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Best Android phone for kids


The time has come. You’ve decided your kid needs a phone. These are their best options!

rholly-bubblehead.png Russell has been covering Android since the G1, and has had his head in VR headsets since the first Oculus Rift dev kit. Managing editor at VRHeads, video and podcast host, you can follow him on Twitter @russellholly. For suggestions and updates, you can reach him at

Best overall

Nexus 5X


See at Amazon

Google’s Nexus line offers the latest security updates on the least complicated version of the Android operating system, and the Nexus 5X is one of the best vehicles for this experience. Under that plastic casing you’ll find an incredible camera, reasonable battery, and one of the fastest fingerprint sensors available today. It’s a little overkill for “My First Smartphone,” but given its common price point, and knowing it will last for quite awhile, you can buy it with confidence for your kid.

Bottom line: This is a great phone before you look at the price tag, which makes it that much easier to recommend.

One more thing: Nexus 5X comes in Carbon (Black), Quartz (White), and Ice (Mint Green) depending on where you shop.

Why Google’s Nexus 5X is the best

For many people, buying a smartphone is all about getting the most important features at the most reasonable price. When purchasing a phone for their children, parents have a tendency to emphasize price over features. The Nexus 5X is a phone that genuinely lets you have both. While not quite as capable as the more expensive Nexus 6P, LG’s partnership with Google has created an incredible phone by just about any standard. On top of guaranteed security updates, so you know your kid is using a phone that will keep their data safe, you’re giving your child a great overall experience. This is hands-down the best phone for the money right now, and it’s a phone that will work on any U.S. carrier should you decide to pack up and leave your current provider.

Best Value

Moto G4 Amazon Edition


See at Amazon

Maybe you’re a parent who believes your children should save up their own money and buy their own phone. Or maybe you don’t want that new phone to hit your wallet too hard. Either way, sometimes it really does come down to price. The Moto G4 has always been a decent phone for the price, but Amazon has taken that one step further by offering a special version with their lockscreen ads on board for $50 cheaper than the standard retail version. It means you get a phone for cheap that delivers a decent overall experience, and it works on all of the U.S. carriers.

Bottom line: This is a decent phone on its own, but if price is the biggest feature for you this is where you need to be.

Best on Verizon

Samsung Galaxy J3 V


See at Verizon Wireless

If you find yourself sitting in a Verizon Wireless waiting to add a phone to your account for a little one, there’s a good chance you’ll have iPhones and Droid Editions and several other phones recommended to you by the folks in the store. Before you put any money down, ask to see the Galaxy J3V by Samsung. It’s a simple phone which claims 10 days of standby time and an extreme battery save mode that ensures your child should always be reachable. It’s also only $7/month on Verizon’s payment plan, so anyone can afford it.

Bottom line: If you need a Verizon phone and aren’t looking to spend a lot, this is what you need.


Smartphones give you a little more information regarding where you kids are and what they’re doing, but they also give your kid some freedom to have a little fun or get in some trouble. If you want the best for your kid, the Nexus 5X is where you need to be. If price is a real concern, Amazon’s version of the Moto G is fantastic. Verizon Wireless subscribers who would rather buy in a store, be sure to ask about the Galaxy J3 V from Samsung.

Best overall

Nexus 5X


See at Amazon

Google’s Nexus line offers the latest security updates on the least complicated version of the Android operating system, and the Nexus 5X is one of the best vehicles for this experience. Under that plastic casing you’ll find an incredible camera, reasonable battery, and one of the fastest fingerprint sensors available today. It’s a little overkill for “My First Smartphone,” but given its common price point, and knowing it will last for quite awhile, you can buy it with confidence for your kid.

Bottom line: This is a great phone before you look at the price tag, which makes it that much easier to recommend.

One more thing: Nexus 5X comes in Carbon (Black), Quartz (White), and Ice (Mint Green) depending on where you shop.


Twitter flies on to Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Xbox One

You’ll now be able to get your Twitter fix on more devices thanks to apps that rolling out from today for Apple TV (4th generation), Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick and the Xbox One.

The apps will give you the full Twitter experience, including live video streams various content producers, including NFL’s free to view Thursday Night Football games. You’ll be able to view Vines and live Periscope feeds as well.

