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After months of rumors, Apple finally launched its lost item-tracker last month. Named the AirTag, the small plastic disc works so well they’re not just going to threaten the entire business of Tile (the Silicon Valley company known for its eponymous trackers), but perhaps personal privacy as well. Apple is, however, hard at work to prevent the latter, and I feel like it’ll figure it out. After all, it is Apple.

Design

The AirTag is slightly larger (1.26-inch in diameter) and heavier (11g) than a coin and about the thickness (8mm) of two stacked coins. The white side is plastic, and the other side is aluminum. The aluminum part can be twisted off to reveal a removable CR2032 battery inside. Apple says the battery will power the AirTag for one year. These batteries are small and cheap enough that replacing them should be no issue for most.

They’re small and light enough to be placed inside the coin pouch of most wallets, or the small key pocket in a pair of jeans. The idea of the AirTag is that it can be attached to items like keys or luggage or laptop bags, so that if those items are misplaced or stolen, we can track their whereabouts. But Apple being Apple, the AirTag in its naked form cannot attach to anything naturally. There are no holes (like Tile or Samsung trackers, for example) for an easy loop around key rings; there’s no clip to wrap around a suitcase zipper. Unless you’re willing to do something tacky like just tape or glue the AirTag onto an item, you’re going to need to buy an accessory like a loop or strap, which Apple will happily sell you ranging from $30 to $440 (it’s a Hermes branded leather luggage strap with a slot for the AirTag). The good news is, Apple products are so popular, there will be dozens, if not hundreds, of other brands making far cheaper accessories within a month.

How does it work?

Setting up the AirTag is dead simple: as soon as you activate the tracker, if you have an iPhone nearby, you’ll be prompted to pair the two. Once you connect that specific AirTag to your iPhone, it is bonded to your Apple ID. From there, you’ll be able to see the whereabouts of the AirTag directly in the “Find My” app of not just your iPhone, but your iPad and Mac computer, too, if you own those items.

If the item is misplaced but within your proximity (like, say, you dropped your AirTag-attached keys behind the sofa), you can have the Find My app send a bluetooth alert to the tracker to make an audible beep.

If you can’t hear the beep for whatever reason (maybe you’re in a noisy environment) and you own an iPhone 11 or 12, you can use “Precision Finding,” which uses the U1 chip inside the recent iPhones to build a much stronger connection than just Bluetooth, which then allows the phone to “guide” you to the lost AirTag. This guiding process is really clever and well done: an arrow pops up on the iPhone screen, and as you walk in that direction, the arrow will rotate not just left or right, but even up or down to provide a visual guide to the exact location of the AirTag. So if the item is under the sofa, the arrow will point downwards as you approach the sofa; if the item is above you on top of a closet, the arrow will point upwards. As you get closer, the phone vibrations will even grow more intense. Unfortunately, you need to be within 30 feet or so for Precision Finding to work, if it’s not working, then you know the item is further than that.

If the AirTag-attached item is lost in another location not within your proximity (maybe you left it at your friend’s house or at the local coffee shop), or if it’s been stolen by someone who’s already left the premises, the third way to track the lost AirTag is to use the Find My Network. This is essentially a crowd-sourced network consisting of Apple products who have opted into the network (Apple says there are over a billion devices opted in already). When that lost AirTag is within the proximity of another opted-in Apple device, that AirTag will ping its location to that device, allowing you to see its latest location. Let’s say someone has stolen your bag containing an AirTag. Even if he’s halfway across town, another stranger’s iPhone could help you locate the thieve.

This is where the AirTag has a leg up on all the competition. The basic tracking stuff for lost items within your home is easy to recreate with a competing product like Tile or Samsung’s SmartTags. But neither Tile nor Samsung will ever have an item as ubiquitous as an iPhone to help build a tracking network like Apple’s Find My Network. Heck, no other company has such a product, period.

Where the AirTag could create problems

But here’s where things get scary: because the Find My Network is so vast and work so well—think about how many iPhones you encounter in a day—it makes the AirTag a potential stalking device. For example, someone could in theory slip an AirTag into my bag without me knowing, and track my whereabouts throughout the day.

Apple has already created some safeguards to prevent malicious use of the AirTag. For example, if there’s a loose AirTag (meaning one that’s away from its owner but moving out in the wild) in my proximity for long periods of time, my iPhone will ping an alert telling me there’s a foreign AirTag following me. But this alert requires the latest version (14.5) of iOS to work. I’ve upgraded to iOS 14.5, but there are others out there who have not. Plus, there’s also a chance I don’t see the notification (maybe I am at the movie theater and haven’t checked my phone; or maybe my phone is out of battery).

