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2 weeks ago

Grab Samsung's Level U Pro Bluetooth headphones for just $50 today

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Bluetooth headphones have become more popular in the recent years, especially as manufacturers drop support of headphone jacks and Samsung's Level U Pro are a great option. They have an around the neck design that lets them rest comfortably when not in use, and today you can pick up a pair for just $50.

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2 weeks ago

Can Samsung's DeX Station succeed where others have failed?

99

Will Samsung's market dominance make DeX a thing people actually use?

Samsung is one of those companies that likes to try things. Because it will put things out there and keep working on them we have technology like AMOLED screens that don't suck and devices that have ginormous displays. Heck, Samsung even brought back the stylus and made it sexy. Even when its ideas get universally panned (T-Mobile actually dropped the original Note just before its release date because it thought nobody wanted that thing), Samsung keeps making adjustments and improvements until it is satisfied. Then the good stuff is kept and the bad stuff goes away.

Samsung has a knack for turning an oddball idea into something great.

Samsungs also not afraid to build on ideas from others and it has both successes (Gear VR is a response to Cardboard and the Oculus Rift) and failures (S-Voice) to show for it. It's at it again with the coming DeX Station and the question is whether it will be another Gear VR or an S-Voice.

In case you haven't been paying attention, the DeX Station is a dock for your Galaxy S8 that connects to a monitor and peripherals like a mouse and keyboard to build a desktop computer that's not labeled as a desktop or a computer. We're still unsure how or if it will handle regular Android apps that you've installed to your phone, but specially built apps from Samsung as well as Microsoft and Adobe are designed to use the bigger screen while it's plugged in. If you've been an Android junkie for a while you're probably thinking that sounds like something Motorola tried a few years back. And you would be right.

I don't see Facebook or WhatsApp here.

There are some differences. The Galaxy S8 is far more capable than the Motorola Atrix or Droid Bionic was. This means companies can write software that does a lot more. We've heard VMWare has something planned for DeX as does Citrix. In 2017 and beyond, supporting software and apps is a requirement for success. Being good is no longer enough; just ask Microsoft. Out of the box, I expect Samsung to offer more software for DeX than Motorola did. The real problem is supporting apps from other companies, including your must-haves.

It takes more than good apps, though. If that were the only ingredient we would all be using Ubuntu phones and carrying monitors around. Apt-get all the things. I think the biggest hurdle is hardware.

A DeX station is portable but the things you need to actually use it aren't going to fit into your carry-on.

DeX is a mixed bag in this respect. The Station itself looks great: USB 3.0, HDMI, cooling fans and an active charger while the phone is docked covers everything and then some. But it stops there. Without a display and input devices plugged in, DeX is just a changer with a noisy fan. That means it's something you can only use where you have an extra monitor, mouse, and keyboard laying around or you need to find a way to squeeze them all into your carry-on. Samsung isn't saying it, but this basically means that DeX is designed to be a desktop computer, one that's about the same price as a desktop computer with better hardware, more storage and Windows 10.

The portability issue is easily fixed, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a Samsung clamshell that your S8 can slip into over the holidays if the DeX Station sells well. But as it stands, there is zero reason for an early adopter to buy a DeX dock outside of the novelty factor. A mini PC will run better, do more, and use the programs you want for the same price. It can even charge your phone through the USB port while you're using it. If early adopters (who tend to be tech savvy and know things like a mini-wintel PC or Chromebox exist) aren't interested, Samsung might have a problem.

There is no reason for an early adopter to choose a DeX station over existing products that do everything better.

All in one operating systems are coming. Microsoft, Apple, and Google are working on software built for every screen so it's logical for Samsung to try and get in front of it. DeX will survive in some form because it has to. Samsung isn't saying a lot about DeX outside of showcasing its own apps (a logical choice for a product launch) so maybe there is more than we know right now. Or maybe this DeX is the OG Note version that evolves into that thing everyone loves. We have to wait and see, but that won't stop us from talking about it.

