce the accessory even if it’s not readily available at launch, but Kuo seemed confident we won’t be hearing about it today.

LTE Apple Watch will share phone number with iPhone; new Apple TV may have A10X chip, 3 GB RAM

While the “iPhone X” is getting most of the attention ahead of tomorrow’s Apple event, the company is also expected to launch an LTE Apple Watch, 4K Apple TV and new set of AirPods tomorrow as well. The latest firmware leaks seem to indicate that the LTE Apple Watch will still be dependent on the user having an iPhone cellular plan, with 9to5Mac reporting the device will use the same phone number as the iPhone to make calls. That means incoming calls from the same number can be answered from either the iPhone or the Apple Watch after the user completes the setup process, falling short of some long shot hopes that the Apple Watch would be a completely standalone device. It’s still unclear what the additional cost will be to add the Apple Watch to an iPhone’s cellular plan, but the code suggests carriers may initially offer free or reduced-cost plans to get the Apple Watch on as many arms as possible, including references to a “preinstalled” carrier plan.

Beats launches Studio3 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones

Beats has announced Studio3 Wireless, the latest model in the company’s iconic Beats Studio lineup of over-ear headphones. The updated version features Apple’s W1 chip providing the same proximity pairing features found on Apple’s AirPods and Beats’ other recent headphones, along with the ability to sync pairing data via iCloud and seamlessly switch between devices. Beats adds that the W1 chip’s increased efficiency allows Studio3 Wireless to provide nearly double the battery life of the company’s prior headphones, promising 22 hours of wireless playback with ANC on or 40 hours of playback in low power mode. “Fast Fuel” rapid charging allows users to gain an additional three hours of playback from just ten minutes of charging via a USB connection.

Marshall unveils Wireless Multi-Room Speaker System

Marshall has introduced The Marshall Wireless Multi-Room System, the first Wi-Fi speaker lineup from the iconic audio company. The new multi-room speakers build on the designs of its wireless Bluetooth product range that debuted four years ago with the Stanmore, and the new speakers follow the same style and naming convention, with the classic Acton, Stanmore, and Woburn designs now available in “Multi-Room” versions, starting at $350. The new speakers provide full AirPlay compatibility along with support for Chromecast and Spotify Connect as well as Bluetooth wireless connectivity and a 3.5mm input jack along with RCA inputs to connect a traditional turntable or preamp.

Promise Technology releases Apollo Cloud 2 Duo personal cloud system

For those who enjoy the benefits of the cloud but are more than a little wary of trusting their data to third-parties, Promise Technology has released the Apollo cloud storage device to combine the benefits of the cloud combined with keeping data safely inside the home. The Apollo Cloud 2 Duo provides 8TB of space split between two surveillance-class hard drives that can be accessed remotely with a dedicated app, all with no subscription fees. Up to 40 members can have access to the system and time-limited links can also provide access to files with outside users. Photos uploaded to the system can be sorted using facial recognition and/or location, making it simpler to find photos of specific people or places. The device is available now for $449 and is compatible with iOS and macOS operating systems.

Report: iPhone 7s slightly larger than iPhone 7 due to glass backing

German blog Giga Apple claims to have renderings showing the iPhone 7s will be about 0.1mm larger than the iPhone 7 on all sides, possibly complicating the use of existing cases despite keeping mostly the same form factor. Apple made a similar move with the change to the iPhone 6s from the iPhone 6, slightly increasing the size of the device to add 3D Touch capabilities. This time around it’s possible the addition of glass backings could be the cause of the slightly larger size, but the report also claims that the redesign will reduce the camera bump on the device (or at least bury it within the extra glass on the back). How that change in size will affect the fit of an iPhone 7 case is anyone’s guess, since most iPhone 6 cases fit the iPhone 6s despite the small boost in size while others didn’t. [via 9to5Mac]

