Samsung have been piddling around with smartwatches for a while now, but no-one seems to be at all interested. That’s not going to stop them though, as they’ve unveiled what they reckon is the first smartwatch capable of making and receiving calls without a mobile phone nearby.
Of course, wearable technology is the Next Big Thing, or so the tech companies hope. Apple are expected to launch their own watch later this year, while LG have announced their new G Watch R smartwatch, which has a circular plastic OLED screen, a stainless steel frame and leather strap.
Samsung’s new effort is called Gear S and is different from those they’ve made before. For starters, the screen is bigger (5 cm) and it has a curved display and will give you WiFi connectivity, pedestrian navigation and a built-in GPS.
It sounds good, but like all smartwatches, it’ll inevitably be prohibitively expensive, which means only super nerds with money burning a hole in their pocket are going to buy them. And if they’re waiting to see what Apple are doing first, then there might be a few Gear S devices gathering dust in the back of gadget shops.
Samsung’s watch will run on their nascent Tizen operating system.
It’ll be on sale from October, which means they’re eyeing up the luxury Christmas present market. However, they’ve not said where it’ll be available and there’s not even a ballpark figure of how much they’ll retail for.
It’s that time of the year again when we get the latest six monthly report of the best and worst banks. As a surprise to absolutely no-one, HSBC’s online and telephone offspring First Direct is still number one, and no-one can remember a time when it wasn’t*. With a massive £150 switching bonus and more than 90% of current account customers rating First Direct’s service as “great”, the only surprise is why we don’t all bank with First Direct.
Although this is probably because we are lazy and can’t be bothered to switch, the new switching service has seen an increase in the number of people switching, but rather than going to the top rated bank, most switchees are switching to Santander’s extremely popular 123 current account because it gives you money back and 3% interest and stuff. Still, five years ago the Spanish bank was totally rubbish at customer service, coming rock bottom, yet is now maintaining a very respectable second place spot.
Although Smile has also maintained the third position it shared with the Co-operative Bank last time around, despite losing almost 40,000 customers already this year, the beleaguered Co-op still managed a not-to shabby fifth place. TSB, the friendly bank, came an embarrassing last place in February, but has now climbed to a much improved 7th this time.
But TSB’s rise comes at the cost of one of the other banking giants’ falls. Although an unnoteworthy mid-table player six months ago, Barclays has now dropped like a stone to the very bottom of the table. Ouch.
A spokesman for Barclays said: “Even one dissatisfied customer is one too many, and we are constantly working hard to improve and innovate our services. Whilst this survey doesn’t tally with our comprehensive and independent customer satisfaction scores, we will learn any lessons we need to in order to do better in future.”
Although other banks rated worse than Barclays – as those which received fewer than 100 votes were not included – it is the first time the bank has fallen so low in the tables.
Guy Anker, managing editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, said: “The bottom of the pile is dominated by some of the giant high street banks.
“It’s astonishing that over half of the account holders at four major banks voted the service they get is just “OK” or “poor”. This should be seen as a stark warning that the big banks risk losing customers if they don’t raise their game.”
*because First Direct have won every poll since it was started six years ago, that’s why.
In a bid to try and elevate their image and come across as a bit nicer, they’ve launched the business service in a bid to please the customer’s need for better treatment.
Their “business plus” fares offer customers flexible tickets, more check-in baggage, priority boarding and “premium” seats – in the first five rows for quick boarding, or on exit rows with extra leg-room.
They reckon that business passengers already make up more than a quarter of its customers and that the new fares, starting at £59.99, were designed to get more of them. The rest of you can whistle while you get herded up.
Ryanair have admitted that they’ve been a bit slack, and generally annoying humanity in general and have since been getting their act together.
They’ve introduced allocated seating, relaxed cabin bag restrictions, reduced charges, and loosened booking conditions.
Chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, says that the new tickets would not see larger seats or extra facilities, bar perhaps USB chargers on new planes: ”We won’t be introducing a blue curtain. Customers haven’t asked us for the high business fares and facilities, they just want a bit of flexibility and a better schedule. The schedule is very oriented around business travellers: places like Madrid, Milan and Barcelona have three times daily returns, so they can travel there that morning and come back the same day.”
