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With Apple’s media event scheduled for tomorrow, we have rounded up what Apple is likely due to introduce. We previously published a round-table of 9to5Mac author hopes for the event, but this roundup will focus on our specific expectations for the keynote address. You can find our roundup below:
Apple’s previous event, WWDC, was all about the software that runs on Apple’s devices. However, the last time that Apple actually talked in-depth about new devices was at September and October events in the fall of 2012. The September event discussed iPhone hardware, and the October keynote brought brand-new iPad hardware.
The September event discussed the iPhone 5, a major re-thinking of the iPhone experience. The changes brought a new, larger display, a more powerful processor, and improved camera hardware technologies. Though the hardware was completely new, the software (iOS 6) looked mostly like its predecessors, and it functioned the same way.
At WWDC with iOS 7, Apple began ushering in a fresh take on the iOS experience that hundreds of millions of people have enjoyed for over half-a-decade. With the September 2012 iPhone 5 and June 2013 WWDC/iOS 7 events in mind, tomorrow’s September 10th event in some ways will be a culmination of both of those events.
It will be a defining moment for Apple – an event that will merge iPhone 5 hardware and the iOS 7 software. We are expecting Apple to reveal two new iPhones tomorrow, both running iOS 7 and both based on iPhone 5 hardware.iPhone 5S:
The first new iPhone will be what many have dubbed “iPhone 5S.” The phone has gained this nickname (as of today) because of the device’s design similarities to the iPhone 5. Apple’s iPhone 4S and iPhone 3GS retained the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3G designs, and this is another reason why many have dubbed the next flagship iPhone the iPhone 5S. Besides carrying a nearly identical look to the iPhone 5, here’s what we are expecting in terms of new features:
Dual-LED rear-camera flash: iPhone 5S backplates out of China and information from our own sources has indicated that the iPhone 5S will include a dual-LED flash on the back. Currently, the iPhone includes a single LED flash, but the dual-LED flash setup will allow for much improved lighting quality for photos and video taken in low-light environments.
As we have also noted, dual-LED flashes can allow for a phone’s flash to reach further distances. There is also talk that this iPhone 5S dual-LED flash could light up either one or both bulbs depending on current lightning conditions. So, if you are at a dark concert, the iPhone 5S might automatically know to turn on all of the flash’s power. With iOS 7’s flashlight feature in Control Center, the dual-LED flash will also be a nice bonus.
Faster processor/other internals:
As with past iPhone upgrades, we’re expecting the iPhone 5S to include an upgraded processor. While processor upgrades in past iPhones focused on overall speed and performance, indications this year point to the iPhone 5S’s processor bump revolving around efficiency and general improvements.
The most specific claim to date about the iPhone 5S’s A7 chip has come from FOX’s Clayton Morris. According to Morris’s sources, the A7 processor will see speed improvements around 31%. This is a low number in comparison to the 50% speed increases that Apple has touted for past iPhone upgrades.
With the iPhone 5 being a speedy phone in its own right, perhaps the iPhone 5S’s processor adjustments are designed to improve the flow and speed of the new graphics, transitions, and animations in iOS 7. It’s no secret that some of iOS 7’s enhancements don’t run smoothly on older Apple hardware.
We have independently heard similar claims about the A7 chip, and we also understand that Apple, for at last a year, has been prototyping and testing versions of the A7 chip that run on 64-bit architecture. As of now, there are not many reasons for Apple to push a 64-bit chip in the current iPhone; however, the chip could allow for Apple to be more forward-thinking with its hardware + software, something that it has not truly done with past iPhone hardware.
In terms of other internals, even though Apple installed 802.11ac WiFi chips in its MacBook Airs earlier this year, inclusion in the iPhone 5S is unlikely based on the currently available mobile Broadcom chips.
