Cake AR Lets You Try Make Up Before You Buy

We’ve all seen that wonderful thing you are interested in online. From the holiday sales offering you everything from the perfect night out dress to that new makeup, the worst part of any online purchase is when you open it and find that it doesn’t quite look like you thought it would; Cake AR is looking to change just that.

They’ve already released the tool on their lipstick and eye shadow pages and don’t worry no downloads involved. The tool forgoes uploading an image like conventional try before you buy systems and uses your webcam to map the new you in real time (with a bit of lag for good measure). If you move slowly the product’s changes will even follow you around, meaning that you can see the new lipstick and eyeshadows from different angles without having to send it back because it was a “bad purchase”.

With tools like this coming out more and more regularly, it may be sooner rather than later that you can buy clothes and accessories online without worrying about the money you could have wasted. With the ability to design your own cars, build your own house tools and now viewing your makeup before you buy don’t you just love online shopping.

Amazon India Will No Longer Offer Refunds on Mobile Phones

Amazon’s ability to offer impeccable customer service and a straightforward returns policy has made it a global leader in online shopping. This ensures consumers have a loyalty to Amazon’s store through peace-of-mind shopping. There’s even been situations when the company has honoured misprices which has cost them money in the short-term. However, the company’s management looks towards the larger picture and knows more money will be made via repeat or future purchases instead of an individual mistake. While this kind of returns policy is absolutely fantastic for the consumer, some users can abuse it and send back perfectly functional items on a regular basis. Admittedly, I’ve returned products because they haven’t met my expectations or I’ve change my mind. However, it’s important to find a balance and consider each purchase very carefully.

In the US and Europe, Amazon can charge a restocking fee depending on the item’s condition if it’s not faulty. Honestly, I haven’t really seen many situations where this applies, and Amazon staff tend to refund the full amount including shipping. This policy doesn’t apply in the Indian market, and reports indicate some customers have been abusing the refund policy quite badly. As a result of this, Amazon India will not longer accept any refunds on mobile phones, and only replace them if the item is faulty. The updated statement reads:

“All mobile phones that are fulfilled by Amazon, purchased on or after 7th February 2016, will have a replacement only policy. Mobile phone items that are fulfilled by Amazon will no longer be eligible for refunds,”

It’s a shame that the minority who abuse Amazon’s return policy has spoilt it for the rest. Also, this is a fairly strict line from Amazon and could deter users from using them in the future. It makes business sense though if the amount of people abusing the system is costing them a lot of money. Please remember that this only applies to the Indian store, and consumer protection in the UK, and Europe explicitly states that a refund must be offered even if the items don’t meet your expectations.

Overclockers UK Expands to Eight More GAME Stores

Overclockers UK launched their new partnership with GAME back in early December and it was a big success. The two companies joined forces in this partnership to bring an extensive range of exclusive gaming PCs, components, and accessories in a few selected GAME stores and GAME’s online site.

The partnership started relative small with just two shops setting up Overclockers UK displays, but that is about to change. The two initial stores will be expanded with eight more which makes it a total of ten GAME stores across the UK where you can find the great PC hardware provided by Overclockers UK. Today you can visit the Teeside Shopping Park and the Metro Centre and will be greeted with a shiny new interactive display from Overclockers UK. The display offers customers the chance to play the latest games on cutting edge PC hardware.

The two stores displays launched back in December are in Basingstoke and Manchester. Yesterday they opened up in Stockton and Newcastle Upon Tyne, and today it is Glasgow’s turn. Tomorrow it will be Chester, Friday it will be Cardiff and Gloucester while the last two shop displays will be launched on Saturday in Portsmouth and Bournemouth. You can find the full details to each of these locations below.

It is really great to see PC hardware making a comeback to the streets after so many years where we have seen a steady decline in the same. I have no doubt that this will continue to be a success for both GAME and Overclockers UK.