mXers Audio announces Modular Earbuds

mXers Audio has debuted a new modular earphone system via a Kickstarter campaign. The new system features a patented connector design that allows the earbuds to be disassembled into separate parts so that any wire or earbud can be interchanged in seconds, allowing users to customize for features, fit, or simply their preferred choice of color and style. The interchangeable parts also make the Modular Earphones easier to repair, since only a single broken part such as a wire needs to be repaired or replaced, rather than an entire set of expensive earbuds. The system will offer both wired and wireless Bluetooth 4.2 base modules onto which either a standard set of mXers earbuds can be connected, or the bass-heavy xBass earbuds, both available in color choices of blue, red, or pink. Pricing via the Kickstarter campaign ranges from $30 for a basic wired set to to $120 for a set of three earbuds with the wireless module.

Cochlear reveals first Made for iPhone cochlear implant sound processor

Cochlear Limited is rolling out its new Nucleus 7, the first Made for iPhone cochlear implant sound processor to aid the hearing impaired. The new implant allows users to stream the sound directly from compatible iPhones, iPads and iPods over Bluetooth. Reuters reports that Cochlear’s previous sound processors only worked with mobile phones when implant wearers connected the sound processor to an intermediate Bluetooth device that would then pair with the phone or tablet. “It’s the first time people with an iPhone will be able to pick up the phone normally, or just listen to music, without any additional devices,” Jan Janssen, senior vice president of research and development at Cochlear, said. Apple developed the protocols with hearing aide firms like GN ReSound and Starkey, and is now licensing it to the other firms for free. Sarah Herrlinger, director of global accessibility policy for Apple, said developing a solution for users whose doctors recommend different devices for each ear — often from different manufacturers — was a big challenge. “We had to figure out how you could do a bi-modal solution where you’re able to simultaneously pair, control and hear both of them running at the same time,” she said. “That was a really interesting engineering opportunity for us to solve.”

Apple and Balmain unveil Beats Special Edition Headphones

Apple has released a new high-end collection of Beats headphones in partnership with French design house Balmain. Providing a new fashion-forward take on both Beats Studio and Powerbeats 3 headphones, the new models are priced at $250 for the Balmain Special Edition Powerbeats 3 — a $50 premium over the normal selling price — and $600 for the Balmain Special Edition Beats Studio — a markup of $220 over the standard Beats Studio headphones. The new style is available in two different color options: a neutral pinkish “Safari” version that is available exclusively through Apple and a green-tinted “Khaki” version which is exclusive to Balmain. Both versions have gold accents and feature Balmain logos and include suede, Balmain-branded carrying cases.

IK Multimedia announces iRig Pro I/O

IK Multimedia has announced the release of the iRig Pro I/O, a new pocket-sized mobile audio/MIDI interface for iPhone/iPad and Mac users. The successor to the company’s highly rated 2013 iRig Pro, iRig Pro I/O raises the bar with a plethora of new features as well as bundled software and apps to enhance the digital musician’s experience. iRig Pro I/O provides a wide range of connectivity options, with inputs for guitars, basses, studio mics, vocal mics, keyboard, and more, with a combo XLR and 1/4” input as well as MIDI inputs for digital instruments. Built-in 24-bit analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters with a 96KHz sampling rate provides for professional audio quality in a device that can fit into your pocket and be ready to go with your iPhone or iPad for spontaneous jam sessions. A high-quality 1/8” headphone/line out is included with level control to provide pass-through audio for connecting to headphones, mixers, and powered monitor speakers — particularly applicable for iPhone 7 users — and built-in device charging is supported with an external power adapter for extended playing sessions. iRig Pro I/O retails for $150 and is available now from the IK Multimedia online store and other IK authorized retailers. We’ll be publishing a full review in the coming weeks.

Audeze iSine now available in Apple-exclusive Colorway

Back in January, we reviewed the innovative Audeze iSine 10 in-ear planar magnetic headphones and thought they were pretty amazing. In fact, we think Audeze’s Sine and iSine headphones are still the best expression of what can be done with headphones and the Lightning jack.

