May Day episode features Apple Q2 reports, Apple Watch, Powerwall, more
Welcome, comrades, to episode 13 of The MacNN Podcast as we celebrate the glorious people's revolution and salute labor everywhere this May Day through (mostly) home electronics! In the latest episode, various citizens of MacNN parade like troops on review through a number of Apple- and non-Apple topics under the watchful eye of our Dear Readers! Truly it is worker's playtime with the Apple Watch now arriving, plus Tesla's Powerwall battery reveal.
Powerwall can store generated solar power, charge from grid at cheaper times of day
Electric car manufacturer Tesla has launched a new product, designed for the home. The Powerwall is a large battery connected to the building's power supply that can be used to store excess electricity produced from solar panels for use at a later time when energy generated doesn't cover energy usage, with the ultimate aim of saving its users money in the long run.
Apple's e-reader is under-appreciated
Anyone who bought the Kindle device that lets you read in direct sunlight made a sensible choice, and they got terrific battery life too. I made my iPad choice, and I lived with it, despite not being able to read on the sun-soaked beach. Of course, you can read Kindle books on iPad, but now I actively seek out titles on Apple's iBook Store before I bother looking for them on Kindle.
Storage on Watch limited to 2GB for music, 75MB for photos
Some further details on Apple's new Watch device have come out that were not mentioned during the public presentation on Monday, one of which is a detail that further points out how unlike most technology devices the Apple Watch really is: the device actually has very little room for standalone storage. As we reported prior to the event, the Apple Watch (all versions) has just 8GB of independent storage, with only 2GB available for music and just 75MB allocated for photos. The rest, presumably, is for the operating system and apps.
High-speed charging of rumored smartwatch undercuts current charging periods
Chinese smartphone producer Oppo may be joining the smartwatch market with its own device, with an interesting power system. The manufacturer is apparently going to counter the woeful day-long battery life that currently plagues smartwatches by making the recharging process as quick as possible, with claims that Oppo has managed to get this down to as short as five minutes.
Small batch of iPhones may have short-lived battery
A battery exchange program for some iPhone 5 users has been extended into from this year into 2016. Initially limited to "two years after the first retail sale or until March 1, 2015, whichever gives longer coverage" the language on Apple's website for the program was quietly changed to run through January 2016.
Man claims battery spontaneously exploded, lit his leg and pants on fire
An iPhone has reportedly exploded in a Long Island, New York man's pocket, sending him to the burn ward for 10 days. Erik Johnson was given a swath of third-degree burns on his left thigh after he bent over to get keys, when he heard a pop and, according to Johnson's claims, the battery burst and caught on fire, burning the man severely. An iPhone 5c belonging to a MacNN editor isn't seeing any bulging or any signs of problem, nor have we heard any previous claims for this model, but Johnson has photographic proof of the explosion.
Excellent free app psychoanalyzes your batteries
The curiously-named CoconutBattery 3.2 is a free app that examines the batteries in your MacBooks and your iOS devices. One click and you know everything: it gives you the skinny on every possible scintilla of information about the state your battery is in.
Apple tempting Samsung staff with greater independence, benefits
Apple has been accused of poaching employees from rival technology companies for the second time in a week, this time from Samsung. Unnamed officials at the electronics producer apparently claim Apple has headhunted engineers working in signal processing and visual processing management, bolstering its staff with experts in chip production and battery technology, potentially for its rumored electric car project.
Top battery-tech workers defect, may have violated anti-compete agreements
According to a new lawsuit filed against Apple, the iPhone maker has been poaching employees from a vehicle-oriented "advanced energy" technology company called A123 Systems over the past eight months for a new, unannounced battery division at the iPhone maker. The latter company says that Apple and its former employees may have violated anti-compete agreements, and have left A123 without qualified leaders for key projects.
Ways to save power can return you to 'all-day' battery life
You've got to hand it to Apple. We were in an Apple Store, trying to decide between an iPhone 6 and a 6 Plus, as you do, and naturally a salesman came over. We mentioned that one thing that's really drawing us to the Plus is the battery life -- and you know what would have then happened in any other store selling any other phone. Of course the salesman would have immediately evangelized that feature. He'd somehow make it sound magical, how long you can go without charging the phone and yet, simultaneously, sold us some extra battery pack. Except this was Apple, and the guy didn't do any of that. Instead he asked us how long we were able to go without recharging our current iPhone, he tested our battery, and then he talked us through how to make it last longer.