Camera hardware and software:
For the past few years, Apple has increasingly focused attention on the camera in the iPhone. The iPhone 4 introduced back-and-front camera upgrades, the iPhone 4S brought the rear-shooter to 8 megapixels, and the iPhone 5 upgraded the front-camera to HD-quality and capped off the same 8 megapixel system from the iPhone 4S with sapphire crystal. For the iPhone 5S, it seems likely that Apple will make camera improvements, but unlikely that the megapixel count will change.
For the past couple of years, Apple has demonstrated a philosophy of noting that megapixels in camera don’t matter. It’s about other technologies in camera sensors, such as lighting sensors and the A-chips’ image signal processor, and we believe that Apple will continue to promote this tomorrow.
In line with an analyst report from earlier this year, it seems plausible that the iPhone 5S will retain an eight megapixel rear-camera. The aforementioned LED-flash upgrade will be a differentiator, along with an improved f/2.0 Aperture (iPhone 5 has a 2.4). The aperture size is what controls how much light is let into the camera sensor, and these slight changes could mean dramatically different results for photos.
In addition to tweaked hardware, we believe that Apple will introduce some software-based enhancements. Namely: a slow-motion camera mode. As we discussed in an earlier profile, we located code references in iOS 7 that point to a 120FPS video feature. Above is an example from YouTube of what 120FPS video could look like.
One of the most discussed and anticipated prospective features for the iPhone 5S is a fingerprint scanner. Talk of Apple implementing a biometric sensor in an iPhone began in late 2012 when Apple agreed to purchase Authentec, a developer of mobile-optimized fingerprint scanning sensors. Early this year, analyst Ming-Chi-Kuo first speculated that the iPhone 5S will include a fingerprint scanner, and he said it would be implemented in the iPhone’s iconic home button.
Many people, including analysts, speculated that the potential fingerprint scanner will be used for payments/Passbook purposes. However, back in August when we received reliable confirmation that Apple is planning to include a fingerprint scanner in the iPhone 5S, we learned that the scanner will not be used for payments. We understand, instead, that the fingerprint scanner will be built as a passcode replacement for unlocking the iPhone.
Contrary to claims from Ming-Chi-Kuo, we understand that the new Home button will be largely similar in appearance to the iPhone 5’s Home button. However the “Etching/imprint” on the button may have changed. Clayton Morris indicated that the Home button will have a silver ring, and this was further corroborated by purported packaging leaks. Our own Michael Steeber mocked up the above Home button, and this mockup could be close to the actual design.
We have also been told that the iPhone 5Ss floating around Apple’s Cupertino headquarters are in bulky casings so the design of the device could not be easily seen by on-lookers around campus. It’s plausible that this has been done to keep features like the new dual-LED flash and tweaked Home button away from prying eyes.
Further backing up claims from analysts and sources, Apple actually left behind code-strings in iOS 7 that explicitly reference a fingerprint scanner.
We’re expecting the new iPhone 5S to come in a gold color option. We’re told that it is more of a light gold/yellow, not a sharp, strong gold-bar type of color.
There has also been talk of a new graphite model, but we’re less certain about that.
It’s likely that the iPhone 5S pricing will likely stick to the iPhone 5’s prices: $199, $299, and $399. However, capacities have been up in the air. There’s been talk of a new 128GB model, but it is unclear if that would replace the $399 high-end device or come in on top at $499 (on-contract).iPhone 5C
Hardware + Software:
The iPhone 5C will continue the trend of using the iPhone 5’s hardware, but it will not take the external design. Instead, the iPhone 5C will likely be based off of the iPhone 5’s internal hardware, but it will gain an iPod touch/iPhone 3G-inspired plastic back in several colors.
The most recent part leaks have indicated that the device will come with a black front-face, but the back shells will come in white, red, blue, yellow, and green.
In terms of new features over the iPhone 5, we have no reason to believe there will be any present. Of course, the phone will include iOS 7, but we doubt the device will see the iPhone 5S’s fingerprint reader, improved camera, and processor hardware.
The big mystery on the iPhone 5C is the price point. Reuters put the price as low as $100 while some bloggers have raised expectations as high as $500.
