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Venmo Payments Comes To Retailers This Week

October 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

PayPal Holdings Inc announced that more than two million U.S. retailers will be able to accept payments through its mobile app Venmo starting this week, seeking to broaden its reach with a brand that has been a hit with young people.

Venmo, which has been part of PayPal since 2013, is one of the most popular mobile applications to make person-to-person payments in the United States. It processed $8 billion (£6 billion) in payments in the second quarter of this year.

Venmo users will be able to use their app balance or linked cards and bank account to shop on the mobile sites of almost all merchants that accept payments with PayPal, including retailers such as Foot Locker, Lululemon Athletica Inc and Forever 21.

Paypal started slowly introducing the ability to pay select businesses with Venmo early last year.

“At Venmo from the very early days our vision was to always let you use it for whatever you want to buy,” Ben Mills, head of product, at Venmo, said in an interview.

The company will be charging merchants fees for processing Venmo payments, Mills said, adding that the service’s ease of use could help increase their sales, he added.

Over the coming months Venmo users will also be able to transfer money instantly from Venmo to their bank accounts for a $0.25 fee per transfer.

At the moment Venmo immediately alerts users that a money transfer is in progress, but takes time to shift funds between bank accounts.

San Jose, California-based PayPal has been expanding its services to gain advantage over rivals in the digital payments market, particularly in P2P payments, where competition has intensified.

This year a consortium of some of the largest banks in the United States launched Zelle, a network that allows their customers to send money to each other instantly on their smartphones.

PayPal also said that retail purchases using Venmo will be covered by its purchase protection scheme, where customers may get refunds if they do not receive a product or it is different than described.

Facebook’s Oculus Turns Focus Towards Enterprise VR

October 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Oculus is looking to entice corporate users into getting on board the VR train with the launch of a business-focused product bundle.

The Facebook-owned company sees a variety of uses for its headsets, from enterprise collaboration to employee training, in a range of industries. Putting VR technology in the hands of more businesses is a crucial step to growing the market, and Oculus wants to make the process easier with Oculus for Business.

The $900 package contains an Oculus Rift headset, Touch controllers, remote, three sensors and three Rift Fits headset foam pads. Business customers will also receive dedicated customer support and extended licenses and warranties.

“Businesses of all types can use Rift to boost productivity, accelerate training, and present the otherwise impossible to their employees and customers ­– across industries like tourism, education, medical, construction, manufacturing, automotive, and retail,” the company said in a blog post.

Oculus’ launch follows a similar move from rival VR hardware vendor HTC Vive last year.  HTC’s Vive Business Edition contains a range of Vive products, along with dedicated support and 12 month warranty. That package costs $1,200.

Oculus’ own announcement shows how the firm has lagged behind HTC in the commercial market, as well as with consumers, said Moor Insights and Strategy analyst Anshel Sag.

“This move seems like the beginning of Oculus’ recognition that they need to formally address the business market, otherwise the enterprise doesn’t believe they’ll get the support they need,” he said.

The backing of Oculus and Facebook will help further the case for VR at work in terms of growing the market, said Sag. However, support for business users is still emerging.

“I do believe that if Oculus wants to serve this market appropriately, they are going to have to also offer services that address enterprise needs and not just sell them a ‘business kit,’” he said.

Oculus for Business is aimed at a variety of use cases. Audi is using Oculus to create virtual showrooms for its cars that let prospective customers try out thousands of custom configurations before making an order. There is also potential around employee training, with DHL showing staff safety procedures when lifting heavy objects.

Workplace collaboration is another emerging use.

Oculus has partnered with Cisco for trials of a VR version of Spark, its collaboration platform that  supports messaging, voice calls and video conversations. Spark in VR allows remote workers to meet and communicate in virtual environments using avatars, allowing them to brainstorm on virtual whiteboards and interact with files. There are also integrations with Cisco’s  digital whiteboard, Spark Board.

This is likely just the beginning for VR as a collaboration tool.

 

Ikea To Sell Products Through Third-Parties Online

October 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Ikea will soon offer its products through third-party online retailers in an attempt to reach more customers.

A pilot program is scheduled to start sometime next year, the Swedish furniture retailer said. The company is “curious” about what will happen as it plans to gather new insights from the pilot, Ikea spokesperson Josefin Thorell said in an email.

“[However], there are no decisions regarding what marketplaces we want to partner with yet, and also no decision regarding what markets,” Thorell added.

The news of Ikea possibly using the likes of Amazon and other third-party sites to sell its furniture and smart home products comes nearly four months after Ikea knocked down reports that it had reached a deal to work directly with the e-commerce giant.

Ikea said at the time that any products currently sold on Amazon or other sites are being done by private resellers. More than 2.1 billion people visited Ikea’s websites globally in 2016.

