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Fitbit Versa comes to SA

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Earlier this week, Fitbit announced the Versa smartwatch – the company’s lightest smartwatch to date, featuring a battery life of up to four days and cross platform capability.

Fitbit this week launched the new Versa smartwarch globally, including in South Africa. The Versa is available at Makro, Incredible Connection, Dion Wired, Dis-Chem, Totalsports, Due South, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Cape Union Mart and Takealot for R3 199. It is Fitbit’s lightest metal smartwatch yet, featuring advanced health and fitness features, more than four days battery life, and cross platform compatibility.  

Beginning in May, these new Fitbit features will be available:  

  • Quick replies: Android mobile device users can respond to messages on the go using Fitbit Versa and Fitbit Ionic  smartwatches, and create and send up to five custom pre-populated quick replies of 60 characters or less to text messages and messenger apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
  • Female health tracking: Available to all adult users who identify as female in the Fitbit app to track their menstrual cycle and symptoms. Versa and Ionic users will also be able to view female health tracking information on-device. 

“We’re thrilled for consumers around the world to experience Versa, a beautifully designed smartwatch for all with advanced health and fitness features, access to our large global social network and smart features people find most useful at an approachable price,” said James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit. “We believe Versa is a smartwatch that will have mass appeal, attracting new audiences and helping us capture a previously untapped segment of users in this growing wearables category.”

Fitbit provided the following information:

Powered by Fitbit OS 2.0, Versa makes your daily and weekly health and fitness data even more accessible on the go with a redesigned dashboard, which delivers action-oriented motivational messages, tips and tricks, and support to help you stay on track to reach your goals. Advanced health and fitness features include personalised on-device workouts with Fitbit Coach, enhanced 24/7 PurePulse® heart rate tracking, 15+ exercise modes plus automatic SmartTrack™ swim tracking with water resistance up to 50 meters, and automatic sleep stages tracking.

“The new features of the Versa will provide consumers with a lifestyle companion that caters to fitness needs and overall well-being support,” said Vincent Lamoureux, Director of New Markets of Fitbit. “It is designed to focus on fitness in addition to aspects relating to health, which will help consumers lead a holistic, healthful lifestyle. This is why we believe the Versa is the smartwatch for all.”  

In addition to new quick replies for Android users, Versa has the smart features you need including: app, calendar, call and text smartphone notifications; access to Fitbit’s growing App Gallery, now with more than 700 popular brand, developer and Fitbit Labs apps, and customisable clock faces; and on-device music for more motivation with access to Deezer, and personal music playlists. All of these features come with 4+ days battery life,iii and, like all Fitbit devices, Versa is compatible across Android, iOS and Windows devices. 

Pricing and availability 

Fitbit Versa is available today at global retail partner stores worldwide. The device is also available for sale at Fitbit.com and major online retailers for R3,199 (ZAR) in black with a black aluminum case, gray with a silver aluminum case, or peach with a rose gold aluminum case; accessories range from R499 – R1499 (ZAR). Fitbit Versa Special Edition is available for R3,699 (ZAR) in a lavender woven band with rose gold aluminum case or charcoal woven band with graphite aluminum case, each with an extra black classic band. 

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Huge appetite for foldable phones – when prices fall

Samsung, Huawei and Motorola have all shown their cards, but consumers are concerned about durability, size, and enhanced use cases, according to Strategy Analytics

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Foldable devices are a long-awaited disrupter in the smartphone market, exciting leading-edge early adopters keen for a bold new type of device. But the acceptance of foldable devices by mainstream segments will depend on the extent to which the current barriers to adoption are addressed.

Major brands have been throwing their foldable bets into the hat to see what the market wants from a foldable, namely how big the screens should be and how the devices should fold. Samsung and Huawei have both designed devices that unfold from smartphones to tablets, each with their own method of how the devices go about folding. Motorola has recently designed a smartphone that folds in half, and it resembles a flip phone.

