CES: Bluetooth SIG’s Low Energy Audio Slows Battery Drain

At CES 2020, the non-profit standards organization Bluetooth Special Interest Group announced that LE (Low Energy) Audio would be incorporated into its technology, improving a standard signal’s ability to manage and share wireless audio streams between devices — without stressing the batteries. In fact, since 2012, Bluetooth has incorporated LE features, dubbed Bluetooth Smart and BLE, to allow wearables and sensors to stay connected and minimize battery drain. But it has had no impact on wireless audio devices, which LE Audio hopes to remedy. Continue reading CES: Bluetooth SIG’s Low Energy Audio Slows Battery Drain

All About You: CES Products Highlight Personal Experiences

The display of Sony’s 360 Reality Audio at CES 2020 just might summarize the entire show: a personalized experience in a 360-degree spherical sound field, exactly as intended by artists and creators. Listeners optimize Sony’s object-based spatial audio technology with an app that captures an image and then analyzes their ears. With the app connected to one of the select new Sony headphones and a premium music service such as Deezer, nugs.net, and TIDAL they will hear individual instruments, vocals, and even the audience placed in the sound field. Continue reading All About You: CES Products Highlight Personal Experiences

Sony Readies Launch of Immersive 360 Reality Audio Tech

Sony wants listeners to feel like they’re having a live music experience even when listening to a recording. The company just announced plans to release its immersive listening technology, 360 Reality Audio, this fall. After debuting it at CES in Las Vegas, Sony is ready to move forward with the release, which will include around 1,000 tracks to start. Listeners will be able to access 360 Reality Audio songs through the Android and iOS apps of music streaming services such as Amazon Music HD, Deezer, nugs.net and Tidal

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Consumers Are Adopting Smartwatches and Fitness Bands

Consumers around the world are warming to wearables, including activity trackers, fitness bands and smartwatches. IDC reports that the global wearables market increased more than 31 percent during Q4 2018, representing a new record of 59.3 million units. Total shipments of 172.2 million units for 2018 mark a 27.5 percent jump over the previous year (although IDC now includes ‘hearables’ such as headphones and earbuds in its calculations). Apple led the charge with 16.2 million devices shipped in Q4 2018, 10.4 million of which were Apple Watches. Continue reading Consumers Are Adopting Smartwatches and Fitness Bands

Amazon, Apple Ink Deal to Directly Sell More Apple Products

Amazon inked a deal with Apple to sell more of the tech giant’s products, including the new iPad Pro, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, Apple Watch Series 4, and its Beats headphone line. Amazon will begin listing those products — from Apple-authorized resellers only — in the next few weeks in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan and India. Before this deal, Amazon already directly sold MacBook laptops, Beats headphones and a few other Apple devices. Other products were only available through its third-party resellers. Continue reading Amazon, Apple Ink Deal to Directly Sell More Apple Products

Nintendo Plans New Version of Switch Hybrid Game Console

To increase sales of its Switch game console, Nintendo plans to launch a new version by the second half of 2019. When Switch debuted in March 2017, sales soared. Although they are still robust, they’re losing steam enough to prompt Nintendo to prep a second version that will, it hopes, keep the console competitive. According to sources, Nintendo is still contemplating what hardware and software to include in the next version. One possibility is an improved display, which is currently a lower-end LCD. Continue reading Nintendo Plans New Version of Switch Hybrid Game Console

Microsoft Introduces Updated Surface PCs, New Headphones

At a New York City event, Microsoft unveiled updated Surface Pro, Surface Laptop and Surface Studio computers, and debuted Surface-branded wireless headphones with Cortana capabilities. Microsoft is one of several big tech companies holding hardware-related events this fall; Apple held its smartphone reveal in September and Google will hold its event on October 9. The Microsoft event mainly showed off updated existing products and made it clear the company is committed to manufacturing its own computers. Continue reading Microsoft Introduces Updated Surface PCs, New Headphones

Apple Could Push Wearables, EU Okays Shazam Acquisition

Apple, which has evolved from a PC company to an iPhone company, is searching for its “next big thing.” One WSJ journalist believes a clue to what it might be came from chief executive Tim Cook’s revelation that the Apple Watch and AirPods generated $10 billion in revenue over the last four quarters. The company’s wearables sales are growing, even as smartphone and PC sales level off, and IDC said Apple is the wearables market leader, with 17 percent of the global market. Meanwhile, the European Union has approved Apple’s purchase of Shazam, which should fortify the company’s music ambitions. Continue reading Apple Could Push Wearables, EU Okays Shazam Acquisition

