GunnerCase for iPhone 4/4S uses collapsing air cells to protect your device

This new GunnerCase from baseonelabs uses air cell pockets to give superior protection in a slim form. It also repels the lint from your pockets.
We weren’t quite sure what to think when we heard that there was a new iPhone case that was inspired by guns. The two don’t seem all that related to us unless it’s a hunting-themed printed case that you’re looking for. We’ve seen those before, but they aren’t really our cup of tea. Luckily, once we did a little investigating we realized that the case simply integrated a smart piece of technology that is already present in shotguns. Just like the recoil pad on most shotguns, theGunnerCase ($40) from baseonelabs uses internal air cell pockets, which collapse on impact to provide as much protection as a much bulkier protective case. 
We like the simple design of the case and at 13.9 mm thick it’s definitely one of the slimmer serious protective cases out there. The case features precision-cut buttons for volume and power, while the camera and silencer switch are left untouched. The GunnerCase is made from a special TPU material, which supposedly feels like a rigid case but will absorb impacts and protect like a softer case. Even better, the material is also designed to repel all of that lint that is in your pockets and manages to get stuck to other cases. Now that’s something we can get behind. On top of that, the case comes with a screen protector kit, a micro cleaning cloth, and a lifetime warranty against anything, no questions asked. The case is currently available for pre-order and will ship in late march. 

The Shirt Shuttle keeps dress shirts neat while traveling

With the Shirt Shuttle you'll never open up your suitcase to a pile of wrinkled mess again. The rest of your suitcase may look that way, but whatever you put in the clever Shirt Shuttle will stay pressed and neat for wherever your next business meeting is located.
One of the worst things about traveling for some people, probably more for business-types than post-college backpackers, is that it’s nearly impossible to keep clothes from wrinkling up into a messy ball in your suitcase. What do you wear when you arrive? Or if your hotel doesn’t have an iron for you to use? As you might expect, someone has come up with a solution to this problem that we think is pretty great. If you’re a business traveler, having a clean button-down ready at all times means that you’ll always look professional, put together, and unphased by any situation. The Shirt Shuttle (about $50) solves that problem by creating a small little capsule for your clean and pressed shirt to travel in. 
Think of it as a semi-rigid laptop case, except it’s for your shirt. The case zips open and inside there is just enough room for a perfectly folded button-down that you’ve folded around the including folding board. That folding board has curved edges to make sure that no area of your shirt will end up with creases. Small pads keep the shirt in place while you travel and there is even a special collar pad to keep your shirt’s collar from being crushed in transit. The integrated folding board has a built-in hanger and the semi-rigid case has a recessed carrying handle and will protect your garment from the elements, like rain, and prevent it from getting crushed in a suitcase. 
Originally we thought that this would really only be handy for the business traveler, but the Shirt Shuttle site reminded us that it might be helpful if you bike into work on a regular basis or have meetings after you’ve already hit the gym. Keep one of these in your bike or gym bag, or in a drawer at your office, and you’ll always look sharp even if you’re not traveling. 

What is this crazy, waterless washing machine concept?

