A Dad Invented an App That Lets Parents Freeze Their Kids' Phones Until They Text Back

iStock.com/FatCamera
iStock.com/FatCamera

Parents, are you sick of being ignored by your own offspring? Worried that their lack of response to your text messages means something terrible has happened? British dad Nick Herbert was, which is why he designed ReplyASAP, an app that locks kids out of their phones until they respond to their parents’ messages.

ReplyASAP was born of a common problem: Herbert’s son Ben keeps his phone in silent mode and either doesn’t hear or ignores incoming messages from his dad. Herbert looked for an app that would override the silent function and demand Ben’s attention. That app didn’t seem to exist, so Herbert decided to create his own.

Users open the app, type out a message, and send it. When the message arrives at the other end (recipients must also have the app on their phones), it sounds a loud alarm and locks the screen, unlocking it only when the recipient responds.

Ben was happy to add the app to his phone. "It gives him the freedom to keep his phone on silent,” Herbert told Good Housekeeping in 2017, “but with the knowledge that I can get a message to him if necessary."

It’s free to send messages on the app, but Herbert says his family reserves it for urgent situations. “There is a mutual understanding that using ReplyASAP is only for important things,” he wrote on the app’s website, “and not because [Ben] needs new batteries for his Xbox controller.”

Herbert notes that while he designed the app for families, his friends quickly envisioned “grown up” ways they could use it themselves. “Their suggestions ranged from changing your order when your friend is getting the drinks in at the bar, to finding your phone when you've misplaced it at home, to work situations when you need to get hold of work colleagues quickly.”

The app is currently available for Android users in the U.S. Herbert is hoping to add an iPhone version soon.

An earlier version of this story appeared in 2017.

Need a Robot Vacuum? Neato's Botvac D6 Is $330 Off This Week

Neato
Neato

We've previously recommended robot vacuums as an amazingly easy way to keep your home free of dust, pet hair, and other allergy-triggering nasties, but with higher-tech models going for hundreds and hundreds of dollars, it can be hard to convince yourself you need a vacuum that badly. Except when there's a great sale, like this week's Best Buy deal on Neato's Botvac D6 Connected vacuum.

The app-controlled automated vacuum normally retails for $729, but it's going for $400 right now—a $330 discount. That's 45 percent off.

The Botvac D6, which came out in 2018 and is one of the company's fanciest models, features a battery life of 120 minutes, LaserScan technology that allows it to memorize your home's floorplan (including multi-level homes), a high-performance filter to collect allergens, a turbo mode with increased suction, a pre-scheduling feature, and that signature D-shape that's made to capture debris in tight corners. Neato advertises the Botvac D6's combination of brushes as being 70 percent larger than most other robot vacuums' brushes, allowing it to pick up even more pet hair and dirt.

It also has a bunch of smart features that lower-tier robot vacuums don't offer, like the Quick Boost charging feature, which allows the vacuum to return to its base to quickly top off its charge—just enough to finish the job—if it's running low on juice, and the ability to set no-go lines around pet bowls, piles of cords, and other areas that you don't want your vacuum zooming through. You can control the vacuum via your phone, Amazon Home, Alexa, your Apple Watch, the Neato Chatbot on Facebook, and more.

This is only the latest Neato vacuum to go on super-sale. In March, the company's Botvac D4 was also featured in Best Buy's weekly deals, selling for $300. That model (which features 75 minutes of battery life to the D6's 120) is currently selling for $400 at Best Buy as well.

Here's a tip: We bet your dad would love getting one of these babies for Father's Day. It would also make an excellent gift for a new grad moving into their first grown-up apartment.

Buy it from Best Buy for $400. The deal lasts until 10 p.m. Pacific Time on Monday, May 27.

If controlling your cleaning plan with your phone doesn't seem exciting enough to you, there are plenty of even fancier robot cleaning assistants out there. May we suggest one that will vacuum, mop, and clean itself?

A New Hypersonic Jet Could Get You From New York to London in 90 Minutes

iStock/baona
iStock/baona

For impatient travelers, the next wave of air transportation could be a game-changer. Aerospace company Hermeus Corporation recently announced that it has obtained funding to pursue development of a plane that could travel five times faster than the speed of sound, getting passengers from New York to London in just 90 minutes. But it won't be a cheap flight, and the idea isn't without some baggage.

The venture, which was founded by former employees of private space travel companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, is seeking to craft a plane that can travel at Mach 5 and reach a cruising speed of 3300 mph.

That ambition will likely take years to materialize. Hermeus co-founder and CEO AJ Piplica told CNN that development is projected to last a decade. He anticipated one-way tickets will cost in the range of $3000.

It currently takes about seven hours to travel from New York to London. Previously, travelers were able to cut that time down to roughly four hours, traveling at twice the speed of sound in the supersonic Concorde jet. High fuel consumption and expensive tickets led to the retirement of the aircraft in 2003. Whether Hermeus can overcome the environmental concerns of such high-octane travel and gather enough passengers willing to pay a premium for less time spent in the air remains to be seen.

[h/t CNN]

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