Bluetooth speakers that light up your ears and party space

If music is one of the lights of your life, then shouldn’t your speakers shine, too? Acoustic Research introduced a new line of wireless speakers that offer quality sound, a design attractive indoors and out and a customizable, multi-color LED light to fit the mood of your music and social scene. Acoustic Research debuted the […]

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

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Bluetooth speakers that light up your ears and party space

Judge Dismisses Android-Switching iMessage Lawsuit Against Apple

U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh has dismissed [PDF] a lawsuit against Apple over a long-standing issue that prevented some former iPhone owners who switched to Android smartphones from receiving text messages from other iOS users, as reported by Business Insider.

Koh originally ruled against granting the lawsuit class-action status, because it was not clear enough that all Android smartphone switchers were actually affected by the issue, but a trio of plaintiffs Adam Backhaut, Bouakhay Joy Backhaut and Kenneth Morris persisted with their case.

The three alleged that they switched from iPhones to Android phones in 2012. After that, texts sent to them from other iPhone users were not delivered. They were probably stuck in Apple’s iMessage system, which was notoriously unreliable at delivering texts to Android phones until late 2014, when Apple introduced a fix for the bug. That constitutes a violation of the Federal Wire Tap Act, the three claim. Apple denied the allegations.

Apple launched a web tool in November 2014 for users to deregister their phone number from iMessage in the event they switched to a non-Apple device, and Koh ruled that Apple would face a federal lawsuit over the issue just two days later. As of Koh’s ruling on Tuesday, however, all lawsuits against Apple related to the matter have come to a close with no punitive damages against the company.

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Judge Dismisses Android-Switching iMessage Lawsuit Against Apple

Apple Maps Now Used Three Times More Than Google Maps on iPhone

When Apple Maps first debuted alongside iOS 6, it drew significant criticism for its inaccuracies in mapping data, errors when locating points of interest, lack of transit information and odd 3D mapping imagery. Many users opted not to upgrade to iOS 6 due to the app’s flaws, and iOS 6 adoption jumped 29 percent once Google released a native Maps app for Apple’s platform. Three years later, Apple tells the Associated Press that Apple Maps is now used three times more than Google Maps on iPhone.

Apple says its mapping service is now used more than three times as often as its next leading competitor on iPhones and iPads, with more than 5 billion map-related requests each week. Research firm comScore says Apple has a modest lead over Google on iPhones in the U.S., though comScore measures how many people use a service in a given month rather than how often.

While a lot of the usage gains for Apple Maps can be attributed to Apple Maps being a built-in app that’s the default mapping solution for features like Siri and Mail and third-party apps like Yelp, the AP notes that many users who once spurned by Apple Maps have returned. Additionally, many new iPhone users did not experience the troubles of Apple Maps, instead using the newer, more improved version.

Although Apple now holds the lead in mapping on iOS, Google still dominates among all U.S. smartphone owners, with Google Maps having two times more users than Apple Maps. However, much of this is attributed to Apple Maps only being available on iOS while Google Maps is available on both Android and iOS.

In recent years, Apple has made numerous efforts to improve its mapping service. Apple has purchased companies like GPS firm Coherent Navigation and mapping company Placeable in addition to expanding its in-house teams and making data-sharing deals with companies like Foursquare. The Cupertino company has also beefed up Apple Maps with a fleet of mapping vehicles capturing data and introducing new features like Transit directions and, in the future, indoor mapping.

In total, Apple now gets data „from more than 3,000 sources“ for business listings, traffic and more. For its new Transit features, Apple even sent out teams to map out subway entrances and signs.

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Apple Watch Sales Estimated at 3.9 Million in Third Quarter

The latest data from market research firm IDC estimates Apple Watch sales totaled 3.9 million worldwide in the third quarter of 2015, making it the second most popular wearable device behind Fitbit fitness trackers during the three-month period ending September 30.

Apple posted a slight increase from the previous quarter, mostly the result of additional markets and channels coming on line. End-user attention has been going toward its entry-level and least expensive Sport line, to which Apple responded by introducing gold and rose gold models. In addition, Apple released watchOS 2, bringing native third-party applications to the device.

Fitbit shipped an estimated 4.7 million fitness trackers for 22.2% market share in the third quarter, compared to Apple’s estimated 18.6% market share. Apple Watch shipments grew over IDC’s second quarter estimate of 3.6 million, but both Apple and Fitbit ceded some market share to Xiaomi and other vendors.

Chinese rival Xiaomi remained in third place with an estimated 3.7 million wearables shipped in the quarter, representing 17.4% market share. Garmin and BBK rounded off the top five with 900,000 (4.1%) and 700,000 (3.1%) wearables shipped respectively, while all other vendors accounted for a combined 7.3 million shipments and 34.6% market share.

IDC estimates that wearable shipments totaled 21 million worldwide in the second quarter, growth of 197.6% compared to the 7.1 million units shipped in the year-ago quarter. IDC said the average smartwatch price was around $400, while basic bands and trackers averaged $94. China continues to be the fastest-growing wearables market, especially for lower-priced fitness trackers.

Apple has not disclosed Apple Watch sales numbers since the device launched in April, instead grouping the wrist-worn accessory with iPod, Apple TV and Beats Electronics accessories under an „Other Products“ category in quarterly earnings reports. But when asked, Apple CEO Tim Cook and other executives consistently remain upbeat about current sales.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 2
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Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)
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Apple Watch Sales Estimated at 3.9 Million in Third Quarter

MacBooks Top Consumer Reports Survey in Reliability and Customer Satisfaction

A recent Consumer Reports survey shows that MacBooks continue to lead all notebooks in reliability and customer satisfaction, based on 58,000 subscribers who purchased laptops between 2010 and 2015.