Claims not yet verified by authorities, LG; Reddit user offers photo evidence
A Reddit user's younger sister had her LG G3 battery explode as it sat charging on her bed, according to photos and a report from Reddit Android group contributor "s-blade." The heat from the explosion appears to have been so intense that it caused the phone to melt through the mattress, only lightly scorching the sheets as it sank into the bed. The report mentions that the battery and charger involved were original equipment, and not cheap knock-offs or counterfeit low-cost replacements that have a track record of serious problems.
Battery-operated scanner helps users save time, space and effort while on the go
In this day and age, there's a significant amount of pressure to go paperless, and downsize the amount of things that one collects over the years. However, what is a person to do with years of receipts, tax documents, business cards and forms that could be needed in a number of urgent situations? Enter the ultra-smart scanner that promises to help users pair down their paper clutter while freeing up some space on their desks. But can a small scanner really live up to the expectations set by larger, more familiar desktop scanners? Find out in our review.
Patriot launches Fuel Ion magnetic portable battery
Patriot has launched the latest addition to its Fuel Ion ecosystem, the Fuel Ion Magnetic Portable Battery. The battery attaches to the back of any Fuel Ion phone case, offering a 2100mAh capacity that can charge any smartphone without need to connect with a power cord. Lightweight, the battery can charge itself and any enabled smartphone when the battery is connected via its base to a wall or car adapter power source. The Fuel Ion ecosystem includes cases and other accessories compatible with iPhone 5 and 5s, Samsung Galaxy 4 and 5, and Samsung Note 3. Priced at $50, the Fuel Ion Portable Battery will soon be available through Amazon and a variety of other retailers.
Origin PC sells Millennium, Genesis cases to celebrate its five-year anniversary
Custom computer builder Origin PC is celebrating its five-year anniversary, kicking it off with a special sale to commemorate the occasion. Origin PC announced that it's giving consumers the chance to buy the custom computer cases used for its Millennium and Genesis desktops for a limited time. Both cases feature Origin PC's industrial design and variable mounting, which allows the system parts to be configured in four different ways that include standard, 90-degree and inverted mounting options.
Lack of antenna for NFC radio hobbles unit for Apple Pay retail buying
A new teardown of the iPad Air 2 has confirmed much of what was speculated about the device, but has also revealed some minor surprises. The team at iFixit have rated the new iPad a "two" on a scale of 10, with 10 being the most repairable. The company says that while the new "fused" display is better visually, and sturdier when opening up the iPad, it will also increase the cost of repair for a cracked screen. The teardown also revealed that the latest full-size iPad features a smaller battery and more RAM.
Motorola smartwatch update claimed to increase usage time by hours
Owners of the Moto 360 are reportedly seeing longer battery life for the smartwatch than at launch, thanks to an over-the-air update by Motorola late last week. The original suggestion by the company of an "all day" mixed-use battery life has apparently increased considerably, with users on Reddit surprised at the sudden battery gains.
Internal components considerably changed to accommodate new size
The Australian branch of repair specialists iFixit has obtained an iPhone 6 Plus, and has naturally opted to risk destroying it in the name of doing a teardown for the benefit of its users and gadget fans. The biggest discovery is the confirmation that the iPhone 6 Plus, a 5.5-inch version of the iPhone 6, uses a 2915mAh battery -- twice the capacity of the one found in the iPhone 5s -- to power the larger screen and yet provide better runtime life.
Units sold between first launch and January 2013 have defect, may be replaced
On Friday, Apple announced that it had discovered that "a very small percentage" of first-run iPhone 5 units -- those sold between September of 2012 and January of 2013 -- have a defect that results in unusually short battery life, and have instituted a program to replace the battery. Users will need to bring the units to an Apple Authorized Service Provider or retail Apple Store; however, customers should be aware that Apple will send the unit off to a facility to be inspected.
Report is very questionable, claims product will be called '6L'
Taiwanese Apple blog Apple Daily has published pictures of three components it claims are parts from the oft-discussed but little-seen 5.5-inch version of the "iPhone 6." The photos show what are said to be the display, logic board and battery of the device, but at least two of the three parts are identical to the claimed 4.7-inch iPhone, casting doubt on the entire report. The battery, however, may be a genuinely new part, and is said to be nearly double in capacity compared to the current iPhone 5s battery.
Alternative design holds enough juice to recharge a modern phone, convenient cable
If consumers need a backup battery that packs enough power for a full phone charge, configuration options are usually limited. Batteries generally come attached to another device or feature a generic flat case or a bulky design that barely fits in a pocket. But what about consumers that want something a little bit different? Neptor offers a stick design with the NP028K that packs the power requirements people need with a slightly different look. Is the Neptor NP028K good enough for consumers to consider purchasing, or does it need something else to be appealing? Find out in our review.
