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This $69 Dongle Could Fix Apple’s AirPower And I/O Problems

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A product shot of the Miizer Hub simultaneously charging the iPhone X and the Apple Watch.

Apple’s hardware has been generating as much negative press as positive in the past few months. While the Apple Watch’s electrocardiogram feature—which recently launched in Hong Kong—is deservedly praised, the Wall Street Journal wrote a scathing, and amusing, takedown of the MacBook laptops’ terrible keyboards, for which Apple was forced to issue an apology.

Being the largest and most influential tech brand in the world will invite more scrutiny than usual, I suppose, but the recent abrupt cancellation of the long-announced AirPower wireless charging mat is a major black mark for a company that prides itself on innovation.

Personally speaking, I never cared much for the AirPower charging mat, whose only benefit over regular wireless charging pads is that it can top up the iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods simultaneously. And though I, too, find the MacBook Pro’s keyboards frustrating to use, my bigger gripe with Apple’s laptops is the lack of ports other than USB-C, which forces every user into something the tech industry have dubbed “dongle hell.”

I edit a lot of videos for work, and every time I need to transfer video files from a memory card to a MacBook, I need to plug in a card reader dongle. And if I want to pair a mouse with the MacBook? I’ll need a dongle for that, too, because most mice on the market have not made the switch to USB-C. Then, when I want to back up my videos to an external hard drive, guess what? Yes, another dongle.

A Shenzhen startup named Miizer is hoping to alleviate that problem to some degree with its all-in-one dongle, simply named the Hub. Not only does it offer virtually all the I/O connectivity one would need for personal computing, it also doubles as a wireless charging base that can charge smartphones and the Apple Watch at the same time.

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The Hub has two USB-A ports and two USB-C ports.

It still can’t charge the AirPods, but other than that, the Miizer Hub does the same thing as the failed AirPower.

I recently tested a pre-production unit of the dongle, and found that it works as advertised. It’s worth noting that the entire gadget is a bit chunkier than usual dongles, shaped almost like the original iPhone but double in thickness.

But that extra bulk is put to good use because the Miizer Hub offers more ports and features than any dongle I’ve seen before. In terms of ports, it has two USB-C ports that handles power and data transfer, two traditional USB-A ports, slots for Micro SD and standard SD memory cards, an ethernet port; and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The dongle is mostly made of plastic, except for the glass top plate off which devices will charge wirelessly. The Miizer Hub can also recharge devices the traditional way via an interchangeable charging head.

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The interchangeable charging head connects via pogo pins, but the different heads (lightning, USB-C, Micro-USB) are sold separately.

Ben Sin

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The Hub can output to 4K monitors.

From my testing, all the ports worked well. I was able to transfer 4K video files from a MicroSD card to my laptop at peak speed, and the HDMI port can output to external monitors at 4K resolution at 30Hz.

As a wireless charging station, I find the overall canvas a bit small to charge even one phone, let alone a phone and the Apple Watch, but with some juggling, it is possible. Ultimately, I would much rather just top up my phones with a wired cable as the wireless charging speed, at 10W, is a bit slow and my phone kept slipping off the Miizer Hub’s small surface. Topping up the Apple Watch is no problem, however, as the small battery negates the need for faster speeds and the Watch itself is small enough to sit comfortably on the Hub.

This dongle is best used for laptops lacking in crucial ports, most notably the MacBooks, but will work with any USB-C device. For example, when plugged into a recent Huawei smartphone, it does activate Huawei’s desktop mode. This means that if I also plug in an HDMI cable to a TV or an external monitor, I can use a Huawei device as a desktop computer. Though I’d also need an external keyboard and a mouse, which makes the entire set-up more clunky than just using a laptop.

Still, the Miizer Hub, which has been successfully backed on Indiegogo and selling at $69 a piece, does offer a solution for those suffering from Apple’s dongle and cancelled AirPower problems.

 

I’ve started a YouTube channel in an effort to provide multi-media coverage of gadgets I come across. If you’re interested, please subscribe.

I’m a Chinese-American journalist in Hong Kong, covering consumer tech in Asia. Before focusing on this exciting beat, I was a general culture writer and editor with byl…

Source: This $69 Dongle Could Fix Apple’s AirPower And I/O Problems

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Apple Watch Series 4: Rumors, Release Date & Features

 

Apple’s revenues from its Other Products category (which basically includes every piece of hardware it sells that is not an iPhone, iPad, or Mac) just keep increasing, growing by 38 percent year over year in the second quarter of 2018. The Apple Watch is believed to comprise a large portion of that revenue, so it makes sense that many expect Apple to announce an Apple Watch Series 4 within the year. But when specifically is a new Apple Watch most likely to be released? What features might distinguish a new watch from previous iterations? Let’s discuss all the clues and rumors surrounding the Apple Watch Series 4!

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When Will the Apple Watch Series 4 Be Released?

Apple has released a smartwatch every year since 2015, so it’s reasonable to assume that 2018 will be no different. For the last three years, Apple has announced the new Apple Watch version at its annual September event, so we’re predicting that September 2018 will follow the trend and bring an Apple Watch Series 4 reveal.

