Google announced on its official blog that an iOS app rolling out today will finally let users pair some Android Wear watches with newer iPhones. Android Wear for iOS will let users running iOS 8.2+ on an iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, 6 or 6 Plus connect their phone to the LG Watch Urbane. Google said all future Android Wear watches — including those from Asus, Huawei and Motorola — will support the iOS app as well, but for now, only the Urbane offers support. Once connected, the watch will mirror the notifications on a user’s iPhone, display messages, and show info about incoming phone calls. In the announcement, Google makes a point of noting that Android Wear’s always-on display means users won’t have to move their wrist to “wake up” their watch — a clear dig at how the Apple Watch only turns its screen on to display notifications after a user rotates their wrist or taps the smartwatch. Android Wear is going after Apple Watch on the health front as well, allowing iPhone users to track heart rate, distance traveled, and progress toward fitness goals. The app also attempts to provide an alternative to Siri in offering the “OK Google” capability, which allows users to get responses to questions, check traffic or flight information, and create to-do list reminders on the fly.
Philips has announced a new no-installation dimming kit for its Hue wireless light bulbs. The kit comes with a single Hue white light bulb and a battery-powered dimmer switch that can be mounted on the wall, or slide out of the base plate for use as a remote as well. The dimmer can control up to 10 bulbs at once through the Hue bridge, making it able to alter the lights in an entire room remotely. In a June Facebook post, Philips promised that Hue lighting will be integrated with Apple’s HomeKit “starting this fall,” but details about how the systems will integrate still haven’t been released. GE is also working on integrating its LED lighting system with HomeKit by the end of the year. Philips’ dimming kit will cost $39.95 (with additional Hue bulbs costing $19.95 each) and be available in North America starting in September.
Apple and Nike have reached a proposed settlement in a class action lawsuit involving Nike’s FuelBand, with Nike offering cash to those affected. Apple is offering no compensation. The lawsuit, filed in 2013, claims that Nike and Apple made false claims about FuelBand’s ability to track calories burned and number of steps taken by users. Both companies still deny any wrongdoing, but Nike stopped producing FuelBands in April 2014 and Apple pulled the device from its stores this March. Under the proposed settlement, Nike is offering $15 cash or a $25 gift card to U.S. Nike stores for each member of the settlement class who submits a claim form and waives their rights to further action in connection with the lawsuit. U.S. residents who bought a Nike+ Fuelband between January 19, 2012 and June 17, 2015 are eligible for the settlement from Nike.
Accessory maker Logitech has announced big branding changes in a blog post. The company revealed a re-imagined logo, creating a distinct “Logi” label to be applied to a new line of yet-to-be-disclosed products. Logitech has also hired its first chief design officer, Alastair Curtis, and touts a fresh dedication to “put design at the core of everything [they] do.” The new label will appear on the company’s “colorful and bold” new product offerings, but “Logi” doesn’t seem to be replacing “Logitech” as the company’s name completely. Instead, the company says the “Logi” logo will begin popping up “on select products in existing categories” as well as on new offerings.
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.