Mophie Announces Next Generation of Powerstation External Battery Lineup

Mophie today announced the next generation of its Powerstation family of external batteries, focused on delivering extra battery power to multiple devices in different situations. The complete Powerstation family now includes the new Charge Force Powerstation and Powerstation USB-C alongside updates to the Powerstation Plus and Powerstation lines.

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The first new device is the Charge Force Powerstation, an extension of Mophie's wireless charging ecosystem. The device is compatible with all Charge Force Juice Pack cases as well as other Qi wireless charging-enabled devices. It delivers 10,000 mAh of battery capacity, which Mophie says is nearly 5X additional battery life for most smartphones.

The redesigned Powerstation Plus upgrades its built-in charging cable with a new switch-tip, allowing users to easily adapt the cable for either iOS or Android devices. The new, slimmer design comes in Space Gray, Gold, and Rose Gold and three storage configurations: the 4,000 mAh Powerstation Plus mini ($59.95), the 6,000 mAh Powerstation Plus ($79.95), and the 12,000 mAh Powerstation Plus XL ($99.95). However, the XL version does not come in Gold. The Plus also comes with a second USB port that allows users to charge two mobile devices at the same time.


The fourth-generation Powerstation line also sees a redesign, with colored aluminum plates on the top and bottom of the devices. This line comes in four upgraded storage configurations: the 3,000 mAh Powerstation mini ($29.95), the 6,000 mAh Powerstation ($49.95), the 10,000 mAh Powerstation XL ($69.95), and the 20,000 mAh Powerstation XXL ($99.95). Mophie says the XXL, which is only available in Space Gray and Rose Gold, is the largest capacity universal battery the company has offered to date.

The Powerstation comes in White, Space Gray, Rose Gold, and Gold while the Powerstation XL comes in Space Gray, Rose Gold and Gold. Mophie says the Powerstation mini is inspired by the street art of Los Angeles, coming with the bolder color options of pink, blue, purple, black, and white.

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Finally, the Powerstation USB-C is a 10,000 mAh battery in an aluminum casing that comes with both USB-C and USB-A charge ports with cables included. Mophie touts that the device is capable of powering "all past, current, and future smartphones." It's available for $99.95.

The new Powerstation and Powerstation Plus external battery packs are currently available on Mophie's website, while the Charge Force Powerstation and Powerstation USB-C are coming soon to Mophie.com and select retailers.

Tag: Mophie

Pebble Launches Update With Streamlined Interface, Redesigned ‘Pebble Health’ Feature

Pebble today announced the launch of a major software update for its line of Pebble smart watches, introducing new health features and interface tweaks designed to streamline the "glance and go" process of getting information and acting on it.

An updated Timeline with a new Quick View setting lets users see what events and activities are planned for the current day and up to three days in the future, while a new Launcher menu displays more items at once.

App Glances, a new feature, offers up information from apps before they're opened, and a 4-button Quick Launch feature lets users assign their favorite apps to the Up, Down, Back, and Select buttons.

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The Pebble Health feature built into the Pebble app has a new look with clearer, easier to understand Activity and Sleep graphs, plus it's easier to access.
Press Up from your watchface for quick glances at your step and sleep performance with the redesigned activity cards. Press Right from each activity to dive deeper and compare how you're currently doing with your typical performance from the past week.
For iOS users, there's a "Sneak Peek" feature that lets a Pebble watch paired with an iOS device manage emails, an option that was previously limited to Android users. With iOS Email Actions, it's possible to Delete, Archive, Mark as Read, Reply All, and Star emails received from Gmail accounts.

The new features are available for the Pebble Time, Time Steel, and Time Round and can be downloaded from the Pebble app. Older Pebble watches, including the Pebble and Pebble Steel, will see an updated look and feel and performance and reliability improvements with today's update.

The updated Pebble app will be available today from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Tag: Pebble

Kwikset Launches 2nd Gen 'Kevo' Smart Lock With Improved Security [Updated]

Lock manufacturing company Kwikset today released the second generation of its Kevo smart lock, keeping the same aesthetic of the original Kevo but bringing in a "refined user experience," more compact interior design, and improved security. Like the original Kevo, the second generation of the smart lock lets user easily gain entry into their home thanks to Kevo's ability to register a paired smartphone within a certain distance, subsequently unlocking itself when a user taps on the outside part of the lock.

