Samsung has announced that the Gear Sport and its second-generation Gear IconX earbuds (also known as Gear IconX 2018) will be available for preorder starting October 13th.
Priced at $299.99, the Gear Sport comes in blue and black and will be available nationwide from October 27th through Samsung.com, Amazon, Best Buy, Macy’s, and U.S. Cellular.
The Gear IconX 2018 will come in black, gray, and pink, for $199.99 and will also be released nationwide on the same day through Samsung.com, Amazon, BestBuy.com, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular.
The Gear Sport features a 1.2-inch AMOLED display, a built-in GPS, and is waterproof (up to 50 meters) with the ability to track swimming times and your heart rate. That makes it useful for those who are constantly on their feet and need something a bit more durable. (Samsung says it’s “military-grade” durable.) It also features 4GB of internal memory, which will be useful since the watch is compatible with Spotify’s offline mode for those who want to listen to music but don’t want to take their phones with them when they’re working out. It’s also compatible with iOS, so Apple users who aren’t too keen on the Apple Watch can use this model with their iPhones, too.
The Gear IconX 2018 are cord-free earbuds and Samsung’s second generation of the line. They’ve got longer battery life than the original, with Samsung promising seven hours of listening in a standalone mode, or five hours if you’re streaming music. The charging case also holds one extra charge. The buds’ 4GB of storage roughly equates to 1,000 songs, and they’re Bluetooth enabled so you can make phone calls, too. For Samsung Galaxy S8, S8 Plus, and Note 8 smartphone users, you can control your music and phone by tapping the bud and using Bixby, Samsung’s voice assistant. Samsung says the Gear IconX also features a built-in running coach that can track your running routines, which is pretty useful — though if you’re already wearing a fitness watch, it might be a bit superfluous.
As we enter the thick of back-to-school season, companies are discounting school supplies and kids are packing up to return to the dorms. No matter who you are or what school you attend, there are numerous apps that can help your college life feel a little easier and less stressful. Some of the better ones will continue being useful and follow you post-graduation. Besides the basic social media apps and word processing essentials like Google Docs and Microsoft Word, what are some other standout apps of the 2.2 million plus that are in the app store? I’ve selectively chosen a few, knowing from my own studies that memory, data, and mental energy are the most frequent constraints. Nearly all of these should be available for both Android and iPhone.
This app is the only one you’ll need to solve calculus and physics problems. Whether you’re taking a general requirement, or you’re majoring in engineering, everyone gets stumped on a problem once in a while, and WolframAlpha is there to provide tips when you need them. Once you’re done with classes, though, feel free to uninstall to free up extra memory on your device. After all, who wants to be visually reminded of the hard sciences and math classes you’ve had to take? The WolframAlpha app is available on Android and iOS.
Wunderlist (soon to be Microsoft To-Do)
Wunderlist is the classic to-do list, but it’s streamlined in a way to make your typical bullet points look very appealing. With minor tasks that litter your agenda, like checking in with the registrar and the bursar’s office and assigned readings, you’ll need to stay organized in order to stay on top of everything. You’ll also need it to look pleasant enough so that staring at your to-do list won’t send you into a spiral of procrastination. I’ve used other to-do list apps before, and Wunderlist — even the basic, free version of it — looks better than most. Just be aware that soon it will be replaced by Microsoft To-Do, which should offer most of the same features under a new name. The app is available on Android and iOS.
If you’ve used the browser version before, you might be excited to learn that the app version is highly rated as well. Do you ever sit down in a class where the professor is droning on and you know that they purposefully allowed electronic devices because they’ve given up on the chance of any student listening to them? Also looming in this scenario: the approaching deadline of a major exam that you’re definitely not ready for. So since your professor is going to be no help to you in this case, there’s the helpful Khan Academy, which primarily works best for math and science courses. The app teaches you concepts, one step at a time, and tests you on them. For higher-level calculus, I found it extremely helpful. (The humanities equivalent of this app is probably a combination of SparkNotes, office hours, and dumb luck.) The Khan Academy app is available on Android and iOS.
If you’re a communications, marketing, history, or another major that relies heavily on group work, you will need to compile a bunch of PowerPoints in your lifetime. And while you could wait around for your teammates to complete their fair share, what’s most likely going to happen is they will fail you and make up some kind of an excuse: they had to work a night shift; their computer broke down; they didn’t know the presentation was today. At this time, instead of arguing with your group members, you can tell them to whip out or download this app during class and work on the presentation right now. Then, you can monitor their work through your own Google Slides app, which updates every time they make a change on the slides. You may also want to get the Google Drive app, too, to make saving and accessing files easier. The Google Slides app is available on Android and iOS.
