Review: Lumsing Prophet $20 Bluetooth Speaker/phone rocks out with its dock out

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Although we’ve covered the gamut of portable Bluetooth speakers here at 9to5Mac, we typically recommend higher-end products like the Bose Soundlink Mini ($199), JBL Charge ($138) or Ultimate Ears Mini/Boom ($80/$179). It’s usually not worth cheaping out on Bluetooth speakers (unless you are looking for niche products like wearables) because the sound quality degrades heavily once you drop below the top tier. Lumsing-Prophet-review Sadly, today’s entrant into the Bluetooth speaker cage-match lot isn’t going to compete with any of the $100+speakers above. But I have to say, the Lumsing Prophet isn’t bad at all, especially if you aren’t listening to bass-heavy tracks. And, the freaky part is it only costs $20 bucks after coupon code PROPHET0 (expires 8/13) at Amazon which makes it an absolute steal… Read more

Hillshire increases sales w/ iBeacon, 20x increase in purchase intent, 500x increase over average mobile ads

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With more and more retailers, event spaces, and others deploying Apple’s Bluetooth LE iBeacon technology in order to beam iPhone and iPad users context and location aware notifications, we still haven’t seen much data on how the beacons are improving ad engagement for marketers. InMarket, a company installing iBeacons in grocery stores around the country that talk to a number of apps from its advertising partners, today shared some of the first stats from a specific consumer brand using the platform.  Read more

HealthKit supports some Bluetooth products natively, lets accessory makers skip app development

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Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor

Apple’s new HealthKit platform and Health app for iOS 8 acts as a central location for users to store and share health data from third-party apps, but Apple is also supporting some Bluetooth accessories natively in the Health app. That means that some accessory manufacturers will be able to skip the process of developing a companion app for their product and instead allow HealthKit to automatically connect to and control the device itself.  Read more

Apple brings Multipeer Connectivity to Mac, enables cross-platform nearby networking w/ iOS

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In iOS 7, Apple introduced nearby networking features called Multipeer Connectivity to allow iOS devices in proximity to talk to one another over WiFi or Bluetooth even without a traditional Internet connection. Developers have used the tech for everything from exchanging files and other data between devices, to remote control functionality, and multi-device experiences like the iTranslate Voice app that sends real-time speech translated from one device to the other. It’s also the tech behind the local anonymous messaging service FireChat that got some attention earlier this year. Now, Apple is opening up the Multipeer Connectivity APIs to OS X starting with Yosemite and in the process allowing cross-platform nearby networking between Macs and iOS devices.  Read more

Review: Beats Studio Wireless headphones (and what Apple can improve)

A few weeks before initial reports that Apple was planning to acquire Beats Electronics, I started AT&T’s three month trial of the Beats Music subscription streaming service.. Given that generous window of time, I felt more comfortable investing my time than I would with a one or two week trial. When news broke that Apple was in final talks to purchase Beats, I was caught off guard and immediately concerned that the subscription service that I was starting to really like would change under Apple’s watch. Since the deal has been made official, Apple has said that Beats Music will continue as it is (across multiple platforms even) as will the headphones line (Beats branded, not Apple branded) for now.

Because I was rather surprised by the appeal of Beats Music and Apple is now endorsing the headphones more than ever (even if only really for their massive profit margins), I got really curious Friday afternoon to try out a pair of Beats headphones first hand so I did just that. I’ve been using the Beats Studio Wireless headphones (Amazon) just about all waking hour of this weekend, and below you can read my thoughts on one of the products included in Apple’s biggest acquisition to date. Read more

Review: Proximo, the feature-packed Bluetooth tagging system for the forgetful

We’ve all done it. You put your keys down, and five minutes later you have no idea where they are. You could swear you put your phone on the kitchen table last night, but it’s not there now. You put your bag under the restaurant table and then walk out without it. Doing all three in the same week might suggest the help you need is more medical than technological, but for those occasions when you do one or other of them, Proximo is designed to help.

