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Fitbit OS 4.1: Always-on display, new sleep tools

Fitbit will be releasing the Fitbit OS 4.1 software update in December, delivering always-on display mode for Versa 2 and new sleep tools like smart wake, among other features.

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Fitbit has announced several new software updates, bringing advancements to its smartwatches and Fitbit Premium membership service. The release of OS 4.1 for its smartwatches powers new sleep features and greater app functionality. Fitbit Versa 2 will boast an enriched always-on display mode, and a new advanced heart rate algorithm featuring improved tracking, while providing 6+ days of battery life.

Fitbit is also continuing to roll out new content and tools to enhance its Fitbit Premium membership, including a personal wellness report, developed in consultation with leading medical professionals from institutions like University of California Los Angeles, and University of California San Francisco. In addition, over the coming months, Fitbit will be rolling out new programmes, challenges and wellness content, as well as workouts from global brands like Daily Burn, Down Dog, Gaiam, POPSUGAR and Whil.

“Staying motivated to maintain your health and fitness routine is really hard around the holiday season,” says James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit. “We’re focused on making it more achievable through a combination of affordable devices, engaging software and our Premium membership to help you stay on track. The new Fitbit OS update and added Premium features give users even more support with innovative smartwatch tools, fresh workouts, new programs and more, setting users up for success going into the new year.”

The OS 4.1 update brings highly-anticipated features announced with Versa 2 to Fitbit Ionic. Among the latest in Fitbit’s innovative sleep tools, OS 4.1 delivers smart wake, a silent on-device alarm to wake users with subtle vibrations at an optimal time in their sleep cycles. Users will also receive a nightly Sleep Score on-device, giving them a glanceable view of the quality of their night’s rest, alongside sleep stats.

One of the most requested updates, a new clock face switcher, lets users store up to five clock faces from nearly 4,000 available in the Fitbit App Gallery directly on-device, for quickly swapping clock faces to match an outfit, activity or mood. A new five-star rating system has been updated within the Fitbit App Gallery, allowing users to rate and recommend apps and clock faces with the Fitbit user community.

Specific to Versa 2 users, Fitbit has doubled-down to enrich the recently-launched always-on display mode to deliver five additional clock face options. Now in colour, these feature full health and fitness stats, with faster transitions between always-on and active views, powered by the device’s AMOLED display, featuring a 2+ day battery life.

Fitbit’s advanced 24/7 PurePulse heart rate tracking keeps users motivated and informed by tracking heart rate throughout the day. The technology also powers essential Fitbit features, such as Sleep Stages and Cardio Fitness Score, that provide deeper insights into one’s overall health and fitness.

Fitbit has announced it has been working on an innovative algorithm that will deliver the best heart rate tracking experience yet on a Fitbit device to Versa 2 as part of the OS 4.1 software update. The new PurePulse algorithm, designed in-house by Fitbit R&D experts, uses machine learning to recognise the unique signature of heart rate in the optical sensor, leading to higher accuracy overall.

Fitbit OS 4.1 will begin rolling out to Fitbit smartwatch users the first week of December.

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Acer launches two new 4K monitors

Acer has launched two monitors for higher-end consumers who use their home computers for gaming and graphically-intensive work.

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Acer has unveiled two new monitors, CB342CKC and CB282K, which form part of its high specification range of 4K monitors.

The monitors feature In-Plane Switching ZeroFrame technology, which removes the bezel to give seamless visuals. The sharp 4K UHD display is 16:9 up to 3840X2160 high resolution.

Vesa DisplayHDR creates deeper levels of black and white contrast, giving a greater immersion through realistic image recreation. Brighter scenes glimmer with detail, while in darker scenes, details typically hidden in the shadows are enhanced for greater overall luminance.

With Radeon FreeSync, a game’s frame rate is determined by the graphics card, not the fixed refresh rate of the monitor, which eliminates screen tearing and delivers very smooth gaming experiences. The Acer CB342CKC monitor also features 1ms Visual Response Boost (VRB), which results in a much clearer and less noticeable blur in fast-moving images.

