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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.

Apple Watch will be able to control some Whirlpool appliances later this year

Whirlpool’s Wi-Fi-connected ovens, washers and dryers will be able to be controlled from the Apple Watch sometime later this year, CNET reports. The Whirlpool app for Apple Watch will be able to control more than 20 of the company’s smarthome appliances — a first for the Apple Watch, which has been previously linked to gym equipment but never to these types of appliances. Users will be able to check the temperature or change settings in their oven, change the settings on a washer mid-cycle or monitor the progress of a drying cycle, all from their wrist.

Apple joins Alliance for Open Media aimed at reducing size of online videos

Apple has added its power to the Alliance for Open Media, a collection of tech’s biggest names working to shrink the size of online videos to provide a better streaming experience, CNET reports. The group is creating a technology called AV1 to compress video before it’s stored or transmitted. Until now Apple has been a major holdout, but the company recently appeared as a “founding member” on the group’s website, sending a signal of newfound strong support. Apple has previously focused on the more closed HEVC/H.265 video format, implementing it for FaceTime over cellular in 2014, and more recently bringing it to iOS 11 for video recording. However the licensing fees involved in this more proprietary formats has limited its widespread adoption, necessitating background conversion to H.264 when sharing and exporting videos to ensure maximum compatibility. Moving to a more widely held standard across multiple platforms and companies could eliminate that step, but Apple hasn’t publicly commented on what joining the AOM will mean for its own formats.

Report: Jimmy Iovine leaving Apple Music in August

When his Apple shares from the 2014 sale of Beats fully vest in August, Jimmy Iovine will be leaving Apple Music, Billboard reports. The former Interscope CEO has been with Apple since the sale, but people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that Iovine is unlikely to stick around after receiving his final payout from the $3 billion deal. Iovine has been an important part of Apple Music’s successes — smoothing over a public feud with Taylor Swift and has securing exclusive deals with artists like Drake — but he’s also been a source of friction with other high-ranking executives, who have been in the middle of negotiations with artists and labels only to find Iovine was conducting his own separate discussions.

Apple, Intel downplay performance cost of fixing Meltdown, Spectre vulnerabilities

After addressing vulnerabilities in processors that left iOS and Mac devices open to security issues nicknamed Meltdown and Spectre, Apple is now convinced than the fixes rolled out to remedy the problems will have “little to no performance impact,” Reuters reports. Apple admitted that its devices were vulnerable to exploits that “abuse speculative execution to access privileged memory —including that of the kernel — from a less-privileged user process such as a malicious app running on a device,” but said fixes in iOS 11.2, macOS 10.13.2, and tvOS 11.2 already help defend against Meltdown — even though there have been no documented exploits affecting customers. Since the exploits would require a malicious app to be downloaded, the recommended course of action is to scrutinize apps before downloading and only download from trusted sources. Intel — the company that produces the affected microprocessors — said Apple had seen no significant performance drop off from security updates and that any impact should be mitigated over time with future updates.

Speck reveals Presidio Mount case that works with Scosche magnetic mounts

Speck has revealed its new Presidio Mount case, designed to work with Scosche’s MagicMount system. While most magnetic mount assemblies require a user to stick a metal plate to their phone or case, the Presidio Mount comes already equipped with the necessary plates embedded in the case, leaving users with a normal-looking case while providing the ease of using a magnetic mount while on the go. The Presidio Mount will be available in February for $45 for the iPhone X and 8 and $50 for the iPhone 8 Plus.

Elgato adds to smarthome lineup with Eve Button and updated Eve Room

Elgato has updated its Eve Room sensor and revealed the new Eve Button controller for managing HomeKit scenes and devices. The second-generation Eve Room ($100) still features the previous model’s monitoring of air quality, temperature and humidity, but the new version has its own e-ink display rather than just relying on the dedicated app to display information. Eve Room also now includes its own built-in battery that can be charged via USB instead of the 2015 model’s reliance on AA batteries — the first time we’ve seen Elgato include a rechargeable battery in one of its Eve products. The new Eve Room borrows its black and aluminum aesthetic from the award-winning Eve Degree that we reviewed last year, making for a much sleeker look to go along with the $20 price increase over the older model when the new device debuts in March.

Belkin’s Wemo smarthome brand rolls out HomeKit support with Wemo Bridge

After missing its promised roll out last fall, Belkin is bringing HomeKit support to its Wemo smarthome ecosystem with the Wemo Bridge, finally allowing users to integrate Wemo accessories with other HomeKit-enabled devices and control them using Siri. The $40 Wemo Bridge will allow owners to incorporate Wemo’s line of light switches, dimmers, motion sensors and smart plugs into room and scene configurations with more than 100 other HomeKit-compatible devices, providing easy control both when at home and while away. The Wemo Bridge simply plugs into a user’s Wi-Fi router through an Ethernet cable and then provides wireless access to all compatible Wemo accessories through the company’s dedicated app or Apple’s Home app.

Mophie launches Powerstation AC external battery pack

Mophie has announced the powerstation AC, its newest external power pack, incorporating a high-capacity 22,000 mAh battery with AC power and USB-PD outputs which provide fast charging for the iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 8, and iPad Pro, along with the ability to power the USB-C based MacBooks. The AC output port provides 100W of power for charging and powering electronic devices that normally require a wall outlet, while the USB-C port provides 30W of charging power under the USB Power Distribution (USB-PD) spec. Mophie promises up to 15 hours of extra battery life for the standard MacBook. A “Priority+ Charging” feature prioritizes delivering power to devices connected to the USB-A ports over charging the internal battery, and a premium fabric wrap provides a comfortable feel and scratch protection. The mophie powerstation AC is available now at mophie.com for $199.95.

UK set to ban stores from charging fees on Apple Pay transactions

The UK has a new law going into effect January 13 making it illegal for stores to add surcharges for customers paying with cards or contactless payment methods like Apple Pay, The Bristol Post reports. While most larger retailers weren’t charging fees for transactions, some smaller businesses and online stores were adding a penalty for those paying with certain payment methods. Now all in-store and online purchases made within the UK from UK businesses will be protected from added fees.

ConnectSense debuts new HomeKit-compatible outlet ahead of CES

After rolling out its original external Smart Outlet in 2015, ConnectSense is debuting a new HomeKit-compatible in-wall outlet, 9to5Mac reports. The hardwired version replaces a standard outlet and looks like the usual two-receptacle setup wil provide Wi-Fi controls that can detect when something is plugged in and how much power is being used. Each outlet can be controlled with the built-in touch controls, Siri voice activation or the HomeKit app. The price and release date haven’t been announced, but ConnectSense has set a Q3 launch target.

Apple Watch users reporting interference from ICU equipment causing problems

Apple Watch users working in intensive care units are reporting Apple Watch problems, 9to5Mac reports. One user with an Apple Watch Series 3 was experiencing reboots every 60-90 minutes while working in the ICU, and the issue continued even after the device was replaced, leading to speculation that ICU-related equipment is causing the problems. The problem has become so pervasive that there’s now a three-page support thread for the issue, but the only proposed solution so far is to run the device in airplane mode — which negates much of its usefulness. The issue hadn’t manifested itself in the Apple Watch before the Series 3, but Series 3 devices both with and without cellular service have been affected.

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