27 Nov

Samsung Pay Expands Payment Options

As mobile payments move ever closer to becoming the norm for settling bills and undertaking financial transactions, Google Wallet and Apple Pay continue to be the services that hog the limelight. While it may appear on the surface that these are the only popular options, Samsung Pay is also getting in on a slice of the NFC-technology action. The Korea-headquartered technology giant has taken another step forward by announcing its integration of support for eight more credit and debit card issuers within Samsung Pay.

 

Samsung Pay, which the company claims to be the most accepted mobile payment system around, already supports payment made through three of the major and most popular networks in the United States and elsewhere: Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. The latest development will be of most benefit to customers in the US, or those with accounts at these US-based financial institutions but who themselves are based overseas.

 

Among the newly supported payment methods are Visa cards issued through the American bank Chase and through the Navy Federal Credit Union, as well as MasterCard credit and debit cards held against accounts with the following US institutions:
 
•Citizens Equity First Credit Union
•Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union
•Security Service Federal Credit Union
•State Employees’ Credit Union
•SunTrust
•Virginia Credit Union

 

Other major banking institutions already supported for transactions processed through Samsung pay include Bank of America, Citibank, U.S. Bank, and Synchrony Financial. The growth of Samsung Pay and the widening choice of options for making use of the service are signs of the increased importance of the mobile payments sector – something to which smart businesses are paying close attention, in order to be able to identify how to best exploit the growth opportunities this presents.

 

Find out how you can make mobile payments work for your business – give us a call at 1-866-BIT-WISE or send us an email at sales@eitnetworks.net.

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25 Sep

An Android Tablet for $50!

If you thought implementing tablet technology into your business setup was beyond your company’s budget, it might be time to reconsider. Online retailing giant Amazon could be about to shake up the tablet industry with the launch of Amazon Fire. This super-economy Android tablet will retail for just $50, putting it within reach both of home users and of businesses looking to buy in bulk. Here’s what you need to know.

 

The seven-inch Amazon Fire tablet is due to launch on September 30, meaning it will be available just in time for the holiday season – great for individuals looking to treat themselves or loved ones, but also good news for businesses looking to use technology to increase efficiency ahead of the busy peak period.

 

Given the tablet’s budget positioning – with likenesses to Google’s stripped-back Chromebook, which performs basic functions but is of only limited use without an internet connection – it’s not surprising that it isn’t as powerful as more popular options. While its software is based on Android, the device actually runs on Amazon’s Fire OS 5 Bellini operating system. That means it does not support the Google Play apps used on the vast majority of Android tablets – which will be a drawback for some users – but it does work with the Amazon app store. Other key specs include a 1,024×600 pixel display, a 1.3Ghz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of internal storage that can be increased further by using a microSD card. According to Amazon, the Fire supports seven hours of battery life during moderate usage.

 

Perhaps most interesting, though, is the fact that the Fire comes with built-in advertising-based screensavers displaying Amazon promotions; a small additional payment is required to switch these off. Again, it’s hardly a shock to hear that there’s a semi-catch of this kind when the tablet itself only costs $50. It might also represent a shift in the market positioning of tablet devices, with more focus on business models similar to those of no-frills budget airlines and hotels, where extra payments are required for meals, seat selection, windows, towel rental, and so on.

 

Either way, the Amazon Fire could be the way into tablet use for companies that need their employees to have the ability to work remotely and flexibly, but which don’t require the more intensive capabilities of pricier higher-end devices. To learn more about adapting mobile technology in your business in order to boost efficiency and productivity, give us a call at 1-866-BIT-WISE or email sales@eitnetworks.net.

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18 Sep

Get More From Your Laptop Battery

Even in today’s world where electrical outlets are more numerous than ever before, there will still be times you need to push your laptop’s battery to the edge. Ever wish you could buy yourself a few extra minutes by extending your battery life? Here are a few tips to help you get every last drop of energy from your laptop battery.

 

Dim the screen

 

The easiest way to conserve your battery is to dim the screen of the laptop. The screen eats up a lot of energy, and chances are you don’t really need it that bright in the first place. The more you dim it, the more energy you will save. If you are desperate for battery life, turning it down to the lowest setting that still renders screen readable to you is the way to go. If you just want to conserve energy, taking it down to halfway will help conserve the battery and give you additional time down the road.

 

Stop charging your phone

 

It is almost second nature for people to charge their phones when they have a chance, but doing so while using your laptop can be a serious drain on its battery. If you need to maximize your laptop battery then unplug your phone, tablet or other device from it. You should see a big difference in battery performance almost immediately. In fact, it is best not to have any USB accessories, such as a wireless mouse, plugged in at all. These can also deplete your laptop battery in short order.