Adobe Photoshop Mix
For all of my drawing purposes, I got many of the Adobe iOS apps, including Adobe Illustrator Draw and Adobe Creative Cloud. These work better on a tablet, with a stylus, than simply on phone, because of the greater surface area it gives you to draw. Whether you are taking an art course or just doodling between classes, these free Adobe apps are easy and intuitive to use for almost all of your image-editing needs. All the barriers to using Adobe programs — the expensive subscription and the complicated toolbars — are mostly gone with these apps unless you require their more advanced features. These apps are available on Android and iOS.
Scrivener is my all-time favorite writing software, now made into an app, available only on iOS for $20. Like the Photoshop apps, Scrivener works best on a tablet or with as big a mobile screen as possible. It has so many buttons and features for drafting the perfect novel, play, or poem that even after five years of use on both Mac and PC, I still unearth new features all the time. It syncs up with other instances of Scrivener running, so it’s meant to be used alongside the original desktop software version. Fun fact: Erin Morgenstern drafted The Night Circus using desktop Scrivener.
Starbucks Mobile App
If you drink coffee daily and you don’t have a coffee machine readily available, what is there to do? If there’s a Starbucks on campus (there usually is) and they take mobile orders, you’ll need this app to start getting discounts. Make the call and get the app as soon as possible if you realize you need it. I was a Starbucks regular for years before I got this app, and I mourn all of the free drinks that I’ve lost by not using it. Just don’t fall for the hype and start ordering a turkey pesto panini five days in a row for the stars — there are better options. The Starbucks app is available on Android and iOS.
The Discover credit card is a great first choice for students, because it has a good grades reward of $20 for a 3.0 GPA or higher and a relatively easy approval. Part of the stress of having a credit card is having to pay the bills on time. With the app, I schedule payments and never have to even touch a physical statement or call anybody. It also starts you off with a small credit line so that you can test the waters before going for bigger cards. No matter which bank you’re with, mobile finance apps are all starting to get pretty good; Mint is a good one for tracking all of your accounts together. The Discover app is available on Android and iOS.
When it comes time to get away from campus and visit family, Hopper looks for the best flight deals for you and tells you whether you should wait until a certain date for cheaper deals. It takes all of the legwork out of thinking about where to get the best deals and when to buy them, revealing all the unlikely sweet spots of the next 12 months. Plus, there’s a cute little rabbit sprinting across the loading screen. After using sites like Expedia and Kayak, I can say that Hopper’s design gets you all the information at once, saving you all the clicking back and forth between tabs that comes with looking on other sites. The Hopper app is available on Android and iOS.
I can’t count the number of people who owe me money and have given me a blank, glazed stare when I ask them if they have Venmo. “What’s that? Never heard of it.” Thankfully, it’s a little better known these days. If you’re like me and you don’t carry a lot of cash on you (because you keep losing your wallet), but you also hate owing others money, get this app to start paying them back quickly. It connects to major banks and cards. I’ve even had a sketchy employer pay my final paycheck through Venmo, so it just goes to show how useful this app can be. The Venmo app is available on Android and iOS.
Finally, winding down the count, there’s Headspace, a peaceful meditation app, for when you can’t sleep at night. Andy Puddicombe co-founded the app and guides your meditation with his calming British accent. According to him, Headspace has the emotional effect of taking an aspirin. Between the chaotic hustle and bustle of classes, extracurriculars, relationships, and the shine and glimmer of these apps and the many push notifications they’ll be sending you, you’ll need the aspirin. The Headspace app is available on Android and iOS.
Cash is not just the norm but also embedded in culture
New systems like mPOS terminals are making digital more convenient
Apps like BHIM help bring payments from India to Bharat as a whole
In India, cash is culture. It’s everywhere, inspiring Hindi film songs, being doled out by loving grandparents, occupying a key role in religious rituals, and even fuelling a parallel economy. So resistance to any alternative method of payment is only to be expected.
This is amply evident from the way digital transactions, which had spiked from 672 million in November 2016 to 958 million in December 2016 because of demonetisation, plummeted to 763 million (February 2017) once the new currency came back in circulation, as per RBI data. The latest numbers show some growth, but it’s a far cry from the peak in December even now.
