Tag: news

Slack vs Microsoft Teams

A couple of months have passed since Microsoft Teams became available to everyone but many are still unsure about the service, especially when comparing it to its more established competitor.

In the Slack vs Microsoft Teams debate, there are a few very distinctive points which will make your choice of one over the other much easier.

Cost and accessibility

The two productivity apps take an entirely different approach to both pricing and accessibility. This seems to have confused some users, particularly those who were interested in switching from Slack to Teams.

Slack has a free tier with a simple registration process so it can be used by anyone in an instant. Its paid tiers include additional features such as more cloud storage, unlimited archives and app integrations, and more customizability.

In contrast, Microsoft Teams is only accessible via an Office 365 subscription. The cost of such a subscription varies quite a bit, starting from as low as $5 per user, per month all the way up to $35 per user, per month.

When considering Slack vs Microsoft Teams, think of the former as a standalone product and the latter as an add-on.

With that said, both services offer a lot of flexibility. They are accessible through mobile operating systems, desktop apps, and web-based versions too.

Features and app integration

As one might expect, the two services have very similar features and also seem to feature comparable app integrations.

To start with, both services allow users to add third-party apps to the platform such as Google Drive and Dropbox.

The main difference here is that Slack has managed to include quite a few customizable bots and partnerships with third-party companies, whereas Teams allows easy and complete access with the rest of the Office 365 suite.

The differences amongst the main features are minimal. While some features may bare different names between the two services (e.g. channels vs teams), both services operate in much the same way.

In some ways, the two services even compete for the same features. For instance, video conferencing was added to Slack only in December last year after the beta version of Teams demonstrated the feature.

Interface

The interface differences in Slack vs Microsoft Teams are easily distinguishable but also surprisingly similar.

For example, both services utilize a similar navigation pane and input interfaces for text, images, and videos. If you are used to Slack alerts, you will be pleased to know that they are very much the same in Teams.

Slack offers a very clean interface. It is always easy to see everything that is going on in every channel and among your private conversations. Sharing items is a sleek process and the app integrations are seamlessly blended in the main interface.

Perhaps owing to its Office 365 integrations, Microsoft Teams opts for a different approach with an emphasis on threaded conversations. Depending on your preferences, this can be either confusing or liberating.

Like any good productivity app, both Teams and Slack are great for collaborating with multiple people, sharing files, and using the integrated apps and featured bots for any task without them feeling overly complicated.

The user experience

The concept of user experience is certainly different in the two services. Slack, which has basically provided a modern IRC service, is a platform for seamless collaboration in small businesses, freelancers, and similar types of users.

Slack has billed itself as the casual productivity tool with powerful features, the new kid on the block who has (successfully) attempted to combat giants and come out on top.

On the other hand, Teams follows the standard Microsoft trends of enclosing everything inside a single service and offering powerful tools for its users which, in this case, are all about business.

Slack seems incredibly open to the idea of integrating as many third-party service as possible and making sure that users can have any tool that they require in an instant.

Microsoft Teams instead focuses on leveraging the full power of Office 365, integrating as many of its own services as possible so that organizations who rely on the platform can actually take advantage of it.

Conclusion

Hopefully, the points outlaid here will be enough to help you understand the Slack vs Microsoft Teams differences.

If you wish to gain access to the Office 365 suite or already pay for it, then choose Microsoft Teams for its great integrations with products like Word, Excel, and SharePoint.

If you are a freelancer or a small business who frequently likes to collaborate with people outside your organisation, then choose Slack because of its flexibility and the free tier that may well be enough for such a use.

 

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‘Sponsored songs’ show that marketers are exploring new avenues

Spotify’s latest attempt to monetize its service comes in the form of sponsored songs. As confirmed by TechCrunch, the music streaming company is currently testing a new system that is aimed at its free tier users.

Spotify sponsored songs

The sponsored songs system allows labels to promote single songs which will appear above the main playlist/playback interface. The feature is opt-out, which means that it will be automatically enabled for all users.

Spotify has said that the feature is aimed at free users but premium users are also seeing the toggle and the accompanying sponsored songs. However, the difference may be that premium users will be able to turn the feature off while such a thing may not be possible for free users.

Sponsored songs are instantly playable and can be saved in an instant, allowing labels to easily promote songs, such as new titles or those which are underperforming.

Like Facebook, Spotify likes to sometimes test out new features on a select group of users before deciding whether to roll them widely or not. As such, we do not currently know if the feature will make it to the live version for everyone.

What we do know, however, is that no one should be surprised by Spotify’s sponsored songs feature. In fact, the company may well be applauded by people in the marketing industry simply for trying out a new advertising method that is not as obvious to regular users.

One thing that has become abundantly clear to everyone in the industry is that even less tech-savvy users have become increasingly aware of traditional advertising methods as well as the tools to avoid them, such as browser ad-blocks.

