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AppDate: My Muze brings music to the masses

In his latest roundup, SEAN BACHER highlights My Muze, Kauai, SANRAL’s Mobility, KWV augmented reality and iiDENTIFii

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Vodacom My Muze

Since launching its music gateway in April, Vodacom has made over 30-million songs available on My Muze, which has attracted 1,3 million visitors and almost a million app installations.

Vodacom says this is mainly due to its ease of use, the ability to catch up on music industry news and watch music videos on integrated apps like Video Play or YouTube Music, and to livestream radio and listen to podcasts from radio stations.

Designed to curate music experiences into a single destination, My Muze is aimed at empowering young or new artists and ensuring access to music.

Another differentiating feature is that My Muze gives aspiring musicians the opportunity to expose their talents, as they can upload their music with the prospect of being discovered and signed to a music record label. My Muze is a partner to the 2019 South African Music Awards and for the first time allowed consumers to cast their vote digitally for the Record of the Year.

Vodacom is offering free data for use on My Muze: It is available across all networks, but Vodacom subscribers can browse the platform without using any data.

Platform: Android

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit www.mymuze.com for downloading instructions.

Kauai

Kauai, which operates under the multi-brand food group Real Foods, has launched an app with the aim of making it easier and more rewarding for customers to enjoy healthy eating.

The app allows customers to order ahead, skip the queue and collect their meals, smoothies and healthy snacks at a dedicated app order collection area in-store. Customers can order 10–20 minutes ahead, or can choose to collect at a pre-set time. Order ahead will be available at all Kauai stores nationwide. 

The app features a rewards programme that gives customers 2% cash back on all purchases. It also has 3 status levels, with accompanying perks that customers can unlock over time, as they use the app more frequently:

  • All customers starting on Green status qualify for a free coffee on their birthday
  • Customers moving up to the next status level (Gold) qualify for a free smoothie on their birthday and are rewarded with a free snack when they achieve Gold status.
  • Kauai customers who achieve Black status will receive a complimentary reusable smoothie cup when they reach this milestone, and also qualify for a free birthday coffee and breakfast

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit www.kauai.co.za for downloading instructions.

SANRAL’s Mobility Account

Another cashless parking app has popped into the marketplace, this time in the form of a partnership between SANRAL’s ETC (electronic toll collection) – yes, the e-toll guys that we all wish would disappear – and KaChing.

The app works much like any the other cashless parking app, except this one is reserved for registered e-tollers. A user sets up an account with a number plate, then loads some money into it and drives in and out of paid-for-parking places without having to put a hands in  pocket. At the moment, the parking feature is is an opt-in service on the app, and it enables users to park at 34 KaChing operated parking lots without the need for a paper ticket or cash. Through licence plate recognition technology, parking garage booms automatically open for people using the SANRAL Mobility app. More will be available as the service picks up.

The app also allows users to view e-tolls, settle them, arrange financing and share with friends and family. A variety of additional features are offered. Bear in mind that a variety of other cashless payment apps are available for both iOS and Android operating systems in case you are not yet ready or willing to register for e-tolls. 

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device or download the app directly here.

KWV augmented reality app

KWV has launched a rather novel app that works with the Cathedral Cellar  wines label: it now allows wine enthusiasts to add to their dinner time conversation via augmented reality.

Cathedral Cellar is a premium wine portfolio by KWV and includes the Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Triptych (a red blend), Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The new labels depict the Cathedral Cellar with copper line drawings. The labels also honour the cellar’s most impressive feature: its 32 “stukvats” (barrels), which measure approximately 3 metres in circumference, some of which tell the stories of the South African wine industry with intricate carvings.

Cathedral Cellar combines this art of storytelling with the use of augmented reality and modern marketing to share its most important element with consumers. The technology, developed by label print and augmented reality experts LABELinmotion by Vollherbst, enables consumers to scan Cathedral Cellar’s new labels using a dedicated app. By hovering their phones over the Cathedral Cellar labels, they can watch the winemaker appear on the façade of the bottle, from where he provides guided wine notes on each of the wines and shares the stories that inspired them.  