 

Is Apple Face-ID on The iPhone X Secure

October 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Apple’s face scanning software can be broken by anyone under the age of 13 and the fruity cargo cult has been forced to admit that it does not really work for kids.

Apparently, the Face ID facial recognition system thinks kids look the same – it’s fair enough really – I think they all look the same, and all babies look like Winston Churchill no matter what their mums think.

However, in a security guide, Apple recommends that children under the age of 13 do not use Face ID due to the probability of a false match being significantly higher for young children.

It is the kids’ fault of course. Apple says this was because “their distinct facial features may not have fully developed”. We assume they are talking about the children and not Apple’s face scanning software.

The Tame Apple Press claims that it does not matter as few young children are likely to be given a $999 iPhone, false matches are also more likely for twins and siblings. In all those situations, the company recommends concerned users disable Face ID and use a passcode instead.

Another area where Apple is having problems is facial coverings. Apple says that “Face ID is designed to work with hats, scarves, glasses, contact lenses and many sunglasses”. 

But if the coverings must be transparent to infrared light and the system can see the eyes, nose and mouth. While some fabrics are more transparent to infrared than they may seem, that means iPhone users who cover their faces may be forced to rely on a passcode when out and about.

Courtesy-Fud

Mobile Payments To Surpass Credit Cards By 2019, Says Study

October 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Very soon we’ll be paying for goods and services with our smartphones instead of our credit cards, says a report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

In 2014, 51 percent of payments in developed countries were made with credit cards. However, that number is expected to dip to 46 percent in 2019 as advances in technology will make it easier for people to pay for things with their phones.  This won’t apply to developing nations, where cash is still the preferred choice.

In places like Egypt, e-commerce purchases are still cash-on-delivery. But Kenya, which has seen a rise in mobile payments, still defaults to cash. However, a recent global survey by the UNCTAD found that those in Kenya say mobile payments are their preferred choice for online transactions.

And if you’re wondering what it’d be like to rely only on mobile payments, China is looking to be the technology’s shining beacon. The country has embraced services such as WeChat Pay and Alipay, with the latter used by 68 percent of online shoppers. Both services have handled close to $3 trillion in 2016, according to TechCrunch.

In the future, blockchain technology will be used for cross-border payments, which may help ease expensive transaction fees from banks to boot, as these services are peer-to-peer, secure and less expensive. That said, it’s not the preferred choice yet, but the report notes that improvements to security and the size of the minimum transaction will cause adoption to increase.

Amazon Gets Hit With Huge Tax Bill From The EU

October 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon has been informed that it must pay about 250 million euros ($294.38 million) in back taxes to Luxembourg, the latest U.S. tech company to be caught up in a European Union crackdown on unfair tax deals.

The fine was much lower than some sources close to the case had expected and is only a fraction of the 13 billion euros that Apple Inc was ordered to pay to Ireland last year.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who has other big U.S. tech companies in her sights, has taken a tough line on multinational companies’ approach to tax.

“Luxembourg gave illegal tax benefits to Amazon. As a result, almost three-quarters of Amazon’s profits were not taxed,” Vestager said.

Amazon said it was considering an appeal.

“We believe that Amazon did not receive any special treatment from Luxembourg and that we paid tax in full accordance with both Luxembourg and international tax law,” Amazon said in a statement after the announcement.

Though the EU has taken on several U.S. tech companies, both in antitrust and in tax avoidance cases, Vestager said that her approach was not biased against foreign companies

 “This is about competition in Europe, no matter your flag, no matter your ownership,” Vestager said.

She also welcomed the debate kicked off by French President Emmanuel Macron who called for more integrated corporate tax regimes in Europe, aiming to close the loopholes used to reduce tax bills.

The Commission said the exact amount of tax to be reclaimed from Amazon would still need to be calculated by Luxembourg authorities.

The 250 million euros is significantly less than the 400 million euros which sources close to the matter told Reuters a year ago was under consideration by Vestager.

The Commission said Luxembourg allowed Amazon to channel a significant portion of its profits to a holding company without paying tax. The holding company was allowed to do this because it held certain intellectual property rights.

“The Commission’s investigation showed that the level of the royalty payments, endorsed by the tax ruling, was inflated and did not reflect economic reality,” the Commission said in a statement.

Amazon, which employs 1,500 in the grand duchy, is one of the biggest employers in the country of half a million people. The U.S. company, which has a Europe-wide staff of some 50,000, in 2016 made a $2.4 billion profit on global revenues of $136 billion.

Amazon Exploring French Supermarket Deal

October 4, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon has made overtures to various French supermarket operators – including Casino – about setting up distribution deals or making an acquisition in the country, newspaper Le Monde reported, citing its own sources.

Le Monde said Amazon had contacted Casino over Casino’s Monoprix division, but Casino had declined to pursue the matter.