 

Only use what you need

 

While it’s fine to keep open multiple programs, applications, and other features when your laptop is plugged in, these will eat away at your battery life when you’re away from a power socket. You should run a quick inventory on what you are using, and then close out of the rest. Do you really need to be running Skype if you are not talking to anyone? Probably not. Don’t just push them into the background, though. Be sure to close out of them completely. By only running what you need, you can reduce the burden on your battery.

 

Shutdown Wi-Fi

 

Wi-Fi can be one of the biggest drags on a laptop battery, because it is constantly using energy to search for new networks or to stay connected to the one it’s on. Not only that, but internet browsers, especially ones with multiple tabs open, can increase energy consumption. If you aren’t using the internet, you should shut off the Wi-Fi and close out of any browsers. If you do need to use the internet, avoid opening multiple tabs, watching videos or streaming music.

 

Plan ahead

 

If you aren’t sure when you will be able to charge your laptop again, it is best to implement some of these battery-saving techniques before the situation gets critical. Chances are if you aren’t using certain apps now, you probably weren’t using them 30 minutes ago either. The best way to conserve your laptop’s battery life is by being vigilant and alert to usage in advance. It is almost always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to the battery life left on your laptop.

 

Let us show you how to get the most out of your laptop. Our trained experts can also answer all your hardware questions. Drop us a line at 1-866-BIT-WISE for more information.

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11 Sep

Android Announces Marshmallow

After much speculation as to when it would finally rear its head, Google has finally announced the imminent arrival of the Android 6.0 M operating system, which goes by the name of Marshmallow. It follows in the footsteps of previous foodstuff-inspired Android operating system releases, including its predecessor Lollipop. Though the Developer Preview of Marshmallow is now available, there’s no confirmed release date as of yet for the full version of the system for use on devices – but here’s what to expect when it does come.

 

Marshmallow was first announced at the Google I/O conference earlier this year, but it’s taken a while for a version to come through that’s ready for developers to get their hands on. However, that’s now happened, and the first publicly available release of the operating system is expected to be on the new Nexus 5 and 6 mobile devices in the coming weeks. Sadly, the rest of us are unlikely to have a crack at Marshmallow until the end of 2015 at the earliest. But when that time does come around, it’s packed with these developments.

 

Visual voicemail

 

No more dialing voicemail and listening for long-winded prompts – Marshmallow is set to offer visual voicemail functionality from right within the main phone app. That means you can see at a glance who has left you a message, listen to each voicemail, and quickly hit a button to get more information or call or text back – all without needing to wait for a long list of options to play out first. Since this feature requires work at the carrier’s end to enable compatibility, it’s expected to be available only on a handful of networks to begin with – but the list should grow as time goes on.

 

Screen rotation

 

Here’s something that competitor Apple has offered its users since even the earliest iterations of its devices – the simple ability to rotate the screen and use it in landscape as well as portrait view. It’s a wonder it’s taken Google this long to realize this was a big and frustrating gap in the Android’s functionality, but at least the wait is over. You’ll now be able to rotate the screen whether you’re on the home screen or deep in an app.

 

Improved app drawer

 

Previous releases of the Android operating system have switched up Apple’s conventional single-level, horizontal-scrolling app drawer – used for accessing apps that are already open – with a bigger and vertical-scrolling drawer. But until now this has been plagued by bugs and apparently poorly-thought-out design, with out-of-place alphabetical organization and an ineffective use of space. Marshmallow sees these fixed, with space for more icons on screen – meaning faster and simpler scrolling – and floating alphabetical icons that both save space and look cleaner.

 

When it’s finally released in full, Marshmallow will also pack in a range of other smaller updates. If you want to learn more about how to integrate Android devices into your business and optimize productivity in the process, just give us a call at 1-866-BIT-WISE or email us at sales@eitnetworks.net.

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14 Aug

Microsoft Office is Now Mobile!

Tablets with Windows 10 installed received a boost recently with the unveiling of the new Office Mobile applications. The mobile versions of the iconic Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote applications are specifically designed for use on tablets. The “touch-first” interface allows users to easily edit documents while on the go. The best news of all is the fact that Office Mobile apps are free for users of Windows 10.

 

One of the biggest complaints about trying to edit a Microsoft Office file from a tablet is usability, or lack thereof. That has all changed, at least for Windows 10 users, with Microsoft’s recent release of Office Mobile apps. The tablet-friendly versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote have been built from the ground up to improve touch functionality.

 

Even if you don’t have Windows 10, you still might be intrigued about the potential of having Office apps that are touch-friendly. Here are some of the new features you can enjoy when using Office Mobile apps.
 

