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Ultimate Ears debut new waterproof Wonderboom portable speakers

Ultimate Ears has added the new waterproof Wonderboom speaker ($100) to its lineup. The round speaker provides 360-degree sound and can be immersed in water up to one meter for up to 30 minutes, so it can withstand the rigors of a sudden rain storm or outdoor pool party. It also floats, has a hanging loop (to make it easier to fish out of a pool if it’s knocked in) and is drop-proof to five feet. The company claims the speaker can last up to 10 hours on its battery and has a 100-foot wireless Bluetooth range, and two of the devices can even be paired together to provide a more robust listening experience.

Apple updates MFi program with with specs for new Lightning audio cable, USB-C port

Apple has added specifications for USB-C ports and a Lightning to 3.5mm output cable to its Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod licensing program, 9to5Mac reports. The update will allow third-party accessory makers to include USB-C charging receptacles in certified iOS and Mac accessories. Accessory makers can also now create a Lightning to 3.5mm connector to allow iOS devices to be plugged directly into an auxiliary port. Previously users would be forced to use the Lightning to 3.5mm female adapter included with their device in conjunction with a male-to-male 3.5mm to connect, so this new cable spec should make things simpler for users looking to go that route for audio. Apple also announced a change to its MFi program logos, killing off the old device icons in favor of a simpler look with just the Apple logo.

Barclays claims AirPods with improved noise canceling features coming next year

Speculation has been ramping up around when we’ll see the next generation of AirPods, with some reports claiming we’ll see a new model with an upgraded wireless chip and “Hey Siri” support for calling up Siri without the need to physically tap the headphones as early as this year. But 9to5Mac reports Barclays thinks Apple could wait until 2019 to reveal new AirPods with improved noise-canceling features. The analysts claim we’ll see “design changes and improvements” over current AirPods, but earbuds using physical analog methods will have a tough time competing with electronic active noise cancellation now common in over-the-ear headphones. The previous report from Bloomberg speculated that Apple could be adding waterproofing to the AirPods by 2019, so it’s possible that the noise reduction claim is a happy coincidence created by the better seal.

Report: Development issues could hold up (or even scrap) Apple headphones

A new Bloomberg report backs an earlier KGI claim that Apple is developing a new pair of headphones under its own brand, but development issues might push back the product’s release. Delays due to design complications seem to be a theme with Apple’s recent push into high-end audio products, with both the company’s AirPods and HomePod pushed back from their initial targets after engineers had trouble tackling things like wireless audio synchronization. The HomePod even had an embarrassing issue arise after its launch despite missing it’s original release date, so it’s possible Apple is being particularly cautious this time around to get it right at launch. The new report didn’t specifically cite whether the problems are with the basic design or the audio components, but warned it’s still possible it could scrap the headphone project altogether despite initially targeting a launch as early as the end of this year. Apple already owns the successful Beats headphone brand, making it possible that a new entry into the crowded wireless headphone market would cannibalize the company’s own sales under that label.

Report: Apple planning to release high-end headphones this year

Hot on the heels of rumors that Apple will be updating its AirPods, well-respected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is telling investors to expect Apple to release a pair of high-end headphones later this year, 9to5Mac reports. Kuo expects the over-the-ear headphones to be an Apple product with an all-new design, not branded under the Apple-owned Beats label. The report doesn’t detail the specific features that would be included in the headphones, but they would likely feature improved sound quality, noise-canceling and battery life over AirPods given Apple’s ability to pluck the best of Beats technology for its own headphone line. Kuo also backed the rumored release of new AirPods, claiming they will come with an improved W1 chip and a case that features a redesigned hinge to facilitate wireless charging.

Tablo OTA DVR update adds advanced recording features

Nuvyyo has released a software update for its Tablo Over-The-Air DVR (iLounge rating: A-) bringing the more advanced and flexible scheduling and recording management tools that many users have been waiting for. The new features, which are rolling out as part of a firmware update to all Tablo DVR models, will allow users to adjust start and stop times for recordings, choose to keep only a specific number of episodes on a per-program basis, and choose which channel to record from when multiple channels are airing a given program. The new advanced recording features will be available to all customers with an active Tablo guide subscription once their devices have been updated to the latest firmware (2.2.18), which is being rolled out gradually over the next week, and can be accessed using most of Tablo’s apps, including the Apple TV and iOS apps, as well as the Safari-optimzied web app for Mac users. Full details can be found on the company’s blog.

