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3 weeks ago

ASUS IFA 2016 liveblog: 1 p.m. CET on Aug. 31 (7 a.m. ET)

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ASUS is another darling of the annual IFA event, bringing along scores of computers, tablets, phones, watches and more. And this year should prove to be no different. That means it's liveblog time!

We'll get things going Aug. 31 at 1 p.m. Berlin time — that's 7 a.m. U.S. Eastern Time and 4 a.m. on the West Coast (sorry, guys).

Join us!

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3 weeks ago

Xiaomi rolls out a $250 robot vacuum cleaner

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Xiaomi isn't your average phone manufacturer. The Chinese company makes everything from air purifiers to hoverboards, smart rice cookers, smartwatches, body scales, power banks, routers, and even an electric screwdriver. Xiaomi brings these products to market under its Mi Ecosystem label, which sees the company facilitating startups across various categories by providing monetary assistance and connecting them with its supply chain partners.

The latest entrant in the Mi Ecosystem is the Mi Robot Vacuum, which will go on sale in China starting September 6 for ¥1,699 ($250). The vacuum cleaner features a laser distance sensor that is able to scan its surroundings up to 1800 times a second. The Mi Robot Vacuum uses its complement of 12 sensors — including an ultrasonic radar sensor, cliff sensor, gyroscope, and accelerometer — to map out the interiors of your house, and the Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) algorithm calculates the most efficient route for cleaning.

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3 weeks ago

Chinese vendor Meizu is readying a Star Trek-themed handset (Update: now official!)

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Update: Meizu has launched the limited edition Star Trek variant of the M3E in China.

The phone will be available in the country starting September 2 — coinciding with the release of Star Trek Beyond in the country — for the equivalent of $225, with production limited to just 5,000 units.

Original story follows:

Samsung has launched limited edition models of its flagships with Batman and Iron Man branding, and it now looks like Chinese manufacturer Meizu is following suit with its upcoming Star Trek edition of the M3E. Leaked images of the phone reveal the Starfleet insignia on the back of the phone, as well as a custom launcher with backgrounds and icons from the franchise.

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3 weeks ago

Corning's Gorilla Glass SR+ is coming to a wearable near you

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After launching Gorilla Glass 5 for smartphones earlier this year, Corning is now turning its attention to the wearable segment with Gorilla Glass SR+. Corning started developing a product under "Project Phire" last year, aiming to come up with a glass substrate that was as durable as Gorilla Glass 4 and as scratch resistant as sapphire, which is used in traditional luxury watches. Gorilla Glass SR+ is the culmination of those efforts.

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3 weeks ago

Coolpad Mega 2.5D review: An inexpensive performer for the Indian market

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Coolpad is a Chinese brand offering excellent smartphones at impressively low prices.

The quick take

The recent deluge of smartphones in India under $125/₹8,500 is changing the way we perceive budget smartphones, and upping the consumer expectations. Once ready to compromise for a basic smartphone experience, budget smartphone customers are now spoilt for choice with manufacturers pushing the boundaries with devices that have decent specifications sheet, good looks, as well as a capable camera.

Coolpad is one such brand offering feature-laden smartphones at affordable prices like we saw with the Coolpad Note 3 — 3GB RAM and a fingerprint sensor for cheap. Focused at the selfie-loving crowd, the Coolpad Mega 2.5D is a delightful looking phone with a pretty good overall experience for customers on a budget.

The Good

  • Impressive design
  • Good display
  • Decent selfies for a budget smartphone

The Bad

  • Middling performance
  • Average battery life

About this review

I used the Indian retail variant of the Coolpad Mega 2.5D that ran Cool UI running on top of Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 out of the box. For most of the time, I used it with an Airtel 4G SIM in Delhi NCR. During my two weeks of usage, I received a minor system update with no specific changelog.

Coolpad Mega 2.5D Design

For a budget device, the Coolpad Mega 2.5D impresses on the first glance. Despite the plastic casing, Coolpad has done quite well in the design and construction of the phone making it one of the best looking devices in its price segment.