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit KWV here for more information

iiDENTIFii

Consumers want ease of access when opening and maintaining bank accounts, and banks want to provide this, but they do so at their own peril, as fraud syndicates are getting cleverer each day.

iiDENTIFii, an app that provides a remote biometric digital authentication and automated on-boarding technology platform, is designed to minimise many of these risks by offering various features to ensure one’s online identity is protected from start to finish. The application claims to prove the identity of a person within 30 seconds and with an accuracy of 1 error in 10 000. The current industry ratio is about 11 inaccuracies per 100 using standard biometrics.

Should a user decide to use a mobile phone and an ID document to sign up for a bank account, the app puts the following steps into process:

  • It checks to see that the person is  alive;
  • It then matches a selfie the user has taken with the image on their ID document;
  • The data is then extracted off the identity document – including the person’s name, surname and ID number;
  • Finally, all the data is matched with a facial biometric at an issuing authority or government department like Home Affairs.

Once all the steps have been satisfactorily met, iiDENTIFii will sign the customers onto its systems and hand them over to a bank of their choice where they can open up a new bank account.

In addition to setting up new bank accounts, iiDENTIFii allows one to set up accounts for online gambling, retail, property and travel.

Platform: A smartphone with a hi-res camera

Expect to pay: For costs relating to signing up with iiDENTIFii visit their site here.

Stockists: Visit iiDENTIFii here for more information.

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Hearables are the new wearables

Earworn devices were among the fastest growing categories of wearable in the last quarter, capturing almost half of the market

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Global wearable device shipments grew 85.2% in the second quarter of 2019 (2Q19) as shipments totaled 67.7 million units according to new data from the International Data Corporation (IDCWorldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker. Earworn devices (hearables) were among the fastest growing categories, capturing 46.9% of the overall wearables market during the quarter, up from 24.8% a year ago. Driving that growth was a slew of new products and consumers who purchased their second wearable, a hearable, to use in parallel with existing watches or wrist bands.

“The growing popularity of the hearables segment is forcing existing brands to reconsider past designs when launching new products, as evident in Samsung’s popular Galaxy Buds, while also attracting new brands to market,” said Jitesh Ubrani research manager for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. “And though it’s still early days, the market is showing signs of emerging subsegments such as hearables dedicated to sports from the likes of Jabra, premium hearables from companies such as Bose, and ones dedicated to hearing loss such as those from Nuheara.”

“What has been driving the hearables market is the experience,” says Ramon T. Llamas, research director, Wearables. “Quality audio is still the hallmark of hearables, but additional features – ranging from adjusting audio to smart assistants and health and fitness – increase their value and utility. As prices come down and more features come on board, this next generation of hearables will become the new normal for earphones.”

Hearable Company Highlights 

Apple led the market for hearables by capturing 50.2% share during the quarter. New products such as the refreshed AirPods and the latest from the Beats lineup helped the company grow 218.2% compared to last year. With the iPhone business facing challenges, Apple’s wearables business, particularly the popularity of the AirPods, is helping the company once again become the de facto standard though this time it’s for hearables.

Samsung, thanks to its self-branded devices and the JBL brand, captured the second position during the quarter. The highly publicized Galaxy Buds were one of the company’s most popular pair of hearables as the pair was bundled with the purchase of Samsung’s latest smartphone. Additionally, the JBL Tune 500BT managed to capture a large share as the low price and wide availability helped move a lot of volume.

Xiaomi’s AirDots (amongst other models) helped the company capture the third position. Though the company primarily sells its hearables in China, Xiaomi has already started to make inroads in other markets such as Europe and the Middle East with its smartphones and wrist bands. IDC expects Xiaomi to follow suit with its hearables.

Bose, a company with a long history of headphones and other audio products, ranked fourth in this market. The company’s long lineage in audio and premium offering has helped set the company apart from the remainder of the pack. The QC35ii and the SoundSport Free were two of its most popular products during the quarter. The latest Headphones 700 and upcoming Earbuds 500 should help the company maintain momentum in the upcoming quarters.

ReSound, the parent company of Jabra, rounded out the top 5 with 5.1% share and 132.9% growth. Jabra’s Elite Active 65t have been extremely popular as an alternative to Apple’s AirPods and have also been promoted heavily on Amazon’s store, allowing the company to pitch itself as a strong consumer brand in addition to its preexisting headset business that is targeted at office workers. At IFA 2019, Jabra announced the next version of the Elite Active series, which helps modernize the hearables and should provide healthy competition for others on the list.