To put it simply, the traditional digital advertising methods will be irrelevant in the next few years. While some will persist with traditional methods, the cold hard truth is that they are just not effective anymore.

What is effective, however, is personalized and sponsored content. Spotify’s sponsored songs is a simple yet perfect example of the new kind of advertising that will undoubtedly become the new standard before being replaced by something else.

Spotify already knows a lot about its users and their listening habits and it will leverage that knowledge to promote relevant sponsored songs that they may actually want to listen to. That way, Spotify can position the feature as a sort of “win-win” situation.

Another example that is also becoming increasingly popular is influencer marketing. Take a quick look through any Instagram page with a decent number of followers and you will see branded content throughout.

The best news for marketers is that they do not even have to hide such practices. Before, advertising in an Instagram post may have been seen negatively.

Now, influencers are transparent about sponsored content but they make their followers believe that they actually support the brand/product/service or whatever else it is that they are promoting.

Marketers and advertisers should take note here. While the implementation of sponsored songs may leave something to be desired, the idea is a solid one.

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IoT & Wearables: Workplace

While many of the major tech companies have focused on the consumer side of IoT and wearables, others have recognized that there is a lot of potential in the enterprise as well.

IoT and wearables in the workplace offer unique opportunities for new experiences within the office, in the interactions with clients, in gathering data in new and possibly more efficient ways, and in a lot more areas.

When data reigns king

In most businesses, data is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. Marketers need to gather data about potential target audiences, measure the potential of marketing campaigns, and track traffic, responses, and more.

Imagine, for instance, a retail store equipped with a variety of IoT devices such as Apple’s own iBeacons. Such devices could track exactly how consumers operate within those facilities so that the store can be refitted accordingly.

Identifying, measuring, and quantifying consumer responses to processes like marketing and advertising would be instant and unfalsifiable, especially when paired with the rising artificially intelligent services that can provide a host of analyzing features.

Gathering data through IoT and wearables in the workplace is still an area in its infancy. However, it is reasonable to assume that such devices will assist in data gathering in the future, especially as technologies like 5G become commonplace.

Every process can be simplified

Any and every process in a business can be simplified, especially if it has to do with a mundane task that takes up a lot of time for no reason.

For instance, the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport recently installed sensors in several of its restrooms. Then, it paired those sensors with smartwatches equipped by the housekeeping staff.

The application of those technologies was simple: once 150 people had used the restroom, the staff would get an alert on their smartwatch that the restroom should be cleaned. In an instant, the process of checking up the restroom became much more simplified.

The potential list of applications here are endless. Processes across every industry from medicine to hospitality could be vastly simplified, improving the customer experience and saving resources in the process.

Wearables may be as ubiquitous as smartphones

Today, it is unthinkable for office employees not to have access to mobile devices. Most people in the world own a smartphone and such devices are actively used in enterprise in a thousand different ways.

It is not unthinkable that a similar pattern may emerge with wearables as their associated technologies become more accessible.

The point here is not to think in restrictive terms. When thinking of wearables, for instance, most people will bring a smartwatch to mind. However, a wearable can be absolutely anything.

It could be a simple sensor in an otherwise “dumb” piece of clothing, a wristband with tactile feedback, even a pair of glasses with HUD-like information.

IoT can assist with both background and foreground tasks

With mobile devices, most applications in the enterprise are concerned with active tasks. For example, a team may use Slack for easy collaboration or a dedicated app to solve tasks within the company’s framework itself.

IoT, however, can provide new avenues for interaction both actively and passively. For example, simple sensors may detect who is working on any given office, allowing queries to be directed in a quick and efficient manner.

Several concerns should be addressed straight away

Cyber-security is an increasingly important area that many companies unfortunately neglect. With IoT and wearables, the potential for abuse is enormous and should not be discounted.

For example, there are very real privacy concerns about using sensors and other types of devices to gather data about people. In the example I used about the retail store there is the issue of consent, for instance.

It is equally important to consider such concerns within the workplace. For example, what data should a company gather from its employees automatically? How will that data be analyzed and store to ensure fairness and anonymity, especially if they are used as performance indicators?

Such concerns should be addressed before IoT and wearables in the workplace become any more popular. Knowing the answers to such questions before they pose problems is the only way to ensure that the integration of such technologies will be as smooth as possible.

Conclusion

IoT and wearables in the workplace have a very good chance of disrupting several businesses and entire industries if implemented correctly. Right now, they come with plenty of issues that make them undesirable for widespread implementations.

Though some issues may persist well into the future, most of these will be solved sooner rather than later. Connectivity, for instance, will only improve over the years.

Have you been using any kind of IoT and wearables in the workplace? Share your stories in the comments below!

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In-display fingerprint sensors to arrive next year

Biometric security features are popular with both manufacturers and consumers. Now, Qualcomm wants to take things a step further by adding in-display fingerprint sensors to smartphone by summer 2018.

When fingerprint sensors originally arrived, quite a few people were skeptical about their usefulness, particularly because early models were more expensive than their counterparts.