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The inside design change of the Kevo smart lock

The first major addition to Kevo is a new in-app installation process (found within the Kevo app on the App Store [Direct Link] and Google Play Store), which streamlines the steps it takes to add the smart lock into your door with an "interactive installation experience." In terms of design change, the company only altered the look and size of the interior module of the Kevo, making it sleeker and smaller, while keeping the circular outside part the same as the first generation.
“Kwikset listened to homeowners’ everyday experience with Kevo 1st Gen and put their feedback at the center of the Kevo 2nd Gen development strategy,” said Keith Brandon, Kwikset Vice President of Residential Access Solutions, Spectrum Brands, Inc. – Hardware and Home Improvement Division. “I truly believe the time to buy Kevo is now for any consumer waiting for technology to evolve before purchasing a smart lock.”
The biggest change comes in the form of improved security on the smart lock, which has the latest version of Kwikset's patented SmartKey security to provide "strong resistance" against attempts at forced entry. According to the company, the updated Kevo also passes "the most stringent lock-picking standards" and uses a feature called "BumpGuard" in order to prevent lock bumping.

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The outside design of the Kevo lock remains unchanged

Kwikset is selling the second generation Kevo on Amazon for $229.00 in polished brass, satin nickel, and venetian bronze. The new Kevo is also expected to be available to purchase across the United States in brick and mortar stores, but Kwikset didn't specifically mention when the second generation smart lock would begin making its way to retailers following today's online launch.

Update: Regarding HomeKit compatibility, Kwikset told MacRumors that while Kevo is currently unable to support Apple's connected-home platform, the company "will continue to prioritize HomeKit on our product roadmap."
Kevo is not currently Apple HomeKit-compatible. Kevo requires a longer development process to become compatible with HomeKit due to the custom nature of the Kevo platform. Kwikset truly believes in the secure smart home technology offered by Apple HomeKit and specifically developed Premis, which launched at CES this year, to be compatible with the HomeKit platform.

That said, Kwikset is investing in the Kevo platform and continuously updating its products. Kwikset introduced its first HomeKit compatible smart lock at CES and will continue to prioritize HomeKit on our product roadmap.


Tags: Kevo, Kwikset

Belkin Launches 2-in-1 iPhone and Apple Watch Dock With Both Charging Cables Included for $99

Belkin has introduced the PowerHouse, a new 2-in-1 iPhone and Apple Watch charging dock with both a Lightning-to-USB cable and magnetic charging cable included for $99. PowerHouse serves as a cheaper and smaller-sized plastic alternative to Belkin's existing 2-in-1 dock, the Valet, released earlier this year for $129.

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PowerHouse is compatible with all Apple Watch models, and the iPhone 5 or newer. The dock uses Belkin's proprietary VersaCase dial that can adjust the height of the Lightning connector to allow for the PowerHouse to be used with virtually any iPhone case. The dock delivers a 2.4A charge for iPhone and 1A charge for Apple Watch.


PowerHouse is available now on Belkin's website and at select retailers worldwide for $99.

Griffin's New iTrip Clip Adapter Makes Wired Headphones Work Wirelessly

griffin-itrip-clipJust days before Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 7 without a headphone jack, Griffin Technology has introduced a new iTrip Clip clippable adapter that enables any pair of wired headphones with a 3.5mm jack to function as wireless headphones via Bluetooth.

To use the iTrip Clip with Apple's wired EarPods, for example, an iPhone user would simply plug the headphones into the adapter and pair the accessory with the smartphone via Bluetooth 4.1. The self-powered adapter also works with AUX cables for Bluetooth audio in the car.

iTrip Clip has play/pause, volume, and track controls, and a built-in mic that can be used to make phone calls or Siri voice commands.

The adapter's rechargeable 800 mAh battery lasts up to 6 hours for music playback or 180 hours in standby. A micro-USB charging cable is included in the box.

iTrip Clip will be available in September for $19.99.

