Review: iHome’s iBN10 sheds the dock and alarms for a minimalist new four-speaker design

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I’ve reviewed a lot of iHome clock radios over the past nine years. They weren’t all formulaic, but there was a very clear evolutionary line from the original 2005-vintage, iPod-only iH5 to the iPad-ready iDL95 released last year: take two speakers, stick a clock in the middle, center a dock on the top, then make the enclosure sort of flat but pleasantly curvy. iHome had a winning general concept and look, which it updated annually with small feature, color, and shape tweaks. But its new $120 model iBN10 breaks the mold in several ways.

The dock’s gone, the clock has been glammed up and shifted to the right, and there are four speakers inside, rather than the standard two. iBN10 is also atypically handsome, built and billed as an “executive music system” by discarding the faux metals that iHome’s midrange speakers have become known for, and adding speakerphone functionality. This isn’t iHome’s first Kleenex box-sized speaker, but it’s definitely the most sophisticated.

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Apple Pay claimed 1% of November’s digital payment dollars, new report says

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A new report from ITG has revealed that Apple Pay was responsible for 1% of the total digital payment dollars spent in November. The study also found that 60% of new Apple Pay customers used the service multiple times throughout the month, while competing services like PayPal see only 20% of customers do the same.

Additionally, the research found that shoppers who took advantage of Apple Pay used the service for around 5.3% of their future credit card transactions, accounting for about 2.3% of the total dollars spent on their credit cards.

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Savage Interactive debuts Procreate Pocket, bringing iPad illustration tools to larger-screened iPhones

Demonstrating the types of apps that will increasingly migrate from Apple’s tablets to its larger iPhone 6 models, Savage Interactive has released Procreate Pocket ($3), a shrunken-down version of its signature iPad app Procreate. Widely admired for its professional-grade drawing tools, Procreate previously enabled tablet users to compose multi-layer illustrations using numerous brushes and a mistake-friendly, multi-layer Undo tool. Read more

CalDigit’s Thunderbolt Station 2 starts price war on Thunderbolt 2 docks w/ $170 pre-order, reg. $200

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Looking to grab market share from rival makers of Mac Thunderbolt docks, CalDigit today announced Thunderbolt Station 2, an aggressively-priced Thunderbolt 2 docking hub that promises to surpass earlier Belkin and Elgato units in features and build quality. Redesigned from a prior model, Thunderbolt Station 2 includes the expected twin Thunderbolt 2 ports, three USB 3.0 ports, Ethernet, HDMI and analog audio in/out ports. What’s new are twin eSATA 6G ports and an enclosure that can be mounted vertically or horizontally, saving space on a desk.

With a regular price of $200, it’s already $30 cheaper than Elgato’s Thunderbolt 2 Dock and $100 under Belkin’s Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock HD, but a special $170 pre-order price makes it the most affordable Thunderbolt 2 dock yet.

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Review: MOTA’s new Battery Case for iPhone 6 Plus shows what 4000mAh can – and can’t – do for Apple’s big iPhone

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I have to give MOTA a pat on the back for what it has achieved with the Battery Case for iPhone 6 Plus, the first such accessory we’ve tested for Apple’s largest iPhone. Despite its generic name, the Battery Case is handsome, well-built, and at $90, a steal relative to the lower-capacity $100 and up versions we’ve seen for the iPhone 5 and 5s. Critically, despite a 4000mAh rechargeable cell inside, it’s also surprisingly easy to hold and pocket, even though it adds thickness to the already-too-large iPhone 6 Plus.

But there are a couple of caveats, too. The case isn’t Apple-licensed, so there’s always the risk that it might have some iOS compatibility issues down the line — this would be a bigger issue if there weren’t also problems with cases Apple formally approved. And you’ll probably need the headphone port adapter MOTA includes in the package. More on that, below.

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Watch the full BBC documentary on iPhone factory working conditions while you can

A screengrab from the documentary showing workers sleeping on the production-line

A screengrab from the documentary showing workers sleeping on the production-line

The full BBC documentary on working conditions in iPhone factories has been unofficially uploaded to YouTube. It probably won’t be too long before it gets pulled, so if you want to see it, watch it while you can – we’ve embedded the full video below …  Read more

Tim Cook “deeply offended” by BBC allegations of poor working conditions in iPhone factories

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In a letter to UK staff, Tim Cook is said to have been “deeply offended” by allegations made in a BBC undercover documentary that Apple had broken promises over the working conditions in Pegatron’s iPhone factories in China, reports the Telegraph.

In an email to around 5,000 staff across the UK, Apple senior vice president of operations Jeff Williams said both himself and the chief executive were “deeply offended by the suggestion that Apple would break a promise to the workers in our supply chain or mislead our customers in any way”.

“Panorama’s report implied that Apple isn’t improving working conditions,” he continued. “Let me tell you, nothing could be further from the truth.”

Williams said that Apple had provided both “facts and perspective” on the allegations, but the BBC had chosen not to include these in the program …  Read more

Should Apple double the RAM in next year’s iPhones and iPads? [Poll]

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2 x 1GB RAM in iPad Air 2 shown in orange (ifixit.com)

A Taiwanese financial news site cited by Apple Toolbox claims that Apple plans to double the RAM in next year’s iPhones from 1GB to 2GB, and the iPad Air from 2GB to 4GB.

As sources of Apple-related news goes, the citation has to rank somewhere in the Digitimes arena, but it was a Taiwanese supply-chain rumor (dart throwing?) that correctly predicted the previous RAM doubling from 1GB in the original iPad Air to 2GB in the iPad Air 2 – albeit a prediction made rather closer to launch …  Read more

Apple increases app prices in Russia in response to changing exchange rates

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Apple has today informed developers that it has changed the pricing of apps and In-App Purchases in the Russian App Store, following changes to exchange rates. The recent ruble-dollar rates have fluctuated so widely in recent weeks that Apple has been forced to take the Russian Apple Online Store down completely, as it reviews pricing for its products. 

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Watch ABC for Apple TV updated with the ability to watch most recent episodes for all users

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ABC issued an update to its Watch ABC channel on the Apple TV today. The channel now allows all users to watch the latest episodes of their favorite shows, without the need to login through a cable provider, as was previously required.

Of course, you won’t be able to jump in and start watching the newest episode the day after it airs. As was the case with the previous version of the channel, episodes are only made available one week after they’ve aired.

The update also introduces a new…