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Apple Watch timed for April 24

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Apple has unveiled the Apple Watch, which will allow users to read and reply to messages, stay fit with the built-in accelerometer and heart rate monitor and even pay for purchases using Apple Pay.

Apple has announced that Apple Watch, the newest addition to Apple’s ecosystem, will be available on Friday, April 24 to customers in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the UK and the US.

Apple describes the watch as “an incredibly accurate timepiece, an intimate and immediate communication device and a groundbreaking health and fitness companion”. It says that it is highly customisable for personal expression, and “brings an entirely new way to receive information at a glance and interact with the world through third-party app experiences designed specifically for the wrist”.

“Apple Watch begins a new chapter in the way we relate to technology and we think our customers are going to love it,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We can’t wait for people to start wearing Apple Watch to easily access information that matters, to interact with the world, and to live a better day by being more aware of their daily activity than ever before.”

“Conceived, designed and developed as a singular product, Apple Watch merges hardware and software like never before,” said Jony Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of Design. “In Apple Watch, we’ve created three beautifully curated collections with a software architecture that together enable unparalleled personalisation in a wearable device.”

Apple Watch introduces new technologies, including the Digital Crown, an innovative way to scroll, zoom and navigate fluidly without obstructing the display. The Retina display with Force Touch on Apple Watch senses the difference between a tap and a press, providing a new way to quickly and easily access relevant controls. The new Taptic Engine discreetly delivers a gentle tap on your wrist whenever the user receives a notification or message.

Apple-Watch-logo-main1

Apple provided the following information on the Apple Watch:

An extremely precise timepiece, Apple Watch keeps time to within 50 milliseconds of UTC, the universal time standard. Apple Watch can be personalised with watch faces ranging from traditional analogue such as the Chronograph face, to the information-rich Modular face, or beautifully animated butterflies and jellyfish on the Motion face. Apple Watch goes beyond telling time with specialised functions on the watch face—known in watchmaking as complications—such as the sunrise/sunset, upcoming calendar events or daily activity level. With multiple customisable watch faces and complications, Apple Watch enables millions of possible configurations. Swipe up from the watch face for Glances that quickly show you information you care about, such as the weather forecast, your current location on a map or the music you’re listening to.

Intimate & Immediate Communication Device

Apple Watch enables you to send messages, read email and answer calls to your iPhone right from your wrist. The Taptic Engine alerts you with a gentle tap so you won’t miss important notifications. With Digital Touch, Apple Watch allows you to communicate in all-new ways by sending a sketch, a tap or even the rhythm of your own heartbeat. Interact quickly and conveniently with the world around you with Apple Watch by paying for coffee using Apple Pay, boarding a plane with a Passbook boarding pass, or raising your wrist to ask Siri for turn-by-turn directions in Maps.

Groundbreaking Health & Fitness Companion

Apple Watch encourages you to sit less, move more and get some exercise every day. The Activity app provides a simple visual snapshot of your daily activity with three rings that measure active calories burned, brisk activity and how often you’ve stood up to take a break from sitting during the day. Apple Watch provides the detailed metrics you need during dedicated workout sessions for the most popular activities, such as walking, running and cycling through the Workout app. With an accelerometer, a built-in heart rate sensor, GPS and Wi-Fi from your iPhone, Apple Watch smartly uses the best sensors for different types of motion and provides a comprehensive picture of your all-day activity and workouts. The Activity app on iPhone collects your activity and workout data from Apple Watch so you can see your history in greater detail. Apple Watch uses this history to suggest personalised activity goals, reward fitness milestones and keep you motivated.

Apple Watch is available in two different sizes, 38 mm and 42 mm, and in three distinct collections—Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition. Apple Watch Sport features a lightweight anodised aluminium case in silver and space grey with a Retina display protected by strengthened Ion-X glass and matching high-performance fluoroelastomer Sport Band in five colours. The Apple Watch collection features highly polished stainless steel and space black stainless steel cases with a Retina display protected by sapphire crystal. The Apple Watch collection comes with a choice of three different leather straps, a stainless steel link bracelet and Milanese loop, and a black or white Sport Band. Apple Watch Edition features cases specially crafted from custom rose or yellow 18-carat gold alloys developed to be twice as hard as standard gold, a Retina display protected by polished sapphire crystal and a choice of uniquely designed straps and bands with 18-carat gold clasps, buckles or pins.

The world’s most vibrant and innovative developer community has been creating all-new experiences specifically designed for Apple Watch. From requesting an Uber, checking in to your American Airlines flight, booking a bike for your Equinox class to remotely controlling your Honeywell Lyric thermostat while away, the possibilities for Apple Watch apps are endless. These experiences extend the functionality of your favourite iPhone apps, while delivering an innovative way to interact—right from your wrist. Popular apps such as Instagram, MLB.com At Bat, Nike+ Running, OpenTable, Shazam, Twitter, WeChat and more will also be available on Apple Watch. The new Apple Watch app that comes with iOS 8.2 on iPhone lets you browse, buy and download apps from the Apple Watch App Store.