Battery offers 2,000 mAh of power with an easy to read LED for capacity levels
Backup batteries are gaining ground as one of the devices that, for many users, must be carried around every day. With lives connected to smartphones and entwined with social media, many people end up facing a shortage in battery power from constant use. This means that consumers need to find a battery solution to fit their needs. But with so many options available on the market, which is the right one to choose? One possible solution is the Tylt Energi 2K. Is the 2,000 mAh battery right for all consumers? Find out in our review.
Life N Soul releases new Bluetooth 8-driver headphones, stereo speaker
Audio device producer Life N Soul has announced its new BE501 8 Driver Bluetooth headphones, and the BM211 Virtual Surround Bluetooth Speaker. The company's Bluetooth headphones feature Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, and can pair with two different devices with a range of up to 30 feet. Offering built-in lossless transmission technology and dynamic surround sound, the BE501's frequency response ranges from 5Hz to 25kHz. Each ear piece bears 1pc woofer and 3pc drivers, with a total of 8 neodymium dynamic audio drivers. The headphones can hold a charge for 28 hours of play time, and 1300 hours of standby time.
High capacity battery charges two devices simultaneously through 1A, 2.1A ports
Battery backups are generally geared toward multitasking, or made with a single device in mind. Many are bundled as an additional feature to a Bluetooth speaker, focusing on sound output first and charging second. This often leaves the unit capped at how much of the battery it offers up to charging external devices. But what happens when the speaker portion is removed, and the large capacity battery is left behind? A company can create a two-port charging solution like the Neptor NP056K. But would the Neptor be a good battery on its own? Find out in our review.
StubHub announces music-focused app for iOS
StubHub has launched StubHub Music (formerly ShowDrift), an iOS app focused on recommending live, local music events based on the user's existing tastes and preferences. Connecting fans with artists, StubHub Music adds personalization and social interaction to the mobile event discovery and ticket purchasing. Currently available for only the San Francisco area, users can receive notifications for when their favorite artists are in the vicinity, and receive recommendations based on their music library.
Slim, durable battery takes a shot at unconventional battery indicator
Battery life is a day-to-day concern for many smartphone users who are frequently surfing the Internet, checking emails or staying connected on social media. Often a single charge for a battery isn't enough, leaving consumers looking for options to extend their device's life. So what options are left for those that don't want to spend time camped out by an electrical outlet? The flexible solution is to invest in an external battery. But what about consumers that don't want to carry around a bulky battery? In those cases, the Calibre Ultra'Go nano power station may be an option worth exploring.
Speaker charges on conductive base that houses 1800 mAh, allows device charging
Bem Wireless has announced the availability of its newest compact Bluetooth speaker, the Speaker Mojo. The 2.5-inch cube speaker from Bem builds on the previous generation of its mobile speaker, offering a bonus to its battery design. Instead of charging the speaker directly, it sits on a a base that houses a battery that doubles as a power bank for any devices that may need to be charged on-the-go.
Repairs, refunds offered over Vaio Fit battery overheating fault
Sony has issued an update to its Vaio Fit 11A overheating warning, advising the company is starting to accept reservations for repairs from customers. Starting from May, Sony will be working with its third-party supplier, previously identified as Panasonic, in order to replace the non-removable battery inside the notebook at no charge.
Panasonic-sourced battery at fault for three reported overheating incidents
Sony is warning owners of its Vaio Fit 11A notebook to stop using the computer, because of potentially hazardous battery issues. Non-removable batteries produced by Panasonic used in approximately 26,000 of the notebooks apparently have the potential to overheat, risking physical damage to the outside casting the possibility of catching fire.
Auto routing software for iOS apps updated to version 2.0
Popular app-to-app audio routing solution for many iOS apps, Audiobus, has been updated to version 2.0. Initially released in 2012, Audiobus offers iOS apps the ability to communicate with each other to exchange effects and sounds, allowing users to create a single audio stream from multiple apps, simultaneously. Its latest version features Multi-Routing, which can manage multiple audio pipelines for unlimited connections or effect chaining. Audiobus display a menu for selecting a compatible app, opening and adding an effect on top of an existing one. This creates a chain of effects within the Audiobus interface, which can be combined with multi-channel input hardware support.
