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Something on the Side: Improved accuracy with Apple’s Pencil

In his overview of the latest tech accessories, SEAN BACHER highlights Apple’s Pencil, Plugz Bluetooth Earbuds, Logitech G403 Prodigy Gaming Mouse, Dynamic Virtual Viewer and the BSX LVL fitness tracker.

Apple Pencil

Although pens or pencils for tablets are nothing new, Apple’s pressure sensitive Pencil offers a touch of style to the tablet. It was designed to work specifically with the recently launched iPad Pro, meaning that the iPad’s screen recognises when the Pencil is in use and becomes more sensitive and accurate than when using normal fingers. When the Pencil is in use the screen automatically blocks out any other screen inputs, so users can rest their hands on the display and draw or write much like they would do with an ordinary pen and paper. The Pencil’s battery status is shown on the iPad’s screen and it is charged directly through the tablet’s Thunderbolt port.

Stockists: www.zastore.co.za

Expect to pay: R2 000

 

Plugz Bluetooth Earbuds

As the name suggests, the Plugz Bluetooth Earbuds connect to most Bluetooth phones and tablets. The earbuds include a magnetic control that clips to a shirt or collar, and it can be used to control volume, answer calls or skip tracks. Although these earbuds are advertised as being wireless, they are not entirely so. Running from the left and right earbud are wires that connect to the control unit, so wires will still get caught and earbuds accidentally yanked from ears. Included with the Plugz are three interchangeable ear tips – allowing the listener to find the size that fits his or her ear.

Stockists: www.takealot.com

Expect to pay: R500

 

Logitech G403 Prodigy Gaming Mouse

The Logitech G403 Prodigy Gaming Mouse is designed to offer long-lasting comfort thanks to its lightweight, ergonomic design. Rubber grips on the left and right sides give gamers added control and the 10g removable weight lets one adjust the mouse’s weight. The G403 mouse has button tensioning that helps keep the left and right buttons primed to click, reducing the force required to click and delivering improved responsiveness. The mouse can be used directly out-of-the-box or, with the included software, users can fully customise lighting, button functions and DPI settings.

Stockists: Most electronics retail outlets nationwide.

Expect to pay: R1 000

 

Dynamic Virtual Viewer

The Dynamic Virtual Viewer is a virtual reality headset that works with most newer smartphones and, unlike other VR headsets, uses a fan to keep the smartphone from overheating during long periods of use. Once it is connected to the phone, users can watch videos in full VR and play VR games. Automatic eye distance and focal adjustment mechanisms are provided to give an optimal viewing experience with little strain on the eyes. The headset also uses anti-misting lenses and offers a headphone jack.

Stockists: www.gammatek.co.za

Expect to pay: R500

 

BSX LVL fitness tracker and hydration monitor

Fitness trackers have got to the point where most of them perform the same functions. However, while the BSX LVL fitness tracker monitors all the usual stuff like steps taken, heart rate and sleep cycles, it goes one further and measures the wearer’s hydration level. It is able to do this because of its near-infrared light or NIRS, which is said to be able to “look” 10 times deeper into the body than the standard green light found on other trackers. This allows it to measure hydration levels in the blood, match them with an athlete’s current activity, and provide an accurate measure of how much fluid should be taken at that time. The BSX LVL tracker launched earlier this month on Kickstarter, and the company says the tracker will be available at the end of this year.

Stockists: Visit https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lactate-threshold/lvl-the-first-wearable-hydration-monitor for up-to-date information on the product and its progress.

Expect to pay: Although not confirmed yet, BSX says the price will be in the region of R3 000.

* Sean Bacher is editor of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @SeanBacher

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Mobile is the new branch

Standard Bank has launched an account for mobile devices that gives back 500MB of data a month

Standard Bank has introducd a R4.95p/m bank account called MyMo that customers can open on their mobile devices, loaded with data and airtime offerings and other benefits such as virtual and Gold physical card.

MyMo account holders will also enjoy the convenience of a cheque account through a Visa and Mastercard gold card. Once the account is open, users can choose to either receive R50 in airtime or 500MB of data a month, if their card is swiped more than four times a month. A further megabyte of data is loaded on the account for every R20 spent.

“MyMo is an account for everyone, whether you just landed your first job or have been around the block. With no documentation required it only takes a few minutes to open the account,” says Funeka Montjane, Chief Executive for Personal and Business Banking, South Africa, at Standard Bank Group. “For just R4.95 a month customer will be able to enjoy free swipes and ATM withdrawals at only R6.50 for amounts under R 1 000.

