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CES exhibitors continue their tradition of zany tech announcements, almost all of which are cool. However, some of the innovations signal trends IT should consider.
“Convenience” has been the operative word in the consumer sector at least since the introduction of TV dinners back in the 1950’s. Time savers like bread machines now have fully automated industrial equivalents such as the Wilkinson Baking Company’s BreadBot. The persistent question, which has an evolving answer for every business, is why should humans have to do [fill in the blank]? If the task is boring, repetitive, time-consuming or hard to scale using humans, automation is the key. What might be automated next in your industry that will impact cost, productivity, efficiency and profitability? How could you translate that into a competitive advantage?
Cybersecurity and privacy
Bring-your-own technology has impacted enterprise IT and cybersecurity. Since wearables connect via Bluetooth, Near-Field Communications (NFC) and Wi-Fi, they provide yet more opportunities for brute force attacks. In addition, wearables tend to store Personally Identifiable Information (PII) unencrypted, which, if exploited, could result in political moves or other misdeeds that expose the organization to reputational damage, lawsuits and regulatory fines. Take the Withings Move ECG activity tracker, for example. It monitors a user’s heart health, which is great in some regards, but what if a device like this were compromised by a competitor, industrial spy or corporate politician and used to show that a key employee driving the popularity or market cap of a company was a liability? (Note: it is not our intention to imply that the Withings Move ECG is or any Withings products are less secure than any other IoT device because frankly we don’t know. It is just one of the CES announcements that made us consider the impact of such devices on IT.)
Voice interfaces are being integrated with all kinds of devices, including as the Lenovo Smart Clock, which leverages Google Assistant like its sibling the Smart Display which was introduced last year. The consumer electronics space is fueling the growth of voice interfaces, so your company should be at least piloting and testing them. Employees and customers will expect it. Figure out what they want and map your company’s interface strategy accordingly. Voice interfaces aren’t a complete replacement for more traditional interfaces just yet, but the mix is going to change rapidly. Are you ready?
The HTC Vive Pro provides a commercial option for training, design and simulating impossible scenarios. It tracks eye movement, which enables it to make efficient use of resources, aligning those resources with the user’s point of attention. It isn’t cheap, though. The pro version costs $1,399 and the cheaper Vive Focus is $599. Then again, the products are aimed at enterprises, not consumers.
Frankly, VR and AR are still struggling to take off generally speaking because the headsets can be uncomfortable. In addition, the virtual elements can impact perception which can cause dizziness, nausea and spatial-related risks.
The Samsung MicroLED modular TV allows users to configure screen components into any shape. It could be used artfully in lobbies and conference settings where a “wow factor” is desired. The two base screens are bolted together, whereas the other screens attach via magnets. Since the screens are modular, they’re also portable which is great news for creative minds, but potentially not-so-great news for asset management.
Lisa Morgan is a freelance writer who covers big data and BI for InformationWeek. She has contributed articles, reports, and other types of content to various publications and sites ranging from SD Times to the Economist Intelligent Unit. Frequent areas of coverage include … View Full Bio
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Spending on enterprise software, particularly cloud services and applications, is expected to grow faster than any other category of IT this year, fueling an overall increase in global spending on technology.
By Marc Ferranti – Editor-in-Chief, IDG News Service
CIO|Jan 28, 2019 8:35 AM PT
If you have any doubts that digital transformation is top of mind for IT executives, just take a look at what they’re buying. Spending on enterprise software, particularly cloud services and applications, is expected to grow faster than any other category of IT this year, fueling an overall increase in global spending on technology.
That’s according to a report from market research and consultancy firm Gartner, released today, that forecasts a 3.2 percent rise to $3.77 trillion in worldwide spending on IT.
Spending on enterprise software is forecast to jump 8.5 percent this year from 2018, to hit $431 billion. Included in the enterprise software category are ERP (enterprise resource planning), SCM (supply chain management) CRM (customer relationship management), open-source, on-premises and cloud software.
Within the overall enterprise software category, cloud computing infrastructure and applications will absorb most of the spending, totaling $214 billion this year, up 17.5 percent from 2018, Gartner said.
“The most important thing we’re seeing is the shift from bricks and mortar business to digital business,” said Gartner analyst John Lovelock. “It’s the main driver of the uptick in spending.”
Though cost optimization is important, it’s not the main reason for moving to cloud services and applications, Lovelock said. “The fact that were going to cloud is more about agility, getting the feature functionality you need at the speed you need it. Digital business runs at a much faster speed than [bricks and mortar] business; hyperscale data centers are the only things that can support the speed of digital business, the cooperation required in digital business — it’s very difficult to do that on-premises.”
