Ikea and Sonos are partnering on a a new range of connected speakers that will be available in August 2019. The aren’t just cheap Ikea speakers with a Sonos logo. You’ll be able to control the speakers from the Sonos app just like a normal Sonos product. Ikea and Sonos showcased two different models for now — a bookshelf speaker that will cost $99 and a table lamp speaker that will retail for $179. They will available in black and white. The idea is to hide those speakers in shelves and lamps so that you’re surrounded by speakers without even noticing them. You can use the bookshelf speaker horizontally or vertically. But you can also mount a speaker on an Ikea Kungfors rack. It can act as a standalone shelf if you want to put a plant or some decoration on top of it. The table lamp is quite straightforward. This object combines both light and sound. It looks like an Amazon Echo Plus or an Apple HomePod with a lamp on top. If you live in a tiny apartment, you could save some valuable space by replacing two objects with one. The best part is that those new speakers will integrate with other Sonos speakers just like any Sonos product. For instance, you can pair two speakers to create stereo separation or pair them with a Sonos Beam to create a good sound system for your TV. If you wanted to add a Sonos speaker in your bathroom but didn’t want to spend $200 on a Sonos One, you could also consider a bookshelf speaker to hide in a corner. It might not be as powerful as a Sonos One, but customers will benefit from more options. The Symfonisk line connects to your Wi-Fi network. This way, you can use the normal Sonos app, control music from Spotify’s app using Spotify Connect and send music to your speakers with AirPlay 2. Today’s new speakers don’t have any microphone. So you won’t be able to control your music with Amazon Alexa directly.
Huawei is launching connected glasses in partnership with , a Korean sunglasses and optical glasses brand. There won’t be a single model, but a collection of glasses with integrated electronics. Huawei is positioning the glasses as a sort of earbuds replacement, a device that lets you talk on the phone without putting anything in your ears. There’s no button on the device, but you can tap the temple of the glasses to answer a call for instance. The antenna, charging module, dual microphone, chipset, speaker and battery are all integrated in the eyeglass temple. There are two microphones with beam-forming technology to understand what you’re saying even if the device is sitting on your nose. There are stereo speakers positioned right above your ears. The company wants you to hear sound without disturbing your neighbors. Interestingly, there’s no camera on the device. Huawei wants to avoid any privacy debate by skipping the camera altogether. Given that people have no issue with voice assistants and being surrounded by microphones, maybe people won’t be too suspicious. The glasses come in a leather case with USB-C port at the bottom. It features wireless charging as well. Huawei teased the glasses at in Paris, but the glasses won’t be available before July 2019.
has just announced the second-generation AirPods. The new AirPods are fitted with the H1 chip, which is meant to offer performance efficiencies, faster connect times between the pods and your devices, and the ability to ask for Siri hands-free with the “Hey Siri” command. Because of its performance efficiency, the H1 chip also allows for the AirPods to offer 50 percent more talk time using the headphones. Switching between devices is 2x faster than the previous generation AirPods, according to Apple. Here’s what Phil Schiller had to say in the : AirPods delivered a magical wireless experience and have become one of the most beloved products we’ve ever made. They connect easily with all of your devices, and provide crystal clear sound and intuitive, innovative control of your music and audio. The world’s best wireless headphones just got even better with the new AirPods. They are powered by the new Apple-designed H1 chip which brings an extra hour of talk time, faster connections, hands-free ‘Hey Siri’ and the convenience of a new wireless battery case. The second-gen AirPods are available with the standard wired charging case ($159), or a new Wireless Charging Case ($199). A standalone wireless charging case is also available for purchase to $79. We’ve reached out to Apple to ask if the wireless case is backwards compatible with first-gen AirPods and will update the post once we know more. Update: Turns out, the wireless charging case works “with all generations of AirPods,” according to the . It appears that older models are still for sale, as well. Two times faster switching and 50 percent more talk time might sound like small perks for a relatively expensive accessory, but I’ve found that one of my biggest pain points with the AirPods are the lack of voice control and the time it takes to switch devices. The introduction of “Hey Siri” alongside the new H1 chip, as well as much faster switching between devices, should noticeably elevate the user experience with these new AirPods. After a search through the Apple website, it appears that old AirPods are no longer available for sale. The new Airpods are available to order today from Apple.com and the Apple Store app, with in-store availability beginning next week.
