The holidays are upon us, and that means it’s time to go shopping. Tech gifts usually sit near the top of everyone’s list, but if you’re struggling to come up with ideas this year, we’re here to help.
Below you’ll find 12 gift ideas for the holidays, sprinkled in with some additional gifts for those who want to save a little bit of money or are looking for another recommendation.
Keep in mind the prices listed below are the usual retail prices, but you’re likely to find some of, if not most, of the tech products on sale leading up to Christmas.
Apple AirPods Pro (regularly $250)
The AirPods Pro is arguably the best wireless earbuds you can get for an Apple user, and to Jason Cipriani, they’re worth every penny of the $250 asking price. Jason Perlow likes Anker’s Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro, currently priced at $110 (with a regular price of $150).
Apple iPhone 11 (regularly $699)
Apple’s iPhone 11 may be the least expensive iPhone, but it’s still more than enough phone for most users. From battery life to its two-camera setup, the iPhone 11 is one of the best deals you’ll find on an iPhone this year. If you’re looking for an Android phone, Samsung’s Galaxy S10, ZTE’s Axon 10 Pro, or Motorola’s Moto G7 are all respectable — and affordable — options.
Apple Watch Series 5 (regularly $399)
The Apple Watch Series 5 is the best smartwatch on the market, with the latest hardware available from Apple right now. At $399, it’s expensive, but will be supported for years to come. If you’d rather save some money on an Apple Watch, the Series 3 starts at $199.
Apple iPad (regularly $329)
Apple’s iPad is the best tablet available right now and has been for some time. The latest base model has a slightly larger display and now works with Apple’s Smart Keyboard Cover. At $329, it’s hard to beat.
DJI Mavic Mini Fly More Combo (regularly $499)
The DJI Mavic Mini is a steal. It’s a fully capable drone with a range of up to 4km, a good camera, and a battery life of nearly 30 minutes. The Fly More Combo includes the drone, a controller three batteries, a charging pack, extra propellers, and a charging case. Or if you only want the drone and a controller, you can get the basic package for $399.
Nintendo Switch (regularly $299)
The Nintendo Switch is a powerful gaming device that’s fully portable, or it can be connected to your TV. The Nintendo Switch Lite is slightly cheaper at $199, but it can’t be connected to a TV. If you’d rather not get a dedicated gaming device, the iPod Touch is a versatile device that comes with the iOS ecosystem of games, including Apple Arcade.
Disney+ subscription (regularly $70 for a year)
Disney+ is one of the hottest streaming services that launched in 2019, with a content library that never seems to end. Not to mention Baby Yoda has all but taken over the internet. You can sing up for an account for a loved one, or purchase a Disney gift card in a Disney store to cover the cost of a year’s subscription. Jason Perlow is a Star Trek fan, so he recommends doing the same for a CBS All Access subscription.
Amazon Echo Dot with Clock (on sale for $35, regularly $60)
The Echo Dot with clock gives your gift recipient an Alexa-powered speaker for controlling smart home devices or asking random questions, as well as a constantly visible clock. Amazon keeps adjusting the price, but right now it’s $35 down from $60. Jason Perlow recommends spending a little more and getting the standard Amazon Echo with a better speaker for listening to music for $99.
Nest Hello for (regularly $229)
Nest’s Hello Doorbell provides peace of mind and helpful alerts while monitoring your door. It’ll let you know when a package has been left, or when it sees someone it recognizes (or doesn’t recognize). Jason Perlow likes Ring’s $249 Video Doorbell Pro, which if you watch for the right promotion can also get you a free Echo device. Right now, for the same price, you can get a free Echo Show 5.
GoalZero Sherpa 100PD (regularly $136)
The Goal Zero Sherpa 100PD is a portable battery pack that does it all. It has Power Delivery of up to 60W, a wireless charging pad and multiple USB ports. It’s a little pricey, but worth it. Jason Perlow recommends the Zendure SuperTank USB-C PD and SuperPort 4.