The rise in cloud spending, though, is not globally uniform. “It must be said that on a global basis cloud is really an infection started in the United States, and is spreading; the U.S. is almost 60 percent of the current cloud spending around the world,” Lovelock said. Among other things, the lack of hyperscale data centers in developing markets contributes to application latency that slows cloud growth in those areas, he said.
Services, data-center spending also rises
Spending on IT services and data-centers systems will also contribute significantly to overall growth. Spending on data-center systems including servers, storage and networking technology will rise 4.2 percent to $210 billion, while spending on IT services will increase 4.7 percent to $1.03 trillion, Gartner says.
Though spending on devices and communications services will also increase, they are lagging behind the other categories, Gartner says.
Spending on communications including fixed and mobile telecom services as well as unified communications technology will grow 1.3 percent to $1.4 trillion this year.
Meanwhile, spending on devices including PC, tablets, mobile phones and printers is expected to increase 1.6 percent to $679 billion.
The new features offered in phones coming out on the market don’t appear to be providing enough impetus for many users to upgrade, especially in a time of economic uncertainty, Lovelock said.
“We’re looking for the signs of economic dislocation right now,” Lovelock said. Clouds on the economic horizon include the imminent exit of the U.K. from the E.U., trade tensions between the U.S. and China and the possibility of rising tariffs worldwide, which all inject uncertainty into business plans. “It’s tough for a London bank to make plans to spend big on technology when it doesn’t know what its business model is going to be post-Brexit,” Lovelock said.
Macro-economic issues are a big concern for business executives. Lovelock noted that the most recent CFO poll taken by Duke University shows that 46 percent of respondents believe a recession will occur in 2019.
Nevertheless, Gartner’s 3.2 percent IT spending growth forecast for 2019, while somewhat lower than the 3.9 percent growth experienced in 2018, remains fairly strong.
“There are things happening at the fundamental level about why people are buying IT and what they plan to do with it that’s changed dramatically — the way we make money is changing,” Lovelock said.
In other words, despite geopolitical issues weighing on the minds of business leaders, the basic driver for tech spending — digital transformation — is here to stay as a driving force for IT.
Whether by the pool or the sea, make a splash with the best waterproof phones
Who says electronics and water don’t mix? Smartphones that can handle the rain, a dunk in the bath, or a tumble into a puddle aren’t the rarity they once were, and we’re not only talking about underpowered, basic phones covered in chunky rubber either. Today, some of the very best smartphones you can buy aren’t afraid of the wet stuff.
Maybe you work outdoors, are tired of being afraid of having something spilled on your precious phone, or you just want to tweet while you shower in the morning. Whatever the reason, a water-resistant smartphone is at the top of your shopping list. The question is, which one is the best for you?
Here are our top four picks for waterproof phones, plus some cases if you don’t want to change your existing device.
Do you want a gorgeous smartphone with the latest tech inside, plus a super-curvy screen? Then pick up the Galaxy S9. It’s a simply stunning smartphone with IP68 certification, which means it’s capable of surviving in up to 1.5 meters of water for around 30 minutes.
The S9 boasts a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, with 4GB of RAM, and an excellent 12-megapixel camera on the rear and 8-megapixel camera on the front. On the software side, it runs Android 8.0 Oreo, with Samsung’s own user interface over the top, making it look a little different than Android on other phones. If you’re looking for an even larger phablet or you’ve taken a fancy to the S Pen stylus, then Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 is also a great waterproof phone. Like the S9, the Note 9 has an IP68 water-resistant rating protecting a powerful processor, and the latest high-tech developments.
That 5.8-inch Super AMOLED screen is the star of the show, with a 2,960 x 1,440-pixel resolution and unbeatable vibrancy and brightness. There’s a 3,000mAh battery inside, which should be enough to see you through the day. While the IP68 rating indicates an ability to deal with liquids, the S9 has curved glass front and back, so there’s a serious risk of damage if you drop it.
If you’re willing to spend a little extra, you can get the S9 Plus, which sports a 6.2-inch screen, a bigger 3,500mAh battery, 6GB of RAM, and the same IP68 certification. If your budget won’t stretch, then consider last year’s Samsung duo, the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, or its trio from the year before, the Galaxy S7, the S7 Edge, and the S7 Active. All are IP68-rated and available at lower prices.