Launched in December:
BASINGSTOKE – Festival Place, Unit 15, Festival Place, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG21 7BE
MANCHESTER – Trafford Centre, Manchester Unit L29, 46 Peel Avenue, Manchester, M17 8DF

Tuesday 5th January:
STOCKTON – Teeside Shopping Park, Unit 4B Teeside Park, Stockton, TS17 7BW
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE – Metro Centre, Unit 23A, Gateshead, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE11 9YG

Wednesday 6th January:
GLASGOW – Braehead, Unit 57 Braehead Shopping Centre, Kings Inch Road, Glasgow, G51 4BP

Thursday 7th January:
CHESTER – Grosvenor Shopping Centre, 46 Forgate Street, Chester, Cheshire, CH1 1HA

Friday 8th January:
CARDIFF – St Savid’s Dewi Sant, 50 Grand Arcade, Cardiff, CF10 2ER
GLOUCESTER – Eastgate Shopping Centre, Unit 8B Market Way, Gloucester, GL1 1QH

Saturday 9th January:
PORTSMOUTH – Gunwharf Quays, 226 Commercial Road, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO1 1HG
BOURNEMOUTH – Castle Point Shopping Centre, Unit 21, Bournemouth, BH8 9UZ

GAME Digital’s Revenue Falls Sharply And Warns of ‘Challenging’ Trading Conditions

GAME Digital is a UK retailer offering a huge array of consoles, accessories, games and digital content. Back in 2012, the GAME Group went into administration following ill-advised management decisions and inability to adapt to the modern market. Since then, GAME has embraced digital credit, and even partnered with Razer to stock various high-end PC gaming peripherals. However, according to the BBC, shares in GAME Digital fell 70.75p, or 34%, to 135p due to ‘challenging’ trading conditions. GAME Digital‘s financial report doesn’t make for good reading and illustrates how difficult it is to remain competitive in an industry moving towards digital distribution. Not only that, there’s huge competition from online giants like Amazon which don’t have to pay extortionate rent figures across various town centres.

The company’s chief executive, Martyn Gibbs provided a reason for the terrible operating numbers and said:

“The trading conditions in the UK video games market have been challenging,” 

“The switch over from the older gaming formats to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One software has impacted profitability across the UK market.

“The extent of the impact of this switch over has only become apparent in December which has been compounded by lower year on year high street and shopping centre footfall. The pre-Christmas period and the winter sale are very important to our customers and with market leading offers we remain well prepared in our stores and online for the remaining peak trading period.”

Clearly, GAME was relying on the second-hand sales from the previous generation consoles while expecting more people to acquire the latest consoles. On the other hand, the uptake of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One has been quite surprising, and it’s just that consumers are opting to purchase from cheaper options such as ShopTo, and SimplyGames. This doesn’t necessarily mean GAME’s future is in doubt, but it seems they’re going to miss their sales targets during the holiday period by a considerable margin. This is important because a huge proportion of the company’s profits come during the Christmas rush.

Newegg Customers Receiving Incorrect G.Skill DDR4 Memory Frequencies

The advent of DDR4 memory has allowed users to acquire unbelievably fast DIMMs from a wide range of respected manufacturers. G.Skill is renowned for producing memory with huge overclocking potential by sourcing the best quality ICs on the market. As a result, their product range is incredibly popular among professional overclockers wanting to set world records. Additionally, many hardware enthusiasts who enjoy tweaking choose G.Skill modules as a matter of priority. Unfortunately, it appears some customers from US shopping giant, Newegg.com, have received memory kits with an incorrect operating frequency.

For example, professional overclocker, Allen Goilbersuch ordered multiple G.Skill 3600C17 kits and received 3000c15 modules instead! This isn’t an isolated incident according to the comments section on this particular Facebook status. Clearly, the most plausible explanation is there has been a logistical error when packing the items. We’ve reached out to both G.Skill and Newegg.com for comment and will update the article when any information arises. For the time being, it’s important to adopt a patient approach and hold off buying any G.Skill memory from Newegg.com until an investigation has been conducted.

Have you ever received the wrong memory speed or even an incorrect capacity?

Amazon Accounts For 39.3 Percent of E-commerce Spending in The USA During November

Online retail giant, Amazon is a popular choice for consumers wanting to purchase goods at reasonable prices while relying on a proven track record in customer service. When compared to other stores, Amazon’s buying power is difficult to match and provides a huge array of items from electrical products to digital novels. According to research firm, Slice Intelligence, Amazon made up 39.3 percent of sales between November 1st and December 6th in the US market. This marks a significant increase from the 37.9 percent share last year during the same period.  Ken Cassar, Vice President of analytics solutions at Slice provided an explanation for this success and said:

“Jeff Bezos was beaten up for a long time about the infrastructure investments he made and the drain on profitability it caused,”

“He is seeing the payoff on those investments.”