There’s also the fact that the alert can only be sent to iPhones. For Android users the only alert they will get is the beep that will emit from a loose AirTag in the wild—good luck hearing that in a bar or in busy city streets.

There are a lot of complicated factors at play here, so Apple can’t just do the obvious and make the alerts stronger and more frequent. Apple can’t risk someone getting a dozen false alerts in an hour just because they’re at a coffee shop with several foreign AirTags.

But until Apple figures out the exact balance and science of how and when to send alerts, right now AirTags can unfortunately be used to stalk. This is not just an Apple-only problem, of course—other trackers can also be used maliciously, it’s just Apple’s trackers work better because its iPhones are so globally beloved.

I am confident Apple will figure it out; they didn’t become the world’s biggest and most influential company by not solving problems.

The price is cheap enough for most iPhone users

Apple’s AirTag sells for $29 per piece, or in a four-pack for $99. These prices can be considered low for an Apple product, and people who are already entrenched in Apple’s entire ecosystem will have no problem picking them up. I can see AirTags being as ubiquitous as AirPods and iPhones in a year or two. Apple just needs to figure out how to solve the unwanted tracking issue before then.

The Mac platform’s move to ARM-based processors has given Apple a significant upgrade in terms of performance. Starting with the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, and moving to the desktop first with the mac Mini and now the new iMac, the massive technological gains have forced the competition to react.

Now Microsoft and Qualcomm are leveraging one of Apple’s advantages in the race to catch up. 

One of the advantages that Apple has had with the iPhone and iPad is the close links between hardware and software. The Axx chips are custom built for Apple’s mobile hardware which promotes greater integration. You have the same arrangement on the software side of things, both iOS and iPadOS are only ever going to run on Apple Silicon. Where ‘general purpose’ operating systems such as Android and Windows 10 have to accommodate countless combinations of hardware and software, Apple has in effect a one to one relationship.

That allows much deeper connections inside your device. You can design the processor and I/O chips in a way that complements the software and hardware; which leads to more performance, better efficiency, and a lot of headroom to design your products for various scenarios.

With an almost infinite number of configurations available in the market, that’s not an advantage that Microsoft can leverage with Windows 10… with one notable exception.There’s one space where Microsoft can, and is, utilising an approach similar to Apple’s macOS. Windows 10 on ARM.

Qualcomm is working on its third-generation Snapdragon 8cx chip. This series is designed for laptops and tablets and will run the ARM based version of Windows 10. You’ll find a variant of the first- and second- generation 8cx chips in Microsoft’s Surface Pro X. 

The third-generation promises a significant uptick in terms of processing power (according to the latest benchmarks). While it’s not close to matching Apple’s M1 chips, it offers near parity with Intel and AMD on similarly priced hardware. As noted by WindowsLatest, Microsoft has “promised to work closely with Qualcomm and OEM partners to make Windows run great on ARM”. 

It looks like the advantages of closer co-operation between hardware and software are coming to Windows 10 later this year.

Now read more about the latest Windows 10 on ARM benchmarks…

A new report says that a future Apple Watch could have a new raft of health sensors, including blood pressure and—something many people seem to be craving—blood glucose and alcohol levels.

The claim comes from James Titcomb, writer at

the U.K. newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, in a report on Rockley Photonics, a British electronics start-up. Apple has been revealed as the company’s largest customer, which says its sensors could be in devices as early as 2022.

The sensors in the Apple Watch now are smart and capable for metrics such as heart rate but blood glucose levels have long been the Holy Grail for wearables makers.

The revelation came from listing documents which surfaced as the company prepares to go public in New York and which explained that the majority of its revenue in the last two years came from Apple, with whom it has an ongoing supply and development contract.

The company’s CEO said he believed the technology would be in consumer products in 2022 but he did not confirm that this would be in an Apple product.

I’ve talked to Apple about its health ambitions in the past and Jeff Williams, the company’s Chief Operating Officer, told me about glucose sensors, saying: “Non-invasive sensing of the human body is incredibly challenge. You mention glucose, people have been talking about non-invasive glucose sensing for decades. I read every year that somebody has a non-invasive glucose sensing monitor ready. And what I’ll tell you is, it’s hard enough detect glucose when you can access the interstitial fluid, it’s way harder to do it with photons.”

Perhaps next year is the year such a sensor will arrive, in which case it will significantly increase Apple’s health monitoring capabilities.

The Huawei P50 series phones are nearly with us, it seems, with a new report claiming they have entered mass production. New images, spotted by Huawei Central, show a stunning four-camera design that makes sense of earlier leaks in a persuasive way.

