Tech Media on SAFM – 4 November 2014

by Lynette Hundermark, November 4, 2014

Here are the top tech stories (chosen by me) that made the news the past week which I have discussed on @SAFMRadio with @AshrafGarda during Tech Media today:

1. New iPad Air 2 and iPad mini prices announced for SA (with rumours of a mid to late November launch)  :  Following the success of the official launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in SA on the 24th of October,  the Core Group (Official distributors for Apple in SA)  announced yesterday that the new iPads will be available soon. The recommended retail pricing for the new iPad mini 3 and iPad Air 2 in South Africa, with the base model starting from R5 499 for a WiFi only  iPad Mini 3 and moves to the hefty price tag of  R11 299 for the fully loaded 128GB iPad Air 2 that has both WiFi and cellular connectivity.  Core says that the iPad mini 3 and iPad Air 2 will be available soon at selected partners, including Apple Premium Resellers (iStore and Digicape) and selected Apple authorised retailers and resellers. Apple unveiled its latest tablets at the PR event at their headquarters in the United States 2 weeks ago where The new iPad Air 2 was revealed to be much thinner than the first iPad Air, and features the new 64-bit A8X chip. The latest iPad Air also sports an 8MP iSight camera, which includes a new sensor and supports 1080p video recording. The iPad mini 3 features a 7.9-inch Retina display, 5MP iSight camera, and is also capable of 1080p video recording. It is quite nice to see that Apple products are becoming available to the SA consumer much quicker than previous years, I still remember the iPad 1 taking over 12 months to arrive on our shores since launch and the iPhone 5 taking 3 months from official launch last year.  For the Apple Fan people out there, maybe there is hope that products will be launched quite close to the official launch date in years to come. More detailed pricing courtesy of Htxt.africa 

2.The highly anticipate Apple Watch to miss Christmas sales and will launch in Spring (US)  : Although the initial announcement indicated Apple’s first smart watch would be available early 2015, a leaked internal video by Apple’s head of retail, Angela Ahrendts (former CEO of Burberry) implied that the watch will be launched anytime between March through to June 2015. There is also reporting that Apple is going to try out something new when selling Apple Watches. Instead of handing them over to customers in sealed boxes, Apple is going to let people try them on in stores. which makes  sense, as after all, it will be something that you wear on your wrist. One of the reasons Apple Watch is taking so long to come to market is designing a smart watch posed a greater challenge than designing the iPhone, Apple’s chief designer, Jony Ive, told an audience at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art on Thursday night. Ive said he believes with “every bone in his body” that the Apple Watch will define the new smart watch category, which until now has seen Android and Samsung’s Tizen dominate with watches such as the Motorola Moto 360 and Samsung Gear line.

3. Apple Pay is currently being opposed by retailers who are backing competing products with its main competitor Current C getting hacked last week.  Apple Pay (one of the services announced at the iPhone 6 launch event) is a mobile payment service that lets certain Apple mobile devices make payments at retail and online checkout. The service lets Apple devices wirelessly communicate with point of sale systems using a near field communication (NFC) antenna, a “dedicated chip that stores encrypted payment information” (known as the Secure Element), and Apple’s Touch ID and Passbook.  Apple CEO Tim Cook announced on October 27, 2014, that more than 1 million credit cards have been registered on Apple Pay in the first 3 days of its availability, making it the largest mobile payment system as of yet. However, some retailers have been opposing Apple Pay as they have backed a competing mobile payment products called CurrentC (which is currently supported by major retailers such as Walmart, Target, BestBuy). To add to the chaos, CurrentC was hacked last week where there was data breach involving the theft of email addresses, however  CurrentC claims their mobile application was not affected. This matter is still under investigation.

4. Samsung announces its thinnest phone to date.  Two new Samsung handsets were announced last week (despite the disappointing Q3 results of Q3), The Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A3 ( both are the thinnest Galaxy handsets to date, sporting plastic bodies). They are 6.7mm and 6.9mm thin, respectively, and both come with a five-megapixel front-facing camera. The Galaxy A5 is the higher spec’ed phone, with a five-inch screen, 2GB RAM, 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, and 15-megapixel camera on the back. The Galaxy A3 sports a smaller 4.5-inch screen, with the same processor, 1GB of RAM and an 8-megapixel camera. Both run Android KitKat (4.4) and include support for 4G networks and a slot for Micro-SD memory cards. The devices will be available in selected markets (which includes China) from November this year.

5.  BlackBerry Messenger borrows a few SnapChat features. To keep its relevance, BlackBerry isn’t shy about borrowing a features from competing IM apps to keep its golden child BBM appealing in the messaging world; it recently added stickers to challenge WhatsApp, and now it’s taking a page from Snapchat’s book. The latest version of BBM introduces a timed messaging feature that lets you determine when messages and photos expire, so you don’t have to worry that spies (or just nosy friends) will see what you said. To top it off, you can also retract messages outright — you won’t have to worry about accidentally messaging your  boss so long as you delete the evidence in time. The privacy-minded upgrade probably won’t get you to switch to BBM by itself, but it may be worth a look if you’ve wanted a slightly more sophisticated take on disappearing chat services.

App of the week: TripIt (available across all mobile platforms) This is one of my favourite travel organising app.  Easy to use by simply forwarding all travel confirmation emails to plans@tripit.com and TripIt automagically creates a detailed daily itinerary for every trip.Key Features (FREE VERSION)• Forward hotel, airline, car rental, and restaurant confirmation emails to plans@tripit.com to create an instant itinerary (If you use Gmail or Google Apps, it happens automatically) • Access itineraries anytime, on any device (even offline) • Get directions, maps and weather for each destination • Sync trip plans with your Apple Calendar, Outlook, or Google Calendar • Add or edit plans manually—from the app or on tripit.com • Share some (or all) of your trip plans via email or social UPGRADE TO TRIPIT PRO (PAID VERSION) – For frequent travellers, TripIt Pro ($49/year) gives you all the power of TripIt, plus real-time flight alerts, seat tracker, flight finder, refund notifications, point tracker, and more. Learn more at tripit.com/pro

Gadget of the Week:  Griffin Survivor Core for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. If you have a shiny new iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus this cover will help protect it (helping you not have to finance broken screens and dents). This is military tested cover that claims to have a 2 meter drop protection, and still have a minimalistic look and feel. It has rubber surrounds around the edges to give that added protection against dents and scratches. My only gripe is that it does not come in silver to match my gorgeous iPhone  6 plus. That is all for this week. Catch me again on the 1st Tuesday of every month on SAFM at  2.30pm. Follow @UAndBMobile for the latest on everything mobile from trends to the latest useful and beautiful mobile  solutions deployed all over the world.