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Samsung’s Galaxy Buds+ turns up the battery life

At the latest Galaxy Unpacked event in San Francisco, Samsung has unveiled new, longer-lasting, higher-quality wireless earphones, called the Galaxy Buds+, writes BRYAN TURNER

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Samsung’s latest audio gear is heating up the competition in the wireless personal audio space. After struggling with whether it was a Gear or Galaxy item, the Galaxy Buds were born as the successor to the Gear Icon X, separating the earphones from the smartwatches and fitness trackers into a companion for Galaxy devices.

At last year’s Galaxy Unpacked, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Buds, positioned as accessories for the S10. They had all the features other competitors were missing, like good audio quality with low latency, and a charging case that wirelessly charged from the back of the Galaxy S10.

This year, the Galaxy Buds+ were unveiled with some serious upgrades and some technical pointers from Samsung’s acquired premium audio companies, Harman, JBL, and AKG. The earphones feature noise-cancelling capabilities, like the Apple AirPods Pro and Huawei FreeBuds 3.

The major difference is in the design. Instead of sticks hanging out of one’s ears, it features an in-ear pod design. The outer end of the earphones also have a large surface area for controlling music and video by touch.

Inside the box, it comes with the buds, a wireless charging case, and several eartips for users to get a better in-ear fit. The various ear tips sizes are important because they don’t anchor on one’s ear, like the stick designs from Apple and Huawei.

The eartips are also important for a good seal, considering they come with noise cancellation. This is vital for isolating one from other noises for maximum fidelity from one’s listening experience. There’s also an option in the Galaxy Wearable app to intelligently filter out some of the outside audio. The feature is called Ambient Aware and Samsung says it can block out most external noise and can let through important information like flight announcements, oncoming traffic, or a user’s order number at a restaurant.

To help this, there are two microphones positioned on the outside and another on the inside. This is to make sure audio inside a user’s ear canal isn’t the same as on the outside, which helps it dynamically noise cancel. The internal microphone also helps users when they’re on a call in a crowd, by dynamically picking up their voice from audio within the canal and separating it from the noisy crowd.

The big sell from this is the 11-hour audio playback from a single charge. This is a huge leap from the Huawei FreeBuds 3’s 4 hours, and Apple’s AirPods Pro’s 5 hours. After the 11 hours, one can pop the earphones into the case for some extra juice. If it’s important to get back to the music, one can leave the earphones in the charging case for 3 minutes to provide an extra hour of playback. In total, it packs another full charge from flat, from the case, meaning users can expect 22 hours of playback.

The earphones can be paired with Android and iOS via the Galaxy Wearable app for Android and Galaxy Buds+ app on iOS to make use of all the features.

The Galaxy Buds+ will come in white, black, and cloud blue. Pricing and availability in South Africa has not yet been announced.

Read the announcement from Samsung on the next page.

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TikTok takes on COVID-19

The fastest growing social media platform in the world has also become an epicenter of public education about the coronavirus, attracting more than 30-billion views, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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The young have been getting a bad rap for wanting to party on while COVID-19 sends the world into lockdown. But a different movie is playing itself out on the social platform that is growing fastest among teenagers: TikTok.

Awareness campaigns by TikTok itself, collaboration with the International Red Cross, and spontaneous videos made by TikTok creators have combined into a barrage of information, education, awareness and social consciousness around the coronavirus.

Both globally and in South Africa, TikTok’s COVID-19 campaigns have gone viral.

The local #HayiCorona challenge, designed to remind people not to touch their face and wash hands regularly, has passed 1.5-million views. The TikTok collaboration with the International Red Cross, the #WashingHands challenge, has passed 12.6-million views.

One of the best-known participants in these challenges is the past year’s icon of South African talent, the Ndlovu Youth Choir, took up the global challenge with a 20-second hand-washing video. It put together a performance that brings tremendous energy to what can be a clichéd message, and ends with a punt for the Department of Health’s WhatsApp information service. The video can be viewed below.

