This week on The Wrap, we’ll look at the ways technology can improve convenience, including using your phone as your driver’s license, equipping your home with a smart lock, going wireless and cordless with earphones, and more. All in five minutes.
It’s the beginning of November, and you’re listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and by now you’re probably all too aware just how dependent on mobile phones our world is.
Even though we call the iPhone, the Galaxy, the Pixel and plenty others a “mobile phone”, these devices are far from being just phones. They’re so much more. They’re media players and now let us bring capable — like really capable — cameras on the go where ever. We can take notes and send emails and surf the web and even do genuine work.
All of this makes the phone so much more convenient than it ever was, far more convenient than Alexander Graham Bell could have possibly imagined. So how do you make the phone even more convenient?
By making it take the jobs you didn’t realise it needed to do.
In the city of Sydney and the rest of New South Wales, that includes becoming your driver’s license, as the government kicks on digital licenses. The idea is pretty simple: you’ll download an app for Android or iPhone, connect it up with your Service NSW account, and it will download your license to your phone. New South Wales is the second state to try this, just after South Australia, and the idea is the whole country should get it as a whole.
You can’t retire that plastic license just yet, though, because not everywhere will take the digital one. Plus if you get pulled over by the police, don’t touch your phone and its digital license until an officer says so. Grabbing a phone and using it while you’re driving is a crime, so wait until you’re told to.
A digital license is a sort of convenience, and but there’s more that goes on to make our lives comfortable and convenient.
Going cordless with your earphones is one way, and it’s more comfortable and more convenient overall. There are quite a few options out there, and have been for some time, but this week, there’s another, as Apple kicks in a surprise announcement with a new model of the AirPods.
The easily identifiable earphones that hang from the ears saw a sibling this week, as the AirPods Pro joined the line-up. They’re a little different with a shorter arm than previous, and earphone tips to create more of a seal in your ears. That’s important, because Apple’s AirPod Pro earphones are actually earphones, not earbuds like the AirPods, with noise cancellation technology, too.
A day with them and the audio quality is quite impressive, certainly to tell you the $399 AirPods Pro rate as one of the better quality earphones you can find, though there is some solid competition out there already.
There’s also more out there that you might call convenient this week, such as Microsoft and Telstra taking the Xbox One on a plan, only a year out from the next Xbox being released. If that’s a bit bothersome, Microsoft has said there will be an upgrade path for people who take this option, allowing you to jump from Xbox One to Xbox Next when it is released at the end of next year.
A new style of digital lock has arrived to make unlocking your front door a little more convenient, rocking up in the Nuki smart lock. It’s a little different from the typical smart lock replacements you can find, fitting over your current lock and talking to your phone or smart home to keep it secure. That’s coming in the $550 Nuki Smart Lock combo, which will see release in stores shortly.
And there’s a little happening in the gaming space, too, with a strange new controller made for Android that encases a phone and lets you turn a phone into a Switch-like device. It’s called the Junglecat, and it’s Razer’s conversion for phones that will cost around $170 when it launches.
It’a a shame it isn’t made to work with Apple Arcade, because we played with that this week, and it worked a treat.
If you’ve not been made aware of what Apple Arcade is, it’s basically a Netflix-like approach to gaming, whereby you pay an $8 monthly fee to get access to a library of games. That library is close to a hundred titles, and in an interesting twist, you can share the library with other family members. It’s a little like the Apple Music family account, but for games, and means your kids can play their own games and not have to share your saved games.
What’s great about Apple Arcade is the platform congruity, because Apple Arcade titles work on the iPhone, the iPad, Apple TV, and Mac computers. That’s great if you’re in an Apple ecosystem.
If you’re not, this isn’t for you, with no support for Windows, Android, or whatever else runs on video game systems.
While we’d love Apple to roll out support to other devices like its Apple Music, we don’t expect it would happen, at least not yet. Instead, Apple Arcade feels like it’s a gaming solution made for families in an iPhone and iPad and Mac world, and that’s not terrible at all. If anything, it’s a cure for inflight boredom, because you can leave with a bunch of games on a phone or tablet, and try them all out during the flight.
Or listen to a podcast, that’s fine too. Just not this one, because it’s over.
So you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. Episodes like this one can be heard every Friday at Podcast One, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts, but until then have a great week. We’ll see you next time on The Wrap. Take care.