iDevices Sells iGrill and Kitchen Thermometers to Weber

iDevices has announced that its app-enabled iGrill and Kitchen Thermometer accessories have been acquired by Weber-Stephen Products, a worldwide manufacturer of charcoal, gas, and electric outdoor grills and related accessories. The acquisition includes the iGrill2, iGrill mini, Kitchen Thermometer, and Kitchen Thermometer mini. The terms of the agreement are confidential.

iGrill-Weber-iDevices
Weber will partner with iDevices to release a new iGrill app, which is expected to be available in spring 2016. Until then, iGrill and Kitchen Thermometer users can continue using their accessories through the existing iDevices Connected app. Unlike some of its other products, iDevices's iGrill and Kitchen Thermometer accessories are not compatible with Apple's HomeKit smart home platform.

iDevices said it will now be able to focus more on becoming a leader in the home automation market. The accessory maker already sells multiple HomeKit-enabled products, including a Switch, Outdoor Switch, and Thermostat. It introduced four more HomeKit accessories at CES 2016, including a Socket, Wall Switch, Dimmer Switch, and Wall Outlet. The products will be released throughout 2016.

iGrill is an intelligent thermometer that allows you to monitor the temperature of the meat you are grilling on iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

Homemade Robot Masters iPhone Game and Voice Dictation

A new video by YouTube user Junya Sakamoto posted over the weekend shows off a homemade robot, created by Sakamoto, that masters the trickiest stages of popular mobile game Puzzles and Dragons (via Kotaku). The four minute video uploaded to Sakamoto's self-titled YouTube channel details the initial creation and design of the robot to the final, tangible realization of the iPhone game-beating device.


Puzzles and Dragons requires users to match colored orbs to defeat monsters, with patterns that get increasingly tricky the further the game progresses. Connected to a laptop, the robot analyzes and predicts the best moves possible in the current level, resulting in high-scoring combos that would be extremely difficult for the game's players to naturally achieve.

In an earlier video (the first of only two on Sakamoto's channel), the robot's creator uses an attached microphone to dictate commands to the device and navigate the iPhone without touching it. Using only voice, the robot unlocks the iPhone, transcribes a note, and even plays a piano app.

Related Roundup: iPhone 6s
Buyer's Guide: iPhone (Neutral)

Square Enix's 'Final Fantasy IX' Launches on iOS App Store

Square Enix today launched the iOS version of its popular game Final Fantasy IX [Direct Link], which was originally released in 2000 for the Sony PlayStation. New to the iOS version of the game, players will be able to unlock achievements, activate 7 additional game boosters including a rapid-pace "high speed" mode, game autosaves, and improved high definition cut scenes and character models.

final fantasy ix ios
Gameplay Features
・Abilities
Learn new abilities by equipping items.
When fully mastered, these abilities can be used even without equipping items, allowing for nearly endless customization options.

・Trance
Fill your Trance gauge as you sustain hits in battle.
When fully charged, your characters will enter Trance mode, granting them powerful new skills!

・Synthesis
Never let items go to waste. Combine two items or pieces of equipment together and make better, stronger items!

・Minigames
Whether it's Chocobo Hot and Cold, Jump Rope, or Tetra Master, there are plenty of minigames to enjoy when you're not off saving the world.
You can even earn special item rewards!
Otherwise, the ninth game in the JRPG series will remain the same, with the story focusing on the adventures of a thief named Zidane, who finds himself in the midst of a war between two powerful factions when he kidnaps Princess Garnet, the heir of the war-torn nation of Alexandria. Last summer, Square Enix re-released another game in the series, Final Fantasy VII, for iOS as well.


As with part seven in the series, Final Fantasy IX takes up about 2GB of storage space on an iPhone, but requires over 8GB of free space to download. Square Enix encourages users to "make sure that ample spare memory is available" before attempting to begin the game's download.

Final Fantasy IX is compatible with the iPhone 5s or later, iPad 4th generation or later, iPad mini 2 or later, and the iPod touch 6th generation. All devices will need a version of iOS 7 or any recent iOS update to run the game. Square Enix is also running a sale for Final Fantasy IX's launch, so starting today and until February 21 users can download the game at a discounted price of $16.99.

Norway to Force Accused Criminal to Unlock His Phone via Fingerprint

Norwegian police will force a 27-year-old man accused of drug possession to unlock his mobile phone via fingerprint, according to local website Bergensavisen [Google Translate]. The police believe the confiscated smartphone may contain evidence about where he obtained the illegal substance.

iPhone-6s-Touch-ID
The man, who reportedly admitted he was culpable, has refused to unlock his phone for police since being charged, but the Nordhordland District Court's recent verdict allows Norwegian police to force the accused's thumb on to his fingerprint-secured phone. Local police will also analyze his phone call and data history.

