Tech You Need If You’re Traveling

Tech You Need If You’re Traveling

Have plans to travel? If you’re like a lot of other people, you might be headed on vacation this summer. Or you could have business trips planned. Whatever the case may be, traveling can be fun. But it can also have its own stresses and issues. Whether you’re driving a car or heading to an airport, it can sometimes seem tricky making it to a destination.

Thankfully, there’s some great technology available to make trips a little easier. You might need something to keep kids distracted during family trips, something to help you find your destination more smoothly, or something to give you peace of mind while your home is empty. All of these worries and more can be taken care of with some devices you’ve already heard of (and perhaps some you haven’t).

Tech For Traveling

Don’t lose your stuff

Want to keep track of your luggage or other important items? Tile is one way to do that. Luggage can sometimes get lost. And while you’re away from home, being in unfamiliar places can make it easier to lose things like your keys or your wallet.

With Tile, you can easily track important items, whether it be a suitcase or your rental car keys. All you have to do is attach Tile to whatever you want to keep track of, then use Tile’s app if you need to locate the item. There’s the Tile Slim, which is a thin version of the device that isn’t too bulky in a wallet. There’s the Tile Mate, which has a small hole in the corner so you can attach it to anything, like purses, backpacks, keys, and more. These two are most likely to be helpful during your travels. There’s even an accessory for the Tile Slim that is specifically made for traveling: the Tile Slim Luggage Tag.

There’s also the Tile Sport, which could come in handy if you’re going on a trip that might get a little rough (like if you’re camping, hiking, biking, or doing things outdoors). And there’s the Tile Style, which adds some extra flair to the device for a more fun appearance.

Prices vary for each Tile device, and there are also combo packs. You can buy 4-packs or 8-packs to pay a little less for each device, or you can mix it up and buy the different devices separately.

Keep your passengers entertained

If you’re traveling with impatient kids or adults who aren’t fans of road trips, keeping them distracted can be a great way to eliminate some stress. The answer is simple: bring a tablet. Using phones can be a drain on the battery and run the risk of not having enough battery life if your car breaks down. And using a tablet can seem like a special treat if your kids don’t already use them regularly (if they do, I’m sure you already know how entertaining they can be).

Even if you don’t already have one, buying one for your trip doesn’t have to be expensive. There are pricey options out there, but it can be as easy as buying a Kindle Fire for just $49.99 (and sometimes for less during a promotion). You can easily set up a kid-friendly account and choose which apps they can use. This should make it easier to pass the time.

A tablet can also be a useful way to save space. If you like to read during your relaxing vacations, you don’t have to pack any bulky booksyou can just read them on your tablet.

Find your destination with no problem

We all know about apps like Google Maps and Waze. You likely use Google Maps to find your way on a regular basis. But for some, this isn’t the most convenient way to travel. If you’re traveling alone, or if you are particularly uncomfortable driving on busy interstates, through tricky areas, or at night, having a GPS system in your car might work a lot better than having to look at your phone while on the road.

Navdy is one way you can integrate navigation into your vehicle. Information is projected onto your windshield with a transparent display, so you don’t have to look down at a phone. It also dims or brightens appropriately. It uses Google Maps, so that will be familiar to you, and you can also set up a dashboard that shows things like how much gas you have left.

If you can’t quite afford a system like that at the moment, you can also consider Garmin. Garmin offers many different GPS systems, some for less than a hundred dollars. Their website lists their many different products, and you can also find them on Amazon.

Track down your car

You might be worried you’ll forget where you parked at the airport. Or you might be parking on unfamiliar streets in a city away from home. You can take a picture of your surroundings, but that isn’t always enough to find your way back where you started.

Fortunately, there are many apps that you can use to track down your car when you’re ready to leave. The simplest solution? Drop a pin on Google Maps and save your location. By placing a pin at your current location before leaving your car and then saving it to your places, you can easily make your way back.

There are other options if you don’t use Google Maps or want a more streamlined way to get back to your vehicle. Find My Car is a well-known app that saves the GPS location of your car and navigates you back to it later. You can find it on iOS and on Android. There’s also ParkMe, which can not only help you find your car, it can also help you figure out where to park in the first place.

Keep your home safe while you’re gone

If you’ll be away from home for a while and there won’t be anyone staying behind to house sit, there are ways to make yourself feel less worried about your empty home. With smart devices, you can keep watch on your home and make it look as though it’s not actually empty.