Some weeks back there were images from the estimable @OnLeaks via Voice, which showed a remarkable look with two huge circular panels where you’d expect to see the cameras. Now, it’s clear what was going on, if you hadn’t guessed: the large circles each contained more than one lens, two each, in fact.

Huawei has a history of mounting its cameras in a cosmetically exciting way, though this was usually kept for the Mate handsets, not the P Series. It looks like that’s changing.

A new leak from Weibo shows two pairs of lenses sitting horizontally in the upper circle, then a flash in the panel between the two big circles and another two lenses in the lower panel. Now an image from a Weibo tipster whose name translates as @BadReview, has posted a new picture.

It looks like sets pairs of eyes peeping curiously out of a pair of portholes. Or, as the website points out less kindly, like two pigs’ noses or two electrical sockets.

Whatever your take, it is unmistakably different from everything else on the market.

The P series phones are usually on sale by this time in the year, but it may be that the component supply issues which are troubling many manufacturers are hampering Huawei, too.

As such, it could be that June will be the month when the P Series phones go on sale, and it may initially consist of the Huawei P50 and P50 Pro, with the P50 Pro Plus coming later.

The photo shows a phone with a single holepunch camera on the front and a flat, not a waterfall, display.

Mother’s Day is a week away and you’re still struggling to come up with something other than a box of chocolates and flowers. Outdoor brunch reservations are already full everywhere you call and every time your finger hovers over that new vacuum cleaner for Mom a voice inside your head says “Don’t do it.”

So let’s ditch the traditional and think outside of the box. Look to what your mom is really looking for and get her something she’ll actually use.


For the Music-Loving Mom (Who Also Wants Peace and Quiet)

Shure Aonic 50

The Shure Aonic 50 headphones are comfy, classy, and with adjustable noise cancellation you can block out as much or as little of the world as you need to. When I worked in a noisy office, Shure earphones were my saviors. I knew that not only could I rely on them to shut out the world around me but deliver quality sound (that I could hear clearly without damaging my ears with high volume). That philosophy endures with the company’s first wireless headphones, the Aonic 50. 

Right out of the box, you can tell that these are premium headphones. The leather headband has thick cushioning for all day wear and that lush cushioning extends to the earcups as well. The stainless steel armatures that connect the earcups to the band add an appreciable amount of heft (and look cool too). The only issue I have with the form factor is that the earcups will definitely squish large ears. I didn’t have a problem, but there wasn’t a lot of room to let my ears breathe. 

The on-ear controls are easy to use, with distinct buttons for controlling your music and a separate switch for enabling noise-cancelling, environment mode (which lets outside noise in), and a blended mix that gives you ANC and environmental noise at the same time. You can adjust that middle mode with the Shure app, just keep in mind that the adjustment only works on the connected device, there’s no on-headphone profile storage. 

The battery life is phenomenal and with three different colorways, they look considerably better than a lot of other, premium noise-cancelling headphones on the market. Oh, and the ANC works. Someone standing right next to you will have to wave their arms to get your attention (I know from experience). These are an easy choice over more expensive Sony or Apple noise-cancelling headphones. 


For the Maker Mom

Original Prusa Mini+

The Original Prusa Mini+ takes everything from the Original Prusa I3 and shrinks it down. But it does more than that. The entire travel assembly for the printer head is on a floating gantry rather than the more substantial crossbar setup of the I3. The color mini LCD screen is a vast improvement over previous models, with a smarter chip driving the printer. Now, when you plug in a USB or send a print over ethernet it shows up immediately on the screen, in full color, so you can see exactly what you’re about to print. The printer controls are responsive and snappy. The new extruder motor quickly takes care of loading and unloading filament as well. It still has the flexible print sheets of the larger models, making it ridiculously simple to free your print when it’s finished. For such a compact size, it still has an effective print volume of 7x7x7. 

But what really counts is the printing and the Mini+ does that even better than the I3. I’ve found it to be the more reliable machine, pumping out prints quickly and consistently with barely any jobs lost. It’s quieter than the I3 too. That makes it a cinch to start a long job and go to bed, knowing that you won’t wake up to a plastic tumbleweed the next morning. 

If you’re interested in getting into 3D printing, especially if the models you’ve been eyeing are smaller, I can’t recommend the Original Prusa Mini+ enough. For the price, you won’t find a more satisfying 3D printing experience. 


For The Clean Eating Mom

Hurom HP Slow Juicer

The Hurom HP Slow Juicer takes everything that’s fantastic about their larger machines, a slow-rotating auger, quiet motor, and almost overwhelming versatility (it can make juices, sorbets, tofus, sherbert, and more), and shrinks it down to a countertop-friendly version. Unlike the black monoliths of their larger juicers, the HP Slow Juicer comes in a variety of lovely pastels that will complement just about any kitchen. The curves of the juicer give it a decidedly retro feel that’ll make you wish your other appliances weren’t quite so angular. 