The Apple TV version of the app will let you view live video side-by-side with your regular Twitter tweet feed. If you want to be able to view the live video streams but don’t have a Twitter account, don’t fret! Twitter has said anyone with one of the mentioned devices can access the content regardless of whether they have an account or not.

The app will start rolling out from today via each product’s respective app stores and Anthony Nato, chief financial officer for Twitter said: “These devices will bring Twitter’s live streaming video experience to life on the TV screen.”

“We’re excited to introduce this new experience to people, without requiring a paywall or having to log in to Twitter”.


ICYMI: Dolphins speak in sentences and brand new bee species

ICYMI: Dolphins speak in sentences and brand new bee species
Today on In Case You Missed It: Scientists in the Ukraine say they tracked bottlenose dolphins and found that they speak in up to five-word sentences and politely listen to each other before responding. Since dolphins are pretty much the coolest thing on the planet (Japanese horror show notwithstanding), we are excited about the latest dolphin intelligence findings.

Meanwhile, a new species of bees discovered in the American Southwest is notable for the fact that the bees create their home by drilling into sandstone rock with their mandibles. You know, casually.

If you’re interested in the cancer microchip, that video is here, and information on Google’s dinosaur app is here. As always, please share any interesting tech or science videos you find by using the #ICYMI hashtag on Twitter for @mskerryd.


Google offers $350,000 in prizes if you can hack a Nexus

Google has set aside at least $350,000 for its Project Zero Prize contest, and to win part of that sweet, sweet prize pot, you’ll have to hack a Nexus 6P and a 5X. You’ll have to do so only knowing the devices’ phone numbers and associated email addresses. Plus, the vulnerability you exploit must be able to remotely execute codes on both phones just by opening an email or a text message. The big G says it hopes to discover new bugs from the contest. But since it’s more than just a bug bounty program, it will also use your entries to take a closer look at how exploits work, as well as to gather info on how to protect its devices from similar vulnerabilities.

You may want to read the contest mechanics soon if you plan to participate, because it looks like only the first person who submits a particular bug can use it. If you get top prize once the contest ends in six months’ time, you can take home $200,000. You’ll get $100,000 for second prize, and at least $50,000 for third, which is still not bad at all.


Source: Google


Behind the wheel of GM’s 238-mile range electric car

Chevy’s new Bolt shows up in San Francisco’s SOMA district at the height of rush hour. It comes around the corner evading cars, buses and wandering Giants’ fans on their way to the game a few blocks away. It’s urban chaos and it’s the exact environment the long-range EV will encounter when new customers drive it out of the showroom sometime before the end of this year.

I drove the pre-pre-production Chevy Bolt at CES on a closed track way back in January. At the time it was difficult to get a true feel for the car, just driving in circles over and over again. Today’s excursion was a bit more telling. I drove the EV through San Francisco’s Potrero Hill and Mission Bay districts with a quick jaunt onto the freeway. And of course, the aforementioned traffic of SOMA.


Unsurprisingly, this version feels more polished than the model we drove in a parking lot a few blocks off the Strip. Not least because it’s no longer wrapped in weird black stripes. The final design of the vehicle is much more like what you’d expect from a compact hatchback. It’s not flashy, and it doesn’t stick out like Chevy’s plug-in hybrid the Volt does. Instead the Bolt blends into traffic with classic lines accented by a few flourishes like the chrome that runs above the doors. Basically it looks, well, normal.

Beyond its looks, the new Bolt’s anything but normal. It’s born out a desire to offer an electric car that doesn’t break the bank, but is worthy of road trips. With a range of 238 miles, it bests the Tesla Model 3 (with a range of 215 miles) that’s expected to start shipping sometime in late 2017. Josh Tavel, the Bolt’s chief engineer told Engadget that during its research the company found that once an EV’s range went above 200 miles, the amount of people that it doubled. If the car was under $30,000, that number doubled again. The Bolt is actually expected to cost below $37,500 at launch — but with federal tax credits will land just on or below that $30,000 sweet spot.


To pull this off marriage or range and price, GM had to start from scratch. The automaker couldn’t use one of its existing vehicle systems. “It’s got to be a new dedicated vehicle platform to allow us to truly make a cost effective high mileage vehicle,” Tavel said. While the hatchback borrows a few regenerative braking features from the Volt, it’s otherwise completely unique in the GM lineup. Or it will be, once it’s finally ready for market.