Alexa Support Comes to Devices From Toshiba, Sony, Others

Toshiba revealed that many of its OLED, 4K and Full HD Smart Range TV sets will respond to Alexa voice control starting next year. Via Alexa, consumers will be able to change the channel or volume, offer movie recommendations, read the news or launch more than 45,000 Alexa skills. Toshiba also introduced its first Android TV, a 55-inch model, with Google Assistant voice, which became available last fall, to control smart home devices and the TV volume, search for movies, and launch apps. Bose, Marshall and Sony are among those also introducing Alexa-enabled products. Continue reading Alexa Support Comes to Devices From Toshiba, Sony, Others

Apple to Roll Out Higher-End AirPods, Other Audio Products

Apple is planning to introduce higher-end AirPods, a next-gen HomePod and studio-quality over-ear headphones as early as 2019, say sources. With regard to the new AirPod, which will likely be priced more than the current earbuds’ $159, Apple is trying to increase the range that it can work away from an iPhone or iPad, and is adding noise-cancellation and water resistance against rain and sweat. A wireless charging case compatible with the upcoming AirPower charger is also in the works. Continue reading Apple to Roll Out Higher-End AirPods, Other Audio Products

Apple Closing Loophole That Lets Authorities Hack iPhones

Since Apple’s publicized showdown with the FBI following the San Bernardino shooting in 2015, after the company refused to unlock a suspected killer’s iPhone, law enforcement agencies have been turning to third parties in order to access information from iPhones. Now Apple has indicated an upcoming software update, designed to enhance security, will block access to an iPhone’s Lightning port one hour after it is locked. Some authorities believe the update also impacts their ability to access phone data in criminal investigations, which could reignite the privacy debate that followed San Bernardino. Continue reading Apple Closing Loophole That Lets Authorities Hack iPhones

Riding AirPod Success, Apple to Debut High-End Headphones

Following the success of Apple’s AirPod earphones, the tech giant is planning another music-centric product with a push into the high-end headphones market. This would potentially compete with its own Beats by Dre brand, which Apple acquired in 2014 for $3 billion. According to people familiar with the product’s development (Apple reps declined to comment), Apple is working on wireless, noise-canceling, over-ear headphones for launch at the end of 2018 unless ongoing development challenges push back the release. Continue reading Riding AirPod Success, Apple to Debut High-End Headphones

Google and Lenovo Intro First Standalone Daydream Headset

Google teamed with Lenovo to launch a new standalone VR headset with specialized cameras that intends to reach beyond gaming. The new Lenovo Mirage Solo, on display at CES this week, features VR180 cameras designed to encourage users to capture 360-degree video. Google hopes this will help ramp up the current lack of VR content. The headset runs Daydream and is designed to interact with Google services such as YouTube and digital maps. The Mirage Solo touts displays that do not blur during user movement, and does not require a PC or smartphone. It is expected to ship by Q2 2018 for less than $400. Continue reading Google and Lenovo Intro First Standalone Daydream Headset

CTA: 170 Million to Purchase Tech Gifts This Holiday Season

According to the Consumer Technology Association, 170 million people (68 percent of U.S. adults) plan to purchase tech gifts this holiday shopping season. While the CTA’s annual report indicates tech spending is expected to only increase 1 percent to $96.8 billion during Q4, it still represents a new record following a strong 2016. “On the surface, it sounds pretty weak, but we saw 3.8 percent holiday growth in 2016,” said Steve Koenig, CTA’s senior director of market research. “That’s a tough act to follow. It’s hard to post 3 percent to 4 percent growth rates year after year.” Headphones, drones, VR headsets, 4K TVs, laptops and smartphones are among the products predicted to be top-sellers. Continue reading CTA: 170 Million to Purchase Tech Gifts This Holiday Season

Netflix to Support Dolby Atmos Surround Sound for Streaming

Netflix plans to support Dolby Atmos surround sound, adding a premium spatial audio format to its existing 4K and HDR technology for images. Dolby Atmos, which debuted in 2012, is not only featured in movie theaters around the world but has been adopted by home theater systems from Denon, Pioneer and others. Microsoft now supports Dolby Atmos with the Xbox One, as do many manufacturers of sound bars and headphones. Hundreds of 2016 LG OLED TV owners are also now clamoring for Dolby Atmos support. Continue reading Netflix to Support Dolby Atmos Surround Sound for Streaming

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