But looks only get you so far. Luckily the HP Slow Juicer is a solid performer, with just as much juicing acumen as other Hurom products. The slow auger really does extract every last drop of juice from the ingredients you put in the top, which is good since pineapples aren’t getting any cheaper (also, make sure you have ginger and pineapples on hand for its initial run…trust me). The pulp is cleared from the chamber automatically and the stainless steel strainer ensures that your juice remains free of particulate matter. You get a crazy amount of accessories as well to make a wide variety of products beyond juice. While it can be a bit of a chore to keep all the various bits and bobs together, I appreciate that the HP Slow Juicer breaks down completely so that you can thoroughly clean it between juice sessions. 

Especially if you’re making smaller amounts of juice or you just want a juicer that you can leave on the counter all the time, the Hurom HP Slow Juicer should be your first pick. 


For The Mom that Wants You To Make Your Own Dinner For Once

June Oven

Anyone who cooks loves the June Oven. Those who don’t cook should also love the June Oven. The June Oven is one of those all-in-one appliances that you think sounds like a bunch of hype until you actually use it. After all, how can one countertop appliance replace your toaster, oven, dehydrator, slow cooker, pizza oven, broiler, bread proofer, roaster, air fryer, grill, rotisserie oven, and more? 

The answer is carefully engineered hardware backed by seriously smart software. The June Oven is programmed with enough recipes that you can make just about anything by tapping a few commands on the touchscreen embedded in the door. Even better than that is the cornucopia of foods that you can just stick into the June without touching any controls at all. The June’s onboard AI processor recognizes the food and starts cooking it. It remembers your preferences (if you stop the cook early or continue it past the recommended time) and is constantly downloading new foods to its database. Seriously. I shoved a tray of frozen taquitos into the oven the other day and not only did it immediately recognize them, it cooked them to perfection without me having to do anything more than press Start Cooking

When you pair the June Oven with its app you can do even more. A premium membership gives you access to an ever-growing library of recipes. Just follow along and the app sends commands to the June as you scroll through the steps. You’ll discover things that you would never even think possible with countertop oven (check out the Detroit-style pizza). 

Version 3 of the June Oven adds some new tricks and refinements to the mix, the most impressive being zone activation. The June recognizes when an item has been placed in the front or back of the oven and only activates the heating elements directly above or below the food. It can even activate them in a rotating pattern to simulate a rotisserie if you’d like to slow roast a chicken (or maybe make gyros). It can even do things like making your favorite boxed Mac & Cheese. The June Oven is the most versatile, most used appliance in my kitchen. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without it.


For the Caffeinated Mom

Clio Brewer

Pod coffee makers are, generally, weak, bitter, and generate more waste than caffeinated satisfaction. Not so with Clio. Each pod produces 10 oz. of pressure-brewed Italian coffee with a nice head of crema. It’s strong without being bitter (and you can choose from dark, medium, or mild pods) and can be brewed as either a double espresso shot (perfect for lattes and iced coffee) or as a full cup of coffee. There’s a tea option as well (unfortunately only English Breakfast is currently available). It takes about a minute for the machine to warm itself up and, once it does, about 75 seconds to brew. The only issue? It’s loud while brewing. The pods drop into a basket in the unit when you go to brew your next cup and the pods themselves are fully recyclable. Dump out the grounds and recycle the rest. There’s even a subscription service so that you never have to worry about running low.  


For the Fit Mom

Garmin Venu 2S

The Garmin Venu 2S is a next-generation smartwatch designed to be your constant companion. It boasts 11 days of battery life (8 days if you use the GPS regularly) and tracks workouts, sleep, respiration, hydration, steps, stress levels, and more to help you monitor your overall fitness. It has a gorgeous AMOLED screen that you can use to track over 25 different sports activities such as running, cycling, strength workouts, yoga, swimming and even HIIT workouts (with support for AMRAP, EMOM, and tabata sets). The Venu 2S is serious about your overall health as well, providing you with a daily Sleep Score, your Fitness Age, and even a graphic highlighting which muscle groups you’ve worked during a workout.

It tracks activities both indoors and out with an advanced suite of sensors including a heart rate sensor, GPS (plus GLONASS and Galileo), wrist-based pulse oximeter (for measuring blood oxygen), barometric altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer (especially useful for determining gait while running), an external thermometer, and an ambient light sensor (for monitoring environmental sleep conditions). You can also use it as a smartwatch with NFC for contactless payment and smartwatch notifications (though you can respond to text messages on Android only). 

