April 18

Amid ongoing privacy concerns, Facebook is said to be forming a team to design its own hardware chips. According to a new report from Bloomberg, Facebook is looking to build its own processors to reduce dependency on companies such as Qualcomm and Intel…

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February 2

HomePod is finally almost here, but will one size truly fit all or could we eventually see a whole family of smart speakers from Apple? Keeping with true Apple tradition, this is naturally the moment to wonder and ask: what about HomePod 2 and new variants? Check out our concepts below:

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Sylvania HomeKit Light Strip

January 23

As part of his one-day tour of Canada yesterday, Tim Cook offered an interview to the Financial Post following his visit to e-commerce platform Shopify’s headquarters. Cook used the interview as an opportunity to tout Apple’s efforts in augmented realty, as well as talk about the HomePod…

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January 4

A new report from Canalys today shares its prediction that smart speakers are on track for record growth and will be the hottest consumer tech items of 2018. Canalys believes that consumers will buy 56.3 million smart speakers in 2018, just shy of doubling from 2017 sales.

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January 3

Amazon and Google discounted their smart speakers so deeply in the holiday sales that they likely lost money on each unit, say analysts. Amazon discounted its Echo Dot to $29.99 in the run-up to the holidays, with the Google Home Mini also seen for the same price in various sales.

The two companies’ willingness to lose money on the hardware reveals their very different strategy to Apple with its upcoming HomePod speaker …

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December 26, 2017

The App Store charts always provide some interesting nuggets of information on Christmas Day and other big holidays as you can see the sudden influx of app downloads.

This year, the Alexa app for Amazon Echo smart speakers topped App Store free charts, hitting the #1 in a few regions, with Google Home also charting in the top ten. Smart speakers were a hot holiday shopping item this year for sure.

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December 6, 2017

When Apple unveiled the HomePod this past June at WWDC 2017, I didn’t give it too much of my attention. As a design piece, it looked like something I’d be happy to put in my living room. As a product, I just wasn’t interested. Smart speakers in general have seemed like little more than a novelty to me, and I’ve resisted buying one… until now. Last week I welcomed a Google Home Mini into my life to see if it could change my mind. Here’s what I found…

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March 10, 2016

9to5Toys Last Call: Huawei Smartwatches from $270, Logitech 5.1 speakers $50, Hitman iOS bundle $1, more

Keep up with the best gear and deals on the web by signing up for the 9to5Toys Newsletter. Also, be sure to check us out on: TwitterRSS FeedFacebookGoogle+ and Safari push notifications.

TODAY’S CAN’T MISS DEALS

Last Call Updates:

Apple TV Deals: 4th Gen 64GB $175 (Reg. $200), 3rd Gen $49 (Reg. $69), more

Gold Box: Huawei watches for iOS and Android $80-$130 off, start at $270 shipped, Black Stainless: $320 shipped

Surround Sound 5.1-Ch. Systems: Logitech Z506 $50 (Orig. $100), Harman Kardon refurb $140 (Orig. $600)

Grab the Hitman GO & Hitman Sniper iOS bundle for just $1 (up to $10 value)

oneSafe Premium Password Manager on iOS goes free for the first time (Reg. $5)

Entry-level MacBook Deals: 11-inch Air $720 (Reg. $899), 13-inch Retina Pro $1,049 (Reg. $1,299)

Apple iPad Pro Wi-Fi 32GB: $670 shipped (Reg. $799)

Apple iPad Pro 128GB Wi-Fi + Cellular: $930 shipped (Reg. $1,079)

Apple iPad Pro 128GB Wi-Fi: $800 shipped (Reg. $949)

How-to: Use your car and an inexpensive inverter to replace the need for a home generator

The Room Three mystery-puzzler for iOS gets its very first price drop: $2 (Reg. $5)

BADLAND 2 for iOS gets its very first price drop: $2 (Reg. $5)

App Store Free App of the Week: Toca Kitchen 2 goes free for the first time ($2 value)

Dr. Seuss Birthday iOS/Android App Sale from $1 ea: The Lorax, One Fish Two Fish, Horton Hears a Who!, many more

Save $100 on Apple Watch and get a free $75 gift card + a watch band of your choice

MORE NEW GEAR FROM TODAY:

Daily Deals: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Headphones $100, JBL Charge 2 Bluetooth Speaker $80, more

MORE DEALS STILL ALIVE:

Solartab: Powerful Solar Panel/13,000mAh dual USB battery in iPad form factor: $94 shipped ($35 off)

Put an extra 256GB in your MacBook Air or Retina Pro w/ Transcend’s JetDrive Lite: $139 (Reg. $155)

12-inch MacBook now $300 off: 256GB $1,000, 512GB $1,300 + extra $50 savings w/ .edu email

