Oct 03

iHome iD55 with iPadAfter trying several portable iPhone speaker systems over the years, I pretty much gave up finding one ideal for my needs. I still tested portable speakers now and again, of course – for professional reasons – but all left me wanting. The best I’ve found was the Altec Lansing iMT702, and it was released over three years ago. Since then it’s been disappointment after disappointment.

So when word came that iHome, one of my favorite iOS speaker companies, was releasing a sleek new portable speaker, the iD55, I was encouraged. Surely this reasonably priced system would perform better than its current, lousy competitors. iHome had never really let me down before.

No such luck.

While well designed and constructed, its poor performance and lack of obvious conveniences left me, once again, looking for a wall outlet.

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Sep 13

30-pin to Lightning Adapter

When Apple announced it was updating the magnetic charging connection on its 2012 MacBooks, the company released an adapter that allowed users to charge new MagSafe 2 notebooks with older MagSafe chargers. That adapter is available for $10.  But when Apple unveiled the long-rumored change to its 30-pin Dock Connector yesterday, those with older Dock Connector cables, speakers, chargers, docks, batteries, etc., didn’t get off quite so cheaply.

The new Dock Connector, which Apple calls Lightning, won’t fit any existing iPhone, iPod, or iPad accessories.  So if you want to use those accessories you’ve likely been accumulating for the past few years, you’ll need a 30-Pin Dock Connector to Lightning Adapter.

And Apple will gladly sell you one… for $30.

I’m glad Apple changed its aging Dock Connector, and I very much like the design and improved usability of Lightning. But charging $30 (or $40 or the adapter with a built-in cable) is outrageously and unjustifiably pricey; you can buy an entire MP3 player with a screen, 8GB of storage, a processor, controls, etc., for less than $30.  Charging $10 – which would have still allowed a hefty profit margin – would be much more reasonable.

I will be getting the iPhone 5, and I have many accessories that use the standard Dock Connector.  But I won’t be giving Apple $30 a pop for their adapters.  I’ll wait for eBay or Amazon to sell third-party or OEM models for $3, even if I have to wait a few months. 

And if you’re smart, you’ll do the same.

M. Nichols, Products Editor

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Jun 26

Apple's new Podcasts iOS App

One of the rumors about iOS 6 was that Apple would be moving podcasts from the Music app to its very own application on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.  Well, the rumor was true, but iOS 6 isn’t required:

This morning Apple released Podcasts, a new standalone podcast app for all iOS devices.

Here’s what Apple says about Podcasts:

Podcasts app is the easiest way to discover, subscribe to and play your favorite podcasts on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Explore hundreds of thousands of free audio and video podcasts from the Podcasts Catalog, and play the most popular podcasts, organized for you by topic, with the all-new Top Stations feature.

Browse new and noteworthy iOS apps…

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Jun 11

iOS 6Apple announced, as expected, iOS 6 today at WWDC.  iOS 6 will be available with “over 200 new features” for select iPhones, iPads and iPod touch models in the fall.

Here’s iOS 6 in a nutshell:

New Siri Features: The new-and-improved Siri can tell you sports scores, game times and player stats, give you restaurant ratings (powered by Yelp) and make reservations, give movie ratings (powered by RottenTomatoes), actor and appearance information, dictate tweets, and launch apps.  There’s also support for integration with select car companies who’ll add Siri buttons to steering wheels.  Full Siri is also coming to the 3rd Gen iPad.

Facebook Integration: Facebook gets Siri support, and you can also post to Facebook from many apps.  Facebook has been added to Notification Center, the App Store and iTunes, contacts, calendar, etc. 

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May 07

iOS 5.1.1 UpdateIt’s been a while since Apple has released a new iOS 5.x update, but today one has been made available.  A relatively minor update, iOS 5.1.1 addresses a 2G/3G network problem on the new 3rd Gen iPad, bugs in AirPlay video playback, and other minor issues.

On our test iPhones and iPads, the update was under 50MB when updating from the device, but you can also update via iTunes.  The update is available for compatible iPhones and iPod touch models, and all iPads.

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