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OtterBox releases new case designs for Solo: A Star Wars Story

OtterBox has announced a new series of special edition cases for “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” in advance of the film. The new designs are part of the company’s Symmetry Series, featuring the same level of protection against dumps and drops with graphics that pay tribute to Han Solo and his loyal sidekick. The “Millennium Falcon” case features the legendary ship that made the kessel run in less than 12 parsecs, while “Chewbacca” is a great option for fans of the wookie and “All or Nothing” displays symbols representative of a galaxy far, far away. The new case are available now from the OtterBox website for $44.95 for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 versions, and $54.95 for the iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X versions.

Apple unveils (PRODUCT)RED Edition iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, Folio for iPhone X

Apple has once again released new (PRODUCT)RED Special Edition versions of its current iPhone models — in this case the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. The new colours are similar to last year’s (PRODUCT)RED iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, although they of course feature the new glass back design and more interestingly this year Apple has also chosen to go with a black front bezel versus the white bezel used in last year’s models. The new versions are otherwise identical to the standard iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus models, essentially just adding a new color option to help bolster mid-season sales and continue Apple’s tradition of supporting the (RED) Global Fund in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Mophie announces Charge Stream Pad+

Mophie has announced the Charge Stream Pad+, a universal wireless charging pad that provided a universal charging experience for both Apple’s new iPhones and Samsung Qi-enabled smartphones. Following in the footsteps of the company’s Wireless Charging Base released specifically for iPhone users last fall, the new Charge Stream Pad+ includes ten-watt charging support for Samsung devices, as well as compatibility with all of Mophie’s Charge Force Juice Pack battery cases, while still maintaining 7.5-watt compatibility the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X. Unlike the Wireless Charging Base, which used a standard power adapter, Mophie will be including a QC 2.0 wall adapter and USB-A to micro-USB cable to power Charge Stream Pad+, which otherwise appears very similar visually to the earlier charging pad. Charge Stream Pad+ will retail for $60 and is available now in Verizon stores, at Verizon.com, and mophie.com, and is expected to arrive in Best Buy and AT&T stores in the near future.

Case-Mate releases Power Pad wireless charger

Case-Mate has entered the wireless charging market with today’s announcement of its new Power Pad that combines a fast wireless charger with a stand to keep your iPhone in an upright position. Featuring 7.5-watt Qi-enabled charging capabilities for iPhone, a removal “iPhone-shaped” charging pad allows users to lay their device flat for charging separately from the stand. Devices can also be charged in landscape or portrait orientations, and an LED indicator confirms that your device is properly charging. A slip resistant ridge helps guide your iPhone for proper placement, and base grips also prevent the pad from sliding around on smooth surfaces. Power Pad sells for $60 and is available from Amazon in either black or white and features a minimalist design that makes it appropriate for just about any setting.

Apple partner Foxconn acquires accessory and peripheral maker Belkin

Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn has acquired accessory and peripheral maker Belkin for $866 million, TechCrunch reports. The sale brings a lot of recognizable brands owned by Belkin under Foxconn’s umbrella, including Linksys, Wemo and Phyn in addition to Belkin’s own name. Belkin’s CEO and founder Chet Pipkin will stay on and operate the company “as a wholly owned subsidiary,” possibly also joining Foxconn Interconnect Technology’s management team at a later date.

Marshall releases company’s first active noise cancelling headphones

Marshall’s new Mid A.N.C. marks the company’s first venture into active noise cancelling headphones, using four microphones to continuously measure and pinpoint ambient noise and block it out. The headphones boast “up to 20 hours” of wireless playback when active noise cancelling is engaged or more than 30 hours of wireless playtime without A.N.C. The headphones feature 3D metal hinges that rotate to provide a snug fit and a collapsible vinyl case with a red velvet lining. The Mid A.N.C. costs $269 and is available at Marshall’s website.