As for myself, I'm itching to give it a try and test its limits. And I can't wait to see the next version and the ones after that. Use the comments to share what you think and ways you might use a DeX Station today or in the future.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint

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2 weeks ago

This is what HTC's next flagship phone looks like

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HTC is readying its next flagship and it looks... shiny.

HTC is going to release another flagship in a few weeks. It's made out of metal and covered in glass on the front and what looks like shiny glass on the back. You may be able to squeeze its sides to get it to do things like take a photo. It'll have the latest and greatest specs one would expect from a 2017 flagship, including a Snapdragon 835, 4GB of RAM, and a 12MP UltraPixel camera.

If these things interest you — the phone is expected to be called the HTC U — then cancel your Galaxy S8 pre-order, throw your LG G6 in the fire, stomp on your OnePlus 3T and eat your shorts Huawei Mate 9.

HTC U Ultra review: A beautiful group of questionable decisions

HTC 10

HTC Best Buy Verizon Sprint

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2 weeks ago

Pokémon Go Legendary event may finally be coming in July

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Raids, PvP and player trading said to be coming in a massive summer update.

An interview with Niantic's Asian General Manager Yoshiji Kawashima and Asian General Marketing Manager Kenji Suka hints that the long-rumored Legendary events for Pokémon Go may happen in July 2017.

In the interview with Japanese site K-Tai Watch Kawashima says that a huge event is planned for summer 2017 and the new in-game mechanics are currently in development. These will include raids, PvP, and player trading. While no firm release dates for the coming features is set, Niantic did confirm that co-op play is coming this Spring and several smaller events like the recent Water Festival are planned throughout 2017.

I hope you are looking forward to this huge event this summer. Please look forward to it. Engineers are working hard now so that new functions can be implemented. – Yoshiji Kawashima

Niantic is also said to be working on partnering with local governments for large events like the one recently held in Japan's Tohoku Region. As an aside, Niantic is also said to be working on a wearable AR device but further development is waiting for the technology to mature.

Pokémon Go has mentioned co-op gameplay several times. We think it will be coming as part of the Gym battle redesign expected in the next update. Strings that suggest a raiding system have also been found in the game code by sleuthers at Reddit:

  • "{0} lost a battle!"
  • "{0} was defeated in battle!"
  • "{0} fainted at the Gym!"
  • "{0} is back after a hard battle!"
  • "{0} was forced off the Gym!"
  • "{0} has fought hard and returned!"
  • "{0} is hungry!"
  • "{0} needs a pick-me-up!"
  • "{0} wants a berry!
  • "{0} was victorious in battle!"
  • "{0} has triumphed over your opponents!"
  • "{0} defended the Gym!"
  • "There's a raid about to start near you!"
  • "A raid's going to start nearby!"
  • "Nearby raid starting soon!"

While Pokémon Go may have lost some of the steam that made it the fastest growing game ever when it first released, the millions and millions of existing players seem to have a lot to look forward to in 2017.

Pokémon Go

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2 weeks ago

Open up in this weekend's comments thread

50

Hooray for the weekend!

Another week is in the can and the glorious release of Saturday is here. We love weekends around these parts and are betting that most of you feel the same way. It's a time to do whatever you like to do without worrying about a boss or the things he or she want you to do. Good times.

They're also pretty chill times without a lot going on in the world of Googly techie things. That makes it a perfect time for a talk-about-whatever-you-wanna-talk-about comment thread. That's what this is. 😎

Jump in below and talk about stuff. It doesn't have to be Google stuff. But it does have to be within the rules stuff. Be kind to each other and all that.

I'll start this week:

I fulfilled a lifelong dream early this week and recorded some music for money. Not a lot of money. But hard-earned money. I learned that playing guitar in a studio is not nearly as fun as playing guitar with friends or on the stage of a dive bar somewhere. The hours are long and the pressure is high. Turns out that what I imagined as getting a buzz and jamming with friends is really a job.

