Apple has introduced a new web page on its site featuring a list of third-party cases that the company has tested and certified for use with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Titled “Apple Tested Cases,” the page provides details on testing the company apparently does on third-party cases, including ensuring proper fit, performing drop testing, and making certain that cases don’t interfere with the camera, acoustics, various sensors, and cellular, Wi-Fi, and NFC signals. This move follows a report late last year that Apple would be introducing more stringent requirements for MFi case makers, and could be a result of these new standards for case certification. The bottom of the page provides a link to all of the cases sold by the Apple Store, all of which presumably meet all of the specified requirements under the MFi program.
Popular home automation device maker Nest has announced a major refresh of its entire product line, including the introduction of Nest Cam, a redesigned Nest Protect alarm, new features for the Nest Learning Thermostat, and a major update to its Nest iOS app. The new Nest Cam ($199) provides full 1080p HD video recording with motion alerts and night vision to allow users to keep an eye on their home from anywhere. A second-generation Nest Protect ($99) is now eleven percent smaller and provides a new split-spectrum sensor that uses two wavelengths of light to identify different types of fires and now provides the ability to silence alarms from the iOS app. The Nest Learning thermostat now gains the ability to notify customers when temperatures drop to help avoid frozen pipes, and adds tighter integration with other Nest products.
Apple has revoked Monster’s MFi program membership, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. Representatives from Monster reported the news, indicating that the move was in retaliation to Monster’s lawsuit against the now-Apple-owned Beats Electronics. Monster has been making licensed accessories under the MFi program since 2005, and many of its accessories have even been sold in Apple’s retail stores. David Tognotti, general counsel for Monster, stated that Apple’s chief litigation counsel advised him that their MFi agreement was being terminated as of May 5 due to their relationship with Apple no longer being “mutually beneficial” and that Monster’s lawsuit against Beats would “destroy the working relationship” between the two companies. Monster has reportedly paid Apple more than $12 million in licensing fees since 2008, and more than 20 percent of the company’s products are produced under the MFi program license. Under the terms of the agreement, Monster will still be able to sell its existing stock of Apple-licensed accessories until September, but will no longer be permitted to manufacture new MFi accessories.
When Apple acquired Beats Electronics, the company killed a project aimed at creating WiFi-connected speakers that would play subscription music services straight from the Internet, Variety reports. Efforts to create a more complete, room-to-room Beats home listening solution ran into serious problems and delays, leading Apple to scrap it. In related news, Apple recently pulled the Beats Pill XL speaker off its website after a safety recall. The company has offered customers refunds, but no ability to fix or replace affected devices, fueling further speculation that Apple isn’t committed to the Beats hardware brand. Some of the Beats engineers working on the new speaker project have since left the company, and sources say around 50 percent of Beats employees have left or lost their jobs post-acquisition.
Parrot has announced a lineup of 13 new Minidrones, including two water-based Hydrofoil drones. The new collection includes six new jumping drones, including the Diesel, Buzz, and Marshall “night” drones which are equipped with night vision and variable-intensity LEDs, as well as the Max, Tuk-Tuk, and Jett “race” drones which are capable of reaching top speeds of 13 km/h (8.1 mph). Five new airborne drones have also been introduced, in “night” and “cargo” versions, with the Blaze, Swat, and Mc Clane providing dimmable LED running lights for maneuvering in the dark, and Travis and Mars capable of carrying small cargo loads such as LEGO characters or bricks. We reviewed two Parrot Minidrones last year — the Jumping Sumo and Rolling Spider.
The two Hydrofoil models, Orak and Newz, represent a new direction for Parrot, as a pair of flying drones that can descend onto a lake or pool and cruise around at a top speed of 5.4 knots (2.78 mph) while being able to make rapid turns without capsizing. All of the new drones feature standard cameras and other sensors, and are controlled with Parrot’s FreeFlight3 application using a standard Wi-Fi connection from an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. The new drones range in price from €99 to €199 ($110 to $225 USD), and although Parrot hasn’t revealed North American release dates or pricing as of yet, iLounge will be attending a Toronto press event later this month where we expect to get more details on the company’s plans for the new models.
Mobile device accessory maker Incipio Technologies has acquired ClamCase, which specializes in iPad keyboard cases and peripherals. This is the second acquisition for Incipio in the past few years — in 2013, the company acquired speaker manufacturer Braven. Braven products are still sold under their own name and brand, and Incipio promises new ClamCase-branded keyboard cases will be available at select retailers later this month.
Apple has issued a voluntary recall of the Beats Pill XL speaker, citing concerns that the battery could overheat and pose a fire safety risk. The recall provides a link to the form for returning the speakers to Apple for Apple Store credit or an electronic payment of $325 (or equivalent amount of local currency for those outside the U.S.). Refunds take approximately three weeks, and returns will only be processed on the web — customers should not try to return the product to the store where it was purchased.