The nearly finished car I’m driving (Kelly says the car I’m driving is above 90% production) is a solid mixture of traditional compact car with the subdued whir of an EV. While it’s not going to be winning any drag races, the zero to 60 time of just under seven seconds is about on par with a Honda Civic. The Bolt has the expected electric torque when you hit the accelerator, but it quickly gives way to the realities of a hatchback.

As for the ride, it’s about on par with most compacts. The suspension is stiffer than the car I drove in Las Vegas. Of course, this time around I didn’t get a chance to drive on a track or mountain roads, but I noted a slightly “sport” feel without sacrificing comfort.


That comfort factor extends to the interior, which is surprisingly stylish. The dash, for example, has a white accent that runs back into the doors — I caught myself rubbing my fingers on it to feel its texture. The center console is a 10.5-inch touchscreen that has the usual information about how much energy you’re using, complete with a scorecard of your driving. However, I was happy to see that the climate controls have good ole physical buttons. As you’d hope for a 2016 EV, the Bolt supports both CarPlay and Android Auto via USB ports and a not-so-handy phone holder that sits under the console. Chances are you’ll just use the cupholder for your phone.


The dash cluster (aka where the speedometer lives) is easy to read, with every bar and accent tinted green. Probably to remind you that you’re saving the planet in your electric car. More importantly, while it shares information about how you’re using the battery, it doesn’t feel cluttered.

This being a hatchback it’s important to note that at first glance the trunk doesn’t seem that huge. But you can remove the floor to reveal a giant hiding space for your gear. Also the back seats fold down flat so it’s great for hauling all your stuff around town.


Of course getting around means charging. GM says with an 80kWh quick charger, you can add 90 miles in 30 minutes. With the 120 volt outlet in the average home, the car can be fully charged in 18 hours. A 240 volt outlet will halve that time. For comparison, the BMW i3 takes 20 hours to charge its 81-mile range battery with an 120 volt outlet. Fortunately the Bolt’s extended range means you should be fine with the average commute and overnight charging. But it’s always a good idea to research how many public charging stations are available in your area.


What GM built with the new Bolt is an impressive hatchback that happens to be an electric vehicle with an incredibly impressive 238-mile range. Not only will it make EV ownership more accessible, it gives the automaker a $30,000 (after federal tax credits) jump start into a market that’s been dominated by Tesla’s pricey Models S and X. It might not have Falcon Wing doors or semi-autonomous features but it does something those cars don’t posses: the ability to be purchased by an average person this year.


Spotify now has 40 million paid subscribers

In the world of music streaming, numbers mean everything. Major players have come and go, but Spotify and Apple are the two companies who largely dominate the market. After Tim Cook kicked off last week’s iPhone 7 event with confirmation that Apple Music now has 17 million paying subscribers, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek has fired back with an impressive figure of his own: 40 million people are now paying to access his service.

The last time Spotify updated us on its paid stats was back in March, when it eclipsed 30 million Premium users. The company hasn’t confirmed just how many total users it has today, but it did note that it had 100 million people on its books back in June. Signups may have been driven by Spotify’s decision to extend Family plans to six members, cutting the price to $15/£15 in the process.

To lure in subscribers, Spotify operates a free tier, which many other streaming services have shied away from. Instead of requiring a monthly payment, the company attempts to recoup some of those streaming costs by dropping in adverts between tracks. The fact that it continues to convert users into paying customers is encouraging, especially given the competition, but the company still has a long way to go to prove that streaming music can be a decently profitable business.

40 is the new 30.
Million. 😄

— Daniel Ek (@eldsjal) September 14, 2016


The best thing about Amazon’s $50 Echo Dot? It’s available to all

After accidentally announcing a new $50 Echo Dot on Twitter yesterday, Amazon has confirmed the device this morning, alongside a white Echo and UK launch . But even better than the lower price (down from the $90 previous model) is the fact that anyone, not just existing Echo users, can snap it up. Previously, you had to order the Dot using Alexa from an Echo or Fire TV.

