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An unusual iPhone 7 leakÂ is making the rounds today,Â showing some changes that haveÂ not be seen before.Â An Italian case manufacturer is showing a potential chassis design that features ‘four speakers’ andÂ new layout for the rear camera and flash, including a hole for a largerÂ aperture (via NowhereElse). AsÂ pictured, there are two speaker grilles cut into the top of theÂ case and another two grilles on the bottom side.
This is not corroboratingÂ with previous leaks, that showed an iPhone 7 design near identicalÂ to the existing iPhone 6s. The rearrangement of the flash is particularly unusual although the larger camera hole has been suggested by previous leaks.Â As expected, the case leaks do not include holes for a 3.5 mm headphone jack which is rumored to be going away for the iPhone 7 â€”Â Apple will rely on Lightning connector and Bluetooth wireless headphones for audio output ..
Filed under: iOS Devices Tagged: Camera, four psekars, iOS, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 plus, speakers
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Review: KEF Egg Wireless Digital Music System â€“ an expensive, but glorious-sounding speaker solution
The KEF Egg digital wireless speaker system certainly lives up to its name. The shape of the speakers are a peculiar half-egg shape that make you question whether or not you should take them seriously.
A quick listen, and that question is answered with authority. Despite the peculiar look, these speakers mean business in the sound department.
Not only do these speakers sound good, but they also work well in a variety of different environments and with a variety of sources. KEFÂ Egg isÂ a Bluetooth speaker, a Hi-Fi USB speaker, and features traditional optical input as well. This means that the Egg works well in a bedroom, an office environment, or even in the living room.
Filed under: Reviews Tagged: Accessories, Bluetooth Speaker, KEF, Mac, review, speakers, video
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An unknown breakthrough in consumer levitation technology has led to an influx of floating speakers that donâ€™t sound any different, but look kinda coolâ€”were this the mid-â€™80s. Before you write them off completely, someone has managed to find a way to make these novelties genuinely worthy of your desk space, as a tiny Death Star replica.
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After launching in public beta last December, Sonos has revealed that it will officially add support for Apple Music to its connected speaker lineup tomorrow, February 10th. We had an opportunity to go hands-on with Sonos support for Apple Music when the beta was announced last year and noted that in some cases, using Apple Music through the Sonos Controller app is better than Apple’s own app.
â€śWeâ€™re big fans of Sonos,â€ť Apple senior vice presidentÂ of internet software and servicesÂ Eddy Cue said to BuzzFeed. â€śWeâ€™ve been looking forward to this.â€ť When asked why Sonos didn’t support Apple Music from the start, especially considering it supported Beats Music, Cue explained that it took some time to get it right.Â â€śItâ€™s important to get the integration right the first time out,â€ť Cue said. â€śApple has a high bar for this stuff; So does Sonos. Apple Music isnâ€™t even 6 months old yet, so this really did not take much time at all.â€ť
In the Sonos Controller app, Apple Music is organized by For You, New, Radio, and My Music, just like in iTunes or the iOS Music app. The app even supports streaming Apple’s Beats 1 station, as well as other featured stations or stations you create.
For those who aren’t entirely familiar with Sonos, the company offers a ranger of connected speakers that offer the opportunity to set up a whole-home speaker system. Sonos offers a Play:1 speaker for $199, a Play:3 for $299, as well as a more recent Play:5 for $500. We had the opportunity to go hands-on with the Play:5 speaker last year and praised the speaker’s combination of a sleek design and premium sound.
In addition to support for Apple Music, Sonos supports Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Prime Music, and more. Again, Apple Music support will be live tomorrow. Read our hands-on with Apple Music support for Sonos here.
Apple Music On Sonos Available Tomorrow
SANTA BARBARA, Calif.,Â Feb. 9, 2016Â /PRNewswire/ —Â Sonos announced todayÂ that Apple Music will be available on Sonos systems worldwide startingÂ Wednesday, Feb. 10. Music fans worldwide willÂ have access toÂ Apple Music features like For You, New, Radio, andÂ My Music, and will alsoÂ be able to streamÂ the entire Apple Music catalog through Sonos smart speakers tuned for great sound in every room of theirÂ homes.
Apple Music on SonosÂ wasÂ tested by hundreds of thousands of listeners through a successful beta program that started in early December. To stream Apple Music on Sonos, customers simply select “Add Music Services” from any Sonos controller app, scroll down to the Apple Music icon, and login.
