Truly wireless earbuds are coming for your headphones

One of the dominant trends of IFA 2017 was the sheer volume of companies, both known and not-so known, that launched Bluetooth earbuds. The “truly wireless” revolution that was kickstarted by Bragi and embraced by Samsung and Apple is now a bandwagon that everyone is jumping on.

A recent Wirecutter roundup listed more than 20 companies making truly wireless earbuds, and we can expect that number to increase exponentially soon. At the show we took a closer look at offerings from mid-lower-end players like Philips and higher-end ones like B&O Play.

Speaking with representatives at the show, it’s clear that the advent of the Bragi, back in 2014, sparked a flurry of internal discussions at many audio companies. But many didn’t begin working on their own product until the launch of AirPods and the iPhone 7, which did away with the headphone port.

The slow (and contentious) demise of the smartphone’s headphone jack is prompting a wave of interest in wireless audio. And that, as consumers are gently encouraged to ditch the wire connecting them to their phones, they might as well abandon the ones that you’ll find in traditional Bluetooth headphones.

The numbers back it up, too, analysts NPD believe that around 900,000 pairs of wireless earbuds have been sold in the US since the start of the year. Of that figure, however, it’s thought that 85 percent of them were sold by Apple, with the rest fighting for the remaining 15 percent.

One of the smartest things that Bragi did was to embrace what could have been the fatal flaws in its design. These earbuds are super small, with limited battery space and it’s far, far too easy to lose them — all points that would dissuade plenty of wary customers from purchasing them. But by offering a charging case, supplied alongside the earbuds, Bragi solved both problems by forcing users to develop a habit of only ever moving their earbuds from their skulls to the dock.

SONY DSC

The case is just as important as the earbuds, which is why B&O made a big deal of making theirs look like a scaled-down sunglass case. You could easily plonk it down on the table in a restaurant and no-one would bat an eyelid.

There’s also the issue of sound quality, which requires some elegant audio engineering to get around how cramped these devices are. By and large, most of them that we tried at the show didn’t sound too bad, although it’s clear that — for now — they’ll never be as expressive as a pair of larger cans.

But being good enough, especially if users are only listening to low-resolution Spotify streams while they navigate a crowded subway station or office, will probably suffice. And the convenience of wire-free listening is probably enough to allay concerns from all but the snootiest audio snob.

What’s likely, however, is that as more companies build their own entrants to the market, that we’ll see prices crater. And since there still seems to be some room for innovation, expect to see plenty of nuanced takes on the form — and yeah, a million and one copycats as well.

Follow all the latest news from IFA 2017 here!

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Alpine’s latest receiver brings wireless CarPlay to all

Apple CarPlay has finally gone wireless. After debuting the technology at CES this year, Alpine is now shipping the iLX-107, the first CarPlay receiver with support for wireless connectivity. And considering the tech world’s general disdain for wires and cables, it’s a surprise it’s taken this long to reach the aftermarket.

The receiver (compatible with the iPhone 5 and later) lets CarPlay be accessed through the touchscreen and Siri voice control. You’ll get the full CarPlay experience: make calls, read texts, choose music and get real-time traffic updates. Plus, depending on your car you’ll get customized vehicle information too, such as park assist. There’s no longer any need for the proverbial Lightning cable: simply connect your phone via WiFi or Bluetooth.

While CarPlay receivers have been kicking around for a while, this is the first to support wireless connectivity — a function that began development in 2015 but didn’t find an infotainment home until late 2016 when it was added to the 2017 BMW 5 Series Sedan.

Despite growing demand for such systems, very few manufacturers have the tech built into their cars, so it’s still very much a novelty. Perhaps this is the argument for the iLX-107’s eye-watering $ 900 price tag.

Source: Cision

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The best wireless outdoor home security camera

By Rachel Cericola

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. When readers choose to buy The Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.

After spending almost three months looking, listening, adjusting angles, and deleting over 10,000 push notifications and emails, we’ve decided that the Netgear Arlo Pro is the best DIY outdoor Wi-Fi home security camera you can get. Like the other eight units we tested, the Arlo Pro lets you keep an eye on your property and provides smartphone alerts whenever there’s motion. However, it’s one of the few options with built-in rechargeable batteries to make it completely wireless, so it’s easy to place and move. It also delivers an excellent image, clear two-way audio, practical smart-home integration, and seven days of free cloud storage.

Who should get this

A Wi-Fi surveillance camera on your front porch, over your garage, or attached to your back deck can provide a peek at what really goes bump in the night, whether that’s someone stealing packages off your steps or raccoons going through garbage cans. It can alert you to dangers and can create a record of events. It should also help you to identify someone—and if it’s a welcome or unwelcome guest—or just let you monitor pets or kids when you’re not out there with them.

