This week on The Wrap, we’re in lockdown, so we’re looking at some of the things you can do, from gaming to fitness to keeping the kids busy with value headphones. Plus new gadgets from Apple, SanDisk, and more. All in five.
For the middle of July 2021, you’re listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and while the lockdown where The Wrap is recorded is giving everyone a bit of a sad face, it’s World Emoji Day on July 17, so have a happy face instead if you can, or something else that describes the situation we’re in. An eggplant, maybe a pretzel, or something else that sums up this whole quagmire.
While the week hasn’t exactly ended on a positive note for most of Australia’s population, there still has been plenty happening, though the importance may vary depending on if you’re allowed to leave the house.
If you are and you have an iPhone, you might not be too happy with your iPhone battery. The 12 Pro Max is the best of the bunch, but the others might struggle to hit a day, and if you have one, Apple has released a MagSafe charge pack that can clip onto the back all too easily and charge it without any cables. It joins Mophie’s take on the same, and Belkin had its own variation on that theme to end the week with as well.
So those are gadget for going out and about, but so many in Australia are going to be stuck at home, thanks to last year’s hot topic everyone is tired of talking about a year on. Yep, it’s still a thing.
Fortunately, much of what was announced this week could make being at home a little more interesting, depending on what you look at.
For instance, SanDisk has a way of backing up your phone so you don’t have to deal with the burden of having it lose that memory, and it will even charge your phone. If you have a wirelessly charged phone — which is every iPhone, and pretty much every flagship Android phone — SanDisk’s iXpand Wireless Charger Sync is a $200 approach to charging your phone and keeping a local backup.
And let me tell you, losing everything on your phone is not fun, so if you’re not backing up to the cloud, the idea of automatically backing up your phone while it charges is close to magic.
YouTube launched a short video feature meant to take on the likes of TikTok this week, arriving in Shorts, and it’s pretty much what it says on the box: short videos on YouTube for you to get bite-sized entertainment.
That’s YouTube trying to cash in on what works for TikTok, while Instagram expands into video, as well.
Meanwhile, there’s an interesting rumour going around that Netflix is slated to move into video games as well, so your Netflix subscription might come with interactive entertainment in the future, too.
Netflix wouldn’t be alone in this category, though. There are a few game services in Australia already, including Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which provides a buffet of titles for the Xbox One, Xbox Series S and X, and Windows, while Apple Arcade does much the same for the iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Macs. Google has an equivalent for Android in Play Pass, and if you fancy the older style of games, something more retro, there’s Antstream Arcade, which pretty much just caters to retro gaming.
To put it simply, there are options out there if you’re stuck in lockdown with little to do, provided you have one of the gadgets that makes it work.
It won’t be for everyone, mind you. If you’re looking for something a little more physical to keep the kids entertained, Canon dropped word that it has a website called “Creative Park” that offers colouring book pages and paper craft projects you can download. You don’t even need a specific brand of printer.
And there’s always plenty of exercise you can do, from the videos you can find on YouTube, videos on Apple Fitness Plus, though they need an Apple Watch, and if you have a phone — and we all have phones — you can grab a football and learn some AFL skills thanks to a project by Google. It’s called the Footy Skills Lab and uses artificial intelligence to track a football in your hand to work out if you’re getting better, and to teach you that, too.
There’s always something you can do at home, even if it gets a little tired at times. If you have kids, you might want to check out a pair of headphones we reviewed this week, the JBL JR310BT, a mouthful of a name that basically means they’re small wireless only headphones made for kids. They come in colours with stickers, and sound better than you’d expect the $70 price tag to offer. Typically budget headphones aren’t great, but these buck the trend, which surprised us.
Granted, you won’t find noise cancellation or wireless charging here, because they’re made for a price point, and there’s not even a 3.5mm cable either. But they do come with something that makes them a little kid-safe: a volume limiter. That means the JR310BT max out at 85 decibels, so while they can get loud, they don’t get too loud, and there are no volume buttons, so parents can get the volume on the device.
In short, they’re a surprising pair made for little ears, and parents looking to keep the kids busy with a phone, tablet, and some peace and quiet. Ideal during lockdown, and when we can all take trips again. Here’s hoping that’s not too far off.
For now, you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. A new episode can be found every week at Listnr, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts. Otherwise, have a great week, and we’ll see you next time on The Wrap. Stay safe, stay sane, and take care.