Papa John's Announces Pizza-Ordering App for Apple TV

Pizza chain Papa John's today announced the launch of its own app for the fourth generation Apple TV, which will let customers create and order pizzas within the app with a special discount price of 25 percent on each order placed on Apple's set-top box. The app marks the first of its kind on Apple TV for a national restaurant brand focusing on placing food orders.

The app includes Papa John's full menu of pizzas, sides, drinks, and desserts, with a full customizable pizza topping creator available as well. In order to provide an easy check-out process, users can sign into an existing Papa John's account to automatically provide an address, payment information, and gain access to saved favorite meals.

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“Pizza and entertainment are a natural fit,” said “Papa John” Schnatter, Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Papa John's. “With the launch of our Apple TV app, we’re hoping to make family movie night and friend gatherings around the TV even more enjoyable by delivering the same quality product and experience our customers expect in a convenient and interactive way.”
Once users begin ordering on the app, they can revisit past orders to simply re-order the same thing, or start an all-new meal selection process with Papa John's aim for creating a "conversational" food ordering experience in the living room. The app is compatible only with the fourth generation Apple TV, and will begin rolling out wide today.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10
Tag: Papa John's
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Neutral)

Instagram Tries to Differ From Snapchat by Curating 'Stories' in Explore Tab

Following in the wake of a few additions to the Instagram app that largely fell in line with rival service Snapchat -- including 24-hour long posts and an "Events" channel -- recently the popular photo sharing app announced a feature lacking in Snapchat, which will suggest new Stories for users to follow (via TechCrunch).

The suggestions will be based on who you already follow and the topics you care about, and will be placed atop the Explore tab in the app. Since Stories are tied to each user's full Instagram account, you still have to follow each person's full feed in order to gain daily access to their shorter, 24-hour posts.

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According to Instagram, 100 million users visit the Explore tab every day (out of 500 million monthly active users), making it one of the more popular parts of the app and a way for Instagram to continue bolstering Stories for anyone who may not use the feature. Snapchat's closest comparison comes in its branded "Discover" stories tab, which includes short news and entertainment updates from places like BuzzFeed, Mashable, and National Geographic.

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Explore enhances Instagram’s biggest talking point here — that more people already have an interest graph and audience on Instagram than Snapchat.

Instagram refused to give specifics about how its version of Stories is growing, but Instagram’s Director of Product Management Blake Barnes did say “We’re really excited to see how quickly they’ve caught on, whether with everyday users or celebrities and brands.”
A few users are said to have already gotten the new update, but otherwise Instagram will be rolling out Stories into the Explore tab over the next few days. Although Instagram Stories are still new, Barnes said that the feature's ability to make users worry less about likes and comments is making it a big hit with the service's casual fanbase, concluding "it has the early signs of being a product people love."

Instagram is available for free on the App Store. [Direct Link]

Tag: Instagram

Verizon Touts LTE Advanced Rollout With 50% Faster Peak Speeds in Over 450 Cities

Verizon today announced a new marketing push for "LTE Advanced" technology that brings 50 percent faster peak wireless data speeds to 461 cities across the United States. The company marks LTE Advanced as the latest improvement on current 4G LTE technology, which it first introduced in 2010. Besides a collection of major cities, Verizon LTE Advanced will cover "loads of less-served places including highways, interstates, country roads and rural America."


LTE Advanced is not a new technology, with Verizon and other carriers working over the past couple of years to gradually roll it out through "carrier aggregation" upgrades that allow multiple bandwidth channels to be combined for faster speeds. Today's announcement from Verizon does, however, signal a major milestone in reaching coverage for 90 percent of the U.S. population.

The LTE Advanced upgrades come to Verizon's customers at no additional cost, with speed boosts and coverage kicking in "when you need it most," from day-to-day smartphone use to vacation trips. Verizon LTE Advanced will work on one of 39 devices already on the carrier's network, including the iPhone, Moto Droid, and Galaxy S6 and S7.
“Verizon LTE Advanced means your data session moves more quickly over the best network,” said Nicki Palmer, Verizon’s chief wireless network engineer. “Imagine a road with multiple lanes in which, once you pick a lane, that’s the lane you drive in. That describes our award-winning 4G LTE network.