Designed to be worn throughout your day, Apple Watch delivers up to 18-hour all-day battery life*** and comes with a unique charging solution that combines Apple’s MagSafe technology with inductive charging for a quick connection that simply snaps into place.

By design, the shopping experience for Apple Watch will be the most personalized Apple has ever offered. When Apple Watch becomes available for pre-order from the Apple Online Store on Friday, April 10, Apple retail stores and department store shop-in-shops will begin offering customers the chance to preview their choice of Apple Watch and try it on in-store.

Availability

Beginning April 10 in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the UK and the US, Apple Watch will be available for preview, try-on by appointment at Apple’s retail stores, and available for pre-order through the Apple Online Store. On April 24, Apple Watch will be available online or by reservation in Apple’s retail stores and select Apple Authorised Resellers in China and Japan. Customers who purchase online or in-store from Apple will be offered Personal Setup to customise and pair Apple Watch with their iPhone.

Apple Watch is available in three collections, Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch, and Apple Watch Edition, crafted from custom rose or yellow 18-karat gold alloys.

Apple Watch will also be available to preview or try on at Galeries Lafayette in Paris, Isetan in Tokyo and Selfridges in London on April 10. Apple Watch will be for sale on April 24 at these select department store shop-in-shops, and at boutiques in major cities across the world including colette in Paris, Dover Street Market in London and Tokyo, Maxfield in Los Angeles and The Corner in Berlin.

Starting today customers can explore and choose their favourite Apple Watch in the Apple Online Store or through the Apple Store app for iPhone and iPad.

Apple Watch requires iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus running iOS 8.2. or later. iOS 8.2 will be available for download today.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

Africa News

Smart grids needed for Africa’s utilities

Power utilities across Africa should rethink their business models and how they manage and monetise their assets to keep pace with the changing energy ecosystem, says COLIN BEANEY, Global Industry Director for Asset-intensive and Energy and Utilities at IFS.

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Africa’s abundant natural resources and urgent need for power mean that it is one of the most exciting and innovative energy markets in a world that is moving rapidly towards clean, renewable energy sources. The continent’s energy industry is taking new approaches to providing unserved and underserved communities with access to power, with an emphasis on smart technologies and greener energy sources.

Power systems are evolving from centralised, top-down systems as interest in off-grid technology grows among African businesses and consumers. And according to PwC, we will see installed power capacity rise from 2012’s 90GW to 380GW in 2040 in sub-Saharan Africa. Power utilities are needing to rethink their business models and how they manage and monetise their assets to keep pace with the changing energy ecosystem.

Energy and utilities providers are transforming from centralised supply companies to more distributed, bi-directional service providers. They can only achieve this through the evolution of “smart grids” where sensors and smart meters will be able to provide the consumer with a more granular level of detail of power usage. This shift from an energy supplier to “lifestyle provider” will require a much more dynamic and optimised approach to maintenance and field service.

African companies must thus embrace digital transformation as an imperative. This transformation begins by embracing enterprise asset management to improve asset utilisation. The subsequent steps are enhancing upstream and downstream supply chain management; resource optimisation; introducing enterprise operational intelligence; embracing new technologies such as the Internet of Things, machine learning, and predictive maintenance; and becoming a smart utility.

Embracing mobility to drive ROI

Getting it right is about putting in place an enterprise backbone that accommodates asset and project management, multinational languages and currencies, new energies and markets, visualisation of the entire value chain, and mobility apps. Mobile technologies that support the field workforce have a vital role to play in driving better ROI from utilities’ investments in enterprise asset management and enterprise resource planning solutions.

Today’s leading enterprise asset management solutions feature powerful functionality for mobile management of the complete workflow of work orders – from logging status changes and updates, from receiving and creating new orders to concluding the job and reporting time, material and expenses. Such solutions are easy to deploy and intuitive for end users to learn and use.

Importantly for organisations operating in parts of the continent with poor telecoms infrastructure, connectivity is not an issue. The solutions work offline and synchronises when network connectivity is available. Users can work on any device—laptops, tablets, and smartphones—commercial or ruggedised.

By ensuring that field technicians have easy access to information and processes, the mobile solution enables technicians and maintenance engineers to easily do the following tasks:

·         Create a new work order on the fly and log new opportunities

·         Access both historical and planned work information when requested

·         Permit customers to sign when the job is completed

·         Capture measurements and inspection notes on route work orders

·         Create new fault reports on routing

·         Facilitate documentation through photo capturing

·         Provide easy access to technical data and preventive actions.

