Apple has simultaneously released new betas for iOS, Apple TV and Apple Watch — iOS 9.3 beta 1, tvOS 9.2 beta 1, and watchOS 2.2 beta 1 are all now available to developers. The new iOS beta is available from the developer center. A public beta will likely be made available in the near future. Apple’s tvOS 9.2 includes the long-awaited addition of Bluetooth keyboard support to Apple TV, while the new iOS and watchOS betas enable the pairing of multiple Apple Watches to one iPhone.
Apple Music has topped 10 million subscribers, according to a new report from The Financial Times. The article notes the service has taken six months to hit the mark, while main competitor Spotify took six years to reach the same level. Last June, Spotify said it had 20 million paid subscribers, and 75 million monthly listeners — that number has almost certainly grown since then, but Apple is also taking a big cut of the growing streaming market, despite what we believe are persistent UI issues with Apple Music.
As the International CES 2016 begins to wind down, we wanted to point out that there won’t be any CES Best of Show Awards given out by iLounge this year. Our on-site staff was limited this year, and we didn’t think it was fair to our readers — or to these companies — for other members of our staff to participate in making such judgments without seeing the products in person. Visit our CES page for the full index of reports from this week, and from past Consumer Electronics Shows. We’ll be back next week with more of our typical content.
CableJive has introduced two new add-ons for its HeroDock for the iPhone — a Landscape Dock that can hold an iPad mini, and the other to dock an Apple Watch. As seen above, the final iPad mini dock will require a Lightning connector in another position for it to work properly. The new attachments are expected to arrive in Q3; pricing has not been announced.
Apple is currently prototyping an entirely new design for Beats Bluetooth earphones, according to a new report by 9to5Mac. Expected to launch alongside the iPhone 7 later this year, the new earphones will apparently be completely wireless, omitting even a cable to connect the left and right earpieces. Sources cited in the report suggest that the headphones will follow a concept not unlike the Motorola Hint and Bragi Dash. The earphones are also expected to include a noise-cancelling microphone system to facilitate better communication with Siri, and include multiple ear sleeve sizes for accommodate variations in users’ ear canals. An included carrying case will double as a rechargeable battery to power up the headphones when they are not being used. The new wireless headphones are expected to be a premium option that will almost certainly be sold separately from the iPhone 7.
The same sources have also corroborated recent reports that the iPhone 7 will eliminate the standard 3.5mm headphone jack, requiring wired headphones to connect to the Lightning connector instead. New Lightning-based EarPods will be released to support this as well, although it remains unclear whether Apple will continue to bundle EarPods with the iPhone or require them to be purchased separately.
Just Mobile has introduced a new minimalist dock, the HoverDock, in both iPhone and Apple Watch versions. The HoverDock for iPhone ($35) is a low-profile charging stand encased in a unibody aluminum disc that allows you to pass through your Lightning cable and stand your iPhone upright, and supports most cases.
HoverDock for Apple Watch ($35) follows the same unibody aluminum design as the iPhone version, allowing you to pass through the standard Apple Watch Magnetic Charging cable and keep your Apple Watch propped up for Nightstand Mode.
Numerous reports have suggested the upcoming iPhone 7 will drop the 3.5mm headphone port, and now Fast Company claims that will indeed be the case. The publication also claims the newest iPhone will be waterproof, as some have suggested. Additionally, the report claims the upcoming phone “will very likely support wireless charging.” A source told Fast Company that Apple will work with its audio chip partner Cirrus Logic to adapt the iPhone audio chipset to work with the Lightning port. The iPhone will also use some kind of noise-cancelling technology — the tech will reportedly enable Apple’s newest phone to remove background noise in both music playback and phone calls.
The source also believes that Apple will sell a pair of noise-cancelling Lightning earphones separately, rather than packaging it in with the iPhone. Regarding the waterproofing feature, Fast Company’s report does come with the caveat that Apple could pull waterproofing “very late in the development process,” as has happened before.
Edifier has introduced several new speakers at this year’s CES. The MA5 ($200) desktop audio system is Wi-Fi enabled and provides support for AirPlay and DLNA. It can stream music from app-based online music sources such as Pandora and Spotify. It also features a cloud-based speech recognition system for online music search and can act as a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi hotspot. MA5 should be released in Q2 2016.
The MP700 ($230) portable speaker comes in two versions, with a Bluetooth 4.0 model that features an NFC tag for quick connection with compatible devices, and an Wi-Fi model which features AirPlay and DLNA connectivity, and the same app-based online music source management and 2.4GHz Wi-Fi hotspot features as the MA5. Additionally, the MA215 ($300) is a desktop Wi-Fi speaker set for release in the third quarter of 2016.
