Apple has banned protective screen film from its retail and online stores, iLounge has confirmed with several separate companies, a policy that will affect both cases and individual film packages beginning in May. In communications with vendors that have been ongoing for “some time now,” according to one company, Apple has said that it will remove both film-only solutions from its stores, as well as any case or other accessory that includes film protection as part of its package, such as cases that include film screen protectors. According to sources, the ban will impact all forms of screen film, including completely clear film, anti-glare film, and mirrored film, regardless of whether the purpose of the film is protective, decorative, or both. It will also prevent sales of film for iPods, iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers. One vendor speculated that the ban is an Apple marketing attempt to suggest screen durability, despite scratches that have damaged both plastic and glass displays of its products for years.
It is believed that Apple’s move will have ramifications for the accessory industry outside of its own stores, as the Apple Store constitutes a significant fraction of total sales for many developers, even though accessory manufacturers also sell their products through other channels. Despite consumer demand for film solutions, which are currently ranked the #1 most popular “cases” for both iPods and iPhones in the Apple Store, and the #6 and #7 most popular overall iPhone and iPod accessories, respectively, developers might not create separate versions of each case product, one without film for sale by Apple, and one with film for sale elsewhere. iLounge requested details on the change from leading film developer Power Support, which had no comment, as well as several case makers, who were aware of the new policy but had nothing to add. However, Mirage Mirror Screen Protector vendor XGear suggested that despite the Apple Store ban, its “marketing positioning will not change. This will open many new doors for us as we move forward in my opinion.”
iLounge has requested comment from Apple on this story and will update this article with additional details as they become known.
Update: We’ve posted responses to common reader comments on this story in a separate article.
Wearable, Inc. has introduced its new AirStash wireless flash drive with built-in media server. Airstash is a small device featuring a USB port on one end and an SD/SDHC card slot on the other. Once a card is inserted, users can fill the card with media from their desktop or laptop PCs, and then use the AirStash’s built-in Wi-Fi media server to access the content from any Wi-Fi-capable device with a web browser. Notably, the device’s browser-based interface has been optimized for the iPhone, iPod touch, and the iPad using HTML5, allowing Apple’s mobile devices to play and/or access any document, photo, audio, or video format supported by the iPhone OS. The AirStash is available now for $100.
PRS Cables has introduced its new Guitarbud cable solution for the iPhone, second-, and third-generation iPod touch. The Guitarbud is a three-way cable that features a standard 1/4” guitar plug on one end, a 3.5mm female headphone port on one end, and a headphone plug on the other, allowing users to connect a guitar to the iPhone or iPod touch while preserving the ability to hear their music through their headphones. The cable works with most guitar- or audio-related applications, including Voice Memos, tuning applications, and multi-track recorders. PRS Cables’ Guitarbud for iPhone and iPod touch is available now and sells for $30.
Just Mobile has announced availability of its Lounge and XtandGo accessories for the iPod and iPhone. Lounge is an aluminum desktop and dashboard stand featuring a rotating, padded mount for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, non-slip feet, and an included car kit for secure mounting. The Just Mobile Lounge sells for $60. Winner of a 2010 iLounge Best of Show award, the XtandGo is a windshield and dashboard mount offering a unique adjustable mounting arm, an included iPhone 3G/3GS holder, “Go buttons” for securing other devices to the XtandGo, and a choice between suction cup or glue-free sticker bases. XtandGo is priced at $40. Just Mobile’s new accessories for the iPod and iPhone are available now at mygearstore.com; for more information see our reviews of the XtandGo and Lounge.
Unusual Studio has unveiled its new Embassy Series cases for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. Available in ten different designs, the Embassy Series are thin hard-shell cases featuring original artwork printed onto the case using advanced printing technology. The cases also offer full access to all ports, controls, and the camera, and come with a screen protector. Interestingly, the cases are to be packed using a Blind Assortment method, meaning each customer will receive a same-looking box, and will only discover what design he/she received upon opening the package. Unusual Studio is currently looking for a distribution partner for its cases.
Case-mate is now shipping its Hug protective case and charging pad solution for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. The Hug consists of a two-piece hard plastic case featuring aluminum accents and open access to the headphone jack, power button, volume buttons, and ring/silent switch, and a desktop charging pad with an aluminum base. When placed on the charging pad, the Hug case begins charging the encased iPhone wirelessly, shutting off automatically when the battery is full. In addition, both the case and charging pad are based on the wireless power standard set by the Wireless Power Consortium, meaning that other compliant devices will be able to draw power from the charging pad or provide power to the case. Case-mate’s Hug case and charging mat for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS also includes a screen protection kit and is if available now for $100.
