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Samsung’s 3 new Gears gear up wearables

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Samsung has introduced three Gear devices to its wearable portfolio. The Gear Sport, a smartwatch that is water resistant; the Gear Fit2 Pro and the Gear IconX, the next generation wireless earbuds.

The new devices assist with a range of activities across robust fitness tracking to nutrition and sleep monitoring, as well as motivational coaching as a lifestyle companion. Through the introduction of new smart capabilities, easy-to-use features and by partnering with leading names in technology and fitness, Samsung is enabling consumers to go beyond fitness, to accomplish even bigger things.

“Samsung has a long history of innovating technologies that meet consumers goals and aspirations. Whether you are going for a jog or training for a triathlon, Samsung’s wearables are designed with everyday athletes, of varying fitness levels, in mind. Our wearables defy the stereotype that being fit requires spending copious amounts of time in the gym with fitness trackers that are complex and only compatible with the most intense workouts. Rather, the new Samsung Gear wearables enable consumers of all shapes and sizes to ‘go beyond fitness’ to enjoy an active, balanced and fulfilled life in a smart and seamless way,” said Justin Hume, Chief Marketing Officer at Samsung South Africa.”

As part of this updated line-up, Samsung created new capabilities for Gear Sport and Gear Fit2 Pro:

·         Industry-Leading Water Resistance and Swim Tracking: An ideal companion for any swimming activity – from laps to playing in the pool – these devices are 5 ATM certified for water resistance. Now with Speedo’s latest swimming training app, Speedo On, the Gear Sport and Gear Fit2 Pro also allow consumers to easily track key swim metrics including lap count, lap time, stroke type and more.

·         Top-of-the-line Heart Rate Monitoring: With improved accuracy, the devices offer advanced real-time heart rate monitoring. They help consumers to continuously monitor heart activity such as while enjoying an invigorating cycling class.

·         Premium Partnerships: Daily activity can be supplemented with updated Under Armour and Spotify partnerships. Both devices provide access to Under Armour’s fitness apps including Under Armour Record, MyFitnessPal, MapMyRun and Endomondo for activity, nutrition, sleep and fitness tracking functions – these apps provide users with a holistic picture of their health and fitness. Spotify’s Offline mode lets users listen to their favourite music online, offline or even without a smartphone so they can enjoy their favourite tunes regardless of location.

·         Auto Activity Detection: Automatic activity detection built into the devices are in tune with the body and can recognise the following categories of activities: Walking, Running, Cycling and performing Dynamic Activities that could include dancing to basketball.

·         Personalised Motivation: Consumers can customise a wellness plan with tailored goals and alerts.

Gear Sport: A new versatile smartwatch to support an active and balanced lifestyle 

Gear Sport is stylish, yet practical with a minimalistic, circular bezel, Super AMOLED 1.2-inch display and improved user interface that makes it easy to view information, even when on-the-go. With Gear Sport, users can work to achieve health and wellness goals, and receive nutrition management alerts and activity recommendations even when they are offline.

Designed with military-level durability, it can handle a wide-range of environments. With its sleek, ergonomic form, it can be worn in a variety of colourful and easily changeable standard 20mm straps, and it is perfect for any occasion so you can effortlessly transition from the gym to a night out with friends. Gear Sport is available in blue and black and also includes Gear foundational functions to:

·          Control Samsung IoT-enabled devices through Samsung Connect

·          Act as a remote control, whether for a PowerPoint presentation or Samsung Gear VR headset

·          Pay for goods with a flick of the wrist via Samsung Pay (NFC Only)

Gear Fit2 Pro: An advanced GPS fitness band

In addition to new swim and heart rate monitoring capabilities, the new Gear Fit2 Pro features advanced built-in GPS tracking to capture a run or ride with accurate activity tracking. Gear Fit2 Pro’s Super AMOLED curved 1.5-inch display and a high-resolution colour touchscreen make real-time updates and notifications easier to read. The all-new secure, ergonomic band is light weight and comfortable to use for all activities. Available in black and red, its versatile design also makes it a stylish accessory.

Gear IconX: Comfortable fit, cord-free earbuds

IconX cord-free earbuds enables consumers to effortlessly listen to their favourite music – making the daily commute more enjoyable or helping to get more from a workout. Music can be enjoyed on and offline by transferring songs from a Samsung smartphone or PC, or accessing tunes through Bluetooth connectivity. The earbuds are also the newest connection to Bixby. With a simple tap and hold of the earbud consumers can use their voice to control music or the phone – without even having to hold it.

The updated design comes in black, grey and pink and is more ergonomic and lightweight so they are effectively secure, comfortable and stylish to use. For the fitness enthusiast, the Gear IconX automatically tracks running routines, and also features the standalone Running Coach function which can be activated by simply tapping the earbud to provide in-ear audio exercise status updates – in real-time and without a phone. With a fast-charging and improved battery life of up to five hours of music streaming or seven hours of standalone music playback, and up to 4GB of internal storage, consumers can enjoy a seamless and fully standalone music listening experience.

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Revealing the real cost of ‘free’ online services

A free service by Finnish cybersecurity provider F-Secure reveals the real cost of using “free” services by Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon, among others.