“Casino does not intend to sell Monoprix,” Le Monde reported, citing sources within Casino.

Casino declined to comment while officials at Amazon could not immediately be reached for comment.

Le Monde added Amazon had also contacted supermarket companies Intermarche and Systeme U. Officials at Intermarche and Systeme U could not be reached for comment.

Earlier this month, traders cited market speculation that Amazon could be interested in bidding for French supermarket operator Carrefour. Carrefour said it did not comment on market rumors.

Amazon bought Whole Foods Market this year for $13.7 billion, in a deal that marked a dramatic change in strategy for a company that had offered food delivery through its Fresh service for a decade but had not previously made any major dents in the $700 billion grocery market.

Amazon’s Streaming Of NFL Game Logged Nearly 2M Viewers

October 2, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Nearly 2 million people logged onto Amazon.com  for the online retailer’s first livestream of Thursday Night Football, the U.S. National Football League said on Friday.

Some 1.9 million people tuned in to Amazon’s kickoff show and game between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers, according to the NFL. That compares to 2.3 million for the first digitally streamed game last year on Twitter Inc,  which had the online rights at the time.

But viewers watched the broadcast for longer on average on Amazon. Its average worldwide audience for at least 30 seconds was 372,000 people, compared with 243,000 on Twitter for the first game last year, the NFL said.

Streaming live sports is a new, integral part of Amazon’s strategy to encourage more people to sign up to its Prime shopping club and spend more on retail goods.

Is Google’s Nest Playing Catch-Up

October 2, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Nest has announced a new range of products to help it limp back into the smart home market.

The smart home pioneer, has lost its mojo of late with so many competitors in the space and a string of security issues and is now playing catch up, with a smart door lock, made with Yale, who already have a range of them, an intruder alarm, of which there are myriad, and a video doorbell, which is essentially another camera with a button on it, and unlikely to be better than the Ring range which has a huge head start.

The company which made waves as the first popular ‘smart’ thermostat to reach the masses, went on to buy security firm Dropcam and has moved its focus towards home security, particularly focusing on cameras.

Also on the list was an outdoor version of its IQ facial recognition camera, with HDR recordings as you would find in a top-of-the-range telly (why?) however, unlike offerings from the likes of Netatmo, a subscription is required for facial recognition, and that’s on top of the over-the-odds pricing.

A Nest Secure starter kit will be $499 (£368) and on there are further charges if you want a mobile (SIM) backup system. It consists of “Detect” sensors, “Tag” keyfobs to arm and disarm and “Guard” which is a box that makes a noise.

It seems that Nest believes that it can trade on its name and its “Works with Nest” system, based on Google’s IoT infrastructure, but although the build quality of Nest products is excellent, the premium pricing will not be a lure to those being offered similar specs from other companies.

The big selling point is the ability to control everything from a single app, but there are plenty of ways to do that now for far less money, without being locked into a system.

The rest of the range has yet to be priced but will go on sale in November in the US. UK release dates are as yet unknown.

The most recent UK product was a camera (duh) with zoom and enhance capability.

Courtesy-TheInq

Will Apple Delay The iPhone X

September 29, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

The iPhone X, which is already late, probably will not see the light of day until next year, according to a leading financial services company.

Apple needs the iPhone to go out on October 27 so that it can go into the Christmas stockings of extremely rich spoiled kids.

Financial services company Raymond James thinks the iPhone X might come much, much later, around December. But to make matters worse that is the time that the orders are possible and it might be a few months after that the iPhone X will ship.  This means that the lucrative Christmas market will have come and gone.

Raymond James’ chip analyst Christopher Caso claims that production on the phone has not begun yet. If the iPhone X is supposed to ship in late October or even early November, production should have already begun.

Caso’s survey of key “supply chain players” seems to suggest that things haven’t ramped up at all. No reason has been given yet as to why that is the case, whether it’s from difficulties in acquiring components or the low yield of the components themselves.

The Tame Apple Press is doing its best to discredit Caso’s comments, saying wacky things like “suppliers are not supposed to talk to analysts so he can’t know”.

However, the comments tally with what we have been told about problems Apple is having with the yield for the screens.

Apple’s dull iPhone 8 – which is more or less an iPhone 7 which was more or less an iPhone 6 – will go out as expected and Apple fanboys will have to make do with that.

The iPhone X is already about 18 months behind Samsung and other premium Android phones so when it does finally come out it will be more dated than a 1970’s sitcom.

Courtesy-Fud

Google Assistant Can Now Control Your LG Appliances

September 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

LG is urging you to communicate with your appliances. You are now officially able to use the Google Assistant to command 87 different Wi-Fi connected LG appliances — including washers, dryers, refrigerators and even vacuums. To mark the occasion, LG’s also giving away a free Google Home smart speaker if you buy a Wi-Fi enabled LG appliance from participating retailers between October 8 and 25.