New Potato Technologies has announced its new FLPR universal remote control accessory for the iPhone and iPod touch. FLPR is a dock-connecting infrared accessory that works in concert with the company’s free FLPR application to let users control any IR remote-controlled device from their iPhones or iPod touches. Features include a preprogrammed database of over 14,000 remote control codes, customizable skins and icons for each device, support for a wide range of IR devices including TVs, cable/satellite boxes, DVD/CD players, and lighting control systems, the ability to learn new remote codes from existing remote controls, and the ability to create custom macro sequences that perform functions across multiple devices. New Potato Technologies’ FLPR universal remote control accessory for the iPhone and iPod touch is available now and sells for $80.
Caze has unveiled its new Jade Polish Rainbow case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. An accented version of the company’s Jade Polish See-Thru case, the Polish Rainbow features more than 50 Swarovski crystals of different colors scattered around the bottom of the case’s rear to create a rainbow pattern. Included with the case are one mirror-finish and one anti-fingerprint screen protector, clear protection film for the Apple logo, a wallet-size iPhone stand, and either a free Swarovski Apple logo cover or a free bonus iPhone case. Caze’s Jade Polish Rainbow case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS is available now and sells for $39.
Scosche has announced that its ReviveLite 2 combination charger and nightlight for the iPod and iPhone is now shipping. Originally debuted in our 2010 iPod + iPhone Buyers’ Guide, the ReviveLite 2 features a smaller footprint than its predecessor, with a new forward-folding dock for greater stability. Other features include a new USB port on the side for charging a second device, and an integrated, switchable LED nightlight. Scosche’s ReviveLite 2 combination charger and nightlight is available now and sells for $25.
CaseCrown has introduced its new Timber Glider V2 case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. Made from Maple, Rosewood, and/or Walnut, the Timber Glider V2 is a wooden case featuring a soft felt lining for scratch protection, a unique “squeeze latch” closure, a striped design, and open access to all ports, controls, and the camera. CaseCrown’s Timber Glider V2 case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS is available now and sells for $35.
GelaSkins has announced that it is now offering select Marvel Comics designs on its protective, decorative skins for the iPod and iPhone. Currently available designs include character images of Iron Man, Spider-Man, and the X-Men, and are available for the iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, first-, second-, and third-generation iPod touch, and the iPod classic, as well as through the company’s Do-It-Yourself customizable service. All GelaSkins feature a patented 3M adhesive for easy removal, an anti-scratch, anti-UV coating, and allow for full access to the device’s ports and controls. GelaSkins new line of Marvel Comics skins are available now and sell for $15-$30 depending on device.
Vestalife has announced its new Mantis speaker system, the first speaker system with an iPad-compatible dock. The new Mantis will increase in overall size 25% from its predecessor to accomodate docking of the iPad, and will also see an increase in overall power to accomodate the iPad’s charging demands, which will also increase acoustic performance. Other features such as the folding speaker “wing” design, digital amplifier, down-firing ported subwoofer, auxiliary input and video output jacks, optional 4 AA battery operation, built-in USB port for syncing, and the included, full-function remote will remain from the original Mantis. The new Vestalife Mantis will be compatible with the iPad, iPhone, and iPod and will come in black, red, or silver; pricing and release information has yet to be announced.
ThinkFlood has introduced its new RedEye mini IR transmitter for the iPhone and iPod touch. Unlike the company’s full-size RedEye Universal Remote, which is comprised of a small IR transmitter box with built-in Wi-Fi and an accompanying app that transmits commands to the box using the Wi-Fi connection, the new RedEye mini is a small, cylindrical 3.5mm IR transmitter that connects to the iPhone’s or iPod touch’s headphone jack, communicating directly with the company’s RedEye app and eliminating the need for the larger separate transmitter box. The RedEye mini draws power from the device itself, and includes a carrying case. ThinkFlood’s new RedEye mini IR transmitter requires the company’s free RedEye app and will be available this spring for $50.
Bioserie has announced its new bioplastic covers for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. The eco-friendly cases are made from plastic derived entirely from plants instead of petrochemicals, and offer open access to all ports, controls, and the camera, as well as a leaf-inspired design on the rear of the case. Bioserie’s bioplastic covers for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS are available now in white, green, orange, red, mauve, and black, and sell for $35 each.
V-Moda has introduced its new Remix Remote in-ear headphones. The new Remix Remote offers an in-line three-button remote and microphone, offering full compatibility with the latest iPods and iPhones, and also features newly tuned 9mm V-Masque neodymium dynamic drivers, redesigned silicone eartips for improved ergonomics and audio performance, all-metal construction, and Kevlar-reinforced cables. Currently available exclusively in a black and silver “Nero” finish, the new V-Moda Remix Remote headphones sell for $100.
Apple’s addition of three-button remote controls to recent iPod and iPhone headphones has led some vendors to compromise the life of their cables, according to a prominent third-party developer. Discussing extensive new testing and manufacturing procedures that his company has developed to prevent cable damage, V-Moda CEO Val Kolton told iLounge that three-button Apple remote cables now carry six thin separate copper strands inside, compared to three thicker wires in remote-less headphone cables. Though Kolton says that Apple’s cables have been tested to ensure comparable resilience to pre-remote models, few third-party headphones are as durable as their prior, audio-only models.
