With a little puck, you won’t miss 3.5mm jack on iPhone

Your next iPhone probably won’t have a headphone jack, and Sean Nelson is telling you to get over it. But he says so gently by offering iPhone fans a glimpse of what a jackless future might look like. The industrial design student has drawn up one way Apple or any other third-party company might bridge […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Apple Developing iPhone With Extended Range Wireless Charging for as Soon as 2017

Apple is reportedly developing a wirelessly-charged iPhone for as soon as 2017, according to Bloomberg. The company is working with its partners in both the U.S. and Asia to create the technology.

Apple is exploring cutting-edge technologies that would allow iPhones and iPads to be powered from further away than the charging mats used with current smartphones, the people said, asking not to be identified as the details are private. The iPhone maker is looking to overcome technical barriers including loss of power over distance with a decision on implementing the technology still being assessed, they said.

Current wirelessly-charged devices require users to place their phones or other devices on charging mats. In September 2012, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller said that the company wasn’t sure of how convenient wireless charging is as most wireless charging systems still have to be plugged into a wall.

In early January, it was reported that Apple was working on wireless charging for the iPhone 7. However, that report warned that the feature could be pulled from the iPhone 7 for a future iteration of the device as Apple is working on the technology currently.

Apple has held an interest in wireless charging since the first iPhone, gaining patents for wireless charging stations and wireless charging through a near field magnetic resonance, which wirelessly charges a device within a certain region. The Cupertino company has also shown an interest in WiTricity’s wireless charging technology, which uses „hidden charging“ technology that allows magnetic fields to wrap around barriers. This allows users to place their charging pads wherever they want.

Last November it was reported that the iPhone 7 would see the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack for an all-in-one Lightning connector that allows users to both power their device and plug in headphones. While the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack would mean that Apple would be able to make the iPhone thinner, it would not allow users to listen to headphones and charge their phone at the same time. A proprietary wireless charging solution from Apple in future iPhones with all-in-one Lightning connectors would likely allow for that.

Related Roundup: iPhone 6s
Tags: wireless charging, bloomberg.com
Buyer’s Guide: iPhone (Neutral)
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Leaked ‘iPhone 7’ Display Backlight Shows Moved 3D Touch and Flex Cables

Taiwanese website Apple.club.tw has shared leaked images of the purported backlight assembly for the „iPhone 7“ display. The component draws some similarities to the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus backlight assembly, although the 3D Touch chip and LCD flex cables are relocated on this leaked part.

Leaked backlight assembly purportedly for „iPhone 7“ display

The website speculates the component could also be for Apple’s next-generation 4-inch iPhone, but previous reports have said the much-rumored „iPhone 6c“ will not have 3D Touch. The pictured size of the 3D Touch chip and flex cables also suggests the backlight assembly is designed for larger than a 4-inch display.

iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus backlight assembly for comparison

Apple.club.tw has accurately leaked or republished multiple Apple products in the past, including the iPhone 6 protruding camera lens, iPhone 6 logic board and iPad Air 2 logic board, but its February 2015 rumor about Apple adding Touch ID on the MacBook, Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad has yet to happen.

Apple may remove the 3.5mm headphone jack on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in favor of an all-in-one Lightning connector, possibly helping the smartphones achieve between 6.0mm and 6.5mm thinness and a waterproof design. The devices may also have a faster TSMC-built A10 chip and non-metallic casing with hidden antenna bands.

iPhone 7 Plus could have 3GB of RAM, 256GB storage and a larger 3,100 mAh battery.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tags: apple.club.tw, 3D Touch, backlight assembly
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‘iPhone 7’ Waterproof Rumors Persist Amid Claims of Hidden Antenna Bands

Catcher Technology will remain the largest chassis supplier for the upcoming line of next-generation iPhones, tentatively referred to as the „iPhone 7,“ according to the China-based Commercial Times (via DigiTimes). Sources noted that Catcher’s non-Apple clients, representing about 40 percent of its overall sales, will keep it going until the majority of its output begins with the manufacturing of the iPhone 7 later in 2016. In total, Catcher Technology’s manufacturing supply is estimated to account for 30 to 35 percent of the shipment numbers for the iPhone 7.

iPhone 7 concept mock-up by designer Martin Hajek

The report also mentioned the continuing rumor that the iPhone 7 may be a completely waterproof device, building on the recent momentum that the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus had this year that showed improved water resistance. The Commercial Times also spoke of „new compound materials“ that would be put in place to form a discreet housing for the iPhone 7’s antenna, suggesting the possible removal of the bands from the back of the current iPhone generation.

