As American Education Collapses, Democracys Foundation Shakes

They know nothing about art. They know nothing about history. They know nothing about philosophy.”>

And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Deeply depressed by the rise of Donald Trump and fearful for our nations future, I recently found myself reciting the last lines of Matthew Arnolds Dover Beach, first published in 1861. Arnold was somewhat premature in imagining the worlds descent into chaos and strife. But the poems chilling metaphors return to us now as an augury of Americas political crack-up.

What makes the poem even more illuminating for these dreadful times is that Arnold was convinced that the clash of ignorant armies would be brought about (at least in part) by bad education. In addition to his standing as one of Victorian Britains greatest poets and cultural critics, Arnold was also a serious education reformer. For 35 years he held a day job as an inspector of schools, eventually rising to the position of Chief Inspector of Schools for all of Britain. He went on extended visits to several European countries to study their education systems. In his influential education reports and in some of his critical essays he scorned the individualistic, child centered, and haphazard pedagogy prevalent in British schools at the time (championed by, among others, John Stuart Mill.) Instead, Arnold proposed that government schools be required to teach a core curriculum of liberal, humanistic studies similar to the French schools he had come to admire.

The primary aim of education in an industrial democracy, Arnold believed, was to introduce all childrenrich and poor alike to the achievements of western civilization and culture, which he famously defined as the best which has been said and thought. Yet there was nothing elitist about Arnolds approach to learning. With the rising demands for equality and full civic participation of the working classes, Arnold was confident that the masses were capable of mastering Britains rich cultural heritage. He feared that without this shared national spirit the English people would be unable to overcome narrow sectional and economic interests and support the common good. Modern democracy might then degenerate into violence, confusion and the clash of ignorant armies.

The political problem that Arnold wrestled with all his life now haunts America. Truth is the first casualty of this years presidential election from hell; loss of respect for the nations republican heritage is the second. Heres one example among many:

At a raucous campaign rally in South Carolina last February Donald Trump was riffing on one of his favorite themeshow he would defeat Islamic terrorism overnight if elected president. In that context he brought up General Jack Pershings success in suppressing the 1903 Moro rebellion in the Philippines. But Trump falsely claimed that Pershing ordered the execution of dozens of Muslim prisoners with bullets dipped in pigs blood, thereby slandering a great American soldier as a war criminal. Trumps story was subsequently proven to be a big fat lie by fact checkers and historians of the period.

Never mind, forget facts, this is morning in America circa 2016. At a campaign rally in California two months later Trump repeatedalmost verbatimhis narrative about General Pershings execution of Muslim prisoners. Trumps supporters erupted with wild cheers and bellowing.

Ignorant armies, indeed.

If he were with us now, Matthew Arnold would have minced no words about this spectacle. And he might have asked what had gone wrong with American education, which he admired in his own day. Heres the answer to Arnolds hypothetical question:

A half century ago there began a pedagogical upheaval in the nations schools, a revolution from the top carried out by self-described progressives, that eventually succeeded in stripping away any semblance of a coherent grade-by-grade curriculum. Professional educators (most of them at least) reclaimed romantic theories of child development dating all the way back to Rousseau and powerfully reinforced in the 1930s by the American philosopher John Dewey.

Henceforth the nations Ed schools instructed prospective K-12 teachers that children were capable of constructing their own knowledge. The classroom teacher should be a guide on the side, instead of a sage on the stage. In many American public schools it was now deemed more important for children to learn how to learn rather than to accumulate mere facts and useless knowledge.

The resurrection of the child-centered pedagogy that Mathew Arnold railed against in his own lifetime turned classroom instruction upside down, disrupting the transmission of civic values and traditions from one generation to the next. Noting the old adage about the inmates taking over the asylum, the writer David Solway recently mused that in the era of progressive education it is the children [who] have taken over the crche.

Three decades worth of test surveys conducted by the National Assessment of Education Progress, considered the gold standard of student assessments, and other testing agencies have amply demonstrated one of the consequences of the progressive education revolutionthe astonishing ignorance of history and civics by younger and older Americans alike. By the end of the 1990s, two thirds of high school seniors were unable to identify the 50-year period in which the Civil War was fought; half didnt know in which half century World War I took place. More than half could not name the three branches of government. A majority had no idea what the Gettysburg address was all about. Fifty two percent chose Germany, Japan or Italy as U.S. allies in World War II.

Several years ago Newsweek asked a sample of 1000 voters to take the same test that new immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship must pass. One third of the respondents couldnt name the vice president and half didnt know that the first 10 amendments to the Constitution are called the Bill of Rights. Only one third knew that the Constitution is considered the nations highest law.

We cant say we werent warned about this looming debacle for the political process. Indeed, the first alarm bells sounded even before the ink was dry on the signatures attached to the first copy of the U.S. Constitution. The story has it that as Benjamin Franklin came out of Convention Hall in Philadelphia he was approached by a woman well known in local society circles. Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy? the lady asked. A republic, if you can keep it, Franklin replied.

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The founders feared that a struggle among the former colonies competing economic and regional interest groups might undermine the delicate constitutional framework they had just created. To counter the threat of factionalism, they established a system of checks and balances. But they also advocated for a national curriculum that would teach future generations the historical knowledge needed to keep the new republic. Such a system of schooling was necessary, said Thomas Jefferson, so that childrens memories may here be stored with the most useful facts from Grecian, European, Roman, European and American history. (For Jefferson there was no such thing as mere facts.) Constitutional delegate Benjamin Rush from Pennsylvania penned an essay proposing a curriculum for all elementary schools in order to create republican machines and maintain the common good.

A half century later, with the union under threat of being torn apart by sectional rivalries, Abraham Lincoln called for the nations schools to renew their commitment to a common republican curriculum. In his Lyceum speech, the future president assigned schools the task of teaching children the American credo of solidarity, freedom, and civic peace above all other principles. Let these values, Lincoln said, be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in collegeslet it be written in Primmers [sic], spelling books and almanacs.

In 1987 the scholar E.D. Hirsch Jr. issued an eloquent prophesy about the consequences of allowing the curriculum to go off the rails. Like Matthew Arnold, Hirsch was a literary critic turned education reformer. His first education book, Cultural Literacy, warned that the abandonment of teaching essential knowledge in the schools would be disastrous for Americas well-being and cultural cohesion. Cultural Literacy became a surprise best-seller that year, appearing on the New York Times list for 26 weeks. One reason for the books instant popularity was that it arrived at a perfectly opportune moment. Four years earlier, the Reagan administration had released A Nation at Risk, a widely publicized report documenting the mediocre education that most American children were receiving. The report set off shock waves among parents. Many now saw Hirschs call for restoring a coherent grade-by-grade curriculum as a possible answer.

