When we think of the winter season, visions of snowy landscapes, wearing warm woolen mittens, and curling up in front of roaring fires to stay toasty come to mind.
Here in the Cayman Islands, you just have to stand out on a black asphalt parking lot at noon to sample the same burning heat that you would from a functioning fireplace, but it’s not really the same, is it?
Certainly no one complains about being able to wear T-shirts in December – that was why we’re so popular at this time of year – yet there’s still something to be said for seeking out the familiar sensations of living in colder climes.
A number of years ago, I came across a DVD of fireplace scenes with burning logs, crackling noises and optional music. Despite being mocked by those around me, I purchased it and never regretted it. Whenever I had people around to my house over the Christmas season, the DVD was played and it added a surprising amount of atmosphere to the living room. It almost made my guests forget that they were surrounded by a pride of house cats.
I am obviously not the only one who appreciates a good old-fashioned fake fireplace, as the App Store has loads of different fireplace apps. Some are free and some cost a little bit of money.
If you’re new to the world of flames, it may be best to go with a free one first before you splurge your hard-earned $1.99 on a deluxe version.
One thing I should mention before you dive right into the embers is that even though I tried quite a few of these, I could only find one that allowed for AirPlay – that is, sending it from your device to your TV via an Apple TV through the magic of 21st century technology.
So, for most of them, you either play them only on your iPad, or hook up your iPad to your TV direct.
Fireplace 3D Lite
This app is free and simple. It did not bring up any pop-up ads for the brief period of time that I tried it, and it just crackled away.
You can toggle the fire sounds and crackling sounds on and off; zoom in on the fire until you feel like a suckling pig; and remove or add the mantel and grate. I gotta say that the latter two do not resemble any mantel and grate I’ve ever seen in a house. They’d look more at home in a “How to Train Your Dragon” scene.
Fireplace Magic HD
It’s a freebie, but there are pop-up ads that run along the top until you pay for the upgraded version. I went to see what it cost to upgrade, but it would not tell me – it just went to ask for my iTunes password. Err … no, thank you.
Fireplace HD has four different fire options (including a “glow” where it’s like you’re hovering above the fire) plus some sound effects.
Free (but annoying pop-ups until you pay up, so essentially it’s fireplace mafia)
There are 22 fireplaces to choose from here. Who would’ve thought that there could be so much variety? Campfires, log fires, gas fires … it’s an arsonist’s dream come true.
This app needs the Internet to work, which is a major disadvantage, as depending on the strength of your connection, you may end up with a very pixilated fire, a la “The Matrix.”
Fireplace Live HD
This app seems to be pretty popular and it does not just have classic fire, relaxing fire and campfire scenes – it even has candles and a sun and surf bonus. Such bounty!
You can choose a sound mix, music or just mute it and enjoy the view. For some reason, it allows you go into portrait mode. Why the heckfire would I want vertical flameage?
A Very Cozy Fireplace HD
This one is my favorite. Wanna know why? Because it has an AirPlay mode. Woo-hoo! Sure, I still have that DVD, but who even knows how to use a DVD player these days. The remote died years ago, and apparently you can only get the batteries for it in Indonesia. You buy cheap, you get cheap.
There’s only one fire type and you can spend your time matching your iTunes music list with it so you get the fire AND Michael Buble. Dynamite.
If all else fails, and you have an Apple TV or similar, you can buy a fireplace film to watch to your heart’s content. After all, do you really need it to be mobile? Who carries around a roaring fire with them anyway?