How we picked and tested

Photo: Rachel Cericola

During initial research, we compiled a huge list of outdoor security cameras recommended by professional review sites like PCMag, Safewise, and Safety.com, as well as those available on popular online retailers. We then narrowed this list by considering only Wi-Fi–enabled cameras that will alert your smartphone or tablet whenever motion is detected. We also clipped out all devices that required a networked video recorder (NVR) to capture video, focusing only on products that could stand alone.

Once we had a list of about 27 cameras, we went through Amazon and Google to see what kind of feedback was available. We ultimately decided on a test group based on price, features, and availability.

We mounted our test group to a board outside of our New England house, pointed them at the same spot, and exposed them all to the same lighting conditions and weather. The two exceptions were cameras integrated into outdoor lighting fixtures, both of which were installed on the porch by my husband, a licensed electrician. All nine cameras were connected to the same Verizon FiOS network via a Wi-Fi router indoors.

Besides good Wi-Fi, you may also need a nearby outlet. Only three of the cameras we tested offered the option to use battery power. Most others required an AC connection, which means you won’t be able to place them just anywhere.

We downloaded each camera’s app to an iPhone 5, an iPad, and a Samsung Galaxy S6. The cameras spent weeks guarding our front door, alerting us to friends, family members, packages, and the milkman. Once we got a good enough look at those friendly faces, we tilted the entire collection outward to see what sort of results we got facing the house across the street, which is approximately 50 feet away. To learn more about how we picked and tested, please see our full guide.

Our pick

The Arlo Pro can handle snow, rain, and everything else, and runs for months on a battery charge. Photo: Rachel Cericola

The Arlo Pro is a reliable outdoor Wi-Fi camera that’s compact and completely wireless, thanks to a removable, rechargeable battery that, based on our testing, should provide at least a couple of months of operation on a charge. It’s also the only device on our list that offers seven days of free cloud storage, and packs in motion- and audio-triggered recordings for whenever you get around to reviewing them.

The Arlo Pro requires a bridge unit, known as the Base Station, which needs to be powered and connected to your router. The Base Station is the brains behind the system, but also includes a piercing 100-plus–decibel siren, which can be triggered manually through the app or automatically by motion and/or audio.

With a 130-degree viewing angle and 720p resolution, the Arlo Pro provided clear video footage during both day and night, and the two-way audio was easy to understand on both ends. The system also features the ability to set rules, which can trigger alerts for motion and audio. You can adjust the level of sensitivity so that you don’t get an alert or record a video clip every time a car drives by. You can also set up alerts based on a schedule or geofencing using your mobile device, but you can’t define custom zones for monitoring. All of those controls are easy to find in the Arlo app, which is available for iOS and Android devices.

If you’re looking to add the Arlo Pro to a smart-home system, the camera currently works with Stringify, Wink, and IFTTT (“If This Then That”). SmartThings certification was approved and will be included in a future app update. The Arlo Pro is also compatible with ADT Canopy for a fee.

Runner-up

The Nest Cam Outdoor records continuously and produces better images than most of the competition, but be prepared to pay extra for features other cameras include for free. Photo: Rachel Cericola

The Nest Cam Outdoor is a strong runner-up. It records continuous 1080p video, captures to the cloud 24/7, and can actually distinguish between people and other types of motion. Like the Nest thermostat, the Outdoor Cam is part of the Works With Nest program, which means it can integrate with hundreds of smart-home products. It’s also the only model we tested that has a truly weatherproof cord. However, that cord and the ongoing subscription cost, which runs $ 100 to $ 300 per year for the Nest Aware service, is what kept the Nest Cam Outdoor from taking the top spot.

Like our top pick, the Nest Cam Outdoor doesn’t have an integrated mount. Instead, the separate mount is magnetic, so you can attach and position the camera easily. Although it has a lot of flexibility in movement, it needs to be placed within reach of an outlet, which can be a problem outside the house. That said, the power cord is quite lengthy. The camera has a 10-foot USB cable attached, but you can get another 15 feet from the included adapter/power cable.

The Nest Cam Outdoor’s 1080p images and sound were extremely impressive, both during the day and at night. In fact, this camera delivered some of the clearest, most detailed images during our testing, with a wide 130-degree field of view and an 8x digital zoom.

The Nest app is easy to use and can integrate with other Nest products, such as indoor and outdoor cameras, the Nest thermostat, and the Nest Protect Smoke + CO detector. You can set the camera to turn on and off at set times of day, go into away mode based on your mobile device’s location, and more.

