CES 2016: Lutron ‘Serena’ and ‘Sivoia QS Triathlon’ Motorized Shades Now Support HomeKit

Lutron Electronics today at CES 2016 announced that its Serena and Sivoia QS Triathlon motorized window shades now support the HomeKit-enabled Caséta Wireless Smart Bridge.

The home automation system enables users to remotely control their Lutron shades using Siri on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Apple Watch. Homeowners can say commands such as „Hey Siri, turn on the lights“ or „Siri, open the shades,“ while Serena shades can also be set to desired levels with preset scenes like „Good Morning“ or „Good Night.“

Sivoia QS Triathlon shades require the professionally-installed Smart Bridge PRO:

The HomeKit-enabled Caséta Wireless Smart Bridge (a do-it-yourself solution) supports Serena battery-powered shades, while the Smart Bridge PRO (a professionally-installed solution) supports Lutron Sivoia QS Triathlon wireless shades (both roller and fashion honeycomb styles), plus Sivoia QS drapery tracks, the Kirbé vertical drapery system, tensioned shades, pleated shades and Roman shades.

Lutron’s Caséta Wireless Smart Bridge, available for $69.99 on Amazon (regular $150), launched as one of the first HomeKit accessories in June 2015, allowing homeowners to control lights in specific rooms or areas using Siri voice commands. Lutron accessories, sold by Apple and other resellers, can also be controlled with the free Lutron app or Pico wireless remote control.

Caséta Wireless kits and Lutron shading solutions are available now, starting at $80 and $349 respectively.

Tags: HomeKit, Lutron, CES 2016
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MacRumors Giveaway: Win a Canvas Smart Desk for iPad Pro From iSkelter

For this week’s giveaway, we’ve teamed up with iSkelter to offer MacRumors readers a chance to win one of four Canvas Smart Desks we’re giving away for Apple’s newest tablet, the iPad Pro. For those of you unfamiliar with iSkelter, it’s a company that hand makes wood desks, lap desks, stands, and other accessories for Apple products.

We’ve featured their products in the past, including the SlatePro Tech Desk, which is custom designed with built-in docks and cutouts to accommodate Apple devices. iSkelter’s newest product is a set of lap desks for the iPad Pro, the Canvas Creator and the Canvas Pro.

Both the Canvas Creator and the Canvas Pro have a felt-lined cutout that’s sized to the iPad Pro, but it will accommodate smaller devices. I have one of these on-hand and it’s usable with the iPad Pro and earlier iPads, but not the Retina MacBook Pro. Placed flat, the iPad Pro fits neatly into the Canvas Smart Desks, laying flat for sketching with the Apple Pencil, reading, or playing games.

Its sizing also accommodates the Apple Smart Keyboard, providing a stable, comfortable surface for typing when sitting on the couch or for watching videos with the iPad Pro propped up using the keyboard’s cover. For video watching, there’s also a cutout at the back of the Canvas where the iPad Pro can be positioned upright.

This cutout also accommodates other devices like an iPhone 6s or an iPad Air 2, so it’s a handy way to be able to do work on the iPad Pro while watching videos or browsing the web on a secondary iPad or iPhone, which is my preferred use case. I’ve been using it on the couch while watching television – I can draw or browse the web while still keeping an eye on Twitter and Slack on my iPhone.

Though made of wood, the Canvas is light weight, but given its large size, it’s not compact or particularly portable. It’s best for home use rather than travel. Along with the cutout for an additional device, there’s a slot specifically for the Apple Pencil on the Canvas Creator. On the Canvas Pro, there’s a cutout for an additional iPad, another cutout for an iPhone, and a space that can hold a cup or other accessory.

The extra space on the Canvas Pro is the main difference between the two lap desks – it’s a good bit larger than the Canvas Creator. iSkelter is selling its Canvas Smart Desks for $68 on its website, but four MacRumors readers can win one through our giveaway, with the option to choose either the smaller Canvas Creator with Apple Pencil cutout or the larger Canvas Pro with extra flat space.

To enter to win, use the Rafflecopter widget below and enter an email address. Email addresses will be used solely for contact purposes to reach the winner and send the prize.

You can earn additional entries by subscribing to our weekly newsletter, subscribing to our YouTube channel, following us on Twitter, or visiting the MacRumors Facebook page. Due to the complexities of international laws regarding giveaways, only U.S. residents who are 18 years of age or older are eligible to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveawayThe contest will run from today (December 18) at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time through 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time on December 25. The winners will be chosen randomly on December 25 and will be contacted by email. The winners have 48 hours to respond and provide a shipping address before new winners are chosen. The prizes will be shipped to the winners for free.