Continuing the metaphor, Verizon LTE Advanced allows cars to change lanes efficiently and flawlessly, balancing the flow of traffic and getting drivers to their destinations more efficiently. That means blindingly fast data transmissions when you need it most.”
Verizon's LTE Advanced deployment currently uses a combination of two- and three-carrier aggregation, with two-channel carrier aggregation resulting in download speeds of up to 225 Mbps under ideal conditions, compared to "typical" speeds of 5-12 Mbps.

Whenever new smartphones from Apple, Samsung, and other companies are released, they will support Verizon's new LTE Advanced service out of the box, and pre-existing smartphones on Verizon plans will automatically upgrade with "no extra plan costs, no settings to change, and no indicators to check." Verizon calls LTE Advanced "the next-generation of wireless technology" and hopes to continue expanding the technology's reach, and upgrading its abilities to offer three-channel carrier aggregation with theoretical speeds exceeding 300 Mbps.

Tag: Verizon

ANZ Expands Apple Pay Support to MasterCard in Australia

Australian bank ANZ will enable Apple Pay support for MasterCard cardholders starting August 30, four months after adding support for Visa and American Express cards, according to The Australian Business Review.
From today, about 500,000 more ANZ customers will have the opportunity to use Apple Pay, as MasterCard is added alongside Visa and American Express.
Eligible cards, including the ANZ Low Rate MasterCard and ANZ Low Rate Platinum MasterCard, can be added to Apple Pay by tapping the "Add Credit or Debit Card" option in the Wallet app on iPhone 5 and later running iOS 8.1 or newer.

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MasterCard support has been listed as "coming soon" on the Apple Pay website in Australia since earlier this year.

ANZ is the only bank that accepts Apple Pay in Australia as competing "Big Four" institutions in the country, including Commonwealth Bank, NAB, and Westpac, so far unsuccessfully fight to negotiate with Apple over access to its NFC-based digital payment technology. The trio of banks want their customers to be able to use digital wallets they have already financed and developed.

August has seen a number of banks and financial institutions enable Apple Pay support around the world, including Tangerine and PC Financial in Canada, BEA and Tap & Go in Hong Kong, and Clydesdale Bank, Yorkshire Bank, and B in the United Kingdom.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
Tags: Australia, MasterCard

Fitbit Announces Charge 2 With 4x Larger Display and Flex 2 With Swim Tracking

Following image leaks of two new Fitbit fitness trackers, the company today officially announced the Fitbit Charge 2 and Fitbit Flex 2. In addition, the Fitbit Blaze and Fitbit Alta wearables will receive a software update soon that brings new notifications, clock faces, and move reminders.

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Fitbit Charge 2 (left) and Fitbit Flex 2 (right)

Starting with the Fitbit Charge 2, the new device comes with a large OLED screen that includes a built-in tap display and is intended to capture all-day activity, including the usual statistics like step count, heart rate, calories burned, and more. Like other Fitbits, the Charge 2 allows for sleep tracking and wake alarms, and will also remind users to move in order to stay ahead of activity goals. When not working out, Fitbit is giving Charge 2 users a chance to dress their device up with all-new luxe leather bands and other premium accessories.

Improving on the original Fitbit Charge HR, the new OLED display is 4-times larger, "so you can see more activity stats and keep your fitness goals on track with just a glance." In addition to basic fitness readouts, the screen will also show smartphone-connected information such as text messages and emails. All of the Fitbit Charge 2's features will be able to last up to 5 days depending on usage, according to the company.

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The luxe leather collection for the Charge 2

Similar to the Breathe app coming to WatchOS 3 on the Apple Watch, Fitbit also announced "Relax," a mindfulness experience on the Charge 2 that will guide users through breathing exercises daily to help relax them. Relax will read each user's heart rate to determine the most comfortable breathing rate for each exercise, with sessions customizable from 2 to 5 minutes.

