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13 last-minute subscription gifts for the people you totally didn’t forget – TechCrunch

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Welcome to TechCrunch’s 2019 Holiday Gift Guide! Need help with gift ideas? We’re here to help! We’ll be rolling out gift guides from now through the end of December. You can find our other guides right here.

WHOOPS. You forgot to buy a gift for someone on your list.

Maybe you’ve been too busy at work. Maybe you just found out that the cousins are coming to Christmas this year after all. It happens.

It’s December 23rd. It’s too late to order things online, and brick-and-mortar stores are either closed for the week or absolutely slammed. So what can you do?

Subscriptions!

Subscriptions and subscription boxes are super-solid last-minute options: you can order them from your phone, it’s okay (expected, even) if they start arriving after Christmas and there’s a subscription service for… pretty much everything at this point.

Need some ideas? Here are some of our favorites services right now:

YesPlz

YesPlz is a coffee subscription with a fun twist: each weekly delivery comes paired with a magazine put together by the YesPlz team, featuring everything from comics to deep dives on music, art and, of course, coffee. “Beans and Zines,” as they put it.

Price: $17 per delivery, with options for delivery 1-4 times per month

PipSticks

 

Stickers! A semi-random but always wonderful allotment of stickers, delivered regularly.

It’s a great one for kids — but it’s also an awesome one for teachers, bullet journalists or stationary geeks.

Price: Starts at around $12 per month

Succulent Studios

Got a friend who loves plants but can’t keep ’em alive? First of all, that’s me. Second, succulents!

Succulent Studios drops off two fledgling succulents each month, with all sorts of fun varieties in the mix. I subscribed to this one for quite a while, stopping only when we… pretty much ran out of room for more succulents. The few times I had a succulent arrived damaged, they helped me nurse it back to health or replaced it.

Price: Around $17 per delivery

Lootcrate

Lootcrate sends out a constant stream of geeky goods, many of them exclusive to the service.

They’ve got hyper-themed boxes for fandoms from Harry Potter to Hello Kitty, broader boxes for anime/horror/sci-fi fans or their namesake all-encompassing “Loot Crates” that bring in goodies from any and all walks of geek fandom.

Price: Around $20-$25 per delivery

Piquant Post

Ever bought a spice for a single recipe only to have the vast majority of the jar sit in a cabinet getting crusty for a thousand years?

Piquant Post brings the fun of playing with new spices without taking over your spice cabinet. They send out 3-4 spices per month, along with a handful of recipes specially tuned to use up pretty much all of what they send. Each delivery focuses on a specific region or country, so you’ll get a pinch of culture with each box.

Price: Starts at around $10 per delivery

 

Mubi

“Netflix for independent movies” sort of explains Mubi, but not quite. Mubi is a super-carefully curated but always rotating collection of 30 indie flicks, all streaming on demand. They introduce one new indie film to the service each day, but it leaves after a month.

Price: $11 a month

Try the World

For the adventurous eater in the family. Try the World searches the world for local gourmet favorites, packaging seven or eight items into each box. The only downside? If you fall in love with something, getting more of it can be kind of a pain in the butt.

Price: $30-$40 per month, depending on frequency

Disney+

disney plus

Disney finally launched its own streaming service this year… and despite some issues at launch, it’s really good. It’s got the vast majority of Disney/Pixar (and Marvel! and Star Wars!) movies that have shipped over the years, plus a growing catalog of original content — including The Mandalorian, which is just fantastic and is one episode away from the end of its first season.

Price: $70 per year

Book of the Month

The name says it all. They pick five books per month, and you pick the one you want to read. If your backlog starts to get a bit intimidating, just hit the pause button.

Price: Starts at $16 per month

Rent the Runway

Keeping up with the latest fashion trends can get wildly expensive — especially if you’re into high-end brands and like to change things up often. Rent the Runway, while not cheap, definitely makes it a bit more affordable. Users can rent four items at a time, picking from more than 15,000 items from top designers. The base plan lets you swap out items once a month, while the pricier plan lets you swap things as often as you’d like.

Price: $90 a month for the base plan, $160 a month for the “Unlimited” plan

Nintendo Switch Online

For anyone who might be getting a Nintendo Switch this Christmas, Nintendo’s Switch Online service is an absolute must have. It enables online play for games that have it, but also comes with a fantastic catalog of NES/SNES classics and lets you backup game saves to the cloud in case the Switch goes missing, gets stolen or gets busted. Given the grab-and-go portability of the Switch, it happens.

Price: $20 per year for an individual plan… or for houses with multiple Switches, the $35 per year family plan grants online access to eight devices for a year

Apple Arcade

Launched just this year, Apple Arcade is the company’s take on a Netflix-for-games style service. One subscription gets you access to over 100 games, each playable across iPhones, iPads, Macs and AppleTVs. There are no ads, no in-app purchases to worry about and one subscription works for up to six family members.

Price: $5 per month, or $50 per year

Xbox Game Pass

Similar to Apple Arcade above, but just for Xbox and/or PC games. All-you-can-eat access to a rotating set of around 100 games, including all of Microsoft’s new first-party titles like Gears of War 5, Psychonauts 2 and Halo Infinite. The Ultimate plan also includes Xbox Live (enabling online play in games that offer it), which most Xbox One owners will want anyway.