As a non S-generation year, the iPhone 7 is expected to be a big step-up from the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, in terms of design and functionality, when it launches next year. Besides a waterproof design and now the possibility of a hidden antenna band, another rumor suggested Apple could be phasing out the 3.5mm headphone jack for an all-in-one Lightning connector port.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7 (2016)
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Last-minute gift ideas for the comfort-minded and tech-conscious [Deals]

The days are ticking away until you’re expected to present that special someone in your life with a thoughtful gift. If you’re stressing out about what to get, or what you might end up paying, take a look at this list of awesome gifts available at a fraction of the usual price. From DIY electronics […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Apple Adds $800 Lightning Adapter ‘Audeze EL-8’ Headphones to Online Store

Apple today introduced a new pair of headphones onto its online storefront that support an iPhone’s Lightning connector in lieu of a traditional 3.5mm headphone jack (via The Verge). The „Audeze EL-8 Titanium Closed-Back Headphones“ will run users $799.95 and are being touted by Audeze as the „world’s first headphones with a fully integrated Apple Lightning cable.“

The included Lightning cable streams a complete 24-bit digital signal from the iOS device to the speakers in the headset through a high quality DSP and 28-bit DAC, giving the headphones „superior performance“ for not only music but voice calls as well. The company has also created a companion app that allows users to customize specific sound presets for the device, and the built-in microphone used for making phone calls also supports Siri.

The EL-8 model gives you a lifelike listening experience with an extended frequency response that opens up a new breadth of sound. Its driver is four times larger than most other headphones and gives excellent bass response along with extremely low distortion. To match the EL-8’s impressive audio, its industrial design is by BMW’s DesignWorks. And durable aluminum construction ensures that you’ll have lasting enjoyment.

The EL-8’s „Cypher Cable,“ which maximizes and enhances the sound quality of the iPhone’s playback, is one of the added costs of the headphone’s top-tier pricing, as pointed out by The Verge, resulting in a $100 premium over the standard EL-8 headphones. Still, in comparison to Audeze’s LCD collection of headphones, its Apple MFi certified EL-8 lineup debuting today is somewhat of a bargain. Most LCD models range between $900 and $1,500, but the most expensive reaches nearly $4,000.

Those interested can purchase the Audeze EL-8 Titanium Closed-Back Headphones for $799.95 on the Apple online store beginning today. Shipping sits at about 2-3 business days at the time of writing, but anyone close to an Apple store could opt-in for personal pick-up instead.

Tag: Audeze
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Hate Apple’s new iPhone battery case? Don’t buy it

Yes, Apple launched a new battery case for iPhone 6s today, and yes, it’s butt-ugly. All battery cases are, but because this one has an Apple logo on it, the Internet is getting all bent out of shape over just how ugly it is. There’s one thing nobody is mentioning, though: You don’t have to buy […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Apple’s official Smart Battery Case will keep your iPhone juiced up

Apple today unveiled a surprise new $99 iPhone “Smart Battery Case,” available in white and charcoal gray — designed to not only protect your iPhone 6s or iPhone 6, but also to give it considerably longer battery life. While Apple does not give specific battery capacity details, it notes that the battery case offers increased […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Review: MiPow’s Power Tube 3000 Battery Pack is Compact and Cute, but App Needs Improvement

There are hundreds of external battery packs available for the iPhone, but only a small subset of those are given the Apple seal of approval and offered in Apple retail stores and the Apple online store. MiPow’s 3,000 mAh Smart Power Tube is one of the newest portable batteries Apple offers, with a lot of perks like built-in charging cables and an accompanying app.

Design and Features

MiPow’s Smart Power Tube is, as the name suggests, tube shaped. While it’s small enough to fit comfortably in a bag or a purse at just over four inches long and an inch thick, it’s an odd shape for a pocket and it isn’t as convenient to use while charging an iPhone like the flatter Mophie-style battery packs. It comes with a little matching carrying pouch so it can be dropped in a bag without worrying about scratches and scuffs.