With the gold metal-colored finish and metal frame on the side, the Mega 2.5D doesn't look cheap in any way and despite sporting a plastic body, the matte finish on the back panel and slightly curved body gives it an unlikely elegance. Of course, as the name suggests, the highlight is the 2.5D curved glass on the front which adds to the overall style and gives it almost a premium look.

One of the understated highlights of the Coolpad Mega 2.5D is its weight, or rather the lack thereof. At just about 140 grams, the smartphone feels really light once you hold it in your hand. Most 5.5-inch devices in the market easily weigh upwards of 150 grams.

Coolpad Mega 2.5D Hardware

Category Features Operating system Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 with Cool UI 8.0 Display 5.5-inch HD (720 x 1280) Processor MediaTek Quad-core 1GHz MT6735P processor RAM 3 GB Internal Storage 16GB, upgradable up to 32GB via a microSD card Battery 2500mAh Camera 8MP primary camera | 8MP secondary camera Dimensions 153 x 76.8 x 7.9 mm Weight 143 grams

Powered by the 1GHz MediaTek MT67355P 64-bit quad-core chipset paired with Mali T720 GPU and 3GB RAM, the Coolpad Mega 2.5D does well on the specifications sheet – similar to other budget smartphones in the segment. In real world usage, the performance is just about average though. While it is decent enough to handle day-to-day tasks, there is a bit of lag here and there – sometimes while performing basic operations or switching between apps. It's a shame because the phone packs in a generous 3GB of RAM.

While playing graphic-intensive games, there is a visible drop in frames and the back panel tends to heat up (rarely though when not gaming). Clearly, if you're a mobile gaming fan, the Mega 2.5D isn't for you.

Although the Mega 2.5D sports 16GB of internal storage, you can expand it using a microSD card. That's only if you're using only one SIM with the phone since the hybrid tray allows you to use two nano SIMs or a combination of one SIM card and a microSD card.

Coolpad Mega 2.5D isn't the fastest phone in the market, but gets along through most everyday tasks. With the specs it boasts of, one would've expected it to fare much better though.

The Coolpad Mega 2.5D sports an impressive 5.5-inch HD display. The color reproduction is accurate and viewing angles are fairly good as well. The text looks sharp, and even outdoors the sunlight legibility is surprisingly high.

The curved glass on the top though is a tad reflective. There are no physical buttons on the Mega 2.5D, and it uses on-screen navigation buttons.

Coolpad Mega 2.5D Software

The Coolpad Mega 2.5D runs on Android Marshmallow 6.0 with the company's proprietary UI, CoolUI 8.0, on top. Like most custom UIs from Chinese OEMs, it doesn't come with an app drawer and several aspects of it are clearly inspired by iOS – like the drop-down search for apps or the control center that comes up on swiping from the bottom, for example.

Honestly, the UI isn't bad and like with most UX paradigms, one gets used to it. However, it's apparent that Cool UI is a significantly heavy UI and pretty much the culprit behind the phone's less than impressive performance. The phone is also painfully slow to boot up, although that's not a showstopper really.

Coolpad Mega 2.5D Battery life

The battery life on the Coolpad Mega 2.5D is just about average. Only with limited use, the 2500mAh battery would last for an entire day. Stretch it a little, and you'd need to run for your charger by evening.

Few other smartphones in the price segment are offering two-day battery life, and although that's not an absolute comparison, customers might want to look elsewhere if this is a primary buying decision. Of course, it's not all bad. Also, the bundled 5V charger can charge the battery to full capacity in under two hours.

Coolpad Mega 2.5D Camera

The Coolpad Mega 2.5D packs in an 8MP rear camera with f/2.2 aperture. The photos from the rear camera are decent and the color reproduction is good enough mostly. Although, you'd notice some washed out photos or the ones with the colors bleeding too frequently.

The front camera though fares better – justifying the focus on selfies in marketing pitch. The Mega 2.5D sports a generous 8MP front camera with 83.6-degrees field of view, that allows you to take great selfies for its price. Most photos are decent and sharp, and that's that. Even indoors, photos turned out to be nice to look at, although with a bit of noise. There's the beauty mode with options to make your skin smooth or slim your face, but most photos with the beauty mode tend to look a bit unnatural.