The power of mobility allows the engineer to be the origin of all data capture on a service event. They can easily inquire on asset history, record parts used or parts needed for repair, record labour hours, and expenses as they occur, and any notes of repairs performed. When coupled with workforce management tools, such solutions unlock significant productivity gains for utilities who are trying to get the most from their workforce and assets.

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Brands fall for app vanity

The experience of a mobile screen full of icons, representing independent apps that your need to open to experience them, is making less sense. Instead, businesses should serve customers with an ‘app-like’ experience inside the digital platform they already use, says PIETER DE VILLIERS, Group CEO at Clickatell.

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Many brands remain obsessed with creating mobile apps. This not only defies trends that point to increasing consumer app apathy, but can exclude a sizeable portion  of your customers in emerging economies. Companies need to engage with their users where they are rather than forcing them onto an app, in what can only be described as brand vanity. 

In 2017 there were around 2.2 million apps available in the iOS app store and over 3 million on Google Play. And, while the number of apps being downloaded continues to rise, analysis shows that consumers are only using 30 apps per month and accessing just 9 on a day-to-day basis. 

While these numbers still seem attractively high, in reality the majority of the apps we use are for messaging (like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat) and our social networking, gaming, leisure, dating or utility activities. 

Despite the facts, the application strategy as the holy grail for digital transformation is still being pushed even within large progressive brands. What’s more, some advertising agencies and digital consultants are still pushing apps as the best means for companies to connect with their customers. This has resulted in some organisations stubbornly doubling down on app strategies which are simply not showing return on investment (ROI). 

It’s not immediately clear to us whether the fascination with apps is a roll-over from long overdue projects or whether brand owners equate a mobile-first strategy with a mobile app. Mobile-first in 2018 means customer first, and therefore embracing chat commerce in order to deliver services with convenience and simplicity in mind. 

Why apps won’t win the internet

The problem with apps goes beyond user fatigue. In the first instance, many apps are poorly designed, assuming technical sophistication which may not match reality for the average customer. Poor user interfaces and attempts to provide complex engagement can result in even the best ideas missing their targets due to lack of engagement. 

Secondly, we all know that economic realities drive consumer behaviour. In Africa, new mobile phone users typically opt for feature phones over smartphones. With a longer battery life and a much more accessible price point, feature phones still allow for a basic internet connection, chat platforms like WhatsApp, and call and message functionality. In these regions, the cost of an app – even if it’s free – goes far beyond installing it. Constant updates require reliable and cheap access to the internet. For the average phone owner in an emerging market, this can be a serious challenge. 

Thirdly, and most importantly, apps must be relevant to their intended market. Frequency of usage is a key measure of relevance. 

Apps which are used on a daily basis, like health and fitness trackers, enjoy constant engagement. New features which are added are eagerly awaited by users who are happy to update their apps. 

However, users may well question the relevance of the app if they are required to conduct updates on a monthly or even weekly basis when they are only making use of the app once or twice a year. 

On average, I download one app per quarter. Some I use more frequently than others, but all of these apps need to be regularly updated to maintain security, update features, and fix bugs. Many apps are pushing out updates much more frequently. I noticed over the past year that I could go from having all apps updated, to 32 apps requiring an update in five days.

When it comes to a customer-first digital strategy, companies should be asking themselves if an app is really the best way to reach their target audience. 

In fact, at the end of 2016, Gartner predicted that by 2019, 20 percent of brands would ditch their mobile app. What’s more, in its 2018 predictions, the company forecast that by 2021, more than 50 percent of corporations would spend more per annum on bots and chatbots than on mobile app development. 

So, we need to ask, what is the alternative for CIOs, CDOs, CMOs, and digital leaders who are looking for ways to reach, retain and grow their customer base? 

The logical app alternative 

The old battle advice goes: fight your enemy where they are not. Military strategists agreed that having your enemy come to you and fight you on your own terms was preferable. In a world where customers have access to thousands of offerings and millions of deals online, we need to flip that idea to Meet Your Customers Where They Are. 

Any marketeer will tell you just a how difficult it is to drive app downloads. Development, cross platform testing and user interface aside, the marketing campaign required to get customers to download the app can swallow entire annual budgets and still come up short. 

Looking at the facts, it makes infinitely more sense to work within the digital platforms already being used by your target audience. 

Clickatell is already enabling chat commerce for some of the leading global brands with its Touch solution. This allows organisations to serve their customers with an ‘app-like’ experience inside the chat or browser platform of their customer’s choice (Twitter, Facebook Messenger, etc.) 

Brands can now send an actionable Touch link such as ‘find the nearest ATM’ or ‘reset my password’ within a chat stream that will open an intuitive touch card without the user having to download an app to perform the action. Services can also be linked to the in-app experience for brands not looking to abandon their app efforts. 

Working with our clients, many of whom are global innovators and thought leaders, we’ve found that having the courage to design with an ‘end user first’ approach and dealing with the back-end complexity behind the scenes results in cost efficient customer delight and ROI. 

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