iPad Air Keyboard Smackdown: Latest cases from Logitech, Belkin, and ZAGG

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With its wide-range of applications, touchscreen capabilities, portability, and fast processing, the iPad Air has been regarded by many users as a tablet capable of content creation. Coming from a dedicated laptop, however, the Multi-Touch keyboard is a weakness. Not because it is incapable, but because it is sometimes slower to type with, less accurate, and less comfortable.

This is why several iPad accessory makers have created solutions: keyboard attachments in the form of cases. For the past few weeks, I have been testing the latest keyboard case offerings for the iPad Air from Logitech, Belkin, and ZAGG. Below, I have put together a review and comparison of the Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio, Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio, Belkin Slim Style Keyboard Case, Belkin Ultimate Keyboard Case, and the ZAGG Folio Keyboard:

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Paper app creators 53 design launches the $60 Bluetooth stylus that thinks it’s a carpenter’s pencil

FiftyThree, the company behind the drawing and painting iPad app Paper, has launched a Bluetooth stylus which appears to have all the style and simplicity you’d expect from the people behind the iPad App of the Year 2012.

Great tools inspire great ideas. Pencil is the most natural and expressive tool for getting ideas on Paper. Advanced technology meets beautiful design to keep you in the flow, without needing to switch tools. With Erase, Blend, and adaptive Palm Rejection, Pencil puts creative possibility in your hands …

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Apple Stores to implement iBeacon location technology to improve service, boost sales

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Customers entering an Apple Store (Photo by Gary Burke)

iOS 7’s flashy launch earlier this year overshadowed a breakthrough new feature: iBeacons, a location-based technology with profound implications for industries such as retail. An iBeacon system could allow a store to install transmitters that would wirelessly connect to an iPhone and tell the phone its location with respect to items on shelves. This iPhone could then perform additional functionality if it is equipped with a specialized application. According to multiple sources, Apple is planning to soon enable just that in its retail stores… Read more

Review: Naztech’s Koncert Boomstation bluetooth speaker has a battery that won’t stop

It’s no secret that we’re fans of Bluetooth speakers here at 9to5Mac. So, naturally, it was exciting to a see a Bluetooth speaker from Naztech, the Koncert Boomstation, enter the scene. Combining a traditional Bluetooth speaker with a backup battery for your devices and a speakerphone makes for one interesting product, and I’ve been putting the device through its paces for the last few weeks. Let’s take a closer look.

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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

Unlock your Mac by knocking on your iPhone with the new ‘Knock’ app

Knock uses a combination of an iPhone app (currently offered at an introductory price of $3.99)  and a Mac app (available for free at Knock’s website) to enable unlocking of your Mac, wirelessly, by just knocking the back of your iPhone.

It’s a surreal experience. After a couple of minutes of initial setup, you lock your Mac and rap the back of your paired iPhone twice. Your Mac unlocks. The app doesn’t even have to be forefront on your phone, although it does have to be ‘open’ in the multitasking tray. In fact, your phone doesn’t even have to be unlocked. When it senses the Mac is near, a notification appears on the lock screen instructing you to knock. There are some nice UI touches too. For instance, echoes of the ‘sound wave’ appear on OS X’s lock screen in real time as you knock. It’s a subtle visual indicator that the system is actually working.

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$40 Elgato Smart Key lets your iPhone track your keys, baggage and car via Bluetooth LE

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Low-energy Bluetooth is really starting to take-off in a big way, with seemingly every other product on the main crowdsourced-funding sites using it. One product that actually exists, though, is the Elgato Smart Key – which appears good value at just $40.

If you can’t remember where you last saw your keys, the Elgato Smart Key iPhone app will tell you the GPS location of where the two devices were last in contact. Through the app you’ll also be able to make the Smart Key play a sound to help you find your keys when they are down the back of the sofa. Not only that, but attach them to your keys and your iPhone will alert you when you walk off and leave them somewhere. Leave one in the glove compartment of your car, and the app will show you were you parked a if you need reminding …  Read more

Former Apple employee: Apple worked on Surface-style keyboard cover for iPad, could announce at ‘haven’t covered everything’ event

Apple has published multiple patent applications for keyboard covers for its iPad that sort of resemble what Microsoft did in its keyboard cover for Surface. Until now, however, Apple has relied on third-party vendors like Logitech, Zagg (who has already announced a new iPad 5 keyboard case) and Belkin to provide these covers. Logitech and Zagg have had keyboard covers for the iPad since before both the patent application above and Microsoft’s Surface announcement.

But today, Jamie Ryan, who lists Apple Developer Relations as a recent job, says that Apple has been working on a prototype of such a device and could release it at tomorrow’s event. He thinks it could be Bluetooth 4.0 to save power and was ‘told other cover like accessories are also being looked at.’

The patent shown above also includes other innovations such as solar power, big media control buttonsmulti-touch, wireless charging and even a second displayRead more

Durable/wearable Bluetooth speakers: The Boombot Rex and the Divoom Bean

We’ve had a lot of experience reviewing the best portable Bluetooth speakers on the market but what haven’t yet covered speakers so small, you can actually wear them, put them on your bike, or listen to them in the shower. We have two for you today.

The first of these is the $30 Divoom Bean, a small, durable little Bluetooth speaker that looks a little like a ‘smurf lock’ and is the size of a large egg with a carabiner attached (blue above).  It weighs almost nothing and it charges via a micro-USB port on the bottom. It only has 2 buttons on it, a power button and ‘phone’ button. You’ll need to change volume from your phone or other A2DP Bluetooth device and this device seems to automatically switch off after a few minutes of inactivity. It also functions as a speakerphone.

How did it fare in our tests? Read more

Logitech & ClamCase tease new MFi iOS game controllers


Above and below we might be getting a look at teasers for the first gaming controllers that will take advantage of Apple’s new MFi game controller frameworks. The first, above, comes to us from ClamCase. The company posted the teaser above for what appears to be a new controller, dubbed “GameCase”, that would attach to both an iPhone and an iPad (an iPad mini, at least). We spoke with the company who told us that the new controller would indeed follow Apple’s new MFi standards for game controllers.

The second teaser comes to us from Logitech (below). While we don’t actually see the controller in Logitech’s teaser, it appears to hinting at the controller that the company first showed off to developers during WWDC. Read more