Accessories, Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Apple releases ‘Made for iPhone’ specifications for iBeacons

In a push for wider iBeacon adoption, Apple has on Tuesday released the iBeacon specifications for members of the “Made for iPhone” program, Apple’s program for hardware partners.

iBeacons are known as Bluetooth low-energy transmitters that use Apple’s iBeacon API to send micro-location information to nearby apps and devices. This accessory is compatible with Apple’s iPhones and iPads, as well as other devices that use Bluetooth LE.  iBeacon is particularly interesting for retailers.

Apple is now implementing tighter control over who can use the ‘iBeacon’ branding. That means, that the company is now requiring manufacturers meet certain specifications before using ‘iBeacon’ on their products. According to Apple’s “Made for iPhone” program, manufacturers will have to ask for permission to use the iBeacon name on products. Fortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any requirements that would limit the functionality of beacon products already on the market. The requirements are comparable to those for Bluetooth accessory makers under the MFi program. Using the term iBeacon requires manufacturers to meet specific criteria, which are only available after a non-disclosure agreement has been signed. ibeacon-131206

This new specification provides Apple more control over the iBeacon trademark, meaning no longer usage of the iBeacon brand without consent from Apple.

With introduction of iBeacon micro-location technology, users received a new great way to interact with their environment.

After a number of tests, Apple released the technology in December at its U.S. retail stores. Most recently, Major League Baseball announced successful iBeacon installations at stadiums that will send notifications that include info related to the game and stadium through the MLB At the Ballpark app. MLB also announced its plans to apply iBeacon tech in over 20 parks before the 2014 season’s stateside opener in March.

Accessories, Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Resound Linx-the world’s first made for iPhone hearing aid

GN ReSound, a Danish hearing aid manufacturer, launched a new hearing aid, which connects directly to iPhones and other iOS devices. The accessory is designed to allow hearing impaired to talk on the phone or listen to music, without the need for an additional remote control.

There are more than 500 million people worldwide, who suffer from some degree of hearing loss and they are not only those at advanced age, but much younger as well. A hearing aid can help them regain their hearing so they can live the life they’re used to.

The LiNX can be used to talk on the phone and listen to music, with a custom app. Once launched, the app allows to adjust volume levels, change device settings and switch between preset environments for the hearing aid, allowing the accessory to optimize to the user’s environment. Hearing aids feature a number of modes, allowing to automatically change sound profiles based on the location of the user, changing for work, home, or a favorite restaurant. Additionally, the app includes a “Find My Hearing Aid” function to help wearers find their device if it’s lost.

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The developers use a unique 2.4GHz protocol used by the LiNX and designed specifically for communication between iPhones and hearing aids.

The hearing aid itself can also function as a high-quality headset, providing users with the ability to answer calls, listen to turn-by-turn directions, and much more on their iOS device.ReSound-LiNX-image-001

“We saw an opportunity to create the world’s best hearing aid by combining the capability of GN ReSound’s life-changing technologies with the compatibility and global prevalence of iPhone, iPad and iPod touch,” said GN ReSound CEO Lars Viksmoen. “We are committed to improving people’s lives through use of innovative technology and look forward to more people correcting their hearing with this new technology – a triumph in accessibility for the hearing impaired.”

Previously, hearing aid wearers had to carry a wireless device to make changes to settings on a tiny hearing aid. But the new accessory allows to make those changes directly on the iPhone.

The price of the device is unclear.

Accessories, News/Rumors

MAD CATZ announced a wireless game controller for iOS 7

Gaming peripheral company Mad Catz has announced its C.T.R.L.i iOS 7 gaming controller at Mobile World Congress 2014. The company, which is best known for its range of console and PC gaming accessories, presented its first controller to feature native support for iOS 7.

The C.T.R.L.i can connect to any iOS 7 device through Bluetooth instead of using a Lightning port, and includes a spring-loaded mount that can be used with the iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, and iPhone 5c. The accessory itself is based on Mad Catz’s popular MLG Pro Circuit Controller for the Xbox 360, and features standard console-style controls such as a two thumb sticks, a d-pad, media buttons and triggers on the shoulder.