The company has announced that it will be going to more city-centre airports too, including new routes from Stansted to Cologne, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
[insert joke about new routes from places NEAR Cologne, Glasgow etc]
Well, fortunately we can happily soothe you with the news that THEY ARE HERE.
GoPro, who usually see their action cameras for skydivers and stunt-type dude filming, have now launched a harness that allows viewers to capture the world from your dog’s point of view.
They’re fairly robust affairs, being waterproof and the like, so perfect to capture your dog – ideally having jolly adventures, but in reality you’ll get quite a lot of footage of other dog’s arses, various piles of faeces being rolled in and perspectives of a bored animal wishing it was dead while lying on the sofa.
For £59.99, you can do this and more. It can be mounted on either the back or the stomach too [So you can get an extra pervy look at your hound mating? Ed.].
It’s padded, as so the dog doesn’t find it uncomfortable, as obviously they’re used to having devices strapped onto them.
Paul Osborne, GoPro’s senior director of product management, bigs it up: “The adaptability and versatility of GoPro cameras make them the perfect device to document life from a dog’s point of view.”
“We designed Fetch to meet the unique needs and usage for pets and can’t wait to see the images and videos that owners will capture and share now that they have a mount specifically for their dog.”
We can safely adjust the doomsday clock now. HUMANITY HAS STEPPED IN AGAIN.
According to some research by the Kantar Worldpanel (sounds like a support act for Kraftwerk or Can), low inflation in the price of groceries, has seen sales grow by only 0.8% in the last 12 weeks, against figures from a year earlier.
The ongoing price wars and what have you, has driven inflation down to a record low of 0.2%. And guess what?
The main winners in market share again were Aldi and Lidl.
Aldi’s market share rose to 4.8% from 3.7% a year earlier, while Lidl’s share climbed to 3.6% from 3.1%. And it’s not all budget end, as sales at Waitrose were up 3.6% from a year earlier, and its market share edged up to 4.9% from 4.8%.
But it’s grim news for Tesco, as its sales were down 4% from last year’s period, and the market share dropping from 30.2% to 28.8%
According to Kantar Worldpanel director Edward Garner: “Competitive pricing among the big grocers and deflation in the price of staple items such as vegetables, milk and bread has driven inflation down yet again,”
“This naturally impacts on the overall growth of the grocery market, which has fallen to a 10 year record-low of 0.8%,” he added.
This callback affects products sold between September 2010 and June 2012.
Apparently six million of the affected cables had been sold in the US and Canada, and lord knows how many elsewhere.
The cords have been burning users due to overheating. They just got so angry they rose up and punished their captors, so to speak.
Any cords with LS-15 on the side, sold alongside HP and Compaq notebooks, PC and other bits and bobs, are the ones to look out for.
Their site bugles: “HP customers affected by this program will be eligible to receive a replacement AC power cord for each verified, recalled AC power cord at no cost.”
There’s only been a handful of events so far, but y’know, worth getting a new one just in case the one you have now decides to melt into your carpet.
According to a report from Lloyds, it reckons the average premium to live nearby to a top school is £21,000
The most extreme example was Beaconsfield High School in Buckinghamshire (pictured) where the average house price is £797,000, compared to an average price of £314,000 in the rest of the county, giving it a ‘school premium’ of £483,031, the largest one in England.
Researchers looked at the top 30 secondary state schools in England as well as the top ten performing secondary state schools in each region, based on last year’s  GCSE data.
But it’s not all demented premium news, as Heckmondwike grammar, in West Yorkshire, has results that place it among the top 30 state schools in the country, but house prices nearby average just £99,000.
For that lot in London, Barnet also stands out as an area with some of the best state schools. But house prices are lower in the area than the average for the capital.
A mortgages director at Lloyds, who we’ll call for this purpose Marc Page, said: “Although property values can be significantly lower in neighbouring areas, many parents don’t appear to be put off from paying a premium to ensure their child has the best possible chance to attend their chosen school.”
