Sunday, February 25, 2018

KGI: Apple to release over-the-ear headphones later this year →

Benjamin Mayo for 9to5Mac:

KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo today reports that Apple will release ‘high-end over-ear’ headphones in late fall ‘at the earliest’. Apparently featuring an all new design, it sounds like this is not a successor to the Beats Studio 3, but it will be Apple’s AirPods equivalent for premium over-ear headphones.

Very interesting. It’s looking like Apple will continue to make their presence known in this market alongside Beats. While I love over-the-ears, I’d be more interested in an in-ear variant of AirPods. Think BeatsX, but without the wire. I purchased BeatsX for use while drumming, and while they are pretty impressive, I could do without the wire. In-ear AirPods would be perfect for this, as the current ones don’t provide a seal in the ear canal needed for drumming. Not to mention, they fall out with ease from all the movement, but I digress.

The main question for Apple-branded over-the-ears is: how will these differentiate from the Beats Studio line? I can think of a few things:

  1. The sound profile will be different and less bassy than Beats are known for. Apple would go for a more neutral sound like AirPods and HomePod.
  2. Another way that would be in line with AirPods would be a unique charging mechanism. Perhaps Apple would include a headphone stand that also charges the headphones wirelessly (read: induction charging) when simply placed on the stand.
  3. Touch sensitivity for controlling music playback (i.e. volume, track skipping, etc.) since there is ample surface area available, unlike AirPods. [Parrot Zik headphones](https://www.parrot.com/us/audio/parrot-zik-3# parrot-zik-3) have this kind of functionality.

As for what they would call it? I don’t know, ‘HeadPod’ sounds strange. Maybe AirPods Plus? Definitely has to be somethingPod.

Friday, February 23, 2018

AirPower wireless charging mat may launch next month →

Chance Miller for 9to5Mac:

According to a new report from Macotakara, Apple is on schedule to begin selling AirPower sometime in March through its own retail stores, as well as resellers such as Best Buy.

The report doesn’t offer a specific release date, with the blog’s source only saying that the release will occur sometime next month.

On price:

Pricing details remain unclear for AirPower. A Polish retailer listing back in November suggested that the wireless charging mat could be priced at $199, but as we noted at the time, it’s unlikely that the retailer would have inside knowledge of how Apple plans to price its unreleased product.

$199 sounds like way too much, even for Apple. $149 sounds more realistic for them, while $99 sounds like a pipe dream. I’d find it really hard to justify purchasing for anything upwards of $149.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Apple reportedly plans AirPods upgrades →

Mark Gurman for Bloomberg:

Like with its mobile devices — the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch — Apple intends to frequently update the AirPods with new hardware features. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is working on a new version for release as soon as this year with an upgraded wireless chip, the people said. A subsequent model for as early as next year is planned to be water resistant, they added, asking not to be identified discussing private product plans.

The model coming as early as this year will let people summon Apple’s Siri digital assistant without physically tapping the headphones by saying “Hey Siri.” The function will work similarly to how a user activates Siri on an iPhone or a HomePod speaker hands-free. The headphones, internally known as B288, will include an upgraded Apple-designed wireless chip for managing Bluetooth connections. The first AirPods include a chip known as the W1, and Apple released the W2 with the Apple Watch last year.

A new W-series chip and “Hey Siri” are part of my wishlist for new AirPods, so I’m happy to see these features in the report.

Sounds like water resistance is still an additional product cycle out, but I’ve never had any issues with light rain or sweat while using the current AirPods.

There’s no hard launch date here from Gurman, but my guess is this fall to meet the holiday shopping season. On a related note, we’re still awaiting the release of Apple’s AirPower mat and standalone wireless charging case for AirPods. I really hope we see these sooner than fall, as I’m itching to ditch the rat’s nest of cables on my nightstand.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

HomePod Review

My wife and I are casual musicians and both grew up with a love for music. Ever since we moved in together, we always have had a speaker in the kitchen — it’s the place we most commonly play music without headphones. The JBL OnBeat Venue LT speaker we’ve had in there has served us well, but has officially been usurped by HomePod. Here’s why.

Read on

Friday, February 16, 2018

Don’t use Facebook’s new ‘Protect’ feature →

Sarah Perez for TechCrunch:

Onavo Protect, the VPN client from the data-security app maker acquired by Facebook back in 2013, has now popped up in the Facebook iOS app itself, under the banner “Protect” in the navigation menu. Clicking through on “Protect” will redirect Facebook users to the “Onavo Protect – VPN Security” app’s listing on the App Store.

And:

Marketing Onavo within Facebook itself could lead to a boost in users for the VPN app, which promises to warn users of malicious websites and keep information secure – like bank account and credit card numbers – as you browse. But Facebook didn’t buy Onavo for its security protections.

Instead, Onavo’s VPN allow Facebook to monitor user activity across apps, giving Facebook a big advantage in terms of spotting new trends across the larger mobile ecosystem. For example, Facebook gets an early heads up about apps that are becoming breakout hits; it can tell which are seeing slowing user growth; it sees which apps’ new features appear to be resonating with their users, and much more.

Trojan horse, much?

Tons of people will enable this without question. Don’t be one of those people. If you’re looking for a good VPN service, check out Private Internet Access. I use it from time to time, and they have a good track record when it comes to privacy.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

‘Shake to Undo’ is the worst gesture

Ah, Undo and Redo — the holy grail for those that make mistakes; saviors of ‘oh shit’ moments; enablers of the daring; unsung heroes of obsessive writers, carefully restructuring their sentences. You’ve been with us since the early days of computing. You deserve better than the terrible gesture given to you on iOS.

Read on