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Fitbit takes high road with new low-price devices

Fitbit has launched four new wearables aimed at making health and fitness more affordable and accessible to consumers.

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Fitbit provided the following information:

Building on the success of the Fitbit Versa family of devices, Fitbit Versa Lite Edition is an everyday smartwatch with most of the core fitness and smart features Versa is known for, including automatic activity, PurePulse 24/7 heart rate and Sleep Stages tracking, 15+ goal-based exercise modes, connected GPS, smartphone notifications, apps, 4+ day battery life, and relative SpO2 sensor, which has the potential to estimate changes in blood oxygen levels and help track new health indicators about health, such as sleep apnea. It features a simple one-button, lightweight, swimproof design in new bold colour choices for the young at heart.

At recommended retail price of R2 999, Versa Lite Edition is Fitbit’s most affordable smartwatch yet, for users who want an attractive, versatile, and easy-to-use device with core features, actionable insights and personal guidance to motivate them to improve their health.

Fitbit Inspire HR is the brand’s most affordable and stylish 24/7 heart rate tracking device at a recommended retail price of R1 999. It packs all-day automatic activity, exercise and Sleep Stages tracking, with 15+ goal-based exercise modes, connected GPS, and Relax guided breathing in a stylish, slim design.

For consumers who are new to wearables and want an even lower-cost, easy-to-use tracker, Fitbit Inspire is available and is recommended to retail at the price of R1 299. It has the essential health and fitness features to help consumers stay motivated, including automatic activity, exercise and sleep tracking, goal celebrations, Reminders to Move and timer and stopwatch apps to help users stay on track. Both products have a new modern, comfortable and swimproof design with a touchscreen display, smartphone notifications, and up to 5 days of battery life for day to night wear.

Fitbit Ace 2 helps kids ages 6+ learn healthy habits at an early age and encourages them to spend more active time with family and friends, this new device will retail at a recommended price of R1 299. Ace 2 has a new swimproof design with a bumper to protect the screen during kid-related activities all day long and is available in fun and bold kid-friendly colours and accessories that include patterned designs. Ace 2 debuts new animated clock faces,motivating challenges to keep kids moving, and colourful avatars and cover photos to personalise their profiles within the Fitbit app. Additionally, parents must create a Fitbit family account to set up Ace 2 with their child’s account which helps them stay on top of their kids’ activities.

Innovative app update to motivate and inspire

The Fitbit app will soon receive a major redesign, giving users more ways to personalise their health journey on Fitbit. The new design will make it easier to view and understand their health and fitness stats, log data, discover new content, see their progress in Challenges, and better connect with Fitbit’s large global health and fitness social community. The update also adds Fitbit Focus, a new section found at the top of the dashboard that delivers relevant insights, messages and tips to keep users engaged, informed and motivated.

“Being ‘on Fitbit’ is about more than just wearing a device. The power is in the platform we’ve built that connects our devices, software, services and engaged community to support people at every step of their journey and help drive positive behavior change,” said Jonah Becker, VP of design at Fitbit. “We are always looking for ways to enhance that experience, so we redesigned the Fitbit app to give people more ways to tailor it, with easier access to tools and a global community that can help motivate them to reach their goals. This flexible mobile platform will allow us to offer more personalised services in the future, including coaching, guidance and insights based on personal data, making our app more valuable to consumers.”

Additionally, the Fitbit Community Feed is expanding this month to more than 80 new markets in nine languages to users across Asia, Europe and Latin America. A friendly and welcoming social network that provides support, accountability and motivation from friends and other like-minded individuals, this global expansion of the Fitbit Community will enable more users to fully unlock the value of the Fitbit platform.

Versa Lite Edition is available for R 2999 in white, lilac, mulberry and marina blue.

Versa Lite Edition accessories feature materials including stain-resistant, swim-ready and comfortable classic silicone bands in three new vibrant, fashion-forward colours: marina blue, mulberry and lilac. All new Versa Lite Edition accessories are compatible with the Versa family of smartwatches, and existing Versa accessories are compatible with Versa Lite Edition.

Inspire HR is available for R1 999 in black, lilac and two-tone black and white; Inspire is available for R1299 in black and sangria. Inspire HR and Inspire classic accessory brands are stain-resistant silicone.

Ace 2 will be available in stores and online for R1299 in watermelon with teal clasp or night sky with neon yellow clasp featuring motivational messages and active graphics designed for kids.

Fitbit Versa Lite Edition, Inspire HR and Inspire devices will be available at leading retailers in April 2019.

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AppDate: uKheshe bring banking to the masses

In his apps roundup, SEAN BACHER highlights uKheshe, FNB’s banking app with its will feature, Split Payments, Momentum Safety Alert and Fleetonomy.

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uKheshe micro transaction platform

Financial inclusion took another step forward as local start-up, uKheshe, South Africa’s cheapest and most convenient QR cash card and micro transaction platform, won the 2019 Global Fintech Hackcelerator @ Southern Africa competition. 

“The issue of financial inclusion is a global one and the more we can do to uplift the unbanked and under banked, the healthier their respective economies will become,” says Clayton Hayward, co-founder, uKheshe.