The chart shows Amazon’s astounding sales figures in the US market, and showcases how far behind many of the competing stores are. Amazon’s investment into infrastructure and their recognizable brand helps to encourage shoppers to spend money while remaining a loyal customers. Obviously, this is during the Thanksgiving and Christmas period so the data might favour Amazon at this time compared to other months. Whatever the case, this is an extraordinary achievement and emphasizes how important Amazon is as an etailer in the USA.

Star Wars Battlefront Sold an Estimated 4.66M Retail Copies During First Week

Star Wars: Battlefront’s combination of unbelievable graphical fidelity and dramatic trailers made it one of the most anticipated titles in recent memory. While the experience is fun for brief periods, it’s difficult to look past the lack of maps, rubbish character customization and repetitive gameplay. Furthermore, success doesn’t really depend on skill level and the spawn system is completely broken. Nevertheless, according to VGChartz Global Weekly Chart, ending the 21st November, Star Wars: Battlefront managed to ship a total of 4,658,169 units during the first trading week. Please note, this only includes retail sales.

In terms of sales per platform, the PlayStation 4 came out on top with 2,939,473 units sold (63%), compared to 1,547,019 units sold on the Xbox One (33%). Windows PC retail sales are always a very niche sector as the majority of PC gamers use digital CD key resellers. As a result, Windows sales only accounted for 4% and reached a total of 171,677.

VGChartz also provided information about the game’s popularity throughout the world. As you might expect, the US reported the best sales numbers with 2,141,423 units sold (46%), compared to 1,561,240 units sold in Europe (34%), and 126,723 units in Japan (3%). In contrast to this, Star Wars: Battlefront recorded 412,930 units in the UK, 291,882 units in Germany, and 256,497 units in France.

What do you think of Star Wars: Battlefront?

315,000 Game Consoles Were Sold in The UK During Black Friday

The UK’s Black Friday shopping spree resulted in a number of fairly decent promotions with the current generation consoles being a popular choice for Christmas presents. According to veteran games industry website MCV, retailers revealed a total of 315,000 units were sold during the Black Friday period. Please note, the term Black Friday doesn’t actually refer to one date, and sales began way in advance. Nevertheless, this is a very impressive number and showcases the popularity of console gaming in 2015. Additionally, the PlayStation 4 was the best-selling console during Black Friday with approximately 139,000 units sold while the Xbox One shifted almost 134,000 units. This is a pretty good result for Microsoft considering their terrible Xbox One reveal and large number of customers defecting to Sony.

On the other hand, the Xbox One was discounted by a fairly decent margin with some excellent bundle deals. For example, one particular bundle includes a 500GB console, Ori and the Blind Forest’ & ‘Rare Replay’ downloads for £229.99. This is still cheaper than a basic PS4 console on its own. Clearly, Microsoft needs to try to shift units through cheaper deals, while the PlayStation 4 doesn’t really need help to report good sales figures. Overall, there was a huge increase in console sales compared to last year’s Black Friday event. MCV reported:

“PS4 sales are up 28.6 per cent over last year’s Black Friday, while Xbox One sales are up 23.3 per cent.”

Personally, I was very disappointed with the Black Friday sale and retailers didn’t really offer anything spectacular. Strangely enough, the best deals came from Amazon France, and Amazon Germany. Importing a console from these regions while exploiting the current currency conversion allowed for some breathtaking deals! Also, due to EU law, there’s no import duty, for anything sold throughout EU territories.

Vending Machines Big Enough to Sell Full-Size Cars?

One of the most painful experiences as an adult is having to use a vending machine, 9/10 times the stupid thing gets stuck and you either have to do the walk of shame to the person with the keys or give the machine a naughty shake. Well, the technology has been making the move towards a much larger and more expensive product, namely your potential new car.

Carvana is now setting out to revolutionise the way that we buy and collect our new cars. Instead of the traditional method of going to the dealership and then walking out to your car and drive it home, you can no almost complete the transaction without human contact. You order your car online, drive to a collection point and insert a special token that is encoded and the delivery system picks up your car and pushes it to your feet.