For this, we have to look at Apple’s other products. For instance the 32GB iPod touch is $299. Half the storage plus LTE Internals and perhaps a slightly improved camera and battery could cost an additional $100-$150.
Also, keep in mind that Apple has lots of margin to work with. So, for instance, if Apple wants to be able to offer an iPhone 5C free with a two year plan, it can (a two year subsidy can often remove $400-$450 from the price).
This is only if Apple decides it wants market share. If Apple wants to price the 5C at $500 (or $100 on contract) because Apple stuff isn’t “cheap,” then it will.Wildcards:
iPods: For the past couple of years, Apple has upgraded its iPods in tandem with new iPhones. Last year brought major changes to the iPod touch and iPod nano, but there have been absolutely no indications of major iPod updates this year.
The latest chatter came from a Ming-Chi-Kuo report from early this year that indicated minor upgrades to the iPod nano and iPod touch. It’s unclear what the upgrades will entail, but perhaps the iPod touch will gain the iPhone 5’s A6 processor or an improved camera.
Other possibilities include new colors for the iPod touch and iPod nano to match the colors of the iPhone 5C. On the other hand, with the overall decline in iPod sales, perhaps Apple will leave them out of the upgrade cycle for 2013.
Macs: With Apple planning to launch OS X Mavericks in late October, we feel it is unlikely for Apple to make announcements related to the Mac tomorrow. Perhaps new Mac hardware and software will launch together next month.
iWork: At WWDC, Apple announced that a new version of iWork for iOS will ship later in 2013. Perhaps the new version of iWork will be announced tomorrow, but we have not seen any indication of this. Also possible is the launch of a public beta for iWork for iCloud.
Apple TV: While some reports have claimed that new Apple TV hardware will arrive at tomorrow’s event, we understand that if Apple TV is discussed, it will be more about software. Apple previously indicated that the Apple TV will gain iTunes Radio.Response:
What will the press focus on following tomorrow’s announcement? Surely the low-cost iPhone for emerging markets will be making headlines, but will a selection of shiny new colors, iOS 7, and a fingerprint scanner entice the average consumer looking to upgrade?
There’s no ignoring the fact Apple’s iPhone upgrades this year will not include a larger display while Samsung and others continue to attract new customers to its successful lines of 5-inch+ devices.
If this wish list from Quora (via Business Insider) is any indication, a lot of the features consumers want in a new iPhone are software features that Android does better: quickly accessible notifications, control over default apps, and a more intelligent Siri. Will Apple’s revamped iOS 7 and colorful new iPhones be perceived by average consumers as simply a facelift on its existing iPhone lineup?
Apple has been criticized in the past by the media and countless parody videos for introducing new iPhones viewed as minor upgrades, and iOS 7’s new look could very well overshadow new features & benefits of iOS 7 and upgraded hardware. With the iPhone 5S and 5C largely retaining the physical design of previous generation iPhones, it will be interesting to see if Apple’s new lineup will capture the attention of the public.
No matter what happens tomorrow, we will be bringing coverage all day and during the event. The actual event begins at 10 AM Pacific/1PM Eastern time, but we will be providing coverage for all last minute details and late-breaking news.
Seth Weintraub and Jordan Kahn contributed to this roundup.
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Camera and Internal Storage
The iPhone 5C retains most of the internals seen on last year’s iPhone 5. The device comes with an 8MP camera like other iPhones from the 5 series (iPhone 5 and 5S). This unit comes with an f/2.4 sensor which will probably be good, but not as good as the iPhone 5S, which packs an f/2.2 sensor.
This setup would comprise of a 5 element lens, like we saw in the iPhone 5 last year. The sensor will be BSI aided, which means low-light imaging will be better than other non-BSI aided cameras out there. This sensor would be made using 1.9-micron pixels, promising exceptional picture quality.Processor and Battery
The iPhone 5C will come with the same A6 chip seen on the iPhone 5 last year. The device is expected to be as fast and snappy as the iPhone 5. However, since the phone will come pre-installed with iOS 7, it might feel a tad more snappier than the existing iPhone 5 running the previous gen iOS 6.