Tags: iSkelter, giveaway
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Smart Battery Case Teardown Reveals Battery is Difficult to Replace

iFixit has completed a Smart Battery Case teardown, providing a closer look at the case’s brushed aluminum inner shell, rechargeable lithium-ion battery and tiny logic board housing two Lightning connectors.

The inner aluminum plate serves as a door for the battery compartment, which houses a 1,877 mAh battery (7.13 Whr) that more than doubles the iPhone 6s battery capacity of 1,715 mAh. iFixit says the battery is „very strongly adhered in place“ with a connector rather than soldering.

Much of what makes Apple’s Smart Battery Case „smart“ is powered by the iPhone, as the case only has a few other components, including a NXP NX20P3 load switch, also found in Lightning to USB cables, and a NXP 1608A1 charging chip.

iFixit awarded the Smart Battery Case a repairability score of 2 out of 10, with ten being the easiest to repair. While the battery pack can technically be replaced, the case has a strong adhesive lining, and all other repairs would destroy the accessory.

Tags: iFixit, teardown, iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case
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Tim Cook is big fan of iPhone battery case’s lovely little hump

Tim Cook saw all the complaints fanboys levied against the ugly new Smart Battery Case his company unveiled this week, but the Apple CEO is defending the controversial new product, claiming Apple’s designers ;used ‘great insight’ to solve a crutial flaw facing most battery cases. “The guys had this great insight to put the bend […]

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


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MacRumors Gift Guide by Juli: Philips Hue, UE Roll Speaker, Canvas Smart Desk, and More

We’re going to be sharing a selection of gift guides on MacRumors over the next two weeks, featuring items hand-picked by our team of editors and writers along with a master gift list curated from the suggestions of our forum members.

Our first gift guide was written by me, Juli Clover, and features a list of items that I own and love, would love to receive, or would love to gift to someone. There is no theme here, but as I’ll explain along with each suggestion, all of these items are things that I own personally or have done a lot of research on.

Philips Hue HomeKit-Enabled Starter Kit ($194)

I’ve been using the Philips Hue line of lights since they first came out in 2012 and I have nothing but good things to say about these bulbs, which can be set to a whole range of different colors or various shades of white. The most recent Hue Starter Kit includes HomeKit integration and features brighter 800 lumen bulbs. HomeKit integration isn’t a must, but it is simpler than opening the app and you can ask Siri to do things like turn all your lights cerulean or hot pink.

If you know someone who already has a Hue setup, an extra light is a fun gift to give. I’d recommend the $90 Hue Go portable light or the $90 LightStrip Plus, good for ambient lighting anywhere. A $60 Hue Tap for activating four different scenes from a single switch is also a useful accessory.

Pressed Flower iPhone Case ($40)

With the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, I opted to get a rose gold iPhone. It’s a gorgeous color that I want to show off, so I’ve been looking into case options that let the color peek through. Searching through cases on the Internet, I found these lovely dried flower and leaf cases, a nice alternative to a traditional case. I’ve also see similar cases on Etsy that are priced more affordably, around $18.

Alternatively, Casetify is also a good site to visit for case designs that go well with the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. There are dozens of community-created clear-style cases that showcase the iPhone’s design, priced at $40.

UE Roll Bluetooth Speaker ($99)

Lately I’ve been lusting over a waterproof Bluetooth speaker so I can listen to music and audiobooks in the shower, and I think this compact speaker from Ultimate Ears hits a sweet spot between price, design, and sound quality. It has a strap so it can hang up and it’s flat enough to comfortably fit into a bag so it can come along to the beach or the pool.

For louder sound, there’s also the UE Boom 2 ($199), which we actually reviewed earlier this year. We haven’t tested the UE Roll, but we were fans of the UE Boom.

Fjallraven Kanken Laptop Backpack ($60 to $100)

I bought a Kanken laptop backpack from Fjallraven just before CES last year to a comfortable, not-too-large solution for toting my Retina MacBook Pro around, and it’s turned into one of my favorite bags. Different versions of the Kanken hold up to a 17-inch laptop, and my version for the 15-inch RMBP is impressively compact for all that it can hold.

It has a separate zip compartment for my laptop (excellent for airport security), along with a front pocket, two side water bottle pockets, and an inner pocket that holds my iPad Pro. The internal space is big enough to hold all the accessories I use, including hard drives, over-ear headphones, a purse, and more, and the straps are padded so it’s comfortable even when weighted down. Mine’s purple, but it comes in a bunch of colors, all made from water resistant fabric. I liked it so much that I bought another mini Kanken (~$60) for hiking and day trips. The mini is big enough for an iPhone or an iPad mini, but nothing larger.