I think I'll stick to fooling with Android and stuff to make a living.

The comments are wide open.

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2 weeks ago

Best Camera Drones for 2017

60
5 best camera drones you can buy in 2017

What are the best camera drones I can buy right now?

Update, April 2017: Added the DJI Mavic Pro to the list, but the DJI Inspire 1 is still tops!

Whether you're an independent filmmaker looking to step up your game with drone videography, or simply a hobbyist looking to record stunning video to share with friends and family, you'll want to invest in a top-of-the-line camera drone.

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2 weeks ago

Google Maps location sharing is an amazing feature you should consider using

41

Location services are the handiest smartphone feature to have on in the case of an emergency.

Last weekend, my mother totaled her car of 18 years. She's fine, though she came out with a few scratches because of how tightly the seat belt had buckled her in during the impact. And though we're still mourning the loss of a car we had made so many memories with, I also can't help but think about how thankful I am for location sharing. If it wasn't for this simplistic little smartphone feature, my husband and I may not have located her as quickly as we did.

We had used our smartphones to fill in the blanks where our brains could not.

My mother's voice was noticeably shaky when she had initially called us after the crash. I could tell she was struggling to hold back tears over the loss of her beloved car as it lay in front of her, wrecked beyond repair. I wanted to get to her as quickly as possible to comfort her and to get her out of the rain storm that had made the roads so perilous to drive on in the first place.

My husband had asked her for landmarks around where the impact had happened so that we could drive out to pick her up, but she was having a difficult time orienting herself. That's when I remembered that the Verizon's Messages+ app on my mom's Galaxy S6 Edge offers a native "drop pin" functionality that sends your approximate location in a text message. "Send me your location!" I shouted over the phone. She knew exactly what I meant. I had her coordinates within minutes, complete with a link to Google Maps.

My mother's text message to me with her location information.

It took us twenty minutes to get to her and, thankfully, a tow truck and the California Highway Patrol were already with her when we arrived. As my husband drove us home in silence, I could only think about how thankful I was that we were able to get to her so quickly. We had used our smartphones to fill in the blanks where our brains — effectively stunned by the emotion of the situation — could not. This very simple smartphone trick kept our family connected in a time of relative crisis.

What a smashed 18-year-old car looks like.

How to keep loved ones privy to your whereabouts

Google Maps offers a helpful new location sharing feature that keeps whoever you want privy to your whereabouts. If you've updated the app recently, you'll see an option in the menu to share your location. Tap it, and you can choose which friends and family members with Google accounts to share your location with.

Look for this feature next time you open up Google Maps.

Why not also rely on Google Maps to keep me informed of whether my family is doing okay?

I'd understand if you wouldn't want to broadcast your location to everyone at all times, but surely there's one person who wouldn't mind tuning into your whereabouts from time to time — at the very least to ensure you're safe. At present, I've only shared my location with my husband, but I plan to teach both my parents how to turn on this ability on their respective devices over Easter weekend so that I can keep track of them. I certainly hope something like this doesn't happen again anytime soon, but I want us to be prepared in the event of another emergency.

I often hear lamenting from smartphone users about how location services are such a battery suck, and I don't deny that's an unfortunate setback of having the ability always turned on. But I'm already relying on Google Maps throughout the day to get me to where I'm going. Why not also rely on it to keep me informed of whether my family is doing okay?

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2 weeks ago

How to deal with nausea when playing PlayStation VR

PlayStation VR might make you nauseous, but we've got some things to help.

VR has a habit of causing people to feel sick, or dizzy while playing. While it might be the newest kid on the VR block, even PlayStation VR can cause nausea, which can be a real bummer. However there are a few things you can do to help curb feeling sick while gaming, and we've got the details below.

Read more at VR Heads!

