An investigation has found that nearly half of headphones intended for children don’t reliably keep volume down to safe levels to prevent hearing damage, The New York Times reports. Many headphones marketed as “safe for young ears” and promising to provide “100 percent safe listening” had “design flaws that could allow a child to bypass their volume-reduction features easily,” proving that volume-limiting headphones are not the perfect solution many parents had hoped. The worst among the 30 pairs tested “produced sound so loud that it could be hazardous to ears in minutes,” with some relying on resistors within the cord to limit volume, which sometimes failed to work at all. The full results of The Wirecutter’s investigation are available on its website.
Investigators have found that 99 percent of fake Apple chargers sold online failed a basic safety test, the BBC reports. Safety specialists UL tested 400 counterfeit chargers bought from 8 countries—including the U.S., China and Australia—and found that only three had enough insulation to guard against electric shocks. Trading Standards, the group that commissioned the study, warned buyers to be wary of chargers that don’t seem to fit easily into a socket or don’t bear a manufacturer’s logo and safety certification mark. They also warned that some safety markings are being faked, recommending that buyers check to see if their charger comes with instructions that include conditions for proper use, basic electrical safety advice, and details about how to dispose of the device safely. Apple is currently suing one third-party vendor that the company said put customers “at risk” with its counterfeit power adapters on Amazon.
Fitbit is putting the final touches on a deal to acquire Pebble, according to a report from The Information (via TechCrunch). The original report indicates that Fitbit will be paying a “small amount” for the well-known smart watch maker, which has been struggling recently with a downturn in investments that forced it to cut its staff by 25 percent earlier this year. The Information also indicates that the deal is more about Fitbit acquiring Pebble’s intellectual property and software assets, rather than the product itself, noting that Pebble and its products would be “closed down over time.”
In an email reply to a frustrated customer, Tim Cook has given a hint to when Apple’s AirPods will ship, MacRumors reports. In response to the customer complaint that he can’t charge his iPhone while listening to music, Cook allegedly wrote in regards to AirPods, “Sorry for the delay—-we are finalizing them and I anticipate we will begin to ship over the next few weeks.” MacRumors seems to believe the email is legit, but Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment. The wireless earbuds were supposed to be released in late October, but were delayed after the company determined they needed “a little more time” to get them ready. Retailers have expected release dates all over the place between December and January, but Apple’s site still shows them as unavailable and “coming soon.”
Apple has announced it is taking part in the (RED) charity fundraiser to combat AIDS for the 10th straight year. Apple is adding four new products to its (PRODUCT)RED lineup, offering an iPhone 7 Smart Battery Case, iPhone SE Case, Beats Solo 3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones and Beats Pill+ Portable Speaker. All of the new products are available starting today. Apple is also donating a dollar to the cause for every purchase made with Apple Pay at the Apple Store, on the company’s website or through the Apple Store app, all the way up to $1 million.
Apple’s AirPods, the wireless W1-aided earphones which debuted at the company’s September event, apparently won’t be released in “late October” after all. Though Apple’s website still gives that time frame as of this writing, TechCrunch reports that the earphones aren’t ready for market. “The early response to AirPods has been incredible. We don’t believe in shipping a product before it’s ready, and we need a little more time before AirPods are ready for our customers,” an Apple spokesperson told TechCrunch. The report notes that no timeline was given for their availability — so we can only speculate on just how long “a little more time” will be.
Apple has released the PowerBeats3 Wireless earphones ($200), the company’s second W1-chip-equipped set of headphones. The earphones include “Fast Fuel” charging, which the company claims provides a full hour of playback from a 5-minute charge. On a full charge the earphones boast 12 hours of playback and can be instantly linked to an iPhone by powering them on and holding them near the device (provided the phone is running iOS 10). The earphones can also be simultaneously synced to an Apple Watch running watchOS 3, an iPad running iOS 10, or a Mac running macOS Sierra, provided the user is also linked to an iCloud account.