Knomo Elektronista iPad Purse ($295)

The Knomo Elektronista is one of my favorite products I reviewed this year. It functions as either a purse or an electronics organizer with a ton of pockets and an included battery pack. It has dedicated inner pockets for an iPad, an iPhone, credit cards, cables, and other odds and ends, plus two outer pockets and a removable strap.

It unzips at the sides so everything inside can be accessed quickly, and my favorite part – it’s slim enough that it can fit inside a larger backpack or purse when you need more carrying space. I’d also like to point out the accessories from Intrepid Bag Co. to anyone looking for a laptop/ipad bag. We’ve partnered up with Intrepid on some giveaways and response has been super positive – they make some gorgeous (but expensive) bags. I can also recommend bags from Chrome Industries – they’re rugged, have tons of pockets, and are good for people who commute but need to carry a laptop or iPad.

Cable organizing solutions

I’ve been working on keeping my office more organized, and one step towards that has been implementing some useful cable management solutions. I bought the $27 CableBox from BlueLounge after it was suggested to me by a co-worker to hide my power strip and all attached cords, and I loved it so much I bought one for my mom right afterwards.

Cable storage may be an unconventional gift, but if you know someone who has an uncontrollably messy desk (like our editor-in-chief Eric Slivka), it’ll definitely be appreciated. Paired with the CableBox, I like the CableDrops ($10), which keep cords on desks, and Cable Turtles ($25) for winding up excess cord. If you want to get fancy, there’s the Griffin Guide Magnetic Cable Management set I reviewed last month, but it’s on the pricy side at $40.

For travel, something like the Cordito ($38) or the Cord Taco ($32 for 5) is ideal because they keep all those pesky iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch cables from getting tangled. For organizing both cords and small accessories, I use a Grid-It from Cocoon ($15) in my backpack, and it’s also been a popular gift I’ve given in the past.

Anova Precision Cooker ($199)

I haven’t used an Anova Precision Cooker for sous vide before, but when we posted about Apple selling it recently, our forum members were quick to chime in about how awesome it is. A couple of my co-workers are also big fans, so this seems like an ideal gift for a cooking enthusiast. The newest version includes Wi-Fi so you can keep an eye on your food from the iPhone, but there are older, less expensive versions that are Bluetooth only.

iSkelter Canvas Smart Desk for iPad Pro ($68)

iSkelter makes traditional desks and lap desks for Apple accessories by hand, and the Canvas Smart Desk is its newest product, designed for the iPad Pro. I have one of these on hand to test ahead of an upcoming giveaway, and it’s one of my favorite iPad Pro accessories so far because it’s perfect for working away from my desk.

There’s a cutout for the iPad Pro itself, where the iPad Pro lays flat for drawing or playing games, but it also fits the Smart Keyboard when propped up, giving me a stable surface for typing. There’s a cutout for the Apple Pencil at the side, and another cutout for an iPhone or another iPad. A larger Canvas Pro edition is also available for $68 and includes extra space for holding something like a coffee cup. These are on Kickstarter, but will ship before Christmas.

Apple Pencil ($99)

If you can get your hands on one, an Apple Pencil also makes for an awesome gift for a new iPad Pro owner. Apple Pencils are out of stock, so the only way to get one ahead of Christmas is to check your local Apple Store repeatedly. Apple Pencils aren’t just good for artists – they’re fun for everyone. Paired with some simple doodle drawing books (some of my favorites are by Sachiko Umoto), an Apple Pencil is a good way to unwind and pick up a new hobby.

We’re going to be sharing additional gift guides over the next two weeks, so make sure to keep an eye out for them. If you have a favorite product, feel free to add it to our 2015 Holiday Gift Guide Master List, which is going to be turned into a gift guide culled from our forum members’ most loved items.

Tag: gift guide
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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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Last-minute shoppers, check out 3 great Apple accessories for under $30 [Deals]

Still have a few names on your list for holiday shopping, or worried about going over your gifting budget? If any of them are Apple users, we’ve found three sure-to-please peripherals that are as useful as they are cool. The best part? They’re all less than 30 dollars. Zus Smart Car Charger and Locator – […]

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


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Teardown reveals Apple Smart Keyboard is not repairable — but super durable

We’re just days away from carving up turkeys in the US, but the folks at iFixit are busting out the blades a little early for their official teardown of the new Apple Smart Keyboard for the iPad Pro. The new teardown from iFixit reveals how Apple made the Keyboard/Smart Cover super durable by encapsulating the […]

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


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