The Smart Power Tube is available in black, white, gray, and a handful of bright candy colors: turquoise, green, and pink. A smooth, soft-touch material covers the outside of the Smart Power Tube and a metal band separates the body from the cap of the device. On the metal band there are three LEDs that display the power level and a button that activates the Tube when it’s plugged into an iPhone.

Underneath the cap, there’s a USB connector for charging the internal battery and a cleverly placed Lightning cable that connects the Power Tube to an iPhone and also holds the cap of the device in place. On the whole, the Smart Power Tube feels like a premium product with coordinated colors, clean lines, and quality materials.

While I like that the Smart Power Tube has built-in cables, the USB connector that’s included is limiting. I normally charge my external battery packs using a dedicated micro-USB cable on my desk, but with the MiPow Smart Power Tube, I need to plug it directly into my computer to charge or stick it in a USB power adapter. This may not matter to most users who will appreciate being able to plug the Power Tube right into a computer to charge.

Given the size of the Smart Power Tube and the short Lightning cable, it was awkward using my iPhone while it was charging with the battery pack. With the Mophie battery pack I regularly use, it can be positioned out of the way behind the phone, but that was difficult with the Smart Power Tube because of the cap connected to the cable.

With the cap in place, the Lightning cable built into the Smart Power Tube serves as a little handle for carrying it, which is a nice touch. It’s the perfect size to fit around a finger. Speaking of the cap, I should mention that it needs to be removed in a specific way. According to MiPow, it should be removed using an upward swipe with a thumb rather than pulled with the hand to prevent damage to the Lightning cable.

A thumb swipe where the Lightning cable is located pops the cap right off, whereas pulling from the top takes a lot more force, so I can see how the Lightning cable could accidentally be damaged from being opened the wrong way. I am concerned about the long term viability of the Power Tube given the potential for damage to the cable, but I gave it a good stress test (I yanked on it really hard several times) and the cable remained securely in place.

I tested the Power Tube with my iPhone 6s Plus. I drained the battery completely to the point where the iPhone turned off, and then plugged in a fully charged Smart Tube. I plugged my iPhone in at 6:30 p.m., and by 10:00 p.m., I had exhausted the Smart Tube’s battery. For an iPhone 6s Plus with a 2,750 mAh battery, the Smart Tube charged it to 77 percent. Repeated charging sessions offered similar results.

The Smart Power Tube is not going to charge an iPhone 6s Plus to full, but it is going to provide enough power for a full charge for the smaller capacity iPhone 6s, which has a 1,715 mAh battery. It’ll also provide enough power for earlier iPhones like the iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s.

As for charging, I plugged it into my Retina MacBook Pro in at 9:30 a.m. and it reached a full charge at approximately 12:30 p.m., which is in line with the estimated four hour charging time that MiPow lists for the device. It does not offer passthrough charging, so it’s not possible to charge the MiPow and the iPhone at the same time through its Lightning cable.

App

The Smart Power Tube is able to connect to an iPhone via Bluetooth to allow iPhone users to monitor its power level via an accompanying MiPow JuiceSync2 app. While this seems like a cool idea on the surface, it felt like a gimmick to me.

The app displays the power levels of the iPhone and the Power Tube, along with details on how much standby, talk time, and Internet usage that power equates to. The design of the app is outdated and it can be difficult to interpret the information at a glance. iPhone battery level is at left, and Power Tube battery is at the right. At the top, there’s a number that is the combined battery level between the two.

MiPow’s app will send alerts when the Power Tube battery is low, when the iPhone gets too far away from the Power Tube, and when the Power Tube temperature gets too high. None of these features were useful to me during my time testing the device, nor was a dedicated feature that’s meant to allow users to find a lost Power Tube.

„Find Me“ turns on the LED lights of the device, but since there’s no sound, if it’s hidden away in a drawer or in a bright room, there’s no way to see the light. It has a radar that seems like it’s meant to determine distance, but it didn’t work for me, fluctuating between full bars and two bars even when right next to the Power Tube.

