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10 suitcase-friendly gifts for frequent flyers – TechCrunch

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Welcome to TechCrunch’s 2018 Holiday Gift Guide! Need more gift ideas? Check out our Gift Guide Hub.

I’ve been traveling a lot this year — more than any year in the past. It’s been both a blessing and a curse, so thanks, TechCrunch, for that. Honestly, I should probably be packing for Asia instead of writing this, but I’m looking out for you instead.

Rather than writing the standard Travel Guide or Holiday Gift Guide, we’ve opted to combine them into one. Because if there’s one key to making the most out of your time on the road, it’s efficiency. Technology can play an important role in helping streamline the packing process and generally making the most out of your trip.

Of course, as with everything, too much tech can also be a bad thing. I know I’ve found myself packing too many gadgets or jamming a messy rat king of cables in my carry-on, making a mess of things in the process.

What follows is a collection of gadgets, accessories and other products designed to remove some of the biggest pain points from travel and help you make the most of your trip, whether overnight or longer.

Amazon Kindle Oasis

Okay, maybe including a Kindle on here is a bit of a cheat, but very few devices have improved my travel life like an e-reader — and the Oasis is currently the nicest one you can get. It wasn’t all that long ago I used to jam several paperbacks into my carry-on. I do miss the tactility of real books from time to time, but when it comes to traveling, nothing beats the ability to jam thousands of books into a seat-back pocket.

Price: $249-$279
Available from: Amazon


Anker 40W 4-Port USB Wall Charger

A lot of modern hotels are getting better about USB ports. I recently found myself staying at one in LA where every single link had a place for me to charge my iPhone. But it’s still a crapshoot — especially when traveling to a strange city — and hey, if you can avoid plugging your personal devices into a strange port, all the better.

I started traveling with my own combo mini power strip/USB hub years ago, but Anker’s 40W 4-Port USB Wall Charger is a much more compact solution, bringing four USB ports directly to the wall. Best of all, like all of Anker’s products, it’s dirt cheap.

Price: $26
Available from: Amazon


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BUBM Cable Bag

I’ve tried a LOT of cable organizers in my many years of gadget blogging. It’s the only thing that keeps my travel bag from turning into the Indiana Jones snake pit. At the end of the day, all of them ultimately suffer the same compromise: you can either have a lot of compartments for your various tech doodads or you can free up more space in your bag.

Ultimately, I tend to side with the latter. Especially when it comes to carry ons, anything you can do to free up space is a net positive. Lately, I’ve been digging this one from BUBM. It looks snazzy and the fold-over design helps free up precious bag real estate.

Price: $12
Available from: Amazon


Calm Subscription

This is one is admittedly an odd choice. Sure there are plenty of travel-specific apps out there, but when it comes to helping tamp down the stress associated with travel, the Calm app is a good place to start. This is coming for a very anxious flyer, mind you. It’s not a fear of flying — that part’s fine. It’s everything else. From the getting to the airport to the endless lines to the $3 airport water to the occasional middle seat.

I’m also, not coincidentally, an anxious meditator. I’ve tried a LOT of different apps to pursue mindfulness on my smartphone, and Calm is far and away the one I like the best. The guided meditation sessions are terrific and ditto for the the more freeform ones. It’s also a great way to get your bearings after waking up in a hotel room in some unknown city.

A year’s subscription runs $60, which is a small price to pay for peace of mind.

Price: $60
Available from: Calm


Harman Kardon Traveler Speaker

This one admittedly feels like more of a luxury than many of the others, but don’t underestimate how much a small Bluetooth speaker can improve hotel time. The vast majority of laptops have pretty terrible built-in speakers and even middling Bluetooth speakers are a major improvement.

Harman Kardon’s Traveler fits the bill and won’t add much size or weight to a carry on. It also has a built-in mic for teleconference — a definite bonus for work trips — and doubles as a power bank for charging up devices. The 2,500mAh battery isn’t much, but on the road, every little bit of juice counts.

Price: $150
Available from: Harman Kardon


HyperDrive USB-C Hub Attach

I travel with a LOT of gadgets. It’s kind of my job. As such, you’re no doubt catching onto the fact that lack of charging ports is a consistent theme in all of this. HyperDrive USB-C Hub Attach is a clever take on TwelveSouth’s iconic PlugBug that brings USB ports directly to the MacBook’s charging brick. Here, however, you’ve got the decided bonus of a third active USB-C port for data transfer. At $50 for the larger version, it’s also priced to match TwelveSouth’s offering.
Price: $50
Available from: HYPER


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Luna Display

As I noted in my write up last month, the Luna Display isn’t for everyone, but those who need it will find it to be a downright lifesaver. Once this thumbnail-sized $80 device plugs into a MacBook, it connects to a nearby iPad over Wi-Fi, converting the tablet into a second screen.