The Orbit is a concept washing machine that uses no water and cleans clothes with dry ice in a matter of minutes. Is it too good to be true?
How many times have you thrown your clothes in the washing machine, only to find that one red shirt accidentally got in the mix of your pristine, white underwear and turned everything pink? How many of you don’t even own washing machines and have to trek outside to spend several hours at the laundromat every week only to have the dryers steal your socks? Do you despise the chore of washing clothes in the first place? If you nodded your head in agreement to any of the aforementioned situations, you must be as thrilled as we are about this concept portable washing machine that uses dry ice to clean clothes in only a few minutes.
Meet the Orbit, created by industrial designer Elie Ahovi to help revolutionize the tedious task and make washing machines greener for the environment. The Orbit cuts down on water usage by allowing dry ice to evaporate into gas and perform a pressurized blast to lift the dirt off your clothes. The chemical reaction between carbon dioxide in dry ice and grease in your clothes breaks down the particles of dirt, spinning them into oblivion. After the dry ice has scrubbed your laundry clean in a matter of minutes, the gas is sucked back up and returns to a solid state for future washes. The grime removed from your clothes is filtered through a tube which you will have to manually clean and maintain.
The Orbit is also powered by a battery-filled ring containing a metal laundry basket at the center of the the spherical machine. The batteries inside the ring create a magnetic field which also levitates the basket as the machine’s electrical resistivity drops. Now, instead of watching laundry spin inside traditional washing machines, the Orbit would also make our clothes float.
While the idea is amazing, is it too wild to become reality? With dry ice blasting an established method of cleaning, albeit for industrial machines, applying the process to clothes may very well be possible if the carbon dioxide gas does not ruin the variety of sensitive fabrics. The Orbit also addresses the water crisis issue, but does not seem to clarify how much energy it will take to keep this battery-powered machine running especially if it’s going to get cold enough to turn gas back into dry ice numerous amounts of time. And even though the levitation thing is cool, will the magnetic field be strong enough to keep the metal basket floating inside the ring? What if kids or pets knock the machine over — will that throw the Orbit completely out of whack?
We know this is just a concept, meaning it will either be out in the next decades after further development, or never at all. But seeing a practical future sketched before our eyes gives a little hope that one day, life will get to that level of convenience and innovation.

Logitech announces the Cube presentation mouse

While Logitech offers plenty of mice and trackballs for everyone from the typical computer user to the hardcore gamer, the company is launching a new type of mouse with the business user in mind.
With an eye-catching rectangular, boxy design, Logitech has released details prior to CES regarding a new type of mouse that’s designed for anyone giving a presentation. Completely cordless, the device functions as a typical mouse when resting on a hard surface like a desk or conference room table using a 1000dpi laser sensor on the bottom of the Cube. When the mouse is lifted off the surface, the Cube automatically detects the change and launches into ”Presenter mode.”  Each click of the mouse will advance slides being presented in a program like Microsoft’s PowerPoint. The top of the Logitech Cube also serves as a surface to scroll up and down a Web page by using Logitech’s Flow Scroll software. The user simply slides a finger up and down the mouse to accomplish the function.
Owners of the Logtiech Cube don’t have to worry about finding batteries for the device as it comes with a lithium-polymer battery. The battery is charged via a USB connection and the device will let the user when the battery power is low with an illuminated display. The Logitech Cube connects to a computer via a wireless USB receiver operating at 2.4-GHz and offers a sliding power switch to turn off the mouse after completing a presentation. The Cube comes with the Logitech Unifying receiver, a USB charging cable and a pouch to store the device when traveling. The mouse is currently priced at $69.99 and will be available later this month.
While this is the first new device that Logitech has announced for CES 2012, the company will also be showing off other recently released products including the Logitech Wireless Boombox for iPad, Logitech HD Webcam C615 and the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750. The battery-powered boombox allows iPad owners to stream music from the tablet to the boombox without requiring a cable connection. 