“Open up the cable,” Kolton says, and “there are either 3 inner cables for audio only, 4/6 for microphone and 6 for remote control models wound up inside the outer cable shell. It only takes one of these inner cables to break in order for the headphone to break.” According to Kolton, stress tests indicate that most of the current three-button remote offerings break after 10,000 bends. “Our test standards and results for bending the cable, and bending the plug where the cable meets are now between 3x-15x many of our top competitors latest models.” Kolton claims that V-Moda’s latest three-button remote cabling survives over 60,000 bends in bare bend testing, or hundreds of thousands of repetitions during cable and plug bend tests, which represent the most common point of cable breakage.
Notably, some companies consider 10,000 bends to be an acceptable level of cable durability, and as such test their three-button remote cabling to this standard. “[We] have a stringent testing process to ensure that our earphones are built to last,” says Doug Broadhurst, Marketing Administrator with Scosche. “Each cable is tested with a 300 gram weight bent to a 120 degrees 2 times per second and must past 10,000 bends before we approve the products.” Chris Lyons of Shure said that the company “know[s] that cables are often subjected to more severe wear and tear than other parts of a product, so we devote considerable time to making sure that they’ll withstand heavy use. Cables that have integral control functions meet the same quality standards as standard cables, even with the additional conductors required.” Additionally, a representative with Monster said the company has “done all standard durability and quality tests with this cable and have ensured it performs at the same level as one without ControlTalk [Monster’s three-button solution].” Neither Shure nor Monster specified the number of bends their cables were designed to withstand, and notably, Klipsch—maker of a $350 pair of headphones with a 3-button remote, as well as less expensive models—did not respond to a request for comment on the durability of its cables. Klipsch has since responded; its comments are included below.
Crediting certain competitors, Kolton said that V-Moda, Apple, and “several” other third-party manufacturers including Shure are the only companies he knows to be doing strenuous three-button cabling stress testing beyond that of standard audio cables. Still, he says, additional engineering work was needed to make the cables durable. “In order to prevent one of these cables from breaking, we have had to assemble our own custom cable development team,” Kolton explains. “We have developed a Kevlar core cable that the other cables twist around that allows pressure from pulls and bends to pull on the strong… Kevlar instead of a critical functional cable. We’ve increased the diameter of our cables to the maximum that would not weigh down the headphone.”
Update: Don Inmon, Director of Product Development, Personal Audio with Klipsch has responded to iLounge, saying, “Potential reliability concerns are always factored into the development of our products. The 3-button controlled headsets are no exception. They have gone through a unique manufacturing process and 5-point pull test, ensuring superior reliability for normal and athletic levels of use.”
Incase has introduced its new Courier Collection iPhone Pouch for the iPhone 3G, IPhone 3GS, and iPod touch. Made from custom weather resistant 1680D nylon, the Pouch also offers interior topo print lining, integrated cord management, a top-opening flap with Velcro closure, and a Velcro attachment strap that allows it to be worn on a belt, backpack, or bag. Incase’s new Courier Collection iPhone Pouch is available in black or gray/orange, and sells for $30.
Matias has introduced its new USB 2.0 Keyboard + Smartphone Stand. The white, full-size keyboard features a USB 2.0 port on the top of the keyboard, two standard USB ports on the back, printed Mac symbols on the keys, and a numeric keypad. In addition, it has a smartphone stand built into the face of the keyboard above the arrow keys, allowing users to keep their iPhone or other device in view at all times, and featuring a non-slip silicone pad to keep the device in place. Matias’ new USB 2.0 Keyboard + Smartphone Stand is available now for Mac, coming soon for Windows, and sells for $50.
Power A has introduced its new Universal Remote Case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. Working in conjunction with the company’s free Power A Universal Remote app, the Universal Remote Case allows the iPhone 3G or 3GS to control nearly any infrared-controlled product. The case itself is a two-piece hard case offering open access to the headphone port, sleep/wake button, ring/silent switch, camera, screen, home button, and volume buttons, with the bottom piece connecting to the iPhone via dock connector to allow for app control of the built-in IR transmitter. The app lets users customize their own virtual button layouts, create macros that perform multiple tasks with a single button tap, and program the app to learn the codes of their existing remotes. Power A’s new Universal Remote Case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS is expected to be available from the Apple Store later today and will sell for $60.
Incase has launched new spring colors of its Metallic Monochrome Slider Case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. The two-piece hardshell cases feature a soft touch finish, metallic upper portions with matter slide-off bottom pieces for easy docking, interior rubber guards for shock protection, and open access to all ports, controls, and the camera. In addition, the cases include a horizontal stand for video viewing. Incase’s new Metallic Monochrome Slider Metallic Monochrome Slider Cases for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS are available now in blue, purple, and silver, and sell for $35.