Hirsch put the blame for the meltdown of the schools squarely on the education progressives, including John Dewey. The great philosophers mistake, according to Hirsch, was to assume that early education need not be tied to specific content and too hastily reject[ing] the piling up of information. This error was particularly tragic for poor and minority children. By encouraging an early education that is free of `unnatural bookish knowledge and of `inappropriate pressure to exert hard effort, Hirsch wrote, progressive education virtually ensures that children from well-educated homes who happen to be primed with academically relevant background knowledge which they bring with them to school, will learn faster than disadvantaged children who do not bring such knowledge with them and do not receive it at school.

Amazingly, 1987 produced yet another prophetic and best-selling education book, The Closing of the American Mind by Alan Bloom, a previously unknown University of Chicago professor. Blooms book, subtitled How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Todays Students, exposed the unraveling of academic standards at American universities. Eventually it sold more than a million copies, an astonishing number for a text full of references to philosophers such as Plato and Rousseau.

A million customers didnt buy The Closing of the American Mind for its insights into Plato. Blooms opus went viral on the literary lists because it constituted a passionate Jaccuse from inside the academy about the betrayal of the ideals of the American university by cowardly professors and administrators. As Hirsch did for K-12 education, Bloom spotlighted the evisceration of the core curriculum and the subsequent crisis in the humanities. Survey courses in philosophy, literature and American history were disappearing from course catalogues, which meant that young people were now graduating from prestigious universities without any familiarity with, say, the works of Shakespeare, Rousseau or the Founding Fathers. Even the most select students, Bloom wrote, know so much less, are so much more cut off from the tradition, are so much slacker intellectually that they make their predecessors look like prodigies of culture.

The appearance of these two widely popular books at the same time led to some hope that the dumbing down of American education might finally be stanched. One promising sign was that Hirsch was able to create the Core Knowledge Foundation, located in Charlottesville Virginia, home of the University of Virginia, where Hirsch was an English professor. The foundation created a knowledge based curriculum that was soon adopted by over one thousand schools (public and charter) around the country. Parents also purchased a series of the foundations guides outlining what children should have learned by the end of each grade.

Nevertheless, Hirsch could not have anticipated the level of vitriol directed at him when he crossed the border separating the universities and their ed-school affiliates and dared to criticize the education professors for the wrongheaded training they were providing to K-12 teachers. The ed-school establishment turned on Hirsch as an interloper, branding him a reactionary, an elitist, and a defender of white privilege. (Actually Hirsch wasand still isa liberal Democrat.)

The official journal of the American Educational Research Association, the professional organization representing the nations education professoriate, published an unprecedented 8,000 word diatribe attacking Hirschs work, which included this remarkable accusation: Hirsch minimizes a history of racial and gender bias as factors in differential educational and economic achievement. He dismisses complex theories of social class reproduction, and he demotes the importance of pedagogies that encourage the construction and negotiation of meaning across communities of difference. He insists that teachers and the texts are the proper bearers and students the proper recipients of meaning and refuses to understand the importance of meaning as a negotiated product in a multicultural society.

Assuming this passage could be translated into standard English, it would actually prove that everything Hirsch had written about the disgrace of the Ed schools was correct.

Blooms book on higher education also stimulated some informed debate for a while, including a pushback by alumni shocked by his revelations about the lowering of academic standards. A few brave faculty members fought a rear guard action to preserve universalism, western civilization and high academic standards, but they were soon marginalized and denounced as racists and fascists by their colleagues, many of whom were veterans of the destructive 1960s radicalism. Bloom too was viciously attacked by an army of offended liberal and leftist professors for his alleged elitist and anti-democratic ideas. In Harpers the political theorist Benjamin Barber called Bloom a philosopher despot.

Through these attacks, the mandarins of progressive education were able to maintain control of the academic content (that is, no academic content) in both the K-12 schools and the universities.

Those of us who thought that American education had finally reached its nadir by the end of the 1990s hadnt seen anything yet. We had focused our critical attention almost exclusively on the unforced errors committed by teachers, school administrators, and ed-school professors. We werent prepared for the coming of the millennials, a generation like no other. We werent paying enough attention to the lifestyle changes young people were now experiencing because of the new world of social media and the internet. The baleful effects of this digital-age revolution on young minds was entirely independent of the quality of the formal schooling they were receiving.

The Dumbest Generation, by Emory University English professor Mark Bauerline, brought us up to date with reams of depressing data. Along with the works of Hirsch and Bloom, Bauerlines 2008 book is essential for understanding the stupid election of 2016. The books title is no mere epithet. The Dumbest Generation is a thoroughly researched examination of the intellectual habits and tastes of the millennials, revealing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the countrys education collapse has reached a new and even more dangerous level. According to a host of objective national surveys, these young people have not only been shortchanged of essential cultural literacy in the schools, like previous generations, but they now disdain intellectual curiosity and the culture of books altogether. For this generation theres no need to read any serious historical and cultural texts, since anything worth knowing can always be Googled. Bauerline makes us see that when the distractions of digital age social media were added to the breakdown of the curriculum in the schools the results for our society and our democracybecome doubly toxic.

No cohort in human history has opened such a fissure between its material conditions and its intellectual attainments. None has experienced so many technological enhancements and yielded so little progress, Bauerline writes. This is the paradox of the dumbest generation. For the young American, life has never been so yielding, goods so plentiful, schooling so accessible and liberties so copious. The material gains are clear But its a shallow advent. As the survey research shows, knowledge and skills havent kept pace, and the intellectual habits that complement them are slipping The mental equipment of the young falls short of their media, money, e-gadgets, and career plans.

Even the objective surveys cited by Bauerline cant quite capture the everyday reality of this fracture. Something more personal and up close with the millennials is needed. So consider this observation by David Gelernter, a prominent professor of computer sciences at Yale University:

Im lucky to be at one of the best colleges in the world. Our students are as smart as any in the world. They work very hard to get here My students today are much less obnoxious, much more likable than I and my friends used to be, but they are so ignorant that its hard to accept how ignorant they are. You tell yourself stories; its very hard to grasp that the person youre talking to, who is bright, articulate, advisable, interested, and doesnt know who Beethoven is. Had no view looking back at the history of the 20th centuryjust sees a fog, a blank. Has the vaguest idea of who Winston Churchill was or why he mattered. And maybe has no image of Teddy Roosevelt . They know nothing about art. They know nothing about history. They know nothing about philosophy.

Is it any wonder that the millennials described by Professors Bauerline and Gelernter overwhelmingly supported a 74-year-old self-proclaimed socialist who got them to believe that making a new American revolution with goodies for all would be as easy as pie?

