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Turo’s new dongle will let customers instantly find and unlock cars – TechCrunch

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Turo, the peer-to-peer car-sharing company described as the “Airbnb of cars,” is rolling out a new product that will let users locate and unlock cars right from the app.

The new product, called Turo Go, is a dongle and an accompanying service that aims to bolster the number of cars and users on its platform. The product is designed to remove a barrier of entry — the time required to physically exchange keys — that once was a hallmark of the platform. As part of the Turo Go service, owners can opt to allow users to find, book and unlock a vehicle in as little as five minutes. Currently, the app requires a minimum 60-minute lead time before a customer can pick up a vehicle.

“We want to making hosting even easier,” Turo CEO Andre Haddad told TechCrunch. “Easy always wins when it comes to consumer products.”

The company is launching Turo Go in Los Angeles, where it has the biggest penetration of hosts who have multiple vehicles on the platform. Turo Go will expand to additional markets in 2019, he added.

Turo Go uses an aftermarket key-as-a-service entry device from Continental. The device doesn’t require any hardwiring, although it takes about an hour for the install. The device is connected to the OBD-II port (on-board diagnostics) found on modern vehicles. A hidden antenna connects the device to the ignition.

Turo Go costs $20 a month. Turo also charges a $150 installation fee to owners who want to add the device to their vehicle.

Car sharing and on-demand short-term car rental companies like Zipcar also use remote unlock and lock tech. This product is unique because it’s being used on a peer-to-peer car-sharing app.

Turo Go provides a technological upgrade of sorts that is designed for Turo’s experienced hosts, “people who have become comfortable with the notion that a stranger will be in their car,” Haddad said.

Once the device is installed, users will be able to find the vehicle, instantly book it and unlock or lock it via the app. And unlike other car-sharing services, the device uses Bluetooth technology and doesn’t rely on a cellular connection, which can be problematic in parking garages or other remote areas with spotty network coverage.

Turo Go also has a digital ID verification step, which uses facial recognition technology to confirm that users have the proper license and are who they claim to be. The tech matches the ID photo to a customer’s face and uses movement tracking to ensure the customer is a real person in front of the camera rather than just a static image that has been printed out.

Once a user has completed a trip, owners of vehicles equipped with Turo Go will be able to locate their car, truck or SUV. Haddad emphasized that owners will not show the location of the vehicle while a customer is using it. Turo Go will also provide other information, such as odometer and fuel levels. Other data features will be added to Turo Go in the future.

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Galaxy S21+ leaks – the 2021 edge of reality

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Today we’re getting our first good look at solid leaks of the Samsung Galaxy S21+. This next-generation device will mark another big move by Samsung away from traditional industrial design into design that’s a bit more… daring. Before this, Samsung’s biggest industrial design transition points were the Infinity-O (punch hole) display, and the “Galaxy Edge” or “Infinity” display curve.

The Samsung Galaxy S21+ looks a whole lot like the Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21 Ultra leaks we’ve seen in the last few weeks. This design isn’t a surprise, only because we’ve seen a few other views of the rest of the device family. Take a peek at the rest of the family in the Samsung Galaxy S21 leaks article published on November 16 – it is a good place to start.

Imagery from CoverPigtou and xLeaks7 show this device both front and back, side to side, using CAD drawings as their own source. These are renderings based on leaked specifications generally made to act as guide for accessory-makers and protective case-makers.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 family has a set of displays that are fairly similar to the Galaxy S20. The display bezels are thinner, the punch-hole is smaller. Otherwise we’re pretty much on-track with the year-by-year ever-more-sleek simplicity of a full frontside coverage display panel, courtesy of Samsung’s Galaxy S lineup.

ABOVE: The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge – the first Samsung phone with a display that cascaded off it’s side. BELOW: The Samsung Galaxy S10 “escapes the notch curse” with a punch hole.

The big change comes in the sides and the back of the device. If we look at the Samsung Galaxy S21+, we see the most obvious design move in the camera array. There, three cameras live in an array that sits above the rest of the device’s backside – like the Galaxy S20 – with one big change. Here, the camera array island becomes a bit more like a peninsula.

The camera array connects with the silver metal edge of the smartphone, an edge that also contains the power button and the volume rocker.

This is a solution that allows the raised array of cameras to sit above the majority of the back of the device without feeling like an element inflicted negatively upon the device. When we first started seeing backside cameras on smartphones that sat above the flatness of the back of the phone, it was an ugly situation. This might well be the most elegant integration of said design requirement yet.

