Apple Matters: Great Apple gifts for the holidays

Published on the 15/12/2015 | Written by Mark Webster

Tis the season to be rewarded – and here are some things Apple aficionado Mark Webster has recently looked at…

Strike Alpha Cradle — This Australian-designed iPhone holder charges your iPhone in the car while holding it securely and boosting its reception thanks to a built-in passive antenna. It can be mounted to the windscreen with the supplied suction windscreen mount, or professionally mounted in your vehicle if you choose. AU$149/NZ$165 for iPhone 6 and 6s (other models available). More info.

Sphero BB-8 (pictured) — Guide a BB-8 with your iPhone or iPad, it listens and responds thanks to its ability to recognise and react to your voice, it can record and view virtual holographic videos and yet BB-8 has a mind of its own and a unique ability to evolve its actions as you interact.

Available from Apple resellers and some electronics retailers AU$250/NZ$280.

Swiss Mobility Rugged Power Pack 6000mAh device charger — For high-speed iDevice charging on the go, it’s hard to beat the Rugged Power Pack, a palm-sized device ruggedised to military standard 810G. It’s both water and shock-resistant, includes a battery life indicator and a flashlight, and it’s precharged out of the box. It can charge two devices at once: a tablet and a smartphone.

Available from Apple resellers and some electronics retailers AU$69.95/NZ$79.99.

Elgato Eve iOS-aware devices — Eve Room (AU$139.95/NZ$149.95) is an indoor room monitoring sensor that measures temperature, humidity and air quality. Eve Weather (AU$/NZ$89.95) is an indoor/outdoor sensor that measures temperature, humidity and air pressure. Eve Door & Window is a two-piece sensor that detects whether a door or window is open or closed (AU$65.60/NZ70.45. All report to your iPhone/iPad via free apps (requires iOS 8+).

iLuv’s SmartShaker — is a little colourful plastic disk that pairs to your iPhone or iPad via Bluetooth, and besides the vibration option (which might be great for the hearing impaired), it can make an alarm tone, or both at the same time. Palm-sized and very lightweight, the battery is recharged via USB and should last a month. When the battery runs out, the alarm beeps every minute. A free app lets you set this up once it’s paired – AU$45/$NZ50

mophie juice pack — Adding a little bulk plus an extra 120% battery capacity (or more) to your iPhone 6/6s, the juice pack has raised green rubberised strips inside that hold the iPhone slightly suspended for impact resistance. The mophie Power app (free download) gives you an overview of where your charge is at. mophie claims a fully charged 3300mAh juice pack should give you 17 hours more talk time, 12 hours more web browsing, 13 hours more video playback and 60 hours more music playback. AU$149.95/NZ$169.95 (other models available).

Elgato Thunderbolt 2 Dock — Adds 1xHDMI, 2xThunderbolt 2, 2xUSB3 and 1x Ethernet plus, on the front, another USB3, plus two audio jacks: 9 extra ports. Elgato’s dock includes thee Thunderbolt Dock Utility which appears in your Mac’s top-right menu bar for one-click ejecting of any connected dock devices from the Desktop. AU$339.95/NZ$$389.95.

iRig Lav mic — IK Multimedia keeps producing handy microphones. The latest is a clip-on lapel ‘Lavalier’ mic for recording voices up close. This one comes with a stereo minipin rather than a mini-USB or Lightning connector. Plug it in and it’s immediately recognised as the mic input, but also means you can use it with other recording devices, for example the portable Zoom H2n.

Quality is excellent – natural sounding and clear. Available soon from approximately AU$80/NZ$100, and the two-pack is AU$180/NZ$199)

NetSpot — has received another update. The software helps you map out and analyse your wifi network in detail to help solve problems and place devices more efficiently. There are three versions: Free, Pro and Enterprise. When you launch NetSpot you get two immediate options: Discover, which shows all the wireless zones in range, and Survey, which is where the real power lies.

NetSpot 2.4, free/US$149/US$449 (7-day test license for paid versions available). More info.

Aurora HDR — Aurora HDR from MacPhun lets you adjust exposure levels in photographs. A recent update improved plug-in compatibility with Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture, more versatile ghost reduction, performance improvements and a new preset category for more natural results.

Mark Webster is an independent writer of Apple Mac and iOS/iDevice news and reviews for Australia and New Zealand, covering Apple Mac and iDevice (iPad, iPhone, iPod touch) hardware and software and accessories. His guest blog posts make it easy to find the most up-to-date news and information on Apple products and software.

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*The views expressed by the author are not necessarily those of the publisher or editor of iStart.

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