Our editors are celebrating Columbus Day and the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday today. We’ll be back tomorrow, October 13, with our full slate of news and reviews.
We hope you, your family, and friends enjoy a relaxing holiday together.
Today in iLounge Deals you can pick up the MOS Cable Organizer for only $11.99. This sleek magnetic organizer helps you get control of that mess of tangled cords on your desk with a simple, elegant solution. Your cords can simply be placed onto the magnetic surface and they’ll latch on and stay in place, and the minimalistic and stylish triangular design lets it double as a decorative accent for your workplace or living space.
Blockr ($1) — One of the lower profile features added in iOS 9 was support in Safari for third-party content blocking solutions, similar to what Mac users have been able to employ for years. Blockr is one of the first such apps to appear on the App Store; once installed, it plugs into the Safari browser, allowing you to selectively remove annoying ads, images, social buttons, cookie warnings, and more while surfing the web. An extension in Safari’s Share Sheet provides access to Blockr’s settings without leaving the browser, and specific sites (such as, say, iLounge.com) can be whitelisted to disable ad and other content blocking on those sites.
Chesh ($3) — Inspired by the classic board game Chess, this new app takes it into a completely random direction, requiring you to throw away every strategy you’ve ever employed in classic chess. Every game starts with different pieces, and every piece gets a random movement rule assigned to it, requiring you to adapt to the changes and ensuring every gameplay experience is a unique one. You’ll learn by playing, and re-learn each time you play again.
Sago Mini Babies ($3) — Sago is back with another game that encourages creativity and exploration in toddlers. Sago Mini Babies lets preschool boys and girls care for adorable new characters, feeding them, playing dress-up, changing diapers, and more. The open-ended app lets children explore and play at their own pace, and helps them develop empathy and nurturing behaviour.
Puzzle & Glory (free) — Although match-three games have become commonplace on the App Store, this new entry from Sega actually takes an interesting spin on the classic concept, adding an RPG element so that you’re not just playing a puzzle, but also working to solve larger quests and leveling up your character, adding an extra level of engagement as you train your characters, compete in tournaments, and determine the path to victory.
Creative's Sound Blaster Roar 2 ($170) is a sequel to its original Sound Blaster Roar (which we never reviewed). This speaker is smaller than the original, with Creative claiming the audio has also been improved. Sound Blaster Roar 2 is a portable Bluetooth speaker with five drivers — two 1.5" tweeters, a 2.5" subwoofer, and two passive radiators. The speaker is chock full of features, including some that aren't seen in most Bluetooth speakers, such as a micro-SD card reader and voice recorder. Creative claims the speaker gets up to 8 hours of battery life. Sound Blaster Roar 2 ships with its own power adapter and a micro-USB cable, and it comes in black or white. A carrying bag is sold separately for $40.
Parrot's 2010 AR.Drone set a standard for iOS controlled toys, and the company has continued to evolve its drone lineup, branching into rolling and jumping drones, continuing its full-size lineup with entries like Bebop Drone, and entering the flying minidrone space with last year's Rolling Spider. The company's latest series of "Airborne" minidrones takes the smaller fliers back to a more basic drone design, eschewing the unusual but unique wheeled design of Rolling Spider in favor of more traditional flying drone features such as cameras and lighting. As with Parrot's jumping drone lineup, the flying minidrones have now also been split into two separate models – in this case a "night" version and a "cargo" version. Both operate in basically the same manner with only a few key differences, so we're covering both in a single review and will simply note the options that are specific to only one or the other.
Apple is now selling SIM-free, unlocked versions of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus in its online store. This option lets users purchase a phone without immediately tying it to a carrier. The SIM-free iPhones do not come with a nano-SIM card — you have to get a card from a supported carrier. Customers will pay full retail price for these options, of course, which range from $649 for an unlocked iPhone 6s to $949 for a 128GB SIM-free iPhone 6s Plus. We’d prefer that Apple offer this option at launch, but it’s available now.
Today in iLounge Deals we’re offering the TurtleCell Headphone Case for iPhone 6 for only $49.99. This premium case protects your iPhone while also keeping your earbuds handily ensconced within the case. The stylish hexagonal-patterned body protects your iPhone from drops, and the retractable headphones means you’re ready to listen to audio anytime, anywhere. A built-in kickstand lets you prop up the case, and the headphones include an in-ilne mic for handsfree calls and built-in volume and track controls. You can also engage and disengage the headphones with an audio switch for when you’d rather listen through the speaker.
Although Apple first debuted iCloud Drive in iOS 8 last year, it was implemented merely as a hidden file system designed to be used only within apps specifically designed to support it; unlike on OS X Mavericks, there was no iOS-based option to directly browse through your iCloud drive, making it a completely impractical replacement for something like Dropbox or Google Drive. The good news is that Apple has opened this up with iOS 9 by adding a standalone, built-in iCloud Drive app, providing direct access to everything you have stored in iCloud Drive, along with some basic file organization and sharing features.
Despite FCC related delays last month, AT&T has now opened up Wi-Fi calling to all of its customers. While Wi-Fi calling had been available to users during the iOS 9 beta period, AT&T had delayed wider use due to pending approval on an FCC requirement to ensure that the new Wi-Fi calling feature can reliably accommodate the hearing impaired. The carrier was officially granted the waiver this week, enabling Wi-Fi calling for all subscribers with supported devices, including the iPhone 5c and later, running iOS 9. Following the granting of the FCC waiver, however, AT&T has publicly expressed concern that rival carriers such as T-Mobile and Sprint have “flaunted” FCC rules in enabling the feature without approval, and disappointment that the FCC has chosen to simply invite them to apply for similar waivers, ignoring their previous disregard for the rules. Users can now enable Wi-Fi calling by going into the iOS 9 Settings app and enabling the Wi-Fi calling option under the Phone section. Users will be taken through a setup process that will require them to supply an up-to-date emergency address to be placed on file for E911 services. [via 9to5Mac]
Griffin's Survivor line has just expanded, with the company's new protective cases coming to iPhone 6s. Survivor Journey ($30) is a co-molded TPE-and-plastic case. A rubber half-hex pattern — which Griffin calls its Impact Dispersion System — lines the inner sides of the case. Survivor Summit ($50) is a more rugged option, offering full protection with a slide-on screen guard, and port and speaker covers. Summit comes with a belt clip/viewing stand, as well. Both cases come in multiple color patterns.