“Mobile is the new branch. This account is about bringing the mobile branch into customers hands, it is about convenience and security while banking.”

She says mobile offers low cost transactional banking which integrates people and businesses into the new connected economy, making mobile the new branch ecosystem that will drive and connect Africa’s growth. Physical connections to the economy are rapidly changing to digital where banks have to move from being financial institutions to service organisations.

“In the past people congregated in communities and eventually cities to maximise the advantages of connectivity. Today a simple hand-held device has the potential to open infinite doors, transforming individuals’ access to opportunities, regardless of where they are, and like never before in history. 

“Historically, a bank account represented access to economic citizenship. Today, having a simple device enabling digital access to a modern banking platform is a passport to global connectivity and vast human development potential.”

The bank says it is using technology, and mobile phones in particular, to deliver low-cost transactional channels accessible to all our customers. The evolution in mobile can be seen in transaction options like cash back at the retail checkout till rather than the ATM, free digital banking rather than using a branch, and the ability to transact using digital wallets, even without a bank account.

“Developing comprehensive connected ecosystems requires a mind-set change from Africa’s banks,” says Montjane. “Banks will evolve away from traditional financial service organisations, into service ecosystems enabling broad universal access to almost everything like enhanced purchasing experiences of vehicles and homes, online procurement of goods and services and lifestyle elements like rewards and travel. 

“These connectivity drivers will also act to future-proof evolving connectivity ecosystem by allowing us to offer untold future services while deriving income from as yet unrealised revenue streams,.   

From a customer perspective, the kind of ecosystems of knowledge, access and, ultimately, connectivity that banks will come to provide will radically transform the share of life that almost all individuals will be able to access.”

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Two-thirds of SA staff hide social media from bosses

With 90% of people in employment going online several times a day, it can be hard for most workers to keep their private and work-life separate during the working day (and beyond). The recently published Global Privacy Report from Kaspersky Lab reveals that 64% of South African consumers choose to hide social media activity from their boss. This secretive stance at work also extends to their colleagues, with 60% of South Africans also preferring not to reveal online activities to their co-workers.

Globally, the average employee spends an astonishing 13 years and two months at work during their lifetime. Interestingly though, not all this time is directly related to solving work tasks or earning a promotion: almost two thirds (64%) of consumers admit visiting non-work-related websites every day from their desk.

Not surprisingly, 35% of South African employees are against their employer knowing which websites they visit. However, more interestingly, 60% of South African are even against their colleagues knowing about their online activities. This probably means that colleagues constitute an even greater threat to future perspectives of an office slouch or maybe the relationships with colleagues are more informal and therefore, more valuable.

On the contrary, social media activity appears to be a less private domain for many and therefore, more suitable for sharing with colleagues but not the boss. This is probably because workers fear harming the public image of a company or interest in decreased staff productivity motivates companies to monitor employees’ social networks and make career changing decisions based on that. Such policies have led to 64% of South Africans saying that they don’t want to reveal their social media activities to their boss and 53% even don’t want to disclose this information to their colleagues.

A further 29% are against showing the content of their messages and emails to their employer. In addition, 3% even said that their career was irrevocably damaged as a consequence of their personal information being leaked. Thus, people are worried about how to build a favourable internal reputation and how not to destroy existing workplace relationships.

“As going online is an integral part of our life nowadays, lines continue to blur between our digital existence at work and at home. And that’s neither good nor bad. That’s how we live in the digital age. Just keep remembering that as an employee you need to be increasingly cautious of what exactly you post on social media feeds or what websites you prefer using at work. One misconceived action on the internet could have an irrevocable long-term impact on even the most ambitious worker’s ability to climb the career ladder of their choice in the future,” comments Marina Titova, Head of Consumer Product Marketing at Kaspersky Lab.

To ensure workers don’t fall prey of the internet threats at a work, there are some core guidelines to adhere to in the digital age:

  • Don’t post anything that could be considered defamatory, obscene, proprietary or libellous. If in doubt, don’t post.
  • Be aware that system administrators may at least, in theory, be informed about your web browsing patterns.
  • Don’t harass, threaten, discriminate or disparage against any colleague, partner, competitor or customer. Neither on social networks or in messages, emails, nor by any other means.
  • Don’t post photographs of other employees, customers, vendors, suppliers or company products without prior written permission.
  • Start using Kaspersky Password Manager to ensure your social media and other personal accounts are not at risk of unauthorised access by someone else in an office. Install a reliable security solution such as Kaspersky Security Cloud to protect your personal devices.

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