ZDNet reports that almost 20% of the respondents experienced a breakdown in the first three years of using a notebook, but MacBooks had notably lower failure rates compared to various Windows-based notebooks from Acer, Lenovo, Samsung and other OEMs. MacBook Air had just a 7% estimated failure rate, while the MacBook Pro was slightly higher at 9%.

Apple, as in year’s past, has the most reliable notebooks by far – a 10 percent breakdown rate in the first 3 years – with Samsung and Gateway distant seconds at 16 percent, and the rest of the industry – including Acer, Lenovo, Toshiba, HP, Dell and Asus, at 18-19 percent.

Windows machines used more than 20 hours a week – average for Windows systems – have a higher break rate. Apple users report using their machines an average of 23 hours a week, 15 percent more. More hours, fewer breakdowns, what’s not to like?

The most reliable Windows-based notebooks in the survey were Gateway’s NV (13% failure rate) and LT (14%); the Samsung ATIV Book (14%); Lenovo ThinkPads (15%); and the Dell XPS line (15%). HP’s premium ENVY line was near the bottom, with a 20% failure rate, while Lenovo’s Y Series had the highest failure rate at 23%.

When MacBooks do break, however, the survey found they are often more expensive to fix, which is why purchasing AppleCare is recommended. Apple provides 90 days of complimentary phone and online chat support that can be extended for a total of three years with an AppleCare Protection Plan for Macs at a cost of up to $349.

In terms of customer satisfaction, 71% of MacBook owners were „completely satisfied with system reliability,“ compared to „only 38% of Windows notebook owners.“

The complete survey results are available at Consumer Reports for subscribers only.

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MacBooks Top Consumer Reports Survey in Reliability and Customer Satisfaction

iPhone 7s may be the first iPhone to boast an OLED display

Apple has reportedly confirmed to its supply chain that it plans to switch from LCD panels to OLED ones for iPhones released in 2017-2018. This potentially means that we might get an OLED Apple handset as early as the iPhone 7s — and not the iPhone 8 as previously thought. Cupertino is said to be asking […]

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

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iPhone 7s may be the first iPhone to boast an OLED display

Griffin Review: The Guide Cable Management Set Will Keep Your Desk Organized

Griffin’s Guide Magnetic Cable Management Set was first announced at CES in January of 2015, but it didn’t become available for purchase until September. We went hands-on with the Guide to see if it was worth the wait as a cable management solution.

The Guide Cable Management Set is modular and consists of three weighted bases and three magnetic aluminum cable anchors that attach to the bases. Each base is made from a polished stainless steel with a shiny finish while the anchors, available in three sizes from small to large, are made from an anodized copper-colored aluminum.

Together, the Guide system looks great on a desk, but it is only available in the polished steel and copper colorway, which doesn’t match any iOS devices and while neutral, may not match all office and room decors. I liked the design of the Guide, but I did wish it was available in a wider selection of colors.

Each of the three bases is the same size, measuring in at 2.28 x 1.98 inches, but the magnetic cable anchors come in a range of sizes to fit different cords. The smallest of the three anchors is sized to fit a single iPhone cable, while the middle one can hold several iPhone-sized cables or a couple of larger cables, and the biggest anchor can hold thicker cables like those for cameras and other electronics. The weight of the Guide bases will keep them in place, but there’s also a non-skid material on the bottom to provide even more traction.

Because the anchors attach to each base using magnets, they can be arranged in multiple ways. One anchor can be used per base or multiple anchors can fit on a single base to meet various cable management needs. For my work space, I used the smaller one to hold an iPhone cable that has a pesky habit of slipping off the edge of the desk, while I used the other two to hold my MacBook cable and cables for other devices in place.

Due to their weight, the Guide bases can’t realistically be mounted on walls or on the sides of desks and tables (and the Guide doesn’t come with the necessary hardware) so these are going to be limited to on-the-desk organization. For that use case, the Guide is primarily going to keep your cables where you want them to be so they’re not sliding all over the desk or slipping off. The Guide isn’t going to hide or conceal cables and cords, but it will keep them looking more organized and streamlined.

The large base size means the Guide takes up more room on a desk than simpler cable routing options, but sacrificing the extra space felt worth it to me both for the versatility of being able to rearrange the pieces at will and for the premium aesthetic. If you have multiple cables in different areas, such as on a desk and on a nightstand, the Guide can also be split up across multiple rooms. After some experimentation, I found the Guide to be more useful for me when split up, because a single larger cable anchor can hold multiple cables in place, letting me address several problem areas.

Given the usefulness of the Guide’s interchangeable pieces, I’m surprised there aren’t more magnetic cable management systems on the market. Before the Guide, I hadn’t considered magnets as cable organizing solution, but it seems like an ideal way to wrangle cables.

Bottom Line

The magnetic Guide system is a clever way to organize cables on a desk, and because it can be used in so many ways, it’s suitable for a range of cable configurations and setups. Since it’s magnetic, it’s easy to arrange and rearrange cables and the Guide system as necessary, and its industrial look blends in with a lot of decors.

If you’ve got pesky cables that are continually slipping off of your desk or getting tangled and knocked out of place, the Guide is going to keep them where they belong with no problem.

The only real negative with the Guide is the price. At $40, this is a somewhat expensive solution to manage a handful of cables, and I do wish it was either more reasonably priced or had more pieces. If you don’t mind shelling out $40 in the name of desktop organization, the Guide is worth picking up.

How to Buy

Griffin’s Guide cable organizers can be purchased from the Griffin website for $39.99 or from for the same price.

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Griffin Review: The Guide Cable Management Set Will Keep Your Desk Organized