Accessories, News/Rumors

Fin thumb ring converts your palm into a numeric keypad

Smartphones, smartwatches and even smart glasses continue to enrich the line of smart accessories. Smart rings are certainly less common but still pretty intriguing ideas. One of them is Fin, a thumb ring designed to turn your whole palm into a gesture interface. Fin wraps around your thumb and converts your palm into a numeric keypad.

The main goal of the device is to enable hand gesture control of smart devices, aims to not only provide better connectivity, but to alter the way you interact with your favorite gadgets.

How doest Fin work?  Fin is a Bluetooth enabled product that you can connect to three different digital devices, including Smartphones, Smart TVs, Automobiles, and Home automation devices providing multiple device compatibility. Fin has built-in sensors that allow it to track its movement in relation to your palm.  Gestures are then imported into commands for different devices that are transmitted via Bluetooth 4.0.20140110101734-Fin-Indiegogo-spec

Additionally, the ring is equipped with an LED indicator, and runs on a lithium-ion battery that requires a single charge for a whole month. It can then be recharged via a Micro-USB port. Among other advantages of the accessory is its waterproof feature with a rating of IP67. The developer also claims the ring is dust proof.

The device is compatible with iOS, Android and Windows phones.

Key features:

  • Fin should come with Water-proof: IP67.
  • Size/Fit: Flexible.
  • Battery: Li Po custom battery with micro-USB charging dock.
  • Sensors: Fin can track accurate movement of your thumb on the palm also detect each part of your finger where you are touching.
  • Communication: Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR and 4.0
  • Compatibility: Windows, MAC, iOS, Android, Windows Phones.

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With just a swipe motion, the ring allows you to control your smart TV, change the channels, control sounds, navigate your maps, receive calls and read messages, change music, and other car utilities. You can easily share your data with a tap of your finger.

The ring will come in white, orange, black, blue and green, with shipping estimated for September.

Fin is still in prototype phase, and a crowd-funding campaign has been launched via Indiegogo. To gain a ring for yourself you’ll have to pledge $130.

News/Rumors

Apple updates IT tools for large-scale iOS device deployments

Apple has updated the software used by big companies and educational institutions to deploy thousands of iPads and iPhones to employees and students.

The updates affect Apple’s Device Enrollment Program, Volume Purchase Program and Apple ID Student services. The new changes don’t require IT administrators plug each device into a computer and apply a profile that configured the settings and restrictions.

In addition, profiles can now be locked to specific devices, preventing employees or students from removing any restrictions by revoking the IT department’s profile. Previously, it was a big problem. This has been a key problem for the Los Angeles Unified School District’s  distributing iPads to thousands of students.

Deployed devices are also available to manage remotely with help of a new zero-touch configuration setup, which provides IT admins the ability to reconfigure or wipe corporate iPhones and iPads without ever having to bring it into an office.Deployment

“This ‘zero touch’ setup has been a long-requested feature for many pros, as it eliminates the need to cable up every deployed device and install a profile via Apple’s Configurator utility.”

Enrollment for the program is also made easier with a new dedicated webpage called “Deployment Programs.” More services are also attached to the website to make new enrollments and management easier for the end user.

The company has expanded the Volume Purchase Program to more countries, allowing to make VPP purchases via purchase order. Additionally, the iPhone maker has also set up a new type of COPPA-compliant Apple ID for students under the age of 13.

Much more information about deploying iOS devices is available on Apple’s website.

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.

News/Rumors

Samsung announces Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner and heart rate monitor

Samsung yesterday introduced its next-generation Galaxy S5 flagship phone at its Unpacked 5 event at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. As reported, the new device includes a fingerprint sensor built into the device’s home button, allowing users to unlock their handset and access private data stored on the phone. Additionally, the South Korean company also confirmed that it will be allowing mobile payments with the fingerprint scanner as well as using it as a security feature to make content in certain apps only accessible when activated by the user’s fingerprint.

Samsung’s sensor is activated using a swiping motion that scans the finger.

Samsung Galaxy S5 itself looks similar to its predecessors, though it is provided a special soft-touch textured backing and a water resistant casing. The front of the device features a 5.1-inch display at a resolution of 1,920 by 1,080 pixels, powered by a 2.5-gigahertz quad-core processor and two gigabytes of RAM. The smartphone runs Android “KitKat” version 4.4.2.

It has a 20 percent improved battery life and offers a built-in power saving mode that will activate a black and white display with limited app access when the battery is low. samsung-140224-1

There’s also a new S Health app that takes advantage of the phone’s new heart rate sensor. Users are just required to place their finger on the sensor to have it measure their pulse.

The new device also focuses on health and fitness, and provides a personal fitness tracker, which allows to monitor and manage their behavior. There are also a number of apps included, that are tasked to record diet and exercise records.

The next-generation Galaxy S5 flagship phone features a 16-megapixel shooter that comes with an improved menu and user interface. According to the company, the new device offers the world’s fastest autofocus speed, getting a shot in focus in up to 0.3 seconds.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is scheduled to go on sale in April.

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.

News/Rumors

Samsung releases two new smartwatches, Apple’s iWatch still in development

According to a large number of rumors and some kind of signs, Apple is working on iWatch focused on health and fitness features. The iPhone maker has reportedly hired a lot of specialists in the health field recently, and the device is expected to debut soon.

