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Yantouch introduces Black Diamond 3 speaker

Yantouch has debuted its Black Diamond 3 wireless speaker — a significant change from its former iterations as an iPhone dock and passive lamp. The redesigned BD3 is a now an iOS-compatible Bluetooth speaker, though it retains and enhances its color-changing lamp functionality, now featuring 16 million colors.

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Two speaker drivers power the device, which can be controlled via remote. USB or wall power can be used for both the color-shifting light and speakers. No price or release date has been announced yet. For additional pictures and details, check out our First Look here.

CableJive sells DockBoss+ 30-pin to Lightning adapter

CableJive has announced the DockBoss+ ($30), an adapter that connects Apple’s Lightning to USB Cable to existing 30-pin docking stations. Although the solution’s a somewhat complicated workaround with plenty of extra wiring, the iPhone 5, new iPod touch and new iPod nano all become compatible with older existing accessories when using the DockBoss+.

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DockBoss+ promises to let you charge and listen to audio at the same time from a Lightning-enabled device; an extra audio-out port is also included for analog audio systems. It’s available now.

Libratone debuts Zipp speaker for AirPlay

Libratone has announced Zipp ($399), a portable speaker that can use AirPlay with or without an existing Wi-Fi network. The Zipp can connect directly to AirPlay devices using PlayDirect technology, establishing its own wireless connection when necessary. It also sports a cylindrical design, so it can be placed in the center of a room without facing away from listeners.

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The Zipp gets up to eight hours of playback time when used in a wired mode, and up to four hours when accessed in wireless mode. It comes in eight different interchangeable colors, and is due for an October release.

Users report stuck USB plugs on Lightning cables

Some users of Apple’s new Lightning to USB Cable have been reporting issues with the USB end of the cable getting stuck. A discussion thread on Apple’s support forum started a week ago, and has continued to grow with reports of issues in computer and car USB ports. Some users have found it extremely difficult to remove the USB end of the cable after plugging it in, and various unorthodox methods have been suggested to extract the cable. Notches in the metal USB jacket of the new cable are noticeably deeper than those on the old dock cable, leading users to suggest a variety of unwise ideas to fill in the holes. One forum poster wrote that AppleCare is “aware of the problem,” but there has been no official Apple comment as of yet.

IK Multimedia debuts iRig PRE mic interface

IK Multimedia has released the iRig PRE ($40), a universal XLR microphone interface for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Users can plug any microphone with an XLR connector into the device. The iRig PRE comes with an adjustable gain control, 48-volt phantom power, and an audio output jack.

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Two free apps for the iRig PRE are available for download: iRig Recorder, for voice and field recording/editing, and VocaLive, a multi-effects processing/recording app. Power is supplied by a 9V battery, which offers 30 hours of battery life when used with dynamic microphones, and 10 hours with phantom-powered condenser studio microphones. The iRig PRE is available now.

Bowers & Wilkins debuts A7, A5 speakers

Bowers & Wilkins has unveiled two new dedicated AirPlay speakers, the A7 and A5. The A7 ($800) comes equipped with a six-inch dedicated bass driver alongside two sets of 1” tweeters and 3” mid-range drivers, while the A5 ($500) is a smaller version of the same all-in-one design, using twin 1” tweeters and 4” full-range drivers. Both new wireless speakers feature a design similar to the company’s MM-1 speakers, though more elongated, and without separated satellites.

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As with all AirPlay speakers, a Wi-Fi network and either an iOS device or a computer running iTunes are the only things needed to use the speakers. Both models will be available in October.

Schneider-Kreuznach debuts B+W Smart-Pro Filter

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Leading camera filter maker Schneider-Kreuznach of Germany has announced the B+W Smart-Pro Filter, a circular polarizing filter made for iPhones, other smartphones, cameras or tablets with a maximum lens diameter of 8mm. The polarizing filter is held in place by a self-adhesive magnetic ring, and can reduce reflections on non-metallic surfaces, improving the clarity of water and glass, as well as enhancing the saturation of blue skies and other colors. Pricing and availability have yet to be announced.

Third-party Lightning Adapters appear online

Hitherto unknown third-party developers have begun to offer purported Lightning to 30-Pin adapters through Amazon.com, notes AppleInsider. Nanotch and iTronz currently have pre-order pages on Amazon promising $10 to $18 prices for the Adapters, which feature male Lightning connectors on one end and female 30-pin ports on the other, with promised availability near the end of this month.