Garmin devices are amazing for athletes looking to get an edge on their training. The Venu 2 series constantly monitors your health and encourages you to make good choices. Taking into account your sleep health, hydration, overall training effort and more to ensure that not only are you training effectively, you aren’t overtraining. Basically, the Venu 2 is a fitness-buff’s dream. It tracks more metrics than I even knew could be tracked and then gives you a holistic package, providing a nuanced overview of your training and overall health. The numbers provided by Garmin give you a much deeper and more accurate view of your fitness and health than any three rings ever could. 


For the Gardening Mom

Tertill

This little robot came out of nowhere and it’s safe to say that every Mom who’s spent a weekend breaking their backs pulling out weeds wants this. The Tertill Garden Weeding Robot is an autonomous mini weed-whacker that trundles around your garden, destroying any weeds it discovers. It never needs to be plugged in. It doesn’t need programming from you. You just set it loose in your raised garden and let it do the work you hate. 

Once you take Tertill out of the box, you’ll need to do a tiny bit of prep if you have fresh plantings or areas that you don’t want it to patrol. The included plant guards and row guards keep the robot from chopping down seedlings that you want to keep. You’ll also need a barrier of some sort around your garden, otherwise the Tertill will wander off (there’s no GPS or software-barrier – raised planters are really the best use case for Tertill). 

But none of that even begins to reach the hassle of having to keep a freshly-planted garden weed-free. The Tertill takes care of that for you with zero input from you. It’s solar powered and weatherproof so you don’t have to worry about it once you’ve set it loose. It operates by trundling between plantings for 1-2 hours every day, churning up the top layer of soil as it goes so as to discourage weeds. Any weeds it does find (i.e. any plants under an inch high), it destroys with a tiny nylon string whacker. It keeps doing this as many times as it needs to, until the weeds run out of stored energy and die. 

Talking to my gardening friends, there was every indication that they would come to my house and steal my Tertill in the dead of night. But with Tertill’s current Mother’s Day deal, you can just get your own! Using the code Tertill4Mom you can get $50 off the Tertill Gift Bundle which includes the Tertill itself, plant and row guards, stickers to personalize your Tertill, and enough seeds to start your own garden. I’ll readily admit, I’m not a gardner, but Tertill makes me want to be. Pulling weeds in Florida is a never-ending chore. If all I had to do was water and harvest? Now we’re talking. 


For Mom Who Wants a Garden But Doesn’t Want to Garden

Edn SmallGarden

The Edn SmallGarden brings fresh, sustainable herbs and lovely plants and flowers to whatever room it’s placed in. It’s a lovely little unit, with a wooden planter and a “handle” that’s actually a string of LED lights that simulate sunlight. It’s so bright in fact, you might need to adjust the brightness in the connected app! 

Setup is simple. You pair the SmallGarden with the Edn app. It walks you through the rest of the setup – placing the seed pods into the unit, filling it up with water, and setting a schedule. When your SmallGarden runs low on water, the Edn app will alert you. When you need to care for your plants, it’ll let you know that too (whether it be harvesting or trimming back). All the fertilizer needed is built into the seed pod itself. It’s all the benefits of gardening, but indoors and without having to fight against your black thumb nature. 

You can get a wide variety of pods including herbs, lettuces, ornamental plants, or even plant-your-own seed pods. It’s easy to use, even for the blackest of thumbs, and it’s a gift that will continue to give long after Mom’s box of chocolate has been devoured. Use the code MOMGROWS this week to get $50 off the SmallGarden. 

One thing teenagers love is playing loud music. Another thing they love is an unusual design that helps them stand out from the crowd and makes them feel a bit more individual. These two things can be solved by one unique product. The Meters OV-1-B-Connect headphones are a sneaky way to monitor when your teen is listening to music at loud volume levels and they are still cool enough to make sure they wear them. They’ll be begging for a pair.

These unique wireless headphones have proper analog VU meters built into each ear cup and feature LED backlights that can be turned up or down with different colors to suit the user’s mood. They also have ANC (active noise cancelation) built-in for blocking out unwanted sounds. I know, it sounds crazy but these headphones are no novelty product. They are a serious pair of headphones and they sound rather good.

The Meters OV-1-B-Connect are large, comfy, and foldable with amply stuffed ear cushions and a plump headband that makes them easy to wear, even for long listening sessions. The headphones are available in Black, Tan and White finishes, so even a fussy teen is likely to find a pair to their liking. The yoke on the headphones is constructed from aluminum and they feel sufficiently robust to stand up to life in a teen’s rucksack. They come with a hard storage case that keeps them safe from too much rough and tumble.

