Eric Slivka

Eric is Editor in Chief of MacRumors, swimmer, and former biophysicist. Enjoys reading and chasing after two rambunctious boys when he's not playing with the latest gadgets.



Review: Koogeek's Light Strip and Door & Window Sensor Offer Solid Low-Cost HomeKit Options

Koogeek is one of the more interesting HomeKit accessory manufacturers, with an array of relatively low-cost and in some cases unusual products that can help users expand their Apple-focused smart home ecosystems. The company offers HomeKit-compatible smart outlets, switches, bulbs, and sockets similar to other manufacturers, but also has some less common products like light strips, door/window sensors, environmental monitors, and even power strips. LS1 Light Strip One of Koogeek's more popular HomeKit accessories is the LS1 Light Strip, a 2-meter string of LED lights that lets you choose from 16 million dimmable colors, whether you're looking for bias lighting behind your television or monitor, accent lighting in a kitchen, or any of a number of other applications. While Koogeek offers its own app for setting up and managing the LS1 Light Strip, HomeKit support means you can access it from the centralized Home app on iOS (and soon macOS Mojave) or Siri, and you can integrate it with other HomeKit devices to activate as part of a scene or other automations. Consisting of 60 LEDs, the LS1 is a 2-meter strip with some additional cord and a single-button controller that allows you to turn the lights on and off manually. The light strip is USB-powered, which can be a benefit as it gives you some interesting flexibility in terms of mounting locations when you can use a USB port on your TV, a computer, a dock, or a power bank to run them. On the downside, Koogeek doesn't provide a power adapter in the box, so you'll need to provide your own if you want to power it

Apple's New 'Just Text Them the Money' Ads Feature Apple Pay Cash

Apple today released a series of new 15-second ads highlighting Apple Pay Cash under the tagline "Just text them the money." One ad shows how roommates can use Apple Pay Cash in Messages to send rent money, while another includes a "lost shirt" scenario that demonstrates the ability to request a specific dollar amount. A third ad highlights two friends discussing and paying for tickets to a game even though it conflicts with another friend's wedding, while the fourth ad covers a mother sending money to her child after receiving a photo of an empty fridge. Apple Pay Cash launched in the United States with iOS 11.2 in early December through a partnership with Green Dot Bank and has yet to expand to any other

Belkin Debuts First MFi-Certified Power Bank With Lightning Input

Belkin today is launching the first power bank with Lightning input to be officially certified under Apple's MFi licensing program, assuring that the product meets Apple's standards for quality and compatibility. Belkin's BOOST↑­CHARGE Power Bank 10K with Lightning Connector, priced at $59.99, offers 10,000 mAh of charging power and is recharged over a Lightning connector using either a USB-to-Lightning cable or a compatible Lightning dock sold separately. On the output side, the Power Bank 10K with Lightning includes a pair of USB-A ports, one at 2.4A for faster charging of iPhones and iPads and one at 1A for slower charging. A button-activated set of four LEDs on the top of the Power Bank shows the current charge level, and the button also lets you toggle between charging input and output modes if needed. While power banks most commonly use micro-USB for charging input and a few are shifting over to USB-C, Lightning offers the benefit of needing only a single cable to both charge the battery pack and use the battery pack to charge your phone. If you've got a Lightning dock on your desk, you may also be able to use that to recharge the power bank, although it is significantly thicker than an iPhone so not all docks will be able to accommodate the power bank. Charging on an Apple Lightning dock The Power Bank 10K measures about 6 inches long, around 2.75 inches wide, and a little under 0.75 inches thick, so it's slightly smaller but substantially thicker than a Plus-sized iPhone. It weighs a little over 8 ounces, about 25 percent more than a Plus-sized

Review: Ring Alarm is a $199 Do-It-Yourself Home Security System That Keeps Things Simple

