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Fitbit steps into voice control with Versa 2

The Versa 2 is Fitbit’s first smartwatch with an on-device microphone for voice commands.

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Fitbit has announced the launch of Fitbit Versa 2, the next generation of its popular Versa smartwatch. The Versa 2 delivers a new swimproof design, which includes innovative sleep features like Sleep Score and smart wake, and is packed with more advanced health, fitness and smart features. 
For added convenience, Versa 2 debuts an on-device microphone, which enables voice to text (on Android-linked devices only), along with a Spotify app that allows users to control their music and podcasts, and Fitbit Pay. Coupled with faster performance, thousands of apps and clock faces and a brighter, a crisper display with an optional always-on mode Versa 2 is a 24/7 health and wellness companion – now with 5+ days battery life.

“At Fitbit, we believe that health belongs to everyone and that people should not be priced out of having access to devices and features that can help them improve their health,” said James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit. “That’s why we’ve designed Versa 2 to be a premium, full-featured and easy-to-use smartwatch at an accessible price point. 
“Building on the success of our original best-selling Versa smartwatch, we believe the added value and innovation in Versa 2, with new features like a Spotify app and advanced in-app and on-device sleep features, will bring more users into the smartwatch category, allowing them to unlock the benefits of better health.”

Sleep is critical to maintaining overall health and wellness, and when surveyed by Fitbit, nearly two-thirds (64%) of participants list sleep as a very important health and fitness priority. Fitbit pioneered wearable sleep tracking more than 10 years ago, making information previously only available from a medical professional, widely accessible on the wrist. 
As a leader in tracked sleep, it has applied learnings from more than 10.5-billion nights of sleep tracked to innovate in this critical area of health, and the latest sleep features will not only help you better understand your sleep, but provide the features to help you improve it:

  • Sleep Score: Receive a nightly score within the Fitbit app for better insight into one’s sleep quality. The score is based on heart rate (sleeping and resting), restlessness, time awake and Sleep Stages. 
  • Smart wake: Coming soon to all Fitbit smartwatches, smart wake uses machine learning to wake users during an optimal time of their sleep cycle, while in light or REM sleep, based on a pre-selected 30-minute interval, so they wake up feeling more refreshed. 
  • Estimated Oxygen Variation Graph: Coming soon, this graph will provide users with an estimate of the variability of oxygen levels in their bloodstream. The data is derived from a combination of the red and infrared sensors on the back of your device. Being aware of short term variations in the oxygen levels in your bloodstream may indicate variations in your breathing during sleep.

Added convenience and smart features

Versa 2 comes with more features to add convenience, like Fitbit Pay, so users can make secure wallet -free payments at retailers with contactless payment functionalities. 

Fitbit is also adding the Spotify app experience to Versa 2, allowing Spotify Premium subscribers to control music and podcasts from the wrist. Fitbit has said the Spotify app is not fully available in South Africa yet, but will likely become available soon after the launch of the Versa 2. Deezer fans are in luck though: Versa 2 has the ability to store and play 300+ songs from one’s personal music library and add Deezer playlists. 

Pricing and availability

Versa 2 will be available for R3,999 in black with a carbon case, petal with a copper rose aluminium case, and stone with a mist grey case; accessories will be available from select local retailers. Versa 2 Special Edition will be available for an R4,999 in navy and pink with a copper rose aluminium case and smoke with a mist grey case. Versa 2 will be available in stores mid-October from select local retailers. 

Premium personalised workouts with Fitbit Premium

Fitbit has also announced Fitbit Premium, a paid subscription service in the Fitbit app that takes a user’s unique data to deliver Fitbit’s most personalised experience to date, with actionable guidance and coaching to help users achieve their health and fitness goals. Premium leverages insights from 10+ years of Fitbit data, as well as academic and medical expertise, to help users move more, sleep better and eat well with customised programs. A 90-day free trial of Fitbit Premium will be available on the Versa 2.    

Fitbit launches an updated, affordable Aria smart scale

Fitbit has also announced the Fitbit Aria Air, an affordable Bluetooth smart scale. This will be available locally for R1,099 at select retailers. 

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IBM unveils new cloud data privacy platform

Designed for hybrid multicloud security, IBM z15 enhances cloud-native app development and includes a new instant recovery feature.

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IBM has announced IBM z15, a new enterprise platform delivering the ability to manage the privacy of customer data across hybrid multicloud environments. With z15, clients can manage who gets access to data via policy-based controls, with an industry-first capability to revoke access to data across the hybrid cloud. 

The movement of data between partners and third parties is often the root cause of data breaches. In fact, 60 percent of businesses reported they suffered a data breach caused by a vendor or third party in 2018. With the growing adoption of hybrid multicloud environments, the challenge of maintaining data security and privacy only grows more acute and challenging.

