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Apple took meeting with AR component suppliers during CES

In another small move adding fuel to speculation about Apple’s augmented reality glasses project, the tech giant met with suppliers that produce the underlying technology to power the devices during CES, Bloomberg reports. Apple was among several larger tech companies that had discussions with suppliers, according to people familiar with the meetings. Apple is reportedly aiming to have the technology ready by 2019 ahead of a 2020 product release, but sources have admitted that launch timeline is “very aggressive” and subject to change.

India relaxes 30-percent local sourcing rules for Apple, clearing way for Apple Stores

India has relaxed the rules that have been keeping Apple from opening Apple Stores, clearing the way for the company to expand into the country, The New York Times reports. Indian law requires that companies opening retail locations source at least 30 perfect of the materials in the product’s construction from within India, which poses a big problem for Apple since the company sources materials and assembles its products mainly from China. The new rules allow single-brand retailers “to temporarily meet the 30 percent requirement by buying goods made in India and then selling them overseas.” That would allow Apple to buy Indian made accessories like iPhone cases and sell them outside the country to offset the sales it is making on its own products within the country. After five years those rules will expire and Apple will have to meet the full sourcing requirement, but by then it should be possible for Apple to rejigger its supply chain to comply. Apple began manufacturing the iPhone SE in India last year and has been allowed to sell them online, but had still been prevented from opening retail locations because the components were brought in from outside the country.

Apple mistakenly notifies US users of Chinese data center migration

Apple sent an email notification to several users outside of China mistakenly informing them their iCloud data was being moved to a Chinese company’s servers, TechCrunch reports. Apple had previously announced its move to migrate user data in China to government-run servers to comply with local laws, but some US users reported receiving an email telling them their data was being moved to the Chinese data centers as well. Apple sent a followup to users who received the email by mistake, assuring them that “only users with their Apple ID country set to China will have their iCloud data migrated to GCBD servers.” That wording is important, since setting their Apple ID location outside of China could prevent Chinese users from having their data on state-run servers.

Gracenote shows off app that integrates AM/FM radio with CarPlay

Gracenote has showcased a potential solution to remedy Apple’s lack of CarPlay support for local radio that also makes stations from around the US available, CNET reports. Known for creating tagging information for digital music, Gracenote has now created an app that combines local AM/FM broadcast stations alongside radio streaming options, all of which can be accessed from within CarPlay instead of leaving Apple’s user interface to manage the radio from the vehicle’s native interface. The app has an indexed list of radio stations from all over the US, sorted by genre and location for easy browsing, but the company doesn’t seem to have plans to make it available to consumers through the App Store. Instead, the company will be providing the tech to “partners,” which likely means automakers will be the ones that end up providing the solution to make radio available through CarPlay at some point.

Class-action lawsuit targets Apple, others over Intel processor security issues

A class-action lawsuit against Apple and Intel has been filed by a group of Israelis angry over recently revealed security vulnerabilities in Intel processors, Hamodia reports. While the lawsuit appears to focus on privacy concerns, the overblown language in the filing is more sensationalism than substance, at one point claiming, “Our worst nightmares have come to pass, and a giant tech bubble has burst. That this is an earthquake is an understatement. Since the announcement by the companies of the vulnerabilities of their products, we realize that we are living in a fantasy world and now realize that we do not even have a minimum of privacy.”

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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.

Scosche unveils new BoomBottle, Rhythm24, and wireless charging solutions at CES 2018

Scosche has announced its 2018 product lineup, including an update to the company’s BoomBottle rugged portable speaker and Rhythm heart monitor and a new lineup of wireless charging and mounting solutions. BoomBottle MM is the company’s latest rugged waterproof speaker, building off the 2015 BoomBottle+, and features two six-watt speakers and two 40 millimeter passive radiators and is IP67 rated for dust and water protection. Additional new features include an auto-sensing indoor/outdoor equalizer and support for Scosche’s built-in MagicMOUNT technology so users can keep their iPhone magnetically secured to the speaker (although wireless charging is not included). A magnet on the bottom of the speaker allows it to be easily attached to a metal surface at virtually any angle, and it also includes a built-in bottle opener.

Zagg announces Rugged Book for iPad and iPad Pro

Zagg has released its latest iPad and iPad Pro keyboard case, the Rugged Book ($130), providing a protective case and keyboard combo designed for iPad road warriors. Joining the company’s Rugged Messenger released last summer, the new Rugged Book incorporates a wireless keyboard and detachable case that can be used in four different modes (book, keyboard, case, and video) along with an adjustable cradle hinge for multiple viewing angles and reinforced metal plating on the keyboard for a sturdy typing experience. The case also includes four layers of construction for drop protection of up to 6.6 feet, making it the most protective iPad case that Zagg has created up to this point. The keyboard uses a Bluetooth connection and provides backlighting that can be set to seven different colors, a rechargeable battery that promises up to two years of life between charges, and a magnetic sleep/wake function to automatically turn off the keyboard to preserve battery life. The Zagg Rugged Book is available for the fifth-generation iPad, 9.7-inch iPad Pro, iPad Air, and iPad Air 2.