Coolpad Mega 2.5D Bottom line

The Coolpad Mega 2.5D is no pushover. There are few things going fine for a phone at its price – the impressive design, the decent selfies one could manage, and the overall neat display. Therefore, it's a capable phone let down by just about average performance. There's no fingerprint reader too, mind you.

The Mega 2.5D is company's third budget smartphone in the Indian market after the well-rounded Note 3 and the Note 3 Lite. Clearly, the Coolpad Mega 2.5D is not as impressive as those two, but still makes for a fair option on the table.

Should you buy it? Probably

At ₹6,999 ($105), the Coolpad Mega 2.5D is a good enough budget smartphone with a decent display and acceptable performance. While the selfies are better than most in the segment and it looks stunning, the competition from Xiaomi with the Redmi 3s is tough – with a battery that lasts really long.

Pick up a Mega 2.5D if you're okay with its misses, and really appreciate the positives. Coolpad though will do itself a favor to improve the Cool UI experience because that would take care of most of the mishits with this phone.

See at Amazon

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3 weeks ago

As we await a refresh, Google ends sales of Chromebook Pixel 2015

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With refreshes imminent, there's little need to keep selling a $1300 18-month-old Chromebook.

After discontinuing the lower-end $999 model back in April, Google has taken the axe to the last remaining Chromebook Pixel model it was selling. The higher-end $1299 version of the Chromebook Pixel 2015 is no longer on sale from the Google Store or the handful of retailers that were still selling the prohibitively expensive laptop, and VentureBeat received a statement from Google indicating that it isn't coming back.

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3 weeks ago

The best way to use a Lucky Egg in Pokémon Go!

How do I gain an extra level or two in a hurry in Pokémon Go with your Lucky Egg?

As you start to reach Level 9 or higher in Pokémon Go, you'll start to see a Lucky Egg or two in your Items list. These can also be bought from the Shop, but no matter how you get one you need to use them to their fullest possible extent. A Lucky Egg will double all of the XP you get for 30 minutes, so you want to spend that time wisely. There are a couple of strategies floating around for getting the most out of Lucky Egg, but this one seems to work best so far.

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3 weeks ago

Best cases for Galaxy Note 5

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What's the best case for Galaxy Note 5? Here are a few of our favorites!

Your Galaxy Note 5 is a big phone, which means more phone to love, but more phone to break. Protect it with a decent case - from rugged, armored types to thin, low-profile cases, there are a ton to choose from.

We've curated the best of the best, just for you.

UPDATE: We're constant researching the absolute best cases for the Galaxy Note 5. This latest update on August 30th, 2016, represents the best of the best.

Abacus 24-7 wallet case

Abacus 24-7

Your Note 5 is a BIG phone and there isn't much sense in carrying around both a wallet and your phone, so combine the two with the Abacus 24-7 wallet case!

You have three spots for cards and a little slot for some cash, so grab your essentials and ditch the extra bulk in your pockets. The Abacus 24-7 is made of synthetic leather, which makes it nice and flexible, so folding it back into a stand is easy and hands-free viewing is comfortable – you won't have to constantly adjust.

Comes in black, brown, blue, or purple.

For around $10, you really can't go wrong with this one from Abacus.

See at Amazon

Ringke Fusion Crystal

Ringke Fusion

The Ringke Fusion comes out on top for a solid clear case for the Galaxy Note 5. Not only is this hard case slim, but it shows off the Note 5's good looks through its transparent plastic. Although it features a scratch resistant coating, it's likely you're going to pick up some imperfections on the case over time, but better on the case than your Note! You'll find TPU plugs on the bottom that keep debris from infiltrating your ports, and a bonus screen protector is included in case you haven't picked one up yet.

See at Amazon

Poetic Affinity

Poetic Affinity

Poetic's hybrid Affinity case has a hard polycarbonate back with a TPU bumper around the edge, so you're covered from bumps, dings, scratches, and drops all around. The raised bezel on the front prevents your Note 5's screen from getting scratched if you lay it face-down, and you still have access to all buttons, ports, and the S Pen.

You can also add a sense of your personal style to your Affinity, since you can opt for black, blue, pink, or clear TPU.

The TPU bumper around the edge of your Note 5 is ridged, allowing you to securely grip the phone and making it pretty hard for it to slide out of your hand.