The chickens have now come home to roost from the progressives halfcentury assault on teaching knowledge and academic content in the classroom. The obliteration of the past, the rejection of the hallowed American idea that there exist self-evident truths, has inevitably left us with a presidential election as a fact-free zone and a voting public less knowledgeable than ever. This is a tragedy for the country. It will soon turn out to be particularly concerning for Americas conservative movementwhats left of it after this horrific campaign.

I have admired the NeverTrump conservatives and neoconservatives bravely calling out Donald Trump and his minions for their lies, cynicism and betrayal of American values. In a very dark time, I have found some consolation in being able to praise writers such as John Podhoretz, William Kristol, Kevin Williamson, George Will, Bret Stephens and many othersplus the conservative magazines Commentary, the Weekly Standard and National Reviewfor continuing to tell the brutal truth about the Trump campaigns underlying barbarism and anti-Americanism.

Nevertheless, I would fault the NeverTrump conservatives in one area. It is that they havent yet fully explored how much this years political debacle has been influenced by the meltdown of American schooling. They must know that a true American conservatism can only be sustained with citizens and voters who understand our past and appreciate the historic traditions of the republic. And those habits of mind can only be taught in the schools through a planned curriculum.

Its understandable that these conservatives would have qualms about suggesting that those voting for the wrong candidate are dumbwhich can then be seen as intellectual snobbery. There has also been an unpleasant tradition in western thought, exemplified by Nietzche and his American epigone H.L. Mencken, which has used the alleged stupidity of the masses as an excuse for abandoning democracy altogether.

While being aware of that danger, there is still no escaping the connection between lowering a democratic societys intellectual standards and lowering the expectations for those vying for its leadership. Our founding fathers understood this connection. Matthew Arnold understood it all too well. He knew that without immersing future generations in the best that has been said and thought many will be tempted to choose leaders who represent the worst that has been said and thought.


BlackBerrys low-end DTEK50 offers productivity and little else

BlackBerry’s DTEK50 is unfortunately named.
Image: jason cipriani/mashable

I have so many mixed feelings about BlackBerrys DTEK50, a $300 Android-powered phone.

Im disappointed the company went with a reference design from a manufacturing partner for the hardware, while at the same time excited to use a device that marries Android with BlackBerrys software suite.

As a former diehard BlackBerry user, its hard not to root for BlackBerry to strike it hot with its move over to Android. Unfortunately, a recycled hardware design fails to rekindle my excitement for all things BlackBerry.

Unboxing the BlackBerry DTEK50 for review on @Mashable in the near future.

A video posted by Jason Cipriani (@mrcippy) on

Im still in love with the Hub

For some reason I cant begin to explain, I still really enjoy using the BlackBerry Hub. The Hub is where all of your emails, text messages, call log, Slack, Facebook, Twitter, and who knows what else are combined into one, overloaded stream of notifications.

The simplicity of opening a single app and having access to nearly my entire online existence, pending alerts and messages awaiting my attention is something Ive enjoyed since BB10 was a thing.

The problem with the current Hubs implementation is its full of bugs.

The problem with the current Hubs implementation is its full of bugs. Tapping the compose button followed by Text Message was like clicking Googles Im Feeling Lucky button you just dont know where youre going to end up. Sometimes it would do what I expected, which is create a new text message thread and wait for me to select a contact. Other times it would go to a random text thread, or back to the home screen, and on a few occasions it would loop back to the Hubs main screen.

The BlackBerry DTEK50 runs Android.

Image: Jason cipriani/mashable

Outside of the Hub, BlackBerry tweaks Android just enough to make you aware youre not using a completely stock Android device. The app drawer puts your apps, widgets and shortcuts to common tasks (adding a contact, compose email, etc.) in the same place.

Apps with widgets will have three-dots just below the icon on your home screen, indicating you can tap and swipe up on the icon to view a widget. According to BlackBerry, this is done to help keep users home screens clutter-free while maintaining a level of privacy by not permanently displaying personal information.

Is that an Idol 4 in your hand?

The biggest downside to the DTEK50 (outside of its name) is that its not a unique design. For the DTEK50, a hardware manufacturer came up with a generic phone design, shopped it around to a few different phone companies, who then customized and tweaked different aspects.

Look at Alcatels Idol 4, and you will think its a DTEK50. Or is it if you look at a DTEK50 youll think its an Idol 4? I forget.

The biggest aesthetic difference between the two devices is on the back. Instead of using a glass back as Alcatel did, BlackBerry used a rubber back making it easier to grip (thank you!).

Image: jason cipriani/mashable

The Idol 4 and DTEK50 also share some of the same interface design elements, such as the power off menu that displays Restart, Power off and Airplane mode.

For those that care about specs, the DTEK50 has a 5.2-inch 1080p display. Its easy to view in direct sunlight, and looks just as good as any 1080p smartphone display on the market. The phone fits comfortably in your hand, aided by the previously mentioned rubber back.

The DTEK50 even has the same circle side button as the Alcatel Idol 4.


Inside is a 2,610 mAh battery with support for Quick Charge 2.0, 3GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and microSD support up to 2TB. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor provides enough power to carry out everyday tasks like email and Facebook, but dont expect the DTEK50 to excel at gaming.

As for battery life, I was able to sneak in a full day of use, but only barely. You will need to charge the device nightly, or take advantage of its quick charge capabilities if you plan on going out after a long days work.

Whats in a name?

According to BlackBerry, names are important and DTEK50 is a symbol of that importance. The name DTEK50 is inspired by the companys DTEK security app, with the 50 paying respect to the Z10 and Z30 BlackBerry 10 devices of a few years back.

BlackBerry first introduced the DTEK app with the Priv last year. The apps primary focus is to detect any potential security issues and bring them to a users attention.

Image: screenshot: jason cipriani/mashable


For example, if you dont have some sort of lock screen pin or pattern set, the app will advise you on how to set it up in order to better protect your data. Furthermore, you can view a list of installed apps and the various facets of your personal data theyve requested permission to access, along with how many times that data has been accessed.

BlackBerry is advertising the DTEK50 as the most secure Android device available.

Looking at Facebooks requests through DTEK will make you sick, I know it made me nauseous. According to DTEK, in a weeks time Facebook has accessed my location on 519 different occasions. Some of those instances were done when I wasnt even in the Facebook app. A fact I know because DTEK logs the requests and displays it in a convenient timeline.

BlackBerry is advertising the DTEK50 as the most secure Android device available, citing the DTEK app, steps taken during manufacturing and the companys eagerness to push out critical security patches once available. I cant vouch for how secure the device truly is, and even though its easy to shrug off DTEK as a gimmicky app, the ability to view how often your personal data is being accessed is enlightening and welcome.