Last month, Ring began taking pre-orders for its Ring Alarm home security system, and today it begins shipping. I've had a chance to spend some time with Ring Alarm, and I've found it's an easy-to-use security system that's useful with or without professional monitoring. Priced at $199 for the base kit, the Ring Alarm comes with a base station, a separate keypad, one motion detector, one contact sensor for a door or window, and a range extender to help make sure all of your Ring accessories remain connected to your network. Additional contact sensors ($20), motion detectors ($30), keypads ($50), and range extenders ($25) can be purchased separately to expand your system. Other Ring Alarm accessories including a flood and freeze sensor as well as a smoke and CO listener to integrate your existing detectors into the Ring ecosystem are coming later. I'm a Ring user, with a Video Doorbell 2 and a Floodlight Cam already installed at my house, but I don't have any prior experience with home security systems. That made for a bit of a learning curve just in terms of figuring out how I wanted to set things up and remembering to arm/disarm the system at the appropriate times. But Ring Alarm is intended as a simple do-it-yourself system that makes it easy for even novice users to get up and running, so perhaps I'm an ideal candidate for testing things out. Setup Setup of Ring Alarm is quite simple, and the whole process only took me about half an hour, although I used the included adhesive strips to mount sensors and didn't mount the base station and keypad to my

Apple's Rumored 18W USB-C iPhone Power Adapter Prototype Shown Off in New Photos

Recent rumors and CAD renderings have suggested Apple may be planning to include an 18-watt USB-C charger and a Lightning to USB cable in the box with its iOS devices later this year, allowing for faster charging without requiring users to purchase separate charging accessories at additional cost. New photos shared by Chongdiantou (via Mac Otakara) show what is claimed to be an engineering prototype of the actual U.S. version of the charger, although their legitimacy cannot be confirmed. The design of the charger is generally in line with previous renderings, featuring a compact body in the style of Apple's 5-watt charger that has always been included in the box with iPhones. The design otherwise simply includes a pair of prongs on one side and a USB-C port on the other end. The charger does, however, appear somewhat fatter than depicted in the original leaked rendering. Text on the charger is somewhat different from Apple's usual markings, although this may be due to its prototype nature. The text lists the charger with a model number of A1720, in line with Apple's numbering scheme, and it confirms the charger offers output up to 5V at 3A (15W) or 9V at 2A (18W). Apple is rumored to be including the more powerful charger with its new iPhones coming later this year, but it would make sense to also include it with upcoming iPad models, which have traditionally included 10–12W

Review: Lutron's Caséta Lamp Dimmers and Serena Shades Bring HomeKit Convenience to Your Lights and Windows

Three years ago, Lutron was one of the first vendors to venture into the HomeKit ecosystem with its Caséta Wireless lighting controls, which include plug-in lamp dimmers, wall-mounted dimmer switches, and remotes, all coordinated through a wireless "Smart Bridge" that plugs into your internet router. The Caséta system has been such a mainstay in the HomeKit world that Apple is still selling it in its stores, including a >$100 starter kit with a smart bridge, an in-wall switch, and a Pico remote control. Additional sets of one in-wall dimmer and one remote are available for $60 each. A host of other lighting switches and Pico remotes are also available to satisfy a range of needs, and the entire system is very popular with our readers. Lutron's Caséta lamp dimmer starter kit and Serena shade Beyond lighting, the Caséta system also integrates with other products, including several styles of automatic HomeKit window shades from Lutron, as well as a joint Lutron-Honeywell thermostat and even some ceiling fans from Hunter. In addition to HomeKit, Caséta also integrates with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings, and Nest, as well as Sonos, Carrier, ecobee, Logitech, and Xfinity Home. I've had the Caséta lamp dimmer system controlling the bedside lamps in my master bedroom for quite some time, and Lutron also sent along a demo setup of the company's battery-operated Serena shades to see how the different products integrate both within the Lutron app and through HomeKit. Serena shades are available in roller, single honeycomb, and double honeycomb

Apple Pay Debuts in Norway With Nordea and Santander

Just a day after launching in Poland, Apple Pay has debuted in Norway, bringing the total number of supported countries and regions to 24 by our count. Apple has updated its list of participating banks to note that Nordea and Santander Consumer Finance are currently supported in Norway. Apple CEO Tim Cook announced on Apple's earnings conference call last month that Apple Pay would be launching in Ukraine, Poland, and Norway in the near future, and with the addition of Norway today those promises have been fulfilled. Apple Pay launched in Ukraine just over a month ago. (Thanks, TrulsZK!)

