Marshall’s tiny new smart speaker will blast you with huge sound

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marshall
This stylish little box packs big sound.
Photo: Zound Industries

One of the most iconic brands in rock ‘n’ roll amplification is ready to give Apple’s HomePod some fresh competition.

Zound Industries unveiled its newest portable speaker today, the Marshall Uxbridge Voice. It comes with Bluetooth and Spotify Connect, plus you can control it with your voice using Alexa. Best of all, though, this thing is really freaking loud.

Bag HomePod for under $200, MacBook Air for $749 [Deals & Steals]

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DS-Mar-2-20
And get Apple's official Clear Case for iPhone 11 at 18% less.
Photos: Apple, Twelve South

Apple’s brilliant HomePod speaker is back to its lowest price yet. Best Buy is matching its big Black Friday discount by slashing $100 off the usual price for a limited time only.

That’s just one of the awesome offers in today’s Deals & Steals roundup. Other highlights include:

Find all these and more in today’s Deals & Steals roundup.

Apple ‘discussing’ plans to allow third-party browsers, email apps to be defaults on iOS

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close all tabs
You might not be stuck with Safari for much longer.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple is finally “considering” giving users the ability to set third-party web browsers and email clients as defaults on iOS, according to a new Bloomberg report. It could also open up HomePod to rival music streaming services.

iPhone and iPad owners can already install third-party alternatives, but iOS currently does not allow them to override Apple’s built-in services. That could change as Apple faces increasing pressure over the tight control it imposes over its mobile devices.

Apple shipped 2.6 million HomePods during all-important holiday quarter

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Apple debuts HomePod in India at its cheapest price yet
HomePod is still a bit player in the smart speaker market.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Apple sold just 2.6 million HomePods into the retail channel worldwide in the last three months of 2020, a new report claims. While that is up from the 1.6 million units it shipped the same quarter a year earlier, it’s still a fraction of the total shipped by market leader Amazon.

“The price is still very high,” David Watkins, director at Strategy Analytics, told Cult of Mac. “That closes the door to a huge swathe of potential customers.”

Apple debuts HomePod in India at its cheapest price yet

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Apple debuts HomePod in India at its cheapest price yet
Apple has rolled out HomePod in a new market.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Apple has reduced the price of HomePod to $280, a further reduction on the $349 it charged initially for its smart speaker. Unfortunately, you’ll have to be living in India to take advantage of it.

Having released the HomePod in 2018 in the United States, Apple has finally launched it in India. This heavily populated market is comparable in size to China. However, Apple has not yet been able to make too many inroads in terms of sales.

Sonos claims Google and Amazon stole its smart speaker tech

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Sonos Move
Sonos was the first to make great smart speakers. Now everyone's copying.
Photo: Sonos

Sonos, the smart speaker company that (usually) plays nice with pretty much every other tech company, is fighting back against Google and Amazon for allegedly stealing some of its secret sauce.

Two lawsuits were filed by Sonos this week against Google that accuses the search engine giant of infringing on five of its patents. Sonos claims Amazon is guilty of the same thing but the company decided to only sue Google because it can’t take on two tech giants at once.

How to hand off music from your iPhone when you arrive home

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Libratone Zipp mini black white airplay 2 support
The Libratone ZIPP and ZIPP mini offer great sound quality, and now supports AirPlay 2
Photo: Connect to any AirPlay speaker, automatically.

Imagine arriving home, listening to music on your iPhone. You want to start that music playing on your home speakers instead, only you don’t want all the hassle of using Control Center, or the AirPlay panel, to do the connection manually.

If you own a HomePod, all you have to do is hold your iPhone near it, and playback will transfer. But what about regular AirPlay speakers? Can you hand off to those? Yes! You can. With a quick one-time setup, you can have the music or podcast app switch from your headphones, and play on any AirPlay speaker you have at home.

Developers get their hands on first iOS 13.3.1, macOS 10.15.3 betas

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iOS 13 on an iPhone X
Have you upgraded yet?
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

Apple today made its first iOS 13.3.1 and macOS 10.15.3 betas available to developers.

The minor updates don’t have patch notes yet. But they likely fix a serious flaw in Communication Limits, which can allow messages to be received from unauthorized contacts, among other bugs.

New betas are also available for HomePod, iPad, and Apple TV.

How to play relaxing, ambient sounds with your HomePod

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HomePod, Siri, music
What could be more relaxing than this?
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Stressed? On edge? Struggling to block out the annoying construction work down the street? Or do you just hate silence, and the way it reminds you that your life is tick-ticking away? Then you need some room-filling ambient sounds.

How about a nice, relaxing rainstorm to help you fall asleep? Or some white noise to fill the space left by your grownup children when they left you behind to start their own lives? If you have a HomePod running iOS 13.2 or later, your smart speaker stands ready to help blank out the soul-bleeding silence of your empty life. You just need to ask.

Apple seeks tariff waivers for key product lines

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A future Apple Watch might be able to alert you that you’re breathing poison.
Apple wants relief from Trump's tariffs on Apple Watch and other products imported from China.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Apple requested exemptions for the import taxes it must pay when bringing many of its products from China. Currently, the Trump administration levies these on Apple Watch, AirPods, iMac and more.

These tariffs went into place in September as Apple got caught up in President Donald Trump’s trade war with China.