While 1.2 billion people have opened a financial account since 2011, there is still an estimated 1.7 billion adults worldwide (or 31% of adults) who don’t have a basic transaction account.  Globally, two-thirds of adults without an account cite a lack of money as a key reason, which implies that financial services aren’t yet affordable or designed to fit low-income users.

To find out more about uKheshe click here

FNB’s banking app with will feature

First National Bank now lets its customers draw up their own wills via the FNB Online Banking platform at no cost. To date, the bank has seen a significant increase in the number of clients who drafted their own wills online, with over 52 000 clients already accessing the functionality.

Approximately 80% of South Africans don’t have a valid will in place; and many people believe that it’s a need only when they get older, or later in life. 

“Whilst the digital process is simple and easy to use, the solution also helps with a dedicated client support centre should clients need further assistance or advice regarding the drafting of their wills,” says Johan Strydom, Growth Head, FNB Wealth and Investments. “The solution aims to simplify the process and allows customers to easily draft a will online anytime and at any place, at no cost. In addition, FNB will keep your original will in safe custody at no extra cost.”

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Available the FNB app which can be be downloaded here.

Split Payments

PayFast has launched Split Payments, a South African-first that instantly splits a portion of an online payment with a third party. The service is designed to facilitate fast, safe payments for platform-based businesses, including online marketplaces.

For those who run a marketplace that brings together multiple sellers or merchants looking for new sales channels, Split Payments addresses payment headaches with a simple API integration.

Consumers are used to engaging with large global transactional platforms such as AirBnB, Uber, and Amazon. The benefits and extended reach of these types of platforms are catching on locally, and organisations like estate agency groups and even community marketplaces are setting up digital trading platforms.

The app allows businesses to instantly split out commission, membership or listing fees, when a payment is made via one of its supported payment methods.

For each online payment received  the business can determine what the split is, either a fixed amount, a percentage, or a combination of both. Custom recurring payment integration, such as subscriptions payments, can also be split automatically.

Platform: iOS and Android

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Download Split Payments here

Read more about Momentum’s new Safety Alert app and Fleetonomy.

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Why 4G is still a thing

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Even with the 5G era already upon us, investment in 4G/LTE networks is still vitally important for operators in sub-Saharan Africa and must remain a core focus of network construction for the immediate future. This is according to David Chen, Vice-President, Huawei Southern Africa. 

“Currently, the mobile broadband penetration rate in Africa is only 47%, while 4G penetration rate is merely 10%,” Chen said.

“Insufficient coverage causes LTE users to fall back to the 2G or 3G networks, resulting in significant decline in user experience. It also leads to congestion on the 2G and 3G networks and makes it difficult to release spectrum used by 2G and 3G.”

Chen said that LTE and 5G complement each other and are evolving in parallel. In the next few years, 5G will mainly be used in more industrial communications.

LTE will remain the primary choice for global mobile communications through 2025. It will form the basic layer of national networks, especially when it comes to the mobile broadband access.

“It will take a long time for 5G to provide nationwide continuous coverage. Before that, enhanced LTE networks can guarantee optimal user experience for 5G users, including services such as VR, AR, and cloud gaming,” said Chen.

He said that it is important for operators to invest in 4G to secure future growth, as it is estimated that there will be an additional 80 million LTE users in sub-Saharan Africa by 2025.

Driven by this growth, LTE traffic in sub-Saharan Africa will increase by a factor of 8.8. By 2025, about 80% of all data traffic in the region will be over an LTE network.

LTE will also be the main source of future revenue for operators.

“According to GSMA Intelligence, 2G and 3G users in sub-Saharan Africa will gradually migrate to 4G,” said Chen. “By 2025, the proportion of 2G users will drop from 46% to 12%.”

Part of the reason for the migration to 4G is because the ecosystem is mature.

“The price of feature phones supporting VoLTE in the sub-Saharan Africa market has been as low as $25,” Chen said.

Since 5G equipment is already available, there is an opportunity for operators to build out their 4G networks while ensuring that they can evolve to 5G in future.

Chen offered the following tips to operators to ensure they are ready for 5G:

  • All future equipment installations should be 5G ready, allowing easy upgrades to 5G through software updates.
  • Software should support multi-standard spectrum sharing to improve spectrum efficiency, and to allow the smooth migration of 2G and 3G users.
  • Networks must support 4G and 5G coordination, in terms of spectrum, operation and maintenance. This will ensure that users have a consistent experience as we enter the 5G era.
  • The value of existing ICT infrastructure, such as base station sites, must be maximised to avoid overlapping services and wasted resources. This would mean boosting the capacity and coverage of every station for optimum efficiency.
  • Carriers should explore the business case for all possible 5G innovations when building 4G networks, and not just embrace 5G for its own sake. This will mean building business models around IoT, video, live broadcast, augmented reality, and virtual reality.
  • It is important that operators build partnerships with providers that can support the ongoing spectrum evolution with fast site upgrades and large-capacity solutions. The idea is to maximise the value of 4G networks, and smoothly evolve to 5G without unnecessary infrastructure investment.

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