Apple opens the door for HomeKit accessory makers w/ finalized MFi specs

WWDC-Homekit-01Apple has now finalized and published specifications for HomeKit through its Made-For-iPhone/iPad/iPod (MFi) licensing program. The finalized specifications, which allow accessory makers to start building products that integrate iOS 8’s new framework for home automation devices, come ahead of Apple’s yearly MFi summit in November where it plans to brief manufacturing partners on HomeKit and other new iOS 8 features for accessories. Read more

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

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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

Opinion: Will Apple’s Smart Home concept bring home automation to the masses?

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It’s the 21st Century: weren’t we all supposed to be living in automated homes by now? Where we walk in the door after a long day to have our home playing some soothing music, informing us that it’s run us a bath and that dinner will be ready in 45 minutes? Where a robot has done the cleaning, changed the flowers, accepted a parcel that arrived while we were at work and fed the cat?

That dream seems to be a long time coming. I’m a reasonably techy guy who loves the idea of home automation, yet even I only have three examples in my home (which I’ll mention along the way). Most mass-market consumers haven’t even noticed that the products exist, and the few who have tend to view it all as too complicated or fiddly.

If anyone can change that perception, it’s Apple. Which is why the Financial Times report yesterday that Apple is working on a new approach to home automation that may be unveiled at WWDC next week caught my attention …  Read more

Hyper launches the first Made-for-iPhone/iPad USB flash drive w/ built-in Lightning connector

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Hyper— we’ve reviewed some of its MacBook batteries and iPhone accessories in the past— is today announcing the first Made-For-iPhone/iPad/iPod touch (MFi) flash drive that includes a built-in Lightning connector. Unfortunately you can’t get your hands on one just yet, but you can preorder through a funding campaign the company just launched on Kickstarter.

Hyper told us it’s been working on the product for over two years and just recently got approval from Apple: “As expected, Apple had many concerns for iOS storage products like the iStick. We actually started MFi application for this product more than 2 years ago. It was definitely not an easy process but we managed to address all of Apple’s concerns and finally just got MFi approval.”

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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

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

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

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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

‘ReSound LiNX’ launches globally as first MFi Bluetooth LE hearing aid

Back at CES we gave you a preview of the first Made-for-iPhone Bluetooth LE hearing aid when  GN’s Resound Linx started rolling out to select markets ahead of an official launch. Today the company announced that it’s now rolling out in global markets alongside the new ReSound Smart companion app. The hearing aid is the first under Apple’s MFi program using new Apple-developed Bluetooth LE hearing aid technology that introduces new possibilities for the product category.

ReSound LiNX, which the company notes is its “smallest wireless Receiver-in-the-Ear hearing aid” yet, works with the ReSound Smart App to allow users control over a number of settings and features via their iOS device:

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Inside Apple’s MFi game controller program: Why the current crop of controllers aren’t up to snuff

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Apple’s new MFi game controller program offers a lot of promise for gaming on iOS— the top mobile gaming platform around could also soon be a serious platform for hardcore gamers. But the first crop of controllers have been met with much criticism from developers, reviewers and consumers alike. The consensus so far: flimsy buttons and joysticks, lack of support from developers, and a $99 price tag make them far overpriced compared to your standard Bluetooth game controller.

The launch for the first few controllers to hit the market was rushed, developers are disappointed and still trying to catch up, and manufacturers are limited in pricing, features, and quality due to Apple’s MFi program requirements. What does Apple have to do to overcome a rocky start to its game controller program which is supposed to control quality? And how are manufacturers limited by Apple in building better controllers at a fair price? We’ve dug into Apple’s MFi program and talked to developers and companies building the controllers to find out… Read more

CES 2014: iPhone/iPad Bluetooth accessories for the home & body dominate the show

While it’s been years since Apple made an appearance at CES in any official capacity, accessories that pair with its iOS devices have for several years dominated the show floor. This year was no different with most of the big trends–  fitness and health tracking wearables, Bluetooth controllers, and home automation products–  all designed and developed with the iPhone, iPad, and Mac in mind.  Below we’ve put together a roundup of the most interesting wearables, cases, controllers and more that we found for iOS devices.  Read more