1Password subscription (regularly $60)
Not enough people take password security serious enough, but with a little nudging and guidance, you can help get them on track. 1Password is a password managing service with apps for nearly every platform. It creates and stores random passwords and will even enter them for you. A family plan that includes five users is $60 a month, and it just so happens 1Password sells digital gift cards.
Sonos Beam (regularly $399)
See it now: Amazon
You can’t go wrong any of the Sonos lineups. Sonos speakers connect wirelessly to each other and the internet allowing you to stream your music library from nearly every streaming service, and if you opt for something like Sonos Beam it acts as a soundbar for a TV. Jason Perlow has been testing the Anker Nebula Soundbar and recommends it, partly because of its sound quality but also because it pulls double-duty as a Fire TV device.
India unveils more stringent rules for social media, streaming services – TechCrunch
India announced sweeping changes to its guidelines for social media, on-demand video streaming services, and digital news outlets on Thursday, posing new challenges for small firms as well as giants such as Facebook and Google that count the nation as its biggest market by users.
Ravi Shankar Prasad, India’s IT, Law, and Justice minister, said in a press conference that social media companies will be required to acknowledge the request within 24 hours and deliver a complete redressal in 15 days. In sensitive cases that surround rape or other sexual nature, firms will be required to takedown the objectionable content within 24 hours.
These firms will also be required to appoint a chief compliance officer, a nodal contact officer, who shall be reachable round the clock, and a resident grievance officer. The firms will also be required to have an office in the country.
For social media companies, Prasad said they will be required to disclose the originator of objectionable content. “We don’t want to know the content, but firms need to be able to tell who was the first person who began spreading misinformation and other objectionable content,” he said. WhatsApp has previously said that it can’t comply with such traceability request without compromising end-to-end encryption security for every user.
Firms will also be required to publish a monthly compliance report to disclose the number of requests they received and what actions they took. They will also be required to offer a voluntary option to users who wish to verify their accounts.
The guidelines go into effect for small firms effective immediately, but bigger services will be provided three months to comply, said Prasad.
New Delhi has put together these guidelines because citizens in India have long requested a “mechanism to address grievances,” said Prasad. India has been working on a law aimed at intermediaries since 2018. This is the first time New Delhi has publicly shared an update on the specifics of the guidelines.
“India is the world’s largest open Internet society and the Government welcomes social media companies to operate in India, do business and also earn profits. However, they will have to be accountable to the Constitution and laws of India,” he said, adding that WhatsApp had amassed 530 million users, YouTube, 448 million users, Facebook’s marquee service 410 million users, Instagram 210 million users, and Twitter, 175 million users in the country.
For streaming platforms, the draft, which will be legally enforceable when it becomes a law, has outlined a three-tier structure for “observance and adherence to the code.” Until now, on-demand services such as Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar, and MX Player have operated in India with little to no censorship.
New Delhi last year said India’s broadcasting ministry, which regulates content on TV, will also be overseeing digital streaming platforms. 17 popular streaming firms had banded together to devise a self-regulation code. Prakash Javedkar, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, said the proposed solution from the industry wasn’t adequate and there will be an oversight mechanism from the government to ensure compliance of code of practices.
Streaming services will also have to attach a content ratings to their titles. “The OTT platforms, called as the publishers of online curated content in the rules, would self-classify the content into five age based categories- U (Universal), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A (Adult). Platforms would be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher, and reliable age verification mechanisms for content classified as “A”,” the Indian government said.
“The publisher of online curated content shall prominently display the classification rating specific to each content or programme together with a content descriptor informing the user about the nature of the content, and advising on viewer description (if applicable) at the beginning of every programme enabling the user to make an informed decision, prior to watching the programme.”
Digital news outlets will be required to disclose the size of their reach and structure of their ownership.