Just like before, the new Echo Dot can bring Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant to any speaker with a 3.5mm aux cable. The company claims the second-gen model is a bit sleeker than before, though it looks pretty similar to the original from photos. It includes a faster speech processor, which takes better advantage of its seven far-field microphones for voice recognition. There’s also a new feature called Echo Spatial Perception, which will activate voice commands from the Echo device closest to you. That should solve the problem of having multiple Echo devices responding to your requests.

The second-gen Dot is available for preorder today in black and white models, and it’ll start shipping on October 20th. And if you just want to blanket your home with Alexa, you can buy a six-pack of Echo Dots, which will give you one free unit, or a 10-pack, which will come with two free Dots.


‘Shanty Mega-structures’ rise above a future Lagos

Science fiction authors have always dreamed up cities of the future. When it comes to seeing those dreams realized, though, artists and filmmakers have heavily focused on what Western cities might look like. There are, however, exceptions to that rule. Olalekan Jeyifous is a Nigerian-born artist currently based in Brooklyn. With a background in architecture, much of his work is focused on urban environments and buildings. In his 2015 series Shanty Mega-structures, Jeyifous examines the future of improvised housing. Shanty towns are a common feature among the developing world, with houses built with no regulatory oversight, typically with a lack of safe water, electricity and sanitation.

The image above is but one from a larger collection, which can be viewed on Jeyifous’ site. It depicts a future “mega-structure” among the improvised waterfront housing of Makoko in Lagos, Nigeria. The buildings across the series seem almost fungal, looming over their neighbors, weaving organically together high above the shanty towns.

Through his work, Jeyifous aimed to “juxtapose sites of privileged and much coveted real-estate throughout Lagos with colossal vertical settlements representing marginalized and impoverished communities.”

“It’s a visual conversation on how slums are frequently viewed as unsightly eyesores to be bull-dozed, leaving their inhabitants completely displaced,” he continued. “This is a standard practice that occurs from Chicago to Rio de Janiero, and throughout the world.” Shanty Mega-structures was recently highlighted by online science fiction and fantasy magazine after Jeyifous said Binti, a Tor-published novella by Nigerian-American author Nnedi Okarafor, was an influence on the series.

The Big Picture is a recurring feature highlighting beautiful images that tell big stories. We explore topics as large as our planet, or as small as a single life, as affected by or seen through the lens of technology.


Source: Olaleken Jeyifous


How to master computer science, minus the student loans

These days, you don’t need to spend a fortune on college tuition to gain valuable professional skills. The Complete Computer Science Bundle gives students a full programming education without having to spend the next ten years of your life in debt. Right now, Engadget readers can get this 8-course bundle for nearly 90 percent off retail price—just $39.

You’ll learn essential programming languages like C, C++, and Java through nearly 80 hours of hands-on instruction, and get familiar with database management and other core concepts of computer science. You’ll also learn about Raspberry Pi and how to build products for the Internet of Things.

Here’s what’s included in your bundle:

  • From 0 to 1: C Programming – Drill Deep
  • Byte Size Chunks: Java Object-Oriented Programming & Design
  • From 0 to 1: Data Structures & Algorithms in Java
  • From 0 to 1: SQL And Databases – Heavy Lifting
  • From 0 to 1: Learn Python Programming – Easy as Pie
  • Learn By Example: C++ Programming – 75 Solved Problems
  • From 0 to 1: Raspberry Pi and the Internet of Things
  • Case Studies: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Apple

If you’re interested in learning all about the latest applications of computer science, don’t miss out on the Complete Computer Science Bundle, now down to just $39.

Bonus: We’re giving away an Oculus Rift and HTC Vive VR Headset—enter for your chance to win the one of your choice.

Engadget is teaming up with StackCommerce to bring you deals on the latest gadgets, tech toys, apps, and tutorials. This post does not constitute editorial endorsement, and we earn a portion of all sales. If you have any questions about the products you see here or previous purchases, please contact StackCommerce support here.


Apple Watch Series 2 Reviews: ‘The First Real Apple Watch’ Thanks to Fitness and Processor Upgrades

Following the publication of reviews for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus yesterday, now the first official reviews for the Apple Watch Series 2 have begun hitting the web. Apple announced its second-generation Apple Watch alongside the iPhone 7 last week, and both devices will launch this Friday, September 16.

