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SiriusXM buys connected car accessory maker Automatic for over $100 million

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SiriusXM has acquired smart car accessory maker Automatic for over $100 million, TechCrunch reports. Automatic makes a Bluetooth device that lets you track and read driving data from your iPhone.

TechCrunch has learned that the deal was worth over $100 million, and SiriusXM and Automatic both note in releases announcing the news that the brand will remain separate, and Automatic’s products and team will remain focused on the same mission.

Automatic Labs and SiriusXM announced the deal this morning:

“Automatic is thrilled to join forces with SiriusXM at such an exciting time for the connected car,” said Gary Clayton, Automatic’s CEO. “Automakers, enterprises, and consumers are looking for the best products with world-class capabilities, and our teams will continue to bring innovation to the connected vehicle landscape under SiriusXM.”

Automatic first debuted its smart car accessory back in 2013 with the introduction of the Automatic Link. Link used the onboard diagnostic port on modern cars to read diagnostic reports through a connected iPhone app, and drive tracking features were also available.

Last fall Automatic updated its hardware to replace the original Link and offer two versions with different features at varying price points. Automatic Lite has most of the features of the original Automatic Link, while Automatic Pro adds free 3G connectivity for tracking independent of an iPhone.

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Nomad unveils its latest 2,800mAh battery for iPhone

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Nomad today announced the launch of an updated Battery Cable, which comes equipped with a slim 2,800 mAh battery to add a bit of extra juice to Apple’s iPhones and iPads.

The Battery Cable looks like a standard braided Nomad Lightning cable for the iPhone, but with the addition of a battery pack at one end that can be used for extra charging power when necessary.

Nomad’s 1.5M Battery Cable includes an integrated Nomad cable tie and support for passthrough charging, so you can charge up the battery while you charge your iPhone. Having the battery pack integrated into the cable is convenient because it ensures the battery is always full when you need it.

Compared to the original version of the Battery Cable, the new model has a higher capacity and a sturdier aluminum build.

Nomad’s Battery Cable can be purchased from the Nomad website for $49.95 starting today.

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Microsoft officially announces its Xbox adaptive controller

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Microsoft’s previously announced Adaptive Controller for the Xbox is now available for pre-order for $100 USD and is expected to ship in September.

After an initial leak of the device, Microsoft has announced an Xbox controller designed for individuals with disabilities. The Adaptive Controler features two large buttons that can be programmed, as well as 19 jacks that allows connectivity with a range of joysticks, buttons, and switches compatible with Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs.

Its highlighted customization and connectivity aspects allow gamers to built a setup for all their needs, and although the peripheral won’t be for every game, with its system-level button remapping, its usage has endless possibilities to build upon for the gaming accessibility field.

The Xbox Adaptive Controller will cost $99.99 USD and is slated to drop later this year.

In related news, a Black Panther-themed Xbox One X is coming.

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Wi-Fi company Plume announces new mesh router technology

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Wi-Fi router startup Plume today announced an upgraded version of its mesh networking devices and a new subscription model for its customers. Plume first began selling its “Plume Pod” routers in late 2016, and today revealed a new tri-band router called the “SuperPod” (via The Verge).

Plume’s SuperPod works like any other mesh system, requiring users to connect the first Pod to their modem with an included ethernet cable. The rest serve as wall plugs that users permanently place in an outlet to enhance the Wi-Fi signal throughout their home. In comparison to the original dual band, four-channel model, SuperPod has a tri-band Wi-Fi radio with eight channels and two ethernet ports.

When connected and running, the SuperPod system learns the user’s home usage patterns “in a matter of days.” This means that the SuperPods will learn when you use Wi-Fi the most (getting news from a smart speaker in the morning or watching 4K films at night) and implement “Adaptive Wi-Fi” to actively optimize the network for more consistent speed and performance.

For users to take advantage of these features, they’ll have to subscribe to Plume. The company previously sold the Plume Pod without a subscription, but today is changing that by requiring customers to subscribe to its Adaptive Wi-Fi service before they can purchase a SuperPod, The Verge notes.

The service costs $60 per year and if users opt out of the subscription in a year’s time “the routers may not fully work,” although Plume CEO Fahri Diner said the company wouldn’t outright “brick” the devices if users decide not to pay down the line.

Diner says Plume wants to provide so many additional services as part of its subscription that customers will happily remain subscribed. “Our intent, our hope, is to make the decision a no-brainer,” Diner said in a phone call. “If the customer doesn’t want to renew, it won’t be because of the price. They will be unhappy for us for one reason or another.”

Plume is offering price discounts for it subscribers, however, selling a three-pack of its routers for $39, down from $179. Three packs come with two dual-band routers (the older models) and one tri-band router (the new model). In terms of adding supplemental Pods onto the system, the company will still sell its Plume Pod for $39 and the individual price for the new SuperPod is $99.

Potential customers can also choose to pay a flat $200 fee for a lifetime membership to the service, while existing Plume owners will be grandfathered in to the new features for free. Other features include parental controls, speed tests, service management, and “Plume HomePass.” This service creates unique Wi-Fi passwords personalized to guests when they visit. The iOS app can also detail Wi-Fi connections, freeze device connections to prevent kids from accessing the internet, data consumption charts, and more.

Wi-Fi mesh systems have become a popular solution for in-home Wi-Fi over the years, with options from companies like Linksys, Orbi, Eero, Google, and others. The technology is looking to expand as well, with the Wi-Fi Alliance in May announcing a new certification program called “EasyMesh,” which aims to allow users to build mesh networks in their homes across different brands.

For Plume, orders on the SuperPod will open June 15 and the device will begin shipping June 21.

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