AT&T Launches Father's Day 'Buy One, Get One' iPhone X Deal

AT&T has launched a new Father's Day deal for the next few days, offering new and existing customers who purchase an iPhone X as an upgrade or a new line a second iPhone X at no additional cost as long as it's for a new line. Customers will need to finance both iPhone X devices via AT&T Next 30 or AT&T Next Every Year, but within three billing cycles they will begin receiving bill credits totaling up to $999.99 spread out over 30 months. Tax on the full cost of both phones is due at the time of purchase, and the deal runs through June 19. AT&T's product pages aren't yet reflecting the full $999.99 promo for the iPhone X, but the deal is live and will be applied at the end of the checkout process. AT&T has been offering a similar BOGO deal on the iPhone 8 as well as a $0 iPhone SE offer, and those deals continue to be valid for a limited time. On the internet and TV service side, AT&T is also continuing to offer Visa Reward Cards with the purchase of new services: $50 for internet, $200 for DirecTV, or $250 for a bundle of both. Full offer details are on AT&T's site. And as always, head over to our Deals Roundup for all of the latest sales and bargains. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with AT&T. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a payment which helps us keep the site running.

Apple Launches New 'Behind the Mac' Ad Campaign

Apple today launched a new ad campaign focused on the Mac, carrying the tagline "Behind the Mac" and highlighting a trio of creators who have used Macs to "make something wonderful." There are four ads in the series, with the first, set to Daniel Johnston's "Story of an Artist," showing a variety of people using Macs as part of their creative processes. Three other ads focus on specific Mac users from various disciplines: - Photographer and disability advocate Bruce Hall, who is legally blind, uses his Mac and iPhone to help "see the things that always felt out of reach." Some of Hall's work is part of the permanent collection of the U.S. Library of Congress. - Music artist Grimes uses a Mac "from start to finish" to write all of her music, edit music videos, and create digital art for her singles. - App developer Peter Kariuki from Rwanda used his Mac to code the SafeMotos app for connecting passengers with safe motorcycle taxi drivers. The app monitors motorcyle riders on the road to "detect unsafe driving habits and help them become better drivers." Apple has highlighted the campaign on its homepage and Mac section of its

WWDC 2018 Spoiler-Free Video Stream [Video Posted]

Apple's WWDC keynote will be kicking off at 10:00 am Pacific Time today, and as is tradition, some MacRumors readers who can't follow the event live are interested in avoiding all of the announcements and waiting until Apple posts the recorded video of the event so as to experience it without already knowing the outcome. For those individuals, we've posted this news story, which will be updated with a direct link to the presentation once it becomes available from Apple. No other news stories or announcements will be displayed alongside this story. Apple has become quicker about making event videos available for replay over the past several years, and videos are now frequently available within an hour of an event's conclusion. Users waiting for the video to be posted are welcome to gather in the thread associated with this news story, and we ask that those who follow the events refrain from making any posts about Apple's announcements in this thread. Video Posted: A direct link to the video file is now available, with no

Review: CalDigit's T4 RAID Offers Lots of Fast Storage, Thunderbolt 3, and 85W Charging