The A6 chip is able to handle most applications thrown at it, which the iPhone 5 proved. Most likely, users of this device won’t feel the need to upgrade to the A7 which is already available.Display and Features
The phone comes with the same 4 inch display as on the iPhone 5. This means that the device will again have the 326 ppi pixel resolution that Apple call ‘Retina Display’. This will be achieved by having a resolution of 1136×640 pixels on the 4 inch screen.
Although some might argue that the device is a bit too small for their liking, we have to admit that the phone sounds like a very useable and a practical device. It will fit into the smallest pockets with ease, and the 4 inch display won’t be too small for anybody unless you’re looking to watch movies all the time.Looks and Connectivity
The device retains the trademark iPhone look, and adds a new dimension with the various colour back panels. As you can see from the picture above, the phone is made in an array of colours, many of which are a first for the iPhone.Comparison
The device will have the iPhone 5 (in markets where it’ll still be available) and the iPhone 4S as it’s major competitors due to the price range and similarity. On the other hand, Android devices priced at the similar level will be very different in hardware as well as size.Key Specs
Model Apple iPhone 5C
Display 4 inches 1136×640
Processor Apple A6
RAM, ROM Not known, 16GB/32GB ROM, non expandable
OS iOS 7
Cameras 8MP rear, 720p front facing
Battery 10 hours 3G talkime, 250 hours standby
Price To be announcedConclusion
We really like the idea of introducing a low cost iPhone, but given the speculations, we aren’t entirely impressed with the price. There a zero to very few chances of the device being launched for a price close to 20k INR, which is ideally what we’d like to see. Coming back to the speculations, we believe the phone will be priced somewhere above the 30k INR mark.
WPCase brings eight colorful and floral designs in this wallet case. The impressive pattern of this case creates an irresistible charm. Its handmade design gives you a classic feel.
Apart from its beauty, this wallet case shows some powerful functional features like two card slots and a money pocket. You can convert the case into a kickstand to watch videos and movies hands-free. And check that magnetic flap to keep your phone closed and protected.
To make it functional, MOLLYCOOCLE provides two slots to store credit/debit cards, and a pocket to store cash. For the security of your iPhone, check that magnetic closure, which keeps case tightly closed.
3. BookBook for iPhone 5/5s
BookBook, of course, needs no introduction. This iPhone 5/5s Wallet case from TwelveSouth – the makers of some of the finest Apple-related accessories – is every bit the same BookBook thing that these guys have been producing for long.
BookBook iPhone 5/5s case makes sure your iPhone is ultra-secure and then the things you keep in the wallet case is safe. Not to forget, the case itself looks like a miniature book. From the 19th century.
FYY has carved a niche in fashionable wallet cases for women. Almost all the wallet cases designed by FYY capture the attention of women consumers, and this one is not an exception. The misty rose color of this case is favorite among women of discerning taste.
The flip folio leather wallet case is made of premium PU leather. You can convert this case into a kickstand for watching movies, videos, and browse pictures and web.
For your everyday use, ProCase offers this wallet case for your iPhone. The case is stylish and functional, which is a rare feat achieved by ProCase. Its intelligent design serves all your needs.
ProCase provides a lanyard that gives you a better grip when you carry your iPhone. Check those two built-in card slots and a pocket to store cash. For that last minute touch-up, this case also gives you a mirror.
Wisdompro has custom designed this case to give your iPhone a perfect fit. The company has used durable but soft premium PU leather and plastic hard-shell armor to offer better protection against scratches, bumps, and drops.
You can efficiently use your iPhone when the case is installed on the device. The beauty of Wisdompro case is that it provides wrist lanyard for your convenience and quick access to your iPhone while you are in motion.