A device built for a specific type of user

Image: jason cipriani/mashable

On paper and in use, the DTEK50 isnt a phone thats going to draw a massive amount of new users. Its a mid-range phone meant for BlackBerry loyalists whove grown to love and rely upon BlackBerrys productivity apps. In that regard, the DTEK50 is a success.

Triaging my email and managing my calendar on the DTEK50 had a familiar feeling, and I rather enjoyed it. But then I would do things like take a photo and it would come out grainy and somewhat blurry, and I was reminded of the fact Im using a BlackBerry.

Despite BlackBerry giving it a solid effort, the DTEK50 just isnt a device built for mainstream users. Dont believe me? Just look at the name. DTEK50 is not a consumer-friendly name, lending itself to marketing materials and billboards.

This is a very niche device built for a niche set of users, most of which work for big corporations or the government.

Still, at $300 its hard to beat what the DTEK50 has to offer. Although, you could spend another $100 and get something like the OnePlus 3 or the ZTE Axon 7, both of which blow the latest BlackBerry away.

BlackBerry DTEK50

The Good

The BlackBerry Hub still rocks Inexpensive

The Bad

Crappy camera Uninspired design Terrible name

The Bottom Line

Even diehard BlackBerry fans may not care for this mediocre phone. Unless you really, really care about security.


The new Snapchat glasses are surprisingly affordable

Image: snapchat

After months of rumors, we now know the Snapchat glasses are real.

The company has officially introduced Spectacles, its Snapchat-connected wearable, that is set to go on sale later this year. The good news for Snapchat fans, though, is that the glasses will be surprisingly affordable.

Snap Inc., the Snapchat-maker’s new name, hasn’t said exactly when Spectacles will go on sale but we know they will be priced at $129.99.

While that’s still a decent chunk of change, as far as wearables go, it’s pretty reasonable. It’s less than many wrist-worn wearables like Fitbit’s $149.95 Charge 2 tracker, and significantly cheaper than other glasses products. When Google Glass launched in 2013, it cost $1,500.

Granted, Spectacles isn’t an augmented reality product, as many thought it might be, and the fact that it’s primarily a camera helps keep the cost down. But, with wireless charging along with Wi-FI and Bluetooth connectivity, it’s not exactly light on features either.

The right price point could make all the difference for Snap Inc., which is just starting to branch out into products beyond its flagship app. Given that the app is most popular among young users, making Spectacles too expensive could prove to be disastrous for the company.

And while it’s still too early to tell if Spectacles will be a success for the company, at least we know the cost won’t be holding many people back.


Motorola’s VerveOnes+ wireles earbuds have potential, but need some work

The Motorola VerveOnes+ wireless earbuds.
Image: jason cipriani/mashable

What a time to be alive! Hot on the heels of Apple banishing the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, wireless headphones and earbuds are sure to garner a lot of attention.

For the past two weeks, Ive been using the $250 Motorola VerveOnes+ wireless earbuds. Theres no cord to be found on the two orange buds. To be clear, the VerveOnes+ arent from the Lenovo owned Motorola. They are from the other Motorola that makes stuff like baby monitors and, through a licensing deal with Binatone, headphones.

During that time, Ive thought I lost one or both earbuds, Ive jammed to the new Vince Staples album, and Ive grown increasingly frustrated with managing the VerveOnes+ connection between multiple devices.

In our new world where iPhones shun the headphone jack, are the VerveOnes+ the wireless headphones you should rock? Most likely not.

Unboxing the Motorola VerveOnes+ wireless earbuds.

A video posted by Jason Cipriani (@mrcippy) on

Earbuds linked

The initial pairing process of the VerveOnes+ to your smartphone or computer is a straightforward affair. Remove the left earbud from the charging case, put it in your ear, listen for a chime and voice stating the earpiece is in pairing mode and then follow the standard pairing procedure on your phone. Then you remove the right earbud, place it in your ear, wait for a soothing voice to tell you Earbuds linked and then you can begin listening to music as you would any other pair of headphones.

The left earbud connects to your device, and the right earbud connects to the left. Meaning, you have to start in this same order every time you put the earbuds in. You can put the right earbud in first, but it just beeps at you letting you know it needs its buddy, the left earbud.

Look ma! No cables!


This is just how most wireless earbuds work right now, using one as the gateway to the music device and the other a second speaker of sorts.

You can remove the right earbud, opting to use only the left as a microphone to take calls on or continue listening to music while still being able to hear your surroundings.

Every time you put the earbuds in, youre given the remaining battery life. When fully charged, the earbuds will provide three hours of playback. A quick top off from the charging case can add up to 12 hours of playback.

Pair, unpair. Connect, reconnect.


The most frustrating part of my time with VerveOnes+ came when using the earbuds in the presence of devices to which I had previously paired the earbuds.

Following the left-earbud-first process with more than one paired device in near proximity (my iPhone and iPad Pro, for example) would either lead to the earbud not connecting at all, or almost always connecting to the device I didnt want to use. The only solution to this was to turn off Bluetooth on the device I wasnt using, place the headphones back in the carrying case for a few seconds, and then start the connection process all over again.

I had to do this dance quite often. On a few occasions after removing the earbuds from my ears and putting them back in a short time later, they would fail to connect to the last device I had connected to them. Placing the VerveOnes+ back in the case and then back in my ears in the right order always did the trick.

Instead of untangling wired headphone cords the bane of my existence when traveling now I have to worry about misplacing a single earbud. Something I can attest to having experienced on a recent trip to California. On two different occasions I had removed one or both earbuds to hear an announcement or order lunch, only to have a feeling of slight panic the entire time the earbud wasnt in my ear or the charging case.

Thankfully, the VerveLife iPhone or Android app will track the location of the last place your headphones were connected to your phone, making it easy to see you lost them at home, and not the office. Too bad you cant play a short, but high volume noise on an earbud to help locate it. A GPS signal does very little good when a tiny earbud is crammed between couch cushions.

Intended places of use


The VerveOnes+ are designed for active users. That is, people who like to workout, run, or ride a bike. They are IP57 for sweat and water resistance.

The company, Im told, is confident the headphones will perform as expected.

After experiencing an issue with constant dropouts and the two earbuds getting out of sync, I reached out to Motorola. According to a company representative, the VerveOnes+ will experience such interference in extremely busy environments like major airports during peak times. Indeed, I was in an airport when the issue was most prominent.

For what its worth, on the return flight home I didnt experience the same issue. The company, Im told, is confident the headphones will perform as expected that is with little to no dropouts or interference in the intended places of use outdoors, at home, [and] at the gym.