You will be impressed with how stable the controller remains while playing. To protect iPhone from damages, the controller is equipped with a special clip, fixed with a tiny screw. A device with a bigger display is also available to place in the controller, meaning, that the company is ready to the next generation of iPhone with a larger display.madcatz_ctrli_1-800x502

Additionally, the C.T.R.L.i’s Bluetooth capabilities also provide connectivity for up to four controllers.

C.T.R.L.i is not the first iOS 7 gaming controller, both Logitech and MOGA were first introduced to public, but priced pretty high and of poor build quality. So, the controller from Mad Catz, known for its good quality, will be able to make a good competition to the existing models.

According to the maker, the Bluetooth-enabled gamepad will go on sale in early spring. It’ll be available in black, white, blue, red, orange and priced at $80.

iPhone, News/Rumors

First look at next-gen iPhone?

A set of images has been posted yesterday by an anonymous Twitter user, depicting what could be a prototype of the next-generation iPhone. The photos are believed to have been shared by someone in China, who claimed the images show the “iPhone 6″.

They show the front and back of what appears to be a larger handset designed by the Cupertino company, but  there is still no solid evidence that they are real. Early prototypes of the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c showed a blank rear shell while the iPhone 6 shell in the picture clearly shows FCC text that is generally added to the phone at a later date. The metal shell of the prototype, which is a unibody construction, closely resembles both the industrial design of the current iPod touch and iPad Air.

According to some measurements based on the leaked photos, the new iPhone in the images is 4.7 inches diagonally and 2.3 inches wide, the same width as the existing iPhone 5s.

The iPhone 6 is rumored to be available in multiple sizes, one model at approximately 4.7 inches and a second between 5.5 and 5.7 inches.3

Some earlier reports said, that the iPhone 6 may be thinner and lighter than the current iPhone 5s, thanks to advancements in LED backlighting technology. The posted images also show the thinner device with a curved-edge design. The next-generation device is also expected to come in with a sapphire glass display, and will be provided with the Touch ID fingerprint authentication system first introduced with the iPhone 5s. 2

By the way, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this kind of iPhone design. Back in Oct. 2013, Ciccarese Design revealed renderings that looks almost identical to the latest leaked images.

Even if these images are fake, they give a good look at concepts of what the next iPhone could look like.

 

iPhone, News/Rumors

Apple likely to use Sony front-facing camera sensors for future iPhone

According to some sources, Apple is preparing to release two new versions of the iPhone in September. Prototypes of the so-called “iPhone 6″ are reportedly being tested by the company. The display of the future device is believed to feature integrated fingerprint sensing capabilities, technology that the tech giant has already described in patent filings. It is unclear if the new technology means the refuse from the Touch ID-infused home button, or the end of the home button all together.

In addition, the iPhone 6 could sport a new Sony-supplied front-facing camera. The news came from Japanese business site called Nikkei, which thinks that Apple and Sony are in negotiations that would double Sony’s shipments to the Cupertino company in 2015.

“The Japanese firm already supplies nearly all of the CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) sensors for the current iPhone models’ rear-mounted main cameras. Apple is likely looking to switch to Sony sensors for the secondary camera on the screen side, used for taking self-portraits.”

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Sony recently bought a new manufacturing plant,which is believed to help step up production in order to meet Apple’s request for more sensors. The Japanese electronics giant will invest 35 billion yen in the facility, which will boost its monthly production capacity by 25 percent.

Sony has already provided the iPhone maker with sensors for the device’s rear camera, while OmniVision has supplied the sensors for the front camera.

Sony, a camera manufacturer itself designs large, light-absorbing sensors into small cameras. Apple has also focused its attempts on enhanced sensors and low-light picture taking capabilities along with its competitors, like Nokia, aim to focus only on higher megapixels.

It is likely that with Sony supplying sensors, the front-facing camera in a future Apple device could see some important improvements. As for the iPhone 6, it is still unclear what camera enhancements the company may implement.