Apple Mac Pro 12-core Xeon/64GB/1TB: $8,799 (Reg. $9,599), more

NEW PRODUCTS & MORE:

popSLATE’s second generation iPhone 6/s/Plus e-ink case drops the bulk for a slender design

January 5, 2015

Every year, top-ranked Apple speaker maker iHome comes to CES with an impressive array of new products — including something to show off Apple’s latest technology — and it isn’t disappointing at the 2015 CES. In an advance briefing before the show officially opened, iHome revealed its first Apple HomeKit product, SmartPlug ($40), as well as some daring new speaker and headphone designs…

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…like the first speaker we’ve seen hidden inside a beautiful drinking flask. It’s called SoundFlask, and comes in coat pocket- ($50) and home bar-sized ($100) versions. Even the smaller version sounds really good given its size, and the flask cap twists to adjust the volume. All that’s missing is the ability to actually hold fluids. Read on for more.

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ION Audio introduces new hybrid smart LED light bulb speakers and the Air LP Bluetooth turntable audio interface

From 9to5Toys.com:

As the new gear rolls in from our team on the show floor of CES 2015, consumer audio and electronics lifestyle company ION has a few announcements of its own. Makers of everything from Bluetooth speakers to headphones and DJ gear (among other things), ION Audio is introducing new hybrid light bulb speakers and a new Bluetooth turntable/audio interface…

The Sound Shine system consists of a pair of wireless LED light bulbs, that double as typical streaming speakers. The new product brings together the popularity of wireless Bluetooth audio and LED light bulbs to create a single unified experience. The pair of light bulb/speakers can be used in tandem for 2-channel stereo sound (if installed in light sockets within 30-feet of each other) or independently in different areas of your home or office. As for the light portion, this is your typical LED bulb with a 25,000 hour lifespan (“more than 20 years in normal use!”), that can be installed and powered in any normal light socket. ION says the bulbs are equalivalent to a soft white, traditional 60-watt light bulb.

Users can use the free iOS and Android smartphone/tablet apps to control the system in various ways: dim the lights, turn them on or off and control music playback all from the same hub. The Sound Shine system will begin shipping in March of this year with a suggested retail price of $129.99 (includes the pair). We are seeing an early listing on Amazon, but it is not yet available.

Not unlike its previous offerings, the new Air LP turntable offers vinyl enthusiasts a quick and easy way to digitize their collections. It also offers the ability to wirelessly stream vinyl directly from the needle to any standard Bluetooth speakers. While certainly possible previously with add-on analog to Bluetooth adapters and not likely an option for analog purists (simply because you are defeating the purpose running the audio over Bluetooth, in most cases), ION is offering a complete AD/DA solution in one singular unit that will certainly be helpful to some. The recent tear-jerker of an Apple ad shows one amazing way creative people can put this older tech to good use.

Using the included USB cable and EZ Vinyl/Tape Converter software, records (33 1/3, 45, and 78) can be transferred onto Mac or PC without the need for any working experience or advanced digital audio knowledge. There is also additional analog I/O available (1/8 inch input, RCA outs) for hooking up external gear (cassette, CD players, stereos) in order to take advantage of the built-in audio interface with other audio sources and destinations.

Air LP features a “sleek” black piano finish and is also expected to start shipping come March 2015. It will be available for $149 or $179.99 with a pair a Bluetooth speakers included.

Keep an eye on 9to5 all week long for all the best announcements from CES 2015.

9to5Mac’s CES 2015 coverage brought to you by:

May 9, 2013

Best Buy Apple sale: Airs $125 off, 15% off $100 iTunes card, $17 Smart Covers, Bluetooth speakers, Free games, more

From 9to5Toys.com:

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Best Buy is taking $125 off the price of MacBook Airs for the next three days to celebrate Mother’s Day. That yields some of the lowest prices we’ve seen. The retailler knocks off $100 across the board, then using code MOM25 knocks off another $25.

Prices after discount:

Best Buy is also offering a $100 iTunes gift cad for $85. (Free Money!) That is a total savings of 15% off future purchases of Apps Music, Movies and any other content on the the App Store, iTunes, Mac App Store and iBook Store.  This is the first iTunes deal we’ve seen in nearly 2 months and a perfect opportunity to surprise Mom on Mother’s Day.

  • Those interested in an iPhone 4S can pick one up for $50 (half off) with contract.
  • Best Buy also offers probably the best looking keyboard case out there, Targus – Versavu Keyboard Case for Apple® iPad – Bone White half off for $50.
  • An 8GB Kingston Keydrive is $5

More at Best Buy’s Mother’s Day sale and Smart Buys & Gift Ideas for every type of Mom in our Mother’s Day Gift Guide

iMac $150 off sale on most current generation configurations, now starting at $1,150 shipped

Just a few weeks ago we saw an unprecedented sale from Best Buy on current generation iMacs and now Amazon has stepped up and surpassed that deal by offering a staggering $150 off 3 out 4 standard configuration iMacs.