Although the Meters OV-1-B-Connect headphones can connect to a smartphone wirelessly using Bluetooth, they can also be hooked up using a wired connection should the onboard rechargeable batteries run out of power. The batteries are good for 16 hours of playtime but if they do run out of juice, there’s an audio cable provided that plugs into the headphone jack of a smartphone or any other kind of audio kit that can use headphones. 

Obviously, without any power, you don’t get the fancy VU meters with backlights or the ANC function, but it’s comforting to know you can carry on listening without any power. The battery life on the Meters OV-1-B-Connect isn’t quite as good as some wireless ANC headphones on the market, but those VU meters and their backlights draw a little extra current.

Not only do the Meters OV-1-B-Connectsupport the high-quality aptX HD audio codec, but they also include ANC for blocking out unwanted noises like the sound of the school bus or the chatter in the college canteen. They are great for wearing on airplanes and are particularly good at filtering out the sound of jet engines or other continuous sounds. If it’s a long-haul flight and the cabin lights are dimmed, just be sure you dim the VU Meters backlights so as not to disturb the passenger in the next seat.

Connecting the headphones to a smartphone is straightforward and they will remember the connection and connect when turned on again. The controls for the headphones are mostly located on the left-hand earcup and include a sliding power switch around the edge that powers up the headphones and puts them in pairing mode. The right ear cup houses a VU meter and is encircled by clickable controls that can be used to adjust volume levels, pause music, skip and repeat tracks, plus accept or end phone calls. 

Each ear cup has microphones built in to pick up the user’s voice when making phone calls. The microphone also constantly monitors external sounds so the unwanted noises can be subtracted from the audio signal. The specs claim the Meters OV-1-B-Connect reduces background sound by 83%. That’s a hard figure to prove but do a good job of cutting out continuous droning sounds and they make the music much easier to hear.

The right ear cup is where you will find the slider switch that turns on the ANC function. The right ear cup also houses a Micro USB port that’s used for recharging the headphone battery. I think a USB-C connection would have been better but it’s not a big deal.

Now we come to the important part of the review and that is why these headphones are especially suited to teenagers. As I already mentioned, teenagers love listening to loud music. I know I did all those years ago. But how do you know if someone you love is damaging their hearing by playing music at too high a volume level? With the Meters OV-1-B-Connect, there are analog VU meters with a fluctuation needle and a red zone to show when the volume is too high. There is a meter on each ear cup and they show when the music is slipping into the danger zone. 

The VU meters make it easier to keep a watchful eye on volume levels and yet these headphones look so cool; the wearer won’t want to take them off so it’s always possible to see how loud the music is. The VU meters, along with smartphone volume limiters, could go some way to protecting a loved one so that they don’t suffer from hearing loss later in life because they caned the volume control 20 years before.

The Meters OV-1-B-Connect headphones aren’t just for teens. Their sound quality is fulsome with plenty of meaty bass and a clear treble. The midrange is sufficiently forward to make them suitable for most genres of music, whether that’s laid-back jazz or heavy and thrash metal. I like their sound and I think the ANC function is more than good enough for use on flights and long road trips. Additionally, there is a smartphone app for the Meters OV-1-B-Connect which includes a full graphic equalizer and with control over the color of and brightness of the VU meter LEDs.

Verdict: These unusual headphones are likely to appeal to young people and audio buffs alike, thanks to the aptX HD audio codec support. They look like no other headphones on the market and the VU meters look so cool, especially with their multi-colored backlights. The sound quality is great, plus the ANC feature works well. My main criticism is that I can’t see those VU meters when listening to the music. They are mesmerizing. The other bonus is the support for Qualcomm’s aptX HD which enables high-quality music to be streamed wirelessly from devices supporting aptX HD.There is also support for the AAC codec used by Apple in iPhones and iPads. The headphones sound great when used with an iPhone and if you have a device that supports aptX HD< they made sound even better. The Meters OV-1-B-Connect would make a great gift for a music lover of any age. Recommended.

Pricing and Availability: The Meters OV-1-B-Connect headphones are available now at a cost of $349 / £349 / €369.

More info: www.metersmusic.com

Tech Specs:

  • Type: Closed Dynamic
  • Driver: 40mm dome
  • Power: 1,000mW
  • Impedance: 32Ω
  • Sensitivity: 94dB/mW
  • Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Cable 1.5m with 3.5mm jack plug and 6.35mm adapter
  • Weight: 380g
  • Output power: Max 0.5V
  • Bluetooth: Version 5.0
  • Codecs: SBS, aptX, aptX HD
  • Bluetooth profiles: HSP, HFP, A2DP, AVRCP
  • Distortion: Max 0.2%
  • Battery: 16 hours playtime / Standby 28 hours

There aren’t any official national holidays for bourbon, which is a shame if you ask me, but the Kentucky Derby gets pretty darn close. 