It’s a challenge that Digital India is up for. Driving the shift from cash to digital payments are a host of factors – a huge population of young, aspiring people embracing the digital lifestyle, the “India Stack” of four technology layers (presenceless, paperless, cashless, consent), and a robust real-time payments infrastructure in which the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is the crown jewel. But beyond doubt, policies such as banning the use of cash for transactions amounting to Rs. 200,000 or more are also making an impact. In his budget speech this year, the Minister of Finance announced a mission tasked with achieving 25 billion digital transactions in the year 2017-18 through various means including Aadhaar Pay, UPI, USSD, IMPS, and debit cards.
That’s a tall order for an economy where 98 percent of consumer payments are still made in cash. Before this can happen though, several barriers lie in the way. The “cash habit” is at the top of the list, followed by the complexity of using digital payment methods.
Cash is easy
The second factor is telling. A huge reason why cash still rules as a medium of exchange is that it is simple and convenient. Digital payment mechanisms, which might be convenient in some ways – (they save a trip to the bank and are easy to carry around) – are actually less convenient at the point of use. To understand this, visualise the process of using a mobile wallet – log in, authenticate yourself, scan code, enter amount, authorise payment – and now compare it to the ease of handing out cash.
Currently, there is friction on both sides of the digital payment transaction. The abundance of payment options with their different POS hardware and procedures is confusing merchants, who don’t know where to draw the line. This isn’t making life simpler for consumers either.
Clearly, digital payments must become frictionless before they can find mass acceptance.
Technology and innovation can do much to facilitate that. For instance, Ezetap has introduced a mobile-based payments acceptance device that merchants can use for all types of digital payments. Another good example is Tonetag, one of our partner firms, which has found an alternative solution to NFC technology with a communication mechanism that uses sound waves. Merchants can even accept cards in much the same way as before; customers need to authorise the payment like they do with NFC, with a swipe, password or OTP.
Ezetap, Tonetag, and others like them reduce the friction in payments, but they don’t eliminate it altogether. Some other forces need to come together to make digital payments as convenient as cash.
Bharat, and not just India
One of these is the digitisation of low-income consumers, which received a shot in the arm when the BHIM app was launched a couple of months after demonetisation with the goal of enabling those with a bank account but no cards, to make digital payments. Another factor is the growth of e-commerce players, who, by accepting card or wallet payments on delivery, have eased even reluctant cash customers into digital payments. The next level of e-commerce, namely smart commerce, will drive digital payments even higher, using AI and analytics to spur consumption.
To see what that looks like, you need only look to Amazon, which has mastered the use of consumer analytics to anticipate needs, personalise recommendations, or simply remind customers of something they had shown interest in.
These forces are still brewing at present. When they take firm hold, India will make more meaningful progress towards digital payments. While the timeline for that is uncertain, once the conditions fall into place, the shift from cash to digital will be swift and irreversible.
Venkatramana Gosavi is Senior Vice President and Regional Head, Infosys Finacle, and has been working with Finacle for over 15 years now.
Jaguar Land Rover aero tricks will help in conserving fuel
Jaguar Land Rover might adopt these aero packs in future products
The application is complex but the ideas are simple
JLR wants to channel air across the body to make cars more efficient
Automakers have a lot to think about now-a-days, making autonomous technology, building safer cars and of course making it look good. Aerodynamics too plays a major role and Jaguar Land Rover is taking note of this. The future vehicles coming out of the JLR stable could turn out to be more aerodynamic and the new patent shows the company’s plans for an extensive collection of tricks for channeling air around the side of the body. It’s clear from these patents that JLR want the body of the car to produce less drag and this will ultimately lead to better fuel efficiency.
In these patent drawings, you can see how the vehicle sees deployable vanes up front. When not in use, the strakes would be flush with the vehicle’s body, but they would extend on the road to clean up the airflow ahead of the front wheel. The devices could also rotate for fine-tuning the aero adjustments.
The body also sees active extending side sills. These would help channel air inward towards a rear diffuser, if the particular vehicle actually has one.
These sills would also act help make ingress and egress a breeze. Then there is the D-pillar which could be partially hollow and feature vanes inside and these parts could be fixed or adjustable. The air would be channelled inward and change the shape of the rear of the vehicle, thus reducing the aerodynamic drag.
While these tricks might sound simple, they are indeed difficult to implement, but having patented these technologies, we might soon see them being used in production cars, which will make things even more interesting. Jaguar Land Rover is the largest investor in R&D in the UK manufacturing sector and has already invested $15.7 billion in the last five years and in the current year alone will spend over USD$4.5 billion on new product creation and capital expenditure. We are just happy to see the money put to good use.