Fitbit announces the Aria Wi-Fi scale

While the Jawbone Up continues to remain unavailable to consumers due to production issues, the company behind the Fitbit Ultra is showing off a new gadget to help keep track of your weight loss goals.
Announced at CES this week and shown to the press at Digital Experience, Fitbit plans on releasing a Wi-Fi enabled scale called the Aria. The Fitbit Aria is capable of automatically recognizing eight different users in a household, but there’s also an interface for manually choosing a user. The scale measures weight and body fat percentage as well as calculating the user’s body mass index (BMI). It keeps track of users by recalling the last weigh-in, so daily use is recommended for accurate tracking. In order to track body fat percentage, the user is required to stand on the scale without wearing shoes as the scale measures body impedance by sending mild electric pulses through the feet. There are no controls on the front of the scale, just a sleek digital readout that displays the user’s information.
Similar to Wi-Fi scales built by Withings, the Fitbit Aria automatically searches for Wi-Fi networks in the area and the user chooses the correct network through computer software. The scale uses 4 AA batteries which Fitbit representatives believe will last up to six months. Data collected by the Fitbit Aria is sent into the mobile application that’s shared by the Fitbit Ultra and all user information is kept private by default. Users can also choose to share their weight and body fat percentage with others for further encouragement. According to research mentioned by Fitbit representatives, people who weigh themselves once a day are more likely to stick to weight loss goals. 
This data can also tie into an online profile on and users can earn badges from the gaming elements of  the Fitbit user profile. While the device is safe for pregnant women and children over 20 pounds, anyone with a pacemaker should not use the scale. The Fitbit Aria scale will be available during April 2012 for $129.99 and can be purchased in either black or white.

Nike reaches amputee athletes with commercial soles for prosthetic limbs

Nike has teamed up with World Record Holder and amputee triathlete Sarah Reinertsen and orthopedics firm Össur to create a modern running sole for athletes with prosthetic limbs.
Nike Innovation has developed a new prosthetic sole, designed to help amputee athletes truly hit the ground running. The project, known as the Nike Sole, is a partnership between Össur, an advanced orthopedics design company, and amputee triathlete Sarah Reinertsen. The product is a running sole that interlocks and accommodates the unique Össur blade, allowing runners to experience a true running foot without the hassle of cutting their own soles.
The Nike Sole has all the elements of a normal running shoe, stripped down to the key component amputees need most. Utilizing recycled materials, carbon fiber and a “flex-run” blade, the lightweight sole features a three-part layered system that includes an outsole, midsole and a thermal plastic urethane called Aeroply. These layers provide traction, comfort and support, adding the feeling of a real shoe onto the prosthetic leg to improve track performances. The sole attachment also contains nine nylon tabs and a rubber leash that hooks and grips on to the running blade, giving users the ability to run firmly on the ground but also easily slide the sole on and off their blades. Reinertsen has tested its first prototype made from a Nike Free 5.0 Trail outsole, and more advanced models are expected to come out based on her professional feedback.
Nike Sole side view
This minimalistic design aims to be both stylish and more functional for amputee athletes. Previously, runners resorted to buying a regular pair of sneakers and mangled them entirely by slicing the bottom soles off then manually attaching it to the blade with glue, velcro or duct tape. Nike hopes that by focusing on the user than the product, the design will serve the small but new market whose needs were never addressed to date.
“The Sarah Sole project is a special one for Nike,” said Tobie Hatfield, Nike Innovation Director. “The Nike Sole is a shining example of our passion and commitment to serve athletes and provide them the solutions they need to achieve their goals – we’re always listening to the voice of every athlete.”
Reinertsen, who has worked with Nike and Össur on the project since 2006, was born with proximal femoral focal deficiency, battling a bone-growth disorder which resulted in her becoming an above-the-knee amputee by the age of seven. Since the amputation, Reinertsen has set world records in her division, ran multiple marathons and was the youngest member of the 1992 U.S. Paralympic Team to compete in Barcelona.
The Nike Sole is currently available through prosthetists’ offices globally, presumably at those where the Össur prosthetic blades are also offered.