This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

Note from The Wirecutter: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.

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Mophie’s cases add wireless charging to iPhone 7 and Galaxy S8

Mophie’s cases provide a quick way to add wireless charging capabilities to iPhones and Samsung Galaxy S devices, and now they’re available for the models’ latest iterations. The accessories maker has released charge force cases for the iPhone 7, 7 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. These leather-wrapped cases are compatible not only with any Mophie wireless charger, but also with Qi and other wireless charging systems. Just put one on your phone if you don’t feel like messing with wires, though note that it still leaves access to your device’s charging port.

Mophie has also released a mini charge force powerstation, which is essentially a wireless power bank. It’s a 3,000 mAh battery unit that sticks to a charge force case using magnets, so you can replenish your phone’s battery anywhere. Since it’s slim and wireless, it doesn’t add much bulk to your phone — you can still slip the whole thing into your pocket or a small purse.

The iPhone 7 cases are now available in black, tan, brown, blue and (PRODUCT)RED, but you can unfortunately only get black if you have a Galaxy S8 or an S8 Plus. You can get any of the cases and the powerstation mini from Mophie’s website.

Source: Mophie

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iPhone 8 renders point to glass back and wireless charging

Rumor has it that we won’t be seeing the next flagship iPhone until much later this year, but we may have just the right thing to keep y’all entertained for the time being. Earlier this week, a reliable source in the accessory industry showed Engadget a highly detailed CAD file of the “iPhone 8’s” chassis, which allowed us to generate several renders for publishing. The most obvious takeaway here is the dual camera’s new orientation, and that both the microphone plus the flash will be part of the camera bump.

While the contour may look familiar, the back of the device will actually be covered in glass this time, which allows for the integration of wireless charging. This is hinted by what appears to be a carved out area for a wireless charging coil on the underside of the chassis, though we’re not at liberty to disclose related images.

Since this is the smaller of the two next-gen iPhones, these renders suggest that the dual camera plus wireless charging will become a standard feature. Speaking of, our source said both screen sizes will be getting bumped up: the 4.7-inch version will go up to 5 inches, and the 5.5-inch “Plus” version will be stretched to 5.8 inches. Alas, these renders don’t indicate whether the new displays will go from edge to edge as rumored, but the body measurements in the CAD file do point to a slightly taller, wider and thicker body than the iPhone 7.

As with all leaks, there’s always a possibility that these renders may turn out to be false (which we highly doubt given the nature of these files), or that Apple may give up on this design entirely. Either way, there’s still the rumored tenth anniversary iPhone to look forward to as well.

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The delayed BeatsX wireless earbuds arrive February 10th

If you’ve been waiting to get your hands on a pair of BeatsX wireless earbuds, you’re in luck. Today, Beats revealed on Twitter that the delayed model will arrive this Friday (February 10th). What’s more, in addition to the black and white color options that were previously announced, the company tells CNET that blue and gray versions will follow shortly.

BeatsX is one of three wireless models Apple teased when it confirmed it was killing the headphone jack on the iPhone 7. The three different Beats headphones were meant to give customers some options alongside the newfangled AirPods. Like those AirPods though, the BeatsX was also delayed. The wireless earbuds were supposed to arrive back in the fall, but the company announced in December that they wouldn’t go on sale until February.

In addition to providing a $ 150 alternative to the pricier AirPods, BeatsX also packs in Apple’s W1 chip for quick pairing via Bluetooth and Fast Fuel quick charging. That latter feature means BeatsX will give you two hours of use on just a five minute charge. It’s something that could come in handy if the earbuds go dead while you’re at the gym. They’re also attached to each other with a cord and in-line remote, if you’re worried about losing individual buds. When the time comes on Friday, expect to nab the new listening accessory via both Apple and Beats websites as well as Apple’s retail stores.


Via: 9to5Mac, CNET

Source: Beats By Dre

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Earin’s latest wireless earbuds tout AirPod-like controls

Fancy the subtle tap-based controls of Apple’s AirPods, but want something that’s not quite so conspicuous (or conspicuously targeted at iPhone owners)? Earin wants to talk. It’s introducing its second set of wireless earbuds, the M-2, and they promise a taste of AirPod-like control in a subtler design. You only have to tap an earbud to pause your music or answer a call — no reaching for your phone or fiddling with buttons. It’s not as sophisticated as the AirPods (you won’t be talking to Siri as easily), but the simplicity remains a big deal.

