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Reinventing the humble travel adapter, Google gets into the personal safety game, roaming charges disappear between Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, and using web pages offline just got even easier.
Welcome back to Travel Tech News in 2017!
Charge All the Things With This High-Tech Travel Adapter
Update, 15 August 2017. Perhaps it would have been better not to get excited about this travel adapter either — despite being 1000x over-funded, the company is still yet to start delivering its devices to backers, several months after the initial ship date. The perils of crowd-funding! 🙁
It’s pretty hard to get excited about travel adapters. That’s partially because none of them are perfect, and partially because, well, they’re pretty boring. A current Indiegogo campaign, though, is offering something we haven’t seen before, and it’s worth a look.
The Chargest combines a bunch of features into a universal travel adapter. It’s available in single and dual-socket versions, that works in the usual “150+ countries”. So far, so dull. Where it gets interesting is the micro-USB plugs on the top.
These are height-adjustable for use with phone cases, and there’s a compartment in the back with Lightning and USB-C adapters. They fit over top of the micro-USB plugs, letting you charge any device you happen to be carrying without needing the cable.
Need more? There are also three standard USB sockets in the adapter, and an optional 6300mAh power bank that plugs into the bottom. It’s a slick combination, and helps eliminate the mess of cables, batteries and adapters in your bag that inspired the name of this site.
They come in black and white, and can be backed for $49 + shipping. The campaign finishes in a couple of weeks, but it’s already a long way past its funding goal.
Google Gets (Back) Into the Personal Safety App Game
A few years ago, Google used to have a product called Latitude that (among other things) let you share your location with others. That got discontinued in 2013, but the new Trusted Contacts app brings the feature back in a useful new way.
Since it’s a personal safety app, it’s not designed to track you continually. Rather, anyone you’ve added as a contact can request a location update. If you’re online and everything is fine, you can accept or decline the request as you wish. If your phone is offline, the app will automatically share your last known location after five minutes.
Finally, if you’re not feeling safe or just want to let people know where you are, you can proactively send your location and a short message. Trusted contacts can also see when you were last online from within the app.
It’s free, easy reassurance for travelers that’s available now on Android. Apple owners can sign up to be notified when the iOS version is ready.
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No More Roaming Charges Between Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia
Vietnam’s largest mobile operator, Viettel, has announced the elimination of roaming charges in two neighbouring countries. The company also owns Unitel in Laos and Metfone in Cambodia, so if you’re using a SIM from any of those companies, you’ll now pay domestic rates in the other two countries.
That’s good news for travelers in South East Asia, especially those only spending a few days in each country who can’t be bothered getting new SIM cards every time they cross a border.
You’ll still save money with local SIMs, since you can take advantage of package deals, but roaming is very affordable. With a Viettel SIM, for instance, you’ll pay around 9c/min for calls, 2c per text and $9/GB for data while in Cambodia or Laos.
Android Users Can Now Save Web Pages to Read Offline in Chrome
If you use the Chrome browser on your Android phone or tablet (let’s face it, that’s most of us), you can now save full web pages to view offline later. That’s useful for things like flight details, hotel bookings and trip research that you need while you don’t necessarily have an Internet connection.
I’ve used Pocket for this purpose in the past, but by default it strips out most of the images, video and formatting. Chrome keeps the page much closer to the original, although I’ve noticed not all images get saved every time. Still, it’s well worth trying if you need to save a few pages now and then, especially since you’ve probably already got the feature installed.
Just browse to the page you want to save, tap the menu button and hit the download icon at the top. To access the page later, go to the same place and tap Downloads instead. Easy.