Now, however, fingerprint sensors are standard in virtually every flagship out there and users are very much used to using them to unlock their phones, log in to apps without having to enter their passwords, and more.

According to Qualcomm, the new fingerprint sensor will work with every chip in the Snapdragon 200 series and onward. That means it will work on both current and future generations of Android devices.

On top of all that, the company also reports that these ultrasonic sensors will also be able to pick up  a user’s blood flow and heartbeat, additional measurements that may be employed for increased security.

These new in-display fingerprint sensors will work under metal, glass, and underwater. The placement of fingerprint sensors has long been an issue for debate amongst consumers with some preferring a placement in the front rather than in the back.

With these sensors, however, such debates will be a thing of the past. All current trends point towards bezel-less devices with screens that take up as much space as possible with phones like the Galaxy S8 and the newly announced Essential Phone making like-minded moves.

Biometric security methods that make things more convenient are always welcome and it certainly seems like these in-display fingerprint sensors will move the industry a little bit forward which is particularly interesting for those who truly appreciate bezel-less displays.

It seems that biometrics are experiencing a mini Renaissance as an increasing number of companies are investing in the field. For example, Token recently announced a wearable ring that acts like an always-on fingerprint sensor and can authorize payments and interact with other smart products.

While biometrics can also be abused, they offer new pathways for casual users who are not particularly good at managing strong passwords and end up using incredibly insecure methods of interacting with technology.

Top

In-display fingerprint sensors to arrive next year

Biometric security features are popular with both manufacturers and consumers. Now, Qualcomm wants to take things a step further by adding in-display fingerprint sensors to smartphone by summer 2018.

When fingerprint sensors originally arrived, quite a few people were skeptical about their usefulness, particularly because early models were more expensive than their counterparts.

Now, however, fingerprint sensors are standard in virtually every flagship out there and users are very much used to using them to unlock their phones, log in to apps without having to enter their passwords, and more.

According to Qualcomm, the new fingerprint sensor will work with every chip in the Snapdragon 200 series and onward. That means it will work on both current and future generations of Android devices.

On top of all that, the company also reports that these ultrasonic sensors will also be able to pick up  a user’s blood flow and heartbeat, additional measurements that may be employed for increased security.

These new in-display fingerprint sensors will work under metal, glass, and underwater. The placement of fingerprint sensors has long been an issue for debate amongst consumers with some preferring a placement in the front rather than in the back.

With these sensors, however, such debates will be a thing of the past. All current trends point towards bezel-less devices with screens that take up as much space as possible with phones like the Galaxy S8 and the newly announced Essential Phone making like-minded moves.

Biometric security methods that make things more convenient are always welcome and it certainly seems like these in-display fingerprint sensors will move the industry a little bit forward which is particularly interesting for those who truly appreciate bezel-less displays.

It seems that biometrics are experiencing a mini Renaissance as an increasing number of companies are investing in the field. For example, Token recently announced a wearable ring that acts like an always-on fingerprint sensor and can authorize payments and interact with other smart products.

While biometrics can also be abused, they offer new pathways for casual users who are not particularly good at managing strong passwords and end up using incredibly insecure methods of interacting with technology.

Top

In-display fingerprint sensors to arrive next year

Biometric security features are popular with both manufacturers and consumers. Now, Qualcomm wants to take things a step further by adding in-display fingerprint sensors to smartphone by summer 2018.

When fingerprint sensors originally arrived, quite a few people were skeptical about their usefulness, particularly because early models were more expensive than their counterparts.

Now, however, fingerprint sensors are standard in virtually every flagship out there and users are very much used to using them to unlock their phones, log in to apps without having to enter their passwords, and more.

According to Qualcomm, the new fingerprint sensor will work with every chip in the Snapdragon 200 series and onward. That means it will work on both current and future generations of Android devices.

On top of all that, the company also reports that these ultrasonic sensors will also be able to pick up  a user’s blood flow and heartbeat, additional measurements that may be employed for increased security.

These new in-display fingerprint sensors will work under metal, glass, and underwater. The placement of fingerprint sensors has long been an issue for debate amongst consumers with some preferring a placement in the front rather than in the back.

With these sensors, however, such debates will be a thing of the past. All current trends point towards bezel-less devices with screens that take up as much space as possible with phones like the Galaxy S8 and the newly announced Essential Phone making like-minded moves.

Biometric security methods that make things more convenient are always welcome and it certainly seems like these in-display fingerprint sensors will move the industry a little bit forward which is particularly interesting for those who truly appreciate bezel-less displays.

It seems that biometrics are experiencing a mini Renaissance as an increasing number of companies are investing in the field. For example, Token recently announced a wearable ring that acts like an always-on fingerprint sensor and can authorize payments and interact with other smart products.

While biometrics can also be abused, they offer new pathways for casual users who are not particularly good at managing strong passwords and end up using incredibly insecure methods of interacting with technology.

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