The brand of the phone is not disclosed in the report, but if it is an iPhone, it is not clear if Norwegian police are aware that Touch ID requires a passcode as supplemental verification after 48 hours of disuse, a restart, or three failed fingerprint entry attempts. The accused was arrested on January 25, so it may be impossible for authorities to unlock an iPhone with Touch ID without taking additional measures.

In the U.S., a Virginia court ruled that fingerprints, unlike passwords and passcodes, are not protected by the Fifth Amendment. In his ruling, Judge Steven C. Frucci opined that "giving police a fingerprint is akin to providing a DNA or handwriting sample or an actual key," which is permitted under federal law.

Correction: The source article does not explicitly state that the device in question is an iPhone, and this article has been updated to reflect that.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Adonit Announces New 'Switch' and 'Mark' Styluses

Adonit, a company that makes a range of popular styluses for iOS devices, today announced the launch of two new products -- the Adonit Mark and the Adonit Switch. The Adonit Mark is an entry-level stylus that's priced affordably while the Adonit Switch offers a more premium experience.

Adonit's Mark is a standard mesh-tipped stylus with a few features to set it apart from competitors, including an anti-roll design and an aluminum body in either silver or black to match Apple's Silver and Space Gray iOS devices.

adonitmark
The Adonit Switch is a convertible stylus that bundles a ballpoint pen with one of Adonit's signature clear plastic precision stylus tips. One end contains a standard 0.8mm ballpoint pen tip, while the other works with all of Apple's iOS devices. Like the Mark, it comes in silver and black.

adonitswitch
Both the Switch and the Mark are available from the Adonit website. The Mark is priced at $12.99 and the Switch is priced at $39.99.

Tags: stylus, Adonit

Virtual Reality Coming to iOS Within 2 Years, Claims Gene Munster

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster believes Apple plans to put iOS at the center of several forthcoming augmented reality and VR innovations set to launch within the next two years.

In a research note obtained by AppleInsider, Munster claims a timeline of recent purchases and hires by the company suggests that iOS support for "mixed reality" applications could be set for launch as soon as 2018.

The analyst points to a LinkedIn search which reveals at least 141 Apple employees with a background in AR, although it should be noted that the same search returns 425 and 267 people with similar experience working at Microsoft and Google, respectively.

apple_patent_video_goggles
Of particular interest to Apple is the concept of "mixed reality" wearables, or advanced optics that use embedded cameras and sensors to blend holographic imagery with real-life objects, claims Munster.

Intellectual property gained via research and development projects as well as strategic acquisitions, such as Apple's purchase of 3D body sensing firm PrimeSense, are said to be behind the recent drive.
We believe 10 years from now Generation Z will find reality inefficient. We believe the concept of an 'inefficient reality' is evident through smartphone use today — the precursor to mixed reality — offering users the ability to find more information as needed.
The analyst goes on to suggest a natural progression in the personal technology market from smartphones to AR/VR and believes Apple is looking at VR as an iPhone peripheral, much like the Apple Watch. The prospect of Apple releasing hardware on this front in the near term is seen by Munster as unlikely, although by 2018 Apple may be ready to offer developers an official software framework for licensed third-party hardware solutions, similar to the company's MFi Program for iOS devices.

Munster has made questionable assertions in recent years, with predictions such as Apple's rumored television set having failed to materialize. Still, the note does follow a recent report by Financial Times claiming that Apple has built a "secret research unit" in which hundreds of employees are experimenting with AR and VR technologies. The team is said to be made up of, among others, experts plucked from Microsoft and live-action VR company Lytro.

Apple's interest in virtual reality has gained pace over the last few years, with the filing of multiple patents for VR-related products, like video goggles, motion-sensing 3D virtual interfaces for iOS devices, and 3D "hyper reality" displays. More recently, Apple has made a spate of AR/VR-related acquisitions, including Metaio, Faceshift, Emotient, and image-recognition app creators Flyby Media. Last month, the company hired Doug Bowman, said to be one of the leading VR experts in the United States.

Apple Open Sources Swift Benchmark Suite

swift.pngApple today announced that its Swift benchmark suite is open source, just over two months after making its Swift programming language open sourced as promised at the 2015 Worldwide Developers Conference.

Apple's Swift benchmarking suite is designed to track Swift performance with 75 benchmarks that cover multiple important Swift workloads, libraries with commonly needed benchmarking functions, drivers for running benchmarks and displaying performance metrics, and a utility for comparing benchmark metrics across multiple versions of Swift. The Swift benchmark suite is available on GitHub.