“The feedback from Apple Music members on Sonos during the beta period has been great,” saidÂ Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “Sonos plus Apple Music provides anÂ amazing listening experience at home â€“ and we’re excited to offer it to all Sonos customers starting tomorrow.”
“This partnership has been an excellent example of two companies that truly care about music coming together to deliver a great listening experience,” saidÂ John MacFarlane, Sonos chief executiveÂ officer.Â “Working with Apple gives us the opportunity to share Apple Music throughout people’s homes in a way that’s easy, intuitive, and sounds great.”
Apple Music is all the ways you love music, all in one place, with the expertise of world-class music experts who have programmed playlists for any moment. Curation is at the core of every element of Apple Music,Â from the handcrafted radio stations and Beats 1, to the suggestions in For You and top albums and songs in New. A Sonos station on Apple Music, curated by artists in collaboration with Sonos, is also launchingÂ tomorrow. New users can sign up for a free, three-month trail membership of Apple Music.
Founded in 2002, SonosÂ® creates the leading smart speaker system. Once a tech start-up populated with nerdy engineers and brilliant designers who love music, Sonos has grown into a global music brand dedicated to transforming the experience of listeningÂ out loud to music in the home. Its family of wireless smart speakers and home audio products make it easy for everyone to listen to the music they love in every room of their home. To hear their favorites, discover new music, and appreciate it all with theÂ highest sound quality.
Sonos is doing it all over the world â€“ in more than 60 countries, with dozens of streaming music providers, through thousands of retailers, and in millions of homes. With a constant investment in software and services, Sonos is improving the experienceÂ customers have with music in the home for years after they buy it. Sonos is changing the way people listen to music â€“ one home at a time.
Sonos, Inc. is a privately held company, headquartered inÂ Santa Barbara, CaliforniaÂ with additional offices inÂ BostonÂ andÂ Seattle, as well as inÂ the Netherlands,Â United Kingdom,Â Australia,Â GermanyÂ andÂ China.
Â© 2004-2016 by Sonos Inc. All rights reserved.
Sonos and all Sonos product names and slogans are registered trademarks of Sonos, Inc.
Filed under: Apple Music Tagged: Apple Music, Music, Sonos, speakers
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8Bitdo is probably best known for its Bluetooth gaming controllers, including the NES30
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A new patent awarded to Apple today suggests thatÂ the company’s audio plans for future iPhones may go beyond reportedly ditching the 3.5mm headphone socket in favor of Lightning and Bluetooth. The patent is very densely-worded, but seemingly describes a method of getting higher-quality and higher-volume audio from speakers built into slimmer devices.
Apple’s statement of the problem is clear enough.
Given the area constraints imposed on many portable electronic devices, it is increasingly difficult to provide high-quality audio sound output and pickup without hindering the ability to make portable electronic devices smaller and thinner. Consequently, there is a need for improved approaches to provide high-quality audio sound output and/or pickup from portable electronic devices as they get smaller and thinner.
The language describing Apple’s proposed solution is less clear, but from a combination of this and the accompanying diagrams, I at least have a working theory of what is being suggested …
Rather than just using the volume of air you can push through the speakers themselves, Apple appears to be proposing to allow more of the internal space of the device to act as an audio chamber.
The invention pertains to a portable electronic device that provides compact configurations for audio elements. The audio elements can be drivers (e.g., speakers) or receivers (e.g., microphones). In one embodiment, an audio element can be mounted on or coupled to an intermediate structure (e.g., a flexible electrical substrate) having an opening therein to allow audio sound to pass there through. In another embodiment, an audio chamber can be formed to assist in directing audio sound between an opening an outer housing and a flexible electronic substrate to which the audio element is mounted or coupled thereto.
Effectively, turning other components of the iPhone â€“ like a circuit board â€“ into part of the speaker. This would allow a greater volume of air to be pushed, increasing the sound volume achievable from internal speakers, as well as potentiallyÂ increasing the quality of the audio.Â TheÂ patent describes using the same technique to improve the microphone(s).
Interestingly, the views ofÂ 9to5Mac readers on ditching the 3.5mm headphone socket appear to be almost evenly split between the 43% happy to use Lightning or Bluetooth and the combined 40% who don’t care about a slimmer iPhone and/or want to strangle Jony Ive with their headphone cable.
Filed under: iOS Devices Tagged: Apple Inc, audio, iPhone, iPhone 7, Music, speakers
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Unless youâ€™re an endurance racer who spends 24 hours in their vehicle, thereâ€™s not much point to sinking a small fortune into a killer sound system you rarely get to hear. But with Harmanâ€™s new Voyager Drive, your carâ€™s stereo easily becomes a portable Bluetooth speaker you can take anywhere.