Sigma slashes new SD1 DSLR price by $6,700

The SD1 is getting a new name and price after Sigma Corporation announced a rebranding of its SD and DP series camera, with the SD1 retail price cut down by at least $6,700.
Sigma Corporation announced today a rebranding of its flagship DSLR camera, renaming the SD1 as the Sigma SD1 Merrill. The minimum suggested retail price will also drop more than 66 percent, knocking the premium sticker price of $9,700 down to $3,300 with a street price of $2,299.
This is huge news for casual and professional photographers alike since the SD1 was still found on major online retailers for $6,899 as of this morning. The Sigma SD1 started out as a 15-megapixel DSLR, but with three layers of its tiny Foveon X3 Direct Image sensor, the camera is capable of a whopping 46-megapixel resolution. The sensor is also unique in its ability to capture pixels in full color. Each snap records primary colors red, blue and green light values within each pixel location at the same time. The result is an overall richer, more vivid and color-accurate photos, which enhances the three-dimensional impression specific to Foveon sensors.
The new official name of Sigma SD1 Merrill is a nod to the late co-creator of the Foveon X3 sensor, Richard “Dick” Merrill, who passed away in 2008. Sigma continued to say the price slash is thanks to new manufacturing methods which greatly reduced production costs.
“We could not solve issues related to some of the manufacturing methods before the start of mass production, and the production cost ended up substantially exceeding our originally expected price. As a result, we had no choice but to set the price of the Sigma SD1 high,” said Kazuto Yamaki, CEO of Sigma Corporation. “Since then, overcoming this situation has become the first priority for us and Foveon, and we have together made improvements to reduce production cost substantially … Although some of the manufacturing methods have been enhanced, the performance and characteristics of the sensor itself have not changed. “
With the new price drop, you’d be hard pressed to find other medium-format cameras as powerful for that amount of money. The anticipated Nikon D800, a full-frame DSLR, has an MSRP of $2,999 and still only manages to come up to 36.3 megapixels. What if you’re one of the SD1 owners who forked nearly $7k before the price cut? Sigma said it will provide a “support program” for current users who will be awarded credits to use toward future Sigma product purchases until the end of the year.
The announcements also do not end there. In a separate press release today, Sigma promised upgrades to the DP1 and DP2 compact rangefinders, adding the almighty 45-megapixel Foveon chip to the guts and renaming the models to add Merrill in their names. The main difference between the DP models is the lens focal length, with the DP1 Merrill featuring a wide-angle lens and the DP2 offering a more standard lens that is equivalent to 45mm lens on a 35mm camera. The inclusion of the Foveon chip will undoubtedly make the cameras more powerful than ever, though prices and availability information on these DP models are currently unspecified.

Asus sails past 1080p with Transformer Pad Infinity tablet

The Asus Transformer Pad Infinity tablet will offer incredible 1920 x 1200 resolution in a portable form factor, bringing new meaning to the term “sharp.”
Rumors of high-resolution tablets have been swirling for months now, and a high-res iPad is almost certainly on the way, but Asus seized the honor of being first to make it official on Monday with the Transformer Pad Infinity. The upcoming Android 4.0 tablet will offer an impressive resolution of 1,920 x 1,200 – higher than many laptops and even most HDTVs.
By making the vertical resolution 1,200 pixels rather than the usual 1080, Asus will actually shift the aspect ratio from 16:9 to 16:10, a less “skinny” form factor that squeezes a bit more into the sides of the screens when held in portrait mode. It also emits a squint-worthy 600 nits at peak brightness. In typically hyperbolic marketing fashion, the panel will wear the title “HD Super IPS+.” Interestingly, the company’s pre-conference briefings omitted the physical size of the screen. While that might suggest it’s something other than the same 10.1 inches as the company’s other Transformer offerings, pictures suggest it remains the same.
ASUS Transformer Pad_Infinity_04
Whatever the size, it takes plenty of hardware to drive that many pixels, and the Transformer will come packing. It runs Nvidia’s 1.6GHz quad-core Tegra 3 processor… but only in its Wi-Fi configuration. The 3G and 4G versions will both step down (a bit) to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 platform. Both versions include 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of built-in storage, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of Asus’ free lifetime WebStorage. The company also has high expectations for the 8-megapixel camera with 5-element lens.
True to the Transformer name, the Infinity will have any accompanying dock that adds both a keyboard and extra battery life. With the internal 25-Watt-hour battery plus the 22-Watt-hour battery in the dock, Asus claims the Infinity will deliver 16 hours of battery life, or 10 without.
ASUS Transformer Pad_Infinity_04Although it will clearly take a back seat to the Infinity, Asus also announced the Transformer Pad 300, which gets the same hot Tegra 3 chip and camera, but without the high-res display – just a 1,280 x 800 IPS model. What it lacks in pixels, it will make up for in, well, color: Asus plans to break away from the standard slate and black to offer the 300 in red, white and blue.
Asus hasn’t yet announced pricing or availability for any of its MWC 2012 announcements, including the long-awaited PadFone.