Automatic Labs has released Automatic Lite ($80), a new lower-cost version of its Automatic Pro vehicle monitoring and diagnostic solution; it’s much like the company’s original Automatic Link, which retailed for $100. Automatic Lite includes the same trip logging, engine diagnostics, and mileage and fuel tracking features as the more expensive Pro model, while eliminating the 3G data plan in favor of direct Bluetooth syncing with an iOS device. Due to the lack of 3G connectivity, Automatic Lite also omits crash alerts, parking tracking, live vehicle tracking, and third-party app integrations.
Misfit’s new Phase smartwatch combines the look of a traditional watch with the functionality found in other smartwatches. Once the Phase is synced with an iPhone using the watch’s mobile app, the device uses just the two watch hands, a colored light and vibrations to deliver alerts, and shows users their progress toward fitness goals. Toggling to Activity Mode allows users to tag specific activities (like running and yoga) and check in on their daily progress toward pre-assigned goals for step count, sleep duration, and calories burned. The light on the face marks which measurement is being reported and the hands move in unison to show how far the user is toward that particular goal, with the full watch face representing 100 percent.
Apple has updated its Apple Watch Nike+ web page, adding an Oct. 28 release date for the new special edition of the Series 2 Apple Watch. When Apple debuted the Apple Watch Series 2 last month, the company announced a special running-focused Nike+ model would be coming in “late October.” The Nike+ watch includes exclusive watch faces, a special perforated band, and a custom Nike app which more proactively promotes and tracks running workouts, allowing users to compete with other Apple Watch Nike+ users. It remains unclear whether this app will be exclusive to the Apple Watch Nike+ edition or be made available for other Apple Watch models after the Nike+ edition’s release.
Olloclip has announced three all new lens sets for iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus — the Active Lens Set ($120), Core Lens Set ($100), and Macro Pro Lens Set ($80). The new lens kits boast improved optics and a new Connect interchangeable lens system, which lets users swap out the included lenses with other Connect-compatible lenses. Active Lens Set comes with a Telephoto 2x optical zoom lens — it’ll be interesting to see how this works or compares with the iPhone 7 Plus optical zoom — and an Ultra-Wide 155-degree “action camera” lens. Core Lens Set will likely have the widest appeal, as it comes with a mix of Fisheye, Macro 15x, and Super-Wide lenses. Macro Pro Lens Set includes three separate macro lenses for magnification shots — Macro 7x, 14x, and 21x. Olloclip claims the Macro 21x lens can achieve “nearly 100x magnification” when paired with the iPhone’s own digital zoom. The lens sets are currently available for pre-order, and they should hit the market in early November.
Sonos announced today on Twitter that its wireless speakers will be listed on Apple’s online store today and sold in Apple Stores starting October 5. Customers buying a Sonos system through Apple’s website or in an Apple Store before December 31 will receive a gift card giving them three months of Apple Music for free (ostensibly on top of the three-month free trial Apple already offers to new users). The deal further solidifies Sonos’ ties to Apple Music, following the company’s move earlier this year to make Apple Music available on all of its speakers for users without an Apple device. Apple Music users can add the service by selecting “Add Music Services” from any Sonos controller app, scrolling down to the Apple Music icon, and logging in.
After iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus owners started taking to Twitter to complain that the volume controls on their new Lightning EarPods stopped working, Apple said it is working on a fix, Business Insider reports. Some users have noticed that after a while of being plugged into the Lightning port, the EarPods keep playing music but the volume control dongle stops working, preventing them from using it to change the volume, answer calls or activate Siri.
CEO Tim Cook took on criticism of Apple’s new wireless AirPods in an interview with Good Morning America, telling Robin Roberts that he has worn them on the treadmill and out dancing without having the earbuds fall out of his ear. Cook even argued that wires make the old EarPods more likely to fall out during activity, providing chances to snag the cord on something, while also applying extra weight to the earbud that drags it down. A number of reviewers have said they were pleasantly surprised how well the AirPods stay in place, but The New York Times reported some interference and a glitch that caused a podcast to rewind and replay some segments. An Apple spokesperson said that reviewer had been testing pre-release hardware and that “bugs should be resolved by the time they are released next month.”