The problem with travel still being something that we’re dreaming about rather than actually doing is that we can’t visit some of the incredible distilleries that dot the U.S. Distillery tours are a fun way to learn about your favorite spirit and sample some rare blends that you can’t find on your store shelf. 

So I was thrilled to hear that Wild Turkey has created virtual tours of five of their spirits that you can access from anywhere. Well, anywhere with an Alexa-enabled speaker or Google Assistant…which is pretty much everywhere. 

Launch the tour by activating the speaker and telling it to talk to or enable “Wild Turkey Tasting.” 

What’s fun is that it’s not just a standard smart speaker app that gives you basic recipes and facts. Wild Turkey created an experience that really does capture that distillery tour experience. You get stories and anecdotes about the history of the company from the Russell family. Brand ambassadors talk to you about the special nuances of each spirit and guide you through tasting, from the nose to finish. 

If you try Wild Turkey’s Longbranch bourbon, created in partnership with Matthew McConaughey, the actor himself walks you through the creation of the spirit, with its unique Texas twist on traditional Kentucky bourbon. I’ll admit, as a bit of a bourbon snob, I expected to hate the smokiness but now it’s the bottle I reach for first. 

In addition to Longbranch, you can access tastings for Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon (which comes with handy bitters for making Old Fashioneds), Wild Turkey 101 Rye, Rare Breed Bourbon (a seriously potent barrel proof bourbon), and Kentucky Spirit (a single-barrel spirit that was previously only available at the source).

What surprised me was that I actually learned something about bourbon history from the Wild Turkey Tasting app. More than that, I discovered nuances about each bottle that I wouldn’t have noticed without taking the time to step through the tasting process for each one. Some have a more citrusy punch while others are more redolent of vanilla and spice. The Longbranch presents with a lot of smoke upfront that mellows as you sip. 

Each tasting ends with a recipe. You can also ask the app general questions, like if it’s OK to add water to whiskey or you can ask it to tell you a fun fact about bourbon. 

While I don’t always give much credence to “smart speaker experiences” I have to admit that I enjoyed Wild Turkey Tasting more than I expected. I found it informative, useful, and just a good excuse to pour yourself a glass of the good stuff. The Russells run one of the oldest distilleries in the country and hearing them talk about the early days, before American bourbon was barely a thing, is fascinating and engaging. 

So as you celebrate the Kentucky Derby, maybe have your Alexa or Google Assistant smart speaker talk you through some of the bottles on your shelf. You’ll get a deeper appreciation of the spirit and the history behind it.

The move to Apple Silicon has rejuvenated the Mac portfolio, with the desktop and laptop computers showing Mac revenue at $9.1 billion (up from the expected $6.8 billion). While many of the geekerati jumped on the first generation products as quickly as possible (no doubt contributing to the blowout quarter), others will be waiting for the early adopters to find all the bugs in the hardware and software before jumping on with the second generation hardware.

And that might be difficult, because Apple has confirmed it is facing a crunch on components which will hit sales in the back half of 2021.

Right now the electronics world is facing up to an unprecedented shortage of silicon chips, and that is having a knock on effect across the entire supply chain. Apple may be able to fill a supplier’s order book far more than most of its rivals, but parts cannot simply be thought into existence if the raw materials are not there. Even if Apple is at the head of the queue, there’s still a queue

On Apple’s recent earnings call, Tim Cook discussed the issue, nothing that its portfolio will be ‘supply-gated not demand-gated’.

It’s in the next quarter that Apple predicts the impact will start, and the expectation is the first to suffer will be the iPad and the MacBook. Neither does the issue arise with the aforementioned cutting-edge Apple Silicon chips. Instead other components are going to hold up the retail sales; Reports from Nikkei Asia suggest that smaller components required for the MacBook Pro PCB and the iPad display drivers are going to hold up manufacturing.

The second calendar quarter is a traditionally quiet period for Apple sales, so the impact may not be critical but iut will be noticeable. Apple CFO Luca Maestri noted that “…supply constraints will have a revenue impact of $3 to $4 billion in the June quarter.” 

There will be many wondering if this will impact on the new iPhone family due to be launched later this year in September

Apple’s legendary management of the supply chain is going to be severely tested. And if you are waiting for the right time to upgrade your MacBook Pro or iPad, it might be a lot harder than simply waiting until you are ready and heading to the Apple Store.

Now read the latest headlines from Cupertino in the weekly Apple Loop column…

There have been plenty of rumors that AirPods 3 will arrive soon, and more recently a bunch of other reports saying we shouldn’t expect the new in-ear headphones before the Fall.

