Starbucks teams up with Duracell to place iPhone-compatible wireless chargers in coffee shops

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Starbucks, in partnership with Duracell, is starting a nationwide rollout of a wireless charging system for smartphones. The system is powered by Duracell’s Powermat technology, which we reviewed last July (starting at $3.50). The program will place 100,000 of the Duracell chargers at specially-marked tables in each Starbucks location. Users would then be able to charge any phone using a compatible wireless charging system.

So far the program has only rolled out in a few stores, but it’s scheduled to reach more markets by next year. There’s not a timetable yet for when the rollout will be complete.

While the program is only available in a few stores right now, a page on the website for the initiative lists locations where the service is currently offered.

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Apple’s HomeKit partner Honeywell launches Lyric smart thermostat Nest competitor

With Apple stepping into the home automation arena by way of offering closer device integration through its new HomeKit API announced alongside iOS 8, just about every appliance in the home is potential for being refreshed and gaining deeper connectivity with our iPhones and iPads. Honeywell, a launch partner for Apple’s new home automation development tools, is today announcing its new Lyric smart thermostat to compete against similar offerings from competitors like the now Google-owned Nest. Read more

Apple makes a cameo in Beats’ epic World Cup ad (Video)

Apple’s iPhone and MacBook both made appearances in Beats’ new headphones ad celebrating the World Cup. Apple, of course, announced that it is buying Beats Electronics for $3 billion last week, a deal it expects to be approved by the end of September, and featured a Beats plug earlier this week at WWDC when Dr. Dre was phoned in to the keynote and Eddy Cue was photographed wearing Beats headphones… Read more

In the midst of Apple acquisition, Beats tries to solidify its high end (sound) rep with new Solo2 cans

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We’re less than 24 hours removed from Apple announcing its acquisition of Beats and the Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine headphone empire has already announced a new product.

The Beats Solo2 headphones are a follow-up to the massively popular Solo model that sold nearly four units every minute last year. It seems that Beats has addressed one of the biggest criticisms of previous models. Some said they were too bass-heavy which resulted in what some critics called “poorly-mixed hip-hop sound”.

The Solo2 headphone has a more dynamic, wider range of sound, with a clarity that will bring you closer to what the artist intended, whether you’re into hip-hop, heavy metal, jazz, electronic, or country.

These new cans sport a nearly identical design, while some tweaks have been made to increase overall comfort.

…the frame of the headphone has been curved like never before, giving the Solo2 a custom-fit feeling. The earcups have been ergonomically angled to complete this natural fit, with pivots for optimal comfort and sound delivery. Finally, the earcups’ premium material helps dissipate heat and minimize sound leakage.

Apple obviously had no impact on this product release since the deal isn’t expected to be finalized until the company’s fiscal Q4 of this year, but it’s interesting to see Beats trying to shake of some its old stigmas to appeal to audiophiles as well as music listeners who put bass and fashion first.

The Solo2 headphones are now available for preorder for $199.95 in a range of colors from Best Buy, beatsbydre.com, and are expected to hit other authorized retailers late this week… Read more

Spotify CEO: I’ve always assumed Apple would offer a streaming service

If Apple does indeed reach a deal to acquire Beats Electronics and announce it this week as expected, the clock is once again counting down to offer up your take on the whole scenario before it’s actually official. Steve Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson got that opportunity earlier this week thanks in part to Dan Lyons of Fake Steve Jobs fame; Isaacson told Lyons he believes the expected $3.2 billion acquisition by Apple is all about creating a world class video service led by Beats’ co-founder Jimmy Iovine.

But when you think about Beats and what the company has to offer for Apple, the subscription music service launched by the company in January earlier this year comes to mind. Spotify, of course, dominates in this space as seen by the company’s announcement today that they now have 10 million paid subscribers and 40 million active users. Read more

Dutch appeals court upholds ban on Samsung Galaxy S II and Galaxy Ace

Samsung Galaxy S II and iPhone 4 (front, side)

A Dutch appeals court today upheld a 2011 decision that banned the sale of Samsung’s Galaxy S II and Galaxy Ace phones, as noted by Re/code. The devices in question were found to have infringed on Apple’s design in an earlier ruling and blocked from sale.

Apple’s original intent was to get an injunction against all Galaxy devices, but the company was forced to settle instead for just the two devices listed above.

Even though Apple and Google recently decided to settle their differences, thus halting the “thermonuclear warfare” instigated by former CEO Steve Jobs, there’s no indication that Apple plans to stop going after Samsung or other manufacturers directly any time soon. In fact, Samsung was recently found to have infringed on Apple’s design yet again with some of its newer devices and order to pay nearly $120 million in damages.

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