7. Distilunion Wally Stick-On
Wally is actually not a full-fledged case. Instead, it’s a stick-on that aims to simplify your life. Rushing to the grocers? You don’t have to pick your wallet and your iPhone. With Wally on, you can keep a few cards and bills in the Wally pouch that sticks to the back of the iPhone. Made of high-quality Italian leather.
The design of a wallet case sometimes overwhelms users, and they wonder how they can access essential features of their phone. Well, TUCCH has removed all your doubts by crafting a simple yet powerful design for your iPhone.
A wallet case accommodates everything that you would have stored in your hefty wallet. You can store your cash, credit/debit cards, and more. Now, you don’t need to look for your wallet before leaving for office.
If jeans, leather, or folio type cases aren’t your favorite, then here’s a smart wallet case from Silk. The case has a durable construction and features a slot on the back to accommodate multiple cards and cash.
The polycarbonate shell protects your iPhone from bumps. Plus, it also offers a reliable defense to the touchscreen by keeping scratches away. Lastly, there are five different color options available at the time of writing this.
The case from iPhox is quite elegant in looks and perfect for people looking for a decent wallet case for their iPhone 5, 5s or iPhone SE. It has been crafted from premium PU leather with wallet feature to carry three of your cards and some cash as well. The polycarbonate shell protects the phone from normal falls. Lastly, the case also features viewing videos, pictures, or reading E-books in landscape mode using the Kickstand option.
Unlike traditional wallet cases, Vofolen has combined the features of wallet cases and bumper cases. The brand has taken the design of bumper cases and functionality of wallet cases. By removing folio, Vofolen has made a compact wallet case you can easily slide in your pocket.
The case is protected by shockproof hard PC cover, which also adds a smooth and stylish charm to the case. For the protection of your phone’s screen, this case has raised lips.
That’s all, folks!
Wallet cases are always my favorite. They are stylish, strong, and functional. For your iPhone 5 and 5s, there cannot be any other better choice. Just go for it!
You may like to explore more iPhone SE, 5s, or iPhone 5 accessories:
The founder of iGeeksBlog, Dhvanesh, is an Apple aficionado, who cannot stand even a slight innuendo about Apple products. He dons the cap of editor-in-chief to make sure that articles match the quality standard before they are published.
Frankly speaking, I don’t pay much attention to the things which are claimed to be cheapest. However, these cheap cases for iPhone SE, 5s, and 5 have been able to arrest my eyes. For all being less priced than many of their rivals, these cases are worth giving serious consideration. Created with quality material, these covers can last long. With the trendy design, they look appreciable on the iPhone. Furthermore, most of them are available in multiple color variants to let you choose the ideal companion for your device.
The first case that I have included in this exclusive list is Fogeek which is highly protective and sports a sturdy design. Made of high-quality TPU and PC material, the defender case is robust enough to withstand drops. What makes it easily survive falls is the dual-layered of the casing which is capable of absorbing shock.
The hybrid case has an Apple logo cut-out on the back which enhances its look. It comes with a built-in screen protector to defend the touchscreen from against scratch.
Present your iPhone a pretty slim case that can make an elegant match with it. With all having a lightweight design, this PC case can protect your device from minor falls. The smooth surface feels nice to the touch and offers a good grip which allows you to hold your device comfortably.
The precise openings for ports and camera offer hassle-free access to all the functions of your device. There is also a screen guard to keep the screen protected. Lastly, this stylish case for iPhone 5 is available in three colors like black, red and rose gold.
BENTOBEN case has got both highly protective and attractive design. The construction of hard PC and silicone material has given it the strength to endure shock. Fortified corners resist impact and further bolster the structure.
The hybrid hard PC shell and soft silicone anti-scratch material give it a striking look. Apple logo cutout ensures the brand of your smartphone is able to shine through. Covered buttons are responsive and easy to press.
If you are fond of colorful designs, LUOLNH can quickly catch your eyes. The slim and transparent design looks beautiful on the iPhone.
The high-grade TPU material makes it not just flexible but also impact-resistant. It has raised lip to keep the screen protected. There is also a beveled edge for the camera to defend it against the scratch.