Nokia pulls Pulse Wave Velocity feature from Body Cardio over regulatory issues

Nokia has been forced to disable the Pulse Wave velocity feature that allowed its Body Cardio scale to measure arterial stiffness and high blood pressure, according to an updated FAQ from the company. The scale used the speed at which heartbeat-generated vibrations spread out along arterial walls and the time it takes for blood to flow from the heart to the feet to go well beyond the measurements a normal bathroom scale can make. But In the company’s updated support document, Nokia said it has learned the PWV measurements “may require a different level of regulatory approval. In light of this, the decision was made to turn off the pulse wave velocity feature.”

Roland announces new app for creating split screen music videos

Venerable musical instrument maker Roland has released 4XCAMERA, a new video capture app for iOS devices. Although it’s a slight departure from the company’s usual offerings, 4XCAMERA is still targeted at musicians, with the goal of helping to create music videos that can combine up to four performances on a split screen. Users start by capturing a single video using the app, and can then use that initial video to record up to three more performances, adding new parts on each pass. Users can then apply one of 10 split-screen patterns and adjust volumes for each of the videos separately for the perfect sound mix before rendering a final video file that can be shared directly on YouTube or other social media sites.

JVC reveals affordable wireless earbud, headphone options

JVC is releasing a new slate of wireless earbud and headphone options this March, appealing to those who want the benefits of wireless listening without the hefty price tag. The JVC Flats Wireless series ($40) are simple on-ear headphones that provide around 11 hours of listening on a full charge and fold away flat for easy storage on the go. The company’s Noise Canceling Bluetooth Folding Headphones ($100) provide the same 11 hours of wireless listening with the added benefit of noise canceling (or longer listening if you want to turn the noise canceling off or plug the headphones in rather than use Bluetooth).

Satechi announces Smart Dual Charging Station

Satechi has announced the new Smart Dual Charging Station for the iPhone and Apple Watch. The stand comes with two customizable docks that provide a total of 15W in power. The company says the stand can also charge other Apple accessories — like the Apple Pencil and Siri Remote — but it’s clearly designed to hold an iPhone/Apple Watch combo, with storage below to contain the charging cables. The stand will be available sometime this spring and comes in silver or space gray brushed aluminum for $65.

Sennheiser rolls out new wireless, over-the-ear headphones, previews 3D Soundbar

Sennheiser is touting the latest additions to its lineup at CES, revealing the closed-back HD 820 headphones, CX 6.00BT wireless earbuds and 3D Soundbar. The HD 820 has a “unique glass transducer cover that minimizes resonance,” which Sennheiser claims “ensures an incredibly realistic and natural sound field.” The Bluetooth 4.2 CX 6.00BT are in-ear earbuds connected by a cable around the neck, complete with volume and audio controls. The company is also showing off a prototype of its 3D Soundbar and its flagship Ambeo smart headset, which features microphones on the outside of each earpice to provide 3D sound when the phone records audio or video. The HD 820 is available for pre-order now for those willing to pay the $3,500 price tag, and the CX 6.00BT can be had for $130 for those who aren’t.

Capsule personal storage device for backing up photos and videos nearing Kickstarter goal

For those with photos and videos piling up on their devices with no end in sight, a new Kickstarter for a personal cloud storage device called the Capsule is aiming to provide a simple solution. The Capsule boasts the ability to back up photos and videos from mobile devices, social network accounts, and other devices like cameras, Go Pros and hard drives. The Capsule has no on-board storage, so it will require an external hard drive to function, but the device accumulates and organizes photos from a much wider range of sources than other devices and cloud services with no monthly fee attached.

Sonos bringing AirPlay 2 support to its speakers next year

Sonos has announced it will bring support for Apple’s AirPlay 2 standard to its speakers next year, allowing users to control the devices with HomeKit or Siri. AirPlay 2 integration will allow voice control of music in addition to providing the ability to listen to the audio from videos, apps and games through the speakers. The company also debuted its new Sonos One speaker ($199) during the event — the company’s first speaker with built-in voice controls. Once the AirPlay 2 update rolls out, other Sonos speakers will be controllable by voice through Apple devices, but it’s unclear at what point next year the update will arrive.

Apple Store begins selling AR teddy bear

Apple has become the exclusive retailer for toy startup Seedling’s Parker the Bear, an ordinary looking teddy bear that has some serious augmented reality capabilities when paired with the companion app. Parker comes with his own backpack, doctor’s kit and X-ray bibs that produce AR responses in the free app, relying on an iOS 11-equipped device to produce fun effects instead of electronics built into the toy itself. Exams will display Parker’s bones and organs, prompt kids to use 3D Touch functionality to get the bear to perform tests like taking deep breaths, and display other games and puzzles that increase Parker’s “happiness factor,” which in turn unlocks other AR effects. The toy is available for $60 from Apple or directly from Seedling. [via AppleInsider]

LTE Apple Watch will share phone number with iPhone; new Apple TV may have A10X chip, 3 GB RAM

