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Gift Guide 2016 Part 2

By Barry Donnelly

The holiday season is in full swing and we have had lots of snow and ice to add to the festive atmosphere. Last week we suggested some gift ideas which would be perfect for your family and friends. We did promise some more suggestions and here are our tops picks for this week.

  • Apple TV – This is the perfect addition to any room in your house. Check out our previous blog for a more detailed description of why it’s the right choice. (link to apple tv blog post)
  • Sonos Play:1 – Perfect for that friend or relative who loves music. The app gives you access to all of you streaming services (ie. Apple Music, Spotify), internet radio, podcasts, audiobooks and your own selection of music. The Play:1 is also humidity resistant so you can enjoy in places such as the bathroom and outdoor patios.
  • Star Wars Themed portable Battery Packs – This is a 2600mAh portable battery pack that is small and light and will give you up to 1.5 charges* ( *This is based on the battery capacity of an iPhone SE, charging capabilities on other models may vary)
  • Logiix Blue Piston Bluetooth Speakers – This speaker is a great stocking filler and provides good sound for its size and it has enough battery for up to 7 hours music playback. There is also a built-in microphone which will allow to receive and make hands-free calls.
To view last weeks gift ideas please click here.

Now that you have got your gifts checked off your holiday list here are some apps that will hopefully help you unwind and bring some festive cheer to family and friends.

Please note if you are any way competitive please disregard the previous sentence.

Super Mario Run

Super Mario Run, one of the most hotly anticipated apps of the year, has arrived and is now available to download. In preparation for this blog, I have had to endure hours of endless fun to give my opinions on this AMAZING game. The arrival of Mario on iOS is a big deal as it is the first game that Nintendo has created for iOS devices (although Pokémon Go was created by Niantic, which Nintendo has a stake in). You can download it for Free but this only gives you access to the first three levels but if you want to unlock everything you will need to pay $13.99. This will give you access to 24 courses over six worlds. Think of it as an early gift to yourself.

The gameplay is very similar to past Mario games. The game involves running through a virtual world and avoiding enemies and those dreaded gaps while collecting as many coins as possible. One of the main changes is that Mario runs automatically which gives you more time to jump and concentrate on collecting coins.
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There are three modes in which you can play Super Mario Run: World Tours, Toad Rally and Kingdom Builder. World Tour is where I have spent all my time and I am sure you will do the same. This mode involves going from the start to the point where your reach the flagpole. Along the way, you will collect coins and eliminate or jump over enemies.

There are two other modes, Toad Rally and Kingdom Builder. I have yet to explore these levels but Toad Rally allows you to compete against other players. Kingdom Builder allows you to create your own corner of the Mushroom Kingdom. You use the coins you collect to buy buildings and decorations. I have played it on the iPad and one thing to note is that the game is designed to be used vertically rather than horizontally. I have just downloaded it onto my iPhone so will be using this as it’s much easier to play.

One important thing to note is that the game can only be played while you have an internet connection. Nintendo indicates that the online connectivity will allow users to experience a wide range of features and services that will enhance the gameplay experience. Not ideal if you have gone through your monthly data allowance or if are traveling on an airplane.

One thing that is very obvious from the outset is that it is really addictive and I will find it even harder to put my phone down. I would suggest finding a nice quiet corner of your home and allowing at least 2 two hours to enjoy it.


During our Thanksgiving blog, we covered some apps that can be enjoyed with family and friends make sure to take a look at some suggestions for family fun. Here are some that have a more festive feel:

NORAD Santa Tracker

screen-shot-2016-12-15-at-3-14-10-pm This app is designed to allow families to track Santa and his reindeer during his epic journey on 24th December. This app has lots of cool features such as the Santa Tracker countdown, games, music, and history about NORAD. On December 24th NORAD has approx 1200 volunteers answering over 100,000 phone calls and responding to emails from children looking to track the man in red.

Snow Fight

Snow Fight If you want to enjoy the fun of a snowball fight without having the leave your chair, then this is the game for you. Here you have 4 different zones which you can play and there are different levels of difficulty within each zone. It’s definitely worth downloading for free and having some frustrating fun for a few hours.

While these apps are primarily played in single player mode Heads Up! Is a game which can be played by all the family.

Heads Up!

icon-headsup-3 This is the hilarious game that Ellen DeGeneres plays on her show. The aim of the game is to guess the card that is on your head. In this instance, you will hold your phone or tablet against your forehead. It’s essentially reverse charades, you will hold the device against your forehead, on the screen will be the name of something (celebrity, song, movie animal) and your family will have to describe to you what it is and you need to use these clues to guess what it is.

While some of the topics may not be that difficult one of the hardest parts is remembering which way you tilt the screen if you need to pass or if you get the correct answer.

Oh and it also records your family providing the clues and this is probably more entertaining than the guessing. It is definitely worth spending the $1.39 to have access to a wide range of topics.


On behalf of all the staff here at Simply Computing, we would like to wish you and your family happy holidays and a very happy new year!