For those still on the fence, Audeze just announced a new colorway for the iSine10 which will be exclusive to Apple’s online store and retail locations. The new Black/Steel version has a silver grille which we think complements the design nicely. Like the original iSine10, the new version comes with Audeze’s CIPHER Lightning cable with inline DAC & amplifier, works with any iOS device with a Lightning Port, and is upgradeable and tuneable using the free Audeze iOS app. The price remains the same at $399.

Anki announces global launch of Cozmo

Anki has announced that its robotic sidekick, Cozmo, will be launching in Canada this July, followed by a broader rollout in the U.K., France, Germany, and Nordic countries later this year. Best known for its Anki Drive that took the stage at WWDC 2013 four years ago, Anki is a robotics and AI company that aims to bring cutting-edge technology to consumer experiences. Released in the U.S. last fall, Aniki’s newest product, Cozmo, is a sophisticated consumer robot that was built by a world-class team of roboticists, animators, and game developers to create an interactive experience powered by advanced AI. Cozmo not only responds to interactive commands, but uses learning algorithms to adapt its behaviour to its experiences and interactions with its owner, exhibiting an endearing personality in the process through complex facial expressions displayed on its OLED face, as well as face detection algorithms that allow Cozmo to recognize people and pets and respond to them in different ways.

Report provides new insights into Apple’s upcoming Siri smart speaker

Apple’s long-rumoured Siri smart speaker is already in production, according to a new report by Mark Gurman at Bloomberg. Citing people familiar with the matter, Gurman lends his weight to recent rumours that Apple may in fact debut the speaker next week at WWDC, although he stops short of declaring that a sure thing, and notes that sources suggest the device will still not be ready to ship until later in the year.

Gurman’s report also provides a few additional insights into Apple’s plans for differentiating the new device from competing Google and Amazon offerings, noting that Apple will naturally offer “deep integration” with its product lineup, as well as focusing more heavily on audio fidelity by offering virtual surround sound technology, providing better sound quality, and possibly even sporting advanced features such as integrated sensors to measure a room’s acoustics and adjust audio settings accordingly. However, the speaker will not feature any kind of touchscreen, according to sources who have seen the actual product.

Urbanears launches new lineup of Wi-Fi Connected Speakers

Urbanears has announced its entry into the Wi-Fi speaker market with a new lineup of Connected Speakers supporting Bluetooth, AirPlay, ChromeCast, and Spotify Connect for wireless music streaming. The first speakers to be released in the company’s new lineup are Stammen ($350) and Baggen ($450), featuring a minimalistic design in two different sizes; Stammen incorporates two 3/4” neodymium dome tweeters and a 4” woofer, and is intended for small to mid-sized spaces like bedrooms and studio apartments, while its larger sibling, Baggen is suited to larger spaces like patios and open-floor-plan homes, with its two 2.5” full-range drivers and a 5.25” woofer. Both models are individually wrapped in acoustically transparent fabric, available in six different colors, and also include multi-room and solo room capabilities, allowing them to be combined into a multi-room system with a different mood set to each room, or grouped together for synchronized listening. The on-speaker controls also reflect the minimalist design, with two knobs that can be pushed or turned to pause and resume playback, change modes, adjust volume, or select from up to seven Spotify or Internet Radio presets. An Urbanears Connected companion app will also be available to take users through the set up process and manage presets, speaker groupings, and equalizer settings. Urbanears’ new Connected Speakers will be available on Mar. 30 from Urbanears.com.

Fabricate announces Nearbuds for AirPods

Fabricate has announced an upcoming Kickstarter campaign for Nearbuds for AirPods, a new product the company is developing on the heels of its earlier Nearpods for EarPods accessory for managing Apple’s wired earphones. Nearbuds for AirPods is a magnetic clip system with an adjustable strap that will help users protect and secure their AirPods. Each clip includes a neodymium magnet, allowing AirPods to be held together or attached to any metallic surface for easy access, including the AirPods case, while an adjustable strap between the clips helps to prevent AirPods from falling out or allows them to be hung around the user’s neck when not in use. The company is planning to launch its Kickstarter campaign in the near future, with hopes to be able to produce and delivery the new product by November.

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