Kwikset has expanded the smart lock lineup that began with its popular Kevo last year, debuting its first HomeKit-compatible solution, Premis. The new smart lock will allow users to lock and unlock their door using Siri voice controls and HomeKit-compatible third-party apps, and it includes other advanced security features such as SecureScreen and the latest version of Kwikset SmartKey security. Leveraging the Apple TV as a standard HomeKit hub, HomeKit support will allow users to let others in while away, confirm their door is locked after leaving, and unlock the door when coming home without fumbling for keys. HomeKit compatibility will also provide the ability to create integrated scenes with other HomeKit accessories, including triggers and notifications that can perform actions such as turning on lighting or adjusting heating, simply by unlocking the front door.
First Alert expands Onelink family with HomeKit-enabled Wi-Fi safe, environment monitor + thermostat
First Alert has announced several new HomeKit-enabled products at CES 2016, including a new Wi-Fi safe, environment monitor, and thermostat. The three new products expand the company’s OneLink lineup that first introduced HomeKit integration with its Onelink alarm Smoke and CO detector.
The Onelink by First Alert Wi-Fi Safe secures valuables and provides Wi-Fi connectivity with the Onelink Home App. Users can connect remotely via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 LE with their iOS devices, and can lock and unlock the safe using a passcode or Touch ID with either the company’s own app or Siri HomeKit commands. Users can also configure the app to send them status alerts and notifications, such as when the safe has been opened or tempered with, and access can be selectively granted to friends and family members. The battery-operated safe also includes a built-in accelerometer to detect attempts to move or open the safe while it’s locked, and LEDs on the front prove a status indicator to show that the safe has been successfully locked.
Apple has acquired Emotient, an artificial-intelligence development company, The Wall Street Journal reports. Emotient has been working on solutions that use artificial intelligence to read people’s emotions by analyzing facial expressions, a technology that has up until now been primarily targeted at advertisers to gauge viewer reactions. While it’s unclear what Apple might do with this acquisition, many Silicon Valley companies have recently been working to improve image recognition, and investing heavily in AI techniques. An Apple spokesperson confirmed the purchase but gave the standard boilerplate statement that Apple always makes after an acquisition, that Apple “buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
A new patent filing reveals that Apple is working on a new dual camera zoom lens system that could be incorporated into future iOS devices. Patently Apple reports on patent application 20160007008, simply titled “Mobile Camera System” which describes methods and systems by which multiple cameras can be used to provide an effective optical zoom. Some of the concepts include using two cameras to capture separate images of different visual fields, while others suggest that the cameras would employ different focal lengths to achieve similar results. The patent also describes images being combined or preserved to the storage medium as separate data structures for later processing. The patent also interestingly suggests that the solution could be applied to a desktop computer with a camera or even a “gaming computer with orientation sensors” suggesting that Apple may have more far-reaching goals for this technology.
Braven has announced several new speakers at this year’s CES, expanding its active and rugged speaker lineup with new options across the board. The new Braven 105 ($60) and Braven 405 ($100) wireless speakers add to the company’s Active Series, and the new BRV-XXL looks like an absolute beast of a speaker. Braven’s parent company, Incipio, also introduced a few new interesting items at the show.
Braven’s massive new BRV-XXL ($350) is designed to bring earth-crushing HD sound to any indoor or outdoor event. It features a tank-like design, titanic surround sound, and more, along with a 14-hour playtime, and a built-in 15600 mAh battery that can charge up iPhones and iPads. It’s built from aircraft grade aluminum and ABS, meaning it can withstand accidental falls, sand, dirt, dust, and rain (it’s IPX5 waterproof rated). NFC provides one-touch connectivity for compatible devices and it includes on-board controls for adjusting bass, treble, volume, and skipping tracks, and a 3.5mm microphone input allows you to use it as a PA system as well. If that weren’t enough, it even sports a built-in bottle opener on the carrying strap.
PhotoFast has announced MemoriesCable 1M, a new version of the popular MemoriesCable that provides users with even more reach. MemoriesCable is an MFi-certified Lightning cable for charging an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch that also includes up to 128GB of built-in flash memory storage directly in the connector. Supported by PhotoFast’s i-FlashDrive ONE app (the same app used with the i-FlashDrive MAX), users can store and backup data from various cloud-based services as well as popular social media accounts. MemoriesCable 1M is expected to start shipping at the end of January.
Withings has announced Thermo ($100), a new iOS-connected Wi-Fi thermometer. Using revolutionary HotSpotSensor technology, Thermo gives you precise results with a simple one-touch gesture, syncing your temperature readings via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth with the companion Thermo iOS app. Sixteen infrared sensors and the patented HotSpot sensor provide a highly-accurate temperature reading against the temple in under two seconds without requiring contact with any bodily fluids, while the app lets you store and track temperature readings, get reminders, and input related symptoms or medications right on your iPhone. Temperatures and related information are stored in a Thermo diary that can be easily shared with your doctor at any time. When taking readings, the Thermo unit will also provide color-coded temperature feedback based on the user’s age profile to help you easily understand the reading.