While there are varying opinions among reviewers, the consensus on Apple Watch Series 2 is epitomized in TechCrunch’s straightforward headline, calling it “the first real Apple Watch.” Reviewers think that the 50 percent faster processor, improved durability in water, and fitness-focused features have elevated the second generation of Apple Watch to become a more sensical purchase option, going beyond its previous status as a simple luxury item and into functional usability.

Image via The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal refers to Series 2 as a product you still don’t “need,” but it may now be something you “want.” As many have focused on when testing Series 2, the site spent a lot of its review on the fitness features of the Apple Watch, referring to the new on-board GPS as the device’s “greatest strength and greatest downfall.” This is because while being able to leave an iPhone behind while running is a major plus, it comes at the cost of battery life.

This new wireless freedom is the Apple Watch’s greatest strength and greatest downfall. A 20-minute run with music playing knocked out 20% of my watch battery’s juice. While there is a bigger battery inside this slightly thicker watch, those who plan to use GPS for a daily jog won’t get longer battery life. (Apple says it designed the GPS on the Apple Watch to last through a marathon.) On days where I didn’t use GPS, I went to bed with nearly 40% of the battery left. That’s strong, though the Fitbit Blaze lasts four days, so you can even wear it to track sleep.

The Series 2 is what the first Apple Watch should have been—a more advanced Fitbit with the good looks and features to justify wearing it all day, every day. It’s speedy, helpful and able to go where you can’t—or won’t—take your smartphone.

TechCrunch’s reference to the Series 2 as “the first real Apple Watch” comes from the site’s idea that a wearable should be able to accomplish little tasks throughout the day in 1-3 seconds, which the original Apple Watch struggled with due to long app loading times. But thanks to the additional processor speed, and bright display, TechCrunch Editor-in-Chief Matthew Panzarino says he has “already found myself using the Watch for interactions more often.”

The Apple Watch Series 2 is the first real Apple Watch. It delivers on the promise of a mostly passive device that can accomplish simple tasks in 1-3 seconds. There is now built-in GPS which allows for exercising without having to lug along a comparatively heavy iPhone just to get accurate tracking. And it’s completely waterproof, as any decent sport watch should be.

The screen is noticeably brighter now, making text, especially on activity summary screens, much easier to read. Because of the speed and brightness, I have already found myself using the Watch for interactions more often. This had already started happening a bit with Apple’s WatchOS 2 update last year, which improved performance significantly, but it’s incredibly apparent now with the faster processor.

While a similar fan of the new fitness abilities, The Verge reminded potential buyers that “familiar hassles remain” with Apple Watch Series 2. These include raise to wake not working consistently, troubles with syncing music into the 2 GB of storage, and the consistent fact that you have to charge the Apple Watch every day, particularly if you use it during workouts.

Although these are all qualms that can be dealt with for most people, the site argues that any professional athlete, or someone more serious about fitness, might become frustrated with the device.

But for all of the improvements, some of the hassles from the original Watch remain. Apple still has a lot of work to do. I’ve noticed the display still doesn’t wake every time I raise or twist my wrist, which is annoying. For whatever reason, I’ve had trouble syncing my iTunes to the Watch, which can support up to 2GB of music.

Finally, the battery life: the new Watch has a bigger battery in it to compensate for the GPS and the brighter display. And it’s definitely better than the first Watch: a couple days ago I put the Watch on first thing in the morning, popped the display up to full brightness, went through a day of notifications, used GPS during an hour-long bike ride, and still had 20 percent battery left later that night. But it’s still a charge-every-day kind of thing if you work out, which is one of my least favorite aspects of smartwatches.

Early adopters of the Apple Watch Series 2 will be able to check out the wearable device for themselves beginning this Friday, September 16, when it launches to the public. On that day, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will also debut, and so far reviews for the smartphones have generally noted that while the devices might not be essential upgrades, they are nice advancements and form an important foundation for the iPhone’s future.

Check out more reviews for the Apple Watch Series 2 at these websites:

-The Independent
-USA Today
– BuzzFeed
– Daring Fireball
– The Loop
– Pocket-lint

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 2, watchOS 3
Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)
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