Apple subsidiary Beats has announced the Powerbeats Pro, $250 H1-powered workout-oriented headphones that dispense with all wires. Apple purchased Beats in 2014 and has incorporated some of its technologies like the W1 chip into its Powerbeats and Beats Solo3 headphones, but until now, Beats didn’t offer headphones that competed directly with AirPods.
The Powerbeats Pros aren’t entirely a surprise. As Guilherme Rambo reported for 9to5Mac last week, iOS 12.2 includes hidden images of the Powerbeats Pro headphones. However, the new headphones’ official announcement provides additional details.
The Powerbeats Pros will be available starting in May in the US and 20 other countries and come in four different colors: black, ivory, navy, and moss. The water and sweat resistant Pros are a significant step up from the existing Powerbeats because they are truly wireless in the same way AirPods are wireless. Unlike the original Powerbeats, which will continue to be available and have a wire that connects one ear to the other and wraps around your head, the Pros are independent wireless headphones that benefit from the quick connectivity afforded by the H1 chip. The Powerbeats Pro also include physical controls and charge via a Lightning connector using an AirPods-like charging case instead of the micro USB connector used in the Powerbeats model. However, unlike the latest iteration of AirPods, Powerbeats Pro do not support wireless Qi charging.
Also, the H1 chip means that the Powerbeats Pro headphones can be controlled with ‘Hey Siri’ commands. There are four sizes of headphone tips to fit a range of ear sizes, and the earhook that wraps around your ear is adjustable. Beats says that the new headphones have up to 4 hours more battery life than AirPods for a total of 9 hours of playback time, which exceeds 24 hours when charged using the case.
The Verge got early access to the Powerbeats Pro and has a hands-on review of the headphones. The assessment by Chris Welch is generally positive, and although I haven’t had the opportunity to try the Powerbeats Pros yet myself, they look like a good option for anyone for whom AirPods don’t fit well and who works out regularly. That said, at $250, the Powerbeats Pros are pricey compared to competing third-party products, so it’s worth considering other available options before purchasing the Pros.
Logitech has announced new keyboards for the 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pros that it calls the Slim Folio Pro. The keyboard cases cost less than a comparable Apple Smart Keyboard Folios and include features that Apple’s cases don’t, but Logitech’s offerings come with their own set of trade-offs.
My main Mac is a 2016 MacBook Pro, which isn’t ideal. The problem isn’t really the laptop itself, it’s that my needs have changed. You see, in 2016 I was commuting to downtown Chicago every day and I wanted a portable Mac for working in Xcode and other tasks on the go.
Now, I work from home and my MacBook Pro sits in clamshell mode most of the time. It’s handy to have the MacBook to take with me when I need it, but that’s far less frequent than it used to be. Instead, my Mac drives a 27” LG 4K display, is connected to Ethernet, speakers, a Luna Display dongle, my podcasting microphone, and various other peripherals I need from time to time.
The trouble with the setup is that I quickly ran out of USB-C ports even though my MacBook Pro has four. I’ve tried several different configurations to streamline my setup, but none were quite right. Now though, I’ve finally found a solution that comes closest to meeting my needs and has the added benefit of working well with my iPad Pro. With a couple of minor caveats, the HyperDrive Slim 8-in-1 USB-C Hub is the best solution I’ve tried.
Apple today updated its online store with the addition of three new products: Smart Battery Cases for the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR. Every version of the case costs $129, regardless of iPhone size. Each new case is available in both Black and White, and the designs resemble that of the previous Apple Smart Battery Cases, with a silicone exterior and a large bulge on the back to accommodate the battery.
The Smart Battery Case is compatible with Qi chargers, so you can still take advantage of wireless charging while using the case. These are the quoted charge estimates for each case:
- XS: 33 hours talk time, 21 hours Internet use, and 25 hours video playback
- XS Max: 37 hours talk time, 20 hours Internet use, and 25 hours video playback
- XR: 39 hours talk time, 22 hours Internet use, and 27 hours video playback
In the past, Apple hasn't made Smart Battery Cases available for Plus-sized phones, so it's great to see that now, regardless of your iPhone size, you can get a case that raises battery life to meet the needs of heavy use.
Earlier this week we rounded up all of the important Apple-related announcements from the first couple days of CES. Some of the highlights were major TV manufacturers adding AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support, the first HomeKit doorbell, and accessories to complement Apple's latest devices. If you haven't seen it yet, be sure to check out that first roundup.
As much ground as we covered in that initial piece, the convention has continued on these past few days with plenty more announcements worth noting. Here are more of the top accessories, HomeKit devices, and other interesting products announced at CES.