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Olympic athletes free to use any device, including iPhone

Earlier this week, it was reported that Samsung had required athletes to hide the logos on devices made by competitors during the opening ceremonies. In return, they were promised to get a free Galaxy Note 3 smartphone in the gift bags.

Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee confirmed that Olympic athletes are allowed to use any device they want during the event, including iPhones. They are also free not to cover any logos on their gadgets.

According to Samsung representative, the company “has not been involved in any decisions related to branding on products used by athletes at the Games.”

An IOC spokesperson also confirmed the report was “not true”:

“No it is not true. Athletes can use any device they wish during the Opening Ceremony. The normal rules apply just as per previous Games.

The Samsung Note 3 that were distributed are a gift to the athletes, so they can capture and share their experiences at the Games, and the phones also contain important competition and logistical information for competing athletes.”

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Olympic athletes are banned  from mentioning any non-sponsor products during their time at the Olympics, including on social media and clothing. According to the Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter, they are not allowed to mention non-sponsors with a specific exemption for sponsor logos on clothing or equipment that cover less than 10% of the surface area of the product in question.

Perhaps, the South Korean company requested that logos be covered, but it is not an official IOC request and athletes are free to use any device and will not be penalized for it.

Accessories, News/Rumors

Scentee offers smelly smartphone notifications

There is a wide range of accessories, developed specially for iPhone: covers, docks, equipments for high quality capturing and others. At last, there’s a smartphone accessory that will notify you of new texts using smells.

The Scentee, created by Japanese firm ChatPerf, plugs into the iPhone’s docking connector and can connect with apps to emit scents on command. It is tasked to transform ordinary text alerts and make them mouth-watering. The company-maker has also offered an app that allows for scented text message alerts. When the app receives a notification, the Scentee lights up and spurts out a smell. You can choose from rose, mint, cinnamon roll, coffee, curry, lavender, apple, strawberry or even corn syrup. The new “Hana Yakiniku” scents, which literally means “nose grilled meat”, comes in three scents: Short Ribs, Beef Tongue, and Buttered Potato.  The company plans on adding more scents and adaptability, letting users customize their scent experience.

The Scentee itself is a small accessory that will plug into the headphone jack on your iPhone or Android. A scent release can also be added to games and social networks.

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Scentee’s website notes, “Apps include scented notifications for emails and Facebook “Likes.” Even “Timer” scents that work with your phone clock alarm to ease you into the day with a favorite aroma.” The fragrances come in disposable cartridges ad Scentee says they are updating the available aromas. Each cartridge has about 100 uses and costs 525 Yen, approximately $5.32.

The device is available only in white, and can be charged with the included micro USB cable. The Scentee accessory itself can be purchased for about $37. The device can be used on any iPhone, starting with the iPhone 4s, iPad mini, iPad 2 and iPad 3.

Accessories, News/Rumors

Zoom iQ5:Lightning-connected professional stereo microphone for iPhone, iPad

It looks like the time for a revolution in stereo microphones has come. Finally, your iPhone videos will sound as great as they look thanks to a new accessory, Zoom’s iQ5 Professional Stereo Microphone with Lightning Connector. It is expected to turn your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad into a high-quality stereo recorder.

According to the official website’s description, “The Zoom iQ5 is a high-quality mid-side stereo condenser mic, perfect for recording music and compact enough to be slipped into your pocket. Simply connect it to the Lightning connector of your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch and get ready to do some serious stereo recording any time, any place.”

The new device features an adjustable mic element with both vertical and horizontal positioning, allowing you to capture amazing sound in any location. All you need is adjust the circular attachment on the top of the accessory to ensure audio is being recorded, with left and right channels clearly labeled. The rotating mic element is designed for both audio and video applications. Audio can be captured in 90- or 120-degree fields, adjustable with a switch on the device. You can then use Zoom’s Handy Recorder iOS app, which allows you to collapse the signal into phase-coherent mono, which is great for any type of voice recordings. Zoom’s free Handy Recorder app is specially designed for use with the iQ5.