I’ve been using the hell out of it every time I’ve found myself working from the road or at home. I’ve become entirely dependent on my monitor at work, and now find myself being the guy with both a laptop and tablet out on the table at the coffee shop. Totally worth it for the ability to monitor my RSS feeds while working on a story.

Price: $80
Available from: Luna


RAVPower Wireless Portable Charger

Powerbanks are a dime a dozen these days, but RavPower is making some of the cleverest ones out there. It’s tough to narrow them all down, but this one lands on my list for its inclusion of a Qi charging pad that lets users wirelessly charge compatible handsets on top of the brick.

Keep in mind, some airlines and airports are limiting the size of batteries that can be stowed in a bag, so if the person you’re buying for is a frequent visitor to, say, China, double check the limits — though this 10400mAh battery should be fine in most cases.

Price: $50
Available from: Amazon


Timbuk2 Never Check Expandable Backpack

I always thought I’d outgrow backpacks, but aside from a brief flirtation with the messenger bag in the aughts, I’m rarely seen without one. Of course, no two are the same, and if there’s a frequent traveler in your life, a solid backpack makes all the difference in the world.

Timbuk2 makes some truly terrific bags, and the Never Check certainly fits the bill. It has a spacious interior for clothes, shoes and anything else needed for an overnight trip, while maintaining a small enough footprint to be stashed in an overhead bin or under the seat in of you.

Price: $200
Available from: Timbuk2


Twelve South AirFly

This is one of those travel concerns that doesn’t really dawn on you until you’re face to face with it. Love your Bluetooth earbuds? Great. But good luck listening to the movie on your flight. Twelve South, in all of its infinite wisdom, has designed a small wireless transmitter that plugs into headphone jacks, so you can use your go to headphones with the seat-back entertainment system. Turns out it also comes in handy for the TVs at the hotel gym.

The biggest downside here is pricing — $30 doesn’t seem like much, but you can grab a pair of wired headphones for pretty cheap these days.

Price: $30
Available from: Amazon

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Here’s How To Lock Chrome’s Incognito Mode Tabs With Your Fingerprint On iPhone

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Millions of internet users worldwide use Chrome’s Incognito mode to hide and protect their web activity. Google mentions on a support page that Incognito mode doesn’t keep a record of the websites you’ve visited or the site data/cookies associated with the browsing session. Further, with locked Incognito Tabs on Chrome, iPhone users can be double sure about their privacy. Before the feature arrived, iPhone users had to manually close all the Incognito Tabs before handing over their phone to someone else. The locked Incognito Tabs feature locks all the Incognito Tabs in the current session behind a password or biometric entry.

Once you enable the locked Incognito Tabs feature on your iPhone, you wouldn’t have to worry about anyone sneaking on your Incognito Tabs. The moment you minimize Google Chrome and open another app, or head to the home screen, Chrome will lock the Incognito Tabs. The next time you try to access the tabs, Chrome will ask you to enter your iPhone’s passcode or a registered biometric match. On certain iPhone models like the iPhone 8 or the iPhone SE (2022), Chrome allows unlocking Incognito Tabs via Touch ID. On the other hand, iPhone models like the iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 ask users to access their Incognito Tabs through Face ID, as these models don’t have a fingerprint scanner.

Nevertheless, whether you have an old or a new iPhone, the locked Incognito Tabs feature should come in handy. Let’s discuss the steps involved in enabling the feature on an iPhone (or an iPad).

Here’s how to lock Incognito Tabs on iPhone

The locked Incognito Tabs feature is located in Chrome’s Settings menu, and it is pretty easy to enable it. Follow the steps given below on your iPhone.

  1. Open Google Chrome.
  2. Press the three-dot icon at the bottom right corner of the screen. You should see a menu with a quick action list on top.
  3. Swipe left on the list and hit the Settings option.
  4. Now scroll down to locate and select the Privacy and security option.
  5. In the Privacy and security menu, tap on the toggle beside Lock incognito tabs when you close Chrome. Tap Enable in the confirmation dialogue box, and you’re ready.
  6. Press Done to get out of the Settings menu and back to the browsing screen.

Upon following all the steps successfully, you should be able to activate the locked Incognito Tabs. Now, let’s test the feature.

  1. On Google Chrome’s browsing window, hit the three-dot icon at the bottom right corner and tap New incognito tab.
  2. In the incognito tab, conduct a Google search.
  3. Once you see the search results, swipe up from the bottom edge of the display to open the Home Screen.
  4. Now, reopen Google Chrome. You should see a button on your screen that reads Unlock with Touch ID or Unlock with Face ID.
  5. Hit the unlock button and then place your registered finger on the Touch ID sensor, or place your iPhone in front of your face to confirm via Face ID.
  6. Upon verifying it’s you, Chrome grants access. 