On top of all, LUOLNH comes in 13 color options with different designs.
5. Trianium Protak Series
An appreciable mix of durability and style, Trianium Protak Series is designed for all seasons. You can use this case to provide the trusted safeguard to your iPhone without adding much bulk.
All the four corners of this case have received additional cushion to disperse impact. There is also a beveled edge to resist the scratches. Furthermore, Protak Series cases are available in four attractive colors with a lifetime warranty.
What stands “CellEver” in good stead is the impressive compact design. This case features double layers of construction to survive even nasty bumps.
The mix of hard PC and soft TPU has played a pivotal role in boosting its durability. With the elevated edge, it prevents the scratch from damaging the touchscreen.
The precise cutouts and tactile buttons allow you to access the ports and buttons with ease. Lastly, you get seven attractive colors to pick the most suitable companion for the iPhone.
7. JETech Carbon Fiber Design Case
This inexpensive case is made of PC and TPU to offer full protection to your iPhone 5. The carbon fiber design ensures extreme protection from drops and scratches while maintaining a super slim profile.
There are perfect cutouts for speakers, camera and other ports so that you can use your device with convenience. This super sturdy and easy to carry case is available in four color options.
“Basse” is simply a fine cover that takes care of most of your needs. Thanks to the soft TPU material, it’s pretty smooth and flexible. Therefore, you can quickly install and remove the cover.
With the rubberized surface, you get enhanced gripping that prevents the iPhone 5 from slipping. The buttons are responsive, while all the cutouts are on-point. As for protection, you can trust “Basse” to resist scratch and also endure minor drops.
9. OtterBox Defender Series Case
OtterBox is known to produce a top-notch case. And this case from Defender Series has all the qualities to be an automatic choice for your smartphone. Whether it’s protection or adorable design, it stands tall in all the aspects.
The shock-absorbing structure coupled with the air cushioned corners can fight out the impact of drops with aplomb. The hard polycarbonate has bolstered both the structure and durability.
It features a belt clip holster to let you not just carry your device more conveniently. Besides, the holster also works as a handy kickstand to boost your media viewing experience.
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The founder of iGeeksBlog, Dhvanesh, is an Apple aficionado, who cannot stand even a slight innuendo about Apple products. He dons the cap of editor-in-chief to make sure that articles match the quality standard before they are published.
In this week’s top stories: iPhone 11 details continue to emerge ahead of Tuesday’s event, Apple Watch sleep tracking revealed, new details on Apple’s AR efforts, and more. Read on for all of this week’s biggest news.
The iPhone 11 event is officially set for September 10th at 10AM PT, 1PM ET and details about Apple’s announcements continue to emerge. As for the iPhone 11, we got a closer look at some of the rumored design changes this week thanks to continued case leaks. These leaks essentially confirm that the Apple logo will be centered this year.
On Monday, 9to5Mac exclusively reported that Apple is working on sleep tracking for the Apple Watch, that won’t require any special hardware in order to function. The new feature could be announced as early as next week’s event.
The new feature is called “Time in Bed tracking” and will track the user’s quality of sleep using the Apple Watch’s multiple sensors and inputs, including the person’s movement, heart rate, and noises. Data about the user’s quality of sleep will be made available in the Health app and a new Sleep app for the Apple Watch.
Meanwhile, 9to5Mac also reported new details on Apple’s augmented reality efforts, as well as its forthcoming item trackers. The item trackers will be accessible via the “Find My” app on iOS and will pack connectivity including NFC, Bluetooth, a speaker, and more. Read our full report right here.
Lastly, Apple on Friday slammed Google’s Project Zero research team for some of its findings related to iOS security. Apple took issue with many of the claims made by Google, and underscored that iOS security is a top priority. Read the full response here.
These and the rest of this week’s top stories below.Subscribe to 9to5Mac’s YouTube channel for more videos.