Of course, the bulk of my use was in a combination of those environments and I rarely encountered an issue. I found no fault with the sound quality or volume level. If you do want to fine tune the sound, you can do so by tinkering with the companion apps equalizer, which syncs your adjustments to the earbuds.



Having tested the Jaybird Freedom wireless earbuds just a few months ago, coincidentally, during a trip to California, I can say I didnt experience the same dropout issues and connectivity problems when in an airport. Granted, the Jaybirds have a wire connecting the two earbuds whereas the VerveOnes+ are forging ahead into uncharted territories.

Almost ready, but not quite there yet

Image: jason cipriani/mashableJASON CIPRIANI/MASHABLE

Its hard to be overly critical of a device thats designed to get ahead of the current trend, clearing the way for truly wireless earbuds as a mainstream accessory.

If you take the companys stance of providing a quality experience when the VerveOnes+ are used at home or the gym, then the VerveOnes+ deliver. But asking someone to pay $250 for earbuds that might not always provide the best experience based on how many people are around you is a stretch.

Motorola VerveOnes+

The Good

Lightweight, comfortable Portable charger doubles as a carrying case Completely wireless earbuds are just cool

The Bad

Finicky Bluetooth connection Not all that comfortable

The Bottom Line

Completely wireless and waterproof design are the key selling points of an otherwise mediocre pair of earbuds.


Snapchat changes its name to ‘Snap Inc.’

Snapchat’s new Spectacles will allow wearers to record video.
Image: Snap Inc.

Snapchat is losing the “chat.”

The company has been renamed Snap Inc., the Wall Street Journal reported late Friday night. Cleaner, right?

That’s not all: The company will also release video-recording sunglasses called Spectacles this fall. They contain a 115-degree-angle lens that will allow the wearer to record up to 30 seconds of video, a Snap Inc. representative told Mashable, and will cost $129.99. Supplies will be limited, and they’ll come in one-size-fits-all variants of black, teal or coral, the Journal said. Of course, you’ll be able to post your videos directly to the Snapchat app.

Snap Inc. is prepared to move beyond its social-sharing app

The news suggests Snap is stepping up the fight against Facebook, its chief rival. Facebook has invested heavily in virtual reality, and it purchased Oculus VR the biggest name in embarrassing headsets for $2 billion in 2014. Spectacles are a much smaller deal, but they prove that Snap Inc. is prepared to move beyond its social-sharing app and into hardware.

And rather than closing people off from the real world, Spectacles are designed to help them participate in it. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel told the Journal that recording video or taking pictures with a phone puts “a wall in front of your face.” Spectacles, on the other hand, will allow wearers to record without holding anything, so they can really show off that brunch or keg stand.

Tearing down that wall makes a whole lot of sense for Snap. While far fewer people use Snapchat than Facebook overall a reported 150 million every day versus Facebook’s 1.13 billion the app has recently exploded in popularity across age groups, and it’s become known as the place where people share “intimate” or personal content. Facebook is a bit more buttoned-up: you might run into your aunt there, after all.

Snapchat has something else going for it: It’s cool. Young people use it. Its Spectacles don’t look like dorky Google Glass. As for whether it’ll roll out beyond a limited shipment this fall, the company isn’t making any promises.

“Its about us figuring out if it fits into peoples lives and seeing how they like it,” Spiegel told the Journal.


iPhone 7 review: how good can a phone be if the battery doesn’t last even a day?

Two years after the iPhone 6, should buyers upgrade to the waterproof, headphone socket-free and most expensive – iPhone yet?

The most eagerly awaited iPhone since the last one, the Apples iPhone 7 has arrived. Much has been said about its design, the absent headphone socket, and the fact that its now waterproof, but is it actually any good?

Following on from the iPhone 6 was a tall order, which the iPhone 6S struggled to live up to, with fewer sales and less consumer enthusiasm. Two years on, the question is whether those iPhone 6 buyers will bite and upgrade to the most expensive iPhone yet, its price in the UK inflated thanks to the Brexit referendum result.

The same but now waterproof

The back of the matt black iPhone 7. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

On the outside the iPhone 7 is so similar to the iPhone 6 and 6S you might think nothing has changed other than a new paint job: its now available in black and a shiny jet black, as well as rose gold, gold and silver from last year, but no space grey.

The antenna lines the plastic inlays into the metal body are slightly less visible on the back having been shunted to the top, the glass front is the same, with the most obvious change being the lack of a 3.5mm headphone socket in the bottom.

Its a tried and trusted, but ageing design. While other manufacturers have shrunk the bezels around their screens and generally made the display more of the front of the phone, the iPhone has stayed static. That doesnt mean the build quality or fit and finish is anything other than excellent, but others including Samsung have similar manufacturing prowess.

The 4.7in iPhone 7 is 7.1mm thick and 138g (5g lighter than the iPhone 6S), while rival the 5.1in Samsung Galaxy S7 is 7.9mm thick and weighs 152g and Huaweis 5in P9 is 7mm thick and weighs 144g.

The sim card tray now has a rubber gasket around it to stop water ingress. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

The iPhone 7 is now waterproof to IP67 standards, which means up to 1m deep in fresh water for up to 30 minutes. In comparison, Samsungs Galaxy S7 is rated to IP68 standards, which are at least 1.5m deep for at least 30 minutes. It means that while going swimming with the iPhone 7 isnt recommended, it will survive a drop into the washing up bowl or down the toilet. And you can wash it.

The screens colour and brightness is excellent for an LCD. It isnt quite as vibrant with deep inky blacks as some high-end OLED screens fitted to Samsung devices, neither is it as pixel dense as all Apples rivals or even the iPhone 7 Plus, meaning it isnt as pin-sharp and you can see the individual pixels. It is better than last years model and feels as good as LCD can get.

The 4.7in screen is also quite small for todays smartphones and makes some things a bit fiddly on poorly optimised websites. Not anywhere near as fiddly as the 4in iPhone SE of course. The small size also means that its relatively easy to keep hold of compared to the big-screen phablets with displays over 5.5in.

New for this year is a pair of stereo speakers, one of which is the front-facing earpiece loudspeaker, the other the bottom-firing speaker from previous models. Together they are louder, but lack any sort of stereo separation and couldnt be described as room-filling.