Typo Products has agreed to stop selling its iPhone keyboard cases to settle its legal troubles with BlackBerry, The Globe and Mail reports. A federal judge awarded BlackBerry $860,600 in damages in February after Typo violated an injunction banning the company from selling its keyboard cases in the U.S. over a “likelihood” that the cases violated BlackBerry’s proprietary keyboard designs. The latest agreement prohibits Typo from selling smartphone keyboards on mobile devices with a screen smaller than 7.9 inches anywhere in the world, BlackBerry said in a news release. Other terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed. The Typo 2 – which snapped onto an iPhone and provided a physical keyboard to replace the touch-screen model — emerged last fall in answer to BlackBerry’s previous lawsuit, but BlackBerry successfully argued that the updated model still copied their backlighting features and “fret bars” for separating keys.
Pebble, the company behind one of the first successful smartwatches, may be facing financial troubles, TechCrunch reports. Citing sources close to the company, the report notes that the company has allegedly turned to a Silicon Valley bank for a $5 million loan and $5 million line of credit, as VC firms have refused requests for new capital infusions. At this point, Pebble has 150 employees and continues hiring. However, even with the $18 million crowdfunding infusion from its recent Kickstarter campaign for Pebble Time, the company apparently has needed to turn to a bank loan “in order to stay afloat.” The report goes on to indicate that many employees have been unhappy with the direction the company is taking in the face of both large and small competitors, ranging from the Apple Watch to the upcoming Olio Model One. While the hiring process — which is being run by former Apple executive Jeff Hyman — is apparently unpopular, many employees reportedly remain “cautiously optimistic” about the company in general.
Olloclip has introduced its new Active Lens for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus ($100). Active Lens fits over both front and rear cameras like the company’s previous 4-in-1 Lens and Macro 3-in-1 Lens and Telephoto + CPL Lens models. The newest lens kit features ultra-wide and telephoto lenses along with three wearable pendants. Active Lens can be paired with the Ollocase and is available for pre-order now on Olloclip’s web site. We’ll have a review in the near future.
Apple has released a new iPhone Lightning Dock compatible with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.The product description says Apple-designed cases won’t interfere with docking, but makes no promises about third-party cases. The dock can be plugged into a wall outlet to charge the iPhone using the Apple USB power adapter or connected to a computer with the USB cable to both sync and charge. An audio line-out port provides a connection for powered speakers and the dock supports headphones that include a remote control. Apple last released Lightning docks in 2013 for the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c.
A U.S.-specific update has revealed prices for Ikea’s upcoming Wireless Charging Collection, including the Vitahult Wireless Charging Cover for iPhone 6 ($25), which will make the phone compatible with the Qi wireless charging stations in Ikea’s new line. Ikea’s new promotional materials also list charging cases for the iPhone 4, 5 and 5s ($20-$25), but make no mention of the iPhone 6 Plus. The cases featured in the press release are white with no other colors listed.
In addition to the iPhone cases, other product prices can also be found in the update. Furniture in the collection ranges from $60 to $119, while charging pads will cost $28 for a single pad and $65 for a triple pad. Ikea’s Wireless Charging Collection will arrive in the U.S. in “late Spring.”
Mophie has debuted a new series of Space products for the iPhone and iPad mini. Building on last year’s Space Pack for iPhone 5/5s, the new lineup includes not only iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus versions of the battery and storage expansion case, but also a version for the iPad mini. Each of the new Space Packs are now available in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB versions, and feature extra battery power capable of providing a 100 percent charge to an iPhone 6 or iPad mini (3300 mAh and 8000 mAh, respectively), or a 50 percent charge to an iPhone 6 Plus (2600 mAh). The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus versions will retail for $150, while the iPad mini version sells for $200; all three cases are available for pre-order now from Mophie’s web site, and are expected to ship in the coming weeks. Mophie has also introduced the
Apple has publicly released iOS 8.3, noting more than 50 new fixes and improvements across areas such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, Messages, CarPlay, Family Sharing, Accessibility, Enterprise features, orientation and rotation features, and more. The update also boasts improved performance for launching apps, responsiveness of apps, Messages, Wi-Fi, Control Center, Safari tabs, third-party keyboards, and other features. Notably, with iOS 8.3, Apple has also removed the “beta” label from its iCloud Photo Library feature which debuted last fall, optimizing it to work with the new Photos app now available in OS X Yosemite 10.3.3. Other notable fixes and improvements include a new Emoji keyboard featuring over 300 new characters, the ability to filter out Messages not sent by people in your contacts list, a way to report junk iMessages directly from the Messages app, italic and underline formatting options on the iPhone 6 Plus landscape keyboard, and the ability to remove shipping and billing addresses used with Apple Pay. iOS 8.3 can be downloaded by going to the iOS Settings app and choosing General, Software Update, or by connecting your iOS device to iTunes and using the Check for Update option found on the iTunes device summary screen.
Philips has debuted Hue Go ($100), a new connected LED lamp based on the company’s popular Hue smart LED bulb ecosystem. Powered by a rechargeable internal battery that provides up to six hours of portable power, Hue Go can be taken just about anywhere, allowing you to light up and transform any space in your home. It features a unique, spherical design that provides a balance between functional and aesthetic lighting, and like the Hue bulbs, it can be set to any of more than 16 million colors. Hue Go is fully customizable using the same Hue APIs as Philips’ own apps and the huge variety of third-party Hue apps, allowing users to set location-based geofences, program timers, and light “recipes” for a wide variety of moods and activities. Hue Go is expected to be available in late May or early June.
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.