Apple jumped on board a bezel-free smartphone future when it released the iPhone X. The iPhone XS features the same gorgeous design, but with a little more power under the hood.
The OLED screen’s deep inky blacks and vibrant colors make it hard to pull your eyes away from it, and Apple’s True Tone tech changes the color warmth of the screen to account for the ambient lighting around you. While they might not have the Face ID and the super futuristic design of the iPhone XS, last year’s iPhone 8 and 8 Plus still have plenty of processing power, and the same super-smart iOS and IP67 rating of their newer kin. If you can’t justify the $999 for the iPhone XS, then the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are also great choices.
But it’s not all about the 5.8-inch screen. Apple’s outstanding record on smartphone photography continues unblemished. The iPhone XS boasts two 12-megapixel lenses, with one wide-angle and one zoom lens. It sounds the same as last year’s iPhone X on paper, but the image sensor is larger, which means the iPhone XS is even stronger with low-light photography. You also get Apple’s Portrait Mode, which selectively blurs the background around your subject, giving your images a DSLR-style “bokeh” effect that lends your photography a professional look. Then there’s Portrait Lighting, which gives you the option of different lighting effects to really make your images pop.
Apple’s newest A12 Bionic chip is fast and efficient, beating out all the competition, and though Touch ID is not coming back, Face ID has been improved, so it’s a touch faster. There’s no headphone jack, but the iPhone XS is rocking Bluetooth 5.0 for a strong and stable connection to your Bluetooth headphones.
The iPhone X is IP67 rated, which makes it less water-resistant than the Samsung Galaxy S9, but it’s still capable of surviving dips of up to 30 minutes in “stable” water. So it will survive the toilet and the bath, but don’t take it into the sea or across any rivers. Viking raiders looking for an upgrade might do better to look elsewhere, but the IP67 rating should suffice for most.
If all you care about is a phone that will still work after it gets dropped, bashed about a bit, or dropped in quite a lot of water, then the Cat S61 is definitely the phone for you. It’s extremely chunky, but the IP68 rating is good for 60 minutes in water down to a depth of 5 meters (16 feet), plus the MIL-STD-810G rating keeps it safe from dust, radiation, and shocks. The tough body will treat a fall from 1.8 meters (6 feet) onto concrete like it was nothing.
By chance, if during all this abuse, the need for thermal imaging arises, the S61 will step up to this task as well. In a partnership with sensor company Flir, the S61 has an unusual thermal camera alongside its standard 16-megapixel shooter. It works with a special app to show heat palettes, temperature, and hot spots, which can come in handy for all sorts of professions, from vets to car mechanics.
The rest of the phone isn’t quite so high spec as the others on our list. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor and 4GB of RAM provide the power, while the 5.2-inch screen has a 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution. However, no one will be buying the S61 for top specs or outstanding style. It’s all about survival, and the S61 is built to survive anything.
Why should you buy this: Cheaper than getting a new phone, it’s a fast and convenient way to add protection.
LifeProof FRE SERIES Waterproof Case
Buy a waterproof case for your phone to avoid changing it, or to add even more protection. $33 from Amazon
Who is it for: Anyone who doesn’t want to change their phone, but wants to protect it from the elements.
How much will it cost: $30 to $90.
Instead of hunting around for a cheap phone that provides water resistance, why not just buy the phone you want, and put it in a waterproof case? There are various options out there, but we like the following three choices.
The Lifeproof Fre promises to protect against water, dirt, snow, and sharp impacts. It covers the whole of your phone, including the screen and all the ports, so be prepared for an increase in overall size and weight. It’s a small price to pay for such a high level of protection. LifeProof Fre cases are available for most of Samsung’s Galaxy range, along with all iPhone models from the iPhone 5 on, plus the Google Pixel phones and a few other models.
Catalyst cases are a great alternative to LifeProof, and come in versions suitable for all iPhone models since the iPhone 4. There are even cases for the Apple Watch and the iPad range. Tested to IP68 levels and a depth of 10 meters (33 feet), the cases protect against water, snow, dust, and dirt. Catalyst has paid attention to the little things, like ensuring Touch ID still works as you want it to, and the camera lens cover is of high enough quality to not ruin any pictures.
If a custom waterproof case isn’t available for your phone, or you want a really cheap, reliable system, then get a universal “dry bag” type case, which seals your phone inside a pouch and keeps all the elements out. There are plenty of choices out there, in various colors, such as this one from Joto. It has an IPX8 rating and fits phones with screens smaller than 6 inches.