Give a voice command to the Google Home, or any phone with the Google Assistant built-in, and you’ll be able to check on the status of your washer, turn off your oven, change the temperature of your air conditioner, change the settings of your fridge and more.

LG’s smart suite of appliances already worked with Amazon’s assistant Alexa, and smart appliances from other companies such as Whirlpool and GE have also added functionality for both Alexa and the Google Assistant. LG’s bringing voice controls to a wider variety of appliances than its competitors for now, and hopefully, the available voice commands will be intuitive and offer enough options to be useful.

You can control your smart LG appliances with the Google Assistant now. You’ll need to link your Google account with your LG SmartThinQ account to get started. If you don’t have a smart LG appliance, you might want to wait until October 8 to purchase a new one so you can get a $130 (£130, AU$199) Google Home for free along with your purchase. Head to LG’s site to see if a retailer near you is participating in the promo.

Will The iPhone X Hurt Hurt Apple’s Partners

September 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Apple suppliers’ shares have taken a hammering after the launch of the iPhone X because European investors are concerned that the phone will not be a success.

While Apple’s shares were not badly affected by the launch, investors are concerned about what it cost its suppliers to stay on the supply list. Apple has been famously leaning on suppliers to reduce their prices to keep its margins wide. That would be ok for the suppliers if the iPhoneX was a success, but Wall Street is not so certain.

The Tame Apple Press claims that shareholders are punishing suppliers for making their phone late. The iPhoneX has been blighted with production problems, however most of these have been due to the yields on the screen and not the other iPhone suppliers.

In fact, it was the chipmakers supplying to Apple were among the worst performers, with AMS down 3.2 percent, while Dialog Semiconductor slipped 1.7 percent and STMicro fell 1.1 percent.

Chipmakers have been the best-performing among Europe’s tech stocks this year, accounting for a large chunk of the sector’s out-performance. AMS shares have gained 165 percent in the year to date.

Courtesy-Fud

Wireless Charging Pads For New iPhones Go On Sale

September 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

The new phones, unveiled during a special event at Apple’s new headquarters, will finally include wireless charging, a first for the iPhone line-up.

An Apple-designed charging pad, called AirPower, will be available in 2018; it will offer a large charging area that will allow up to three devices, including Apple Watch Series 3 and a new optional wireless charging case for AirPods, to power up simultaneously.

While add-on, external iPhone covers have allowed wireless charging for some time, the new line-up natively contains the wireless charging receiving coils.

As Apple was releasing the news around its new iPhones, Belkin and Mophie were making their own announcements about new iPhone-compatible wireless charging pads. The new chargers are small, round disks designed to charge one iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus or iPhone X at a time and no other devices.

Belkin announced its Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad, while Mophie released the wireless charging base for the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. Both charging pads will we be available on Apple.com and in Apple stores, as well as on Belkin’s and Mophie’s websites for $59.95.

It’s unclear why Apple would release its own charging pad well after third-party manufacturers have beaten the company to the wireless punch.

Google Launching Mobile Payments In India

September 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Google is gearing up to launch a localized digital payment service in India as early as next week, technology website TechCrunch reported, citing a report from news site The Ken.

The payment service, called Google ‘Tez’, will offer payment options beyond the existing ones like Google Wallet or Android Pay, the report said.

Tez, meaning fast in Hindi, will include support for the government-backed Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and other consumer payment services including Paytm and MobiKwik, according to the report.

Google launched its payment app Android Pay in the United States two years ago.

A spokesman for Google in India did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Google, Facebook Inc and WhatsApp Inc were in talks with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to provide UPI-enabled payment on their platforms, the Mint daily had reported in July.

Will The iPhone 8 Have A Smooth Launch

September 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

The iPhone 8 is supposed to be released on September 12, but according to the Wall Street Journal there are signs that all is not well behind the reality distortion field.

Production glitches in the manufacturing of the iPhone 8 earlier this summer could mean supply shortages and shipping delays when customers start putting in orders for the new device later this month.

The Journal said that if shortfalls last beyond the initial sales period expected to kick off September 22, it could lead analysts to lower estimates for the key holiday period, the paper said.

The glitches led to a setback to the manufacturing timetable of about a month. Foxconn, the contractor that assembles iPhones at factories in China, has been ramping up production and is offering bonuses to employees who help bring in new hires.

Apple is saying nothing of course. But there have been rumours of production delays connected to the screens and a higher number of phones being rejected for quality reasons.

We suspect that Apple will use the shortage to drive up hype for the new iPhone which is expected to be rather expensive as Apple boosts its margins to try and prolong the life of its cash cow. It could all backfire, of course, if a large number of phones arrive and develop faults, er unique features.

Courtesy-Fud

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