The antenna lines have been shunted to the top only and are much less visible on the black models. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian


  • Screen: 4.7in 1334×750 (326ppi)
  • Processor: Apple A10 Fusion
  • RAM: 2GB of RAM
  • Storage: 32/128/256GB
  • Operating system: iOS 10
  • Camera: 12MP rear camera, 7MP front-facing camera
  • Connectivity: LTE, Wi-Fiac, NFC, IR, Bluetooth 4.2, Lightning and GPS
  • Dimensions: 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1mm
  • Weight: 138g

Snappy performance

iPhone 7 review Lightning only Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

The iPhone 7 has Apples latest processor the A10 Fusion, which, like most processors used in Android smartphones, has four processing cores split into two pairs. One is a high-performance pair of cores the other is a pair of energy efficient cores.

When the user does something demanding, such as 3D gaming, photo processing or similar, the two big cores fire up, but when just chewing through email or sending a text the two power efficient cores run the show. The idea is that most of the time only the more power efficient cores are required, which helps extend battery life but doesnt sacrifice performance.

The iPhone 7 is snappy, feeling slightly faster than the iPhone 6S in general use. Some things, such as photo processing, particularly in something like Prisma, are also faster. It chews through games without issue and is capable of dealing with pretty much everything you could throw at it. iOS 10 also feels faster, with more quick actions, which helps the phone feel faster.

Battery anxiety

Battery life, however, is poor. Using it as my primary device with three hours of app usage and browsing, hundreds of emails and push notifications, a couple of photos, five hours of music over Bluetooth headphones and the odd game of Jetpack Joyride during my one hour and 20 minute train commute to and from work, it lasted an average of just over 14 hours between charges, meaning it didnt survive past 9.30pm.

Rather than having better battery life in my testing, the iPhone 7 has worse battery life than the iPhone 6S when new. No single app caused significant battery drain, I do not have the Facebook app installed and Low Power Mode made no appreciable difference in my testing when enabled at 20%.

If I had needed it to navigate me home or snap some pictures at night I would have to make sure I did a good charge before leaving the office. If I used it for maps for any walking or driving, battery life was much shorter.

To get through 24 hours, youll be forced to have a power adapter close by, shove it in a battery pack or charge at your desk, which means you wont be able listen to music at the same time via cabled headphones more on that later.

To make matters worse, the iPhone 7 has the worst of all worlds: short battery life and tediously slow charging. Even using the 12W charger that came with the iPad Pro it took well over two hours to fully charge the iPhone 7.

iOS 10

Widgets are the new hotness in iOS 10. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

Every year Apple releases a new version of iOS for its newest iPhone and older models. This years iOS 10 makes some significant changes to the usability of the software, modernising its approach to notifications, which have become the lifeblood of our increasingly connected world. It follows the approach taken by Googles Android.

Notifications are now rich, with previews and quick replies, speeding up the whole experience. Tap to launch the app, press to pop up a quick preview or widget with options to reply, delete or similar. You can also clear all notifications by pressing on the clear button, rather than be limited to clearing a day at a time.

Widgets are now a much bigger thing on the iPhone. The left-most pane on the home screen or the lockscreen now shows a bunch of widgets that were confined to the pull down shade before. While many of them feel superfluous its worth curating them to create an at-a-glance screen full of information like the current weather conditions, your next appointment, whether your commute is going to be a nightmare, that kind of thing.

Widgets also show up when you force press on an icon of certain apps, along with a load of quick settings. Theyre still available in the pull-down shade too.

While most of the changes have made the software experience faster, the two-pane Control Centre does not. You have to swipe between quick settings and music controls, which were combined on one pane in iOS 9.

It remembers which pane you last used, but isnt smart enough to go back to quick settings when youre not playing music. Also, while you can press on the torch icon to change the intensity of the beam, you cant do the same for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or Do not disturb. You cant even get to the Settings app from Control Centre. You have to bounce back to the home screen and launch the app.

iOS is now starting to look and feel a bit dated compared with what Google is doing with Android, which is a bit of a role reversal for the two companies. But if you liked iOS on pretty much any other iPhone before, youll love this, because its the same just with 3D touch functions if youre upgrading from something older than an iPhone 6S.

Touch ID, Home button and Taptic Engine

The home button doesnt move and which it doesnt feel like a traditional home button, the Taptic Engine really does make it feel like the whole of the bottom half of the phone depresses like a giant single mouse button. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

The fingerprint scanner is the same as that fitted to the iPhone 6S and is fast and accurate, although not quite the best in the industry. The home button, however, has changed.

Instead of being a real button its now a pressure sensitive pad. It doesnt depress, but you have to push it rather than tap it to activate it as a home button. In response to your pressure theres a little haptic feedback, which is more taping than vibration.

It doesnt feel anything like pressing the old home button, more like pressing the mouse button on a Magic Mouse or Apples Magic Trackpad; it feels like the whole end of the phone depresses.

Apple first used the technology in its MacBook laptop for the solid-state trackpad. It didnt move but the little Taptic Engine made it feel like it did. The home button isnt anywhere near as good a replication of the original home buttons feel. Some will love it, some will hate it, most will just get on with it.

The Taptic Engine as a whole, for notifications and general feedback, such as the little taps as you scroll through the timers wheel like notches on something mechanical, is excellent. It is genuinely the best thing Apple has created in years.


The single camera on the back of the iPhone 7 now has optical image stabilisation and is a big step up over previous models. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

The iPhone 7s camera is greatly improved over the iPhone 6S. It has a much faster, brighter f/1.8 lens, optical image stabilisation and takes photos that are a lot sharper even for shaking hands.

Images produced in good light are fairly detailed, but can often be a bit dull and washed out while not being quite pin-sharp in some areas losing fine detail in the process. Low-light performance is much improved over the iPhone 6 and 6S, while no fancy software is needed to create pleasing bokeh effects as a shallow depth of field is a function of the f/1.8 lens. The rear camera is one of the best available, but not quite the best, outperformed on fine detail by Samsungs Galaxy S7 series.

The front-facing 7-megapixel selfie camera is one of the best in the business, creating detail rich and colour accurate photos even under difficult artificial lightning conditions.

Headphone jack

To listen to music youll need wireless headphones or you can use the included Lightning EarPods or the Lightning to 3.5mm adapter. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

The iPhone 7 will be remembered for Apple killing the headphone jack. Straight up: the removal of the 3.5mm headphone socket is not a good thing. It makes it harder to use the phone with conventional headphones and it seems unnecessary.

How much the loss will affect you depends on what you use to listen to music on your smartphone. If its just Apples EarPods – which have absolutely no isolation and are pretty average on sound quality – then you wont notice when listening to your phone. The Lightning socket works fine, the only problem is the cable doesnt twist, so I ended up with twisting cords and you cant charge and listen to your iPhone 7, say at your desk in an open-plan office.

The problem comes when you try to plug the new EarPods included in the box into anything else, because you cant. Your computer doesnt have a Lightning socket, neither does your stereo, your TV or Game Boy, which may have found a new spot in your life post Pokmon Go.

