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Have you ever woken up one morning, looked out the window, and said “I’m going to go out and buy myself a Samsung Galaxy S8, and I want it in that gorgeous Coral Blue color.”?

 

If the answer to that question is yes, then you’ll be happy to know that Samsung Malaysia has officially launched the Galaxy S8 and S8+ in the Coral Blue variant in Malaysia.

 

Samsung says that they specifically chose blue due to its popularity as a color in no less than 10 countries across four continents. That, and the fact that the color is widely believed to be associated with intelligence and high perception.

 

The Coral Blue Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ will be available at all Samsung stores and authorized resellers starting today, and they will retail for RM3,299 and RM3,699, respectively.

 

If you can look past the nostalgic feel-good vibes of the new Nokia 3310, you would realize that the phone itself really isn’t anything to rave about.

 

But no matter, as Caviar, a Russian-Italian luxury smartphone customizer, decided to take matters into their own hands by sprucing up the Nokia 3310 with precious metals like titanium and gold, effectively rendering it completely shockproof. Did we also mention that the back of the device features a double profile of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his United States counterpart, Donald Trump, in gold?

 

Why these two gentlemen, in particular? We’d guess that it has something to do with them being the leaders of two of the most powerful countries in the world, and also the fact that they will be meeting each other later today during the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. Don’t take our word for it – the logo of the summit is actually engraved in the center of the device’s navigation buttons, while the date of the meeting (7/7/2017) is prominently featured below their portraits, in gold no less.

 

You can pay tribute to either of the two presidents by purchasing this custom-made Nokia 3310 for 149,000 rubles (~RM10,648). Let’s be honest, for that kind of money, why bother getting 44 ordinary Nokia 3310s when you can get one very special gold and titanium-plated one, right? Quality over quantity. Always.

 

Google Maps now lets you flag places to be wheelchair-friendly. Previously, you had to rely on “Local Guides” – other users – to tell you about places. Now flags can be left permanently to tell others who visit later.

According to Google, nearly seven million places now have accessibility information listed on Google Maps ever since this was implemented yesterday.

That said, everything is about wheelchairs right now – wheelchair-accessible entrances, wheelchair-accessible elevators, wheelchair-accessible seating and wheelchair-accessible parking. What we tend to see more often here are stuff for the visually impaired. We’re sure our fellow Malaysians will get really busy tagging places with blind tracks and Braille on elevator buttons.

Planet Payment and ACI Worldwide has announced the launch of SecurePlus that enable the acceptance of Union Pay cards online.

UnionPay is a bank card association, with over 6.5 billion cards issued worldwide, having over 38 billion transactions on cards in 2016.

SecurePlus allows the acceptance of both credit and debit cards without a re-direct to a UnionPay Hosted Payment Page. This can cause friction due to internet issues, Chinese fire-wall, browser issues, timeouts, etc., resulting in decreased approval rates.

The solution also supports transaction tokenisation and recurring payments, and can offer protection from fraud chargebacks, a significant concern for merchants selling cross-border. Merchants will also be able to price and sell goods in multiple currencies, such as Chinese Renminbi, Hong Kong Dollars, US Dollars and Singapore Dollars.

The U.S. government has its suspicions about Kaspersky having shady affiliations with the Russian government, and threatens to ban the anti-virus software in its draft defense bill. Founder Eugene Kaspersky has rebutted American government claims by saying it has never helped any government in the world for the purpose of cyber espionage.

 

To further prove his transparency, Kaspersky has went on to say that he is willing to disclose source code and testify in front of U.S. Congress if necessary. Eugene also said that unnamed governments have approached Kaspersky to help them start cyber attacks, but the anti-virus software never gave in.

 

He also mentioned that his company network is too intricate to be exploited by an employee. It would require a group of people that can access different sections of Kaspersky’s technological processes. Eugene also intends to move a portion of his research work to the U.S. to gain its trust.

 

Russian Burger King restaurants have announced that they are due to start accepting Bitcoin as a payment method.

 

A Moscow branch of the burger chain has started piloting Bitcoin payments, with officials now confirming a nationwide rollout. Burger King has also begun the hunt for an IT professional able to implement the relevant software.

 

According to a local news resource Uznay Vse, the unnamed branch already accepted a Bitcoin transaction, which represents the first official reports of Bitcoin payments for goods and services in Russia.

 

Several programs need to be written which will allow restaurant tills to speak to the Android and iOS apps and allow customers to pay with cryptocurrency.

 

 

Kapronasia and CANCAN have released a new survey on the spending habits of Chinese nationals when traveling abroad.

 

As China’s economy continues to grow, more and more nationals are traveling abroad bringing with them their spending habits. In China, Alipay and WeChat Pay have become the payments methods of choice for a majority of consumers and tourists expect the same convenience when traveling abroad.

 

The report highlights the growth in the number of overseas Chinese tourists, which reached 122 million in 2016, an increase of 4.3% over 2015 and the potential these numbers could have for merchants who support mobile payments.