Smart bulbs, like Philips Hue bulbs and the bulbs from MagicLight, can be set on a timer to turn on and off, fade, and more. So your home won’t have to be dark and obviously empty at night.

Smart security systems are also great for peace of mind. There are a lot of options out there, so of course, research carefully before investing in a system. With these systems, you can typically set motion alerts so you get a notification if the camera catches movement. You can also usually check in on a live feed. Nest offers some popular devices, as well as Frontpoint and Canary. Just make sure you know what the initial installation cost is as well as how much it will cost every month.

Uber Announces New Safety Features

Uber Announces New Safety Features

Uber riders will hopefully be able to feel a little bit safer with Uber’s newly announced additional safety features.

A post in Uber’s Newsroom outlines Uber’s plans for making their ridesharing service safer for everyone. One new feature they describe is a centralized safety area in the app. Riders will be able to access these safety features on the home screen during a ride, so they won’t have to hunt around for safety tips and assistance.

Riders were already able to use their Share My Trip feature, which lets them message contacts to tell them they’re using Uber and to link them to a map of their ride. But according to Uber’s post, they will also be letting riders add “Trusted Contacts” they can choose from when sharing their status. They’ll be able to add as many as five people to notify about rides. This simply makes things quicker and easier. Also, users will be able to change their settings to a kind of night mode that specifically alerts people about ride statuses when someone is using Uber at night.

Uber also announced they would be adding a new Safety Center. This area of the app will give information about how to stay safe. Uber worked with law enforcement and other organizations to put together this information.

A huge part of the new features involves making 911 calls. Uber will soon be adding a button users can press to be connected with 911, making the process a little quicker during an emergency. And when using this feature, you’ll see exactly where you are. They’re also testing a feature that will automatically send location information to 911, as well as working to make 911 communication quicker and more efficient.

They also mention they’ll soon be making driver screening a little more intense. Uber already had screenings in place, but now they plan to rescreen drivers every year and work to find out sooner about new criminal issues with drivers. On top of all of this, they’re working on their Safety Advisory Board.

In the past, there have been stories of dangerous situations that occurred during Uber rides. Since strangers are riding in vehicles with each other, there’s bound to be some risk involved for both drivers and riders. Uber’s previous safety features were helpful, but their newest features will hopefully make the process smoother when protecting yourself during a ride. And with more driver screenings, perhaps some dangerous situations can be avoided altogether.

For more about Uber’s safety plans, take a look at their news article.

Instagram Adds New Features & Will Let You Download Data

Instagram Adds New Features & Will Let You Download Data

Instagram has been in the news very recently for their newest updates and for a recent announcement. Instagram users will now be able to use some new features, and they’ll also soon be able to download copies of their entire data history.

Reuters reports that Instagram, which is part of Facebook Inc, will soon let its users download their data. This announcement comes while Facebook is dealing with the fallout of the Cambridge Analytica scandal (which you can learn more about in my recent articles “Third-Party Data on Social Media” and “Facebook and Its Data Scandal”). Because of the mishandling of their data, Facebook users (and users of many different social media platforms) have become much more concerned with how their data is being used. This has led to many updates from Facebook on how third-party apps and user data will be handled. And now Instagram has joined in with their plans.

Reuters reports that Instagram users will be able to download data like photos, videos, and messages. There’s currently no word on when this tool will be made available.

Meanwhile, Instagram has added some new features. According to TechCrunch, Instagram’s new update includes a new filter called Focus. Focus is a portrait mode that can be used in Instagram’s camera to take both photos and videos. It blurs the background of a portrait photo, making the subject of the photo stand out more sharply. This style was previously available in other apps and on certain phones. With Instagram’s Focus feature, though, more people will be able to take portrait photos.

They’ve also added stickers for mentions, says TechCrunch. This feature is currently rolling out for people using iOS. Instead of simply tagging someone using text, you’ll now be able to tag them using a sticker. This makes Instagram posts a little more customizable and fun. It’s not clear when everyone will gain access to these stickers.

Sears, Delta, Others Involved in Data Breach

Sears, Delta, Others Involved in Data Breach

Several companies are dealing with a data breach. According to Reuters, Sears and Delta announced last week that [24]7.ai, which the companies use, was the victim of a cyber attack back in September of last year. And according to CNET, Kmart and Best Buy were also affected.