@ndlovuyouthchoir

Our community has limited access to running water. Follow these instructions on how to safely wash your hands using a bucket. ##coronavirus##washinghands

♬ original sound – ndlovuyouthchoir

“On a global scale, TikTok also partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure that, while creators are still having fun and expressing themselves on the platform, they stay informed with COVID-19 information coming from a reliable source,” a TikTok spokesperson told us. “Through the partnership, the WHO has created an informational page on TikTok that offers information to curb the spread of the coronavirus as well as dispelling myths.”

The page can be viewed at https://vm.tiktok.com/GHTEGf

TikTok has hosted a number of livestreams with WHO experts, attracting users from more than 70 countries, tuning in for live question and answer sessions. It has also introduced labels on coronavirus-related videos, to point users to trusted information. Resources are also offered directly in the app and in a dedicated COVID-19 section of TikTok’s Safety Center, at https://www.tiktok.com/safety/resources/covid-19.

If users simply want to explore videos on the topic, they can search via the #coronavirus hashtag, or click on https://vm.tiktok.com/swKbn4. The hashtag has had an astonishing 33.8-billion views, indicating the scale of activity and interest around the topic on the platform.

Read more on the next page about how South Africans have embraced the campaign.

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On World Backup Day: backup, backup, backup

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It was World Backup Day yesterday, 31 March, at a time when business continuity is threatened as never before. That makes calls for protecting email and defending against ransomware all the more urgent.

The global coronavirus pandemic has brought into stark relief many organisations’ lack of business continuity plans and policies. With more than two billion people around the globe in forced lockdown in wide-ranging government efforts to stem the tide of infections, an unprecedented number of employees are working remotely.

This interruption to the normal way of work is precisely what an effective and resilient business continuity strategy should plan for, says Heino Gevers, cybersecurity specialist at Mimecast

“Companies need uninterrupted access to critical business applications during times of disruption, including safe and secure web and email access for workers that are now operating outside the normal perimeters of the organisation,” he says. “In addition, comprehensive backup and archiving solutions should be ready to restore access to critical business applications should there be any unplanned downtime to ensure continuity until the crisis passes.”

According to Gevers, the current global crisis is likely to push business continuity up the list of priorities for many organisations that have been disrupted by the effects of the coronavirus.

“Organisations are facing new challenges to their productivity; for example in terms of technical support. If a remote user is infected with malware or ransomware, how does the IT team restore that device or do any remediation without being able to physically access it?”

Gevers advises that organisations implement tools that enhances the data protection capabilities of commonly-used tools such as Office365 and can leverage archived data to provide quick recovery of email data in the event of accidental loss, malicious attacks or technical failure. 

“As adoption of cloud-based business applications grow in the wake of forced lockdowns around the globe, companies need to ensure they have the tools to recover in any situation,” he says. “This includes a data management strategy that combines archiving, backup and data protection capabilities to allow for quick restoration of critical systems and applications in the event of disruption.”

Jasmit Sagoo, head of technology at Veritas for the United Kingdom and Ireland, warns that this is a golden age for cybercriminals looking for ransomware opportunities.

“As the global cost of ransomware continues to grow, this World Backup Day, Veritas is saying: ‘don’t pay up, back up!’,” he says. “Ransomware is said to generate an estimated annual revenue of $1 billion a year, and companies who are not consistent in backing up their data are allowing criminals to line their pockets.

“Ransomware attacks exist only because some businesses can’t survive unless the hackers give them back their data.  So, the key to survival is removing that reliance and being able to regain access to data, without engaging with the cybercriminals.  The best way to do that is with a sound backup strategy.

“Sagoo advises organisations to create isolated, offline backup copies of their data to keep it out of reach of any attackers.  They then need to proactively monitor and restrict backup credentials, while running backups frequently to shrink the risk of potential data loss. Businesses should also test and retest their ransomware defences regularly.

“Ransomware strikes without warning and it doesn’t discriminate between its targets – it can happen to any organisation, large or small. Despite their best efforts, most companies will fall to at least one attack. What distinguishes one victim from another is the ability to bounce back, which ultimately depends on its backup strategy.

“When ransomware hits, organisations that aren’t prepared often feel helpless to do anything other than to submit to their attacker’s demands.   That’s why we’re urging all businesses to use World Backup Day as a catalyst to get ahead of the situation and get their data protected.”

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