Beats Electronics has announced two new products, the Pill speaker ($200), and Executive headphones ($300). Pill is a portable, wireless Bluetooth speaker with four speakers inside, as well as a microphone for speakerphone functionality, and a rechargeable battery that offers seven hours of continuous play. It comes in three colors — black, white, and red — and is designed as another peer-priced competitor to Jawbone’s Jambox.
Beats Executive over-ear headphones are made from aluminum alloy, stainless steel and leather. The silver, noise-canceling Executive headphones come with an iOS-compatible microphone cable and offer full phone functionality, relying on batteries to keep their active noise-canceling hardware running. They’re a significant aesthetic evolution from earlier Beats Studio and Pro headphones, and will be available this month along with Pill.
UK speaker company AQ Audio is making its US debut with the AQ SmartSpeaker ($179), a portable, wireless, AirPlay-compatible speaker. The AQ SmartSpeaker features one-touch AirPlay setup and—like other recent “PlayDirect” speakers—can also stream directly from an iPhone, iPad, or iPod by creating its own Wi-Fi network. As a standalone speaker, the AQ SmartSpeaker offers stereo sound from its two drivers. Additionally, two SmartSpeakers can be paired for left and right channel separation, and speakers can be placed around the house for multi-room audio.
More than 10 hours of AirPlay playback are possible with the integrated rechargeable battery. AQ SmartSpeaker is available now.
Grace Digital Audio’s ECOXGEAR label has introduced the ECOXBT ($130) Bluetooth speaker, compatible with iPads, iPhones, and Bluetooth-capable iPods. The ECOXBT is a portable, ruggedized, 100 percent waterproof speaker that floats, uniquely equipped with handles for easy in-pool use. Somewhat amazingly, it also includes a built-in waterproof mic so iPhone users can answer calls using its speakerphone function.
Weighing 1.5 lbs., the ECOXBT promises up to 10 hours of continuous battery life with a rechargeable lithium battery. The speaker comes in orange, red, and black. It is available now.
The first electronic dock claiming compatibility with Apple’s Lightning standard has surfaced courtesy of iPhone5mod.com. The Chinese company has made the iPhone 5 Flash Lightning Dock — a dock ($20) and illuminated Lightning cable ($20) for the iPhone 5. According to reports from M.I.C Gadget and MacRumors, iPhone5mod was somehow able to obtain official Lightning chips from Apple’s supplier, but the company claims that it has also obtained cracked authentication chips, as well.
As we previously reported, Apple has tightened its Made For iPad/iPhone/iPod (MFi) policies to exert more control over the manufacturing of Lightning accessories. Apple will apparently host third-party manufacturers at a November seminar before allowing developers to produce new accessories, but if Apple’s authentication chips have actually been cracked, unauthorized third-party accessories may be on the way sooner. [via 9to5 Mac]
- October 9, 2012
- iPhone Accessories
Apple has said that it’s not planning to release an iPhone 5 dock, but a UK-based website has proposed a Lego-based solution. The Daily Brick is now offering free instructions on how to build a customized iPhone 5 dock out of 42 Lego bricks, featuring an angled view and clips to hold the Lightning cable in place. Lego grill pieces are used under the phone so the device’s speaker can be used during docking. Those looking to buy all of the correct Lego pieces required to build the dock can do so on the site for roughly $19.
Customers have received notifications from Apple that the new iPod touch, iPod nano, and both Lightning to 30-pin Adapters — the direct plug adapter and the version with a 0.2m cable—are shipping, with some deliveries beginning today. Readers outside the United States are already beginning to find the new iPod touch and nano up in Apple’s retail stores today, confirming previous reports. Users interested in getting a leg up on the new iPod touch may want to peruse the official user’s guide, which has been posted on Apple’s website.
- October 5, 2012
- iPhone Accessories
Since Apple apparently has no plans to release an iPhone 5 dock, third-party options are now underway, including the Lightning Dock, which will start at $25. Created by an eponymous company that says that it has been “producing docks and mounts” for “over 3 years,” the Lightning Dock uses Apple’s Lightning to USB Cable to hold up the phone — the dock is made of hardwood or aluminum, with a hole in the middle for the connector.