Report: Cheaper iPad expected to launch soon may work with Apple Pencil

Well-respected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that Apple will double its shipments of the Apple Pencil this year, possibly by making a new, cheaper iPad expected to launch this week compatible with the accessory, 9to5Mac reports. Until now the Apple pencil has only worked with the much more expensive iPad Pro line, so it’s been a boon to artists and designers, but not a big seller for the tablets that tend to make their way into the hands of children. That could change during tomorrow’s education event at Lane Technical College Prep High School in Chicago, if Apple CEO Tim Cook reveals a low-price iPad that’s Apple Pencil-ready. Kuo also said it’s possible the iPhone will eventually support the Apple Pencil as well, but didn’t firmly commit to that coming in the near future.

Ultimate Ears debut new waterproof Wonderboom portable speakers

Ultimate Ears has added the new waterproof Wonderboom speaker ($100) to its lineup. The round speaker provides 360-degree sound and can be immersed in water up to one meter for up to 30 minutes, so it can withstand the rigors of a sudden rain storm or outdoor pool party. It also floats, has a hanging loop (to make it easier to fish out of a pool if it’s knocked in) and is drop-proof to five feet. The company claims the speaker can last up to 10 hours on its battery and has a 100-foot wireless Bluetooth range, and two of the devices can even be paired together to provide a more robust listening experience.

Apple updates MFi program with with specs for new Lightning audio cable, USB-C port

Apple has added specifications for USB-C ports and a Lightning to 3.5mm output cable to its Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod licensing program, 9to5Mac reports. The update will allow third-party accessory makers to include USB-C charging receptacles in certified iOS and Mac accessories. Accessory makers can also now create a Lightning to 3.5mm connector to allow iOS devices to be plugged directly into an auxiliary port. Previously users would be forced to use the Lightning to 3.5mm female adapter included with their device in conjunction with a male-to-male 3.5mm to connect, so this new cable spec should make things simpler for users looking to go that route for audio. Apple also announced a change to its MFi program logos, killing off the old device icons in favor of a simpler look with just the Apple logo.

Pair of patents provide look at waterproof Lightning connector, crumb-proof keyboard

A pair of patents show Apple’s interest in improving the seals on its devices, starting with a Lightning connector that creates a water-tight seal when inserted. Discovered by Patently Apple, one version of the Lightning connector features a tapered shape made of a “deformable material” that molds itself to the Lightning port to lock moisture out and keep the internal connections free from moisture.

Barclays claims AirPods with improved noise canceling features coming next year

Speculation has been ramping up around when we’ll see the next generation of AirPods, with some reports claiming we’ll see a new model with an upgraded wireless chip and “Hey Siri” support for calling up Siri without the need to physically tap the headphones as early as this year. But 9to5Mac reports Barclays thinks Apple could wait until 2019 to reveal new AirPods with improved noise-canceling features. The analysts claim we’ll see “design changes and improvements” over current AirPods, but earbuds using physical analog methods will have a tough time competing with electronic active noise cancellation now common in over-the-ear headphones. The previous report from Bloomberg speculated that Apple could be adding waterproofing to the AirPods by 2019, so it’s possible that the noise reduction claim is a happy coincidence created by the better seal.

August begins offering free 24-hour video recording plan for Doorbell Cam

August has announced that it will begin offering a free basic tier to the video recording service for its August Doorbell Cam, allowing all users to access the past 24 hours of videos recorded by the camera without the need to pay a subscription fee. For users who want to store all their camera videos for longer, August’s paid subscription plan remains available for $5/month or $50/year, and stores 30 days of video history, however the free plan allows recorded videos to be downloaded and shared, so users can choose to save important videos indefinitely without any additional subscription fees.

New Indiegogo project aims to improve iPhone anti-theft protection

A new project on Indiegogo, Safeskin, is looking to address one of the main limitations with Find My iPhone with a case that locks onto an iPhone and prevents it from being turned off. While it’s not clear exactly how Safeskin works to keep an iPhone powered on, it appears that it connects to the iPhone Lighting port, suggesting an electronic solution rather than something that simply interferes with the physical controls. The package will also include an Eye proximity sensor that pairs with the case to alert you when your iPhone gets out of range. No additional details on the product are yet available, although users who are interested can sign up on the Indiegogo product page to be kept up to date on further developments.