Introduced in 2014 and launched alongside iOS 8 and OS X, Swift is Apple's programming language built for iOS, OS X, watchOS, and tvOS, designed to work with Cocoa and Cocoa Touch frameworks along with Objective-C while also being widely accessible. In 2015, Apple debuted Swift 2 with new features like advanced error handling and syntax enhancements.

Pagaré Smartstrap Plans to Bring Contactless Payments to Pebble Time

Financial tech startup Fit Pay recently launched a new Kickstarter for its third-party Pebble Time "smartstrap" called the Pagaré. The new accessory will bring NFC payment capabilities to the smartwatch, using the power of the Pebble's smart accessory port, giving Pebble Time the same mobile wallet opportunities allowed to Apple Watch customers thanks to Apple Pay.

The Pagaré smartstrap will come in all of the same colors and finishes that Pebble creates for the Pebble Time, so that "you won't have to sacrifice your style to receive the benefits of Pagaré," according to Fit Pay co-founder and CEO Mike Orlando. The strap runs on its own battery, so with a small USB connector on one end, users will be able to charge the Pagaré smartstrap and the Pebble Time simultaneously.


Fit Pay said that its new smartstrap will be able to be used "at over 9 million point of sale terminals worldwide," including places like GameStop, Panera Bread, and Whole Foods. Similar to the Apple Watch, when the Pagaré is removed from a user's wrist it locks access to any of the payment features of the band. A four-digit passcode reactivates those features when the Pebble Time is reattached.
Pagaré has multiple layers of security to protect sensitive data. In addition to secure hardware, we leverage the same card network service as Apple Pay to replace your card number with a surrogate value called a token. This means we never need to store your credit card.
Notably, once the Pagaré app is installed on a user's phone and credit cards are scanned in, the new accessory is "a completely phone-free solution." Users will be able to pay at compatible NFC terminals using Pagaré without having their smartphone nearby. The company is looking to the future, as well, with plans to introduce transit and entertainment ticket options into the Pagaré suite of tools if the Kickstarter gets funded.

pebble time strap pagare
As of writing, the campaign sits at just over a $26,000 funded level with a goal of $120,000 over the next 29 days. Users interested can get in on an early bird discount of the Pagaré for $49, and once those are gone the band will cost $69 at retail price. Higher early bird reward tiers bundle in the Pebble Time ($199), Pebble Time Steel ($249), and Pebble Time Round ($249) alongside a Pagaré smartstrap.

Facebook iOS App Under Fire Again for iPhone Battery Drain Issues

Facebook this morning came under fire once more over concerns regarding the impact its iOS app has on iPhone battery life.

Writing in The Guardian, technology reporter Samuel Gibbs claims to have found that uninstalling Facebook's iOS app and accessing the social media site via Safari can save up to 15 percent of an iPhone's battery life.

Gibbs relates how he uninstalled the app on his iPhone 6s Plus and recorded its battery life at the same time each day for a week, comparing the numbers to a daily average taken from a week with the app installed.

The writer accessed Facebook's site through Safari for the same amount of time and for the same purposes as he had using the dedicated app. Gibbs also notes that he left Facebook's Messenger app installed throughout.

smart battery case white
In conclusion, Gibbs states that his iPhone had on average 15 percent more battery life by 10:30 p.m. each day without the social media app installed. He also notes large gains in free space, since the deleted app had consumed 500MB in total of his iPhone's capacity. Gibbs chalks most of that up to Facebook's cache, owing to the fact that the app itself is only a 111MB download.

Several other users of the app were recruited to carry out further tests and corroborated Gibbs' energy-saving results without the app installed. A Facebook spokesperson said the company is investigating the matter.

Facebook is no stranger to concerns regarding the impact of its iOS apps on battery life. In October the company released an update to fix issues raised by users who saw large amounts of battery drain on their iPhones while the social networking app ran in the background, even with the background app refresh toggled off.

With the release of the update, Facebook said the problem was due to a recurring background audio issue, prompting claims from some tech bloggers that the "issue" was an intentional ploy by developers to keep the app active in the background and discreetly pre-load content.

MacRumors Giveaway: Win a Lifetime Plex Pass

For this week's giveaway, we've teamed up with Plex to offer one MacRumors reader a chance to win a lifetime Plex Pass that provides access to all of Plex's premium features.