Popular storage and dock company CalDigit recently launched a Thunderbolt 3 version of its T4 RAID storage hub, offering demanding Mac users a four-bay setup with capacities up to 32 TB of traditional hard drive or 8 TB of SSD storage. Compatible with Thunderbolt 3 Macs including the MacBook Pro, iMac, and iMac Pro, the T4 connects over a single cable and not only offers a storage array but can also deliver up to 85 watts of power to the host computer and supports downstream displays via Thunderbolt 3, USB-C, and DisplayPort, as well as other standards using adapters. Installation and Setup Setting up the T4 is straightforward, but requires that you first download CalDigit's Thunderbolt RAID Utility Installer from the company's site and get the utility installed on your system. As of macOS High Sierra, this requires an extra authorization step in the Security & Privacy section of System Preferences, but the installer walks you through the process. With the utility installed and your computer restarted, it's just a matter of using the included 2-meter active Thunderbolt 3 cable to connect the T4 to your computer, plugging in the power cord, optionally connecting a downstream display, and starting up the T4. Once the T4 is up and running and the drive showing on your desktop, you're ready to go. The T4 comes pre-formatted in RAID 5 to offer a combination of redundancy and performance. If you prefer a different RAID mode (0, 1, or JBOD/SPAN), you can use the CalDigit Drive Utility menu bar app to reconfigure things. Design The T4 has a rectangular aluminum

Review: BMW's CarPlay and Qi Charging Support Offer a Convenient All-Wireless Setup, but Subscription Plan Remains Questionable

While CarPlay has become very common in cars over the past several years, most manufacturers are still relying on a wired implementation that requires the user to plug his or her iPhone in using a Lightning cable connected to one of the vehicle's USB ports. The first and only car manufacturer to adopt wireless CarPlay so far is BMW (including its MINI brand), although Mercedes recently announced wireless CarPlay coming later this year. On the aftermarket front, Alpine is offering one solution that supports the feature, while Pioneer has just announced a few models of its own. One common justification for the slow adoption of wireless CarPlay has been that the car is an easy place to charge your phone, so it pays to plug it into your car to top off the battery while you're driving. But with Apple's latest iPhones supporting Qi wireless charging and more car manufacturers starting to include Qi charging pads as options on their vehicles, we thought it would be worth taking a look at how such a setup works in the real world. BMW's Plant Spartanburg BMW recently invited me down for a tour of Plant Spartanburg in South Carolina, which is BMW's largest plant in the world and produces 1,400 vehicles per day from the X3, X4, X5, and X6 lines. I also got to take part in the Performance Center Delivery program at the BMW Performance Center, a program that is typically available to anyone who purchases a new BMW and elects to pick it up at the factory. Off-road course at BMW Performance Center During the program, an instructor introduced me to the capabilities of some

Apple Adopting OLED Displays for All Three 2019 iPhones

As Apple continues its shift from LCD to OLED technology for its iPhones, reports have indicated that two out of the three iPhone models planned for launch around the usual September timeframe this year will offer OLED displays – a second-generation iPhone X and a larger "iPhone X Plus." The lowest-cost option is said to be a new 6.1-inch model with a similar full-face display as seen on the iPhone X, but it will reportedly be an LCD rather than OLED display. Apple's iPhone X promotional video highlighting flexible OLED display Previous rumors have suggested Apple will complete its transition to OLED in 2019, with all models adopting the technology. A new report from South Korea's ET News is now adding its voice to the claim [Google Translate] based on information from its sources."Apple recently started planning the iPhone model in 2019 and decided to adopt OLED in all three types," said an official from Apple who said, "The OLED used in the iPhone X (TEN) is a low temperature polysilicon (LTPS) LCD Quality, performance, and so on. " Another official said, "Apple has decided to put all the OLED on the new iPhone model in 2019." If the new model is more than three kinds, the LCD model may be maintained. However.While this isn't the first time we've heard this rumor and it does make sense based on Apple's trajectory, it appears the financial markets are taking this specific rumor fairly seriously. Reuters notes that shares of Japan Display fell as much as 20 percent today on the news (though they have recovered somewhat and are now down 10 percent), while Bloomberg

