UE Boom 3 crams ‘magic’ new features into iridescent package

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The UE Boom 3 Bluetooth speaker packs great new features into a sophisticated package.
If you like Apple Music, this is the Bluetooth speaker for you.
Photo: Lewis Wallace/Cult of Mac

Like a cute iMac G3 blossoming into a “simply breathtaking” iMac G4, Ultimate Ears’ Boom and Megaboom speakers just morphed into something even more wonderful.

Sporting an updated design and loads of advanced features — including a new Magic Button that puts Apple Music playlists at your fingertips — the best Bluetooth speakers around just got even better. And, surprisingly, they also got cheaper!

The best Bluetooth speakers for iPhone and iPad

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marshall bluetooth speakers
Bluetooth speakers are the default kind of speaker for today's cable-free iPhones. Here are some of the best.
Photo: Marshall

The speakers in iPhones and iPads get better with each new model, but they’ll never power a party, or even shift enough air to accompany an action movie. Bluetooth speakers are the way to go for most people. You skip the annoyance of wires, and you don’t have to deal with the hassle of AirPlay, which never seems to work right. Also, Bluetooth is universal, so you can also use the speaker with an Android device or PC.

Blast and Megablast bring Alexa to UE’s portable speakers

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With Alexa baked in, UE's new Blast speaker will be right at home in the kitchen.
With Alexa baked in, UE's new Blast speaker will be right at home in the kitchen.
Photo: Ultimate Ears

SAN FRANCISCO — Ultimate Ears’ punchy portable speakers just got smart. The new Blast and Megablast speakers bring built-in support for Alexa, Amazon’s voice-operated smart assistant.

Bringing the always-listening, voice-operated helper to a battery-powered speaker proved “nontrivial,” said Benjamin Falk, principal software product manager at UE, during a demo of the new speakers.

Adorable but durable, UE Wonderboom plays the cute card

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The UE Wonderboom is totally ready to party.
The UE Wonderboom is totally ready to party.
Photo: Ultimate Ears

The world’s most lovable little Bluetooth speaker just got some cute competition. It’s a case of sibling rivalry, too: The new Wonderboom from Ultimate Ears splashes onto the scene next month just in time to challenge its “big” brother, the UE Roll 2, for the title of ultimate summer speaker.

While the UE Roll looks like a flying saucer, the Wonderboom more closely resembles a hedge apple. About the size of a softball, it will make you want to pick it up and toss it around. In fact, it’s hard to keep your hands off the cute little bugger.

Finally, a holiday gift guide you actually care about [Deals]

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GG - Mainframe
Beats by Dre, UE ROLL 2, and lots of Mac amenities make for some very happy holidays.

The people on your holiday shopping list deserve cutting-edge gifts. That’s why you won’t find ugly sweaters or gifts that are actually meant for pets not people in the Cult of Mac gift guide.

Loaded with tech gift ideas for Apple fans, this handy guide will make you the best gift-giver in the family for once.

$100 off a MacBook Air, Canon DSLR with two lenses for $500 and more [Deals]

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Take advantage of great deals on MacBook Air, iPad 2, and much more.
Take advantage of great deals on iPad Air 2, MacBook Air, a Canon camera and much more.
Photos: Apple, Canon

Halloween is right around the corner, which means your local CVS probably already put out Christmas decorations. They do that for a reason, you know: It’s never too early to start thinking about the holiday season!

Following that logic, we’ve put together some of this week’s best deals from around the internet to start the gift-giving wheels turning. Even if you’re just giving the gift to yourself.

PartyUp turns dozens of Ultimate Ears speakers into distributed sound system

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PartyUp Ultimate Ears
Ultimate Ears' new PartyUp mode is capable of seamlessly linking "more than 50" of the company's brightly colored Bluetooth speakers.
Photo: Ultimate Ears

A free software update for Ultimate Ears’ popular Boom and Megaboom speakers lets you connect dozens of the Bluetooth devices to create a massive wall of sound.

The over-the-air update, coming today to the “life-proof” speaker line, enables a new feature called PartyUp that can connect “more than 50” of UE’s popular tube-shaped speakers. “More than 50” is the party line, but UE product manager Jim Saraco said his team connected 130 of the speakers at the company’s HQ.

“In reality, we’re still trying to find a cap,” Saraco told Cult of Mac.

Ultimate Ears speakers’ get voice upgrade that lets you ‘say it to play it’

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With the UE Boom 2, Ultimate Ears makes a great speaker even better.
A firmware update lets you bark song requests at your Boom 2 speaker. But you'll have to push a button first.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

A firmware update to Ultimate Ears’ Bluetooth speakers lets you use simple voice commands to make song requests.

After you install the over-the-air update, just tap the Bluetooth button on the top of your paired Boom 2 or Megaboom speaker, then say something like, “Play ‘Iron Man’ by Black Sabbath.” Soon the track will play as if by magic.

Stay splashy: Ultimate summer speaker gets an upgrade

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UE Roll 2 waterproof
The UE Roll 2 is ready to rock you through your splashy summer.
Photo: Ultimate Ears

The UE Roll, a UFO-shaped Bluetooth speaker that’s built to withstand the rigors of your super-splashy summer, is getting a welcome upgrade. Much like this year’s refreshed MacBook line, the UE Roll 2 packs performance enhancements (and a new paint job) into a product we already know and love.

With its “lifeproof” design, and a beefy bungee cord built right in, it’s the ultimate “take your tunes anywhere” speaker. Only now it’s a wee bit better.