Now, a new report from Hits Daily Double claims that AirPods 3 will be announced in the coming weeks.

Well, that’s pretty exciting. There have been plenty of reports already about the new headphones, and more recently a claim that production of the current models is being reduced. This could be in response to slowing demand or, just possibly, because Apple is ramping up to release AirPods 3.

If previous rumors are right, we can expect AirPods 3 to look more like AirPods Pro than the current AirPods, but without the standout feature of active noise-cancelling for which the Apple headphones are rightly lauded or the multiple ear tips that the Pro models have for the optimum fit.

This new report doesn’t give any more details about the headphones, concentrating on the timing of the reveal and one other feature.

The timing on its own is pretty exciting news, bringing forward expectations that the AirPods 3 will be announced not in months but weeks. But the second part of the report is even more intriguing.

Alongside the new headphones—though not necessarily for the AirPods 3 specifically—will be announced a new feature for Apple Music: a hi-fi streaming tier.

What’s even more interesting is that the report claims the new tier will be available for the same $9.99 a month that is the price of the individual Apple Music subscription right now. In other words, better streaming quality at no extra cost.

That’s a contrast to Amazon Music where the HD tier costs $14.99 while the regular level is $9.99. It’s also different from Spotify which just this week announced forthcoming price increases.

Apple won’t want to be left out of the high-fidelity music streaming world and if it can offer it at a lower price than Spotify, that could well persuade subscribers to switch.

So, when exactly could we expect to see this?

Well, there’s another intriguing twist in this story, with a report in 9to5Mac that the first developer beta of iOS 14.6 had references to Dolby Atmos, Dolby Audio and Lossless in the Music app. These references have since been removed.

That suggests that the new higher-quality streaming could come as soon as this month, when iOS 14. 6 is expected to launch.

I think it could be more likely that it would be announced in June, perhaps at WWDC. After all, Apple Music was first revealed at WWDC six years ago.

On the other hand, AirPods Pro were announced purely by press release and WWDC has rarely been the place to see new hardware in recent years, so we could see the software and hardware revealed some time this month, after all.

By the way, I mentioned that Hits Daily Double says there’s no certainty that this new HiFi feature will be for AirPods 3. I would find it astonishing if Apple revealed a new product and then said it isn’t compatible with the new streaming service it announced alongside.

With the arrival of Apple iOS 14.5 for iPhones from iPhone 6s onwards, there were usage improvements across the board—full details here. But while some features were limited to particular models, such as unlocking your iPhone when wearing a mask was, unsurprisingly, just for Face ID-capable iPhones, there’s one new addition which only works with one generation of handsets.

That’s a clever battery recalibration feature, which is only compatible with the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max.

It’s designed to fix a problem where iPhones had erroneously been reporting battery health estimates. This problem, at its worst, could lead to unexpected battery drain or lower peak performance—both serious issues.

This new update is designed to make these potential problems history.

Reporting, not the battery

The first thing to note is that this erratic behavior did not actually affect the health of the battery itself, rather the reporting of it could lead to unhelpful responses.

So, when you update your iPhone 11 series handset to iOS 14.5, a message appears if you go to Settings, Battery and then Battery Health with the ominous heading: Important Battery Message. The message explains that the “battery health reporting system” is being recalibrated.

Don’t expect a quick fix

This recalibration system is not a speedy thing. Apple says that because the recalibration, both of the “maximum capacity and peak performance capability” happens during regular charge cycles. As such, “this process may take a few weeks”. Yes, weeks.

Why does it take so long? Well, as Apple explains, “Maximum battery capacity is determined using a set of algorithms and measurements taken during use. Over time, these algorithms may be updated to provide the best estimate of maximum battery capacity.”

And when it’s finally done…

Then the figures for the maximum capacity percentage for the battery and peak performance capability will be updated. At that point, the message saying the recalibration is happening will automatically disappear.

Then what?

Then, carry on as you were. That’s the result in most cases. However, in what Apple says will be a small number of cases, the recalibration may not work. In that case, a new service referring to the battery will appear. And if it does, then there’s another step to be taken: contacting an Apple Authorized Service Provider.

The good news?

There is some good news, actually. The provider can replace the battery to ensure that full performance and capacity are restored. What’s more, it will do so for free. Apple also says that this problem is not a safety issue though users may notice battery and performance issues. The message that will appear in the phone has a clickable button that reads, “More about service options…”

Apple recommends that once you’ve updated to iOS 14.5 that you should wait until the recalibration is done before contacting them. If your phone is still in warranty, service cover for a battery with this issue will be temporarily extended to cover the recalibration period.

Battery issues are serious, but this is a serious response to one of them from Apple.