We’ll likely see the Samsung Galaxy S21 family appear officially in the first several weeks of 2021. The Samsung Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21+, and Galaxy S21 Ultra will likely be revealed in late January or early February, 2021, with release dates closer to the tail end of February, if history acts as guide for the near future – we shall see!

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Google names the best Android games and apps of 2020

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Today Google released a list of games and apps for Android that they named “best” of the year 2020. Included in the mix were categories like Best Competitive, Indies, Pick Up & Play, Game Changers, Everyday Essentials, Personal Growth, Hidden Gems, “Best for Fun”, and “Best Apps for Good”. As it is each year, this list of lists makes for a good first place to look for the apps and games that have the best chance at allowing users to make the most of their smart device experience.

Google’s best apps of 2020

Google’s choice for best app of the year, 2020, was “Loona: Bedtime Calm & Relax.” This app includes soothing sounds, simple stories, and calming game-like experiences to get users in the mood for sleep. The Loona app is free and offers in-app purchases for expanded experiences. The User’s Choice for Best App of 2020 was… Disney+, the streaming platform.

Google’s Best Everyday Essentials apps included Calmaria (for calming down, not entirely unlike Loona,) and Grid Diary (a top notch journal and planner app). Also in the mix were The Pattern (to explore your personality with astrology… only… not astrology.) Whisk was on the list, as was Zoom Cloud Meetings.

Personal Growth apps included “Centr, by Chris Hemsworth” and “Intellect: Create a Better You”, as well as “Jumprope: How-to Videos”, “Paired: Couples App” and the language app Speekoo. The best Hidden Gems included Cappuccino for mini-podcasts, Paperless Post, and Explorest – Photo Locations. And don’t forget Tayasui Sketches for a new approach to digital brush painting.

Best For Good apps included apps like ShareTheMeal and GreenChoice for Healthy Grocery Shopping.

If you’re looking for FUN apps, Google’s best-of collection included Bazaart: Photo Editor & Graphic Design, Disney+, Dolby On: Record Audio & Music, Reface, and the video editor Vita.

Google’s best games of 2020

The User’s Choice best game of the year was SpongeBob: Krusty Cook-Off, which is absolutely bonkers. This game contains both in-app purchases and advertisements and all sorts of “unlocks” and such. But who am I to argue? Google’s own best game of the year was Genshin Impact!

Google named Brawlhalla the best competitive game of the year, as well as Bullet Echo, GWENT (the Witcher card game), Legends of Runeterra, and The Seven Deadly Since: Grand Cross. Google’s Best “Indies” included Cookies Must Die, GRIS (by Devolver Digital), Inbento, Maze Machina, and Sky: Children of the Light.

The best Pick Up & Play games of the year included Disney Frozen Adventures: Customize the Kingdom, as well as another game with an impossibly long title: DreamWorks Trolls Pop: Bubble Shooter & Collection. Also on the list was EverMerge, Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells, and the SpongeBob game mentioned above.

The Game Changers list this year included some truly odd pieces of work. You’ll find Fancade, Genshin Impact, Minimal Dungeon RPG, and the game Ord. The game The Gardens Between was also included on the list – easily one of the most expensive up-front costs on the list, with good reason – no ads, no in-app purchases, just one cost and you’ve got it!

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Wyze Watch arrives for preorder: Major smartwatch features at $20

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Budget smart home company Wyze has introduced its new Wyze Watch, a smartwatch with a very budget-tier cost of $19.99, but one that promises to eclipse other offerings in the same price range. The Wyze Watch is made from aluminum and includes a number of features found on more expensive models, including a blood oxygen sensor, heart rate monitoring, and more.

Smartwatches have become a common personal gadget, but the cost keeps many people from picking one up. Wyze aims to change that with its new smartwatch — simply called the Wyze Watch — which resembles the Apple Watch and promises high-end features despite the low cost. Key features include a heart rate sensor and blood oxygen sensor, as mentioned, immediately distinguishing it from many other budget smartwatches.

Wyze notes that it has made its watch out of aluminum, not plastic, and includes a very large 1.75-inch display (if you pick up the larger 47mm model). The model features an IP68 weatherproof construction, meaning it can handle water exposure to depths of no more than two meters.

In addition to its own sleep monitoring, step, and menstrual cycle tracking features, the Wyze Watch is compatible with a number of third-party apps, including Messenger and Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Gmail, Twitter, and the Wyze app itself. Users can, as you’d expect, control their Wyze IoT products like smart lights using the watch.

Other features include up to nine days of battery life and a charge time of only 2.5 hours. Users can also purchase optional upgrades for the watch, namely silicone or leather watch straps in various colors for an additional $10. The Wyze Watch is available to preorder now for $19.99, but the company notes that there’s a limited number available.

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