On the surface, these accessories appear to be better values than Apple’s own Lightning Adapters, which will sell for $29 each when released in October. However, established developers have told iLounge that early third-party adapters will likely experience either delays or functional problems with old accessories and new Apple devices, citing Apple’s decision to keep both parts and specifications to itself until the last moment. These developers have suggested that both the quality and electronic compatibility of unlicensed adapters may be poor, given that new Apple authentication chips will be required to make them work properly. The adapters should be considered risky investments until they’ve been properly tested with the new iPhone 5 and iPods.

Scosche introduces Rhythm workout monitor and app

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Scosche has announced Rhythm ($100), a new pulse monitor and app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Rhythm’s neoprene arm strap fits over the forearm, allowing a user to manage, track, and analyze workouts. Two alternating LEDs with a photo sensor measure pulse, while a built-in accelerometer helps to provide estimates of calories burned, speed, pace, route, and distance. Wireless remote control over iOS music playback is also included on the armband, which boasts up to six hours of continuous battery life.

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Interestingly, data from Rhythm’s personalized workouts can be stored in the cloud at Scosche’s Rhythm Dashboard website. The Rhythm monitor and app are available now.

Lightning Connector sparks confusion, uncertainty for Apple users

Officially announced and briefly discussed at this week’s iPhone 5-focused event in San Francisco, Apple’s next-generation Lightning Connector has quickly become a flashpoint of confusion for iPhone and iPod users. Revealed piecemeal in several leaks ahead of the event, the Lightning Connector replaces Apple’s 30-Pin Dock Connector, a ubiquitous rectangular port found on every iPhone, every iPad, and every iPod released since 2003, except the iPod shuffle. The first device to feature the new port will be the iPhone 5, with the iPod nano and iPod touch following soon thereafter; iPads will reportedly begin to make the transition this year. To enable some prior accessories to work with the new devices, Apple is now selling three types of Lightning Adapters, two for old 30-Pin Dock Connector accessories and one required in Europe for Micro-USB chargers. Through a spokesperson, Apple has also announced plans to release at least two more Lightning Adapters for HDMI and VGA output.

Despite Apple’s connector and adapter announcements, significant uncertainty remains regarding prior accessory compatibility, and the availability of Lightning Adapters. Conflicting reports this week suggested that the “all-digital” Lightning Connector might not be able to support analog audio or video output; however, Apple has confirmed that its Lightning to 30-Pin Adapters will be capable of passing iPhone 5 audio to prior Dock Connector-based docks, speakers, and cables, but will not support video out from the iPhone 5 to older video accessories, or “iPod out” mode transmission of data and album art, used in some car and home video dock accessories. It remains unclear whether the iPhone 5 will display jarring error messages when used with Apple’s Lightning Adapters, or just gracefully pass through what it can share. The first third-party accessories built with Lightning Connectors are not expected to hit stores until late this year or early next year, according to an iLounge source.

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Adapter availability has also become a point of concern. The iPhone 5 will be delivered to users starting next week, however, Lightning Adapters will apparently not be available until some time in October, so the first round of customers will not be able to test their prior accessories with the iPhone 5 until well after the phone arrives. Apart from one brief and apparently erroneous hint during the iPhone 5 ordering process, Apple has not suggested that the iPhone 5 or new iPhones will include Lightning Adapters. According to a dialogue box spotted by TheNextWeb during iPhone 5 pre-ordering this morning, Apple’s web site told some European customers that the iPhone 5 “includes a Lightning to 30-pin Adapter,” and offered the purchase of “this additional adapter to have a second adapter for your home or office.” Some time afterwards, Apple changed the language to omit references to the “included” and “additional” adapters, with sales representatives describing the text as “an error.”

Apple posts media event, iPhone 5, EarPods videos

Apple has posted full videos of Wednesday’s media event, as well as separate videos focusing on the iPhone 5, and EarPods. The iPhone 5 video is nearly seven minutes long and shows a brief demonstration of its LTE network in action, in addition to detailing new features of the phone. The EarPods video concentrates mainly on the design and development of the earphones, which will be packed in with some iPods and the iPhone 5, as well as sold separately.

Apple shows EarPods earphones, Lightning cable, adapters

Confirming previous leaks, Apple today officially unveiled the names of its new earphones and miniature Dock Connector replacements. EarPods is the name chosen by Apple for its earphones, which will be bundled with the seventh-generation iPod nano and fifth-generation iPod touch starting in October, as well as sold separately. Like earlier Apple earphones, the EarPods will include a three-button remote control and microphone unit; new to the design are waveguides to channel the speakers’ output into users’ ears. They’ll sell for $29.

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Apple also announced the Lightning moniker for its new Dock Connector, which will appear on the bottoms of new iPods, iPhones, and iPads going forward. A $19 Lightning to USB Cable will be included with each compatible device, while two Lightning to 30-pin Adapters will be sold. The first is a hard plastic adapter, sold for $29, while the second is 0.2m long and sells for $39, starting in October.