Instead you can forget the Lightning EarPods and use a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter – one is included in the box – for your normal, analogue headphones. If they have an iPhone-compatible in-line controller, volume and pause/play commands are passed through using the adapter.

The Lighting-to-3.5mm has a digital-to-analogue converter embedded in it, which makes your headphones reliant on Apples cheapest accessory costing 9, thankfully it sounds decent, if a little heavier on the bass than the headphone socket on the iPhone 6S.

Better is to go Bluetooth. I cut the cable about five years ago and havent looked back. Most Bluetooth headphones come with an optional 3.5mm cable, so you can plug them into your computer easily and just rely on Bluetooth for the phone.

Bluetooth earbuds, however, are a more difficult proposition. There are some decent ones with a small cable linking the pair, but completely wireless earbuds are a bit hit and miss. Most struggle to maintain a connection between your ears. Hopefully thatll be solved in the near future. Apple has a set planned, but the AirPods are essentially EarPods without the cable and so will likely have the same acoustic characteristics.

You can record audio using a phone mic or pickup plugged into the Lightning to 3.5mm adapter, but for some youll end up with two adapters plugged into each other just to record audio.


Fluffy gets stuck in the antenna bands on the back, which you probably wouldnt notice on a silver phone, but sticks out like a sore thumb on back. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian


The iPhone 7 costs 599 for 32GB, 699 for 128GB or 799 for 256GB in rose gold, gold, silver, black or jet black.

For comparison, the HTC 10 costs 570, the 32GB Samsung Galaxy S7 costs 500, the LG G5 costs 500, the 32GB Huawei P9 costs 449, the 16GB iPhone SE costs 359 and last years iPhone 6S cost 539 now 499 for 32GB of storage.


The iPhone 7 is a missed opportunity. Apart from a bit of fluff retention the fit and finish, the cameras, fingerprint scanner, snappy performance and waterproofing are all great. But what does it matter how good it is when the battery is dead?

The battery life just isnt good enough to last one day, let alone two when so many other smartphones do. And when the iPhone 7 is dead it takes ages to charge it up again. Its really poor.

Then theres the headphone jack, which wasnt really an issue for me having adopted Bluetooth headphones years ago. But it is a pain in the neck if you attempt to use the Lightning EarPods and ever connect your headphones to anything else other than the iPhone or an iPad, or you lose that stupid little Lightning adapter dongle. Oh and you cant charge and listen to music via cable.

Is this the best iPhone? Probably. Should you buy it? Not if you care about battery life. At the end of the day, this is the iPhone youll probably end up buying, but not the one you deserve.

Pros: waterproof, great cameras, good fingerprint scanner, premium build, good in-hand feel, Taptic Engine

Cons: no headphones port, cannot unlock the phone with gloves or within an armband case, expensive, no removable battery, no memory expansion, cant charge and listen to cabled headphones, poor battery life, slow charging

Other reviews

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24 Weird Kitchen Gadgets That Are Actually Pure Genius

I may not be a world-class chef, but I know my way around the kitchen well enough to get by.

Helping me along are my favorite kitchen gadgets. My grandparents had a penchant for picking up any and all culinary gadgets they saw on TV, so of course, I’ve tried the best of the best (and the worst of the worst).

Sure, some of them look weird, but the ones that work make life so much easier. Here are 24 of the weirdest and wackiest kitchen gadgets that are actually really useful.

1. Eliminate the struggle of opening store-bought popsicles by using these reusable zipper pouches.

2. Soggy cereal is a thing of the past with this divided bowl.

3. It’s your Constitutional right to get the perfect ketchup-to-hot dog ratio.

4. Use only the freshest fruit juices with this citrus sprayer.

5. Cut down on the mess in your kitchen sink with this strainer/cutting board combo.

6. Make your toast super yummy with some help from this butter slicer.

7. Forget breaking spaghetti by hand and getting it everywhere. Try this gadget instead.

8. Make extra room on your plate for chips and veggies with dip clips.

9. Crushing garlic has never been easier than it is with this garlic rocker.

10. Keep portions even with a cake batter dispenser.

11. Separating yolks from egg whites can be a sticky mess, but not with this yolk extractor!

12. Become the world’s most creative parent by using a pancake pen to make custom flapjacks for the kiddos.

13. Don’t waste hours cooking dinner one step at a time. This three-tiered oven rack can cook everything at once.

14. There’s never a bad time for soft-serve yogurt when you have this frozen dessert maker in your kitchen.

15. Use this clip to avoid making messes between stirs.

16. There’s nothing worse than biting into a cherry and having to spit out the pit. This adorable gadget eliminates the hassle.

17. Prep marinated foods without dirtying your hands with this hands-free bag holder.

18. Enjoy America’s favorite cookie without dunking your hand into the milk along with it. Get yourself a cookie dipper!

19. This serving board will allow you to store extra snacks underneath.

20. If you’ve ever said you were hungry enough to eat a horse, this pasta measuring device has you covered. (Although I’m slightly alarmed that the first three options are humans.)

21. Quickly remove seeds from peppers with this specially designed serrated knife.

22. Salad prep won’t be a hassle with this unique tomato and grape cutter.

23. Follow a recipe on your iPad without getting the device messy with this fridge clip.

24. Prevent your half-eaten bags of chips from going stale with this inventive bag cap.

Bye, money. I’m going shopping for ALL of the kitchen gadgets.

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Upgrade Your Road Bike With These Four Smart Gadgets

Whether its easy-breezy commuting or pumping out 70 miles on a crisp Sunday morning, fall is hereand with it, perfect cycling weather. Now’s the time to gear up for peak season in the saddle. To help you decide, we spent some time sweating in our lycra, testing out the tech gear we found most intriguing. Three testers took a variety of devices on training rides that entailed a lot of looping around New York’s larger parks, as well as daily commutes from Brooklyn to Midtown Manhattan. Here’s what we found over the course of two weeks.

For Everyone

Garmin’s Rearview Radar head unit and tail light.
Courtesy Garmin

Varia Rearview Radar

Not to bring you down from your happy cycling place, but according to the League of American Bicyclists, getting hit from behind is the cause of 40 percent of cycling fatalities (PDF) in the U.S. If youre looking to upgrade bike safety, Garmins Varia Rearview Radar performed consistently and well. The radar tail light mounts to your seat post and can detect vehicles approaching at up to 153 yards; it then communicates wirelessly with the display unit (or any Garmin Edge computer) to give you a visual heads-up. The tail light also flashes brighter at such times to make you more visible to the driver. We did find the radar less helpful in busy bike lanes and on city streets, where theres always a bike or car behind you. But if youre taking the path less-cycled, advanced warning of that truck coming up behind you at 60 miles per hour cant be a bad thing. Radar bundle with tail light and head unit, $299.99; tail light only, $199.99

Bottom line: It’s a great way to boost your awareness of what’s happening on the road around youparticularly on less-congested routes and those lacking bike paths.