Reign23 Bolt portable USB wall battery charger released
Reign23 has released its combination USB wall charger and rechargeable portable battery, Bolt. Its portable battery has a 3000mAh capacity, large enough for two full charges of an iPhone or other mobile device. Initially launched as a Kickstarter project in 2013, Bolt is small, at 2.75 inches by 1.33 inches by 1.10 inches. Its smart charge technology automatically bypasses the battery when fully charged, and is available in blue and black color options. Priced at $60, the Bolt USB Wall Charger and Battery can be purchased online.
Xbox One update due February 11, adds battery life indicator
Microsoft's Xbox One is set to have an update released, addressing issues encountered by users since the console's launch. The update is due February 11th, featuring issue corrections regarding storage management, and the addition of a battery life indicator for the console's controller. Libraries will be split into two separate lists of 'My Games' and 'My Apps', as to simplify file searches. Also expected in the update is the added ability to use a USB keyboard with the console.
Inductive charging, screen-mounted solar panel, movement charging touted
Apple is experimenting with alternative charging methods that could be used in the rumored iWatch, claims the New York Times. Rather than charging a smart watch by plugging a wire into a port, Apple is apparently looking into using magnetic induction charging for the device, with a solar-charging layer added to a curved glass screen also touted by report sources.
Braven releases BRV-Bank rugged smartphone battery, BRV-X HD wireless speaker
Braven on Tuesday revealed its latest product releases: the BRV-Bank portable backup battery, and the BRV-X outdoor speaker. Both products are intended to be rugged, with both products holding an IP water-resistant rating. The Braven BRV-X is equipped with custom-made HD drivers, an omnidirectional passive bass radiator, and setting for indoor and outdoor locations. Its noise-cancelling speakerphone, USB charging capability and integrated power bank allow for versatile function, and easy pairing with NFC offers users true left and right stereo sound with a second BRV-X.
Third-party batteries, grips not compatible with latest DSLR firmware
The latest firmware update for some Nikon digital cameras has apparently caused some unexpected issues for some owners. Reports have surfaced suggesting that the update, which is supposed to help the camera more accurately detect the remaining charge for a specific battery used on some DSLR and Coolpix cameras, is now preventing third-party batteries and battery grips from working on the cameras.
New cells also remove conflict minerals from construction process
A team of Berkeley Lab battery researchers led by Elton Cairns has invented an improved lithium/sulfur (Li/S) cell that, for the first time with the sulfur-based technology, offers both long cycle life and a high discharge rate in addition to the inherently low cost and light weight of Li/S batteries. Tests show that the Berkeley Lab Li/S cell had an estimated specific energy of nearly 500 Wh/kg, more than double that of current Li-ion cells which run around 200 Wh/kg.
SnowLizard SLPower 7 portable battery charger
Owning a smart phone or a tablet is great, but having the battery die while on the go is not so great. There are various ways to avoid having this happen -- one of them being a portable battery charger. SnowLizard's SLPower 7 charger provides 7000mAH of power that can be used to simultaneously charge two tablets or smartphones. Electronista has one of these to give away to our readers.
The Jackery Fit features three LED charge status indicators, built-in flashlight
Jackery, a producer of rechargeable battery products, has released its latest product: the Jackery Fit. A high-capacity 2.1-amp fast-charging portable battery, the Jackery Fit can charge a variety of tablets and smartphones. Featuring three LED charge status lights that indicate when the battery is fully charged, its 7500mAh provides up to 160 hours of additional operational time for a charged device. The Jackery Fit can be purchased online at the current sale price of $40, and is available in orange and silver.
BluFit Smart Water Bottle tracks water intake with app
BluFit, the smart water bottle that can track its user's water consumption, is available for pre-order pledging on Indiegogo. The glass bottle encased in a silicone sleeve notifies users to drink more water, based on a calibration of personal data such as weight, age, activity level, and more. The bottle transmits data by way of its Bluetooth LE chip to the BlueFit app, such as when and how much water was consumed.
Cable battery production by LG to occur in coming years
LG has started mass production of curved batteries, something which it hopes to use in future smartphone designs. The new batteries will remove the need for manufacturers to design a mobile phone or tablet with a rectangular battery in mind, with the curved version seemingly being built to work alongside the also-announced curved smartphone displays.
JLab's headphones feature tangle-free cord, fully rotational cups
JLab has released its new product, the Intro On-Ear Headphone, as quality budget choice for audio listening. Priced at $25, Intro is equipped with 40mm drivers and foam ear cups. Its tangle-free cable is flat, and features a gold-plated jack, universal mic and built-in track control. Fully rotational cups with custom hinges allow the user to wear, adjust and store the headphones with ease and flexibility. Buyers can purchase JLab's Intro On-Ear Headphones, available in black and white, on JLab's online store.