This is by far not the first time this style of delivery system has been implemented and it’s not the largest version either, being beaten to both by Volkswagen HQ in Germany.

I can see the appeal for this style system, remove the sales person and save money. Remove the valet/ parking attendant and all potential human parking error is removed. I honestly don’t see the point of this new system unless there is one in every town and a chauffeur to take you there. You still have to find a way to go collect the car, you still have to wait for the car to become ready, you still have to use your feet dang it!

Asda Avoiding Black Friday Sales Chaos Due to ‘Shopper Fatigue’

Black Friday is a US tradition which involves heavily discounted items and has slowly become an integral shopping event around the world. Two years ago, UK supermarket Asda decided to launch their own Black Friday event which ended in absolute anarchy. When the doors opened, shoppers began scuffling, and desperately trying to pick up items at a discounted price. The nation’s behavior was appalling and went against the civilized British stereotype.

With Black Friday once again approaching, Asda’s chief executive, Andy Clarke told the BBC that the company will not offer any discount events:

“The decision to step away from Black Friday is not about the event itself,”

“Over the last two years we’ve developed an organised, well-executed plan, but this year customers have told us loud and clear that they don’t want to be held hostage to a day or two of sales.”

This seems like a PR way of saying they don’t want to deal with customers fighting between themselves, and tearing the store apart. It’s important to remember, staff had to call the police during Asda’s original Black Friday promotion. I applaud Asda for doing this and setting an example, but I highly doubt other stores will follow suit. Clearly, Black Friday is a massive earner for supermarkets, and retail chains.

GAME Manager Accidentally Orders Complete Stock of Gift Cards

In the retail sector, having to deal with customer complaints and product launches can be extremely tiresome. As a result, it’s quite easy for staff members to make blunders under stress but these are usually on a small scale. Unbelievably, the manager of a Scottish GAME branch managed to order the company’s entire stock of gift cards. Initially, this created a panic regarding GAME’s financial status as some people believe they were about to re-enter administration. Eurogamer spoke to GAME employees who mentioned the reward card shortages but GAME has denied these claims. A spokersperson said:

 “This is simply untrue and there has not been a Gift Card ordering error,” 

“As always, customers can purchase Gift Cards across all of our stores and online.”

GAME has begun to replenish the stock levels and customers should be able to purchase gift cards at the time of writing. Whether GAME is trying to cover up this embarrassing move is up for discussion, but it’s not outside the realms of possibility. The Christmas season is vital for GAME and provides a great deal of their yearly profit totals. I highly doubt the employees in question would lie about such a silly error, meaning GAME’s official response is quite peculiar.

When was the last time you shopped in GAME?

Consumer Rights Act 2015 Comes Into Force

The Consumer Rights Act (2015) was enacted into law today which properly outlines the responsibilities retailers have to their customers in a transparent manner. Previously, the Sales of Goods Act (1979) provided information on consumer rights and constituted situations which were eligible for a full refund. Sadly, the Act contained a lack of clarity meaning retailers could use their own judgement to set the duration for returns. As a result, this ambiguity in the law meant it was unknown if 2, 5, or 20 days was enough to allow for a full refund.

Thankfully, the Consumer Rights Act has addressed this head-on and ensures customers can get a refund within 30 days of the initial purchase date if the item is faulty. This seems like a sensible procedure and provides peace-of-mine. Throughout Europe, companies are required by law to uphold a 2-year guarantee, but this only covers manufacturing flaws. Now the Consumer Rights Act is officially valid, customers can get a refund, and not just a replacement model which they might not want. In theory, this also covers digital purchases, meaning any game not-fit-for-purpose has to be exchanged. This becomes quite complicated as a corrupt audio file is easy to replace, but broken games could take months to fix, as shown by Batman Arkham Knight.

Here is a brief rundown of the new legislation’s basic principles:

  • Must be of satisfactory quality, based on what a reasonable person would expect, taking into account the price
  • Must be fit for purpose. If the consumer has a particular purpose in mind, he or she should make that clear
  • Must meet the expectations of the consumer

As with any legal announcement, it will take some time to learn how it applies to digital transactions. Perhaps, a precedent is required to determine its effectiveness for broken games, or poor quality movie streams. Whatever the case, this is a pro-consumer move and should work well alongside Distance Selling Regulations in the UK.