Garmin’s Varia Vision
Courtesy Garmin

For Enthusiasts

Varia Vision Insight Display

To boost your awareness in another senseof your cycling statsthis wearable product from Garmin does the trick. The stem of the unit attaches to either arm of your sunglasses, and the display window sits outside your direct line of vision. Your cycling data is relayed from your (compatible) bike computerwe paired it with the Garmin Edge 1000 (more on that below)and you slide your finger along the stem to switch between screens. It also syncs with the Rearview Radar for complete notification synergy. Just as with your cycling computer, you can set up and arrange different windows to organize the data you want to see while you’re riding. Then, with just a swipe, you can view a multitude of stats such as speed, cadence (the rate of pedal rotations), time, distance, power, and elevation in just a few windows.

Using the Varia Vision Insight Display isnt as distracting as looking down at a computer and swiping through screens, but its not quite seamless, either. While it is very light (1.1 oz.), your sunglasses are probably lighter, which can cause the device to pull your shades down a bit; I had to keep adjusting mine in order to view the screen. We also found that if you need to look over your shoulder on the same side as you have the device, youll have to contend with a small blind spot. Still, once youve been wearing the Varia Vision for a while, as with all things on a long ride, it eventually fades into the background and becomes a convenient tool you can use if you want, or ignore for stretches of time. $399.99

Bottom line: Worth it, if you’re excited about having fast access to information while you rideand don’t mind looking a little like a cycling Terminator.

Garmin’s Edge 1000
Courtesy Garmin

Edge 1000

The Edge 1000 is a powerhouse of a GPS bike computer, acting as a lynchpin for all your connected devices and your phone. We used it throughout our testing and were not disappointed with its functionality and features: It was easy to sync up with all the other products in this review, including PowerTap’s P1 Pedals (see below), and its high-resolution, color touchscreen is very user-friendly, even with gloves on. Its navigation features proved a boon for those out for fun and looking to explore. You can be notified of places of interest along your route or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, you can have the computer suggest three routes, based on the distance you want to ride.

For those ever-bent on going faster for longer, you can customize up to 10 training pages to display whatever data you’re gathering along your ride from power meters, cadence sensors, heart rate monitors, and so forth. (The Edge will pair with any sensors over ANT+.) If you pair the Edge with a Garmin power meter, its Cycling Dynamics metrics will give you data for days. And when you’re ready to start training like a pro, the Edge is compatible with the even more powerful WKO4 analytics software as well.

Wonderful as all this sounds, one tester pointed out that many of the Edge 1000’s capabilities are available in other Garmin computers. You could potentially pair a less-expensive, tricked-out computer with a smartphone and some apps to access similar features at a lower costand a lighter weight. (The Edge 520 weighs in at 2.1 oz., compared to the 1000’s 4 oz.) That said, if you’re looking for all the goods in one sleek package, then the size and weight of the computer may not be that much of a deterrent. Bundle with premium heart rate monitor, speed sensor, and cadence sensor, $599.99; device only, $499.99

Bottom Line: For those who want a souped-up bike computer that looks, feels, and works a lot more like your smartphone, all in one sleek package. 

For Pros

PowerTap’s P1 pedals.
Courtesy PowerTap

P1 Pedals

For the moreperhaps mostavid cyclists, we clipped into PowerTaps P1 pedals. These power meters are for those of you who love gathering loads of data in your peak performance quest. They measure how much power youre applying to the pedals throughout the rotation on each side; separate left and right readings are what set these meters apart from other pedals that pull data only from one side. You not only see the overall watts you’re pushing out, but how much power each leg is cranking relative to the other and where in the rotation your power changes. This is the kind of information that helps cyclists who are looking to improve their form and tweak their exertion to train better and minimize the possibility of injury.

The PowerTap P1 pedals have a simple design that makes them easy to install and even switch between bikes. Dont have a torque wrench? Cant manage to get installation angles just right? Not a problem. As long as you can get the old pedals off your bike, these are basically, as the company claims, plug and play. They are also compatible with an array of bike computers and smart devicesthough PowerTap recommends its Joule GPS+ to get the most out the data, naturallyand you can sync the pedals to PowerTaps iOS app, which just got an upgrade with PowerTaps Advanced Pedal Metrics. Thats right, even more data! Although you will have to swap in their three-bolt keo-style cleats (included) for your current cleats before you are ready to roll. $1,999.99

Bottom line: The install and set-up make these ideal for someone using more than one bike to train. You can use the pedals with a variety of cycling computers, but not a variety of cleats.

Final note on power meters: Our testers fall in more with the enthusiast crowd than with the pros, but they reported learning a good amount about how they ride and how they could improve. It’s not essential to be a data fiend to get a lot out of these pedals, but to really get the most out of them you should have a certain level of love for analytics.

With Joshua Petri and Jakub Bialas

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The Google Home smart speaker will be cheaper than Amazon Echo, report says

Google vice president Mario Queiroz introduces the new Google Home device during the keynote address of the Google I/O conference Wednesday, May 18, 2016, in Mountain View, Calif.
Image: Eric Risberg/AP

Amazon might be getting a little worried.

Pricing details for Google’s upcoming smart speaker, the Amazon Echo-like Google Home, may have just been leaked and they suggest that Google’s speaker will be a lot cheaper than Amazon’s.

The speaker will sell for $129 when it goes on sale later this year, according to a report in Android Police. Google Home, which the company first introduced at its I/O developer conference in May, is a speaker that also has Google Assistant built in. (You can preview the assistant in the company’s new messaging app, Allo.) It can also control smart home devices, complete searches and help you manage tasks like managing your grocery list.

If true, the $129 price tag would make Google’s offering extremely competitive with Amazon’s Echo line. Amazon’s flagship Echo sells for $179.99 while the portable Amazon Tap costs $129.99

The report didn’t provide specifics around availability, just that the Google was set to unveil the price at its upcoming Pixel event in October. But, given that Google previously promised the device would be available in the fall, it seems safe to assume it will go on sale soon after October’s unveiling.

Android Police also reports that Google will show off a new 4k-ready Chromecast at that event, called Chromecast Ultra. That device will sell for $69, according to the site’s sources.

A Google spokesperson declined to comment on the report.

Mashable will be covering the event live from San Francisco so stay tuned for our full coverage.

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