Fabricate has announced an upcoming Kickstarter campaign for Nearbuds for AirPods, a new product the company is developing on the heels of its earlier Nearpods for EarPods accessory for managing Apple’s wired earphones. Nearbuds for AirPods is a magnetic clip system with an adjustable strap that will help users protect and secure their AirPods. Each clip includes a neodymium magnet, allowing AirPods to be held together or attached to any metallic surface for easy access, including the AirPods case, while an adjustable strap between the clips helps to prevent AirPods from falling out or allows them to be hung around the user’s neck when not in use. The company is planning to launch its Kickstarter campaign in the near future, with hopes to be able to produce and delivery the new product by November.
The delayed BeatsX will be available at Apple stores in the U.S. and on the company’s website starting February 10, CNET reports. The $150 neckband-style headphones will feature Apple’s new power-efficient W1 chip already seen in AirPods, and will come in white or black. Beats has also announced gray and blue colors will be added, but there’s no official timeline for when those will appear or when international stores will be getting the headphones.
Apple has released firmware 3.5.1 for its AirPods, which will be downloaded automatically to an iOS device that syncs with AirPods and will be installed when the AirPods are put into their plugged in charging case near the device while it’s connected to WiFi. The update fixes previously undisclosed bugs. [via Apple Insider]
Spigen has created the first AirPods-specific charging stand, designed to hold the AirPods charging case upright while plugged in to charge. At $12, the stand could provide users looking to plug in the case without futzing with a cord each time a cheaper option than another Lightning dock. The dock’s opening requires an original Apple Lightning cable to fit through the dock opening. The AirPods Stand isn’t showing up on Spigen’s site yet, but is available for pre-order now on Amazon, promising to be in stock February 15. [via iPhone in Canada]
Griffin Technology has unveiled Griffin Home, a new lineup of smart, app-powered appliances designed to simplify everyday routines. The new collection includes a Connected Toaster, Connected Coffee Maker, and Connected Mirror, as well as two new charging devices, the PowerBlock Beacon and PowerJolt Beacon. Griffin’s new Connected Toaster ($100) is a Bluetooth-enabled smart toaster that can be controlled by a companion iOS app to allow users to set personalized settings. The two-slot toaster features digital temperature adjustment and settings for bread type, darkness, and even gluten-free breads. The Connected Coffee Maker ($100) is a Bluetooth-enabled 12-cup drip coffee machine that allows users to adjust coffee strength and save their preferences using the companion iOS app. Griffin’s Connected Mirror ($1000) displays time, weather, and status messages from other Griffin Home products, and users can customize the smart mirror with the companion iOS app to choose which information is displayed on the mirror.
Kanex has introduced its new GoPlay Sidekick wireless controller for iOS and Apple TV. The $60 Bluetooth controller is compatible with most controller-supported games on the App Store and claims to provide up to 20 hours of gameplay with its rechargeable battery. The pocket-sized controller’s clamshell case doubles as a stand for your device while playing a game. The controller features a standard four-button layout and includes a D-pad, two analog joysticks and left and right trigger buttons. The controller is specifically designed for Apple devices, even going so far as to use a Lightning cable to charge. The GoPlay Sidekick will be available starting in February.
Apple is planning to begin selling AirPods in its retail stores this coming Monday, Dec. 19, according to a new report by MacRumors. While Apple previously announced that AirPods would be in stores sometime next week, more specific information has surfaced that product is already in transit to retail locations and is expected to go on sale Monday morning. Shipments are also en route to Apple Authorized Resellers and carrier stores, so AirPods should be available at most retail locations come Monday morning, although initial stock will likely be limited; Apple has noted that its retail locations will continue to receive regular shipments, however.
Apple has updated its iPhone Service Pricing page with a section detailing the service prices related to its new AirPods. The update reveals that Apple will replace a single lost AirPod or AirPod battery case for a fee of $69, while out-of-warranty replacements for battery issues will cost $49 per AirPod, as well as $49 for the AirPod charging case. The full $69 replacement fee also applies to replacing AirPods that are accidentally damaged, and therefore not covered under Apple’s standard one-year warranty. [via TechCrunch]
AirPods won’t be the only Apple headphones suffering from lengthy delays this holiday season, if a recent report proves true. The release of its BeatsX wireless earphones may be delayed another two to three months, according to MacRumors. The report claims that authorized reseller B&H Photo Video emailed a customer this weekend regarding the earphones, and the reseller wrote that “the manufacturer has informed us that they still do not know when they will begin shipping this item but they do know that it will take at least 2-3 months.” This timeline would put the BeatsX release into February or March. Apple’s AirPods still have yet to see a release, though there’s been speculation that a pre-holiday launch is forthcoming.
Update: Apple’s website now lists the BeatsX headphones as “Coming February.”
An investigation has found that nearly half of headphones intended for children don’t reliably keep volume down to safe levels to prevent hearing damage, The New York Times reports. Many headphones marketed as “safe for young ears” and promising to provide “100 percent safe listening” had “design flaws that could allow a child to bypass their volume-reduction features easily,” proving that volume-limiting headphones are not the perfect solution many parents had hoped. The worst among the 30 pairs tested “produced sound so loud that it could be hazardous to ears in minutes,” with some relying on resistors within the cord to limit volume, which sometimes failed to work at all. The full results of The Wirecutter’s investigation are available on its website.