Things to keep in mind

Now that you know how to lock your Incognito Tabs on Chrome, here are a few things to keep in mind. You might think you’ll lose your Incognito Tabs if you remove Google Chrome from the recent apps list, but that is not true. Even if you do that and reopen the app, you’ll find your Incognito Tabs intact behind the biometric lock.

The second thing you should know is that Chrome only locks the Incognito Tabs upon minimizing the app, which means that your regular tabs are still vulnerable. In other words, even with the locked Incognito Tabs feature enabled, anyone can access the regular tabs on your iPhone. If the feature is unavailable on your iPhone, update the Google Chrome web browser from the App Store. Since it has been around for over a year, there’s a good chance you won’t need to update Chrome to get the feature.

Overall, the locked Incognito Tabs feature acts as an extra layer of security over anonymous browsing, as it’s not just the digital threats you need to stay away from – you need to handle the bad actors in real life.

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2024 BMW X5 And X6 Show Why Electrification Really Matters

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Automakers are pushing, now more than ever, to electrify their lineups. Whether through plug-in hybrids that can go a few miles while running only on batteries, or by making fully electric versions of cars, several automakers are continuing to iterate on electric car design. 

Chevrolet made waves with the long-rumored Corvette E-Ray hybrid that’s helped by both electric motors and a 6.2-liter V8. BMW electrified the 7-Series in the form of the 2023 BMW I7 xDrive60. That car benefitted from 544 horsepower and upwards of 310 miles of range. Cars are changing rapidly as electrification becomes more practical, and many automakers are planning on either hybridizing or electrifying their entire lineups within a few short years.

BMW just announced a host of changes to its X5 and X6 SUVs for the 2024 model year. Those changes bring a host of improvements to both models with more powerful engines, a more high-tech and contemporary interior, and a much-improved plug-in hybrid version of the X5.

Useful electrification

According to a press release from BMW, there will be two new engine choices for the X5 and X6: a twin-turbo 3-liter inline 6 that produces 375 horsepower on the X5 xDrive40i and X6 xDrive40i models, and a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 that throws down 523 horsepower on the X5 M60i xDrive and the X6 M60i xDrive. Both engines will benefit from a 48-volt mild hybrid system that boosts torque, and works with the eight-speed transmission to allow for a smoother driving experience. 

The real star of the new model range is the plug-in hybrid X5 xDrive50e. The revised drivetrain consists of a twin-turbo inline-6 and an electric motor that puts out 483 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque when working together. BMW says the plug-in X5 can accelerate from 0-60 miles per hour in 4.6 seconds, showing that a hybrid system is useful for more things than just efficiency. BMW also says that the plug-in can travel up to 40 miles on just battery power without using a drop of gas.

Modernized, capable interior

The inside of both the X5 and X6 will also feature a new 12.3-inch curved infotainment screen, and a 14.9-inch curved display for controls. Updates bring the infotainment in the X5 up to the latest BMW iDrive software, alongside a new heads-up display, Augmented View, and more modern features.

The displays will be paired with the updated BMW Operating System 8, which includes improvements to the optional driver support systems with the new Highway Assistant, and reverse assistance with optional parking assistance technology as well.

The base model X5 sDrive50i starts at $65,200, the X5 xDrive40i begins at $67,500, the plug in X5 xDrive50e has an MSRP of $72,500. The X6 xDrive40i starts at $73,900. Lastly, the M60i xDrive versions of the X5 and X6 start at $89,300 and $93,600 respectively. Prices do not reflect the $995 destination charge.

BMW says that production will begin in April of 2023 at BMW’s Spartanburg, South Carolina plant.

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How To Retrieve Deleted Files From iCloud

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The file recovery process varies slightly between devices, but getting a deleted file back usually takes just a few steps. After you have restored a file, folder, or album, you can find it in the same destination where it was before deletion. 

If you deleted the files from iCloud web or iCloud Drive:

  1. Click the sidebar.
  2. Click the Recently Deleted tab.
  3. Select the files you want to recover.
  4. Click Recover.

If you want to restore all files in the Recently Deleted section, instead of selecting all files one by one, click Recover All (via Apple).

If you deleted the file on a Mac:

  1. Click the Quick Access menu button on the iCloud app on your Mac.
  2. Click Data Recovery.
  3. Click Restore files.

You can also find the file in Trash and drag it out. Or, right-click the removed file in Trash and select Put Back. Your file will be sent back to where it was originally (via Apple).

On your iPhone or iPad:

  1. Open Files
  2. Select Recently Deleted.
  3. Touch and hold the file you want to retrieve.
  4. Select Recover.

If you want to restore contacts, calendars, bookmarks, or reminders, 

  1. Go to iCloud settings on the iCloud app or iCloud website.
  2. Find the Restore settings under Advanced.
  3. Pick your preferred data type.
  4. Select the backup to restore.

There a is caveat, however. If you empty Trash or Recently Deleted, your file is permanently erased (via Apple). We recommend maintaining a physical backup on a USB stick or external hard drive to keep important data safe.

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