Welcome to TechCrunch’s 2021 Year-End Gift Guide! Need help with gift ideas? We have a lot of them. Check back by the end of December to find out more!
It’s a year we’ve all had to reconsider our relationship with technology. Social media was ultimately judged for its potential harms, including for vulnerable teens. Algorithms have been accused of dividing us and sending us into the burrows of extremism. Even tech companies with large âfanâ bases, like Apple, have been seen in a new light as they are challenged by lawsuits and antitrust investigations.
For some, 2022 may mean seeking a healthier balance with the type of technology we use in our lives. With that in mind, we present a tech-focused gift guide that lets us escape technology!
AllTrails is a popular guide to over 200,000 outdoor trails, featuring detailed maps, photos and reviews curated by millions of hikers and more. But the AllTrails Pro subscription worth it for any dedicated hiker, biker, or climber, as it offers downloadable maps – often needed for off-grid treks, as well as other handy features like off-road notifications, a Safety rope feature that keeps safety contacts informed of your trail’s progress and access to air quality, pollen and weather details on maps. The company also has big plans for the coming year, thanks to its recent fundraiser of $ 150 million, which it plans to invest in new product development.
Phones can be distracting, causing us to step out of the present moment and come back to our screens. While recent updates like Apple’s Focus Mode feature have given us some control back, the Opal app goes even further. The app, essentially a VPN client, lets you disconnect annoying apps completely so you can focus and easily set automatic schedules for things like work or family time where apps and notifications will leave you alone. Unlike some other tools, which can be disabled by the user, you can even set up âdeep focusâ sessions in Opal with a timer that you can’t bypass when you really need not to be distracted. You can use the app in several ways: on demand when you need to focus or always to help you create better routines for your life with more limits.
Price: A $ 40 gift subscription offer one year of Opal Pro
When you really need to get off the network, the best phone might be no phone. But that’s not always sustainable in our day and age when we need to be able to reach others in an emergency or have them be able to reach us. Also, we don’t really want to go back to the days when we printed our MapQuest routes, do we?
The Light Phone is another option, which could allow you to take a break without being completely disconnected. The phone allows you to make calls and texts and includes basic utilities such as an alarm, calculator, hotspot function, and a simple music and podcast player. This too just added a directions tool and will soon add support for transit routes. The idea is to offer a âsmartâ phone that is not filled with addicting applications and games. The Light Phone might not make sense to everyone as a full-time device, but it can be swapped out for your weekend getaway or any other time you feel too overwhelmed. . The phone offers its own SIM plans on AT&T from $ 30 / month for unlimited calls and SMS with 1 GB of data, billed monthly without commitment. But the phone itself is unlocked and will work with any compatible 4G VoLTE Nano-SIM (like the one on your current smartphone, probably.)
Price: $ 299 (Lightweight Phone II) in light gray or black
Listening to podcasts and eBooks is already a popular activity, but what if you could reduce your screen time by listening to just about anything using a text-to-speech player? Speechify makes this possible. The web and mobile app lets you listen to anything with text – documents, news articles, research papers, schoolwork, PDFs, emails and more – using a selection of AI voices at its natural. The app currently supports Gmail, Outlook, Messenger, WhatsApp, Google Docs, Notion, MS Teams, PDF, Medium, NYT, BBC, Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and LinkedIn. You can even take photos of the pages in your books to read them aloud. But it doesn’t come cheap – it’s more of a commitment to shifting a lot of your screen reading to audio.
Price: $ 139 for 1 year of Speechify Premium (special price is available for groups, teams and classes)
Reese’s Book Club Boxes
For those who prefer real books to e-books or audiobooks, Reese’s Book Club, Reese Witherspoon’s online book club and recommendations app, offers Gift of Reading themed gift boxes. The boxes combine a choice of favorite book club with other items that make your reading time more enjoyable, such as comfy socks or throws, snacks, coffees, bookmarks, towels to go along with your ‘beach reading. Â», Skin care products and more. There are enough items in the boxes to make them feel like a more premium gift, perfect for a favorite mother-in-law or aunt who always has a book in her hand. You can also select the book included in the box and even customize your own box with the items available.
Price: $ 54.95 for a choice of hardcover book and $ 49.95 for a paperback. There is also a Create Your Own box with selected packages starting at $ 34.95.