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At the start of the weekÂ we saw Apple officiallyÂ pullÂ the plug on Beats Music after using it as the foundation for Apple Music which includesÂ a streaming radio station dubbedÂ Beats 1 as a salute. On the hardware front, Apple is totally marching forward with the headphone and speaker business it acquiredÂ after buying Beats for $3 billion a year and a half ago. The first totally new product to come from Apple under the Beats brand is the recently announcedÂ Beats Pill+ ($195, reg.Â $229), a portable Bluetooth speaker that recharges over Lightning like iPhones and iPads.
The Pill+ marks Apple’s first real step back into the speaker business since briefly entering it in with the iPod Hi-Fi from 2006 to 2007; aside from color variations and wireless models, all other Beats hardware has been designed before the Apple move. Still,Â Apple’s new portable speaker resembles previous versions of BeatsÂ hardware more than you might expect from the iPhone makerÂ in 2015. There’s even a companion Pill+ app for both iOSÂ and Android. AndÂ even though this is clearly a Beats-branded product and not purely Apple, there’s something forÂ fansÂ of bothÂ to like, but is it the best speaker in its class?
The short story is that Pill+ ($195, reg.Â $229) shares a lot more DNA with the Beats Pill 2.0Â ($179, reg. $199)Â that it replaces than either the recalled Pill XL (was $299)Â or discontinued iPod Hi-Fi (was $349) speakers. Pill+ is bump up in size and sound from the similarly priced Pill 2.0.
The design has changed from an upward-facing capsule one to a forward-facing body that’s more symmetrical but still clearly pill-shaped. The shapeÂ changeÂ from Benadryl to Tylenol means those Beats Dude Stands won’t work anymore, and that’s probably okay.
Pill+ is still a pretty small speaker at 8″ x 2.5″ x 2.25″ and 1.65 pounds. Compare that to the old Pill 2.0 at 7.6″ x 2″ x 2″ and 0.7 pounds. Although it’s a bit heavier, the new shape fits well in the hand with the plastic grill on either side of the grippyÂ top and bottom.
The top of Pill+ features an illuminating Beats logo’d button that lets you play and pause tracks. Hold it down to add a second connected device without disconnecting from the first device. Dedicated volume up and volume down toggles are placed on the top right, while a power button/battery status plus LED indicator light are placed on the left.
Out of the back under a flap you’ll find a traditional USB port for the Pill+ charge out feature to power iPhones and iPads, a line-in port for wired playback over a stereo cable, and a standard Lightning port for recharging the built-in battery.
Also included in the packaging, which resembles that of the Apple Watch Sport and feels very much like Apple’s, you’ll find a color matched cloth carrying case and three colored Beats logo stickers. The cloth bag is big enough to carry Pill+ and the included black 12.5W power supply and black Beats-branded 1.5m Lightning cable.
Unlike Apple’s new Magic Keyboard, Mouse 2, and Trackpad 2Â for Mac, there’s no magical instant pairing process between iPhones and Pill+. Open Settings, look for Pill+ under Bluetooth, and connect to it like similar Bluetooth speakers. There’s no Wi-Fi or NFC radiosÂ that enable AirPlay connectivity or instant pairing here; the Apple hardware influence asideÂ from design is limited to the Lightning port.
There’s also the companion Beats Pill+ app for iPhones and Android phones, but curiously not iPads. The app does fully function on iPads, just scaled up especially large on iPad Pros which still benefit from dedicated portable speakers. So what exactly does the app do?
Beats Pill+ for iPhone and Android has three main functions: DJ, Stereo, and Amplify. The first feature will likely be the most popular as the next two require having a second Pill+ around. Install the app on one of two connected phones, then enter DJ mode to let Pill+ change between which paired phone is actively playing music. UE recently added a similar ‘Block Party’ feature to their speaker, so this seems to be the thing to do with Bluetooth speakers with apps although I’m not sure how useful it is in practice.
The other two features require a second Pill+ and let you pair them together. Stereo creates left and right channels for playback while Amplify boosts the sound on both speakers together. Pretty cool if you and a friend both have the Pill+ speaker, but I wouldn’t recommend spending $460 to try it out on your own.
The companion app also has a few unadvertised features. You can register the Pill+ to your email address for warranty information, check (and presumably update) the firmware version and serial number of the Pill+, disableÂ the cue sounds that Pill+ makes when powered on and off, and check the battery level of the speaker.
