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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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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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Huawei puts $1-bn into local developer programme

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Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) South Africa has announced the launch of a local Developer Programme called Shining-Star. Huawei announced an investment of $1-billion in support of this programme across global markets, of which South Africa forms part.

‘‘HMS already has more than 570 million global users, including more than 15 million in Africa, with our business covering more than 170 countries,’’ says Likun Zhao, vice president of Huawei Consumer Business Group for Middle East and Africa. “We provide a trusted, device-centric and inter-connected eco-system that improves the user experience, helping them to discover quality content while ensuring security and privacy.”

The developer programme, announced at AfricaCom in Cape Town last week, is the first of its kind in South Africa. Huawei says it “will provide an encompassing eco-system that aims to encourage local developer innovation and support, while Huawei’s AppGallery provides a platform for developers to showcase and publish their apps”.

The platform offers open e-point access and intelligent global distribution for all apps, ranging from smart home, gaming and music to education and health-related apps.

The Shining-Star Programme has been successfully implemented in Malaysia, which has the highest number of Huawei users relative to other smartphone brands in this country. Like Malaysia, South Africa has a considerable number of Huawei users.

Shining-Star will focus on assisting local app developers who face challenges like lack of funding for app eco-systems, testing, and monetisation of their apps. South African developers particularly struggle to market their games and find investors.

“We are committed to working on empowering local app developers by offering them some much-needed infrastructure, guidance, skills and support to grow local talent,” said Zhao. “Our focus is to provide an open platform for developers that they can use to launch and market their apps, as well as give them extensive support in the form of technical development, testing, and legal and marketing tools.”

Huawei HMS Core is a hub with tools like the Account Kit, which enables users to access developers’ apps using Huawei IDs; Game Service, which enables game development; Location Kit, which provides developers with hybrid locations; Drive Kit, a data storage and management solution; and Map Kit, which offers customisation of map formats to developers.

In addition to these developer-specific tools, the Huawei HMS Core hub has growth enablers like the Push Kit and an Analytics Kit, which enable, respectively, the sending of messages and analysis of user behaviour. An Ad Kit and In-App Purchases Kit are also available, so developers can earn income from their apps. Key resources such as API reference, development guides and sample code assist are also part of the programme.

At present, more than 50,000 apps are connected to HMS Core worldwide.

* App developers with a completed app can visit https://developer.huawei.com/consumer/en/, or contact the Huawei SA Business Development team on developersa@huawei.com to find out how Huawei can support them.

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