Broken key

Travel Tech News, July 2018: The Broken Keyboards Edition

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Apple eventually agrees to fix Macbook keyboards free of charge, Alexa might be showing up in your next hotel room, another good budget Nokia smartphone arrives in the US, and Uber’s taking its e-bike rental service to Europe.

Yep, it’s Travel Tech News time again!

Apple Finally Admits Macbook Keyboard Problems

Macbook keyboard

Ever since Apple rolled out the 12″ Macbook in 2015 — and especially since it updated the Macbook Pro a year later — it’s been plagued with complaints about the keyboards.

The keys on those laptops have very little room to move up and down, and things as insignificant as a literal speck of dust can stop them from working properly. They’re also incredibly difficult and expensive to fix — repair company iFixit has strong opinions on the subject.

My partner has one of these Macbook Pro models, and sure enough, she’s had endless problems with several of the keys. The latest issue? It’s basically impossible for her to type a single letter “n” — the key sticks, and repeats two or three times with each tap. It’s fine, it’s not like many words have that letter in anyway, right? Right?

Now she, and anyone else who bought those models, will be able to get the keyboard fixed without charge. After years of ignoring the problem, Apple has finally announced a free service program that any customer can use, regardless of whether the machine is still under warranty or not.

So, if you’ve got any of the Macbook or Macbook Pro models listed here, and have issues with keys repeating, not responding, or sticking as you type, get in touch with your nearest Apple store or authorised service provider for repair. If you paid for a keyboard repair or replacement on one of these machines in the past, you’re eligible for a refund.

Oh Great, Alexa’s Taking Over Hotel Rooms Too

Amazon Echo Alexa Travelers

As if it wasn’t quite intrusive enough to have a little gadget in your living room that’s listening to everything you say, Amazon’s just announced a new hotel-specific version of its Alexa virtual assistant.

Called Alexa for Hospitality, the company’s designed it to live on its Echo speakers in hotel rooms, vacation rentals, and other similar places. Customers will be able to order room service, control in-room systems like lights and entertainment, and get answers to questions about hotel services, as well as use all the usual Alexa “skills” like flight tracking and weather reports.

They’ll also be able to temporarily connect their existing Amazon account to the device, letting them access their collection of music, audiobooks, and so on. Once they check out, their account gets automatically removed.

Personally, none of that sounds useful enough to stop me unplugging the speaker immediately after putting my bag down, but perhaps other people aren’t quite as paranoid about smart speakers. Either way, you can expect to start seeing the new service in Marriott hotel brands including Westin, Aloft, and others this summer.

 

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Another Budget Nokia Smartphone Hits the US

Nokia 3.1 lifestyle

Last month, I mentioned Nokia’s new range of cheap, numerically-minded smartphones that had just come out. At the time, the only one that was confirmed for sale in the US was the bottom-of-the-range 2.1 model. It has a nice big battery, but other than that, didn’t have the most exciting specs I’ve ever seen in a budget phone.

Skip forward a month, and the company has announced that the Nokia 3.1 will also be sold in North America, starting today. Priced at $159, with a 5.2″ screen, decent processor, and regular software updates for up to three years, it offers solid value for a budget device.

While the 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and 2990mAh battery aren’t as impressive, there is at least a microSD slot for adding extra capacity, as well as the headphone jack that’s increasingly rare these days. There’s no fingerprint sensor, though, which seems a bit of an oversight.

Still, the US gets very few good phones anywhere near this price, especially unlocked for use with any SIM card around the world. As a result, it’s an option well worth considering if you don’t have much money to spend and are looking for a new phone to use at home and abroad.

Uber’s eBike Rental Service Expands Into Europe

Bike gears

Back in March Uber decided to get into the electric bicycle rental game, partnering with (and then a month later, buying) an e-bike company in San Francisco called Jump. Customers with the Uber app can see available bikes nearby, and rent them at the tap of a screen.

Apparently it’s happy with the way things are going with that side of the business, because it announced last week that the service is heading to Europe. Starting in Berlin by the end of this summer, with other cities to follow soon after, Jump is going to face heavy competition from existing players.

Companies like OBike and LimeBike already have a strong presence on the continent, and are unlikely to welcome the new entrant. Uber’s had a rocky ride in Germany, admit protests and legal challenges, but there’s no doubt tourists used to using the company’s app will appreciate the convenience of being able to rent and use a Jump bike when they’re traveling as well.

There’s no word on pricing yet, but given the launch date, those details can’t be far away.

 

Images via DoubleMcK (broken key), 6097778 (Macbook keyboard),  Stock Catalog (Echo speaker), Nokia (Nokia 3.1), olivermann (bike gears)

About the Author

Dave Dean

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Founder and editor of Too Many Adapters, Dave has been a traveler for 20 years, and a geek for even longer. When he's not playing with the latest tech toy or working out how to keep his phone charged for just a few more minutes, he can probably be found sitting in a broken-down bus in some obscure corner of the planet.

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