Listen to a recap of the top stories of the day from 9to5Mac. 9to5Mac Daily is available on iTunes and Apple’s Podcasts app, Stitcher, TuneIn, Google Play, or through our dedicated RSS feed for Overcast and other podcast players.
9to5Mac Watch Time is a brand new seasonal podcast series hosted by Zac Hall. Over the next three months, we’ll talk to real people about how the Apple Watch is affecting their lives.
In the fifth episode of our new Watch Time podcast, Zac is joined by Ian Blackburn to talk about diving into fitness later in life with the Apple Watch, Ian’s experience with completing IronMan triathlons using Apple Watch, gear to make Apple Watch even smart for cyclists, and much more.
9to5Mac Watch Time is now available on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, and your favorite podcast player through RSS. Subscribe now to enjoy our teaser trailer and hear new episodes as soon as they drop — starting next week.
9to5Mac Happy Hour is available on iTunes and Apple’s Podcasts app, Stitcher, TuneIn, Google Play Music, or through our dedicated RSS feed for Overcast and other podcast players.
It’s once again time for John and Rambo to face off in an epic game of Apple Keynote Poker — this time speculating about what Apple might announce at next week’s September Event. Also, Apple AR hardware, more evidence of an “Apple Tag” device, and Apple Watch sleep tracking.
Stacktrace by 9to5Mac is available on iTunes and Apple’s Podcasts app or through our dedicated RSS feed for Overcast and other podcast players.
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The Apple device ecosystem has heralded new ways for creative game makers to realise their vision, often by combining physical elements with apps, to form engaging and addictive experiences. Most of this guide leans on casual gaming where a whole family can join in together, but there’s also a consideration for the serious side of games too.
We feature the endearing Beasts of Balance, the Osmo game system, MFI game controllers and more. Read on after the jump for the full list.Family Fun Gaming Gift Guide
Beasts of Balance is an incredible modern tabletop game that uses a complementary app as a central part of the game. It takes the universal concept of ‘build as tall a tower as possible’ and fleshes it out into a rich, endearing, modern board game. The Beasts of Balance plinth communicates with an app running on iPhone, iPad or Apple TV.
Players set cute animal figurines onto the plinth to start building a tower. The plinth includes an NFC reader which scans the object as they are placed, which causes special events to happen on the app display. Interlocking cross parts cause mutations in the virtual creature which is artistically brought to life on the iOS device screen.
You also have other challenges to keep on top of as the tower is built, like remembering to change the moon to a sun. If the tower falls, the app shows a bubbling volcano and the tower has to be quickly rebuilt before it erupts. There are wonderful tradeoffs built into the gameplay; awkwardly-shaped objects have higher point scores but a much higher risk of toppling the tower altogether.
The build quality of the stackable animals and artefacts is stellar; everything in the physical box and digital app is beautifully illustrated and designed. You can set it up in the living room with Siri Remote and Apple TV, or play in a bedroom with a single iPhone or iPad. It really is fun for the whole family. Buy the kit for $99, the app is a free download.
There are a lot of interesting games to play on the App Store, but you often feel limited by the touch interface for controlling your character or moving around the world. The Gamevice attaches to the iOS device — I use it with my 12.9 inch iPad – to add gamepad buttons and analog joysticks on both sides of the screen. Read my full review here.
If you loved using a Gameboy Advance as a kid, this is basically an iOS version of that. MFI game controllers have been possible for a while and now there is a big library of games that support them. Because the Gamevice is essentially a handheld dock, it will only work with a single form factor of iPhone or iPad. If you buy a newer iPad in the future, there’s a good chance the Gamevice will no longer fit.
Check out the full Gamevice range here for almost every iOS device on the market; pricing varies around $100 mark.
This is the second MFI controller recommendation. Whereas the Gamevice (above) snaps onto an iPhone or iPad to make a handheld, the SteelSeries is a traditional external controller design. It’s just like a console gamepad and communicates wirelessly with iPhone, iPad and Apple TV.