Giant+ battery offers 40 additional charging hours
Today Jackery -- a provider of rechargeable battery products for mobile devices -- announced the launch of their latest product, the Jackery Giant+. An upgraded release of the Giant, which is a battery which offers up to 220 hours of charging time for electronic devices, the Giant+ features up to 260 hours extra operational time for one's electronic device. Easily portable, the battery weighs 10.4 ounces and measures 4.3 x 3.1 x 0.8 inches. The Giant+ can charge two devices simultaneously, and retain a charge for up to six months in standby mode. Alongside the rest of the Jackery lineup, the Jackery Giant+ is available through Amazon, and is priced at $50.
Kensington announces Proximo's Android compatibility
Today Kensington, a mobile accessories company, announced that its Proximo app-enabled accessory, originally for iOS, is now compatible with Android. The Proximo system is designed to assist users in finding one's phone, keys or valuables easily, and ensures that misplacement doesn't occur.The Bluetooth 4.0 fob attaches to a user's keys, while an attachable tag can be used with a phone or other valuable, allowing users to then receive alerts when moving out of range from the other component. Proximo's app dashboard can track up to five items, including a customizable activity proximity meter. Proximo's app version 1.6 now supports Samsung Galaxy series Android phones, as well as iPhone. Proximo's starting package is priced at $60, with additional tags and fobs priced at $25 and $40 respectively.
Hulu gains 144 BBC shows in multi-year, non-exclusive deal
Hulu has signed a deal with BBC Worldwide to bring 2,000 episodes from 144 different BBC shows. The multi-year deal will bring titles such as Doctor Who, Sherlock, and Luther to the streaming service, with hundreds being made available this week. The Wall Street Journal reports that this is not an exclusive deal, due to similar arrangements with Netflix and Amazon.
External battery for mobile devices identifies type of device
Anker has announced the release of its second-generation Astro2 external battery. A high-capacity 9000mAh battery, the Astro2 is able to charge two mobile devices simultaneously. The charger has no buttons, and instead requires a brief shake to activate the battery and LED power indicator. Available for $45, the Astro2 can be purchased at Amazon.
Booq Viper Courier messenger bag launched in two sizes
Case manufacturer Booq has unveiled the new Viper courier laptop bag. The new bag is dyed and water-repelling, and the Viper has a padded laptop compartment inside so a stored computer stays protected and scratch-free. Other storage space in the form of interior pockets and an exterior backside pocket fits necessary documents, with a concealed quick-access pocket for mobile devices such as an iPhone. The bag is now available in two sizes -- the 13-inch model retails for $100, and the 15-inch model sells for $110.
Agrees to pay $56.5M in fines, jail time for executives
Panasonic has agreed to pay $56.5 million in fines for its part in price fixing conspiracies. The US Department of Justice announced that the Japanese electronics manufacturer will plead guilty for helping fix the prices of automotive parts and battery cells, which inflated the production cost of notebooks and cars for various manufacturers.
SLXtreme accessories now available for iPhone 5 and iPad
Snow Leopard has expanded their collection of heavy-duty cases, offering waterproof protection as well as battery charge supplementing to a users' iPhone 5 and iPad. The SLXtreme case for iPhone, the SLXtreme 5, has an integrated 2250mAh battery, powered by a solar panel, doubling the battery capacity of the phone. The case is designed to be waterproof down to six feet while maintaining full functionality. SLXtreme for iPad protects the iPad 2 or later, and offers waterproof protection for underwater and splash-prone environments. Optionally available is a built-in 1150mAh battery, complete with a USB out that enables users to charge other mobile devices while on the go. Both available in Fall 2013, the SLXtreme 5 will be priced at $130, and SLXtreme iPad for $150 with battery and $100 without.
Battery four times more powerful than iPhone 5's
Today, SwitchEasy released its Tanks high capacity portable battery for charging smartphones and other mobile devices. Tanks includes a 6000mAh battery, and can hold four times more power than the built-in iPhone 5 battery. The four-step white LED gauge clearly displays the battery's charge level, and charges using a standard USB connection. Available in white or black finishes, SwitchEasy's Tanks is available online for $70.
Samsung battery inflates on charge near sleeping owner, melts phone
A Samsung Galaxy S III suffered a potentially hazardous fault yesterday, according to a user of Reddit. Photos on the social news site appears to show a phone that started to smoke and an inflated battery, with damage ranging from melted and burned plastic on the smartphone itself, a small burn on the poster's finger, and a hole in their foam pillow mattress cover caused through the excessive heat.