If you want to maintain your Note 5's natural beauty, but also want a protective case with a little something extra in terms of style, go for the Poetic Affinity.

See at Amazon

SUPCASE Heavy Duty Case and Holster

SUPCASE Heavy Duty

Just because you want superior protection for your Galaxy Note 5 doesn't mean you need to drop big bucks on an OtterBox. SUPCASE's Heavy Duty Combo provides that next-level protection at a fraction of the price. A built-in screen protector shields your display from scratches and the polycarbonate shell with a flexible TPU enhances grip while handling impacts like a boss. Its rugged design looks tough in any color — especially matched with the included belt clip holster.

See at Amazon

Spigen Slim Armor Case

Spigen Slim Armor

Rocking a built-in kickstand and dual-layers that do a lot for impact control, the Spigen Slim Armor Case for Galaxy Note 5 is a great choice for protection and functionality. The TPU core helps to enhance grip around the edges while the smooth polycarbonate shell looks and feels great in the hand. While side buttons are raised, they sit flush with the rest of the case to retain a slim design. The Slim Armor Case comes in gunmetal, champagne gold, metal slate, or violet.

See at Amazon

Urban Armor Gear Case

UAG

Offering a rugged design that doesn't bulk up your Galaxy Note 5 any more than it should is the Urban Armor Gear Case. This slim hard cover snaps around your new Note and features a feather-light way to protect against even some of the harshest drops. Constructed to meet military standards, the hybrid design features both TPU and polycarbonate materials fused into one solid solution. There's plenty of texture to enjoy on this case along with reinforced corners for optimal impact control. Colors include black, clear, gray, orange, red, and white.

See at Amazon

Spigen Ultra Hybrid

Spigen Ultra Hybrid

The Spigen Ultra Hybrid case is the perfect blend of a hard polycarbonate back and flexible TPU bumper that makes for excellent protection from bumps and scratches and helps to prevent shattering, thanks to the shock-absorbing air cushions in each of its corners.

The best part of this clear case is how well it fits – it feels sturdy and strong on your Note 5 and fits very snugly, so you don't feel your phone moving around inside.

Don't worry about the smooth polycarbonate either – the TPU bumper is textured and won't slip out of your hand.

If you're after a well-fitting clear case that amps up protection better than some other clear cases, then check out the Spigen Ultra Hybrid.

See at Amazon

Caseology Wavelength Series

Caseology Wavelength

This unique hybrid cover has grip written all over it. The Caseology Wavelength Series Case for Galaxy Note 5 adds a bit of flare to your device while shielding it from impacts and scratches. There's a durable polycarbonate frame that's smooth to the touch, but the matching TPU that surrounds most of it is what adds a firm grip when held. Side buttons are raised through the plastic frame for an easier press, while the camera and ports are left open. The Wavelength Case comes in black, pink, navy blue, or mint.

See at Amazon

What's on your Note 5?

Are you using a great case for your Note 5 that I didn't mention? Let us know in the comments below!

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3 weeks ago

Pebble introduces Quick Looks, Fast Actions and more

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Pebble has introduced version 4.0 of its Pebble Time software focusing on speed and making it work better for you. From a faster launcher with app glances to an all-new Pebble Health app, there is a whole lot of changes in this update. The new health app brings redesigned cards that give quick glances to your stats, and from there you can dive deeper into the stats if you want. The timeline has quick views and the 4-button quick launch lets you access your favorite apps in just seconds.

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3 weeks ago

Where to buy the Galaxy Note 7 in the U.S.

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Where to buy the Galaxy Note 7 in the U.S.

The Galaxy Note 7 is here, and it can be yours from the major U.S. carriers.

It doesn't come as much of a surprise that the Galaxy Note 7's going on sale from major carriers in the U.S. — with Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular all getting in on the game. You get the same phone from all of the carriers, leaving your decision up to how the network will work for you, and what incentives it can offer with the purchase.

Here's a breakdown of all the details for buying the Galaxy Note 7 from the major U.S. carriers.

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3 weeks ago

Five must-have games for your HTC Vive

Consider this your HTC Vive starter pack.