Top 5 Wearable Companies, Hearable Devices only, by Shipment Volume, Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth, Q2 2019 (shipments in millions)

Company2Q19 
Shipments
2Q19 Market 
Share
2Q18 
Shipments
2Q18 Market 
Share
Year-over- 
Year Growth
1. Apple15.950.2%5.055.2%218.2%
2. Samsung3.310.2%0.910.2%252.1%
3. Xiaomi2.16.5%0.32.8%714.8%
4. Bose1.85.7%0.55.1%288.1%
5. ReSound1.65.1%0.77.7%132.9%
Others7.122.3%1.719.0%310.5%
Total31.8100.0%9.1100.0%250.0%
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Wearables Tracker, September 9, 2019

Note: IDC defines Earwear/Hearables as the wearables that hang on or plug into the ear. The device must operate wirelessly and provide stereo sound while also including at least one of the following features:

  • Track health/fitness (e.g., Samsung Gear IconX).
  • Modify audio, and not just noise reduction (e.g., Nuheara IQbuds).
  • Provide language translation on the device (e.g., Waverly Labs).
  • Enable smart assistants at the touch of a button or through hotword detection even if the assistant is running on another device such as a smartphone (e.g., Apple’s AirPods and Google’s Pixel Buds).

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Phishing attacks hook into iOS

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The number of phishing attacks targeting users of Mac computers, iOS-based mobile devices, and the associated web services ecosystem to lure them into fraudulent schemes has reached 1.6 million in the first half of 2019 (H1-19) – proving that the growing number of users of popular digital devices is clearly attracting more and more cybercriminals!

While the volume of malicious software threatening users of macOS and the iOS mobile platform is much lower than those threating users of Windows and Android platforms, when it comes to phishing – a platform agnostic cyberthreat – things are quite different. 

Phishing attacks rely on social engineering, which means most have nothing to do with software. In fact,  Kaspersky’s recent Threats to Mac Users research highlighted that the number of cases where users faced fraudulent web pages utilising the Apple brand, as a decoy, has increased significantly in the first six-months of the year, reaching 1.6 million. This figure is around 9% greater than attacks experienced during the whole of 2018, when Kaspersky security solutions prevented more than 1.49 million attempts to access Apple-themed phishing pages.

What’s more, some regions had more macOS users hit by phishing than others, for instance, Brazil leads this list with 30.9% of users attacked, followed by India with 22.1% – and while not as prominent as other regions (and in proportion to the number of Apple device users), South Africa still sits at 17.5%.

The research is based on threat statistics voluntarily shared by users of Kaspersky Security Network – a global cloud infrastructure designed for immediate response to emerging cyberthreats.

Among the most frequent fraud schemes are those designed to resemble the iCloud service interface, aimed at stealing credentials to Apple ID accounts. Links to such services usually come from spam emails posed as emails from technical support. They often threaten to block user accounts should they not click the link. 

Another widespread scheme is the use of scaremongering pages that try to convince the user that their computer is under serious security threat and it will only take a couple of clicks and a few dollars to solve those issues. 

“While technically these fraud schemes are nothing new, we believe they pose an even greater danger to Apple users than similar schemes against users of other platforms – such as Windows or Android. This is because the ecosystem around Macs and other Apple devices is generally considered a far safer environment. Therefore, users might be less cautious when they encounter fake websites. Meanwhile the successful theft of iCloud account credentials could lead to serious consequences – an iPhone or iPad could be remotely blocked or wiped by a malicious user, for example. We urge users of Apple devices to pay more attention to any emails they receive, especially those claiming to be from technical support and requesting the user’s details or asking the user to visit a link,” said Tatyana Sidorina, security researcher at Kaspersky.

In addition to a rise in phishing, thereport also revealed other types of threats to users of macOS-based devices. The results have demonstrated some relatively positive tendencies: the most common threats for Mac users proved not to be critically dangerous malware, like banking Trojans, but instead AdWare threats, which are not-necessarily fatal and defined as ‘potentially unwanted programs’. Most are threatening users by overloading their devices with unrequested advertisements, yet some of these programs might, in fact, turn out to be a disguise for more serious threats.

Other findings of the report include:

To keep your devices safe, Kaspersky recommends:

  • Keeping macOS and all your apps and programs up to date
  • Using only legitimate software, downloaded from official webpages or installed from the Mac App Store
  • Starting to use a reliable security solution like Kaspersky Internet Security that delivers advanced protection on Mac, as well as on PC and mobile devices.

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