Belkin announced the first official third-party Lightning accessories to hit the market, the Car Charger ($30) and Charge + Sync Dock ($30). The Car Charger is a 10W charger that fits any car power outlet, while the Charge + Sync Dock uses a Lightning cable to charge a docked iPhone 5, fifth-generation iPod touch, or seventh-generation iPod nano. An extra auxiliary port is also included on the Charge + Sync Dock for audio purposes.
Both products are currently available for pre-order and ship Nov. 15.
JBL announced a new line of headphones — the J Series — and a new bedside speaker, the OnBeat aWake. Eight new headphones are featured in the J Series, and all “i” editions in the J Series include a three-button remote and microphone. The on-ear J55 ($80) and J55i ($100) feature 1 5/8” drivers, leather ear cushions, and a locking mechanism for the detachable cable. Both come in black, white, or orange and white. Over-ear headphones, the J88 ($130) and J88i ($150), feature 2” drivers and come in the same colors as the on-ear headphones. Four in-ear headphones — the J22 ($40), J22i ($60), J33 ($60), and J331 ($80) — ship with three sizes of silicone sleeves, and the J33 and J33i include Comply foam tips, in addition to featuring nickel-plated drivers and a strain-relief grip to reduce cable wear. All in-ear headphones come in black and white.
JBL’s OnBeat aWake ($139) is a tabletop wireless Bluetooth speaker that includes a dock for Dock Connector devices. The aWake was designed to fit a pre-Lightning iPad in its dock, in addition to other iOS devices. Two full-range drivers are included in the speaker, which up to eight users can connect to at once using Bluetooth. Its alarm function can use music from an iTunes library, and an auxiliary input allows other devices to use the aWake as a speaker. JBL’s free downloadable app, AmpUp, features customized music settings for waking or falling asleep, on-screen calendar access, AccuWeather weather reports, more than 20 wallpaper styles with clock settings, analog or digital clock styles, and a nighttime mode.
Apple has released its Lightning to Micro USB Adapter (seen in our First Look here) in North America. Priced at $19, the adapter was originally available only in Europe due to a European Union directive requiring Micro USB compatibility for smartphone charging. The new Adapter allows users to connect a Lightning connector-equipped iPhone, iPod touch or iPad to a computer or power source using a standard Micro USB connection, however it is worth noting that the adapter sells for the same price as Apple’s Lightning to USB Cable, making it a practical option only for those with a specific need to use a Micro USB connection.
Macally has introduced a new line of cases for the iPad mini and fifth-generation iPod touch. For the iPad mini, the company announced four relatively plain-named cases: the Leather Case & Stand, Slim Folio Stand Case, Reversible Cover and Hardshell Case with Stand, and Rotating Folio Case with Stand. All of these iPad mini cases have lids, and sell for $50.
Two new cases have also been introduced for the fifth-generation iPod touch: the Flexible Protective Case ($10), a very inexpensive TPU plastic case that comes in white or black, and the Protective Flexible Case with Stand ($25), a more complex mix of hard and soft plastics that comes in green/lime and blue/yellow color combos, adding a flip-out stand to the back.
JBL introduced the SoundFly Air ($199), a plug-in speaker that streams music via Apple AirPlay using any iOS device and a Wi-Fi connection. The compact 20 watt speaker is white with a black grille, and it plugs directly into any AC wall outlet. It uses a free downloadable app to connect to your music library, browse cover art, adjust volume and tone, and customize the speaker’s digital signal processing.
Up to four SoundFly Air speakers can be synced together to listen to iTunes anywhere in your home. The SoundFly Air is currently available for pre-order.
Accessory maker Targus is acquiring Sena Cases, a long-time iPod, iPhone, and iPad case maker best known for high-end leather products. Sena will continue to operate under its own brand, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Targus; both are based in Southern California. Sena’s new leather iPad mini cases were noted in a recent iPad mini case roundup. [via OCBJ]
Philips announced that Hue, its web-enabled LED smart lighting system, will be exclusively available in Apple Stores Tuesday, Oct. 30. Hue allows a new generation of color-shifting, Wi-Fi-enabled lightbulbs to be controlled wirelessly using an app. An expensive $199 starter pack includes three 50W bulbs that fit in existing light fixtures, plus a bridge for a Wi-Fi router. Each additional individual bulb sells for a staggering $59. Users can set timers, change shades and colors, and save settings so certain “light scenes” can be recalled at any time; the app also enables users to sample colors from their favorite images, and watch as the bulbs match those colors. The bulbs can switch between various white tones and colors — Hue’s website claims the bulbs can “recreate any color in the spectrum.”