The Acer CB342CKC monitor features a USB 3.1 Type-C port that can plug into smartphones, tablets or laptops. This provides the device that’s plugged in with data transfer and device charging capabilities, while it mirrors the display, with a single cable.

With a firm, stainless steel base, monitors can easily tilt, pivot and swivel to make height adjustments without a hassle. A quick-release design means the monitor can be separated from its stand so it can be VESA wall-mounted. Both Acer CB2 monitors also feature Acer Display Widget utility software. The split-screen feature is able to divide the screen into several regions. Users can quickly split the window with a hotkey or via the split-screen setting menu, making the workspace as clean as possible.

The Acer CB342CKC monitor will be available in EMEA in May starting at €549, while the CB282K monitor will be available in April starting at €399.

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Sophos launches AI-enhanced firewall

Cybersecurity provider Sophos has launched a firewall product that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to detect and reduce security risks associated with encrypted traffic.

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Sophos has introduced a new architecture for the Sophos XG Firewall called “Xstream”, which traffic decryption capabilities for encrypted malware connections. XG Firewall now also features AI-enhanced threat analysis from SophosLabs and accelerated application performance.

Sophos says 23% of malware families uses encrypted communication for Command and Control (C2) or for installation of the malware. Three common present Trojans – Trickbot, IcedID, and Dridex – leverage TLS during the course of their attacks. Cybercriminals also use TLS to hide their exploits, payloads and stolen content and to avoid detection. In fact, 44% of prevalent information stealers use encryption to sneak hijacked data, including bank and financial account passwords and other sensitive credentials, out from under organisations’ noses.

“As SophosLabs’ research demonstrates, cybercriminals are boldly embracing encryption in an attempt to bypass security products,” says Dan Schiappa, chief product officer at Sophos. 

“Unfortunately, most firewalls lack scalable TLS crypto capabilities and are unable to inspect encrypted traffic without causing applications to break or degrade network performance. With the new Xstream architecture in XG Firewall, Sophos is providing critical visibility into an enormous blind spot while eliminating frustrating latency and compatibility issues with full support for the latest TLS 1.3 standard. Sophos’ internal benchmark tests have clocked a two-fold performance boost in the new XG TLS inspection engine as compared to previous XG versions. This is a game-changer.”

Latency too often deters IT admins from using decryption, as seen in an independent Sophos survey of 3,100 IT managers in 12 countries. The survey white paper, The Achilles Heel of Next-Gen Firewalls, reports that while 82% of respondents agreed TLS inspection is necessary, only 3.5% of organisations are decrypting their traffic to properly inspect it.
Key new features of XG Firewall include:

  • Inspection of TLS 1.3 to detect cloaked malware: New port-agnostic TLS engine doubles crypto operation performance over previous XG versions
  • Optimised critical application performance: New FastPath policy controls accelerate performance of SD-WAN applications and traffic, including Voice over IP, SaaS, and others, to up to wire speed
  • Adaptive traffic scanning: The newly enhanced Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) engine dynamically risk-assesses traffic streams and matches them to the appropriate threat scanning level, enhancing throughput by up to 33% across most network environments
  • Threat analysis with SophosLabs intelligence: Provides network administrators with the SophosLabs AI-enhanced threat analysis needed to understand and adjust defences to protect against a constantly changing threat landscape
  • Comprehensive cloud management and reporting in Sophos Central: Centralised management and reporting capabilities in Sophos Central provide customers with group firewall management and flexible cloud reporting across an entire estate without additional charge
  • Integration with Sophos Managed Threat Response (MTR) service: Customers of XG Firewall who also subscribe to the Sophos MTR Advanced service will have deeper actionable intelligence to prevent, detect and respond to threats, as a result of the integration

Sophos XG Firewall is available in the cloud-based Sophos Central platform alongside Sophos’ portfolio of cybersecurity solutions. Sophos’ Synchronized Security approach empowers these solutions to work together for real-time information sharing and threat response.

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