Thank you BBC for providing us with this information.

Metal Gear Solid V Retail Copy Only Contains Steam Installer

Metal Gear Solid V’s PC release is tantalizingly close and a number of physical copies have been dispatched early in anticipation of the game’s launch. Interestingly, the disc only contains the Steam installer and basic key information for activation purposes. As a result, the disc itself is pretty much worthless and accounts for a mere 8.78 MB of data. The majority of AAA PC retail games barring GTA V, EA and Ubisoft titles utilize the Steamworks DRM system. However, the game’s files are usually stored on a disc to make the installation process fairly quick. This is vital for some customers who live in areas with a poor internet connection. Additionally, AAA releases have started to exceed the 50GB barrier which becomes a frustratingly long download process.

Therefore, I cannot see the reason why a disc copy of Metal Gear Solid V exists. There are no benefits whatsoever unless you enjoy looking at the box-art for an unhealthy amount of time. Digital distribution is a revolutionary move which help contribute to lower PC game prices, added an enhanced level of convenience and ensured developers get paid for their work. In the console market, second-hand sales are rampant which can persuade developers on tight budgets to stick to digital distribution delivery.

While PC retail games are extremely niche, I would like to see collector’s editions and DRM-Free titles still being produced. However, I highly doubt PC games will keep using optical media for much longer, and illustrates how wasteful the retail copies are from a financial and environmental viewpoint.

https://twitter.com/graphure/status/637981198229368836?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

When was the last time you purchased a retail PC game?

Amazon Cancels Trade-In Programme

Amazon has officially canned their trade-in scheme for physical entertainment goods and ends on August 31st 2015. This isn’t a surprising move considering the poor trade-in prices compared to CEX and cash value on eBay. Also, physical media is being phased out for digital content and takes up storage space for items with a larger profit margin. Nowadays, there are so many digital platforms available including Netflix, Spotify, Steam, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes and more!

Of course, there are collectors out there and people who prefer physical media, but they rarely trade-in products towards another item. As a result, it makes business sense to drop this policy and improve Amazon’s digital streaming services. You only have to look at the PC Gaming market to see how quickly digital has revolutionized purchasing habits. Only a few stores stock retail PC games and I presume they are quite a niche outlet. Generally, other media such as film, and books will eventually catch up and be predominately digital.

The only reason to trade anything in is convenience and not wanting to bother with eBay selling. Stores offer pitiful amounts because they know consumers will accept low prices to avoid the hassle of eBay. I do wonder what will happen to retail stores and the second-hand market in an increasingly digital future.

When was the last time you traded in a product, and what was it?

Amazon CEO Dismisses Criticism of Company’s Working Enviroment

Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon has strongly refuted claims by the New York Times which described Amazon’s working conditions as deplorable and could result in psychological breakdowns. For example, Bo Olson, who worked in books marketing said,

“Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”

Bezos doesn’t recognise the portrayal of Amazon in the New York Times article and released a thorough statement to employees:

“Dear Amazonians,

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to give this (very long) New York Times article a careful read:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/technology/inside-amazon-wrestling-big-ideas-in-a-bruising-workplace.html

I also encourage you to read this very different take by a current Amazonian:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/amazonians-response-inside-amazon-wrestling-big-ideas-nick-ciubotariu

Here’s why I’m writing you. The NYT article prominently features anecdotes describing shockingly callous management practices, including people being treated without empathy while enduring family tragedies and serious health problems. The article doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day. But if you know of any stories like those reported, I want you to escalate to HR. You can also email me directly at jeff@amazon.com. Even if it’s rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero.

The article goes further than reporting isolated anecdotes. It claims that our intentional approach is to create a soulless, dystopian workplace where no fun is had and no laughter heard. Again, I don’t recognize this Amazon and I very much hope you don’t, either. More broadly, I don’t think any company adopting the approach portrayed could survive, much less thrive, in today’s highly competitive tech hiring market. The people we hire here are the best of the best. You are recruited every day by other world-class companies, and you can work anywhere you want.

I strongly believe that anyone working in a company that really is like the one described in the NYT would be crazy to stay. I know I would leave such a company.