Mophie filing hints at first Qi-certified wireless charging battery case for iPhone X

While there are already battery cases on the market for the iPhone X, Mophie has filed an application with the Wireless Power Consortium to offer the first one that is Qi-certified, Mac Otakara reports. Today Mophie was granted the Qi certification for its Juice Pack Air for iPhone X, so an official announcement could be forthcoming any time. The filing claims the device will be able to extend call duration by up to 9 hours, but doesn’t include any word on then the case will become available. [via MacRumors]

Report: Development issues could hold up (or even scrap) Apple headphones

A new Bloomberg report backs an earlier KGI claim that Apple is developing a new pair of headphones under its own brand, but development issues might push back the product’s release. Delays due to design complications seem to be a theme with Apple’s recent push into high-end audio products, with both the company’s AirPods and HomePod pushed back from their initial targets after engineers had trouble tackling things like wireless audio synchronization. The HomePod even had an embarrassing issue arise after its launch despite missing it’s original release date, so it’s possible Apple is being particularly cautious this time around to get it right at launch. The new report didn’t specifically cite whether the problems are with the basic design or the audio components, but warned it’s still possible it could scrap the headphone project altogether despite initially targeting a launch as early as the end of this year. Apple already owns the successful Beats headphone brand, making it possible that a new entry into the crowded wireless headphone market would cannibalize the company’s own sales under that label.

Proposed PowerPod Case aims to add wireless charging to existing AirPods

A new project on Kickstarter is gearing up to add wireless charging capabilities for current AirPods without the need to replace the AirPods case. The new PowerPod Case is a silicon case that goes over the standards AirPods case, not unlike many other cases we’ve already seen for AirPods, but in this case, PowerPod adds Qi charging capabilities that promise to allow the AirPods to be recharged from any standard Qi wireless charging pad. The PowerPod Case is expected to retail for $40, which will likely be less than the price of Apple’s new wireless charging AirPods case, and has the added environmental benefit of not requiring that you replace the existing AirPods case.

Report: Apple planning to release high-end headphones this year

Hot on the heels of rumors that Apple will be updating its AirPods, well-respected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is telling investors to expect Apple to release a pair of high-end headphones later this year, 9to5Mac reports. Kuo expects the over-the-ear headphones to be an Apple product with an all-new design, not branded under the Apple-owned Beats label. The report doesn’t detail the specific features that would be included in the headphones, but they would likely feature improved sound quality, noise-canceling and battery life over AirPods given Apple’s ability to pluck the best of Beats technology for its own headphone line. Kuo also backed the rumored release of new AirPods, claiming they will come with an improved W1 chip and a case that features a redesigned hinge to facilitate wireless charging.

Report: Apple on-track to begin selling AirPower in March

Japanese blog Mac Otakara has confirmed an earlier report from The Apple Post which reported that Apple’s new AirPower charging mat will be launching sometime next month in both Apple and Best Buy stores. The AirPower Qi charging mat, announced by Apple last fall, will provide the ability to charge the new iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus models, alongside an Apple Watch and specially-encased AirPods. Neither report offers a specific launch date nor any information on pricing.

Report: Apple planning upgraded AirPods for later this year

Apple is currently working on two significant upgrades to the AirPods, according to a new report from Bloomberg, suggesting that Apple intends to regularly release updates to the wireless headphones. According to people familiar with the matter, a new model of AirPods could be coming as early as later this year which would include an upgraded wireless chip and “Hey Siri” support for calling up Siri without the need to physically tap the headphones. Apple also already reportedly has a subsequent model in the design stages for 2019, which would add water resistance.

Leaked Nokia memo: No path forward for digital health business

After very public problems with regulators forced Nokia to disable key features of its Body Cardio scale, a leaked memo obtained by The Verge reveals that the company’s strategic review of its digital health business shows the division may be in big trouble. Nokia’s chief strategy officer Kathrin Buvac wrote that, “Rather than only falling in love with our technology, we must be honest with ourselves. Currently, we don’t see a path for [the digital health business] to become a meaningful part of a company as large as Nokia.” While the memo stops short of saying Nokia will shutter its digital health business — which began in 2016 when the company acquired French startup Withings for $190 million — Buvac said Nokia is now looking to become “a business-to-business and licensing company.”

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