Word

 

Microsoft Word Mobile has all the tools and features of the PC version including more nuanced tasks like being able to track changes and add footnotes. The Read mode, a mobile exclusive, improves the way documents appear by making them flow better on the smaller screens of a tablet while also letting you zoom in and out with a simple tap of the screen.
 

Excel

 

Recommended Charts is the prominent feature of the Excel Mobile app. It allows you to quickly show off your data using a stylish chart or graph with only a few taps. You will also find that reordering columns, adding formulae, changing chart types, and the majority of Excel’s other core functions are easier than ever before.
 

PowerPoint

 

Of course Office wouldn’t be Office without PowerPoint. The mobile version of the app allows you to edit slides with new touch gestures. This makes it easy to insert and edit pictures, tables, shapes, and SmartArt. But the real star here, and of the entire Office Mobile setup, is the Presenter View. This mode gives you full control over what your audience sees on the big screen during a presentation while still letting you view your speaker notes on the tablet.
 

OneNote

 

Windows 10 comes installed with OneNote, so you’re probably already using it. Tablet users will notice that changes made by anyone working in the notebook are automatically saved and synchronized for everyone to see.

The release of Office Mobile apps is just one of three big launches to come from Microsoft in 2015. Both Microsoft Office 2016 and Office Mobile for phones are slated for release this fall. Yet, while these tablet applications represent marked improvements for Windows 10 tablet users, they are probably not quite enough to warrant the switch from other operating systems just yet. In fact, even if you’re in love with the idea of having user-friendly, mobile versions of Office, you might want to hang on in there – it’s likely Microsoft will release them for iOS and Android in the near future, too.

 

Want to know what hardware and software is best for your company? Want to increase productivity in your office? Get in touch with us and we’ll show you how to do it. You can reach us at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net

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07 Aug

The Lowdown on the Nexus 9

If you’ve been itching to get your hands on the latest Nexus device or Android OS, the wait is finally over. The Nexus 9 tablet features the much anticipated Android 5.0 Lollipop operating system as well as several other improvements. But is the Nexus 9 worth getting excited about? Is the Android 5.0 Lollipop as sweet as it sounds? We’ll explore just that.

 

Hardware

 

Google has partnered with HTC to manufacture the Nexus 9. And while the tablet isn’t the slimmest available, it is incredibly light. A more streamlined and subtle look is achieved through a well-constructed body and edges that are mostly free of flaps, ports and slots. The quad-core Qualcomm silicon that powered the Nexus 7 is replaced with NVIDIA’s new 64-bit, dual core Tegra K1 chipset with 2GB of RAM, allowing for more powerful graphic performance and speed. Note that the Nexus 9 is available in 16GB and 32GB with no microSD expansion slot.

 

Display and Camera

 

The LCD screen runs at 2,048 x 1,536, which isn’t as sumptuous as the AMOLED screens offered by other brands in the market but is still portable, lightweight and powerful. There’s a noticeable change in material design with new colors, layers and motion, including lots of vivid hues and drop shadows to keep everything distinct. The 1.6 megapixel front camera is unsatisfying, but the 8-megapixel main camera around the back is crisp and well saturated. The Nexus can shoot 1080p video footage, offering great quality unless there is interference from ambient sounds, in which case you’ll be left with some messy audio.

 

Software

 

The Nexus 9 comes loaded with the new Android 5.0 Lollipop, and the new OS is the best we’ve seen from Google yet. The first plus is the bump in speed and responsiveness when swiping through multiple home screens and sifting through opened apps. Impressively, there is no hint of lag. App previews show up nearly instantaneously and run with fewer hiccups than on other similarly specced devices. Google’s Android Runtime (better known as ART) offers noticeable app performance gains. Because key pieces of code are converted into native machine code, the device can interpret these at the time the app is installed – rather than every time the app is launched – and so reduce slowdown.

When the tablet is resting, there’s no need to press the power button. A quick double-tap on the screen will rouse it from its sleep. Priority alerts can be toggled from the notification shade, allowing you to work better without being distracted by Facebook updates and messages. You can also add new users, restrict profiles, and pin certain apps into place so that guests can’t root through your personal stuff.

While the new Nexus 9 itself doesn’t come packed with overhauled features, the Android 5.0 Lollipop is the real highlight and is set to please users with enhanced performance and functionality.

 

Looking to learn how Android tablet devices can benefit your business? Give us a call or email and we’ll be happy to advise. 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net

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10 Jul

Will Selfies Replace Passwords?