Other amazing 9to5Toys.com deals from around the web:

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April 9

March 29

Apple is officially releasing watchOS 4.3 for all Apple Watches today. The latest software update includes several new features and changes including restored Music control for iPhone libraries from Apple Watch, more data points on the Siri watch face, portrait orientation for Nightstand Mode, updated alerts when unlocking Macs, and several animation changes including charging and loading apps.

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Our education specialist Bradley Chambers wrote a lengthy piece yesterday explaining the flaws in Apple’s iPad-centric education strategy. The whole piece is well worth a read, but he outlined three main barriers to the superficially attractive vision presented by Apple, even before you consider the purchase cost of the iPads themselves:

  • Books are tied to Apple IDs, so schools would have to re-purchase textbooks annually
  • Teachers simply don’t have time to create their own interactive books
  • Apple’s apps don’t integrate with the established IT systems used by schools

But while the new budget iPad may not be a great fit for most schools, it is a smart move for the consumer market …

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March 23

When it comes to HomeKit devices, our own Zac Hall is the resident expert around these parts, but I’m doing my best to come up to speed with the plethora of options available. I recently took my first stab at installing a smart lock, the 3rd gen August Smart Lock, only to later find out that it wasn’t HomeKit compatible. It’s primarily my fault, because I wasn’t diligent enough with my research, but August, with its somewhat confusing nomenclature should take a portion of the blame as well.

Needless to say, I wasn’t keen on the idea of having a smart lock installed without HomeKit support. That would mean that I couldn’t unlock my door with Siri commands, couldn’t use the Home app to control the lock, and couldn’t use HomeKit automation to trigger other HomeKit-enabled devices. In other words, a smart lock without HomeKit support is just not something that appeals to me.

That’s not to say that the third-generation August Smart Lock is a bad product, because that certainly isn’t the case. It’s actually a decent product that’s inexpensive and easy to install. It’s just not for those who are knee-deep in the Apple/HomeKit ecosystem.

I reached out to Yale Real Living to inquire about reviewing its Assure Lock SL, which recently landed support for HomeKit via its iM1 network module. What I discovered was a modestly-featured smart lock with a fair amount of advanced controls. In fact, I’m strongly considering the purchase of another one. expand full story

March 9

We are now one month out since HomePod was released, and I’ve been using Apple’s smart speaker every day since it launched. First on the road while traveling, then at home with a variety of other smart speakers.

My thoughts on HomePod have shifted over that period, but my key takeaway is this: HomePod is the best smart speaker for Apple Music subscribers in the Apple ecosystem, but the experience needs to evolve before it’s ready for the masses.

The bottom line for me is that I really enjoy using HomePod myself — for hours at a time every day — but I wouldn’t gift HomePod (or any other smart speaker) to a family member just yet. HomePod just isn’t that straightforward yet. Apple Watch crossed the family friendly threshold for me with version two, and AirPods were gift-worthy from day one for comparison.

HomePod instead feels more like the fourth generation Apple TV. That product debuted with new capabilities like Siri control and an app platform, but took a few software updates over several months to feel closer to complete with a proper remote app and basic features like dictating text in search boxes and app folders.

HomePod has a lot of that low hanging fruit just waiting to be picked — not to mention major feature additions that could dramatically improve the experience for mainstream customers — all without requiring new hardware.

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February 23

Those of you who’ve been following my Smart Home Diary series will know that I’ve learned a number of lessons – some of them the hard way. But I thought it would be useful to distill these into a single piece offering my best advice for anyone planning to create a smart home from scratch today.

And that advice begins with considering whether or not creating a smart home is a smart choice for you …

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February 21

Apple’s HomePod has been available for less than two weeks, but an early survey from Loup Ventures aims to show its penetration into the smart speaker market. According to the survey, HomePod has captured 3 percent of the market in its early days of availability…

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February 13

It’s no secret that HomePod has been one of the more divisive Apple products to launch in recent years. Whether it’s because of sound quality or Siri capabilities, people either love Apple’s smart speaker or hate it.

Now, we’re curious: If you’ve had the chance to try HomePod and some of its competitors, what smart speaker do you think sounds best?

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February 11

The highly anticipated $349 HomePod arrived on Friday afternoon, and I’ve been playing around with it for the last day or so. A few things, like the speaker’s build quality and design, are things that I can immediately appreciate upon unboxing. The one surefire conclusion that I can make after using the HomePod is that Apple has, as we know by now, prioritized sound quality over everything else. expand full story

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