For European users, a Lightning to Micro USB Adapter is now showing up in Apple’s online store with a lead time of three days. Selling for £15—about $24—it allows Apple to comply with EU regulations. 

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Of brief note: Apple has also renamed the prior USB Power Adapter to 5W USB Power Adapter, further differentiating it from the Apple iPad 10W USB Power Adapter, and listing it as compatible with all recent iPods and all iPhones, including today’s newly-introduced models. Notably, however, the 5W USB Power Adapter does not include Apple’s new Lightning to USB Cable or any cable, and now sells for $19 on its own.

Brookstone unveils Rover 2.0 App-Controlled Spy Tank

Brookstone has announced the Rover 2.0 App-Controlled Spy Tank ($150), the second version of its Rover tank, a toy designed to be compatible with the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. The night vision-equipped tank is 25 percent faster than the previous model, which we reviewed and liked last year. Rover 2.0 can stream and record live video and stills, as well as uploading them directly to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube using the free app.

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Built with Wi-Fi rather than Bluetooth, Rover 2.0’s wireless range is up to 200 feet unobstructed, and 100 feet around walls and into other rooms. The angle of the tank’s camera and its headlights can now be controlled remotely, and it can both transmit and receive audio, playing through a built-in speaker. It uses 6 AA batteries, included with the purchase. Rover 2.0 is now available for pre-order, and will be released in October.

Brother introduces MFC-J4510DW AirPrint printer

Brother has debuted the MFC-J4510DW ($199), a new and interesting color all-in-one printer compatible with AirPrint. Featuring a new, fashion-forward industrial design that takes cues from Apple’s devices and accessories, the compact inkjet features 802.11b/g/n wireless and Ethernet options, as well as a free app that can be used for managing printing. It features a touchscreen display and can print documents as large as 11” by 17”, with output at a brisk pace of up to 35 pages per minute. Automatic two-sided printing is also available for documents up to 8.5” by 11”; new engineering of the printing engine enables improved yields from ink cartridges and a more compact footprint—roughly the size of 11” by 17” paper—that’s less than 1/3 the size of competing devices.

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The MFC-J4510DW will be available in October, and additional models in the Brother Business Smart series will be announced later this year.

IK Multimedia releases iRig Stomp stompbox interface

Originally announced in January for a release in April, iRig Stomp ($60) has just been shipped as a guitar and bass stompbox interface for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch—with a more affordable price.

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Roughly the size of a standard compact pedal and compatible with IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube apps, the device fits in with an existing pedalboard, allowing users to connect instruments or amplifiers using standard 1/4-inch guitar cables. A headphone port is also included.

Sources: Apple to be sole maker of Dock Connector Adapters

Responding to earlier reports that Apple hasn’t offered developers parts or specs for next-generation Dock Connector accessories, additional sources have confirmed to iLounge that Apple will be the exclusive initial vendor of a new Dock Connector Adapter, to be sold individually and/or in three-packs. According to sources, the Dock Connector Adapters will sell for approximately $10 each or three for $29, with Apple-branded new USB cables selling for $19 each. For reference, Apple’s MagSafe to MagSafe 2 Converter sells for $9.99, while international pricing for Apple’s earlier iPhone Micro USB Adapter is €9 ($11) or £8 ($13).

While leaks of the new connector have been numerous, Apple has remained mum on what developers are calling the “9-pin Connector,” even though sources claim that Apple has in recent months stopped approving third-party proposals for connector-equipped accessories. Some developers fear that Apple will corner the market for both the adapters and cables, much as it did with MagSafe connectors for MacBook laptops, using licensing agreements and threats of lawsuits to prevent less expensive third-party solutions from coming to market. One source notes that Apple will reap a windfall by limiting competition in this manner, generating revenues of $100 million for every 10 million Dock Connector Adapters it sells for $10. According to the source, Apple estimates that it will sell the first 10 million Adapters by the end of 2012. It remains unclear whether Apple will allow third-party developers to release competing alternatives before then, or afterwards.

Krusell bows Motörheadphöne, inspired by Motörhead

Following the success of Monster’s Beats by Dre series of headphones and similar musician-inspired alternatives, Krusell has announced the release of Motörheadphöne, a series of headphones inspired by metal band Motörhead. The series includes five products: the over-ear 40mm driver-based Motörizer ($130) with three-button remote, and remote-less Iron Fist ($120) headphones, the on-ear 30mm Bomber ($100) headphones with remote, plus mic-equipped Overkill ($60) and mic-less Trigger ($50) earphones. Motörizer, Iron Fist, and Bomber all use branded leather sides, while Overkill and Trigger have metallic circular edges.

