Review: iHome’s iBN10 sheds the dock and alarms for a minimalist new four-speaker design

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I’ve reviewed a lot of iHome clock radios over the past nine years. They weren’t all formulaic, but there was a very clear evolutionary line from the original 2005-vintage, iPod-only iH5 to the iPad-ready iDL95 released last year: take two speakers, stick a clock in the middle, center a dock on the top, then make the enclosure sort of flat but pleasantly curvy. iHome had a winning general concept and look, which it updated annually with small feature, color, and shape tweaks. But its new $120 model iBN10 breaks the mold in several ways.

The dock’s gone, the clock has been glammed up and shifted to the right, and there are four speakers inside, rather than the standard two. iBN10 is also atypically handsome, built and billed as an “executive music system” by discarding the faux metals that iHome’s midrange speakers have become known for, and adding speakerphone functionality. This isn’t iHome’s first Kleenex box-sized speaker, but it’s definitely the most sophisticated.

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Savage Interactive debuts Procreate Pocket, bringing iPad illustration tools to larger-screened iPhones

Demonstrating the types of apps that will increasingly migrate from Apple’s tablets to its larger iPhone 6 models, Savage Interactive has released Procreate Pocket ($3), a shrunken-down version of its signature iPad app Procreate. Widely admired for its professional-grade drawing tools, Procreate previously enabled tablet users to compose multi-layer illustrations using numerous brushes and a mistake-friendly, multi-layer Undo tool. Read more

Review: MOTA’s new Battery Case for iPhone 6 Plus shows what 4000mAh can – and can’t – do for Apple’s big iPhone

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I have to give MOTA a pat on the back for what it has achieved with the Battery Case for iPhone 6 Plus, the first such accessory we’ve tested for Apple’s largest iPhone. Despite its generic name, the Battery Case is handsome, well-built, and at $90, a steal relative to the lower-capacity $100 and up versions we’ve seen for the iPhone 5 and 5s. Critically, despite a 4000mAh rechargeable cell inside, it’s also surprisingly easy to hold and pocket, even though it adds thickness to the already-too-large iPhone 6 Plus.

But there are a couple of caveats, too. The case isn’t Apple-licensed, so there’s always the risk that it might have some iOS compatibility issues down the line — this would be a bigger issue if there weren’t also problems with cases Apple formally approved. And you’ll probably need the headphone port adapter MOTA includes in the package. More on that, below.

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Should Apple double the RAM in next year’s iPhones and iPads? [Poll]

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2 x 1GB RAM in iPad Air 2 shown in orange (ifixit.com)

A Taiwanese financial news site cited by Apple Toolbox claims that Apple plans to double the RAM in next year’s iPhones from 1GB to 2GB, and the iPad Air from 2GB to 4GB.

As sources of Apple-related news goes, the citation has to rank somewhere in the Digitimes arena, but it was a Taiwanese supply-chain rumor (dart throwing?) that correctly predicted the previous RAM doubling from 1GB in the original iPad Air to 2GB in the iPad Air 2 – albeit a prediction made rather closer to launch …  Read more

App Santa returns this year w/ up to 60% off popular apps for iPhone, iPad, & Mac

App Santa 2014

After first grouping together last year to offer huge discounts on popular apps from independent developers, App Santa is coming to town for the second year in a row with up to 60% off popular iPhone, iPad, and Mac apps to celebrate the holidays.

This year App Santa includes discounts on over 40 paid apps for iOS and OS X from developers including Tapbots, Realmac Software, Agile Tortoise, Readdle, Supertop, Junecloud, and more. The discounts kick off today and will run through December 26th giving you a chance to save money for yourself or gift apps to your family and friends. Check below for a list of confirmed App Santa apps this year:

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Apple charting in Google’s 2014 trending searches, for both the right and wrong reasons

Google has put together its annual inspirational Year in Search video, and shared some of the trending searches across the year – with Apple making the charts for both the right and wrong reasons.

On the plus side, Apple took the #1 slot in consumer electronics searches, with the iPhone 6 ahead of rival smartphones from Samsung, Google, Motorola, LG and Nokia. Apple was also the only company to make three of the top-ten searches, with the Apple Watch at #8 and iPad Air at #10 …  Read more

Best Bluetooth Speaker of the Year: JBL, Beats, Bose, UE Boom, Jawbone, more

Best-Bluetooth-speakers-2015(TL;DR: Winner, best size, best sound, runner-up best apps, best budget, best $300)

It has been a solid year and a half since our last Big “Best Portable Bluetooth speaker” competition, though we’ve done tons of updates to it in the months since.

A lot of our favorites are still around while others have been updated and new players have emerged. And what about our previous champ: the Ultimate Ears Boom? Spoiler alert: a new winner has emerged. Read on to find out who takes our Best Portable Bluetooth Speaker award… Read more

Review: Mad Catz’ C.T.R.L.i and Micro C.T.R.L.i bring overdue competence, fair pricing to iOS game controllers

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Apple’s iOS game controller design guidelines were clearly inspired by Microsoft’s Xbox controllers, but Mad Catz has taken the concept a step further: its new C.T.R.L.i ($60) and Micro C.T.R.L.i ($50, available for $46) for iOS look so much like Xbox One game controllers that you might struggle to tell them apart in a dark room. While the full-sized C.T.R.L.i is very close to the Xbox One controller in footprint and weight, Micro C.T.R.L.i squeezes all of the same functionality into a smaller but nearly identical shape.

Best of all, since they’re more reasonably priced than earlier iOS controllers, both are good enough to recommend to any iOS gamer… assuming you own or want some iOS games with controller support.

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Amazon’s Kindle for iOS app updated w/ Goodreads integration, Audible progressive play, more

Amazon pushed out an updated version of its Kindle for iOS app today bringing a list of new features to the reading app.

Kindle for iOS now includes integration with Goodreads, the social cataloging service it bought last year, allowing readers users to share book progress and completion status, quotes, and more Kindle to Goodreads. iPad Kindle app users now have access to Amazon’s Book Browser to view book descriptions and customer ratings; Kindle Unlimited customers (30-day free trial) can download books directly from the Book Browser. The new version also adds a feature called Audible Progressive Play, which allows audiobook listeners using the Amazon-owned Audible service to play content as it downloads.

The update also adds new ways for users to access information and details about Kindle books. Check the extensive change log of the latest version below for more information:
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