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What do Google, Facebook, and Amazon have in common? Privacy and identity scandals. From Cambridge Analytica to Google’s vulnerability in Google+, the amount of personal data sitting on these platforms is enormous.

Cybersecurity provider F-Secure has released a free online tool that helps expose the true cost of using some of the web’s most popular free services. And that cost is the abundance of data that has been collected about users by Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon Alexa, Twitter, and Snapchat. The good news is that you can take back your data “gold”.

F-Secure Data Discovery Portal sends users directly to the often hard-to-locate resources provided by each of these tech giants that allow users to review their data, securely and privately.

“What you do with the data collection is entirely between you and the service,” says Erka Koivunen, F-Secure Chief Information Security Officer. “We don’t see – and don’t want to see – your settings or your data. Our only goal is to help you find out how much of your information is out there.”

More than half of adult Facebook users, 54%, adjusted how they use the site in the wake of the scandal that revealed Cambridge Analytica had collected data without users’ permission.* But the biggest social network in the world continues to grow, reporting 2.3 billion monthly users at the end of 2018.**

“You often hear, ‘if you’re not paying, you’re the product.’ But your data is an asset to any company, whether you’re paying for a product or not,” says Koivunen. “Data enables tech companies to sell billions in ads and products, building some of the biggest businesses in the history of money.”

F-Secure is offering the tool as part of the company’s growing focus on identity protection that secures consumers before, during, and after data breaches. By spreading awareness of the potential costs of these “free” services, the Data Discovery Portal aims to make users aware that securing their data and identity is more important than ever.

A recent F-Secure survey found that 54% of internet users over 25 worry about someone hacking into their social media accounts.*** Data is only as secure as the networks of the companies that collect it, and the passwords and tactics used to protect our accounts. While the settings these sites offer are useful, they cannot eliminate the collection of data.

Koivunen says: “While consumers effectively volunteer this information, they should know the privacy and security implications of building accounts that hold more potential insight about our identities than we could possibly share with our family. All of that information could be available to a hacker through a breach or an account takeover.”

However, there is no silver bullet for users when it comes to permanently locking down security or hiding it from the services they choose to use.

“Default privacy settings are typically quite loose, whether you’re using a social network, apps, browsers or any service,” says Koivunen. “Review your settings now, if you haven’t already, and periodically afterwards. And no matter what you can do, nothing stops these companies from knowing what you’re doing when you’re logged into their services.”

*Source: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/09/05/americans-are-changing-their-relationship-with-facebook/
**Source: https://www.theverge.com/2019/1/30/18204186/facebook-q4-2018-earnings-user-growth-revenue-increase-privacy-scandals
***Source: F-Secure Identity Protection Consumer (B2C) Survey, May 2019, conducted in cooperation with survey partner Toluna, 9 countries (USA, UK, Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Brazil, Finland, Sweden, and Japan), 400 respondents per country = 3600 respondents (+25years)

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WhatsApp comes to KaiOS

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By the end of September, WhatsApp will be pre-installed on all phones running the KaiOS operating system, which turns feature phones into smart phones. The announcement was made yesterday by KaiOS Technologies, maker of the KaiOS mobile operating system for smart feature phones, and Facebook. WhatsApp is also available for download in the KaiStore, on both 512MB and 256MB RAM devices.

“KaiOS has been a critical partner in helping us bring private messaging to smart feature phones around the world,” said Matt Idema, COO of WhatsApp. “Providing WhatsApp on KaiOS helps bridge the digital gap to connect friends and family in a simple, reliable and secure way.”

WhatsApp is a messaging tool used by more than 1.5 billion people worldwide who need a simple, reliable and secure way to communicate with friends and family. Users can use calling and messaging capabilities with end-to-end encryption that keeps correspondence private and secure. 

WhatsApp was first launched on the KaiOS-powered JioPhone in India in September of 2018. Now, with the broad release, the app is expected to reach millions of new users across Africa, Europe, North America, Southeast Asia, and Latin America.

“We’re thrilled to bring WhatsApp to the KaiOS platform and extend such an important means of communication to a brand new demographic,” said Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS Technologies. “We strive to make the internet and digital services accessible for everyone and offering WhatsApp on affordable smart feature phones is a giant leap towards this goal. We can’t wait to see the next billion users connect in meaningful ways with their loved ones, communities, and others across the globe.”

KaiOS-powered smart feature phones are a new category of mobile devices that combine the affordability of a feature phone with the essential features of a smartphone. They meet a growing demand for affordable devices from people living across Africa – and other emerging markets – who are not currently online. 

WhatsApp is now available for download from KaiStore, an app store specifically designed for KaiOS-powered devices and home to the world’s most popular apps, including the Google Assistant, YouTube, Facebook, Google Maps and Twitter. Apps in the KaiStore are customised to minimise data usage and maximise user experience for smart feature phone users.

In Africa, the KaiOS-powered MTN Smart and Orange Sanza are currently available in 22 countries, offering 256MB RAM and 3G connectivity.

KaiOS currently powers more than 100 million devices shipped worldwide, in over 100 countries. The platform enables a new category of devices that require limited memory, while still offering a rich user experience.

* For more details, visit: Meet The Devices That Are Powered by KaiOS

* Also read Arthur Goldstuck’s story, Smart feature phones spell KaiOS

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