IP What? What those IP ratings actually mean
When we talk about waterproof hardware, we often refer to an IP rating. This stands for Ingress Protection, and is usually followed by a number, which refers to its ability to withstand water and dust. The first digit relates to solid particle protection and the second digit to liquid.
All the phones on our list meet IP67 or IP68 standards. IP numbers that start with a six mean the device features complete protection from dust, and will ward off particles to the extent where none can find its way in. It’s the highest rating currently available, and is considered “dust tight.”
To meet the IPx8 standard, the device must continue to function normally after being left in water “continuously,” although the exact details are usually down to the manufacturer. For example, Samsung says the Galaxy S9 “can be immersed in 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes.” Drop that down to an IP67 rating, and the depth changes to a meter, and protection is only for a short time.
Here’s a complete breakdown of what all the IP codes mean, if you want to check out other ratings. It’s worth pointing out that while we call these phones waterproof, they remain so for a limited amount of time at best, and are technically water resistant. In other words, we don’t advise you to deliberately submerge any of them, especially not for very long, but it’s still nice not to have to worry if an accident happens.
How we test
Keys, wallet, smartphone. That’s how the mantra goes when most of us leave the house, ensuring nothing essential has been left behind. Because our phones are now such an important part of our everyday life, choosing the right one requires the same degree of research as a new car, or a new computer. We know this, which is why each phone we review becomes part of our everyday life. We want to tell you what it’s like to live with, before you put down your money.
We check our emails, play games, take photos (lots of photos), browse social media, watch video, and much more to see how the phone performs in the situations you will most often encounter. On the technical side, we’ll check the benchmark results and dive more deeply into the software, but it’s regular use that tells us what we want to know.
From this, and similar experience with other devices on the market, we can advise you on which model to buy. If it’s not worth it, we’ll say, and let you know the reason. You’ll know if we love it too, because we’ll sing its praises repeatedly. We use our phones all the time, and form quite an attachment to them, so the decision on which one to buy isn’t to be taken lightly. It makes sense for us not to treat reviewing them lightly either.
Firm disables Group FaceTime over serious glitch which can also turn on video without people’s knowledge
Apple has made the group functionality on its FaceTime application temporarily unavailable as it rushes to fix a glitch that allowed users to listen in on the people they were calling when they did not pick up the call. Under certain circumstances, the glitch also allowed callers to see video of the person they were calling before they picked up.
The Guardian confirmed the existence of the bug, which was first reported by 9to5Mac. It turned the phone of the recipient of a FaceTime call into a microphone while the call was still ringing. If the recipient of the call pressed the power button on the side of the iPhone – an action typically used to silence or ignore an incoming call – their phone would begin broadcasting video to the initial caller.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Guardian. The company told Reuters it was aware of the problem and would release a software update “later this week”.
In the meantime, the Group FaceTime feature was temporarily made unavailable, according to Apple’s system status webpage. By disabling that feature at the source, the company appears to have prevented any further exploitation of the bug.
The flaw was discovered amid increasing concern over privacy by regulators around the globe and – embarrassingly for Apple – was exposed on Data Privacy Day, a global event instituted by the Council of Europe in 2007 to raise awareness among businesses and consumers about the importance of protecting privacy. Hours before the bug was first revealed to the public, Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, had tweeted that “the dangers are real and the consequences are too important” to not institute “vital privacy protections”.
The bug was discovered the day before Apple’s quarterly results call, already expected to be a fraught affair due to the company’s unprecedented decision to slash its revenue forecast by at least $5bn (£3.8bn). Cook blamed a slowdown in China for the reduction in earnings, and cited a battery replacement programme, foreign exchange fluctuations, and the end of carrier subsidies for new phones as compounding factors.
Apple has attempted to distinguish itself from rival technology companies such as Google and Facebook by boasting about its privacy record. In early January, the company ran a 13-floor billboard in Las Vegas stating, “What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone” during the Consumer Electronics Show.
While Apple’s decision to shut down Group FaceTime appears to have protected against further attempts to exploit the bug, users wishing for an extra degree of security may wish to disable FaceTime entirely in their phones’ settings (a single switch located under the FaceTime submenu). Apple’s next software update, expected to be iOS 12.2, will be released later this week, the company says, and will contain a permanent fix.
Even then, it is not clear whether, or how, Apple will extend that protection to users who don’t update their phones to the latest operating system, either because they can’t, won’t, or don’t know how to. While the company keeps Group FaceTime switched off, those users are secure, but it remains uncertain whether they would be freshly exposed when the feature is restored.