The IBM z15 system culminates four years of development with over 3,000 IBM Z patents issued or in process and represents a collaboration with input from over 100 companies. Key z15 innovations from these investments across IBM Systems and Research include:

  • Encryption Everywhere – Building upon pervasive encryption, IBM unveiled new Data Privacy Passports technology that clients can use to gain control over how data is stored and shared – enabling the ability to protect and provision data and revoke access to that data at any time, not only within the z15 environment but across an enterprise’s hybrid multicloud environment. z15 also can encrypt data everywhere – across hybrid multicloud environments – to help enterprises secure their data wherever it travels.
  • Cloud-Native Development – Can give clients a competitive advantage by evolving how they modernize apps in place, build new cloud-native apps and securely integrate their most important workloads across clouds. Clients are already using IBM Z for their mission-critical workloads to build, deploy and manage next-gen apps and protect data through advanced security.
  • Instant Recovery – An industry-first approach to limiting the cost and impact of planned and unplanned downtime, enabling users to access full system capacity for a period of time to accelerate shutdown and restart of IBM Z services and provide a temporary capacity boost to rapidly recover from lost time.

Rising Importance of Data Privacy in Doing Business

A new IBM commissioned study conducted by The Harris Poll released today found that 64 percent of all consumers have opted not to work with a business out of concerns of whether they could keep their data secure. However, that same study found 76 percent of respondents would be more willing to share personal information if there was a way to fully take back and retrieve that data at any time. With z15, pervasive encryption is designed to extend across the enterprise enforcing data privacy by policy even when it leaves the IBM Z platform. With this industry-first capability, clients can offer new services and features that give their consumers stronger control over how their personal data is used.

The Next Phase of Digital Transformation – Moving Mission-Critical Work to the Cloud

Businesses today have reportedly already completed the first 20 percent of their cloud journey. z15 is uniquely positioned to help companies take this next step in their digital transformation efforts to move mission critical workloads (the other 80 percent) to the cloud by delivering a hyper-secure, agile and continuously available platform.

As the center of a secured hybrid cloud strategy, today, two-thirds of the Fortune 100 are using IBM Z. With z15, clients can:

  • Process up to 1 trillion web transactions a day, support massive databases, and scale-out to 2.4 million Linux containers in a single z15 system — up to 2.3 times more Linux containers per core on a z15 LPAR versus a compared bare-metal x86 platform, running an identical web server load. 
  • Address mission-critical latency challenges by delivering up to 30x lower latency and up to 28 times less CPU utilization on z15 by compressing secure web transaction data before encryption using the Integrated Accelerator for z Enterprise Data Compression instead of using software compression.
  • Leverage 12 percent more cores than z14, and 25 percent more memory than z14 to help meet the needs of today’s digital businesses.

Data-Centric Privacy Controls 

Data Privacy Passports is a consolidated data privacy solution that is engineered to extend clients’ ability to deliver privacy by not only protecting data on-premises at the infrastructure level, but allows clients to provision data rules to manage individual user access across private, public and hybrid cloud data at the data level.

Bringing Cloud-Native App Development to IBM Z 

Last month, IBM announced intent to deliver Red Hat OpenShift on IBM Z and LinuxONE. This offering will accelerate the transformation to greater portability and agility through integrated tooling and a feature-rich ecosystem for cloud-native development on Linux on IBM Z and LinuxONE offerings. Cloud developers can deploy z/OS applications on OpenShift with no special Z skills required.

Mission-Critical Work Done with No Time Lost 

For both planned and unplanned downtime, Instant Recovery brings clients the ability to unlock the full power of z15, spinning up built-in cores to return to pre-shutdown SLAs, while uniquely catching up on business transactions up to 2.5x faster than previously possible.

For more information on z15, visit www.ibm.com/z15.

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New Fortnite figurines to launch at Comic Con Africa

McFarlane Toys will introduce new Fortnite figurines at Comic Con Africa this week.

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Megarom Interactive has announced a partnership with McFarlane Toys to release a range of Fortnite premium collectible action figures at Comic Con Africa 2019.

The new Fortnite branded collection will feature seven-inch premium figures, inspired by top character skins across the game’s universe and modelled from in-game assets. Each figure has over 22 moving parts for increased pose-ability as well as their own back bling, weapon, and pickaxe.

The McFarlane Toys Fortnite collection will be on display and available for purchase from the Fortnite Merchandise Store in Hall 5, stand H03, at Comic Con Africa 2019.

The collection will be available from these participating retailers across South Africa at the end of September:

  • Toy Kingdom
  • Game4U
  • Takealot
  • Raru
  • Loot
  • PWNED
  • Dark Carnival
  • Juice bubble
  • Local independents

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