The M-2s are also more ergonomic than their cylindrical ancestors. Battery life hasn’t changed much, though: you can expect 3 hours on a charge, and the magnetic charging capsule will give you a total of 12 hours of listening. This is more for your workout than a long flight, in other words. Earin hasn’t divulged pricing, but the new earbuds should hit shelves near the end of the first quarter.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2017.

Source: PR Newswire

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Apple’s tiny, totally wireless AirPods get meticulously torn down

After having been delayed for months — for reasons never publicly confirmed, no less — Apple’s AirPods are finally here. And really, what better to way to celebrate one of the most curious delays in Apple history than by tearing those things apart? The folks at iFixit have done just that (as always), and the end result is a fascinating look at $ 160 worth of meticulously crafted silicon and audio parts. Spoiler alert: there’s more glue in them than you’d think.

As you might imagine, the tiny scale of Apple’s work and all the glue sealing everything in place make the AirPods a nightmare where repairs are concerned. In fact, all the components are so tightly packed in there that the idea of replacing parts or fixing them in general is downright laughable. Still, this kind of surgery does a great job illustrating the insane, compact origami that goes into modern consumer gadgets. And if nothing else, iFixit’s strangely gorgeous imagery more thoroughly explains the importance of the AirPods’ most questionable design choice: those stems that dangle out of your ear.

People stare, but they probably don’t realize that those stems are mostly all battery — their charge capacity works out to 1 percent of the iPhone 7’s — with long antennas glued to them to maintain a strong connection between the Pods themselves and the phone. (For what it’s worth, we’ve had a pair of AirPods for months and the multiple wireless connections were more-or-less rock-solid the entire time.)

Knowing that doesn’t make the stems look any better, though, as evidenced by all the shade thrown at me by coworkers whenever I wear these things. Also nestled deep within there is what makes the AirPods really tick: the minuscule W1 chip. It’s responsible for the Pods’ dead-simple pairing and power-sipping tendencies, which so far have been the big reasons our review units have seen such consistent use. The level of tension subsides when attention is turned to the AirPods’ charging case, but make no mistake: if you’re a fan of lilliputian tech, this is one teardown you have to see.

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Apple’s high-end wireless earbuds may not ship with iPhone 7

The long-rumoured death of the iPhone’s headphone jack has left everybody wondering: What’s going to become of Apple’s EarPods? Well, they’ll probably go wireless, but according to one analyst, they won’t come with your iPhone. They’ll be sold separately — and they might be expensive. KGI Securities’ Ming-Chi Kuo believes that Apple will announce a pair of high-end “AirPod” earbuds tomorrow as a premium accessory for iPhone 7 buyers. They won’t come in the box like Apple’s current earbuds, he says, and may not even use Bluetooth.

According to Kuo, Apple may have designed a “Bluetooth-like communications chip” with more strict limits on power consumption. This same low-power chip may also be used to communicate with smart car systems and other home accessories. The Analyst even goes as far as to name Taiwan Semiconductor as the company he believes developed the chip.

So, if Apple’s wireless answer to removing the headphone jack is going to be a premium accessory, what about the average user? Not to worry: Kuo believes the iPhone 7 will bundle in a pair of lighting-connector compatible earbuds or, at bare minimum, a 3.5mm to lighting adapter. Even so, take this report with a grain of salt — Kuo has a strong history of getting these kinds of predictions right, but we won’t know for sure until tomorrow.

Source: Apple Insider, Digital Trends

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Edward Snowden designed an iPhone case to prevent wireless snooping

Edward Snowden is still trying to combat smartphone radio surveillance three years after spilling the NSA’s secrets. With help from hacker Andrew “Bunnie” Huang, Snowden presented on Thursday designs at the MIT Media Lab for a case-like add-on device that monitors electrical signals sent to an iPhone’s internal antennas.

It looks like an external battery case with a small mono-color screen and is being described as an “introspection engine.” The device’s tiny probe wires have to attach to test points on the iPhone’s circuit board, which are accessible through the SIM card slot. The phone has two antennas that give off electrical signals and they’re used by its radios, including GPS and Bluetooth.

The probe wires read the radio’s electric signals, and by doing so the modified phone warns you when these signals transmit information when they’re meant to be off. You’ll instantly receive alert messages or even an audible alarm, and the phone can even shut off automatically. The intention here is to allow reporters to carry their phones into hostile foreign countries without revealing their locations to government-funded adversaries. They’ll still be able to record video and audio while their iPhone’s radio signals are disabled.

However, the device is still nothing more than a design for now. Snowden and Huang are hoping to build a prototype over the next year, and eventually start offering these modified iPhones to journalists.

Via: Wired

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