There were a few other app functions I wasn’t able to get working or that didn’t work well. A tracking feature is supposed to record the point at which an iPhone and the Power Tube lose connection, but I couldn’t get it to record my location, despite having location services and all alerts turned on. A „Ring Me“ feature is supposed to cause the iPhone to ring, but it didn’t. Interestingly enough, the button on the Power Tube did control the volume on my iPhone when connected via Bluetooth, allowing it to be used as a remote to snap photos.

Getting an alert when the iPhone is moved out of range from the Power Tube is the only semi-useful feature because it can remind users not to forget the Power Tube (or the iPhone, if the Power Tube is in a bag and the phone itself is left behind), but that feature alone didn’t seem worth the battery drain I experienced from the iPhone’s Bluetooth connection to the Smart Tube. It also didn’t seem to trigger reliably in my testing, waiting until I was far out of Bluetooth range before sending a notification.

For reference, the battery monitoring app that accompanies the Power Tube was responsible for approximately 12 percent of the overall battery drain of my phone over the last several days, and on par with background usage of social media apps like Twitter. I used the app with its full capabilities enabled for testing purposes, but disabling its ability to use location services may cut back on that battery usage.

The Smart Power Tube can be used entirely without the app, which would be my preferred use case. The three LEDs on the side display enough information about its battery level, and since it always takes the same time to charge and discharge its battery into an iPhone, there’s little need to get details on its power level in the app. I didn’t feel like connection features were worth the loss of battery life, but people who want a closer look at battery life or reminders not to forget their Power Tube might have a different opinion on the app.

Bottom Line

Since this is a 3,000 mAh battery, it’s best for iPhone 6s users and those with earlier iPhone models. It’s not going to charge an iPhone 6s Plus to full, and it doesn’t offer enough capacity to be suitable for an iPad. For an iPhone 6s Plus or iPad user, I’d recommend a significantly more powerful external battery pack.

At $49.95, the Smart Power Tube is priced on the higher side, but it comes in a cute, compact package and it has a built-in Lightning cable and USB connector for charging. It’s something a lot of people might pick up on a whim when visiting the Apple Store.

The included features aren’t going to be worth the extra money for most users when simple battery packs can be purchased for half the cost on Amazon, but some may appreciate the convenience, the design, and the accompanying app that gives a clear picture of the charge level.

Buyers should be aware of potential downsides to the Power Tube, including its odd shape that prevents the iPhone from being used comfortably while charging, the need to be careful with the Lightning cable, and the battery drain the Bluetooth connection and app cause.

Pros:

Cute design with fun colors

Portable

Integrated Lightning cable

Integrated USB connector

Button on Power Tube serves as iPhone camera shutter (via Bluetooth)

Cons:

3,000mAh battery is only suitable for smaller devices

Shape is somewhat awkward

Integrated USB connector limits recharging methods

App isn’t very useful

App drains battery

How to Buy

The MiPow Smart Power Tube can be purchased from the online Apple Store for $49.95.

Note: MacRumors received no compensation for this review.
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Volvo’s First CarPlay Vehicle in the U.S. is the 2016 XC90, Available Now

After long promising to implement CarPlay support in its vehicles, Volvo recently announced that the new 2016 XC90 is the company’s first CarPlay-enabled car in the United States, reports CNET.

The new vehicle is equipped with a 9-inch touchscreen in the center console, with the CarPlay interface featured on the bottom half of the screen. Volvo’s Sensus Connect controls remain at the top of the screen, offering access to features like directions, media playing, temperature, and more.

A button on the steering wheel brings up Siri, allowing users to compose messages, place phone calls, and access built-in CarPlay apps.

Like most CarPlay vehicles, Volvo owners will need to connect their iPhones directly to the vehicle using the built-in Lightning connector. Volvo has said it will support wireless CarPlay features in the future, but wireless capabilities are not yet available.

All 2016 XC90 vehicles are eligible for CarPlay support. Those who already purchased a 2016 XC90 can make a service appointment with their dealer to get the update installed.

Though CarPlay was first announced in 2014, it’s taken many months for car manufacturers to get on board. Late 2015 and early 2016 will see more than a dozen car makers releasing their first vehicles with CarPlay support, and we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of all upcoming CarPlay cars.

Related Roundup: CarPlay
Tag: Volvo
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