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Internet connectivity projects unite as Alphabet spinout Loon grabs $125M from SoftBank’s HAPSMobile – TechCrunch

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Two futuristic projects are coming together to help increase global internet access after Loon, the Google spinout that uses a collection of floating balloons to bring connectivity to remote areas, announced it has raised money from a SoftBank initiative.

HAPSMobile, a SoftBank project that is also focused on increasing global connectivity, is investing $125 million into Loon, according to an announcement from SoftBank made this morning. The agreement includes an option for Loon to make a reciprocal $125 million investment in HAPSMobile and it includes co-operation plans, details of which are below.

HAPSMobile is a one-year-old joint venture between SoftBank and U.S. company AeroVironment . The company has developed a solar-powered drone that’s designed to deliver 5G connectivity in the same way Facebook has tried in the past. The social network canceled its Aquila drone last year, although it is reported to have teamed up with Airbus for new trials in Australia.

Where Facebook has stumbled, HAPSMobile has made promising progress. The company said that its HAWK 30 drone — pictured below in an impression — has completed its initial development and the first trials are reportedly set to begin this year.

Loon, meanwhile, was one of the first projects to go after the idea of air-based connectivity with a launch in 2013. The business was spun out of X, the ‘moonshot’ division of Alphabet, last year and, though it is still a work in progress, it has certainly developed from an initial crazy idea conceived within Google.

Loon played a role in connecting those affected by flooding in Peru in 2017 and it assisted those devastated by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last year. Loon claims its balloons have flown more than 30 million kms and provided internet access for “hundreds of thousands” of people across the world.

In addition to the capital investment, the two companies have announced a set of initiatives that will help them leverage their collective work and technology.

For starters, they say they will make their crafts/balloons open to use for the other — so HAPSMobile can tap Loon balloons for connectivity and vice-versa — while, connected to that, they will jointly develop a communication payload across both services. They also plan to develop a common ground station that could work with each side’s tech and develop shared connectivity that their airborne hardware can tap.

Loon has already developed fleet management technology because of the nature of its service, which is delivered by a collection of balloons, and that will be optimized for HAPSMobile.

The premise of HAPSMobile is very much like Loon

Outside of tech, the duo said they will create an alliance “to promote the use of high altitude communications solution with regulators and officials worldwide.”

The investment is another signal that shows SoftBank’s appetite in tech investing is not limited to up-and-coming startups via its Vision Fund, more established ventures are indeed also in play. Just yesterday, the Vision Fund announced plans to invest $1 billion in German payment firm Wirecard and its past investments include ARM and Nvidia, although SoftBank has sold its stake in the latter.

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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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