Apple introduces MFi specs for Lightning cable headphones, support arriving in future iOS update

Beats-lightning

We’ve learned Apple has quietly introduced a new specification for manufacturers in its Made-For-iPhone/iPad/iPod (MFi) program that allows them to create headphones that connect to iOS devices using a Lightning connector instead of the usual 3.5mm headphone jack. Apple has not flipped the switch on the audio input support for Lightning cables and existing iOS devices, but it will release a software update in the future that will enable support in devices running iOS 7.1 or later. 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

Beats acquisition may be part of a new focus on music quality, suggests Japanese blog

headphones

Following the presumed acquisition of Beats, Apple plans to up its music game with support for high-resolution audio files in a revamped Music app in iOS 8, and to offer a higher-quality version of its In-Ear Headphones, reports Japanese blog Macotakara

The source of the high-res audio rumor appears somewhat circumstantial, linked to a Warner Music post about the forthcoming release of a ‘Super Deluxe’ version of three remastered early Led Zeppelin albums in 96kHz/24-bit form – a resolution the current iOS Music app cannot play. It is, however, consistent with a similar earlier rumor regarding iTunes support for higher-quality audio …  Read more

Apple and Beats not such strange bedfellows, argues Bloomberg

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Steve Jobs and Jimmy Iovine in 2008 (Photo: Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage via Getty Images)

A Bloomberg analysis of the presumed acquisition of Beats Electronics by Apple says that while the two companies may have very different cultures, the partnership is not so strange as it might first appear.

“These aren’t strange bedfellows at all,” said Peter Csathy, chief executive officer of entertainment law firm Manatt Digital Media Ventures. “Steve Jobs really drove the relationship with the music industry. The executives at Apple and Beats know each other very well, and there’s a comfort level there” …

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Opinion: What is Apple’s thinking in spending $3.2B on buying Beats?

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Apple’s apparent purchase of Beats took everyone by surprise. I must confess that my immediate reaction was to be slightly appalled. As someone whose audio tastes run more to B&O and B+W, I’ve always viewed Beats headphones as over-bassed, over-priced fashion items. But then my tastes in music admittedly differ somewhat from those of the typical Beats customer.

Even so, it’s still a little baffling at first glance. Tim Cook himself said a year ago that Apple asks two questions when considering an acquisition:

Would it help us make a great product, and would the culture fit at Apple?

My immediate answer to both would be “no,” so why would Apple spend $3.2B on a headphone manufacturer with a small sideline streaming music service … ?  Read more

Review: Onkyo ES-CTI300(SS) On-Ear Headphones with Control Talk for iOS Devices

Onkyo ES-CTI300-review

I’ve been on the search for the perfect headphones for my whole life.

Apple’s fall out of my ears if I think too hard and I even have problems keeping typical in-ear headphones in my ears when working out. Getting those weird things that go around my ears to hold them isn’t a great general purpose solution.  In-ear headphones also typically lack the depth of sound of over the ear headphones.

Unfortunately, over the ear headphones often lack the mic and iOS controls that you can easily get with in-ear headphones. Add that they are usually bulky and heavy and are too hot on the ears and you usually have a non-starter as a general purpose headset.

The Onkyo ES-CTI300(SS) On-Ear Headphones with Control Talk for iOS Devices aim to be the best of both worlds…

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Jony Ive explains design process of Apple’s new EarPods [Video]

We told you they were coming: Apple officially unveiled its new “EarPods” earlier today. The company explained during this morning’s media event that the EarPods are three years in the making. Apple has yet to post the video of the full iPhone 5/iPod event, but now we get a look at a video played during the presentation. It features Jony Ive explaining the process of creating the new earbuds. In addition to the engineering process described by Ives above, Apple explained on its website that it tested over 100 prototypes to make the EarPods more durable and stable than its previous-generation earphones:

Apple engineers asked more than 600 people to test over 100 iterations of the Apple EarPods. Testers ran on treadmills in extreme heat and extreme cold. They performed various cardio workouts. They were even asked to shake their heads side to side, up and down. The result: Apple EarPods provide stronger protection from sweat and water, and they’re remarkably stable in the ear. Which means they stay in, even when you’re on the go.

Totally redesigned Apple headphones spotted in Asia, morph current and in-ear

Vietnamese website Tinhte, which has a solid record of procuring pre-release Apple products, has headphones that it claimed  the new iPhone will come with next month. The current iOS device headphones have remained largely unchanged since the launch of the original iPhone in 2007, and many complain they fit poorly or fall out often (guilty!). Apple also makes in-ear headphones that many consider over-priced and under-performing (also guilty!).

These headphones appear to be a hybrid of the two current versions that Apple offers. It is not certain if they will be offered with the product or as a new add-on accessory.

Some stills from the website are below, including the comparison to current iPhone headsets, and the telltale “Designed in California, Made in Viet Nam” written along the cable:

If the accessory in the video above turns out to be legit, it would certainly indicate Apple is making some improvements to its headset…or at least trying.

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Next-gen iPhone schematic shows 4-inch display, repositioned FaceTime camera

We posted high-resolution images of both the black and white versions of the next-generation iPhone back plate yesterday. Although we could determine many new features of the device, such as the redesigned speaker grills, repositioned earphone jack, and FaceTime camera, the exact display dimensions are still unknown. We noted one of our images depicted what appears to be the next-generation iPhone front glass with enough room for the much-rumored, roughly 4-inch display, but new schematics surfaced today (via Cydia Blog) that show a diagonal opening of just slightly over 4-inches. The designs also shows the repositioned FaceTime camera above the earpiece.

Although calculations of the display show an opening less than 0.1-inch over 4-inches, the display could likely measure a flat 4-inches diagonally as the front panel is typically slightly larger than the display. We noted yesterday that our sources informed us that the next-generation iPhone front glass images we posted feature the same width of the current iPhones, which would comfortably allow for an approximate 16:9 aspect ratio. We cannot confirm the schematic is 100 percent legit, or not just a past prototype, but also all the recent evidence points to a 4-inch next-generation iPhone that we expect to see this October.

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Review: Tenqa REMXD $39 over-the-ear Bluetooth headphones — Cans this good should cost more

Photos by Veronica Oggy

For a pair of headphones under the $50 mark, we often find ourselves recommending something like the standard $35 Apple earphones. You typically cannot beat the sound quality (build quality up for debate) for the price, but if you want to go Bluetooth, pickings are slim in the under $200 category.

If you are looking for DJ-style, over-ear Bluetooth headphones, your options are even fewer before hitting the $250+ price point for a wireless pair of Beats by Dr.Dre.

However, at just $39, Tenqa’s Remxd Bluetooth Headphones are clearly not for the pros, but looking at the Bluetooth alternatives from Rocketfish, Sony, and Sennheiser, they definitely impress at a fraction of the competition’s prices. They were also built with iPhone in mind, which means they pack a microphone and controls for hands-free calls—just like Apple’s stock iPhone earphones…

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