Meet the smartphone with higher resolution than your DSLR: Nokia’s 41-megapixel PureView 808

Nokia’s new PureView 808 leapfrogs competitors with a mind-blowing 41-megapixel camera, but the “how” behind this exponential gain remains blurry.
Now that 8-megapixel smartphones cameras are starting to become pedestrian, Nokia – a company that has always celebrated the quality of its smartphone cams – has had to step up its game. And what a step it has taken. On Monday, the company shocked Mobile World Congress audiences by announcing that the upcoming Nokia PureView 808 will boast a 41-megapixel camera.
If that sounds a little over the top, it probably should, but Nokia insists that number includes no artificially generated pixels or interpolation. How did engineers pull it off? The technology remains hazy, but the two Nokia engineers who developed the sensor were inspired by the technology used in satellite imaging, and have been concocting it in complete secrecy for five years.
Since 41-megapixel images won’t make sense for most people, the PureView will perform “pixel oversampling” to combine seven pixels into one, distilling full-res images down to 5-megapixel images with no noise.
Hazy technology or not, demo photos proved impressive. A massive, wall-sized mural within the Nokia booth was shot on the new camera, and looked every bit as sharp as what you might typically expect from a DSLR. Another example showed a man standing in front of a newsstand holding a paper, which you could zoom in on enough to clearly read individual headlines. Part of the reason Nokia developed the technology was as an alternative to optical zoom, which just hasn’t proven practical on smartphones. Of course, even with all the resolution in the world, we wouldn’t expect low-light performance to shine from a sensor that can fit in a smartphone, and none of the demo shots highlighted that capability.
Oddly enough, rather than choosing to introducing the new camera tech on a Windows Phone device, the PureView 808 will actually run Symbian. Aside from the crazy rear camera, specs include a single-core 1.3GHz CPU, 512MB of RAM and HSPA 14.4Mbps capability. Shockingly for a phone that can capture 41 megapixels, it only comes with 16GB of built-in storage (though you can add more via microSD) and the 4-inch screen only offers 640 x 360 resolution.
Nokia will introduce the PureView 808 in May priced at 450 euros, or $599 in the US. While the Symbian operating system may keep all but the most determined photographers away, Nokia assures us that the same technology is headed to other platforms soon.

Samsung shows-off new quad-core Exynos chip, which could find a home in the Galaxy S III

Samsung has taken the wraps off two new processors, the quad-core Exynos 4412 and the dual-core Exynos 5250. More information will be on its way at Mobile World Congress, and the quad-core chip could find a home in the Galaxy S III later in the year.
Samsung has teased a pair of new mobile processors at the International Solid State Circuits Conference, and is likely to unveil them fully during Mobile World Congress next week. Both are new entries in its Exynos series, with the 5250 being a dual-core chip and the 4412 a quad-core monster.
Due to its quad-core nature, it’s the Exynos 4412 which has currently garnered the most attention, and is being viewed as a challenger to both the Nvidia Tegra 3 and the Qualcomm S4 series.
It’s based on four ARM Cortex A-9 cores and will have a clock speed of 1.5Ghz, and is particularly interesting due to a reduction in the manufacturing process from 45nm to 32nm. If this doesn’t mean much to you, don’t worry, as ultimately it will make the chip more power efficient, thus consuming less battery power, while providing improved performance when it’s needed.
The Verge puts a figure on these improvements, saying devices with the 32nm Exynos chips could see battery life improving by between 34 and 50-percent, while giving 26-percent higher performance. It’s not just the quad-core system-on-a-chip which will benefit, as the new dual-core Exynos 5250 is also manufactured in the same way,
Rather than four A-9 cores, the Exynos 5250 uses two Cortex A15 cores, can reach speeds of 2.0Ghz and is potentially suitable for use in tablets as well as smartphones, as Samsung has stated it can support screen resolutions up to 2560 x 1600.