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Krusell also announced three simple, iPhone-sized cases, the hard shell Metropolis ($35), a sealed pouch called Capricorn ($40), and open-topped sleeve Burner ($35). Each uses black leather with Motörhead logo and text branding in either white or red. All of the cases and headphones are expected to be released this fall.

Harman and JBL debut Flip, SoundSticks Wireless, soundbars

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JBL and Harman Kardon have announced seven new speakers for the iPod, iPhone and iPad, ranging from updates of classic models to brand new designs. JBL’s Flip ($100) is a Bluetooth-compatible portable speaker that can be used horizontally or vertically, including a built-in microphone for Bluetooth calls. Built for placement near a television, the Cinema SB 200 ($300) is a Bluetooth-equipped, 120-watt soundbar with two woofers, two tweeters, an amplifier and a built-in subwoofer, designed be compatible with JBL-designed apps.

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Also introduced were the latest version of Harman Kardon’s SoundSticks, the Bluetooth-streaming SoundSticks Wireless ($230); two other portable speakers, the Bluetooth-enabled JBL Micro Wireless ($60) and the hockey puck-sized, non-Bluetooth Micro II ($40); and two other Cinema Soundbars, the non-Bluetooth SB 100 ($200) and the SB 400 ($550), the latter of which is a Bluetooth-enabled soundbar designed for HDTVs 46 inches and larger, packed with a separate 200-watt wireless subwoofer. All products are set for a fall release.

Allegedly new Apple earbuds for iPod, iPhone leak

A video and images of new, allegedly Apple-designed earphones have leaked from Vietnam, where the white glossy earbuds are reportedly being manufactured for the company. The earphones have more of an oval shape than previous incarnations, and considerably smaller speaker holes are located near two sides, instead of a large grille directly in the center. This is likely being done to wave guide or channel the sound in a manner that was attempted by a handful of prior add-on accessories.

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The earphones are described as intended for new iPods, but may well be included with new iPhones as well. Two photos are included: one of the new earphones and another comparing the old earbud to the unconfirmed new earbud. A full video comparing the two is also available. [via Tinhte]

New Apple connectors unavailable, third-party add-ons may miss holidays

After nine years of steady third-party accessory growth for its devices, Apple faces a potentially serious ecosystem disruption this year, multiple reliable sources have confirmed to iLounge. With only two weeks remaining before the expected debut of the next-generation iPhone, Apple has not offered third-party developers the components or engineering details necessary to build docking accessories for the new device—the first iOS product expected to ship without Apple’s now-ubiquitous 30-pin Dock Connector, which will soon be replaced across all future Apple pocket and tablet devices. Noting the time required to manufacture and ship new products, the sources suggest that new iPhone-specific electronic add-ons will likely miss the upcoming holiday season, apart from whatever accessories are released by Apple itself.

Rumors of a smaller Dock Connector replacement have circulated for years, and the new component has recently been spotted in leaked cables, next-generation iPhones, and even parts apparently intended for other iOS devices. References to the new connector have also been found in beta versions of iOS 6. Despite these disclosures, however, Apple has not made the connectors available for developers to test or purchase, or discussed its new authentication chips, both of which might stop existing accessories from working, or limit their functionality with new Apple devices.

While the broadly available Micro-USB standard was suggested as a possible replacement for the 30-pin Dock Connector, sources suggest that Apple’s switch to a proprietary new connector will enable it to control the entire supply of available parts, as well as developers, since third-party versions of the new connector will likely be either unavailable or unreliable for months. One source expects that Apple will introduce a more stringent version of its Made For iPod/iPhone/iPad (“MFi”) licensing program alongside the new connector, complete with more elaborate testing requirements and perhaps higher fees. It remains possible, however, that Apple may merely attempt to dominate the 2012 holiday market by selling its own accessories—perhaps including adapters for older accessories—then supply new connectors and chips to developers in 2013.

Apple’s MFi program was grudgingly accepted by most developers years ago as a necessary cost of doing business with the Cupertino company, adding additional costs to iPod accessories once Apple began to sell electronic components and require per-unit licensing fees, collectively described by some as an “iPod tax.” The subsequent “Works With iPhone” program generated industry-wide grumbles based on new Apple approval and testing procedures, which were blamed for delaying the release of early iPhone electronic accessories for roughly a year, as well as restricting the variety of accessories that could be developed without Apple’s consent. Apple has since been criticized for problems with its AirPlay licensing program, which offers developers a wireless, dock-less alternative for streaming music to Wi-Fi-equipped accessories. AirPlay add-ons have been plagued by audio drop-outs and other issues, leading to complaints and mass returns by disappointed consumers, the costs of which have largely been absorbed by developers.

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