Your iPhone is now a hotel key too: Photo: Starwood Hotels
The dream of replacing all the pieces of plastic in your wallet with your smartphone got a little closer to reality today as Starwood hotels announced that its new keyless entry system – SPG Keyless – is rolling out to hotels worldwide.
Guests at Aloft, Element, and W Hotels around the globe can now use their iPhone and the SPG app to skip the hotel front desk altogether, walk straight to their room, and unlock it, no key required.
Ever been annoyed by the placement of light switches in your house? Is there never one around when you need it? The Avi-on Switch is a new light switch (with an associated iPhone app) that you can literally just stick onto your wall like a Post-It Note, no wiring required.
These Astro 38s are easy to pair, last for hours, sound amazing. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
I typically try out a new product for review without reading any of the documentation or media relations stuff that the folks who send us such things want us to look at. I want to have as pristine an experience as possible. Sometimes that leads to little surprises.
I put these new Astro Gaming A38 Bluetooth headphones on my head last week, and paired them with my iPhone to play a little music. After a few songs of various genres, I stopped the tunes and took these off my noggin. I suddenly realized that my girlfriend had been blending up a protein shake in the nearby kitchen. It was surprising because I honestly could not hear it with the headphones on my head and playing music at a relatively low volume – and our blender is really loud.
While they’re great for music, these are also fantastic sounding headphones that help you immerse yourself into any game on your iPad or iPhone, cutting down on the auditory distractions from the outside world when they’re powered up.
This speaker charges in minutes, plays for hours. Photo: Blueshift
A few years ago, Portland resident Sam Beck built a bike-powered speaker that wouldn’t cut off when he stopped pedaling at stoplights. He accomplished such a feat with an amazing new technology: supercapacitors.
Instead of stopping there, however, Beck decided to bring his vision to the portable bluetooth speaker market, and his company — Blueshift — was born. Crowd-funded and open sourced, these gorgeous bamboo speakers charge in minutes and sound amazing for hours. The original unit, called Helium, is a big, bold bamboo speaker that packs a ton of sound.
Beck is releasing a second generation speaker called Hydrogen on crowd-funding site Crowd Supply. This new boombox is smaller and a little less loud, but it’s the same quality and design as its larger sibling, and a little less pricey.
Part of the appeal, for Beck, of figuring out this entirely new way of powering a speaker was the inherent challenge of doing something that no one else had.
“It seemed like such a good idea,” he told Cult of Mac over the phone, “I wondered why no one else was doing it. I saw that there was another way to do things that no one else was doing.”
Check out the video below for more details on this gorgeous high-tech portable speaker cabinet.
Many of us use a Bluetooth keyboard with our Mac or our iPad, but using the same keyboard with multiple devices can be a real pain in the neck, since Bluetooth doesn’t elegantly let you pair one accessory with multiple devices.
For a little while now, Logitech has been trying to massage away that pain with a series of keyboards that can switch between being paired with a Mac and iOS device, but Logitech’s new Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480 makes it easier than ever. And it has a built-in stand for your iPad or iPhone to boot.
This post is brought to you by Creative Labs, creator of the Sound Blaster Roar.
The Sound Blaster Roar is the epitome of audio quality, features and great looks combined into one device.
Musicality, accurate timbre, tonality, with deep, tight bass within a portable Bluetooth wireless speaker shouldn’t be a pipe dream. Creative Labs boasts of defying these laws of acoustic engineering with their Sound Blaster Roar.
Their innovative acoustic chamber design allows the Roar to adopt an impressive five-driver speaker design, which includes two high-performance amplifiers and a built-in subwoofer. Beyond the audio quality prowess, this Red Dot design award-winning speaker also includes a whole host of nifty features, doubling up as a portable battery bank, MP3 player, voice recorder and a speakerphone.
The tiny Tile really is small and light enough to use anywhere. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac
The Tile is a tiny plastic widget that never gets lost. In theory anyway. It talks to your iPhone via low-power Bluetooth and lets you track the Tile itself, and anything the Tile is attached to.
I’ve been using one for the last couple of weeks, and it works just fine. But so far it doesn’t seem to be much more useful than one of those keychain finders that beeps when you whistle. Why? Because to be truly useful, the Tile needs to reach a critical mass of users.
Apple’s iBeacon technology has potentially massive implications across a range of areas — many of them having been demonstrated over the past year.
Up until now, however, Apple has handled only the software side of the equation with the aid of the microlocation technology found in iOS. That may be set to change with new first-party iBeacon hardware, for which FCC filings have just been uncovered by electronics company Securifi.
Registered as the “Apple iBeacon” and with a model number of A1573, the document describes how the technology was tested in collaboration with the Chinese company Audix Technology, between April 30 and May 13 this year. The beacon in question (at least in the case of the model tested) is USB-powered, has a diameter of 5.46’, and a working frequency of up to 2.4GHz, which is standard for Bluetooth.