Shall we look at the Top Ten of where the biggest house price ‘school premiums’ are?:
1. Beaconsfield High School, Buckinghamshire, £483,031, 154%
2. Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School, West Midlands, £131,656, 79%
3. Clitheroe Royal Grammar School, Lancashire, £86,857, 62%
4. St Olave’s and St Saviour’s Grammar School, Kent, £152,680, 59%
4. Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School, Buckinghamshire, £184,058, 59%
6. Altrincham Grammar School for Girls, Cheshire, £117,439, 56%
7. Colyton Grammar School, Devon, £53,309, 24%
8. Newport Girls’ High School, Shropshire, £23,432, 12%
8. Wolverhampton Girls’ High School, West Midlands, £20,195, 12%
10. Nonsuch High School for Girls, Sutton, £23,380, 8%
Mostly Girls Schools too, the pervs.
Customer service is always King, but sometimes companies can go too far and be too eager in their servitude- as evidenced by Standard Life, who were recently the first to offer their condolences to a customer on her own recent death.
The 80 year old widow was very much surprised to learn of her death, and has been somewhat traumatised by the letter, so much so that she has started using a pseudonym (Mrs ‘Fulton’) to avoid further cases of mistaken expiration . Sent in haste following the inexplicable return of a pension payment by the still-breathing lady’s bank, the letter offers “sincere condolences” to Mrs Fulton on the occasion of her death, and asks that she inform them in writing of the exact date of her death, providing a prepaid envelope to expedite the speedy receipt of the information. It is not clear whether the postage paid was enough to cover the cost of sending letters from the other side.
The Telegraph channelled the Daily Fail by remarking that the poor old dear had a severe stroke (before adding that this was, in fact, ten years ago under their breath) but brave old Mrs Fulton was more hardy than might have been expected, given her condition.“You can imagine how shocked I was to receive the letter,” she told the Telegraph bravely, “fortunately I still have my wits about me, but I dread to think what the consequences could have been for someone in more fragile health than myself.” Perhaps someone witless might have been convinced by the letter and believed themselves dead?
Standard Life admitted the letter came after human error meant the failed pension payment had incorrectly been recorded by a staff member with the reason as “deceased”. Standard Life are very sorry and have now re-paid her pension, as well as giving her a £50 bonus and a bunch of flowers. Which is better than a smack in the belly with a wet fish. Or waking up to a letter telling you you’re dead.
The company behind such publications as NME, Chat and TV Times, will be running a money-off offer for customers that have downloaded OneStop or Appflare Redeem apps.
The promotion will be available in all of Tesco-owned OneStop’s 740 stores for a month from 1st September.
To be able to receive the promotion, consumers will have to enable Bluetooth and turn on notifications while in the store to receive a discount code they can redeem it at the till.
Katharine Challinor, retail sales director at IPC Media, says the innovative campaign will allow its customers to receive relevant and timely promotions.
It will target customers based on their interests to serve them discounts for magazines they are most likely to have an interest in, and start spamming them accordingly.
So, no doubt you can share in the harrowing despair of the 14,000 people left who buy NME as a magazine.
This is the latest in beacon trialling following the likes of Eat and House of Fraser, where a beacon in mannequins or on shelves sends out
orders for you to kill alerts you to offers.
If shop staff don’t mither you enough, now bits of technology will. Fabulous.
The folks at TNT Post have been doing adverts, but alas, they’ve been chatting a load of BS. They compared themselves to the Royal Mail and implied that they offer the same service and similar prices… when they don’t.
The TNT leaflet showed a picture of a bloke in a TNT uniform and said: “What does my postie look like? Like this – in a smart uniform which our posties wear at all times on duty. Like Royal Mail, all are CRB-checked and fully trained in how to keep mail safe and secure.”
“We operate under exactly the same rules and regs as Royal Mail – authorised by the government to carry mail and watched over by Ofcom.”
However, they don’t and the ad got banned by the ASA.
Royal Mail, naturally, were the ones to flag this up, saying that the ad was misleading because TNT aren’t required to deliver to every address in the UK on a next-day basis like they are and, not only that, it isn’t fair that TNT implied that the service they provided was better than Royal Mail’s.
TNT said that the whole thing was designed to make consumers feel safe and secure, rather than make Royal Mail cry.
However, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the ad suggested that TNT was subject to the same service levels as Royal Mail in all areas, and that’s not the case.
ASA said the reference to mail being “delivered … all over the UK” was misleading and that information in the advert didn’t allow readers to identify for themselves how TNT was better than the Royal Mail in respect of prices and such.