Quad-core hardware

While the news of a pair of new chips may not set many pulses racing, the thought of the new hardware using them may do, and the most logical new home for the quad-core Exynos 4412 is theforthcoming Samsung Galaxy S III, as it’s almost certain Samsung’s successor to the dual-core Galaxy S II will feature a quad-core chip.
The only official quad-core phone so far is LG’s Optimus 4X HD, which makes use of the current darling of the processor world, the Nvidia Tegra 3. As cool as the Exynos’s 32nm design sounds, it doesn’t use the clever 4-PLUS-1 five-core system favored by the Tegra 3, so it’ll be fascinating to see how the two compare on the test bench.
With the Exynos 5250 not expected to go into mass production until April at the earliest, it may be a while before any devices using the chip hit the stores. In the case of the Exynos 4212, Mobile World Congress should provide us with more details, plus, if we’re very lucky, perhaps news of another device which will make use of the new quad-core processor.

BlackBerry, once king of corporate IT, now in decline

BlackBerry used to be synonymous with business, but new research finds that for RIM and corporate IT, the end may soon be near.
Just days after Research In Motion released an anticipated 2.0 software update for its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, the Canadian company is seeing its once lauded corporate IT prospects declining steeply. A new report by IT industry research firm InformationWeek announced today that just 7 percent of IT administrators plan on increasing their use of RIM products in the future. The report surveyed over 530 technology professionals, and the statistics — although grave for RIM — are nevertheless unsurprising.
Just a few short years ago, the BlackBerry was considered the lynchpin of corporate IT policy. RIM’s revolutionary mobile phone allowed secure and reliable email communication, coupled with a supremely usable physical keyboard — a combination business users found intoxicating. Even as recently as 2010, BlackBerry handheld use was still growing by more than 46 percent year over year. In fact at the beginning of that year, five of the top ten selling smart phones in America were BlackBerries. Of course, a lot has changed since then — Android, Google’s mobile OS, which is free for phone makers to run on their devices — has proved to be an unbridled success. It now accounts for almost 50 percent of the mobile market, with an estimated 400,000 device activationsper day. And Apple’s iPhone, well, suffice it to say that if a single device is responsible for an estimated $9 billion profit in the last quarter alone, it doesn’t leave much room for competition.
Which is entirely the point; over the previous two years, RIM had allowed itself to become increasingly complacent to the demands of mobile consumers, digging in its heels and instead relying on vast corporate contracts to sustain the BlackBerry franchise. However, as smartphone use has gained prevalence in this country, a fundamental change has begun to affect RIM’s bottom-line: consumers, as opposed to corporate IT departments, now dictate which devices drive business use, and not the other way around. By shutting RIM out of the consumer game, Apple and Android have forced IT departments to adapt to their platforms. The numbers speak for themselves: The study found that 67 percent of respondents consider Apple a strategic partner for enterprise mobility, compared with 36% citing RIM and 38% citing Microsoft, according to the press release. It goes on to state that, “While BlackBerry represents a median of 70% of company-purchased smartphones in use now, that percentage plummets to 25% when respondents look ahead 24 months.” Recently, RIM has also lost valuable government contracts, once a mainstay of its business, as even federal agencies have become cowed to Android and iOS’s popularity. In a changing world in which 52 percent of businesses allow employees to BYOD (bring your own device), it is the typical consumer, and not the IT administrator, who BlackBerry must now woo.
The news isn’t all bad, however: 46 percent of respondents expressed that it was the poor leadership of RIM’s former co-CEOs that has lead to the current state of the BlackBerry. With some luck and much innovation, RIM’s new chief executive, Thorsten Heins, may have a shot at turning the ship around. The new BlackBerry 10 operating system is just around the corner, and with phones that — while not wholly original — still look promising, RIM may have a final chance to redeem itself in the eyes of the consumers it must now win over. Hey, it sort of reminds us of another highly innovative company that almost went bankrupt before reversing its fate: Apple. That company is now the most valuable in the world. For RIM, only time will tell.