Plex is a media server and personal content library for TV shows, music, movies, and photos. It's designed to organize personal media collections, allowing videos and music to be streamed to TVs, iOS devices, Macs, and more, both locally and remotely. With Plex, you can download the media server to your Mac, store your content in a folder, and then stream it directly to an iOS device or the new Apple TV via the Plex app.

plex
Plex is especially useful for those of you with a fourth-generation Apple TV, which is the first Apple TV to officially support the Plex service. Check out our walkthrough of how it works below:


Plex is free to use, but unlocking all of its features requires the Plex Pass, priced at $4.99 per month, $39.99 per year, or $149.99 for a lifetime. A Plex Pass includes access to Gracenote Music Magic and Vevo Music Videos, both of which enhance your music collection through playlist creation and added music videos.

It also enables Mobile Sync features, Plex Home for managed accounts, and Cloud Syncing options to sync content from the Plex Media Server to a cloud storage provider. Other Plex Pass features include Camera Upload, access to Trailers, and early access to new Plex apps.

One MacRumors reader will win a lifetime Plex Pass through our giveaway. To enter to win, use the Rafflecopter widget below and enter an email address. Email addresses will be used solely for contact purposes to reach the winner and send the prizes.

You can earn additional entries by subscribing to our weekly newsletter, subscribing to our YouTube channel, following us on Twitter, or visiting the MacRumors Facebook page. Due to the complexities of international laws regarding giveaways, only U.S. residents who are 18 years of age or older are eligible to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
The contest will run from today (February 5) at 11:15 a.m. Pacific Time through 11:15 a.m. Pacific Time on February 12. The winner will be chosen randomly on February 12 and will be contacted by email. The winner has 48 hours to respond a before a new winner is chosen.

Tags: Plex, giveaway

Apple Pay Now Accepted by 1000 U.S. Issuers

Apple-PayApple updated its Apple Pay participating issuers list today with 32 additional banks, credit unions and financial institutions supporting the contactless payment service in the U.S. Apple Pay now has 1000 participating issuers nationwide, including 998 U.S. banks and credit unions and store card support at BJ's Wholesale Club and Kohl's.

The newly added Apple Pay participating issuers are reflected below, although it's worth noting that some banks, credit unions and financial institutions listed may have already had support for the contactless payments service and are only now being reflected on Apple's website.

The full list of new Apple Pay participating issuers:
  • Anderson Brothers Bank
  • Bank & Trust Company
  • Bank of Labor
  • Bank of Yazoo
  • BankWest
  • Brown County State Bank
  • Busey Bank
  • Campbell & Fetter Bank
  • Central Bank of Oklahoma
  • Collinsville Savings Society
  • Core Bank
  • Covantage Credit Union
  • Diversified Members Credit Union
  • Farmington Bank
  • Florida Parishes Bank
  • Fort Worth Community Credit Union
  • Great Midwest Bank
  • Horizon Bank, N.A.
  • Litchfield Bancorp
  • Luther Burbank Savings
  • Mississippi National Guard Federal Credit Union
  • Oregon Community Credit Union
  • Pathfinder Bank
  • Platinum Federal Credit Union
  • Qualstar Credit Union
  • Red River Bank
  • Seven Seventeen Credit Union
  • T Bank
  • The Citizens Bank
  • Titonka Savings Bank
  • US Employees O.C. Federal Credit Union
  • Wallis State Bank
Apple Pay is now available at more than 2 million retail locations, with support coming to Crate & Barrel, Chick-fil-A, and Au Bon Pain locations in the U.S. soon. Cinnabon, Chili's, Domino's, KFC and Starbucks will also support Apple Pay in the U.S. starting this year.

In November, Apple Pay launched in Australia and Canada in November in partnership with American Express. Apple Pay is also coming for American Express cardholders in Hong Kong, Singapore and Spain this year, and the service appears to have soft launched in China last month in partnership with UnionPay.

Apple Pay gained support for BJ's Wholesale Club private label credit cards and 66 new U.S. issuers on December 15, plus nearly another 60 issuers on January 5.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay

BBC iPlayer for iOS Adds Handoff Support and Spotlight Search

BBC's iPlayer app has been updated for iOS users in the UK today, bringing added support for Spotlight search and Apple's Handoff feature.

Users of the app can now directly search for TV programs from their home screen by activating Spotlight search with a swipe down gesture, while the addition of Handoff support enables viewers to pick up where they left off when switching to another iOS device.

BBC iPlayer
The update also patches a bug that led to the app crashing on launch for some users, and adds a full catalog of iPlayer programs to the channel page via the A-Z option.

The UK broadcaster recently brought its iPlayer app to Apple TV after initially stating it had no plans to make the service available on the platform.

BBC iPlayer is a free download for users in the UK. [Direct Link]