Belkin releases long-anticipated Thunderbolt Express Dock accessory

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Date: Tuesday, April 30th, 2013, 07:00
Category: Accessory, Hardware, News

It took over a year following its announcement to get here, but it’s finally on the market.

Per AppleInsider, the Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock, first announced in January of 2012, is now available for purchase for US$299, more than a year after the Mac accessory was unveiled.

The docking station allows users to have instant access to 8 ports by connecting just one high-speed Lightning cable to their Mac. The Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock includes:
- One Gigabit Ethernet port

- One Firewire 800 port

- One Thunderbolt port for daisy-chaining up to five additional Thunderbolt devices

- One 3.5 millimeter headphone output jack

- One 3.5 millimeter audio input jack

- Three USB 3.0 ports with max data transfer of 2.5Gbps

- Cable management channel


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The Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock is compatible with all recent Macs equipped with Thunderbolt ports, including the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Belkin boasts that the high speed of Thunderbolt allows users to download a high-definition feature film in 30 seconds, or sync a year’s worth of continuous music in 10 minutes.

The Thunderbolt Express Dock was first announced by Belkin at the Consumer Electronics Show in early 2012. At the time, the company said the accessory would become available last September, but that launch date was missed.

Since the original unveiling, the hardware has been upgraded to include three USB 3.0 ports. The originally announced hardware featured USB 2.0 ports running at slower speeds.

But the shipping accessory has also lost an HDMI out port, which was also initially planned to be included with the docking station.

If you’ve ordered a Thunderbolt Express Dock and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple looking to expand Siri, Maps integration with upcoming car models

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Date: Tuesday, April 30th, 2013, 06:30
Category: iOS, iPhone, Rumor

Make no mistake about it: Apple wants Siri and its mapping program in your car.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple plans to move aggressively into the in-car integration space later this year, according to multiple people familiar with the initiative. The company is working with car makers to deeply embed iOS’s Maps and Siri services into cars, according to these people. While companies sell accessories to place iPhone and other iOS devices on car dashboards for easy access to Apple Maps’ turn-by-turn navigation, Apple wants to break into the space with its own solutions…

According to sources, Apple is working with car makers on updated versions of car center consoles that could attach to iOS devices like the iPhone. Specifically, an iPhone could be plugged into a car and an optimized, redesigned version of Apple Maps will appear on the car’s built-in display instead of a proprietary GPS system found in many cars.

Sources have described this as a feature akin to a video-out or mirrored display representation of the iPhone’s Maps app onto the bigger screens included with most modern vehicles. This is unlike the new Volkswagen iBeetle car that simply holds an iPhone running a third-party app.

With the iPhone connected, Siri would be used to control the Maps functions and other iOS features.

Last year, Apple announced a new “Eyes-Free” Siri service that allows users to connect their iPhone to their car and use Siri with the iPhone’s display turned off. Apple announced at WWDC that it is working with car makers on Eyes-Free, including BMW, Toyota, Audi, Honda, and Land Rover. It is likely that Apple is bolstering its existing partnerships with these same car makers to take advantage of the new Maps and Siri car-integrated offerings.

While the new car functionality is based on technologies in iOS 7, sources warned that a public release could be potentially be far off. Roadblocks that Apple will need to overcome before the feature launches to the public include more extensive car-based testing, improvements to Apple Maps and Siri infrastructures, and deals with car makers. It is uncertain if Apple plans to debut this new in-car integration at WWDC or at its iPhone hardware event later this year. Because of the processing power that such integration could require, it is likely that the feature will be exclusive to recent iOS hardware.

Apple’s interest in cars goes beyond future iOS integration. Apple’s Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue, who happens to now be in charge of Siri and Maps, has long had an interest in cars. At Apple’s 2011 Worldwide Developers Conference, the executive demonstrated the iCloud Photo Stream feature by taking a picture of a toy car featured in a Pixar movie. Additionally, Mr. Cue sits on Ferrari’s Board of Directors. Earlier this year, Ferrari began equipping one of its car models with iPad minis.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs shared privately that he considered taking on Detroit with a car design of his own. Patents in recent days reveal that Apple is interested in creating software to make unlocking vehicles and findings cars in parking lots easier.

Earlier this year, Apple posted a series of job listings on its website related to iOS device integration with car stereo systems. Apple is seeking Software Quality Assurance testers for stereo compatibility with iOS products. These job listings, which also cover creating software for car integration, require expertise in Bluetooth product testing. This may mean that the aforementioned upcoming features could rely on Bluetooth rather than wired connections.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.