Number of lawsuits against Apple grows as US, French officials inquire about iPhone throttling

US Senator John Thune has entered the fray around Apple’s admitted slowing down of older iPhones, sending the company a list of questions about how it came to the decision to throttle performance on its devices without informing users, The Wall Street Journal reports. As Senate Commerce Committee chairman, Thune is looking for information on “how Apple has tracked customer complaints of processing performance and if Apple has explored offering rebates to customers who paid full price for a battery replacement before the company offered discounted rates last month,” noting that customers have complained that the battery replacements weren’t offered for free. Reuters reports a French prosecutor has also opened an investigation into the company’s actions after a complaint by a consumer organization alleging deception and “planned obsolescence of its products.” All the while Patently Apple has been tracking the number of class-action lawsuits over the move, which has now reached 30 — although some have more merit than others.

Zagg debuts InvisibleShield tempered glass front and back protection for iPhone X, 8, 8 Plus

For those torn between protecting their glass-backed iPhones and showing them off, Zagg’s InvisibleShield Glass+ Luxe 360 offers something in between. The two-piece protector covers the front and back of the iPhone X, 8 or 8 Plus and is made from “the toughest tempered glass on the market” with reinforced edges to prevent chips and cracks. The cases come in matching black, gold and silver colors for the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus and in black and silver for the iPhone X. The glass provides scratch protection and even resists the oil on your finger to lessen the smudges left by fingerprints. The case costs $70 and has a limited lifetime warranty for the life of the device.

Apple hit with £136 million UK tax bill

Apple has been hit with a £136 million tax bill in the UK after an “extensive audit,” The Financial Times reports. The payment — which covered many years leading up to 2015 — was discovered in the accounts of Apple’s European subsidiary and is thought to have come after an audit found that the subsidiary hadn’t received large enough commissions on sales it secured for its Irish sister company. Apple’s well-documented tax fight with the European Union also hinges on Apple’s dealings in Ireland, and Apple’s own report about the £136 million turned over to the UK after the audit was for “additional tax and interest reflecting the company’s increased activity.”

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).

Abode debuts Iota security camera system with support for HomeKit

Abode’s new Iota security device combines an HD security camera with a built-in gateway capable of connecting to multiple other smarthome security devices, allowing for a pretty robust set of home monitoring options. The Iota is HomeKit-compatible so it can be integrated into an existing configuration, but the Abode app also includes native app support for Nest and Ecobee devices along with local, direct integration with Philips Hue and LifX, making the Iota useful both as a single component or as the centerpiece of a smarthome security setup. Two-way voice controls provide the ability to monitor connected devices and issue commands as well.

Apple defends its precautions for kids after open letter from investors

After an open letter from a duo of powerful Apple investors asked the company to form new committees and do research to develop more nuanced controls to shape children’s interactions with the iPhone, Apple is pushing back, defending its development of parental controls starting in 2008, The Wall Street Journal reports. The letter cited multiple studies that show a correlation between increased device use and negative health effects for kids. Apple hasn’t commented on the specifics of the letter, but in a statement the company pointed to controls that already exist that allow parents to install or delete apps, control in-app purchases and restrict access to certain websites. While Apple said it is “constantly looking” for ways to improve its products to meet user needs, the company touted its efforts at clearly labeling the intended age range for the App Store, iTunes and other content streams while keeping its offerings free from offensive material like pornography.

Hampton debuts Brinks Array smarthome security lineup with deadbolt, security lights

Hampton has added a set of three new smart security lights and a new smart deadbolt to its Brinks Array smarthome security family. The Array Chek lock provides the ability to see whether your doors are shut and locked while at home or on the go through the accompanying app — although it can’t lock or unlock the door remotely. The three Array Smart Lights come in two coachlight styles and a more modern dual flat panel, but all have the same custom camera lens underneath, designed to reduce shadows and distortion. Built-in artificial intelligence aims to identify movement from things like dogs or tree branches to reduce irritating false alarm notifications, and the devices provide real-time monitoring through the Array app. Both the Array Chek lock and Array Smart Lights are slated to arrive this year, with the deadbolt available for pre-order in a variety of color schemes.

Belkin rolls out new BoostUp wireless charging pads, stand, car mount

Belkin has rolled out a full slate of wireless charging options under the BoostUp umbrella, expanding the lineup that began with its Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad last fall. The new products include both single and dual-charging pads, a stand, and a car mount. All of the accessories boast the ability to charge at 10W “through most cases up to 3mm thick.” Both the Bold Wireless Charging Pad and Wireless Charging Stand come in pink, blue, white or black, while the Dual Wireless Charging Pad only comes in white and the Wireless Charging Car Universal Mount only comes in black.

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.

Hyper reveals Kickstarter preview for HyperDrive hub with built-in wireless iPhone charging stand

After raising more than $3 million for the HyperDrive USB-C Hub for MacBook Pro, Hyper is kicking off another Kickstarter campaign next week to fund its new HyperDrive 8-in-1 USB-C Hub with 7.5W Qi Wireless Charger iPhone Stand. The hub features eight ports, with USB-C power delivery, three USB-A 3.1 slots and inputs for 4K HDMI, ethernet, microSD and SD. The top of the hub now serves as a 7.5W wireless charging stand for the iPhone (and up to 15W on Android devices as it supports all four Qi wireless charging standards). Hyper claims the charging pad outperforms models from Belkin and Mophie by providing a full charge in just under three hours, but we haven’t seen that claim verified yet. The pad itself can be laid flat or inclined to provide a better view for those who use their phone alongside a laptop. The Kickstarter doesn’t go live until January 15, and Hyper is offering an early bird special.

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