Apple releases iBeacon specification through its Made-For-iPhone program

Eversense-Aura-iBeacon

Aura iBeacons coming soon for EverSense smart thermostat

iBeacon, Apple’s new framework for using low-cost Bluetooth LE devices to beam notifications to nearby smartphones and tablets, will soon be getting a bigger push from Apple and third-party manufacturers through its Made-For-iPhone program. While “iBeacon” is often used in the media to describe any Bluetooth beacon, Apple is now implementing tighter control over who can use the ‘iBeacon’ branding. Much like it requires for manufacturers placing the “Made-for-iPhone” branding on Apple authorized devices, Apple is now requiring manufacturers meet certain specifications before using ‘iBeacon’ on their products. The change was first spotted by Beekn.net. It appears the program is separate from the main Bluetooth MFi specification as it still asks that accessory manufacturers not support the iBeacon feature. Read more

Tim Cook as good as confirms mobile payment via Touch ID on the way

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When Touch ID was first rumored, there had been much speculation about whether the iPhone 5s would act as an electronic wallet, with payments to retailers authorized by fingerprint. While that hasn’t yet happened, it does now seem clear that it’s on the way.

Asked about mobile payments during yesterday’s earnings call, CEO Tim Cook gave what is, in Apple terms, a surprisingly direct response.

The mobile payments area in general is one we’ve been intrigued with. It was one of the thoughts behind Touch ID [...] it’s a big opportunity …  Read more

CES 2014: First look at Resound Linx, the world’s first MFi Bluetooth LE hearing aid launching this quarter

Back in June we reported that Apple was getting ready to introduce new Bluetooth Low Energy hearing aid technology it developed to significantly improve the current crop of products on the market. Apple expected partners in its MFi program to introduce hearing aid and cochlear implant products using the technology this year, and last night we got a look at the first MFi hearing aid about to launch globally this quarter during the Bluetooth SIG event at CES 2014. GN’s Resound Linx is trickling out in select markets as we speak but a full global launch is about to happen sometime this quarter.

Not only is Resound Linx the world’s smallest hearing aid and the first Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod through Apple’s official program, the connection to an iPhone over the 2.4GHz frequency and Apple’s advancements in low powered Bluetooth tech for hearing aid products will also provide some other first of their kind features for the Linx. The hearing aid will essentially also function as a high-quality headset, allowing users to answer calls, listen to turn-by-turn directions, and much more on their iOS device. The most notable advancement, however, is the ability to fine tune the hearing aid experience through a dedicated iOS app: Read more

Review: Nike+ FuelBand SE, a smart fitness band that encourages you to get active

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Nike’s fitness band, the FuelBand came out in February of 2012. The Nike+ FuelBand SE, the newest model of the fitness device, was released last month. Since it relies on Bluetooth LE, the Nike+ FuelBand SE is compatible with the iPhone 4S and later, as well as the fifth generation iPod Touch. Bluetooth LE allows the band to automatically connect with the Nike+ FuelBand App. The new FuelBand has been designed to be more accurate and more water-resistant.

I have been using the Nike+ FuelBand SE for a little over a month, going through two defective units (one with a broken clasp, and one with a faulty battery and accelerometer) and finally stuck with the third band (which had a sticky button) for the purpose of this review.

Read more

Qualcomm gets in on Bluetooth beacon action with iBeacon competitor

Apple’s iBeacons aren’t the only Bluetooth LE beacons available, but they have so far been the default option for retailers thanks to the backing of such a well-known company. Qualcomm, which makes wireless chips for Apple among many others, may be aiming to change that with its launch of its own beacons from just $5 each.

Gimbal proximity beacons, available in two models, are accurate down to one foot and work indoors and outdoors [...]

Depending on volume, Series 10 beacons [for indoor use] are available for as little as $5 each and Series 20 beacons [weatherproof version] are available for as little as $10 each.

While the move represents competition for Apple, it’s good news for iOS users …  Read more

Apple working to slim its iWatch via intermittent Bluetooth LE connection?

iWatch concept by Stephen Olmstead

iWatch concept by Stephen Olmstead

An Apple patent filing filed today suggests that Apple may be working on a way to make its long-rumored iWatch slimmer than existing offerings by reducing the size of the battery required.

One of the barriers to widespread adoption of smartwatches is that existing models are not exactly sleek. Technology lovers might be willing to put function ahead of form and put up with chunky devices, but the wider market buys on style first, technology second.

While the Bluetooth LE protocol used by existing smartwatches uses around half the power of classic Bluetooth (peaking at 15mA instead of 30mA), a constant connection in a device you won’t want to charge daily still requires a reasonably chunky battery. What Apple’s patent proposes is for an on-demand creation of a Bluetooth connection between two devices, one with radio capabilities (aka an iPhone), one without …  Read more