New Apple Watch Design Rumors

Larger Display?

According to the rumor mill, Apple is increasing display sizes on the 2018 crop of iPhones, iPad Pros, and also, it seems, for the newest Apple Watch. As reported in 9to5Mac, Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities predicts that the Apple Watch display will be enlarged by as much as 15 percent over the former 38 or 42 mm size offerings of previous smartwatches. This estimate would bring the Apple Watch 4 display sizes up to a choice between 43.7 mm or 48.3 mm; I’m going to guess designers will go for nice round numbers and offer a 44 mm or a 48 mm display on the series 4. The increase in screen size could come as a result of a decrease in bezel size, as with the iPhone X, an enlargement of the watch body, or a combination of both.

Display Shape

Up until now, the Apple Watch face has been a rectangle with rounded corners; will the Apple Watch 4 break the mold? Ming-Chi Kuo also predicts that Apple will renovate the watch face to a “more trendy form factor design.” Does this mean the Apple Watch 4 will feature a round face? Or maybe more of a rounded square? Only Apple knows, for now, but my guess is that Apple will stick to a square or rectangular watch face to prevent text crowding at the center of a rounded screen.

Smart Band?

Image Credit: Apple Insider

Last year MacRumors reported that Apple had been granted a patent for a “modular functional band links for wearable devices” for the Apple Watch. The band gets around the chassis-size issue by incorporating watch components into the band itself. Some of the possibilities for the band’s functionality include more biometric sensors, haptic feedback devices, speakers, and extra batteries or kinetic power generators. My favorite idea out of all of these is the kinetic power generation theory; what a great way to extend the time between charges!

Improved Capabilities

The Apple Watch Series 3 features a dual-core processor that’s up to 70 percent faster than that of the Series 2, while a W2 chip gives the watch 50 percent more battery efficiency for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Both of these features add almost no bulk to the watch chassis, making it almost identical in size to the Apple Watch 2. So what improvements can we expect to see with the Apple Watch 4?

A Faster Processor for the Apple Watch 4?

Will there be a new CPU and faster graphics performance for the Apple Watch 4? If so, Apple will need to roll out a W3 chip for the Apple Watch this year.

Apple Watch Battery Life

Apple Watch owners have long desired improvements in battery life so the device can be utilized for overnight sleep monitoring as well as daytime health and fitness tracking. The series 2 and 3 Apple Watch both feature an 18–hour battery life, even with workouts; so will the Series 4 make it to 24 hours? If the power-generating modular band is a reality, it’s entirely possible.

An Apple Watch that Truly Operates Independently of an iPhone?

Apple rolled out a cellular option for last year’s smartwatch, but the Cellular Apple Watch 3 still needs to be paired with an iPhone in order set it up, update watchOS, and fully access all the functions. As well, not all of the watch’s LTE features can function truly independantly of the iPhone. Will the cellular Apple Watch 4 be the first watch to function independently of an iPhone? This rumor seems like it may be wishful thinking; but if it is true, I’ll be buying one for my daughter next year!

New Health Monitoring Capabilities?

One of the most exciting applications for Apple’s smartwatch technology is the variety of health-monitoring capabilities offered by the device. The heart rate monitor, for example, can be used to monitor for atrial fibrillation (AFib,) a leading cause of stroke. Since AFib often goes unnoticed, approximately 130,000 people die from this condition every year. Luckily, the Apple Watch can warn wearers of the abnormal heart rhythm so they can get help in time, making it literally a life-saving technology. Heart health isn’t the only area of medicine that the Apple Watch is contributing to, though. Apple’s ResearchKit and CareKit platforms offer support to more than 500 researchers engaged in ground-breaking medical studies, and many of those studies utilize the Apple Watch for data collection. So how will the Apple Watch 4 expand on medical data collection? Most likely with a combination of hardeware and software upgrades.

DeepHeart, an Apple Watch App that collects and translates various health data including heart rate and step count, can currently detect diabetes 85 percent of the time, as well as high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and high cholesterol with similar degrees of accuracy. High on the wish list for Apple Watch app developers and medical researchers would be even more health monitoring capabilities, including non-invasive blood glucose level collection, continuous ECG monitoring capabilities, a respiration rate monitor, and a blood-oxygen-level monitor. Will any of these capabilities be rolled out with the Apple Watch 4, possibly in conjunction with watchOS 5? We’ll have to wait and see.

A Truly Waterproof Apple Watch?

The Apple Watch Series 3 is water resistant up to 50 meters, or 164 feet. This means you can swim or snorkel with the smart watch, but not do deeper-water activities like scuba diving. The watch is also designed to handle light splashing, but not heavy-velocity spray from activities like water skiing. So, will these capabilities change with the Apple Watch 4? Can we expect a device that can stand up to every kind of water sport, or is that a feature for a future version of the Apple Watch?

What Do You Think?

What features do you expect or wish to seen in an Apple Watch Series 4? Let me know in the comments!

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