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2 weeks ago

These GO-X3 Bluetooth headphones let you get active with your favorite tunes

Bluetooth headphones; sure, they're convenient in that they have no wires to contend with, but most aren't designed for an active lifestyle. As soon as you start running or jumping, they fall out. They also aren't usually designed to deal with sweat or outdoor conditions.

Grab these ARMOR-X GO-X3 Bluetooth headphones at 50% off! Learn more

You need a pair of Bluetooth headphones that won't fall out of your ears and won't be affected by rain or sweat. Right now, Windows Central Digital Offers has a deal on a pair of ARMOR-X GO-X3 Bluetooth headphones. Instead of the usual $60 price tag, you'll pay only $30. That's 50% off the regular price.

These headphones connect to your device with Bluetooth 4.1 and offer deep bass and clear treble. Silicone hooks on each ear ensure the headphones don't slip out of your ears, and a seven-hour battery means you can listen longer before charging. If a call happens to come in while you're wearing the headphones, you'll be given a voice notification with call information.

Listen to your favorite songs while you workout for only $30! Learn more

Tired of cheap earbud headphones that fall out of your ears and have a cable that snags while you're working out? The Bluetooth beauties from ARMOR-X are the answer. Grab them soon; this sale won't last long.

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2 weeks ago

Color By Disney review: premium subscription for a not-so-premium coloring app

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Back in college, if I'd been caught coloring in my secret stash of Disney coloring pages, I'd have some explaining to do.

Nowadays, though, coloring books need no explanation, as they've seen a massive resurgence among adults who are looking for an easy way to escape daily stress and find some inner peace. But you can't exactly carry around your 128-color case of pencils and that big book of mandalas for coloring on the train, during your lunch break, or wherever the urge strikes you. Enter a slew of coloring apps, all promising the same fun and calming without leaving pencil shavings everywhere or without you ruining a page by coloring outside the lines.

Disney decided to get in on the action with premium coloring app Color By Disney, and while their efforts are certainly good... I wouldn't go running to the app store just yet.

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2 weeks ago

Samsung Gear 360 (2017) preview: Fun all the way around

5

When thinking of great tech, often what comes to mind is the best quality, the best specs, the best design … but we sometimes forget what really drew us to it in the first place: the fun factor. 360 cameras came onto the scene in a big way in 2016, and while they may not be quite as hot a commodity this year, Samsung's new Gear 360 stands a good chance of rekindling the public's love for these special gadgets. And not just because it's the most adorable little droid this side of BB-8; the Gear 360 2017 unlocks a whole new dimension in spherical storytelling.

I'm Michael Fisher, aka MrMobile, and believe it or not, I'm considering buying a selfie stick just for this camera. Since picking it up at Samsung's big Galaxy S8 announcement, I've been having a blast using the new Gear 360 to shoot … well, everything in sight. But unless you're like me and you want to see everything past the edge of the lens in every photo or video you shoot, you might want to steer clear. Hit that video up top and see what I mean.

And if you want to know more, check all of Android Central's coverage on the Samsung Gear 360!

Stay social, my friends

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2 weeks ago

Alphabet's Verily built a smartwatch to help track symptoms of Parkinson's Disease

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The Study Watch lasts for a week and records your body activity with a multitude of sensors.

The Google Fit app may appear to be the extent of Google's fitness efforts, but one of the brands under its parent company, Alphabet, has bigger plans. Verily announced that it will launch the Study Watch, a wearable designed to perform "unobtrusive biosensing." Essentially, it passively collects health data while you're wearing it.

Verily goes into detail:

The architecture of Study Watch was tailored specifically for high quality signals and seamless usage, with consideration of the needs of observational studies, such as how continuous wear impacts a user's experience. These design and functionality decisions were reinforced by feedback from users, researchers, and clinicians.

Verily Study Watch is designed with these key features:

  • Multiple physiological and environmental sensors are designed to measure relevant signals for studies spanning cardiovascular, movement disorders, and other areas. Examples include electrocardiogram (ECG), heart rate, electrodermal activity, and inertial movements. 

