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Dear Bixby, and other virtual assistant love stories

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With his personal assistant on leave, LUCKY RADEBE, pens an open letter to Bixby, Samsung’s virtual personal assistant which learns your preferences and speaking habits over time, making it smarter each time it used.

Dear Bixby,

With my organised Personal Assistant (PA) on leave and my partner on a well-deserved holiday, the release of the Samsung Galaxy Note8 couldn’t have come at a better time, as I try to balance work and home life without my trusted support system. Not only does my new phablet enable me to speak, ask questions and make requests from you, Bixby, but as your deep learning technology continues to improve over time and you recognise my preferences and manner of speaking, so does my appreciation for your genius.

Take this morning for instance. My alarm went off at 5am and I was tempted to press the snooze button but you reminded me that today I had to get the children ready for school and that we needed to leave 45 minutes earlier to get them there on time. This helped me avoid running late and possibly receiving a scornful letter from the headmaster. By simply asking you what the weather was like today before leaving the house, we were prepared and dressed for the day’s weather.

While stepping out of the house, my teenagers told me that they hadn’t prepared lunches for themselves, but with a simple ‘Hi Bixby, find me the shortest route to school with a convenience shop en route to grab lunch’, a catastrophe was averted.

Having taken the least congested back routes and having dropped the children at school, it was you, Bixby that reminded me of my 9am meeting with the Managing Director and Vice President of my company. In preparation, I said ‘Bixby, open my emails, go to the last email sent by my PA with background information for the meeting’. I then asked you to read the documents back to me while I was driving. After gathering my thoughts, I dictated my response to you to type in Samsung Notes for me to reference as speaking points during my meeting. This was all in good time to receive an international call from my partner, who was pleased to find out that all was well and subtly made mention that the children had ballet and gymnastic classes at 3pm. After asking you, Bixby, to check my schedule for the day and realising I had an overlap of commitments, I asked you to help me pre-order an Uber for my daughters. You texted them the details, which allowed me enough time to dash off to my meeting.

For the next few hours, I had back-to-back meetings with clients and suppliers and enjoyed my perfectly productive mobile office. I conducted my business and even managed to reschedule my daughter’s tennis training for tomorrow and reserved time in my calendar so no one at work could schedule a meeting, preventing me from going with her. Amazingly, without the normal distractions of the office, I was more productive with both my work and dad tasks.

The day was shaping up well, but there was still one last hurdle to cross, dinner! But even that was no challenge for you. While I was chopping and mixing, making reference to the beef lasagne recipe which you pulled for me off the internet, I simply said, ‘Hey Bixby, set a timer for 20 minutes’ before I put the dish into the oven. 20 minutes later, you alerted me that the lasagne was ready – and for a change, nothing was burnt.

My partner, my PA and now you, Bixby, make a great team, empowering me to better manage my work and personal life. I’ll soon discover how new innovations from Samsung will further empower me and help me manage this blended life, but I can tell you, Bixby, you did an excellent job!

Sincerely,

Lucky Radebe

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Now download a bank account

Absa has introduced an end-to-end account opening for new customers, through the Absa Banking App, which can be downloaded from the Android and Apple app stores. This follows the launch of the world first ChatBanking on WhatsApp service.

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This “download your account” feature enables new customers to Absa, to open a Cheque account, order their card and start transacting on the Absa Banking App, all within minutes, from anywhere and at any time, by downloading it from the App stores.

“Overall, this new capability is not only expected to enhance the customer’s digital experience, but we expect to leverage this in our branches, bringing digital experiences to the branch environment and making it easier for our customers to join and bank with us regardless of where they may be,” says Aupa Monyatsi, Managing Executive for Virtual Channels at Absa Retail & Business Banking.

“With this innovation comes the need to ensure that the security of our customers is at the heart of our digital experience, this is why the digital onboarding experience for this feature includes a high-quality facial matching check with the Department of Home Affairs to verify the customer’s identity, ensuring that we have the most up to date information of our clients. Security is supremely important for us.”

The new version of the Absa Banking App is now available in the Apple and Android App stores, and anyone with a South African ID can become an Absa customer, by following these simple steps:

  1. Download the Absa App
  2. Choose the account you would like to open
  3. Tell us who you are
  4. To keep you safe, we will verify your cell phone number
  5. Take a selfie, and we will do facial matching with the Department of Home Affairs to confirm you are who you say you are
  6. Tell us where you live
  7. Let us know what you do for a living and your income
  8. Click Apply.

 

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How we use phones to avoid human contact

A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.

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Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances. 

Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?

The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.

In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.

Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.

Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”

To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:

·         I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?

With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.

·         Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?

Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.

·         I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?

Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.

 

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