The company claims the Lightning connector is strong enough to support the phone on its own, but gives consumers the option of adding a back support to the dock. It works with or without a case on the phone. While the hardwood dock is priced at $25, the aluminum or black aluminum dock is $35. Adding a back support costs another $5, and the dock can ship with an Apple Lightning Cable for an extra $20.
British audio company RHA is making its first foray into the American market with its budget-priced MA450i and SA950i headphones. Sold in black or white, the noise-isolating in-ear MA450i earphones ($50) are equipped with 10mm drivers and an in-line remote, made from aluminum, and packaged with seven sets of ear tips. They’ll be available here in mid-October.
By comparison, the larger on-ear SA950 headphones ($60) feature 40mm titanium-coated drivers and an in-line remote. Made primarily from glossy black plastic with metal accents, they will be available here at the end of October.
Following up on prior reports that Apple had not made Lightning connectors available to developers, multiple reliable sources have confirmed to iLounge that Apple has made significant changes to its Made For iPad/iPhone/iPod (MFi) policies, tightening control over the manufacturing of Lightning accessories. According to the sources, only Apple-approved manufacturing facilities will be allowed to produce Lightning connector accessories, even including third-party accessories. Moreover, Apple hasn’t approved any factories yet, which the sources say will limit the number of Lightning accessories available in the near future.
One source notes that Apple is planning an MFi “seminar,” where it will discuss changes to the program and the rules for Lightning accessory development going forward. The seminar will be held in November in China, notes the source, after the point at which third-party Lightning accessories could be manufactured in time for holiday sale. Sources have further noted that the Lightning connector has proved difficult to copy, reducing the near-term likelihood of unauthorized third-party connector cables.
Notably, Amazon orders for a third-party “iTronz” Lightning Adapter offered in September have now been canceled, with the vendor citing a “very critical functional issue.” An e-mail from Amazon made reference to authentication chips found in the Lightning connector, initially citing a 20-25 day shipment delay. The vendor subsequently ceased sales altogether.
Updated Oct. 17: The seminar is scheduled for Nov. 7-8, according to a TechCrunch report. The report also notes Apple will strictly regulate sales of Lightning connectors for MFi partners, and that Apple will control the supply of Lightning pins — it will only supply partners with the pins when their products meet Apple’s specifications and standards.
Swedish headphone company NOCS has released its NS600 Crush earphones ($150). The NS600 Crush features two drivers per earphone, creating a tweeter-woofer setup with full-range sound. Noise-isolating silicone sleeves fit on the earphones’ aluminum housings, which are combined with a tangle-free Kevlar cable.
A remote and mic, carrying case, extra sleeves, and airplane adapter are included with the earphones. Notably, the NS600 Crush appears to be an update of the NS600, which was slated for significant retooling after it debuted nearly two years ago. The NS600 Crush earphones are available now.
To aid customers whose new iPhones and iPods won’t work with its numerous Dock Connector-based speaker systems, Geneva Lab is introducing the Wireless Dock Adapter, a Bluetooth receiver that allows audio to be transmitted wirelessly from an iPhone, iPod, or iPad to a Geneva Sound System. Update: Although the Wireless Dock Adapter was originally announced as a Dock Connector accessory, Geneva now says that it will be offering an aux-in-based Bluetooth receiver instead.
Geneva is offering the Wireless Dock Adapter for free to customers who purchased a Geneva Model S, M, L or XL Sound System after Sept. 14. Customers must register their warranty at GenevaLab.com, including proof of purchase. Existing customers can also purchase the adapter for the discounted price of $40.
Duo Games and Gameloft have announced the new Duo Gamer Controller ($80), a Bluetooth-enabled wireless game controller for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Equipped with dual analog controls, six buttons and a d-pad, the controller is apparently the first Apple-certified wireless joypad, however, it only works with select Gameloft titles.
A holding stand for iOS devices is also included within the package. Duo Gamer is available for purchase now.