Apple also announced during today’s event that the W1 technology powering its new AirPods wireless earbuds will also be included in three new Beats earphone and headphone models, specifically the Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones ($300), the Powerbeats3 Wireless Earphones ($200), and the BeatsX Earphones ($150). The W1 chip will provide improved power efficiency, allowing Solo3 to get up to 40 hours of battery life, or 12 hours and 8 hours for the Powerbeats3 and BeatsX, respectively, as well as taking advantage of the same seamless iOS 10 detection and pairing features from which AirPods users will be able to benefit.
Apple has listed an updated lineup of accessories for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus on its official online store, including the EarPods with Lightning Connector ($29) and the Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter ($9). In addition, the lineup of Apple cases previously available for the iPhone 6s models has now been updated for the iPhone 7 models, with prices remaining the same as before — $35/$39 for silicone, $45/$49 for leather, and $99 for the iPhone 7 Smart Battery Case, which also retains the same “hump” design as the iPhone 6s version. Several Apple exclusive third-party iPhone 7 cases are also now listed on the Apple Store, including the Tech21 Evo Mesh ($40) and Otterbox Statement Series ($40). None of these products are currently available for purchase, but should be by next week’s release of the newest iPhones.
As part of the announcement of the new iPhone 7 models today, Apple also unveiled AirPods, a new set of Apple wireless earbuds. Featuring a new Apple-designed W1 chip for low-power Bluetooth-based communications, the AirPods pair seamlessly with an iPhone, sharing pairing information via iCloud with other devices such as iPads and Macs. AirPods include motion accelerometers for touch-sensitivity and Siri activation, voice accelerometers to recognize vibrations to determine the source of a user’s voice, and beam-forming mics to reduce external noise. Optical sensors detect when one or both AirPods are in your ears, automatically pausing playback when they’re removed, or switching to monaural audio when you’re using only one AirPod. The AirPods will provide 5 hours of battery life on a single charge, and come with a battery storage case that provides an additional 24 hours of battery life; 15 minutes of charging in the case will add an extra 3 hours of listening time, and the case and AirPods can be charged simultaneously via an included Lightning-to-USB cable. AirPods will be compatible with iPhone 5 and later models, iPad mini 2 and later, all iPad Air and iPad Pro models, and the sixth-generation iPod touch. They’re expected to be available in late October for $159.
Today’s introduction of Apple’s new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus has already led a number of companies to reveal cases for the upcoming devices. With the basic form factor of the new phones staying the same as the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, many casemakers have simply tweaked the shape of the camera cutout in their existing offerings. Ballistic has updated its Jewel ($30), Urbanite ($40), Tough Jacket ($35), and Tough Jacket Maxx ($50) offerings, pictured above, to fit the new cameras, and all are available starting today.
Well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has released a note to investors about Apple’s rumored wireless “AirPods” ahead of the company’s iPhone event tomorrow, saying he expects Apple to have “its own-designed Bluetooth-like communication chip and launch own-brand Bluetooth headphones targeting the high-end market.” In a statement that echoes previous reports, Kuo said Apple’s own custom chip may deviate from Bluetooth specifications, providing the company with its own proprietary low-power wireless communications for home and auto accessories beyond headphones.
Wireless headphone maker Bragi has introduced a new set of Bluetooth earbuds, called The Headphone, ahead of Apple’s announcement that it’s doing away with the headphone jack in the iPhone 7. The new offering is a stripped-down version of the company’s Dash headphones, ditching the built-in storage and fitness sensors to get the price down to $149. The Bluetooth 4.0 earbuds boast a 6-hour battery life (up to 250 hours in standby mode) and a charge time of less than 2 hours. Three buttons on the side of one earbud give users the option to skip tracks, take calls, and deliver voice commands through the built-in headset microphone. Small, medium and large FitTips provide options to find a comfortable fit and passive noise isolation technology can be turned on to keep distracting noise out. Bragi says The Headphone will start shipping in November, and customers can currently pre-order at a reduced $119 presale price.