The immediate reaction to the bug has been shock on the part of privacy and security experts. Ashkan Soltani, the former chief technology officer of the US Federal Trade Commission, called it “quite possibly one of the most significant privacy/security bugs the company has had to deal with in recent years (if not ever?),” and praised the speed with which Apple had disabled Group FaceTime.
As 2019 begins…
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In 2018, the world witnessed the continued development of technologies like artificial intelligence and virtual reality. As these tools become more accessible and widely used among both businesses and consumers, many tech industry experts are speculating about what the next “big thing” will be.
Looking ahead to 2019, we asked a panel of Forbes Technology Council members for their take on upcoming trends in their field. From blockchain as a service to enterprise content management, here are their predictions about the next wave of breakout technologies:
The blockchain is not as revolutionary as artificial intelligence (AI), or as intuitive and user-friendly as voice control, but it will transform the way we handle finance, real estate, Internet of Things (IoT), the supply chain of most industries and much more. That’s why governments are rushing to incorporate it in every sense they can; they know the high cost of falling behind on this. – Nacho De Marco, BairesDev
2. Blockchain As A Service
In 2019 we will begin to see the first practical implementations of blockchain, beyond the cryptocurrency use case, and unlock distributed marketplaces and computing systems that leverage communities for sharing of resources in both a cost- and resource-efficient manner. These technologies will be enabled through the blockchain-as-a-service platforms being unveiled by IBM, Azure and AWS. – Danny Allan, Veeam Software
3. AI-Led Automation
The breakout technology of 2019 is definitely going to be AI-led automation. It’s expected that data mining and management, business processes, information technology (IT) services, customer support, and many other sectors will witness automation via neural networks and machine-learning-based solutions. – Amit Jnagal, Infrrd
4. Machine Learning
AI and machine learning (ML) were born in the ’80s, but the hardware was never fast enough to deliver the expected promise. Now, ML libraries are readily available, and the cloud provides all the computing you need. Thanks to AI and ML, marketers can improve revenue growth, support reps can deliver better answers, service professionals can deliver insights and customers can connect all their data. – Vinay Pai, Bill.com
5. Enterprise Content Management
In 2019, more documentation will originate digitally, eliminating the need for organizations to “go paperless” in the first place. Enterprise Content Management (ECM) software integrates disparate data from across your organization through the use of electronic forms and automated workflows. By empowering this exchange of data, businesses maximize their return on investment (ROI) and customer acquisition costs (CAC) throughout customer lifecycles. – James Hwang, Cal Net Technology Group, a NexusTek Company
6. AI For The Back Office
There’s a lot of hype around the potential of AI, but one area that is often overlooked is the power of AI to revolutionize workflows. In 2019, we’ll see the start of AI making a noticeable impact on the back office, from increasing electronic operations to streamlining identification and credentialing. These developments have the ability to transform labor-intense processes across industries. – Charles Aunger, Health2047 Inc.
7. Quantum Computing AI Applications
2019 will be the year of quantum computing AI applications. Quantum technology recently became available for the public on the cloud and is now set to have a large transformative impact on many industries, providing solutions and answers to problems that supercomputers couldn’t solve before. Major applications are expected in health care (material science), trading and in cybersecurity. – Nir Kaldero, Galvanize Inc.
8. Mainstreamed IoT
While IoT is not a new concept, it will move from pre-adoption to a mainstream solution that retail, manufacturing, health care and other industries will integrate as an everyday business operation. It will change the way consumers and businesses get real-time data, engage with their users and interact with AI and machine learning. – Frank Cittadino, QOS Networks
With the recent explosion of connected devices and IoT, mobile connectivity via 5G will become a major player and competitor to all things WiFi. But the real question will be who can bring 5G to market quickly, painlessly and affordably for both consumers and industry alike. – Andy Dalton, IVM, Inc.
10. Realistic Robots
If you’ve seen any of the Boston Dynamics robot videos, like the dog that opens doors, you know there’s a whole frontier of robotics that is starting to get into exciting (or scary) territory. As these robots integrate the type of intelligence that machine learning and modern AI techniques offer, we’re going to start seeing more and more robots that look and feel like living beings. – David Isaac Murray, Doctor.com
11. Split Testing Via ML
Split testing, or A/B testing, has helped companies increase conversions for their businesses across the board. I think we’re going to see an advancement with split testing thanks to machine learning. For example, instead of manually designing different layouts of a website and seeing which one performs better, different layouts would be shown to different customers automatically. – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster