Gift Guide 2014: AudioEngine B2 Premium Bluetooth Speaker

Posted by:
Date: Monday, December 15th, 2014, 11:19
Category: Accessory, Bluetooth, Hardware, music, Review

AudioEngine B2 Premium Bluetooth Speaker

If you’re looking for a compact Bluetooth speaker I recommend the AudioEngine B2 ($299). The B2 sounds great and has better range than other speakers I’ve tested because of its antenna and specially tuned transmitter. In a two-story, mostly stucco and brick house my iPhone 6 easily reached the B2 speaker on the second floor when I was on the first.

The B2 includes the aptX audio decoder and a 24-bit digital-to-analog converter (DAC) for a beautiful, warm sound. The hand-built walnut cabinet is luxurious and dual front slots really pump the bass. I just wish that it had a battery so that I could toss it in a bag and drag it to the beach.

You can purchase the B2 Bluetooth Speaker in walnut (pictured), zebrawood or black ash from the AudioEngine website.

[Despite my aforementioned problems with Apple’s Bluetooth stack, I was still able to keep a reliable connection to the B2 speaker for over an hour. And to be clear, I think that that’s Apple’s problem and not AudioEngine’s.]

A picture of the backplane after the jump.

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How Apple blew it with Bluetooth

Posted by:
Date: Monday, December 15th, 2014, 08:32
Category: Accessory, Bluetooth, iOS 8, iPhone

How Apple blew it with Bluetooth - Jason O'GradyI use Bluetooth every day.

Bluetooth was rock solid on my iPhone 5s running iOS 7.x. I never thought about about it. It just worked. Every day.

Now I hate all of my Bluetooth gear.

Bluetooth is crappy with my iPhone 6 and iOS 8.1.x. Every one of my Bluetooth devices cuts out, drops out or starts warbling within a couple minutes of use.

After upgrading to an iPhone 6 (and iOS 8.1.2):

  • my BT speaker starts cutting out after a minute or two of streaming
  • my BT earbuds drop out after a song or two, or during app switching
  • my BT headset disconnects one minute into every call

While this is my specific story, I’m not alone. Other people are having trouble with Bluetooth as well, especially with the newest iPhone hardware and iOS 8. I don’t use Bluetooth in my vehicle, but that’s another problem spot for iOS 8 users. The Apple discussion forums are littered with complaints about the iOS 8 Bluetooth stack and some users are having trouble with it on Yosemite (OS X 10.10) too.

I was hoping that iOS 8.1.2 would fix things with Bluetooth but the update did nothing to address my specific issues.

I’ve spoken with several OEMs that are patently furious with Apple over the Bluetooth fiasco, but most won’t speak out publicly for fear of losing access, distribution, etc. The hardware vendors probably have Dan Riccio and Craig Federighi on speed dial because Apple’s poor Bluetooth performance is making their products look bad.

Further reading:

(Blue tooth icon: TrySoda)

Apple releases Safari 8.0.2 update

Posted by:
Date: Monday, December 15th, 2014, 04:32
Category: News, security, Software

Apple_Safari

It’s not a huge update, but it helps.

On Friday, Apple released version 8.0.2 of its Safari web browser.

The new version, a 53.8 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Fixes an issue that could prevent history from syncing across devices if iCloud Drive is not on.
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- Fixes an issue that could prevent a saved password from being autofilled after two devices are added to iCloud Keychain.

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Rumor: A9 processor production underway, Samsung could handle 100% of orders

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Date: Friday, December 12th, 2014, 13:52
Category: Hardware, Processors, Rumor, Uncategorized

a9processor

Despite years of legal acrimony between Apple and Samsung, there’s still money to be made in processor manufacturing.

Per 9to5Mac and Korea’s Electronic Times, industry insiders have stated that Samsung Electronics began production of Apple’s A9 in the Austin plant in the US using the 14nm FinFET technology. Samsung has production lines capable of FinFET process production in Austin, US and Giheung, Korea, but began to produce A9 only in Austin as it is in the initial stage.