Bluetooth tags also provides some degree of protection against theft, where you’ll be alerted to any of your tagged items walking off.

There are a number of different tagging systems on the market, with varying levels of functionality. Proximo is one of the more sophisticated, offering five different features … Read more

Walgreens & Walmart testing iBeacons, Motorola Solutions launches iBeacon marketing platform

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Walgreens-owned drugstore chain Duane Reade announced today that it’s updating its iPhone app with support for iBeacons it recently installed in 10 of its New York city locations. It and Walmart are just two of the latest big name chains said to be testing the technology, while Motorola Solutions announced today its own indoor location platform that includes a combination of Bluetooth iBeacons and Wi-Fi based features.

Like other implementations that we’ve seen in retail and grocery stores, Duane Reade has installed the Bluetooth iBeacons in order to beam offers, coupons and product info to customers in proximity that have the company’s iPhone app installed: Read more

MFi sunglasses w/ embedded iBeacon notify you when lost, act as beacons in retail

The first set of eye glasses with embedded iBeacon Bluetooth LE technology and certified under Apple’s Made-for-iPhone/iPad/iPod (MFi) program are coming soon. We’ve seen a growing number of companies embracing iBeacons by using the protocol: personalized retail experiences, in-store advertising, audience interaction at events, as well as apps that let you setup your own iBeacons at home and work. Now, a company called Tzukuri is about to launch a crowd funding project for the new eye glasses that use an embedded iBeacon to track lost glasses with accuracy to the nearest foot. They also use solar power, so charging is never an issue, and the company has big plans for using the product as a standalone iBeacon when on store shelves. Read more

SXSW Festival using iBeacons for interactive sessions, speedy badge pickup through iOS app

SXSW-appOn top of the many uses for iBeacons we’ve seen in retail environments, event organizers are another group that have started taking advantage of Apple’s new Bluetooth tech recently. The MLB is deploying them in stadiums to send notifications to baseball fans, CES hosted an iBeacon scavenger hunt this year, and today we’ve found out the upcoming SXSW festival where Apple is hosting its latest iTunes Festival will also be using the technology.

Eventbase, the company that has been building the official SXSW festival app for a few years now reached out to let us know it will be deploying some iBeacons around the event this year to improve the experience. Specifically, it will be using the technology to “help attendees in Austin pick up their badge faster and get more involved in the sessions they attend.” One feature in the app will allow for real-time audience interaction during sessions: Read more

Moga shows off its first Bluetooth Made-for-iPhone game controller ahead of official launch

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Moga, the company behind one of the first Made-for-iPhone game controllers, today announced that it will soon unveil its next controller for iOS devices. It also sent over the image above that gives us some clues about what to expect. Unlike the Moga Ace Power controller that we reviewed back in December, the new controller appears to utilize Apple’s non-form fitting controller design which essentially makes it closer to a standard Bluetooth controller. If you compare the design to Moga’s other Bluetooth controllers for mobile devices, it also looks like the middle of the controller might fold out to form a stand for iOS devices.  Read more

Review: Bose Soundlink III portable Bluetooth speaker — is bigger best?

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I was a huge gushing fan of the Bose Soundlink Mini when I reviewed it this summer, calling it the “Best Sounding portable Bluetooth speaker ever”. For $199 you’d get bookshelf type of power and clarity with 6 hour battery in a portable package that you could throw in a coat pocket, bag, or purse.

This week, Bose started shipping a bigger version, the $299 Soundlink 3 which is officially the successor to the Soundlink 2 but it grabs a lot more technology, features and appearance from the very successful Mini.  The big bro ‘III’ boasts an impressive 14-hour battery, 6 Bluetooth device memory, and doubles the Mini with four drivers and two passive radiators. In the process it doubles in size to a 3-pound package that isn’t nearly as portable as the Mini at 5 inches high, 10 inches wide, and 2 inches deep.

But does that $100 and double size give you appreciably better sound?

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