Payment information for less than a hundred thousand clients of [24]7.ai was compromised, Reuters reports. They also note that although the credit card information was “exposed,” Delta has said that doesn’t necessarily mean it was actually used. And Sears has said that their stores themselves weren’t affected and that Sears cards weren’t part of the breach.

CNET also mentions again that no companies have actually said that this payment information was stolen. At this point, what’s clear is that there was a chance for the information of thousands of people to be taken. The period of the cyber security attack was just a couple of weeks—from the 26th of September to the 12th of October (at which point the breach was taken care of).

Despite not knowing whether the information was stolen, Best Buy, at least, is taking action to try to reassure customers. CNET reports that Best Buy plans to provide credit monitoring free to anyone who’s concerned. They’ve also tried to lessen fears by making it clear that purchases made using stolen information won’t hit the person whose information has been stolen.

[24]7.ai was quick to make their statement and make clear they were taking the issue seriously. In their statement, they said their service was safe and secure and said they were working with law enforcement and their clients to take care of the issue and any fallout.

Until more information is released, it’s hard to know whether any information was actually taken and used. As a precaution, be sure to keep a close watch on your card statements if you made purchases at these stores.

Uber Hid Hack That Exposed User Data

Uber Hid Hack That Exposed User Data

Uber is in the news right now for being hacked—over a year ago. The company is dealing with the fallout of hiding this hack and going to great lengths to keep it secret.

According to Bloomberg, about 57 million people had their data stolen by the hackers—this includes riders and drivers. The affected people are not from one area; this hack reached all over the world. Some of the data that was stolen is users’ names, driver’s license numbers, and contact information (email addresses and phone numbers) for people who used Uber. This attack occurred in October of last year.

Uber is now letting people go as more details emerge. It seems that Uber actually paid the hackers to get rid of the stolen data and hide the fact that the hack even happened. The hackers were paid $100,000. At least two of the people involved in keeping the hack under wraps have already been removed from the company.

More is coming for Uber, though, as they’re already being investigated. Plus, as expected, a class-action suit is already in the works. Many are understandably upset to learn that Uber did everything it could to keep the news about the hack secret.

Right now, it’s hard to find out who has been impacted by this hack. But just in case, if you use Uber, you should certainly take a few steps to make sure you’re not negatively affected. Be sure to do the following:

  • Change your Uber password
  • Keep a close eye on your account
  • Keep watch for any news about how to find out who was affected, either from a news outlet or Uber email (in case they decide to email people who were affected)

More news about this hack seems to be coming out regularly. Since Uber hid this attack for so long, it’s completely possible there is more to learn about the breach from last year. Keep an eye out for Uber in the news, and in the meantime, just keep a close watch on your accounts.

What is Google’s Advanced Protection Program?

What is Google’s Advanced Protection Program?

Google has continued to work at upping its security game by starting their Advanced Protection Program. This program began just a few weeks ago, so you might not know much about it yet. The Advanced Protection Program is set up to make your Google account even more secure with several different features. The key feature most people are talking about, though, is its use of security keys, small devices that can be used to log in to a Google account.

Google’s new program is specifically targeted at people who are high-risk when it comes to their accounts being compromised. For instance, Google mentions “journalists, business leaders, and political campaign teams” on the program’s webpage. However, anyone can amp up their security with the program if they’re worried about their accounts.

Of course, if you’re not someone who feels at risk of being specifically targeted, the Advanced Protection Program may not be for you. It is specifically set up to prevent targeted attacks, so everyday people may not need to go to the trouble of joining the program, especially considering how much is involved with it.

The program consists of the following three core features: physical security keys, third-party blocking, and extra verification. The physical security keys must be used to log in to your Google account—this is intended to stop phishing attempts. One security key must be Bluetooth capable, while the other must be a USB key. Some of these keys can be fairly inexpensive, so if you do feel like you could be targeted by an online attack, it won’t necessarily be costly to do so.

The program’s third party blocking stops outside apps and software from gaining access to your Google account in any way. So if, for instance, an app need access to your Gmail account, it won’t work. You’ll need to use the dedicated Google apps for your different needs.

Extra verification comes into play if you need to sign in to your account but have forgotten your password and don’t have your keys on hand. Google will set up additional verification steps to tighten security in the event that you have otherwise lost the ability to log in. This is intended to stop people from breaking in to your account using the typical verification process—after going through the verification steps, access to the account won’t be granted for several days.