  • A long battery life of up to one week in order to drive better user compliance during longitudinal studies. 

  • Large internal storage and data compression allow the device to store weeks' worth of raw data, thus relaxing the need to frequently sync the device. 

  • A powerful processor supports real time algorithms on the device. 

  • The firmware is designed to be robust for future extensions, such as over-the-air updates, new algorithms, and user interface upgrades. 

  • The display is always on so that time is always shown. The display is low power and high resolution for an appealing look and a robust user interface.

The Study Watch will be used in several observational studies conducted by Verily's participating partners, including the Personalized Parkinson's Project. You can read more about the wearable at its official blog.

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2 weeks ago

Google Home vs. Amazon Echo: Which should you buy?

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Should I buy Google Home or Amazon Echo?

Updated, April 2017: This post was recently refreshed to make sure that all information is still valid.

There are now two great home-based assistant speaker systems you can put in your house, but which one is the best fit for you? Are you a full-time Google user with a Chromecast on every television and an Android phone in both hands? Do you live and die by being able to have Amazon rush you something within an hour so you don't have to stop what you are doing? Maybe you're looking for the best way to fully automate your home, or the most efficient way to automate your personal life?

There's a lot to consider when choosing between Google Home and Amazon Echo, and it really comes down to what kind of person you are. First you need to know what kind of commands you can give and conversations you can have. We've got you covered here!

As you can see, neither speaker is perfect and there's some personalization needed to really get the most out of either experience. There's a few basic rules you can align with through this video:

  • Home is unlikely to ever be as capable as Echo for ordering from Amazon.
  • Echo is unlikely to ever handle sending video to your televisions like Home.
  • Google apps are much easier to connect to Home, but most work just fine on Echo.

There are plenty of basics that these speakers are always going to be able to do in roughly the same way. If you want a smart speaker in your kitchen that will offer you recipes or measurement conversions, both of these will work in essentially the same way. If you're looking for a nice single speaker to stream music in one room, both systems will handle that just fine. Asking basic questions about the weather or common search definitions are all the same.

Where things start to get more interesting is in less common but more day-to-day interactions. Starting from the top, you'll quickly learn that saying "Alexa" ten times a day to interact with you speaker is more convenient than "OK Google" will ever be (you can make this a little nicer with "Hey Google" but it's still not as mellifluous). Echo also has the benefit of having been around longer, which means Amazon has more services thanks to partnerships. If you have a favorite pizza order, you can have it delivered with only your voice. If you're looking for suggestions on a new mixed drink, there's an Alexa partner for that. You can even check your bank balance with Echo, though you probably shouldn't.

Asking to see a YouTube video and having it just show up on your television is so damn cool.

Google's strength with Home right now is in polish. The commands are more personal and conversation-like. You can use the nicknames you set in the Hue app without any extra configuration. Home treats everything like a first-party feature, where a lot of Alexa add on's require you to say "Tell [X Service] to do [Y command]" to get it to work. Home also syncs music across any Google Cast speaker, where Amazon Echo only plays on one speaker at a time. It's undeniably limited in these early days, especially when it comes to some of its coolest features, but the potential for this speaker to do everything Echo does only more naturally is significant. Also, asking to see a YouTube video and having it just show up on your television is so damn cool.

What about music?

Lots of people just want a speaker that will pull music when you call for it, and don't plan to use the Echo or Home for much more than that. While Google Home and Amazon Echo allow you to connect to a bunch of different third-part music services, both rely on internal services for the primary music request system. And they don't share, which means Amazon Music isn't available on Google Home and Google Play Music isn't available on Amazon Echo. This isn't likely to change anytime soon.

Want to know which connected speaker sounds better? Check out our audio comparison!

