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. Facebook is working on ‘Friend-to-Friend’ payments using Messenger : Leaked  screenshots reveal that Facebook has a hidden feature built in for  friends to send each other money within Messenger. The screenshots which were leaked by a computer science Stanford student indicated that money could be sent in a similar manner to which photos and videos are exchanged on Messenger. Users could add a debit card in Messenger, or use one they already have on file with Facebook with the inclusion of in-app pin-codes for added security around payments. It is also now becoming clear why Facebook chose to poach David Macus (former PayPal exec). With a payment mechanism in place, Facebook Messenger payments is now likely to compete with PayPal, Square Cash and other peer-to-peer money transfer apps.  Currently there is a global battle for messaging platform dominance between Facebook/Whatsapp, iMessage, WeChat, Google Hangouts, BBM and others where each one is trying to differentiate itself with games, commerce or just pure social networking.  The inclusion of the peer-to-peer payments could prove to be very useful, as Facebook is also working on a Buy button for making ecommerce purchases directly from the News Feed. Facebook declined to comment.

2. Microsoft announces Windows 10: The natural name would have been Windows 9, but Microsoft wants to emphasis this is a fundamental change to how Windows works. “We’re not building an incremental product,” said Terry Myerson, head of Microsoft’s Operating Systems Group. There are rumours the official name may change.  Microsoft expects to release the OS sometime in 2015, after the company’s Build developer conference in April. Users who cannot wait until then are able to download the preview/beta version which has been available since 1 October  2014 (known as the Windows Insider Program)  The cost for the retail version has yet to be determined. The key features of Windows 10 can be summarised as follows:

  •  Windows 10 will be run on all devices,  from desktops to   tablets, smartphones and embedded products, too.
  • The return of the start menu :  Windows 10 tries to combine the familiarity of Windows 7 with the modern interface of Windows 8. That means the menu is split: On the left, apps are displayed in the familiar Windows 7 style, while on the right are more colourful “live tiles” that open the modern, Windows 8-style apps. The start menu is customisable, so you can resize the tiles and move them around, and make the start menu tall and thin or long and flat.
  • Apps will now be universal as users will be able to download one app from the  Windows Store and it will be expected it to run on all your devices. Developers will presumably need to make universal apps that will adjust their look and feel, depending on the devices size and capabilities.
  • Improvement on productivity is visible with an improved Snap – the function that lets you quickly arrange apps side by side, with a new quadrant layout that lets you split your display up among up to four apps. There’s also support for multiple desktops , so you can keep all your work apps in one place and quickly slide back to the desktop with your personal apps such as Reddit, Facebook. Also,  then there’s the task view button that lives on the taskbar which when clicked ,will show a quick-view of all open files, windows, and desktops.

 3. Apple’s next event for the unveiling of the next generation of iPads, iMacs and Yosemite is rumoured for the 16 October 2014 Apple is reportedly holding an event for the iPad, OS X Yosemite and new iMacs on October 16, according to a report from well known tech blog Re/Code last week. Rumours include:

  •  new iMacs  sporting Retina displays
  • Apple may not release an update to its iPad mini at the Oct. event. The reason for the company potentially holding back on a new version of the smaller tablet the iPhone 6 Plus, which has a 5.5-inch screen. Reports say the 7.9-inch iPad mini could cut into the smartphone’s sales.
  • Apple’s next-generation iPad Air and iPad Retina mini are both expected to come with updated processors and support for Touch ID (the fingerprint first sensor introduced with the iPhone 5s)  and the inclusion of  a gold colour option.
  • OS X Yosemite will be nearing development completion with an official launch date.

4.  Some surprise winners at the T3 tech awards held in London last weekT3 magazine is a UK-based technology magazine, which specialises in gadgets, gizmos, and other technology.  At the 8th Annual Awards in London (voted by the consumers), the HTC One (M8) beat out Apple (iPhone 5s), Samsung (s5) and host of other high-end electronics brands to win smartphone of the year. Apple didn’t go home empty handed, however, as it won both Laptop of the Year for the MacBook Pro with Retina display and The Design Innovation Award for their Mac Pro. Beats by Dre, Apple’s £2 billion acquisition, failed to win Headphones of the Year, beaten out by Philips Fidelio S2. Another  big winner was the new Sony Playstation, which won two marquee awards and was entered into T3 Hall of Fame. The PS4 took top honours in the awards’ main event – Gadget of the Year – having already won The Gaming Award. Top Honours went to  Sir James Dyson (the man behind the Dyson company) for  Tech Legend. Dyson, whose vacuum cleaner revolutionised the market and whose company has served the advance of fans, heaters and hand dryers, is looking to innovate in The Internet of Things.  He said: “What an honour.  My focus is on making new technology and exciting machines.  But the best ideas are not all mine, it is Dyson’s 2,000 sparky engineers and scientists who should take the credit.  Working with them and some of the best universities in the world, we are developing new technologies which make things work better.” Netflix also beat the likes of Google, Apple , Samsung, Sony and Nike to win “Brand of the Year”.  From securing access to premier broadcasts such as Breaking Bad’s final season to bankrolling the hit House of Cards, Netflix worked hard, spent big and pulled in millions of viewers over 41 countries. Everyone took notice and followed suit, from Amazon to the BBC, but instead of relaxing, the Californian company announced 4K streaming. Profits in the first quarter of 2014 alone were £32m with 2.25m new members added during that period, bring its total global membership to 48m. After the 3D comedown, there’s a real buzz around the future of TV and it’s down to Netflix.

5. Absa Features Store makes fully customised  banking a reality :  Existing and future Absa customers now have the opportunity to fully customise and build their own transactional banking accounts according to their needs and budgets, while enjoying a wealth of lifestyle features. The Absa Features Store intends to make the lives of the banks’ customers easier by providing them with more than just banking through four easy steps – Browse, Select, Add Features and Check Out. It provides users with a dynamic online platform that is effectively a convenient one-stop shop where they can quickly and easily acquire Absa banking solutions, while tailor-making an enhanced banking experience that fits around their lifestyle and financial circumstances.  Absa have also  recently rolled out updated apps, and a new homeowner’s app. Speaking to Pierre Loubser, Head of consumer banking, it is all about providing a seamless customer experience and making everything accessible on your mobile device. Although Absa was one of the last banks to enter the mobile apps space, they are taking the approach of listening to the consumer needs while also leveraging on the international learnings of the Barclays group and attempting to make banking a pleasant experience. Although customer acquisition is important, in today’s every changing society retention is probably more important than acquisition and understanding the consumer’s  lifestyle is vital and Absa plans on using the new improved digital touch points to complement their retention strategy.

App of the Week : News24 Android App (updated with a new re-design). The country’s most popular  and top downloaded suite of apps has recently rolled out an update of their existing Android app in in a brand new design, optimised for phone, phablet and tablet. The android app will also be the benchmark in rolling out a consistent brand experience across the future iOS platforms for News24.  The updates will be coming soon.

Gadget of the Week: Professional Workstation with Detachable Bluetooth Keyboard for the iPad by the iLuv

If your iPad  has become more than an entertainment and information resource and a “must have” for your daily business operations,  then the Professional Case with Detachable Bluetooth Keyboard from iLuv is a must. Main features include:

  • Detachable Bluetooth keyboard for mobility and flexibility.
  • Retractable kick stand supports typing or movie viewing.
  • Scissor-type keypad provides more responsive typing.
  • Dedicated keys specific for iPad functions.
  • Integrated rechargeable Li-Polymer battery.
  • Battery life: up to 5 days of usage and 1 month on standby.

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.