If you missed the news, Amazon recently put a new Echo Show – its Alexa-powered smart home gadget with a touchscreen – on its digital shelves. Dubbed Echo Show 10, this new device has a motorised stem that lets it follow you around the room. Yes, when talking to chatty AI assistant Alexa, the device will rotate to follow your movements, so that its screen is always in view. If you’re asking Alexa about the latest headlines, juggling a few cooking timers, bingeing a boxset on Netflix, or making a video call… it can be really useful to always have the screen just a glance away …so, what’s all this got to do with the iPhone in your pocket?
Well, thanks to popular accessory manufacturer Belkin, Apple’s best-selling smartphone will soon be able to copy the Echo Show 10’s new party trick. Yes, really.
Belkin has launched a number of new magnetic accessories for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. These take advantage of the new MagSafe connector built into the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro series. This small ring of powerful magnets lets you connect a wallet, case, or Hockey Puck-like MagSafe charger to the back of your smartphone.
Belkin is using these magnets to secure the iPhone in place without the need to bother with straps or plastic clips. It makes these new accessories look much more streamlined and minimal.
As mentioned above, one of these magnetic accessories takes the form of a stand that, when combined with a custom-designed app from Belkin, allows your iPhone to recognise your face and swivel to make sure your handset is always facing you – exactly like the £239.99 Echo Show 10.
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According to Belkin, this newly-announced stand has full 360-degrees of rotational coverage and has magnets powerful enough to support an iPhone 12 in landscape and portrait orientations. Of course, since you’ll need to have the Belkin app loaded-up to use the face-tracking, you won’t be able to load-up your favourite app – like FaceTime, or Pokémon Go – and continue to have the stand rotate to face you as you move around your home.
However, Belkin has built-in support for a number of popular social networks, including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. So, you’ll be able to watch your favourite YouTube creator while cooking in the kitchen – and your iPhone will stay within view even as you dash back-and-forth from the fridge and oven, for example.
There’s no word on a release date quite yet, but Belkin has confirmed that its new face-tracking stand will come with a $65 (roughly £50) price tag when it launches.
Elsewhere, Belkin is using Apple’s MagSafe technology to create a fitness-focused phone mount that lets you attach your iPhone to indoor gym equipment. Placing your iPhone 12 on the mount will engage the magnets to keep it in place, and then Belkin includes a strap to attach the mount of the handlebars of a fitness bike or a treadmill. If you’re using a weights machine with some metal – Belkin’s built-in magnets can stick the mount to the machine without the need for a strap, which is nifty.
To round out the new magnet-powered accessories, Belkin debuted a portable 2,500mAh power bank that attaches to the back of your iPhone magnetically for $50 (£35, converted).