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Amazon bids farewell to the Kindle Voyage, save data for emergencies with Datally, Japan’s getting serious about flying taxis, and Facebook’s snooping VPN app gets kicked off the App store.
It’s Travel Tech News time again!
Amazon’s Unloved Kindle Voyage Is No More
We love our Kindles around here, but even so, it’s been hard to get excited about the more-expensive versions of Amazon’s e-reader. The basic version is fine for those on a budget, and the Paperwhite is perfect for travelers, but after that? Hmm.
The Kindle Voyage was introduced back in 2014, and although it was thinner and lighter than the others, it wasn’t that much thinner or lighter. It typically cost anywhere up to double the price, too, and for us just wasn’t worth the money.
Apparently we weren’t the only ones who felt that way, since it never got much in the way of updates. Instead, its place at the top of the Kindle pile was soon overtaken by the Oasis, which was about $50 more, but was clearly a more premium device — waterproof, with a larger, higher-resolution screen, and a better design.
So where does that leave the Voyage? Nowhere, apparently — Amazon quietly removed it from its Kindle comparison chart at the end of July. Although you can still buy second-hand versions, new models seem to be gone for good.
It took the tech press about three weeks to even notice the Voyage had disappeared. I think that says it all.
Automatically Save Some Data for Emergencies
Google’s Datally app is designed to help monitor and reduce mobile data usage for those who don’t have unlimited plans, making it particularly handy for travelers.
The app’s latest update added a couple of features that make it even more useful: bedtime mode, and emergency bank. The first of those is straightforward, letting you set a start and end time each day for when apps will be blocked from using data.
Emergency bank prompts you to set aside a certain amount of data (you decide how much) for emergencies, whether that’s calling an Uber to take you home, messaging a friend to make sure they’re safe, or whatever else you deem important. Once your balance drops to that threshold, apps can’t use cell data without your explicit permission.
Datally is free, but Android-only at the moment.
Japan’s Getting Serious About Flying Taxis
If you’ve ever spent time in Tokyo, Osaka, or other large Japanese cities, you’ll already know they’re very busy places, and getting around them in a car is not the most fun you can have with your day.
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the country’s government is starting to look seriously at the whole “flying taxi” idea. The goal is to have them operational in Japan within a decade.
Bringing together major players across the transportation industry, including Boeing, Uber, Japan Airlines, and others, government officials say they’ll smooth the legislative path to help speed up the process.
It’s not just Japan’s crowded urban environments that could benefit from small flying vehicles like these, however. The country’s Economy minister last month told reporters the taxis could be useful in the tourism industry, and during natural disasters in remote areas as well.
Companies are already investing heavily in flying taxis, and governments are now starting to get on board (pun intended) with the idea. It’s starting to look like it could be just a few years before we’ll be seeing the first ones buzzing around our cities and towns.
Facebook’s Onavo VPN Is Gone From the App Store. Good Riddance.
If you use the Facebook mobile app, you’ve probably been pushed to also install the company’s security app at some point. The reasons behind those nagging notifications were made explicitly clear last week, when Apple banned Onavo Protect from its App Store due to excessive harvesting of its user’s data.
The app is supposedly a free VPN that protects browsing and app downloads on your phone. In reality, it exists entirely to track the apps you’re using and how often you’re using them, along with your browsing habits, and report the details back to Facebook.
As with the rest of the company’s services, if you’re not paying for it, you’re the product, not the customer. That’s pretty icky to think about in general, but when it comes to an app that’s marketed as improving your security, it’s a real problem. We need to be able to trust our VPN software, and with Onavo, you just can’t.
Apple apparently informed Facebook that Onavo Protect didn’t comply with its policy that “apps should not collect information about which other apps are installed on a user’s device for the purposes of analytics or advertising/marketing and must make it clear what user data will be collected and how it will be used.”
Rather than immediately fix the problem, Facebook decided to remove the app instead. Sadly it will keep working for the tens of millions of people who already have it installed, and is still available on the Google Play store for Android, at least for now.
If you’ve got it on your phone or tablet, I’d seriously suggest deleting it. Replace it with something like Tunnelbear, or another proper VPN service which doesn’t spy on you in the name of improving your security.
Yes, you’ll need to pay once you’ve used up your free data allowance. Personally, I’d rather knowingly hand over a few dollars than unknowingly hand over a whole bunch of my personal data.