The Fitbit Flex 2, which is 30 percent smaller than the original model, follows in its predecessor's footsteps with a minimalist design that houses a row of LED lights instead of a traditional tap display. As a result, the Flex 2 is more rugged and the device is even water resistant up to 50 meters, letting it "automatically track your pool swims as exercise in the Fitbit app, capturing your laps, the duration of your workout, and caloric burn."

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The luxe collection of bangles and pendants for the Flex 2

Due to the Fitbit Flex 2's small design, the actual tracker is also able to be housed in a variety of new wearable accessories created by the company. These include basic wristbands, fashionable bangles, and even necklaces. Fitbit will also be launching "designer collections" of new wearable accessories, including stainless steel bands and nylon bracelets that cost a more premium price, up to nearly $300.

The Fitbit Flex 2 is available for pre-order as a wristband in black, lavender, magenta, and navy for $99.95, and will launch in November. The Fitbit Charge 2 has a few more color options: black/silver, plum/silver, blue/silver, teal/silver, lavender/rose gold, and black/gunmetal, the latter two of which are considered "special editions." The Charge 2 is not yet up for pre-order, however, but those interested can opt-in for email notifications for when the new device will go on sale, presumably alongside the Flex 2 in the fall.

Tag: Fitbit

T-Mobile ONE Now Offers Unlimited 4G LTE Tethering for Extra $25 Per Month

T-Mobile recently introduced a new plan called T-Mobile ONE that offers unlimited talk, text, and 4G LTE data for $70 per month. A second line can be added for $50 per month, while up to six more lines can be added for an additional $20 per month each. The total cost for a family of four, for example, would be $160 per month.

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At the time, T-Mobile said mobile hotspot tethering would be limited to 2G speeds, with 5GB of high-speed tethering available as a $15 add-on. But today, the carrier has changed its tune and announced that T-Mobile ONE will now include unlimited tethering at 3G speeds in the U.S. at no additional cost.

Or, customers that want high-speed tethering can upgrade to the new T-Mobile ONE Plus plan, which includes unlimited tethering at 4G LTE speeds, unlimited HD video streaming, and Simple Global international data roaming at up to 3G speeds where available for an extra $25 per month per line. The carrier previously planned to charge an extra $25 per month just for the unlimited HD video streaming upgrade.

The regular T-Mobile ONE plan will continue to limit video to 480p standard definition across all services, but the carrier is also now introducing HD day passes for $3 per day that allow unlimited HD video streaming for 24 hours.

T-Mobile ONE will also now be available on September 1, five days earlier than the company previously announced.

Tag: T-Mobile

Amazon and Pandora Each Nearly Ready to Launch Apple Music Rivals

pandora-amazonAmazon and Pandora are closing in on licensing agreements with the world's largest record labels to launch their own streaming music services later this year, reports Financial Times.

Both subscription-based services are expected to cost $9.99 per month, a price that has become the industry standard, and compete with heavyweights like Apple Music and Spotify.

Amazon's offering could launch as early as September, according to the report, while Pandora is said to be making progress towards debuting its service later this year.

Reuters first reported Amazon's plans to launch a standalone streaming music service in June, followed by a Recode report last week claiming the online retailer is also working on a $5-a-month subscription music service that will be exclusive to owners of the company's internet-connected Echo speaker.

Amazon currently sells individual songs or albums through Amazon Music, while Amazon Prime subscribers can stream Amazon music, playlists, and radio stations for free, but the selection is limited compared to Apple Music and Spotify.

Pandora's ambitions to launch its own subscription music service, likely based on its acquisition of "key assets" from Rdio in 2015, were first reported by The Wall Street Journal earlier this month. The company plans to offer two price tiers by also slightly tweaking its existing $5 per month ad-free option with select new perks like skipping songs and offline listening, the report said.

Pandora currently offers customers in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand the ability to listen to free, ad-supported radio stations centered around particular artists or songs, rather than offering on-demand listening like Apple Music. By offering only randomized, radio-like stations that prevent users from playing specific songs, it has been able to bypass licensing agreements with major record labels.