Assessing consumer desire for foldable smartphones, a new report from the User Experience Strategies group at Strategy Analytics has found that the perceived value of the foldable form does not outweigh the added cost.

Key report findings include:

  • The idea of having a larger-displayed smartphone in a portable size is perceived as valuable to the vast majority of consumers in the UK and the US. But, willingness to pay extra for a foldable device does not align with the desire to purchase one. Manufacturers must understand that there will be low sell-through until costs come down.
  • But as the acceptance for traditional smartphone display sizes continues to increase, so does the imposed friction of trying to use them one-handed. Unless a foldable phone has a wider folded state, entering text when closed is too cumbersome, forcing users to utilize two hands to enter text, when in the opened state.
  • Use cases need to be adequately demonstrated for consumers to fully understand and appreciate the potential for a foldable phone, though their priorities seemed fixed on promoting ‘two devices in one’ equaling a better video viewing experience. Identification and promotion of meaningful new use cases will be vital to success.

Christopher Dodge, Associate Director, UXIP and report author said: “As multitasking will look to be a core selling point for foldable phones, it is imperative that the execution be simplified and intuitive. Our data suggests there are a lot of uncertainties that come with foldable phone ownership, stemming mainly from concerns with durability and size, in addition to concerns over enhanced use cases.

“But our data also shows that when the consumers are able to use a foldable phone in hand, there is a solid reduction of doubt and concern about the concept. This means that the in-store experience may more important than ever in driving awareness, capabilities, and potential use cases.”

Said Paul Brown, Director, UXIP: “The big question is whether the perceived value will outweigh the added cost; and the initial response from consumers is ‘no.’ The ability for foldable displays to resolve real consumer pain-points is, in our view critical to whether these devices will become a niche segment of the smartphone market or the dominant form-factor of the future. Until costs come down, these devices will not take off.”

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New exploit exposes credit cards on mobile phones

Check Point Security has found that handsets using Qualcomm chipsets that hold credit and debit card credentials are at risk of a new exploit.

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Now it’s more important than ever to update your phone.
Check Point security has found a vulnerability in mobile devices that run Android, which allows credit card details to be accessed by hackers.

Mobile operating systems like Android offer a Rich Execution Environment (REE), providing a hugely extensive and versatile runtime environment, which allows apps to run on the device. However, while bringing flexibility and capability, REE leaves devices vulnerable to a wide range of security threats. A Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) is designed to reside alongside the REE and provide a safe area on the device to protect assets and to execute trusted code. Qualcomm makes use of a secure virtual processor, which is often referred to as the “secure world”, in comparison to the “non-secure world”, where REE resides. 

But Check Point “fuzzed” a “hole” into this secure world 

In a 4-month research project, Check Point researchers attempted and succeeded to reverse Qualcomm’s “Secure World” operating system. Check Point researchers leveraged a “fuzzing” technique to expose the hole. Fuzz testing (fuzzing) is a quality assurance technique used to discover coding errors and security loopholes in software, operating systems or networks. It involves inputting massive amounts of random data, called fuzz, to the test subject in an attempt to make it crash.

Check Point implemented a custom-made fuzzing tool, which tested trusted code on Samsung, LG, and Motorola devices. Through fuzzing, Check Point found 4 vulnerabilities in trusted code implemented by Samsung (including S10), 1 in Motorola, 1 in LG, but all code sourced by Qualcomm itself. To address the vulnerability, the runtime of Android needs to be protected from both attackers and users. This is typically achieved by moving the secure storage software to a hardware-supported TEE.

Check Point Research disclosed its findings directly to the companies and gave them time to patch vulnerabilities. Samsung patched three vulnerabilities and LG patched one. Motorola and Qualcomm responded, but have yet to provide a patch, and there is no confirmation of a release date yet.

Check Point Research has urged mobile phone users to stay vigilant and check their credit and debit card providers for any unusual activity. In the meantime, they are working with the vendors mentioned to issue patches.

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