Building on its Welcome Smart Home Camera, Netatmo has debuted Presence, a new outdoor security camera designed to automatically detect the presence of people, cars, and animals. Using a new “Smart-Sight” feature, Presence analyzes in real-time if somebody is loitering around the outside of your house, or if a car enters the driveway or a pet is in the yard; the camera is able to understand what it sees and notify the user appropriately if something is detected in the monitored area. Infrared night vision provides recording at night, and an integrated smart floodlight can be activated to capture bright color videos even in the dark, to scare off unwanted visitors, or light up the way. As with the company’s Welcome Smart Home Camera, Presence provides entirely customizable settings for notifications and activity recording, and stores videos locally on an internal micro SD card for privacy. In addition, users can establish smart zones to determine specific areas to monitor activity within, and optionally transfer recorded footage to a personal FTP server. Videos are captured in full 1080p HD with a 100-degree field of view and a detection range of 20 meters. Presence is expected to be available in the third quarter of 2016. Pricing has not yet been announced.
Harman has announced a collection of new speakers, earphones, a new in-dash system at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, including updates to its popular JBL Clip and JBL Charge speakers, a new headphone partnership with Under Armour, and a new top-of-the-line speaker in its Quincy Jones series.
The company has released two new versions of its popular portable speakers. The new JBL Clip 2 ($60) is an ultra-compact speaker designed to attach anywhere with a new built-in smart carabineer. It also features a ruggedized, IPX7 waterproof design and fabric casing, eight hours of playtime from the built-in rechargeable lithium ion battery, speakerphone support with noise and echo cancellation, and an integrated 3.5mm audio cable for those who need or prefer a wired connection. It’s expected to be available this spring.
The JBL Charge 3 ($150) has been updated with an IPX7 waterproof design, and is available in five colors. You can wirelessly connect up to three smartphones or tablets to the speaker at once to take turns playing audio, and the 6000 mAh power bank gives you up to 15 hours of playtime and can charge an iPhone, iPad, or other USB powered device on the go. Dual external passive radiators provide powerful bass, a built-in speakerphone features noise and echo cancellation, and JBL Connect support lets users link multiple JBL Connect-enabled speakers together.
Olloclip has introduced Studio ($90), a new mounting and accessory system for iPhone 6/6s and iPhone 6 Plus/6s Plus. Studio is built around Studio Case, an Olloclip-compatible case not completely dissimilar to the company’s prior Ollocase. However, Studio also incorporates an integrated rail mounting system, and it comes with a number of accessories, including a kickstand, finger grip, cold-shoe adapters, and clips to attach a tripod or handles. Studio is available to pre-order, and it should be ready to ship by early February.
iHome has unveiled a collection of several new products at this year’s CES, including an updated version of its original HomeKit-enabled SmartPlug, a new model building on its Kineta speaker lineup, and several new speakers and clock radios.
The new iHome Control iSP8 SmartPlug ($50), expands on the company’s original HomeKit-enabled plug, adding power consumption monitoring capabilities and compatibility with Android, Nest, Wink, and more in addition to the iOS HomeKit support. A remote control is also included in the package to allow the plug to be used without a smartphone or tablet.
The new Kineta K5 ($70) builds on the new K-Cell battery equipped speakers iHome debuted last year with a new design, Bluetooth-enabled wireless FM clock radio, and built-in speakerphone. It’s equipped with Reson8 speakers and includes the same K-Cell battery technology as the original models — a removable battery pack that can be popped out to recharge mobile devices on the go.
In advance of this year’s CES 2016, Parrot has debuted an entirely new fixed-wing drone design. The new drone, named Disco, features an ultra-light flying wing design for an entirely new flying experience from traditional quadcopter-style hovering drones. Disco features an auto-pilot along with multiple sensors such as an accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, barometer, Pitot tube, and GPS to provide it with data to effectively control its flight and make it simple for even novice users to get up and flying quickl. Take-off is automatic — the user simply needs to throw Disco into the air and it will gain altitude autonomously and turn in the sky until you take control of it. Parrot Disco can reach speeds of up to almost 50 mph without losing stability and is equipped with a front camera for an immersive point-of-view flying experience, and it can be paired with the Parrot Skycontroller and FPV glasses for a “head in the clouds view.” Users can also create app-enabled flight plans for autonomous flight, and Disco can remain in the air for up to 45 minutes on a single battery charge. Disco is expected to be available later this year; pricing has not yet been announced.
Apple is releasing a limited edition of the Apple Watch Sport model in honor of the Chinese New Year. Debuting in new yellow gold aluminum and silver aluminum finishes, the new editions are paired with bright red straps, a color traditionally associated with good luck in Chinese culture. The special Chinese New Year editions sell for the same price as the standard Apple Watch Sport model, and are only available in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia from Jan. 15 to Feb. 22, although Apple is taking pre-orders as of today. [via Mashable]