Whether the weather is wet or dry, we've got you covered this week. Waterproof headphones and speakers, and some nonslip bike pedal covers, will let you carry on in the rain or in the lake. And a flash-booster, replacement keycaps and a big twisty knob will keep you entertained indoors. Don’t forget your umbrella (or sunglasses)!
Got slippery bike pedals? You need Grippine, a silicone sleeve that slips onto any old platform pedal and sticks to your soles. These colorful covers stretch over the pedal and stop it from getting slippery in wet or dry weather. They’re also soft on shoes, but I’d like to test some to see how long they last. €26
AirPlay – who doesn’t love it? It always, always works, never dropping out or requiring that you set the speaker so close to the wireless router that you may as well have just used a cable. And who won’t love the Myro:Air, an AirPlay speaker whose only fault is that colon in the middle of its name? Even that is a totally cool and positive thing, because we all have a colon inside us, right?
The Myro:Air packs optical output, two-way AirPlay control, RCA outputs and even an RS-232 port for connecting up to – well, anything. It’s also pretty reasonably priced, as these things go. Oh, and the thing looks frikkin' awesome. $600
The pop-up flash on your DSLR is only good for one thing — triggering bigger, better flashes. But what if you really want to use the weak little unit that Canon or Nikon grafted on there as an afterthought? Then you need the Rogue Safari Pop-Up Flash Booster from ExpoImaging.
It’s a 2-ounce polycarbonate widget that clips into your hotshoe and puts a lens in front of the pop-up flash unit, concentrating the beam for up to 8x more light (you’ll need to use it with a lens of 100mm or longer thanks to the narrow, concentrated beam). $35
A few years and 90 degrees at a time, Apple is slowly moving the iPad’s speakers into a spot where you can hear them. Right now they are located on the bottom edge of the iPads Air and mini, but the SpeakerSlide skips an evolutionary step and points those stereo speakers forward.
The polycarbonate peripheral sticks onto the bottom of the iPad, by shoving a proboscis into the Lightning port, and then reflects the sound forward. If you want to charge the iPad while using the SpeakerSlide, you just pop out its plug and thread the cable through the hole. It’s ingenious, and has an advantage over other options because it works in stereo. $20
Protect your camera filters with the new Filter Nest from MindShift, a two-part nylon case that mounts on your belt so you’ll look really cool. Really, really cool. The padded, zippered outer shell protects the removable inner, which has color-coded slots for your filters. The design lets it mount to several of MindShift’s camera bags, but the belt-mounted option is both the easiest and – by far – the coolest-looking option. $45
The best keyboard I’ve ever used is the keyboard I’m typing this post on right now. It’s the Filco Majestouch with Cherry Blue keyswitches, and it clicks and clacks reliably every morning and every afternoon of every day. But apparently – eventually – the letters wear off the keys, and some folks don’t like that. This replacement set of keycaps (the plastic parts you hit with your fingers) is a “double-shot” set, which means the white lettering runs all the way through the plastic, like the letters in a stick of rock.
The caps are also taller, heavier and rounder than the standard caps, and will only fit Filco keyboards. £39
It’s a knob! A $100 knob that turns your iPad or iPhone or even your Mac into a lean, mean, dual-output DJing machine. The DJ Connect packs a pair of line-level RCA outputs on the back and a mini headphone jack on the front. Hook it up to your iDevice via Lightning or your Mac via USB and fire up Algoriddim’s djay app, and you can cue up tracks through the headphones and blast them out the back through the line output. That big knob on top lets you control the headphone volume. $100
It used to be that if you saw some ill-kempt man in the street muttering to himself, you could be sure you’d just seen a crazy person. Now, in the age of Bluetooth headsets and in-line microphones, you can never know. So how do you spot a nutter? That’s easy: transistor radios. Next time you see the local nutjob cruise by on his bike with like 50 rear-view mirrors on the bars and his dog in a basket, check to see if he has a battery-powered tranny on his dash.
What he won’t have is a Divoom Voombox-Ongo, which is a Bluetooth speaker for sane people: a water-resistant, shockproof speaker with an eight-hour battery life, two 1.5-inch drivers and an included bike mount. $70
Even if you sweat like Steve Ballmer working himself into a developer-devoted lather, you won’t break the BlueAnt Pump HD headphones. These waterproof Bluetooth buds wrap over your ears and play for up to eight hours in even the wettest conditions, and on-ear controls let you leave the iPhone safe in a pocket. $130
Old versus new: Logitech takes several steps backward with its next-gen Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac
Logitech’s updated Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad Air replaced its predecessor mere months after the original’s launch. The most obvious difference between the two is the flip-out hinge that joins the keyboard to the iPad like a cover to a book, but in reality the two devices are completely different.
Is the new one better? In one way yes. In others? Nope.