Industry executives have expressed concerns over the new proposed regulation, saying New Delhi hasn’t consulted them for these changes. IAMAI, a powerful industry body that represents nearly all on-demand streaming services, said it was “dismayed” by the guidelines, and hoped to have a dialogue with the government.
Javedkar and Prasad were asked if there will be any consultation with the industry before these guidelines become law. The ministers said that they had already received enough inputs from the industry.
This is a developing story. More to follow…
YouTube to launch parental control features for families with tweens and teens – TechCrunch
YouTube announced this morning it will soon introduce a new experience designed for teens and tweens who are now too old for the schoolager-focused YouTube Kids app, but who may not be ready to explore all of YouTube. The company says it’s preparing to launch a beta test of new features that will give parents the ability to grant kids more limited access to YouTube through a “supervised” Google Account. This setup will restrict what tweens and teens can watch on the platform, as well as what they can do — like create videos or leave comments, for example.
Many parents may have already set up a supervised Google Account for their child through Google’s Family Link parental control app. This app allows parents to restrict access across a range of products and services, control screen time, filter websites and more. Other parents may have created a supervised Google Account for their child when they first set up the child’s account on a new Android device or Chromebook.
If not, parents can take a few minutes to create the child’s supervised account when they’re ready to begin testing the new features. (Unfortunately, Google Edu accounts — like those kids now use for online school — aren’t supported at launch.)
The new features will allow parents to select between three different levels of YouTube access for their tween or teen. Initially, YouTube will test the features with parents with children under the age of consent for online services — age 13 in the U.S., but different in other countries — before expanding to older groups.
For tweens who have more recently graduated out of the YouTube Kids app, an “Explore” mode will allow them to view a broad range of videos generally suited for viewers age 9 and up — including vlogs, tutorials, gaming videos, music clips, news, and educational content. This would allow the kids to watch things like their favorite gaming streamer with kid-friendly content, but would prevent them (in theory) from finding their way over to more sensitive content.
The next step up is an “Explore More” mode, where videos are generally suitable for kids 13 and up — like a PG-13 version of YouTube. This expands the set of videos kids can access and allows them access to live streams in the same categories as “Explore.”
For older teens, there is the “Most of YouTube” mode, which includes almost all YouTube videos except those that include age-restricted content that isn’t appropriate for viewers under 18.
YouTube says it will use a combination of user input, machine learning, and human review to curate which videos are included in each of the three different content settings.
Of course, much like YouTube Kids, that means this will not be a perfect system — it’s a heavily machine-automated attempt at curation where users will still have to flag videos that were improperly filtered. In other words, helicopter parents who closely supervise their child’s access to internet content will probably still want to use some other system — like a third-party parental control solution, perhaps — to lock down YouTube further.
The supervised access to YouTube comes with other restrictions, as well, the company says.
Parents will be able to manage the child’s watch and search history from within the child’s account settings. And certain features on YouTube will be disabled, depending on the level of access the child has.
For example, YouTube will disable in-app purchases, video creation, and commenting features at launch. The company says that, over time, it wants to work with parents to add some of these features back through some sort of parent-controlled approach.
Also key is that personalized ads won’t be served on supervised experiences, even if that content isn’t designated as “made for kids” — which would normally allow for personalized ads to run. Instead, all ads will be contextual, as they are on YouTube Kids. In addition, all ads will have to comply with kids advertising policies, YouTube’s general ad policies, and will be subject to the same category and ad content restrictions as on Made for Kids content.
That said, when parents establish the supervised account for their child, they’ll be providing consent for COPPA compliance — the U.S. children’s privacy law that requires parents to be notified and agree to the collection and use personal data from the kids’ account. So there’s a trade-off here.
However, the new experience may still make sense for families where kids have outgrown apps designed for younger children — or even in some cases, for younger kids who covet their big brother or sister’s version of “real YouTube.” Plus, at some point, forcing an older child to use the “Kids” app makes them feel like they’re behind their peers, too. And since not all parents use the YouTube Kids app or parental controls, there’s always the complaint that “everyone else has it, so why can’t I?” (It never ends.)