While the “iPhone X” is getting most of the attention ahead of tomorrow’s Apple event, the company is also expected to launch an LTE Apple Watch, 4K Apple TV and new set of AirPods tomorrow as well. The latest firmware leaks seem to indicate that the LTE Apple Watch will still be dependent on the user having an iPhone cellular plan, with 9to5Mac reporting the device will use the same phone number as the iPhone to make calls. That means incoming calls from the same number can be answered from either the iPhone or the Apple Watch after the user completes the setup process, falling short of some long shot hopes that the Apple Watch would be a completely standalone device. It’s still unclear what the additional cost will be to add the Apple Watch to an iPhone’s cellular plan, but the code suggests carriers may initially offer free or reduced-cost plans to get the Apple Watch on as many arms as possible, including references to a “preinstalled” carrier plan.

Beats launches Studio3 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones

Beats has announced Studio3 Wireless, the latest model in the company’s iconic Beats Studio lineup of over-ear headphones. The updated version features Apple’s W1 chip providing the same proximity pairing features found on Apple’s AirPods and Beats’ other recent headphones, along with the ability to sync pairing data via iCloud and seamlessly switch between devices. Beats adds that the W1 chip’s increased efficiency allows Studio3 Wireless to provide nearly double the battery life of the company’s prior headphones, promising 22 hours of wireless playback with ANC on or 40 hours of playback in low power mode. “Fast Fuel” rapid charging allows users to gain an additional three hours of playback from just ten minutes of charging via a USB connection.

Marshall unveils Wireless Multi-Room Speaker System

Marshall has introduced The Marshall Wireless Multi-Room System, the first Wi-Fi speaker lineup from the iconic audio company. The new multi-room speakers build on the designs of its wireless Bluetooth product range that debuted four years ago with the Stanmore, and the new speakers follow the same style and naming convention, with the classic Acton, Stanmore, and Woburn designs now available in “Multi-Room” versions, starting at $350. The new speakers provide full AirPlay compatibility along with support for Chromecast and Spotify Connect as well as Bluetooth wireless connectivity and a 3.5mm input jack along with RCA inputs to connect a traditional turntable or preamp.

Promise Technology releases Apollo Cloud 2 Duo personal cloud system

For those who enjoy the benefits of the cloud but are more than a little wary of trusting their data to third-parties, Promise Technology has released the Apollo cloud storage device to combine the benefits of the cloud combined with keeping data safely inside the home. The Apollo Cloud 2 Duo provides 8TB of space split between two surveillance-class hard drives that can be accessed remotely with a dedicated app, all with no subscription fees. Up to 40 members can have access to the system and time-limited links can also provide access to files with outside users. Photos uploaded to the system can be sorted using facial recognition and/or location, making it simpler to find photos of specific people or places. The device is available now for $449 and is compatible with iOS and macOS operating systems.

mXers Audio announces Modular Earbuds

mXers Audio has debuted a new modular earphone system via a Kickstarter campaign. The new system features a patented connector design that allows the earbuds to be disassembled into separate parts so that any wire or earbud can be interchanged in seconds, allowing users to customize for features, fit, or simply their preferred choice of color and style. The interchangeable parts also make the Modular Earphones easier to repair, since only a single broken part such as a wire needs to be repaired or replaced, rather than an entire set of expensive earbuds. The system will offer both wired and wireless Bluetooth 4.2 base modules onto which either a standard set of mXers earbuds can be connected, or the bass-heavy xBass earbuds, both available in color choices of blue, red, or pink. Pricing via the Kickstarter campaign ranges from $30 for a basic wired set to to $120 for a set of three earbuds with the wireless module.

Cochlear reveals first Made for iPhone cochlear implant sound processor

Cochlear Limited is rolling out its new Nucleus 7, the first Made for iPhone cochlear implant sound processor to aid the hearing impaired. The new implant allows users to stream the sound directly from compatible iPhones, iPads and iPods over Bluetooth. Reuters reports that Cochlear’s previous sound processors only worked with mobile phones when implant wearers connected the sound processor to an intermediate Bluetooth device that would then pair with the phone or tablet. “It’s the first time people with an iPhone will be able to pick up the phone normally, or just listen to music, without any additional devices,” Jan Janssen, senior vice president of research and development at Cochlear, said. Apple developed the protocols with hearing aide firms like GN ReSound and Starkey, and is now licensing it to the other firms for free. Sarah Herrlinger, director of global accessibility policy for Apple, said developing a solution for users whose doctors recommend different devices for each ear — often from different manufacturers — was a big challenge. “We had to figure out how you could do a bi-modal solution where you’re able to simultaneously pair, control and hear both of them running at the same time,” she said. “That was a really interesting engineering opportunity for us to solve.”

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