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The accessory can be used with most iOS apps that support audio input from an external microphone, including Apple’s native Camera application, GarageBand and others.

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The Lightning accessory also offers three auto-gain levels, built-in timing, automatic recording, and a dedicated headphone jack. Additionally, you can record for hours, the iQ5 charges your iOS devices during use with its mini USB connector.

The iQ5 is available in both black and white colors, to match Apple devices.

Specifications:

  • Suggested Retail Price: US$99.99
  • Dimensions: 58.6 x 62.45 x 38.5 mm
  • Weight: 30.5 grams
  • Audio quality: 44.1 kHz/16 bit
  • Connectors: Lightning connector, USB Mini-B connector (for recharging your iOS device), stereo mini jack for combined headphone/line level output
  • Microphone: Mid-side (M-S) stereo mic (90°/120°/M-S)

The Zoom iQ5 is great for anyone who is looking for something to create high-quality digital stereo recording. This compact and lightweight mic can be carried in a pocket.

Accessories, News/Rumors

Incipio’s Cashwrap Case turns iPhone into NFC-enabled device

AT&T is reportedly getting ready to launch an iPhone accessory that will turn the smartphone into an Isis-ready, NFC-enabled device. The Incipio Cashwrap case was designed for  the iPhone 5/5s and is expected to enable secure mobile payments via a micro-NFC chip and a mobile app.

The new accessory will be available from AT&T with three different color combinations for $69.99 each.

Along with the case, users interested in Isis-based mobile payments will also be required to have to install a free application, the Isis Mobile Wallet. A companion app to the case and payment service has yet to appear in the App Store, but it looks like it will arrive soon after the case goes officially on sale.

Once the Isis mobile app is installed, credit card information can be stored and used for contactless payments where Isis is supported. According to the Cashwrap product page, transit passes and loyalty cards will be supported.

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Isis is a wireless payment service backed up by AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon in the U.S., although it’s not clear whether these iPhone cases will also be available from the other two carriers.

The Cashwrap from Southern California based designer and manufacturer of award winning mobile device accessories, was officially introduced at CES 2014, with Incipio announcing only iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 cases at the time. While, the Cashwrap cases should launch in March, there are rumors, that the accessory is already listed in AT&T’s inventory.

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Apple began in-store display repairs to iPhone 5c

As promised in a report earlier this month, Apple has begun repairing iPhone 5c screens in-store this week.

Owners of Apple’s iPhone 5c can now have their handset’s cracked or damaged display replaced in their local Apple stores and have them repaired quickly for a flat fee.

Apple has been doing this since last June for the iPhone 5, but just recently updated the hardware and training necessary to work with the latest models.

Owners will have to wait for about one hour in any U.S. Apple retail store while the employees will be working with their damaged devices. Technicians use advanced display calibration machines to ensure a perfect fit, with one employee likening the process to “bringing China to the Genius Room.”

Customers will reportedly have to pay without AppleCare+ $149 to get their screens repaired, meaning about $80 less than the service used to cost non-AppleCare users, and the company no longer has to send the device off-site. Repairs for those with AppleCare+ are said to cost $75.

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The machine used by Apple’s Geniuses to repair iPhone 5 screens

While there are rumors that the program will reach Apple’s U.K. retail outlets, there are no confirmations on when or if it might happen.

While a large number of Apple stores can fix iPhone 5 and 5c models in-store, there still seems to be difficulties with the iPhone 5s. That means, that owners of damaged 5s and 4s devices will still have to either have their smartphones replaced, or sent off-site for repair.

The whole attempt is part of Tim Cook’s push to sell more handsets in the company’s own stores. Devices repairs are reported to have been given a top priority at the stores’ Genius Bar as a result of the effort.

Last year, Apple discussed a few changes it would be making to its AppleCare service, including in-store device repairs. According to the vice president of AppleCare, Tara Bunch this step is expected to result in annual savings of up to $1 billion.