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Robinhood financial tool launches, offers zero commission trading for iOS

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Date: Friday, December 12th, 2014, 11:52
Category: Finance, iOS, News, Software

robinhoodicon

You may love the stock market or hate it, but it’s out there and it’s worth tapping into.

And if you’ve got a handy iOS app to help you do it, so much the better.

The Robinhood app has surfaced for iOS, complete with zero commission for U.S. listed securities.

The app is designed to be intuitive to anyone who uses it. Drag your finger across interactive graphs to view historical share prices. Swipe left and right between stocks in your watchlist. Quickly tell when the markets are open and closed with simple color schemes. When you’re ready to purchase a stock, just swipe up to buy.

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Microsoft acquires HockeyApp development tool, incorporates new iOS and Android SDKs into Visual Studio Online services

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Date: Friday, December 12th, 2014, 11:22
Category: Android, iOS, News, Software

hockeyapp

It’s hard to say what Microsoft will do with it, but it could be interesting.

According to a blog post over on the Microsoft Developer Network, Microsoft has acquired HockeyApp, a class leading service for mobile crash analytics and app distribution for developers building apps on iOS, Android and Windows Phone. The company stated that it will integrate HockeyApp into the Application Insights service in Visual Studio Online to expand Application Insights support for iOS and Android.

Based in Stuttgart, Germany, HockeyApp offers a range of mobile development services enabling developers to develop, distribute, and beta test great mobile applications.

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Cellular-equipped iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3 units hit Chinese marketplace

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Date: Thursday, December 11th, 2014, 15:15
Category: Uncategorized

ipadair2silver

If you’re in the Chinese marketplace, you’ll like this.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Wednesday announced cellular-capable iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 models will be available in China later this week, offering support for region-specific wireless networks used by major telecoms like the world-leader China Mobile.

According to Apple’s announcement, cellular versions of the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 now on sale in China include TD-LTE and FDD-LTE, TD-SCDMA, DC-HSDPA, HSPA+ and other advanced networks. A quick check with China’s Online Apple Store shows the latest WLAN + Cellular iPads up for sale with an estimated ship time of one day.

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Iowa to become first state to launch smartphones as drivers licenses via mobile app in 2015

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Date: Thursday, December 11th, 2014, 14:30
Category: iPhone, News, Software

IA_D202_dl_fully

If you live in Iowa, you’ll soon be able to use your smartphone as your driver’s license.

Per the Des Moines Register, Iowans will soon be able to use a mobile app on their smartphones as their official driver’s license issued by the Iowa Department of Transportation.

The app, which will be provided to drivers at no additional cost, will be available sometime in 2015, DOT Director Paul Trombino told Gov. Terry Branstad during a state agency budget hearing Monday.

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T-Mobile offers cheaper family plans, other deals in promotional efforts to win marketshare

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Date: Wednesday, December 10th, 2014, 14:23
Category: iPhone, News, wireless

tmobilelogo

The wireless carrier price wars continue.

And maybe you can use it to your advantage.

Per Macworld, T-Mobile is rolling out yet another limited-time offer on wireless service, this time bringing the cost of unlimited data way down for families.

The carrier is now charging US$100 per month for two lines with unlimited 4G LTE data, down from a regular price of US$140 per month. Additional lines cost US$40 per month—same as before—and subscribers can have up to 10 total lines at this price.

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Apple holiday ship times improve for iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Retina iMac

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Date: Wednesday, December 10th, 2014, 10:30
Category: iMac, iPhone, News, retail

senoriphone6

You may be able to have that Apple device you want to give as a present arrive in time for Christmas.

Per AppleInsider, it appears Apple’s supply chain is making significant progress in catching up with demand, as all non-128GB iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models now show ship-by times of three to five days, while 5K Retina iMacs are listed as ready to ship in one to two weeks.

A quick check with the Online Apple Store confirms 16GB and 64GB iPhone 6 and 6 Plus versions in all colors are available to ship in 3-5 business days. Interestingly, all 128GB variants are showing slower 7 to 10 day ship-by dates, suggesting a shortage of high-capacity memory modules.

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