Price: $4.99 for PC, $9.99 for Xbox One or about $15 per month for the Ultimate plan that includes PC games, Xbox games and Xbox Live

 



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AYA-NEO puts a different spin on the PC gaming handheld

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By now, the idea of a handheld Windows computer is no longer novel but their implementations are still rare. The earliest models, mostly from GPD, had to make do with either less powerful Intel Atoms or, later on, beefier Intel Cores that still weren’t made for gaming. It was only with the 11th gen Intel processors with Iris Xe graphics that PC gaming handhelds may have started getting a chance but the AYA-NEO is taking a different route towards that portable gaming PC goal.

The AYA-NEO takes after the Nintendo Switch, or rather the Nintendo Switch Lite with its permanently attached controllers flanking the screen. This was the same design adopted by the GPD WIN 3 which just finished its own crowdfunding run. The key difference in design is that the WIN 3 used a sliding mechanism to reveal a capacitive keyboard which, based on early reviews, was more of a liability than a winning feature, pun intended.

The differences run deep, however, and the AYA-NEO has one other defining trait. It runs on an AMD Ryzen 5 4500U which, among other things, comes with a Radeon mobile graphics processor. Naturally, the AYA-NEO boasts of the ability to run games that wouldn’t otherwise run on Intel-only silicon. that includes the infamous Cyberpunk 2077, though only at 30 fps.

The AYA-NEO also has a larger 7-inch screen but with a 1280×800 resolution only. In addition to your usual game controller buttons, it also has shortcuts for some keyboard combos and keys needed for some PC games. With gyro and accelerometer sensors, the entire handheld can also be used to control games or maybe rotate the display for other games and apps.

At around $790 for the base 512GB model on Indiegogo, the AYA-NEO is a rather hefty investment. The campaign is also offering add-ons like a dock that will turn the gaming PC into a true desktop with the right peripherals. The campaign zipped past its funding goals with 28 days to spare but, as with any crowdfunded product, it will take faith and patience before the final item is delivered to your doorstep.

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Apple iCloud bug locks user with “True” surname

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Many computer software, be it locally or on the cloud, are designed to take into account ways that people, intentionally or not, could break the system. Programmers tend to account for potential errors in human input or intentional methods of gaming the system, but it’s statistically impossible to be prepared for all of them. One strange case, in particular, has seemingly locked an Apple iCloud user from her account for months, just because Apple cloud storage software wasn’t prepared to handle someone whose last name happens to be “True”.

In many computer languages, “true” is a reserved keyboard to denote something that is, well, true. Of course, that is also a normal and often-used word in the English language and may even be someone’s name. Unfortunately, a single capitalization mistake seems to have made iCloud’s software mistake one for the other and lock Rachel True out of her account.

The author took to Twitter to express her frustration at a months-long problem that didn’t have any end in sight. Her surname is “True” but, whether by her own mistake or the system’s, was changed to “true” somewhere in the process. That, in turn, was interpreted by the software as an actual part of the code and triggered a bug that locked her out of her iCloud account.

This would have been a funny anecdote if not for the fact that Ms. True has been trying to get that situation fixed since September last year to no avail. In the meantime, she was still paying the monthly subscription fee for Apple iCloud despite not having access to it, probably just to keep her files intact. According to some programmers, what looks like a trivial issue may not actually be that simple to fix, especially if it means touching a cloud-based service used by thousands of users around the world.

The somewhat good news is that all the media attention finally got True part of her intended results. Apple said they will get back to her next week, hopefully with a real and more permanent solution.

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Galaxy A52 and A72 leaks paint an encouraging picture

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Samsung’s premier premium smartphone for early 2021 is already out and it’s time to give its other models, particularly those for lower tiers, their time under the spotlight. It seems that that time will be coming soon if the steady flow of leaks for the Galaxy A52 and Galaxy A72 is any indicator. These phones will undoubtedly be mid-range but it seems that Samsung has prepared some features that could make the phones more enticing beyond just their accessible price tags.

The Galaxy A52 was already leaked in its entirety, revealing all the specs and even the design of the phone. Now the phone has been spotted in alleged hands-on photos, confirming the matte finish on its back and four cameras in a smaller camera bump. The tipster also confirmed the IP67 dust and water resistance rating of the phone as well as the 64MP main camera.

Perhaps more interesting are the details surrounding the Galaxy A72. Although the Snapdragon 720G on 4G LTE model may sound a bit disappointing, the rest of the specs, do sound a bit hopeful. More importantly, however, the phone also brings a few features that have never before been seen in the Galaxy A series.

It is, for example, the first in its tier to be given Samsung’s “Space Zoom” feature, though only up to 30x zoom. It is also the first to feature dual stereo speakers, utilizing the top earpiece as the second audio output.

Both the Galaxy A52 and Galaxy A72 also appeared early on Samsung UAE’s website, confirming the appearance and specs of the phones. It could hint that the two are just around the corner but the actual launch date might not be until later this month or early April at the latest.

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