iOS 12 to Allow iPhones to Unlock Doors Via NFC

Apple is expected to expand the NFC capabilities of its iPhones beyond mobile payments, allowing users to securely unlock doors equipped with the technology, according to The Information. The company is said to be planning to announce the new functionality "next month," suggesting it will come at WWDC as part of the iOS 12 unveiling. The change to the near-field communication, or NFC, chip, which is expected to be announced next month, could pave the way for people to use iPhones for other security-sensitive interactions, from paying transit fares and opening car doors to verifying their identity in other ways. Already, employees at Apple’s new campus in Cupertino, Calif., are using their iPhones to gain access to buildings and offices, suggesting that the technology has been deployed there, people familiar with the matter said.The Information reported nearly four years ago that Apple was looking to expand NFC capabilities to building security and transit ticketing, working with its campus security vendor HID Global on the technology. Today's report notes that while Bluetooth is already used to manage some smart locks using iPhones, NFC offers a more secure method for connections and authentication, an important consideration for companies and government agencies in

Review: Lumos is a Clever Smart Bike Helmet With Apple Watch-Enabled Turn Signals

Earlier this month, smart bike helmet Lumos debuted at Apple retail stores and online, leveraging technology to help make your ride safer. Outfitted with a total of 48 LEDs on the front and back in red, white, and yellow, the Lumos helmet significantly increases your visibility to drivers and pedestrians while also allowing you to signal upcoming turns. Since its Kickstarter launch, Lumos has supported bike helmet turn signals using a two-button remote mounted on the handlebars, lighting up yellow LEDs on the corresponding side of the helmet at the front and rear. A brand-new feature adds Apple Watch gesture support, letting you calibrate the system to detect bicycle arm signals based on watch orientation and automatically turn on the left or right signals on the helmet accordingly. My wife Laura is an avid cyclist, so she was a good test subject for the Lumos helmet, which she has taken out on several group rides over the past few weeks. She came away impressed with some of the helmet's features and the comforting feeling of being more visible as it became darker in the evening, but other aspects still need some tweaking. Installation Mounting the turn signal remote is a relatively simple affair, using a pair of rubber rings to wrap around the handlebars and secure the remote base, and then the remote itself simply twists onto the base to lock it in. It's an easy installation process that fits a variety of handlebar diameters, although if you've already got a headlight and bike computer mounted on your handlebars you might find yourself running out of room to

Linksys Aims to Fill Apple's AirPort Void With Cheaper Dual-Band Velop Mesh Wi-Fi System

Last Thursday, Apple announced the discontinuation of its AirPort lineup of wireless routers, marking the end of an era that at times saw the company push the boundaries of wireless networking. Apple says it will continue selling the existing AirPort products until supplies are gone, which leaves the Velop mesh system from Linksys as the sole Wi-Fi router product sold by Apple. Linksys debuted its tri-band Velop system last year, and Apple began selling it around the beginning of this year, priced at $350 for a two-pack or $480 for a three-pack. With a mesh Wi-Fi system, multiple nodes work seamlessly together to provide greater coverage than a traditional access point. The tri-band Velop system is a bit pricey compared to some other options on the market, but it works well, providing strong coverage throughout your home and offering features such as guest networking, parental controls, and device prioritization. Original tri-band (left) and new dual-band (right) Velop systems from Linksys While the original Linksys Velop remains a highly rated router option and Apple's third-party system of choice, the fairly high price can be a barrier to entry, and so users who have so far held back from taking the plunge into mesh Wi-Fi networking may be interested to know that Linksys today is launching its lower-cost dual-band Velop system. I've had a brief opportunity to try out the new dual-band system, and while it doesn't have quite the high-end specs of the original tri-band system, it still appears to be a solid option for many users as long as your house isn't too