Meanwhile, Samsung introduced its Galaxy Gear smartwatch just five months ago. And only last week, the Korean company has taken the wraps off of two new smartwatches called the Gear 2 and the Gear 2 Neo. The difference between the two devices is the absence of a camera on the Gear Neo. According to the earlier rumors, the both smartwatches have refused from Android in favor of Samsung’s Tizen operating system.

Samsung says, that the transition to Tizen will bring a lot of improvements to the consumers. The company notes, that the new operating system is much less power intensive. That means, that the battery life of new devices has been increased up to 2-3 days, which is much better in comparison with the one day life offered by the original Gear. Tizen will also offer an ”enriched application ecosystem” to the user.

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The both smartwatches are provided with a 1.63-inch touchscreen, 4Gb of internal storage, a 1GHz dual-core processor, a 300mAh battery and 512MB of RAM. The Gear 2 is also equipped with a 2MP camera with 720p video capabilities.

The company didn’t receive a lot of praises from the original Gear’s owners, but Samsung hasn’t made too many changes to the physical design of the device with this refresh, just making some tweaks. The new model has the camera positioned on the front of the device, while the original watch has it located on the wrist strap. Another changes now allow users switch the wristband of the Gear with third-party bands.

There is no information regarding pricing of the devices. The Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo are expected to go on sale starting in April. The Gear 2 will be available in Charcoal Black, Gold Brown and Wild Orange, while the Neo will be available in Mocha Grey, Charcoal Black, and Wild Orange.

News/Rumors

Steve Jobs to appear on commemorative postage stamp in 2015

The United States Postal Service approved several stamps that will be printed as part of a collectible series next year. According to the uncovered document, these stamps include Nintendo’s Mario character, The Beatles’ John Lennon and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

The former Apple CEO’s stamp is still in the design stages and will be released at some point in 2015.  After the final stage of the design, the stamp must then be approved before it hits USPS outlets nationwide.

The Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) was established in 1957 to portray the American experience to a world audience through postage stamps and postal stationery. Annually, tons of letters proposing new stamp ideas are sent to USPS, the CSAC’s job is to evaluate the merits of each on behalf of the Postmaster General. steve-jobs

Jobs has been posthumously honored a number of times since he passed away in 2011. He was given a special Grammy Merit Award and a Disney Legends Award for his visionary achievements. He was also honored with induction into the Bay Area Business Hall of Fame and has a Pixar building named after him.

The list is not final, however, as USPS executive director for stamp services and corporate licensing Susan McGowan says, that the options “are subject to change” at any time.

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Facebook acquiring WhatsApp for $16 billion

Facebook on Wednesday announced its plans to purchase  popular messaging app WhatsApp messaging service for $16 billion, with $4 billion in cash and approximately $12 billion worth of Facebook shares. Additionally, $3 billion in restricted stock will also be given to the WhatsApp founders and employees. The RSUs will vest in four years after the deal closes.

WhatsApp Messenger is a very popular cross-platform messaging app, which has nearly 500 million users and allows them to chat with individuals or groups, as well as sending and accepting files and images.

Last year, Google was rumored to have been planning to acquire the company for $1 billion - something WhatsApp denied.

According to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg:

“WhatsApp will complement our existing chat and messaging services to provide new tools for our community. Facebook Messenger is widely used for chatting with your Facebook friends, and WhatsApp for communicating with all of your contacts and small groups of people. Since WhatsApp and Messenger serve such different and important uses, we will continue investing in both and making them each great products for everyone.”

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It’s still unclear how this purchase will affect WhatsApp’s “mantra” of an ad-free experience. It is also unknown if the WhatsApp’s pricing structure will change. The app’s users currently pay $0.99 for unlimited yearly usage. The app was available for free when it first appeared in the iOS App Store.

WhatsApp notes that the Facebook and WhatsApp messaging apps will remain separate standalone apps, operating independently from each other.

Notably, that in April 2012, Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion.

iPad, News/Rumors

Apple highlights iPad’s use in professional mountain climbing

Apple on Tuesday introduced its “your verse” iPad media campaign featuring a second story to its dedicated mini site. The new ad depicts several inspiring ways in which people are using iPads to help with everything. This latest edition shows how Adrian Ballinger and Emily Harrington have used their device when scaling some of the world’s most renowned mountains.

The mountaineers are shown using the iPad, which assists them with preparing for a climb, documenting their trip with photos and blog posts. They don’t need to wait to share their adventure, their iPad does it at once.

“Not long ago, they relied on outdated or inaccurate paper maps to inform their plan of attack. Sometimes maps of these areas didn’t even exist. But now with iPad and the Gaia GPS topography app, they can see remote mountain regions in great detail.”

“Five years ago, it was hard to even get a paper map of these places,” Ballinger said. “Now with the iPad it’s remarkable how much we can plan ahead.”

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The iPad is used in almost every stage of ascent, from setting up base camp to reaching the summit. Their base camp is at around 9,000 feet and this is where the duo uses its device to blog, post photos and make updates on social media.

As Ballinger noted, the iPad made their expeditions a bit safer, letting them check new routes and explore more remote areas.

Apple started the Your Verse campaign with a 90-second TV ad with a Dead Poet Society themed narration. The ad was accompanied by two various 30-second variations, called Light Verse and Sound Verse.

The “Your Verse” series is a great continuation of the “Life on iPad” ad campaign that Apple introduced last year.