Again, if you’re not worried about being a specific target for online attacks, this new program might just be an unnecessary hassle. But if you do feel like you could be at risk of being targeted, or if you know someone who does, take a look at Google’s Advanced Protection Program page to see if it’s the best course of action. And if not, don’t forget about Google’s useful 2-Step Verification that can keep your account safe.

iOS 11 and Snapchat: Who’s Saving Your Snaps?

iOS 11 and Snapchat: Who’s Saving Your Snaps?

In case you missed it, the iPhone X has been in the news pretty much every day recently, and so has iOS 11, the new update for the iPhone operating system. iOS 11 has a number of new and updated features, but the one a lot of people are talking about is its easy-to-use screen recording feature. It was possible to record your iPhone’s screen before, but iOS 11 makes it much easier to do—a fact that has had some people excited, but some people pretty worried.

Being able to record the phone screen on an iPhone can come in handy for many different reasons. Some people may want to record themselves going through a process on the phone so they can upload it and teach people how to do something. Others might want to use it for viral video purposes. Or someone might want to record themselves doing something big, like sending an important message and getting a reply, applying for college, or anything that might be a memorable moment. People have had plenty of reasons to record their phone screens in the past, and iOS 11 just makes it much more accessible.

Mixed in with the positive response, though, was a huge concern: what would happen on Snapchat? Rumors began to swirl that the screen recording feature would allow iPhone users to record peoples’ Snaps secretly, bypassing Snapchat’s feature that tells users when their photos have been saved and who saved them. One huge draw for Snapchat is that the photos aren’t permanent, and if someone screenshots something, the original photo-taker can know who saved their photo onto their device. The idea of people being able to save photos and videos without identifying themselves had some people panicked.

It seems there’s good news and bad news. Fortunately, it’s been shown that Snapchat does, in fact, notify users when their direct messages have been recorded with the iPhone’s screen recorder. It doesn’t specify how it was saved, but it does still say that the Snap has been screenshotted. However, MacRumors tested the screen recorder on Snapchat and found that while it does notify for private messages, it doesn’t quite work with Stories, so be aware that you might not know if your Stories are being recorded.

Also important to note is that MacRumors also tested on Instagram Direct—a feature of Instagram that lets users send non-permanent photos—and the screen recorder did not alert the other user that a screenshot had been taken of their content. So while the issue with Snapchat is not much of a concern, be careful with your Instagram Direct messages until more is known about their screenshot alerts.

iPhone X’s Camera Incorporates Face Tech

iPhone X’s Camera Incorporates Face Tech

There’s been a lot of hype about the upcoming new iPhone X, and with all the hype has come plenty of news tidbits. One major piece of information has been the discussion about Apple’s Face ID technology. Face ID will, among other things, allow iPhone users to unlock their phones simply by using their face. Face ID can recognize a face and use it as a security measure, sort of like unlocking with a fingerprint or a PIN. It will also let you do things like make payments by verifying your face. Face ID is implemented using the iPhone X’s TrueDepth Camera. The TrueDepth Camera incorporates a number of technologies in order to “accurately map and recognize a face,” says Apple. While Face ID sounds exciting, another interesting and fun application of the TrueDepth Camera will be the new iPhone’s Animojis. You heard that right—Animojis.

Using the TrueDepth camera on the iPhone X, you will be able to send customized and animated emojis to your friends. Right now, of course, texters are usually limited to the typical pre-chosen emojis. These emojis have a limited range of emotions, to some peoples’ frustration. I myself have often found myself irritated when I couldn’t really find the right emoji to accurately express what I was feeling (because of my ability to send texts with unbelievable typos, I really need an emoji to better display my embarrassment). And considering how often people replace full-blown sentences with simple emojis, having more options could be great fun.

Animojis will allow you to use your TrueDepth Camera to choose from a set of different Animoji styles, like perhaps a panda. You will then be able to make different faces—Apple says there are “over 50 different facial muscle movements”—and display that emotion on your chosen style. You will be able to send these Animojis to your friends as short, looping animations. This should let you feel more like you have properly expressed your true emotion, though of course, you’ll probably be doing so as a unicorn or a fox. Still, Animojis should bring some fun to the world of emojis for owners of the iPhone X.