doesn’t want to miss the 5G bandwagon — the company just unveiled its first smartphone that comes with a 5G modem at a press conference in Barcelona. The Mi Mix 3 5G is a new variant of the Mi Mix 3, a phone that Xiaomi originally released in . The company is trying to create a bezel-less phone with the Mi Mix line. Instead of a notch or a punch-hole display, Xiaomi has opted for a sliding front-facing camera. The result is a 93.4 percent screen-to-body ratio. You can find two cameras on the back of the device, which give you the ability to shoot slow-motion videos at 960 frames per second. The handset body is made of ceramic. There are a few changes in the new device. First, Xiaomi has swapped the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 system-on-a-chip with a Snapdragon 855 system-on-a-chip — the same chipset you can find on the Samsung Galaxy S10. When it comes to the modem, the company is using Qualcomm’s X50 5G modem. It’s always hard to grasp the advantages of 5G. That’s why Xiaomi’s Director of Product Management Donovan Sung started a video call with one of its telecom partner, Orange Spain. There was some latency and it wasn’t that convincing. At launch, Xiaomi is partnering with Orange, 3, Sunrise, Telefonica, Tim and Vodafone. The device will be available in May for €599 ($680) in two colors — Onyx Black and Sapphire Blue. Let’s see if any 5G network will be ready by then. Chipmaker Qualcomm’s president, Cristiano Amon, stole a little of Xiaomi’s thunder by naming the Mi Mix 3 5G first during a turn on stage at the press conference as a Xiaomi partner. Amon took the opportunity to give a muscular sales pitch for 5G, claiming the next-gen cellular tech would come faster than the transition from 3G to 4G/LTE and bring transformative benefits for consumers — touting the likes of premium gaming on mobile to replace game consoles. That’s because 5G should greatly lower latency and improve online gaming. “5G is here. Not in 2020, not in late 2020 – it’s here right now in 2019. 2019 is the year of 5G,” he claimed, suggesting 5G device launches would be fast-followed by commercial 5G services as early as the second half of this year. On device AI will also get a boost from 5G, Amon suggested, arguing that “every” app will be able to leverage machine learning thanks to reduced latency. “You can unleash the power of the cloud for every app and service,” he said. “5G will improve substantially how we think about our phones,” he added. “Everything will get better.” Xiaomi also used its first MWC new product launch event opportunity to announce the Mi 9 once again. The company has already unveiled its new flagship device . It’s a more traditional phone with a waterdrop-shaped notch, a Snapdragon 855 chipset and a triple camera system. You can find a 48-megapixel camera, a 16-megapixel wide-angle camera and a 12-megapixel telephoto camera on the back of the device. The Mi 9 will be priced at €449 ($510) for 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, €499 ($565) for 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Pre-orders start from today in select European markets — devices should ship by February 28. There are now 224 million monthly active Xiaomi smartphone users globally. While Xiaomi phones aren’t available in the U.S., you can now buy Xiaomi phones in Spain, the U.K., France and Italy in addition to many Asian markets. Xiaomi also talked up its wider product portfolio, saying it has more than 2,000 Xiaomi-branded products in all, working with more than 200 partners. The company reiterated that it’s committed to having a dual strategy of smartphones plus A-IoT It singled out electric scooters to say it’s shipped more than 560,000 Mi scooters to date. The Mi scooter was “probably the best selling personal transportation device in the world in 2018”, it added. At the event it also announced the launch of another new product: The Mi LED Smart Bulb — a connected light bulb that lets users control light color and brightness via their phone. It’s priced at €19.90. The company tried to demo its smart home ecosystem but failed to turn off the air purifier using Google Assistant. Xiaomi didn’t say a word on its foldable smartphone. It looks like there’s still some more work to do on the device.
has ruined my life, and all our lives, by announcing Super Mario Maker 2, the sequel to the level-constructing game on Wii U that produced thousands of devious levels for those who think the “real” games aren’t hard enough. Gamers have been asking for this basically since the Switch was first rumored. Maker 2 looks like it’s been updated in a number of helpful ways apart from being on a console that will actually be supported long-term. The interface needed some sprucing up for the lower precision players will have using their fingers instead of a stylus on the touchscreen. No doubt this will be a huge draw for Nintendo’s Switch Online service, which will likely not only allow you to share your levels and try those of others, but — if Nintendo listened to its player base — compete with ghosts and other multiplayer features. Here’s hoping we can build whole worlds, but let’s not get greedy. But we definitely have slopes now! Honestly I could play NES and SNES-era Mario games forever on repeat, and the re-releases of other Marios on Switch has made the newer ones even more accessible. Probably between those and Mario Maker I’ll never leave the house again. Details are truly scant for now except that the game will come out in June of this year, just in time for summer to arrive — and be shut out with blackout curtains so glare doesn’t get on my greasy Switch. I’ll update this post if any new information becomes available.