Playing a game in desktop-class virtual reality is unique. There's an emotional component that's tough to describe no matter how talented you are with words. The way your whole body moves to dodge the projectile headed your way, or that feeling when adrenaline kicks in and the music in the background becomes the choreographer for everything you're doing in the game. It's intense and fantastic, but the right game can take this experience to an entirely new level.

Here are five games you must have for the HTC Vive, no matter what kind of gamer you are.

Read more at VR Heads!

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3 weeks ago

The end of Nexus: This year's Google phones to forge new path

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Chrome Android statue

The 'Nexus' brand is going away, but the biggest deal here is the large change in software experience that will accompany the new branding.

This year's Google-branded Android phones will not use the "Nexus" name, Android Central understands, indicating a hard break from the past six years of flagship devices for the company. The widely expected HTC-built handsets — referred to as "Nexus" phones in recent online leaks — will instead come to market under a different brand name, according to several people familiar with Google's plans.

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3 weeks ago

Sonos opens its platform to Spotify Connect and Amazon's Alexa

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Your Sonos hardware is about to become a lot more useful.

Sonos has announced that the company will be opening up to Spotify Connect beginning in October, allowing you to control your music from within the Spotify app. This is a huge change from the way that Sonos has operated to date by pushing all music management through its own controller app. Using the Spotify app on both mobile and desktop, you'll soon be able to select the songs you want to play, the speakers you want to play them through, without having to bounce between various apps.

You and your guests will now be able to open the Spotify app and change the music instead of having to download the Sonos controller.

Sonos says that more than 50% of its users are also using Spotify with Sonos hardware. With people having friends over and entertaining using their Sonos speakers, guests will now be able to open their Spotify app and change the music instead of having to download the Sonos controller and set it up. As part of these changes, a future update will allow you to no longer need to be on the same wireless network as your speakers to control it. You'll be able to control what is playing, and how loud it plays, from a cellular connection as well.

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3 weeks ago

Best GPS trackers for kids

Best GPS trackers for kids

What are the best GPS trackers for kids?

It can be difficult to keep track of your children, and it can also be hard to gauge when it's appropriate to get them a cell phone or something a bit more mature in order to keep in contact with them.

GPS trackers are fantastic, potentially life-saving tools that help keep track of your little ones, so you won't have to worry about where they are. Just have them wear their GPS tracker like a watch, and the rest is up to your watchful eyes.

Here are a few great options to check out if you're looking for the best GPS trackers for your kids!

KOREX Waterproof Babysitter Smartwatch

KOREX Waterproof Babysitter Smartwatch

Waterproof, reliable, and programmed with real-time GPS tracking, the KOREX Waterproof Babysitter Smartwatch is a cost-efficient tracker to consider if you're looking for a wearable GPS device for your kids.

The KOREX comes with a plethora of features, including smooth two way talking, waterproofing, immediate SOS emergency alert, and a Smart Alarm for homework reminders, waking up in the morning, and more. The smart watch even comes with an Electric Fence feature in which parents will be notified if their children leave a specifically indicated secure area.

By using two tracking methods – GPS+LBS – parents are able to get a more accurate reading on precisely where their child may be. Parents can even use a remote listening option to simply hear where their child is to check up on them without being too intrusive.

The KOREX can be set up with up to 16 contacts, so your child will be able to get in touch with numerous people if something goes wrong, and if you're worried about a stranger reaching out to your child via the watch, the KOREX can only dial and receive calls from numbers already programmed into the device.

The GPS tracker comes in two different colors: baby pink and powder blue, and will only work with a SIM card that supports 2G Gaud-band.

See at Amazon

Tinitell

Tinitell

Stylish looking with a simple, modern design, the Tinitell GPS tracker is an innovative new smartband that worked effortlessly with an app from your smartphone.

Tinitell isn't only an interesting-looking, modern device, it's also an incredibly durable and resilient GPS tracker. Tinitell is designed to take some abuse, including splashing water and dirt (although the device itself isn't 100% waterproof by any means).

With your smartphone, you can connect and monitor your child with a precise GPS tracker, and you can even call your child using the Tinitell app. The smartband can have up to 12 contacts listed, so they never have to worry about being stranded without anyone to reach out to if they're in trouble. To make a call, all they have to do is press the front of the band, say the name of the person they'd like to contact, and that's it!