But hopefully, you don’t recognize the company described. Hopefully, you’re having fun working with a bunch of brilliant teammates, helping invent the future, and laughing along the way.

Thank you,

Jeff”

Now both sides of the story have been publicly revealed, it’s virtually impossible to know the inner workings of Amazon without becoming an employee. Although, a documentary from the BBC shows insider footage as an undercover journalist experiences the Amazon workload. I would highly recommend watching the video, despite its poor quality as it really is quite shocking.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4aRz7NqTOo

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information.

Argos Rolls out Smartphone and Tablet Trade-in Scheme

Argos, one of the UK’s latest retail chains, has launched a trade-in incentive to recycle unwanted electronics. The retailer plans to offer vouchers in exchange for tablets and smartphones. Each device will either be refurbished and resold or recycled to help protect the environment. Unlike existing schemes, Argos’ retail presence allows for a convenient, in-store quote without having to ship the item off to a company and wait 5-7 working days. However, I highly doubt Argos will be able to match successful second hand resellers like CEX who offer competitive prices versus the competition. Additionally, consumers can sell their unwanted items through a number of means including eBay, Gumtree, Facebook groups and local advertisements. Usually, even after fees, the eBay prices are significantly higher than any trade-in offer.

Companies are hoping to get the custom from people who feel uncomfortable on eBay or find it too time consuming. Perhaps, they don’t know how to photograph items or cannot answer technical details about an electrical product. Amy Whidburn, head of corporate responsibility at Argos, said:

“As a leading technology retailer we know that our customers are looking for solutions to responsibly dispose of unwanted gadgets when they replace or trade-up devices. Our new scheme in conjunction with Wrap offers them a safe way to do this, in a really convenient location on their local high street or retail park, with the added benefit of receiving a gift card in return immediately.” 

It’s an interesting move and I’m fascinated to see how generous Argos’ trade-in prices will be.

Have you ever traded-in an old or unwanted item?

Thank you The Guardian for providing us with this information.

Mastercard Trials New Scheme to Replace Passwords with Selfies

The convenience of online shopping has applied severe pressure on traditional retail stores and many companies went into administration due to large overheads. In the past, consumers were rightfully concerned about fraud and a lack of protection when purchasing from unfamiliar websites. Thankfully, there are now security certificates and enhanced checks before a transaction can be completed. For example, MasterCard utilizes a SecureCode system which requires you to input a password before the payment is processed. This adds another layer of protection and failing to enter the right code on 3 occasions will enforce a card block. To remove this, you must contact MasterCard and provide a wide range of security details.

MasterCard’s SecureCode is a fantastic way to protect yourself online and eliminates the hassle of being contacted via a card company when a large transaction is made. However, any security expert will advise you to create different passwords for various credentials. If you currently only use one password across banking, entertainment mediums and other accounts, please change it immediately. Storing a different password for every purpose can be a difficult task and most users do not trust password management software. MasterCard believes the answer could be via photo recognition.

So how does this work? Firstly, an image corresponding to your account is recorded on file and compared to a snapshot you take to confirm your identity. The data from the image is converted into binary form and users must have the MasterCard app installed on their smart device to proceed. This piece of software also supports fingerprint recognition which many modern phones are beginning to accommodate. MasterCard has selected a small sample of 500 people and awaiting feedback to see if this is the future of internet banking. In a CNN Money interview, a MasterCard executive explained,

“We want to identify people for who they are, not what they remember.”

“We have too many passwords to remember and this creates extra problems for consumers and businesses.”

“The new generation, which is into selfies … I think they’ll find it cool. They’ll embrace it.”

I’m not entirely convinced though that customers are so willing to share their personal data even if an algorithm is used to analyse the picture. One’s privacy seems to be diminishing rather fast in the modern world and there might be a backlash from consumers who feel this new system is too personal and overly intrusive.

Let us know what you think of this new security system. Would you have a problem taking a photo of yourself to buy online items?

Thank You Sky News for providing us with this information.

Microsoft Just Announced the Ultimate Feature for Its Xbox One Console

If you were about to throw away your Xbox 360 game collection because you upgraded from an Xbox 360 to the latest Xbox One, don’t do that just yet. Microsoft’s Phil Spencer just announced at E3 that they will be making its latest Xbox One console backwards compatible with Xbox 360 titles.