ASA ruled that the ads mustn’t appear again: “We told TNT Post UK to ensure future ads did not suggest that they were subject to the same service levels as Royal Mail, that they delivered mail themselves to all parts of the UK or that their prices were competitive in relation to those offered by Royal Mail unless they could substantiate that that was the case.”
The new BSI (British Standards Institution) kitemark has been applied to Barclay’s new Pingit mobile payment service and Barclays Mobile Banking, after they were independently assessed.
Although the kitemark is initially being piloted within the banking industry, the BSI envisages that its use will be adopted by a wider range of firms – for example within the entertainment industry.
Anyone wanting to get a kitemark for their product will have to go through hardcore testing so that their security meets the required standards for dealing with confidential data.
Those that meet the standards will be able to give customers confidence by displaying the kitemark on their products and in their marketing materials.
This is quite the thing as three quarters of Brits now use the internet for shopping and just over half now bank online.
Maureen Sumner Smith who is the UK managing director at BSI, used her mouth and said: “More and more of us are now sharing confidential information through online shopping, mobile banking, booking flights, gaming, university applications or interacting with local government. These behavioural changes from the physical to the digital demand the need for even more rigorous security measures.”
“Many organisations have good information security processes already established, but by having their systems independently tested on a regular basis as part of the BSI kitemark process, they can clearly demonstrate to customers their commitment to safeguarding information.”
This new service is being tested out in Santa Monica over in That America, which will see UBERFresh offering a food delivery service to customers.
As well as delivering meals to you, Uber is also playing around with same day grocery deliveries, which is tantamount to trolling as far as supermarkets are concerned. It looks like Uber are just having a go at anything and seeing what sticks.
With regards to food delivery, if Uber can undercut JustEat and HungryHouse, restaurants and fast food joints could well switch their allegiances. We can only hope that food delivery companies react in the same shrieking way that we saw taxi drivers doing.
It looks like Uber want you to use their app for pretty much everything. If they can corner the Small Time Weed Dealer market, they’ll clean up.
However, with Uber drivers being a law unto themselves, they might snaffle your hash and then eat the pizza you just ordered. Either way, looks like Uber are going after every corner of business.
This could end in a spectacular failure or maximum annoyance for their rivals – either way, it’ll be fun to watch.
Despite being privatised back in 1986, buses outside of London were deregulated, but those inside of the London remained subject to regulation. According to the IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research) report, it claimed that Transport for London’s regulation had been a success, elsewhere the whole thing had been a bit of a failure.
One in eight of working Brits relied on getting the bus into work, and also that people made three times the trips on the bus than the train, which worked out over five billion a year.
It also pointed out that the poorest used the bus more, but that fares outside of London had risen by more than 35% above inflation between 1995 and 2013.
The report also recommended the creation of local transport bodies modelled on TfL .
IPPR associate director Will Straw said: “London has the best buses in Britain and that’s no accident. TfL has been a great success while the deregulation of buses outside London has largely failed.”
“Outside London, bus passenger journeys are down and fares are rising higher than inflation. Examples of successful bus markets outside London are all too rare so local transport bodies should be given greater powers to hold uncompetitive providers to account.”
“As well as regulating bus services, routes and fares, these new bodies should have a wider role of encouraging better integration between buses and other modes of transport including rail.”
“This will help increase the number of passengers using public transport. Responsibility for transport related to schools and hospitals should be devolved to these regional transport bodies with any savings made from achieving efficiencies retained and reinvested in other local sustainable transport projects.”
He goes on a bit, but you get the gist.
We all know catching the bus is a nightmare (as night follows day), but what can be done to fix the situation? And no, dear readers, killing annoying or smelly people isn’t a viable solution.
According to reports, Apple are launching a new iPad in the first part of 2015 with a new 12.9 inch screen.
This iPad size follows the 7.9 inch and 9.7 inch.
But don’t leap off a cliff just yet, an updated version of the 9.7 inch iPad and the mini will be in the shops by Christmas, according to Bloomberg.
The iPhone is now expected to increase to 5.5 inch screens, which should be announced at an event on September 9th.
And iPhones only scraped 35.2 million sales, short of the market predictions of 36 million.
Let’s all cross our fingers and hope things work out for them at this difficult time.