Apple may not be exhibiting at CES, but its presence is felt nonetheless. More than ever, Apple’s technologies like HomeKit and AirPlay are showing up in third-party hardware. What’s different this year is the first appearance of Apple video content on third-party devices in what is undoubtedly the first step in the company’s emerging video strategy, which breaks from the traditionally tight integration between Apple hardware and software.
As in past years, the MacStories team is sifting through the hundreds of press releases to find the announcements that are most relevant to our readers. CES has only just begun, and we’ve already seen a long list of product announcements that affect iOS and Mac users. Below are the highlights of those early announcements. We’ll follow up with another roundup later this week collecting additional products showcased at CES.
It’s worth noting that CES announcements rarely indicate the countries in which new products will be available, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for additional details if you see something that interests you.
iOS devices and Macs sit at the center of our computing lives, often accompanied by a host of accessories. And each year brings a few standout new accessories that extend what our favorite devices can do in meaningful ways – 2018 was no exception. From dongles and hubs to cameras and headphones, the MacStories team tried a wide range of gadgets this year that made an impact on our daily lives. Below is our favorite, along with our runners-up.
Best New Accessory
John: There are few aspects of my computing life more important than a reliable, fast connection to the Internet. There are several good options available when it comes to WiFi mesh networking systems, but it’s Netgear’s Orbi Outdoor WiFi Satellite that makes its system stand out and has added the kind of flexibility to my setup this year that wasn’t possible before.
Federico and I both use Netgear’s Orbi WiFi router and indoor satellite to blanket our homes in WiFi. I started with an Orbi router and one satellite. The router sits in my basement where our Comcast service enters the house, the satellite sits in the kitchen, and recently, I added an Orbi Wall-Plug on the second floor. That combination of Orbi devices alone has been enough to blanket the interior of my house in fast WiFi and handle around 40 connected devices when my entire family is home.
This past January at CES, Netgear announced it was adding to the Orbi lineup with the Orbi Outdoor Satellite, an extender for the Orbi router designed to withstand the elements. Admittedly, there’s probably no one more susceptible to the promise of outdoor WiFi than me sitting at home staring out at the snow while reading roundups of CES gear. Still, I waited until the device was released and reviewed before finally giving in early this past summer.
Jason Snell tested a pre-production unit of the Brydge keyboard for the 2018 iPad Pro (in the 12.9" flavor) and it sounds like this will be the iPad keyboard worth waiting for:
To attach the iPad to the Brydge 12.9 Pro, you slide it into two hinged clips covered with rubber padding. As with previous models, it takes a little practice to get the feel right. My main concern once the new iPad Pro was unveiled was if Brydge would be able to design a clip small enough to only cover the iPad’s much smaller bezels that also held the iPad securely. I’m happy to report that the answer is yes—there’s enough room and once the iPad is attached, the connection feels solid.
The clips are the same size front and back, meaning you can remove the iPad, flip it around, and insert it back into the clips to use the Brydge as a “movie mode” stand, or even fold it down and use it as a double-thick, double-weight tablet. (I don’t really see the appeal, but Brydge says that some customers requested it.)
In a nice touch, the Brydge 12.9 Pro comes with a slight indentation at the bottom of the wrist-rest space (below where a trackpad would be, if it had a trackpad). This creates a natural lifting point to open the “laptop”, which was sometimes tricky on the previous models.
Once I was able to get my hands on a functioning unit of the original Brydge keyboard, I fell in love with the idea of turning the iPad into a "convertible" computer that could work both as a laptop and a tablet. I later upgraded to the second-generation Brydge keyboard and used it until I upgraded to the latest iPad Pro in November. Products like the Brydge keyboard tie into the iPad's hybrid nature – the multiplicity of input systems and work contexts that make it, as Jason also notes, more flexible than a traditional laptop or desktop computer. I was concerned that the smaller bezels of the 2018 iPad Pro were going to be an issue for a redesigned Brydge keyboard, but it seems like the company has not only worked around the iPad's new design constraints, but even improved upon previous generations of the keyboard case. I'm going to pre-order one as soon as possible.
In October, shortly before Apple began taking preorders for the iPhone XR, an Apple press release surfaced in Canada that mentioned a clear case for the phone. However, when the XR went on sale, the clear case was nowhere to be found on Apple’s website or in its retail stores.
Today, the case of the missing clear case has been solved. As MacRumors first reported, the iPhone XR clear case went on sale today on Apple.com for $39. Apple describes the case as ‘thin, light and easy to grip.’ The company also says that the case includes a scratch-resistant coating inside and out and works with wireless Qi chargers. Although third-party cases have been available since the iPhone XR was released, this is the first XR case offered by Apple.
Also, 9to5Mac separately reports that Apple is selling an 18W USB-C charger for the latest iPad Pros which costs $29. Until today, the 18W charger was only available in the box with a new iPad Pro.