Curiously, the iOS version shows battery level both in the app and with the Notification Center widget in increments of 10, while the Android Pill+ app shows the exact level.Â Unlike with Apple Music where each app has a dedicated design, the Pill+ app is nearly identical on both platforms.
Battery life on Pill+ is easy to live with and deliversÂ around the promised 12 hours of continuous playback on a single 3 hour charge using the included 12.5W power supply. Pill+ also features the popular charge out feature found on many Bluetooth speakers which lets you connect any USB cable to refuel iPhones, Android phones, and even iPads including the Pro as a backup portable powerÂ source. The included Lightning port willÂ not recharge the Apple Pencil, however, although it does fit.
You can checkÂ Pill+ battery life by pressing itsÂ power button to activate the 5 LED indicator or through a pairedÂ device. iPhones and iPads can use iOS 9’s new battery widget to check battery lifeÂ in Notification Center; this also works with other Apple and Beats products like Pencil, Watch, and wireless headphones. Android phones can get a more specific battery level using the companion for whatever reason as mentioned before.
Beats Pill+ & iPod Hi-Fi
Everything else aside, Beats Pill+ is a solid portable speaker and aÂ better productÂ than the Beats Pill 2.0 that it replaces.Â Pill+ isÂ louder, fuller, and has a few more bells and whistles than the Pill 2.0, but I wouldn’t rush out to upgrade from one to the other unless the new design and Lightning connection really appeal to you. The charging port will obviously appeal more to iPhone owners than Android owners which likely have the same connector as the Pill 2.0 with micro-USB.
While volume is no issue for Pill+, I was especially surprised by the (wait for it) lack of bass (yes, I know, unheard of for Beats). Pill XL was priced $70 higher but had a much larger body; Pill 2.0 wasÂ $30 less and similarly sized. Sound-wise, Pill+ is an upgraded Pill 2.0 and not at all a replacement for the recalled Pill XL.
Pill+ doesn’t strike out though. Place Pill+ along a wall and the bass is amplified naturally by the output coming from the rear side for a much better sound.Â Treble tones are sharp, mids are clear, and deep soundsÂ are distinctive for a speaker its size. It’s also super portable even though it’s a bump up in sizeÂ from Pill 2.0, but you can find more impressive sounds from similarly or lesser priced Bluetooth speakers.
Pill+ is much easier to recommend at sales prices between $150-$200 than at $230. Apple’s $60Â iTunes gift card bundle for the next few weeks effectively brings the price to $170 when you factor the credit, but Amazon’s $195 dealÂ is the best 9to5Toys has spotted yet.
Jawbone Big Jambox & Beats Pill+
If you like the Apple-inspired white aestheticÂ but want upgraded sound, Jawbone’s Big Jambox ($209, reg. $299) is an easy recommendation. BothÂ do speakerphone with built-in mics and have Bluetooth range that exceeds the promised 30-60 feet, while Big Jambox isÂ only a step up in size with a noticeable step up in sound. There’s also 3 more hours of battery life, but you trade Lightning for micro-USB and drop the charge out feature.
You can also find Pill 2.0 new from $179 and open-box from $129Â if you’re targeting a Beats speaker without the higher price tag. You lose Lighting and the DJ feature through the app, but you can still pair two Pill 2’s for stereo or louder sound and more colors are offered.
On its own, Pill+ is a solid little speaker and Lightning makes charging it very convenient for iPhone and iPad owners. The look is also a fair balance between Apple and Beats, still edgy but a bit cleaner than past products from the lineup.
My own needs are quite limited but likely common: I just want something reliable that looks good andÂ plays louder than my iPhone or iPad during showers and washing dishes. Pill+ does that for me albeit at a premium price.
I could take or leave the app features, some sort of AirPlay special connection to iPhones would be desired, and dropping NFC that instantly paired past models with Android phones is curious now that iPhones have the radios, but that all leaves room for a more ambitious sequel that could warrant an even higher asking price.
While you can get a better sound for a similar or even lower cost, the convenience of Lightning charging and the fresh look of the Beats Pill+ overall is very appealing to me, especially at lower street prices than Apple’s asking price.
|MSRP / SaleÂ Prices:
$229 / $195 (Amazon)
iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV
Filed under: Reviews Tagged: Apple, Beats, Beats Pill, Bluetooth, bluetooth speakers, Lightning, portable speakers, speakers
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