Investigators have found that 99 percent of fake Apple chargers sold online failed a basic safety test, the BBC reports. Safety specialists UL tested 400 counterfeit chargers bought from 8 countries—including the U.S., China and Australia—and found that only three had enough insulation to guard against electric shocks. Trading Standards, the group that commissioned the study, warned buyers to be wary of chargers that don’t seem to fit easily into a socket or don’t bear a manufacturer’s logo and safety certification mark. They also warned that some safety markings are being faked, recommending that buyers check to see if their charger comes with instructions that include conditions for proper use, basic electrical safety advice, and details about how to dispose of the device safely. Apple is currently suing one third-party vendor that the company said put customers “at risk” with its counterfeit power adapters on Amazon.
Apple has released the PowerBeats3 Wireless earphones ($200), the company’s second W1-chip-equipped set of headphones. The earphones include “Fast Fuel” charging, which the company claims provides a full hour of playback from a 5-minute charge. On a full charge the earphones boast 12 hours of playback and can be instantly linked to an iPhone by powering them on and holding them near the device (provided the phone is running iOS 10). The earphones can also be simultaneously synced to an Apple Watch running watchOS 3, an iPad running iOS 10, or a Mac running macOS Sierra, provided the user is also linked to an iCloud account.
Apple has updated its Apple Watch Nike+ web page, adding an Oct. 28 release date for the new special edition of the Series 2 Apple Watch. When Apple debuted the Apple Watch Series 2 last month, the company announced a special running-focused Nike+ model would be coming in “late October.” The Nike+ watch includes exclusive watch faces, a special perforated band, and a custom Nike app which more proactively promotes and tracks running workouts, allowing users to compete with other Apple Watch Nike+ users. It remains unclear whether this app will be exclusive to the Apple Watch Nike+ edition or be made available for other Apple Watch models after the Nike+ edition’s release.
Sonos announced today on Twitter that its wireless speakers will be listed on Apple’s online store today and sold in Apple Stores starting October 5. Customers buying a Sonos system through Apple’s website or in an Apple Store before December 31 will receive a gift card giving them three months of Apple Music for free (ostensibly on top of the three-month free trial Apple already offers to new users). The deal further solidifies Sonos’ ties to Apple Music, following the company’s move earlier this year to make Apple Music available on all of its speakers for users without an Apple device. Apple Music users can add the service by selecting “Add Music Services” from any Sonos controller app, scrolling down to the Apple Music icon, and logging in.
Apple also announced during today’s event that the W1 technology powering its new AirPods wireless earbuds will also be included in three new Beats earphone and headphone models, specifically the Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones ($300), the Powerbeats3 Wireless Earphones ($200), and the BeatsX Earphones ($150). The W1 chip will provide improved power efficiency, allowing Solo3 to get up to 40 hours of battery life, or 12 hours and 8 hours for the Powerbeats3 and BeatsX, respectively, as well as taking advantage of the same seamless iOS 10 detection and pairing features from which AirPods users will be able to benefit.
As part of the announcement of the new iPhone 7 models today, Apple also unveiled AirPods, a new set of Apple wireless earbuds. Featuring a new Apple-designed W1 chip for low-power Bluetooth-based communications, the AirPods pair seamlessly with an iPhone, sharing pairing information via iCloud with other devices such as iPads and Macs. AirPods include motion accelerometers for touch-sensitivity and Siri activation, voice accelerometers to recognize vibrations to determine the source of a user’s voice, and beam-forming mics to reduce external noise. Optical sensors detect when one or both AirPods are in your ears, automatically pausing playback when they’re removed, or switching to monaural audio when you’re using only one AirPod. The AirPods will provide 5 hours of battery life on a single charge, and come with a battery storage case that provides an additional 24 hours of battery life; 15 minutes of charging in the case will add an extra 3 hours of listening time, and the case and AirPods can be charged simultaneously via an included Lightning-to-USB cable. AirPods will be compatible with iPhone 5 and later models, iPad mini 2 and later, all iPad Air and iPad Pro models, and the sixth-generation iPod touch. They’re expected to be available in late October for $159.
Incipio Group has announced the acquisition of Griffin Technology, the latest in a series of acquisitions that have recently included Skullcandy, Clamcase, Incase, and Braven. “Griffin has a 25 year history of designing, manufacturing and distributing iconic mobile accessories,” stated Andy Fathollahi, Founder and CEO of Incipio Group. “As part of Incipio Group, Griffin strengthens our product development and manufacturing capabilities, complements our existing product lines in rugged cases, power and connectivity, and allows our brands to reach a broader domestic and international audience through enhanced distribution in the business-to-business, enterprise and education verticals.” Griffin will continue as a stand-alone brand and retain its global headquarters in Nashville. Other terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Photos that have popped up on Chinese search website Weibo appear to show new Apple EarBuds with a Lightning connector in place of the old 3.5mm headphone plug. Since Apple bundles EarPods with all of its iPhones, this is another indication that rumors about Apple ditching the headphone jack may be true. The Lightning connector on the pictured EarPods is a bit thicker than the one that comes with the current iPhone’s cable—perhaps due to the added bulk of the technology required to transfer digital audio—which could be an issue for some iPhone cases if the images prove to be legit. [via NowhereElse]
With Apple rumored to be doing away with the headphone jack on its new iPhone, Cirrus Logic is offering a development kit to aid headphone makers looking to simplify the switch to Lightning connectors. The company’s MFi Headset Development Kit includes reference designs for creating Lightning port connected headphones and a development board to be used in programming, debugging and testing audio performance. The design is compatible with earbuds or over-the-ear headphones and pre-programmed to support both digital audio playback and voice capture. With very few Lightning-connected headphone options currently available, the area is poised for rapid expansion.
Mobile device accessory maker Incipio Technologies has announced plans to acquire Skullcandy, which specializes in audio solutions, and gaming products through its Astro Gaming brand. This is the fourth in a spate of recent acquisitions by Incipio, with the company having acquired Incase and Clamcase last year, and Braven back in 2013.