For many, this decision may come down to price. Amazon's Echo is $50 more than the $130 Google Home, but the smaller Echo Dot is only $50. It's cheaper to put Alexa in more rooms of your house, but if you care about streaming music and don't have a whole-house speaker system Home is a comparably inexpensive system that does a ton more. There's no clear "winner" if you look at it that way, but once you figure out what kind of user you are there's a lot of fun to be had!

See Amazon Echo on Amazon See Google Home on Google Store

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2 weeks ago

Google updates AOSP bug tracker to use new in-house solution

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Good news for the open source crowd.

Google's Android developers head to the blog today to let us know it has migrated the AOSP issue tracking system to use its own Issue Tracker software.

Issue Tracker is the tool Google uses internally while building and maintaining all the various stuff it does. It's also the public facing bug tracker for many of its other products, including the Android O Developer Preview. The new system looks and feels very much like Google Groups, and Google says this makes it easier for everyone to be on the same page when it comes to finding and killing bugs.

We are hoping to facilitate a better collaboration between our developers and our Android product teams by using a tool we use internally at Google to track bugs and feature requests during product development.

Issue Tracker also uses standard Google terms of service, so be sure to read what you are agreeing to the first time you use the service.

For most end users this has zero impact. But know that the people developing Android and fixing the inevitable bugs should now be able to better communicate. Everything works better when everyone involved knows what's up.

Android Nougat

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2 weeks ago

How to create collages, animations, and movies in Google Photos

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Google Photos can do more than just store and edit your photos.

Google Photos is great app for storing, sharing, and even editing the photos that you take with your phone. It isn't all business here though, and you can also use Google Photos' Assistant feature to create new collages, animations, and movies. These features are fairly small, but they're fun and easy to use.

How to create a new Collage

Collages are created by choosing between two and nine different photos. After you've chose the ones that you like the most, Google will put them together in a collage for you, They're super simple to create, since all you need to do is choose the photos, and if you don't like the way that the collage comes out, you can always choose not to save it.

  1. Open Google Photos.
  2. Tap the icon for Assistant in the lower left corner of your screen.
  3. Tap the purple Collage icon near the top of your screen.

  4. Choose the photos you want in your collage.
  5. Tap Create in the upper right corner of your screen.

How to create a new animation

Animations are created from a bunch of different photos, but unlike a collage, you won't be seeing them all side by side. Instead one photos will shift to the next, and so on. You can add anywhere between 2 and 50 photos to an animation, and they work really well if you have a bunch of action shots that you have taken. It will take the photos you have chosen and essentially combine them all into a single animation that will move swiftly from one photo to the next. So it essentially lets you create a GIF where you decide on the images in the frame.

  1. Open Google Photos.
  2. Tap the icon for Assistant in the lower left corner of your screen.
  3. Tap the blue Animation icon near the top of the screen.

  4. Choose the photos you would like in your animation.
  5. Tap Create in the upper right corner of your screen.

How to create a new movie

The third option that Google gives you is to create a movie and that's where things get a little bit more complicated. It works essentially the same way as creating a collage, or animation, except that there are far more moving parts that you can choose to mess with. First you'll want to select up to 50 photos or videos for you to use in your new movie. Next you'll get to name your film, and choose a filter to overlay your movie, and there are tons of options from Lo-FI to 8MM, to vintage. It automatically has music which you can change choosing from theme music or tunes you've saved onto your phone.

  1. Open Google Photos.
  2. Tap the icon for Assistant in the lower left corner of your screen.
  3. Tap the green Movie icon on the upper right of your screen.

  4. Choose the photos or videos you want in your movie.
  5. Name your movie.
  6. Choose a filter for your movie.

Are you using this features?

Google has packed roughly a ton of features into Google Photos, and that includes being able to create collages, animations, and movies. If you're a fan of sharing your memories this a great way to do it in a unique, and less spammy sort of way. It's also just fun, truth be told. So will you be taking advantage of these features? Let us know about it in the comments below!

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