Apple buys iOS App Store search tool Chomp

Apple has acquired iOS App Store search utility Chomp for an undisclosed amount...perhaps with an eye towards easing the app-finding and app-discovery experiences.
Apple is putting some portion of its $100 billion bank account to work, with the Wall Street Journaland other sources reporting Apple has acquired iOS App Store search tool Chomp for an undisclosed price. As usual, Apple has had nothing to say about the acquisition: an Apple spokesperson has confirmed only that it occasionally buys other companies, and does not usually discuss its intentions or plans. Bloomberg reports Apple is paying about $50 million to acquire the firm.
Chomp is an interactive tool that enables users to search for apps not just buy their names or keywords, but also by “functions and topics” of applications, enabling users to search for applications using general descriptions. Based in San Francisco, Chomp has raised about $2.5 million in venture funding, and counts celebrity Ashton Kutcher as a “marketing advisor.”
As Apple nears the sale of its 25 billionth app from its App Store, the acquisition suggests Apple is looking for ways to make the 550,000 apps in its app store more easily searchable and discoverable. Apple’s existing App Store search feature is very bare-bones, and third-party developers have often complained it can be nearly impossible for users to find their apps in the store unless the programs are featured by Apple.
Chomp also operates an app search service for the Android Market, which helps drive Verizon’s own app search service on selected Android devices. There’s no indication whether Apple will keep that service (and app) available once the acquisition is complete.

Will Apple dump the iPhone’s aging 30-pin connector?

For a company as forward-thinking as Apple has been in the mobile world, it still depends on a relic of its pre-iOS days as the primary connection for charging iPhones and iPads. But now that Apple can update its iOS devices over wireless networks, the 30-pin connector may have run its course. reported Friday that Apple will likely get rid of the 30-pin connector in the next version of the iPhone in favor of something smaller that could help it accommodate 4G LTE radios, and it’s about time. Unfortunately, the site doesn’t think Apple will follow the lead of the rest of the smartphone market and embrace the micro USB standard for phone chargers, but it’s still a notable development.
The 30-pin dock connector has been the primary doorway into the iPod for years. It was the only way to install software updates on an iPhone or iPad until iOS 5 introduced over-the-air updates, and an easy target for those who believed Apple wasn’t living up to its “post-PC” words by requiring a physical connection to a computer for such an important task.
Eliminating the (relatively) bulky connector could make it easier for Apple to include 4G wireless connections in the next iPhone without having to make an iPhone as big as some of the Android models (like the Galaxy Nexus) that connect to 4G networks. It also means a legion of accessory makers will have to get on board with a new standard on which Apple will probably continue to charge royalties to use in their products. The success of an iPhone accessory maker like Square that bypassed the 30-pin connector altogether with its credit-card reader may have also prompted Apple to come up with a new connector that offers unique advantages.
But to take things a step further, is Apple also willing to embrace wireless charging with the next iPhone, along the lines of what Palm introduced for certain models of the Pre? That might force the company to make some tough decisions about the materials it uses in the iPhone, a notoriously sensitive subject. But wireless charging is a great idea for users, and it would also allow Apple to sell some sleek wireless charging stations at a tidy profit.