Love them or hate them, selfies are here to stay. And with facial recognition technology becoming both more advanced and more mainstream, selfies have now found their way into the online security world. MasterCard is the most recent global corporation to join in on the trend. Here’s how they’re planning to integrate facial recognition technology into the online payment process.

 

At the beginning of this autumn, MasterCard will acquire the help of 500 customers to test out a new application that enables people to verify their identity and authenticate online transactions with a facial scan. What does this mean? Instead of using a traditional password at the online checkout, MasterCard wants to give you the option to snap a selfie instead. According to the credit card giant, they’ve partnered with every smartphone company in the business to make this mode of identity verification possible.
 

Why is this happening?

 

A quote from Ajay Bhalla, security expert at MasterCard, suggests this is an attempt by the credit card giant to appeal to a younger crowd of digital natives. “The new generation, which is into selfies…I think they’ll find it cool. They’ll embrace it,” Bhalla recently said.

That said, the “cool” appeal to youth is likely not the only reason for this change. The firm is likely attempting to make online purchases both more secure and more convenient.
 

How it works

 

To use this technology, users will have to download a dedicated app, which they can then use to take a photo of themselves at checkout. But how does MasterCard prevent a thief from using a photo of you to fake your verification? Simple – the app requires you to blink to prove that you’re a living, breathing human being.

However, it’s been noted by critics that, in today’s technological world, even a blink can be animated on a static photo. This leaves those of us with security concerns wondering whether MasterCard will make this app more secure before it’s released.

Note as well, though, that MasterCard is not getting rid of traditional passwords completely. Users will still have the option of the more conventional method of verification, as well as the choice of fingerprint scanning to check your identity.
 

Is this where the future of online security is headed?

 

With the release due later this year of a similar Windows 10 security application to identify users using biometrics, it appears that this is where the future of online security is headed. And with ever more applications and online services requiring a password, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the average web user to create one that is both unique and secure for each individual service. So whether it’s facial recognition, a fingerprint scan or some other technology that’s yet to be perfected, it seems as though some sort of more advanced security solution is inevitable.
 

Want more of the latest security news? Looking to implement new security to protect your IT infrastructure from cyber threats? Get in touch wit EIT Networks today at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net.

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29 Jun

Get Windows 10 Today!

July 29 is the day Windows users have been waiting for. This summer sees the release of the much-anticipated Windows 10 operating system, which Microsoft is keen to ensure outperforms the let-down that was Windows 8. The computing giant has been back to the drawing board and emerged with plenty of impressive new features to wow you and your team – here’s what you need to know before getting started.

 

You can get it for free

 

They say the best things in life are free, and that might just be the case with Windows 10. Microsoft has kept its word about making its newest operating system free to access – at least if you’re currently running an authentic version of Windows 7 or 8.1, its two most recent releases. You’ll enjoy a free lifetime upgrade to Windows 10 provided you make the move within the next year and, better still, it’s an automatic upgrade directly from your existing Windows 7 or 8.1 interface. If you’re running an older version of Windows, you’ll need to make a fresh install and you’ll also need to pay – the various available versions of Windows 10 are expected to retail starting at $119.

 

It’s being launched in phases

 

Although the official release date is July 29, in reality Microsoft is expected to undertake a phased launch. This means that you might not end up using the brand new Windows 10 on July 29 itself – instead, Microsoft is likely to make the new operating system available to desktop and laptop users first, and only later to mobile and other devices. What’s more, the firm already has its next move in the pipeline. Upgrade and update plans for Windows 10 are anticipated to be on the way in two phases, in June and October 2016. But we are expecting these changes, codenamed Redstone, to come in the form of more minor tweaks to the Windows 10 infrastructure rather than a full overhaul.

 

It’s the last you’ll see of Windows

 

Microsoft has made no secret of the fact that it sees Windows 10 as the operating system’s final release. But that’s not quite as ultimate as it sounds – this is not really the end of Windows. Instead, what we’re seeing is the transition of Windows from a product to a service. Microsoft envisions a future where, instead of major new versions of Windows emerging every few years, there are regular improvements and updates – far beyond the Windows Updates that we know at the moment.

 

It’s likely that version numbers will come to play far less of a role in system updates in the future – in much the same way as mobile apps operate, we’ll instead settle into enjoying a frequently updated service that incorporates the latest features Microsoft has developed. And while some have expressed fears that this could lead to home and business users being tied into a subscription model in order to stay up to date, Microsoft appears committed to ensuring that ongoing upgrades are free.

 

 

Ready to make the leap to Windows 10? Want to find out how best to make the transition with minimal disruption to your business? Give us a call at 1-866-BIT-WISE and let us walk you through it.

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