Review: Schlage Sense Remains a Top Option Among HomeKit-Enabled Smart Locks

Following my review of the Yale Assure Lock SL deadbolt with HomeKit support last month, a number of readers highlighted the Schlage Sense as another satisfactory HomeKit option worth considering. As it turns out, I've been using the Schlage Sense on my front door for quite some time, so it's worth taking a look at how Schlage's offering has held up over time. The Schlage Sense deadbolt was one of the first HomeKit-enabled smart locks, launching over two years ago, yet it remains one of the most popular smart locks on the market among Apple users. In fact, Apple continues to feature the Schlage Sense in its online and retail stores, although it is currently listed as unavailable for both online orders and in-store pickup even though it remains on the shelves at some Apple retail stores. Unlike the Assure Lock SL that comes in only a single design (albeit with a few color options), the Schlage Sense comes in two different styles that fit in with many of Schlage's other hardware products: a classic Camelot style and a more modern Century style, with Matte Black, Satin Nickel, and Aged Bronze finishes available depending on style. I've been using a Camelot-style Schlage Sense on my front door, paired with a matching non-locking Camelot doorknob to ensure I can't be accidentally locked out of my house due to a locked doorknob. The pairing looks good together, with the Camelot style offering a hint of elegance even with a prominent keypad. Installation Installation of the Schlage Sense is straightforward, and Schlage includes step-by-step directions to walk you

Toyota Brings CarPlay, Apple Watch Support, Qi Charging and More to 2019 Avalon and Corolla Hatchback

Back in January, Toyota finally announced support for CarPlay, becoming one of the last major car manufacturers to support Apple's system for accessing iPhone apps through a vehicle's infotainment system. Mazda, one of the other major holdouts, announced similar support last month. 2019 Toyota Avalon and Corolla Hatchback At its January announcement, Toyota revealed that the redesigned 2019 Avalon sedan would be the first Toyota model to include CarPlay support, with other Toyota and Lexus models adding support in the future. Several of those follow-on vehicles have since been announced, including the

Best Buy Offering Up to $350 Off MacBook Air Models

Best Buy is continuing its recent string of solid deals with a new discount offering up to $300 off select MacBook Air models, bringing the cost of the entry-level model down to just $699.99. Students and parents of students can sign up for Best Buy's Student Deals program to knock an additional $50 off on all eligible models. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Best Buy. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. 1.8 GHz Core i5 with 128 GB storage - $699.99 / $649.99 with Student Deals 1.8 GHz Core i5 with 256 GB storage - $899.99 / $849.99 with Student Deals 2.2 GHz Core i7 with 512 GB storage - $1,249.99 / $1,199.99 with Student DealsThis is likely a very short-term deal, so be sure to take advantage of it quickly if you're interested in picking up a MacBook Air. It's part of Best Buy's larger Computing Savings Event that runs through Saturday with a rotating selection of deals. Best Buy's other weekly deals are still ongoing, including up to $200 off MacBook Pro models (up to $250 off with Student Deals), discounts on iPhone 7 and 6s models, and an iPad trade-in program. And as always, head over to our full Deals Roundup for even more

Review: iDevices' Instant Switch Expands Manual Control of Your Other iDevices HomeKit Accessories

Last month, popular smart home accessory manufacturer iDevices launched Instant Switch, a Bluetooth switch that pairs with other iDevices products like outlets and switches to provide an additional point of manual control. For example, it can be paired with a hard-wired Wall Switch to provide control at another convenient place in the room without the need for wiring a second switch. Alternatively, it can be paired with a Switch or Outdoor Switch to provide convenient control of a switched outlet located in a hard to reach place behind furniture or outside. While the Instant Switch itself doesn't directly support HomeKit, it is indirectly compatible as it pairs with other iDevices products that are part of the HomeKit ecosystem. The Instant Switch runs on a CR2032 coin cell battery that lasts up to two years, and it can be mounted in a variety of configurations, including stuck anywhere you wish with an included 3M Command Strip, screwed into empty space in an existing electrical gang box, or even stuck stuck next to an existing gang box to make it look like an integral part of a multi-gang setup. Instant Switch without faceplate (left) and disassembled to access battery (right) The Instant Switch comes with a narrow white magnetic faceplate for a clean look, or you can use your own single or multiple rocker faceplate for a customized look. A built-in level in the Instant Switch makes it easy to ensure you're mounting it correctly. Installation is simple, and iDevices includes several parts to help with the process. An included manual walks you through