The Tinitell comes in four different, vibrant colors, including aqua, coral, charcoal, and indigo. You can use a Ting SIM card with your Tinitell for around $12 a month.

See at Tinitell

GBD-GPS Tracker Kids Smartwatch

GBD-GPS Tracker Kids Smartwatch

With all-day tracking, three-way positioning, and even an additional fitness tracker element, the GBD-GPS Tracker Kids Smartwatch aims to make monitoring your children as effortless (and as accurate!) as possible.

Using a micro-SIM card, the GBD-GPS tracker is not only able to make two-way calls, but also immediate SOS emergency calls if your child comes in contact with unexpected danger. While some GPS tracking devices use one or two ways of triangulating your child's location, the GBD-GPS uses GPS, AGPS, and LBS positioning to paint a more accurate picture of where your child may be.

The GBD tracker allows parents to erect an Electric Fence, giving your child boundaries that will set off an alarm on your smartphone if crossed. If need be, parents can also call their child on their smartwatch for easy two-way talking, and can even use the app to set remote alarms and reminders for their children.

The GBD-GPS comes in three neon colors, including blue, green, and bright pink, so there's a color option to match almost every child's favorites.

See at Amazon

LG GizmoPal

 LG GizmoPal

Reliable, well-priced, and easy to setup and use, the LG GizmoPal is a popular GPS tracker for kids that won't break the bank.

The LG GizmoPal is a simple GPS tracker that works in tandem with your smartphone and uses a voice clock that calls out the time rather than have it displayed on a watch face. The device communicates through beeps and sounds and doesn't have a screen, meaning it's more of a simple accessory than a traditional watch.

Parents are able to call their children, set reminders, and monitor where their child is throughout the day using the GizmoPal's compatible app. Parents are even able to set up their own Electric Fences which will set off an alarm if its boundaries are broken at any time.

Unfortunately, the GizmoPal only comes in one design and can only store up to four contacts. It comes in a powdered and royal blue design with a cartoon car and truck pattern all over the front of the GPS tracker.

See at Amazon

dokiWatch

dokiWatch

Though the dokiWatch is designed for children 6 to 12, its sleek and modern looking design, high-quality, reliability, and wide range of color options make it a stylish (and incredibly practical) GPS tracker for people of all ages.

The dokiWatch claims that it's the world's most advanced 3G smartwatch for kids, and there's a lot to support that statement. The dokiWatch combines precise GPS, GSM, and Wi-Fi tracking technology with video call capabilities, voice calling, one-way text messages, fitness tracking, and so much more.

The smartwatch automatically uploads location data directly to your smartphone, meaning you'll never have to guess where your child is. Video and voice calling is almost instantaneous, while parents can remotely schedule their child's appointments and reminders from the dokiWatch's compatible app.

With the dokiWatch, children can send out SOS alerts if they're in immediate danger to their preset contacts, including their location and a recording of their surroundings. Parents can even enable Class Mode which will remove the distraction of the device while their child is in class by deactivating it at specific times.

See at Doki

What's your favorite?

Is there a GPS tracker you've been using that you're extremely happy with? Please let us know which model is your favorite in the comments and we'll be sure to check it out!

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3 weeks ago

SwiftKey says sync errors fixed in latest update

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The now Microsoft-owned keyboard app for Android is still going through some growing pains.

Note: SwiftKey has pushed another update claiming that the sync service issue is fixed and is re-enabling number/email and @ predictions. The change log also says all previously learned predictions from those types have been deleted and can be relearned.

SwiftKey had an issue arise in July with some users getting the predictions of other people, including names and email addresses. Today, SwiftKey has pushed out an update claiming the "sync service is fixed."

SwiftKey disabled a number of syncing and prediction features in late July while they worked to fix the issue. While some features appear to be working again with the most recent update, it appears some learning features still throw errors. Email and number predictions have been turned back on, so you can start repopulating those portions of your predictions library.

The fixes may be in, but we're not back to normal just yet. If you account was affected, are you seeing any predictions from your old library? Are you still seeing any extra languages? Tell us in the comments below!

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