Phil said that Microsoft’s aim is to bring as many games as possible to their latest console, giving users access to one of the biggest “library” of titles available on the market. The compatibility has been announced to work with both online and retail copies, having Microsoft roll out 100 titles this holiday season. However, Microsoft plans on adding 100 more later on, so keep your favourite Xbox One discs dust-free and ready for action.

There have been a lot of HD remakes cropping up since the Xbox One hit the market, but Microsoft looks like it wants developers to focus on new titles instead of just reviving old ones. This news may not sit well with developers who’ve already planned an Xbox One remake of their title, but Microsoft seems to be marking users as top priority as of late. The feature is said to already be available for Xbox Preview program members, so if you’re one of the lucky ones, give it a try and see how it goes.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information

Mad Catz Partners for Retail Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition

Mad Catz has signed a deal with Dovetail Games for the exclusive retail distribution of Microsoft’s Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition. Mad Catz will distribute the boxed version of the game in America, Russia and the Asia Pacific area under its Saitek brand, and you get a nice coupon bonus along with the purchase.

“Our Saitek brand has long been recognized as the leader in simulation technology, and distributing FSX: Steam Edition allows consumers a one-stop-shop for their flight simulation software and hardware needs,” said Darren Richardson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Mad Catz. “Whether you’re an experienced pilot or just want to fly, FSX: Steam Edition provides a great experience.”

Microsoft Flight Simulator X is probably one of the best flight simulators for enthusiast all around with support for almost any kind of extra hardware. With the Steam Edition you get the updated game with better Windows 7 and 8 support, the Accelerated Expansions pack and the deluxe version of the base game.

But the real kick is that Saitek includes a 15% discount code for your first flight simulation equipment. The Saitek First Flight Bundle includes the Pro Flight Yoke, Throttle, and Rudder Pedals – the basic setup that any real pilot will need.

Microsoft Flight Simulator X features

  • 24 Precisely-Rendered Aircraft-Pilot everything from single-prop planes to helicopters, fighter jets, and ultralights
  • Over 80 Engaging Missions-Test your flight sim skills as you visit 24,000 of the world’s airports
  • Thrilling Air Races-Fly solo offline or compete against online rivals for intense multiplayer action
  • Explore the World of Aviation-Experience realistic flight conditions including weather effects, seasonal changes, and time of day
  • Easy to Learn-Gameplay tutorial gets you airborne quickly, empowering you to track and improve your skills

The new retail version will be released on June 16th and it can already be pre-ordered for $19.99.

Asda Offering Unbelievable Xbox One Bundle at Just £249.00

It looks like UK retailer Asda has a sweet deal for you if you are looking for an Xbox One bargain. The console can be yours, along with a copy of X-Men for just £249.00. What this all means is that you get the console and one of the best movies of last year for less than the retail price of the console itself.

Another cool part of the deal is that the offer is available both online and in stores, giving customers the possibility of ordering it from the Asda website if they don’t have time to go by the store and pick it up themselves.

Android Trade-in Program Launches Today at Apple Retail Stores

Today Apple is launching a trade-in program for select non-iPhone smartphones at its Apple Retail Store locations. The program will allow credit towards an immediate purchase of a new iPhone model for users who trade in their select Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry phones.

Apple is aiming to drive more business from people who will trade in their current working devices to get something better. The standard Apple iPhone trade-in program was first started in 2013 and last year opened up to include iPads. Now the program is accepting select Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry devices for in-store credit to users immediately buying an iPhone. The program is so far only available in the US, France, Italy, and the UK.  You can check if your store has the program on its individual store page. The online Apple Reuse and Recycling Program is now open for users to trade in a Windows notebook or desktop for an Apple Store gift card.

Source: 9to5 Mac

Apple Developing Algorithm System To Speed Up Genius Bar Wait Times

The quality (and the subsequent price) of Apple products means that it’s not that often that owners find themselves needing service. But when they do, the first place most turn to is the Genius Bar, at their local Apple Store. But, as the hilarious Genius Bar Tales Twitter account informs us, it can get quite busy with people asking stupid questions. So if you have a genuine issue, and want to get an appointment in-between all of the teenagers asking why Instagram isn’t working on their iPhone, it can mean quite a wait.