This slightly more locked down experience lets parents give the child access to “real YouTube” with restrictions on what that actually means, in terms of content and features.
YouTube, in an announcement, shared several endorsements for the new product from a few individual youth experts, including Leslie Boggs, president of National PTA; Dr. Yalda Uhls, Center for Scholars & Storytellers, UCLA – Author of Media Moms & Digital Dads; Thiago Tavares, Founder and President of SaferNet Brazil; and Professor Sun Sun Lim, Singapore University of Technology & Design – Author of Transcendent Parenting.
YouTube’s news, notably, follows several product updates from fast-growing social video app and YouTube rival TikTok, which has rolled out a number of features aimed at better protecting its younger users.
The company in April 2020 launched a “family pairing” mode that lets a parent link their child’s account to their own in order to also lock down what the child can do and what content they can see. (TikTok offers a curated experience for the under-13 crowd called Restricted Mode, which can be switched on here, too.) And in January of this year, TikTok changed the privacy setting defaults for users under 18 to more proactively restrict what they do on the app.
YouTube says its new product will launch in beta in the “coming months” in over 80 countries worldwide. It also notes that it will continue to invest in YouTube Kids for parents with younger children.
Facebook brings news sharing back to Australia – TechCrunch
The Facebook-Australia news battle seems to have reached an end, Android gets an update and Lucid Motors is going public via SPAC. This is your Daily Crunch for February 23, 2021.
The big story: Facebook brings news sharing back to Australia
Last week, Facebook responded to the Australian government’s proposed law requiring internet platforms to strike revenue-sharing agreements with news publishers by blocking news sharing and viewing for users in the country. But with the government amending the law, Facebook said it will restore news sharing in the “coming days.”
Among other things, the amendments call for a two-month mediation period before Facebook is forced into arbitration with publishers, and it also says the government will consider commercial agreements that the platforms have made with local publishers before deciding whether the law applies to them.
William Easton, Facebook’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand, said in a statement that the amendments address “core concerns about allowing commercial deals that recognize the value our platform provides to publishers relative to the value we receive from them.”
The tech giants
Android’s latest update will let you schedule texts, secure your passwords and more — This update will integrate a feature called Password Checkup to alert you to passwords you’re using that have been previously exposed.
Twitter relaunches test that asks users to revise harmful replies — Twitter is running a new test that will ask users to pause and think before they tweet.
Area 120 is beginning to use Google’s massive reach to scale HTML5 GameSnacks platform — GameSnacks is an HTML5 gaming platform where titles are bite-sized and load much faster.
Startups, funding and venture capital
Lucid Motors strikes SPAC deal to go public with $24B valuation — This will be the largest deal yet between a blank-check company and an electric vehicle startup.
Shippo raises $45M more at $495M valuation as e-commerce booms — The startup provides shipping-related services to e-commerce companies.
Reddit ups Series E round by another $116M — Reddit had already announced a $250 million Series E earlier this month.
Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch
How to overcome the challenges of switching to usage-based pricing — The usage-based pricing model almost feels like a cheat code, according to OpenView’s Kyle Poyar.
Oscar Health’s initial IPO price is so high, it makes me want to swear — Alex Wilhelm doesn’t mince words: “Public investors have lost their damn minds.”
RIBS: The messaging framework for every company and product — The test is designed to tell you if your story is memorable, so you can turn it into a compelling message.
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Announcing the complete agenda for TC Sessions: Justice — Our second-ever dedicated event to diversity, equity, inclusion and labor in tech is coming up on March 3.
Six Miami-based investors share their views on the region’s startup scene — Investors see a huge opportunity for the region to become a major startup hub by utilizing its diverse workforce and wonderful quality of life.
SolarWinds hackers targeted NASA, Federal Aviation Administration networks — Hackers are said to have broken into the networks of U.S. space agency NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration as part of a wider espionage campaign.
The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.
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