Yantouch has debuted its Black Diamond 3 wireless speaker — a significant change from its former iterations as an iPhone dock and passive lamp. The redesigned BD3 is a now an iOS-compatible Bluetooth speaker, though it retains and enhances its color-changing lamp functionality, now featuring 16 million colors.
Two speaker drivers power the device, which can be controlled via remote. USB or wall power can be used for both the color-shifting light and speakers. No price or release date has been announced yet. For additional pictures and details, check out our First Look here.
CableJive has announced the DockBoss+ ($30), an adapter that connects Apple’s Lightning to USB Cable to existing 30-pin docking stations. Although the solution’s a somewhat complicated workaround with plenty of extra wiring, the iPhone 5, new iPod touch and new iPod nano all become compatible with older existing accessories when using the DockBoss+.
DockBoss+ promises to let you charge and listen to audio at the same time from a Lightning-enabled device; an extra audio-out port is also included for analog audio systems. It’s available now.
Libratone has announced Zipp ($399), a portable speaker that can use AirPlay with or without an existing Wi-Fi network. The Zipp can connect directly to AirPlay devices using PlayDirect technology, establishing its own wireless connection when necessary. It also sports a cylindrical design, so it can be placed in the center of a room without facing away from listeners.
The Zipp gets up to eight hours of playback time when used in a wired mode, and up to four hours when accessed in wireless mode. It comes in eight different interchangeable colors, and is due for an October release.
Some users of Apple’s new Lightning to USB Cable have been reporting issues with the USB end of the cable getting stuck. A discussion thread on Apple’s support forum started a week ago, and has continued to grow with reports of issues in computer and car USB ports. Some users have found it extremely difficult to remove the USB end of the cable after plugging it in, and various unorthodox methods have been suggested to extract the cable. Notches in the metal USB jacket of the new cable are noticeably deeper than those on the old dock cable, leading users to suggest a variety of unwise ideas to fill in the holes. One forum poster wrote that AppleCare is “aware of the problem,” but there has been no official Apple comment as of yet.
Evouni has announced a new line of cases for the iPhone 5. One standout design is the Leather Arc Cover, which is made from Italian calfskin leather and comes in three colors: claret, black, and blue. It folds into a viewing stand when needed, and uses a magnetic closure to cover the phone’s screen.
Separately, there’s the Leather Arc Wallet case, which is similar to the Arc Cover, adding an inner pocket for cards and cash. No pricing information or release dates have yet been announced.
- September 24, 2012
- iPhone Accessories
Four new iSkin cases for iPhone 5 have been introduced, including the Aura ($40), a case with brushed aluminum panels and rubber side grips. The Aura also comes with a built-in, anti-glare camera ring. It is available now in six different color combinations.
Luardi has introduced its new cases for the iPhone 5, including its Decorative Cases ($30), snap-on shells in 32 different designs, all available as of Oct. 7. Urban Armor Gear has announced six new rugged cases for the iPhone 5 — each of the six color cases have different names, including the Aviator ($35). Available for pre-order, the cases ship Oct. 5. Also, PureGear has released new cases for the iPhone 5, including the DualTek Extreme Shock Case and Shield ($40), available in six different colors.
A disassembled Lightning cable appears to reveal an Apple authentication chip within the cable, according to an AppleInsider report. During a teardown by a reader, a chip was found directly in the signal path of the V+ wire, a location suggesting that even seemingly simple Lightning accessories will need to contain similar chips to work with new Apple devices.
The user who made the discovery claims that due to the authentication chips, early third-party Lightning connectors can’t possibly be functional and should be avoided for now. While it’s unclear as to whether those early connectors contain hacked authentication chips or no chips at all, exercising caution is a good idea for the time being.
- September 21, 2012
- iPhone Accessories
Speck today rolled out its line of iPhone 5 cases. The new line includes numerous new versions of Speck’s CandyShell case ($35), for which the company recently received a patent, and has previously earned numerous awards.
Also included in the new line are the SmartFlex Card ($35), which can carry up to three cards and cash, the SmartFlex View ($35), which features a retractable stand, and multiple versions of the PixelSkin and FabShell cases (from $25-$40). With the exception of the SmartFlex View, all cases are currently available.