 

Spending habits have also changed, the survey shows. If in the past Chinese tourists bought mainly luxury items when traveling abroad, now retail purchases are more common. Most tourist spent between USD 393 and USD 786 for retail purchases on their most recent trip, while 5.7% spent more than USD 6,288. During their travel, China’s overseas tourists spent $109.8 billion, or $900 per person on average in 2016.

 

Mobile payments is a preferred payment method, with 67% of respondents reporting that they use Alipay or WeChat Pay for overseas purchases. This represents about 41% of overseas consumption and tourists used mobile payments for more than 10% of total transactions.

 

 

Merchants too are responding to these changes as 80% of respondents cited consumer demand as one of the main reasons for adopting mobile payments. Furthermore, 70% of respondents said that mainland Chinese consumers were their largest source of global revenue, further highlighting their importance.

 

Chinese consumers are most likely to use mobile payments for clothing, followed by makeup and skincare, and food and beverages. Travel related ticket purchases and hotel accommodations also ranked high amongst the categories consumers were most likely to pay for with mobile.

 

The survey shows that mobile payments are an increasingly popular payments method for Chinese citizens traveling abroad and as transaction values for mobile payments are expected to increase, merchants have to be aware of these changes and adapt accordingly.

 

For this survey, Kapronasia and CANCAN have interviewd 1000 Chinese consumers abroad and 60 global merchants.

 

 

Google Glass, Google’s super expensive face computer last received a software update back in September 2014. But today, out of nowhere, almost three years later, Google has rolled out a new firmware (XE23) update for the device, with a list of ‘bug fixes and performance improvements’, and strangely enough, Bluetooth support.

 

There’s also been an update to the ‘MyGlass’ app, Google Glass’ Android companion app. After three years of neglect, the app has now been updated to Android 5.1 compatibility, and it even has Notification Listener Service. This allows the app to sync notifications from the phone to the device, just like Android Wear. It has also been updated to prompt the user to disable the battery-saving Doze mode for the app so it can work when the phone is asleep.

 

 

Public transportation is set to be revolutionized yet again thanks to Seabubbles, whose goal is to be the water taxi equivalent of Uber. Its prototype was unveiled at the Viva Tech Conference in Paris, and its design resembles a futuristic egg.

 

Founders Alain Thebault and Anders Bringdal are working to raise 20 to 30 million Euros (approx. RM95 to RM143 million) to turn their concept into a reality. Apart from greatly reducing road traffic, these water taxis are 100 percent electric and emit no CO2, utilizing a battery system that runs on clean energy. There is also a self-charging dock which also ensures the cleanliness of the waterways. Similar with Uber, Seabubbles will have its own mobile app that riders can use to book rides online.

 

The current version of the Bubble has five seats, inclusive of the pilot seat. The Bubbles are designed to prevent seasickness alongside producing zero noise and zero waves. The taxis were created as a joint effort between the car industry, the nautical industry and the aeronautic industry. They will begin their demo roll-out in selected cities next year.

 

You can check out the company’s site for more information on Seabubbles.

 

A mysterious ‘Sponsored Content’ opt-out setting was recently spotted on Spotify’s free tier by U.K. sound artist Liam Maloney, and TechCrunch has been able to confirm with the streaming company what it’s all about. As it turns out, Spotify is currently testing a new ‘Sponsored Song’ ad unit that is “a product test for labels to promote singles on the free tier,” according to a Spotify spokes person.

 

What this means is that labels could pay to have certain songs injected into your playlists or whenever you’re using the service for free, instead of an obvious ad banner that says something like “listen to this new album by this new artist” the way other ads for external apps and sites do. This means that Sponsored Songs can help it earn some money off the free tier, even if it’s not paid by the consumer. That said, it’s not yet clear if Spotify will charge labels based on cost per impression, action, listen, or some other method that differs entirely from web advertising.

 

Done well, you may not even notice if a particular song is sponsored. The feature is said to use a method similar to one of Spotify’s best features: Discover Weekly. This uses personalized, weekly-updated playlists that tries to understand your taste in music, and gives you a playlist that Spotify thinks you’d make on your own every week, as well as attempt to introduce you to new artists. If a sponsored song is injected into the Discover Weekly playlist, then not only will you not notice that you’re listening to an ad, but when you finally do, it’s with the hopes that the particular song is one that you like very much, and that you’ll support the artists directly by other means like buying albums or concert tickets. We’re guessing if it’s done as well as the Discover Weekly playlist, then even paid users wouldn’t mind being given a sponsored song or two.

 

All that said, Sponsored Songs are still in testing. If and when they roll out officially, it would still only appear to users on the free tier, according to what Spotify has told TechCrunch. Which makes sense since it’s going to work the same way Discover Weekly does anyway, and there’s little sense in making labels pay for songs being listened to by paying subscribers.