This week on The Wrap, we’ll look at the sort of gadgets your kids are sure to love, covering tech that teaches and gear they can control, plus look to what you can expect from new phones next year, all in five minutes.
For the first week of December, you’re tuned into The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and with the holiday season in full swing, we wouldn’t blame you if you were listening to this while shopping. You might be browsing an electronics store, a game store, or just looking online at what you can spend, because, you know, ’tis the season and all that jazz.
One group of people you might not be sure about buying for is kids. And sure, you could spend up a fortune on the latest Disney film and all its toys, clothing, soundtrack, napkins, stationery, beach towels, and anything else featuring Anna, Elsa, and a talking snowman, or you could look to technology for an answer.
This year, technology and kids go together better than ever, and you might even get some education unwittingly in there, too.
Want to teach your kids how to code, or at least spark that interest? You might want to consider an iPad. Apple’s $500 tablet is still one of the best around, and whether you opt for the new iPad 10.2 or the iPad Mini, Swift Playgrounds is a free game that teaches kids how to code.
You can turn to robotics as well with the Sphero Mini, a tiny take on the original Sphero. It looks a little like the rolling robot in Star Wars, BB-8, but it can actually teach coding in the Sphero EDU app.
Alternatively, there’s a cute little kit from Kano, a company that makes kits to get kids making computers, and it has to do with that new Disney film all the kids are talking about.
It’s a Frozen 2 coding kit that helps kids learn about technology, building a motion sensitive board and teaching coding with Frozen-inspired spells.
Teaching kids to code through technology is just one of the ways parents can get technology into the lives of their children unobtrusively. It’s fun, playful, and educational, though they may not see that.
There’s also another gadget that is semi-educational too, which we checked out this week. It’s called the Birde speaker, and it’s a little different.
Everyone has a wireless speaker, and in a way, this is a wireless speaker, but it’s also not.
Ranging from $179 to $249, it’s an Australian gadget that features a little panel on the front to let your kids control the sound. It comes with a few little cardboard discs called “Seeds” that trigger music and audiobooks. It’s made for kids, and comes with content from The Wiggles, Storybots, and Playschool, to name a few, and basically puts your kids in charge of the sound.
It’s also very easy to use and provides some of that independence little kids are often screaming for, though it comes with a catch: you can’t program your own discs. If you have music your kids like, like maybe that Frozen 2 soundtrack, you’re out of luck. The Birde speaker only plays the content made for it and sold through its store. That might be Emma Wiggle or Hairy Maclary, but it’s not everything. It’s just a selection.
We’re told that might be coming, though, which will make the Birde speaker just that much more interesting, and give your kids some semblance of independence, and feels better than just handing them a phone.
If you do hand them your phone, it could end up broken, and then you wouldn’t be able to try some of the neat things coming to phones.
This week, we played with Tech21’s keyboard for the Note 10, a special phone case that comes with a flat keyboard case for writing on the go. It’s a cute concept, but one that isn’t just flat, but falls a little flat. The Tech 21 Evo Type really needs tactile feedback to make it better, and it’s just a little slow. It’s a cool idea, but we’d probably wait for version two.
Version two of another product is hitting our shores this week, with the Asus ROG Phone 2, a mobile made for gaming. It’s big and heavy, kicking in over 200 grams, one of the heaviest phones all year.
But it’s made for games, coming with 12GB of memory, the fast Snapdragon 855 chip, a slick screen, and a 3D cooling system.
Or you could wait until next year, with Qualcomm talking about the next big chip coming for phones, the Snapdragon 865. Aside for being faster and supporting more in the way of WiFi and 5G, it will be able to translate languages using AI, process 8K video in HDR, and even let developers get game graphics to new levels, tweaking games further.
It’s coming next year, with phones from late February onwards likely giving us more power than ever, and possibly some of the folding technology as well.
We haven’t even started on the tech trends of 2020, but already, there’s plenty to look forward to. You might even hear about some of it on next week’s show, but right now, we’re out of time.
So you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. You can find a new show every Friday at Podcast One, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts. Until then have a great week. We’ll see you next time on The Wrap. Take care.