If you play any games on Apple TV, even simple one-button titles like Mr Jump or Crossy Road, using a real game controller is so much nicer than the Siri Remote. It also lets you dive into richer titles like Rayman Adventures and Oceanhorn; touch controls simply cannot beat physical buttons for games like these. The convenient thing about the Nimbus controller is that it doesn’t require a particular form factor; it just connects via Bluetooth to any iOS or tvOS device. Unlike the Gamevice though, you do have to remember to charge the Nimbus battery separately.
The Apple Store has a special bundle by the way for this item; you can get Minecraft for Apple TV and this controller at a reduced combo price. There’s also a Stratus controller which is half the price, and about half as nice to hold.
The Osmo game system is a fun accessory that you can gift to kids and play together as a family. You set an iPad up on the special stand and attach a special red mirror that angles the camera downwards. The Osmo comes with physical objects that the app detects through the camera to create an interesting combination of physical and digital world. Move a plastic block on the table and the iPad app tracks the motion and uses it in the on-screen game.
Most of the games are targeted at younger children, with a few activities for older ages and adults. You can get kits for drawing, learning vocabulary, music sequencing and basic building blocks of programming, and more. The Osmo packs are pricey but you can buy a Starter Kit to begin with and gradually add in additional sets to expand the experience. Read my hands-on review of the Osmo Monster kit from last year.
I like the Osmo because it integrates the iPad — which most kids regard as a mere portable TV screen frankly — with a kinaesthetic activity. You can even argue there is some educational value amongst the entertainment. They have also recently released a base for some models of iPhone, if you don’t want to use an iPad.
Nevertheless, I still think the Apple TV is a fun casual games machine. Most titles are simply ports of games from iPhone and iPad, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t fun. The Siri Remote works decently for simple one-button and motion controlled driving games, of which the App Store has plenty. tvOS plays host to a lot of family games too; shout out to SketchParty TV for something to play as a family this holiday season.
There are a handful of sophisticated titles too; I loved playing through Oceanhorn and I’m really looking forward to the visually-enhanced sequel due in 2023. Does it compare to an Xbox? Of course not — but fortunately the Apple TV does a lot more than just play games.Mac Gaming
Slightly off-topic but I want to include a quick word on the state of Mac gaming. In short, it’s okay as long as the games you want to play are available on macOS and aren’t looking to max out every visual effect in the settings screen. There are a lot of caveats compared to a Windows machine but you can get pretty far with just a MacBook Pro. My addiction League of Legends (and Starcraft before that) all began on a Mac, and the arrival of Steam on the Mac platform has expanded the ecosystem of available titles considerably.Grab Bag
It’s hard to disagree that Nintendo had a huge impact on the gaming world this year, launching their new console generation that can dock into a TV and be picked up to use on the go, the Nintendo Switch. Despite being technically less powerful than an iPad Pro, the Nintendo Switch ecosystem features AAA titles that the iOS or tvOS App Store simply can’t compete with, including game of the year candidates Mario: Odyssey and Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Apple TV Siri Remote Loop
Everyone remembers the horror stories of breakages that happened with the Nintendo Wii years ago. Unfortunately, the Apple TV shares much of the same issues with its Siri Remote. A lot of the dumb fun Apple TV games rely on accelerometer motion controls. At the same time, the Siri Remote is made of metal and glass — it is prone to both breaking and breaking other things.
Apple actually has a solution for this: the $9 Remote Loop. It slots into the Lightning port and adds a little wrist-strap for when you are using the remote. It’s kind of silly to include it in a gift guide roundup but if you are buying an Apple TV for the first time and have an inkling to try out the game offerings in the tvOS App Store, pick up a remote loop while you are at it.
Philips Hue lights
A regular feature on my yearly holiday gift guides is some kind of smart lighting solution. Philips Hue are independent bulbs that you just screw in — you don’t have to change wiring or wall sockets — and you quickly get up and running with HomeKit supported (optionally multi-colored) smart lighting. Set them up in your living room and use Apple TV’s Siri to change the ambiance when you watch a movie or settle down for some late-night gaming.
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