Philips claims Hue is “upgradeable and future-proof” and more features could be available for download in the future. These features could come from other developers; Philips has created an open source platform for the system, available on the Hue website.
iLounge has learned that Jawbone is on the cusp of re-releasing its UP bracelet, which was released last year only to be withdrawn from the market following user complaints. Originally sold for $100, UP debuted as a wearable, battery-powered motion sensor with an iOS app for tracking “activity, sleep and meals 24/7.” Acknowledging that “some people have experienced issues” with UP bands, Jawbone notably offered a full refund to customers who weren’t satisfied with the product. The new model will cost $130, and will come in black, blue, mint green, and red, each in small, medium, and large sizes. It’s unclear what improvements have been made to the new model, however, Bluetooth support was a glaring omission from the original band, which used a 3.5mm headphone plug to share data with iOS devices. We’ve reached out to Jawbone for more information and will update this article when we receive it.
Updated Nov. 13: Jawbone officially announced the re-release of UP ($130) today. UP will come in onyx, mint green, light grey, blue, navy blue, red, orange, and hunter green in small, medium, and large sizes. The re-release includes a new Power Nap feature, mood tracking, and delivers “highly personalized insights.” Notably, the device still syncs through the headphone jack, rather than Bluetooth.
All but lost in the shuffle of major new Apple product releases this week was the new 12W USB Power Adapter, which as noted in our earlier story is designed to work with iPads and a number of other recent iPod and iPhone models. The 12W Adapter is an updated version of the 10W USB Power Adapter shipped with all previous iPads, and will be bundled with the fourth-generation iPad and iPad mini, as well as purchased separately for $19. According to 9to5Mac, Apple has confirmed that the adapter will charge previous iPads faster than the older 10W adapter, stating that “[w]e don’t have an exact percentage of how much faster it would charge but you should see an increase in speed.”
Calculations run by iLounge suggest that the 12W Adapter could shave off up to two hours of charging time for the third-generation iPad, which notably took 7 or more hours to refuel. It’s unclear how much of an improvement will be seen by older iPads, as well as the iPad mini, which has roughly one-third the battery capacity of current full-sized models.
Soundfreaq has teamed up with notable husband-and-wife design team Robert and Cortney Novogratz for a special upcoming line of wireless Bluetooth speakers, which it’s calling The Novogratz Collection. The collection features six new designs for three existing speakers: The Sound Stack features the “Chiq Freaq” and “Flower Freaq” designs (both $450), the compact Sound Step features “Freaq of Nature” and “Freaq’n Fabulous” ($150), and the bedroom alarm clock Sound Rise gets “Freaq in the Bed” and “Novo Freaq” ($125) designs. All of the new speakers use interesting patterns and textures, replacing the one-color looks of Soundfreaq’s original designs.
All of the speakers will be available in time for the holiday season.
Expanding its earlier line of WeMo-branded home automation products, Belkin has announced WeMo Baby ($90), a product that turns any iOS device into a baby monitor. WeMo Baby uses 3G/4G or Wi-Fi to stream interference-free audio from a baby’s room to a mobile device without an additional receiver, via the free WeMo Baby app. The monitor works with multiple devices, enabling up to six people to listen simultaneously. As odd as this may sound, users can also upgrade to the Evoz premium service to receive advanced monitoring, cry notifications via text or email, cry history information, and analysis of baby’s crying and sleep patterns, for $10/month or $60/year. WeMo Baby will be available in early November.
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.
HardCandy Cases has announced its Nano Clip ($20) for the new seventh-generation iPod nano. The Nano Clip is a snap-on case with a clip on the back, filling the void for those who were used to the clip on the previous iPod nano—or the original iPod mini.
It comes in red, graphite, or white, and can be pre-ordered now for shipment in mid-November.
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.
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.
A patent application from Apple reveals the company has been exploring hybrid wireless headphones that could detach from a cable if needed. Convenience during physical activity is noted as the reason for Apple’s investigation of this headphone design, which would allow a user to use corded headphones, magnetically detaching the top half of the cables for wireless listening while using the bottom half of the cord to transmit audio to the detached headphones.
While most iPods now have integrated Bluetooth transmitters, a feature that would minimize the need for special headphones, the Mar. 29, 2011 patent filing uses images of the sixth-generation iPod nano, and hints at a 3.5mm headphone port-based recharging solution for the headphones akin to the iPod shuffle. [via AppleInsider]
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.