Well, Apple apparently has a solution to that. The ever reliable 9to5Mac reports that the company is developing a new system that will allow people to just turn up to the Apple Store with their issue. They say that a new algorithm system will mean that a customer can simply inform any staff member of their issue and they’ll immediately be given an estimate of how long they have to wait.

The staff members will input the customer’s issue into a custom iPhone, and then a special app will strategically place the customer in a queue based on their complaint. If it’s a simple problem, like being unable to sign into iCloud, they’ll go straight to the front of the queue as it can be fixed and got out-of-the-way quickly. If it’s a complex issue, like a MacBook with a blinking display, they’ll be pushed further down the queue as so more time can be allocated to them. Following this, customers will then receive three text messages – one informing them of the wait time, another telling them to head back to the store, and a third informing them that the ‘Genius’ is ready and waiting.

As Apple apparently deems most Genius Bar visits to be minor and quick to fix issues, the notion of putting those appointments first makes sense.

Source: 9to5Mac

Data Breach: The Sure Fast Way to Become a Retail Pariah

“18.5M Californians lose data to hackers”  

Shocking weekly headlines such as this illustrate the growing problem of major data breaches at multinational enterprises and have both consumers and operators crying foul. In fact, these large data breaches have spawned a 600 percent increase in the number of California customer records violated in cyber-attacks in 2014 according to the California Data Breach Report from state Attorney General Kamala Harris. Moreover, the average cost to investigate and deal with a data breach is $5.9 million, according to the 2014 Cost of Data Breach Study published by the Ponemon Institute and funded by IBM.

The unfortunate consequence of the data breach phenomenon is it not only affects large multinational enterprises but all in-store and online retail business engaging in point of sale transactions. Ultimately, your business is vulnerable as your valuable customers are losing confidence in the security of point of sale transactions.  After all, a primary concern raised by these data breaches is risk to consumer financial health. Data security and customer trust are inseparably linked. Once data security is compromised, your customer will no longer trust your company. Gartner Group statistics tell us that 80 percent of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20 percent of your existing customers. Never underestimate the value of retention. Customer retention is the lifeblood of your business. Indeed, to retain customers you must gain and keep their trust with an ironclad point of sale system.

“FCC Slaps Telcos With $10M Fine for Data Breaches” 

This recent headline illustrates the cost of a data breach to your business is not only qualitative in nature but quantitative. The United States Federal Communication Commission (FCC) fines for violations of the Communications Act can run into the tens of millions of dollars for those operators who do not properly secure customer information such as customer names, Social Security numbers, and addresses. The bottom line is if you fail to protect your customer data, the U.S. government can find you liable and you will have to pay up.

What Can You Do To Mitigate a Data Breach?

Proper security measures to secure customer information must be in place to protect the confidentiality of the consumer information you have on file. It is imperative to honor the trust of your customers and protect them from harm caused by violations of the Communications Act.

Whether point of sale providers or hackers are to blame, as an operator, you are the bridge between your customer information and the point of sale provider. The simple fact is not if you should shore up your consumer data, but when.According to techhealthperspectives.com, you must ask your point of sale provider how secure your customer data is. Additional questions should be asked such as: Is it stored on publicly accessible Internet servers? Do they have a current risk assessment model in place to determine if your investment in data security is up to par? Can they help you improve your audit controls and conduct breach drills?

Data security is usually reactive in nature. However, it is imperative for you to be proactive and reduce the threat and ultimately prevent a data breach. The use of a reputable expert such as Shopify can shore up your customer data and assist you with rapid and continuous defense against cyber-attacks to save your business from the monetary and reputational damage of a data breach.  Reputable online point of sale providers should host a Payment Card Industry Security Standard (PCI) compliant shopping cart. Moreover, to streamline your operations, you will want to look for a complete eCommerce solution which will help you organize your products, customize your storefront, track and respond to orders, and of course accept credit card payments.

If you currently find yourself in a situation where your customer data has been breached, until Congress passes a data breach notification law, you will be required to traverse the complex maze of 47 state requirements. A guide to assist you with state laws on data breach notifications has been released by the Direct Marketing Association and is available at thedma.org.

It’s never too late to secure your customer data. Protect your business and provide your customers with confidence in the security of your point of sale transactions. After all, once data security is compromised, your customer will no longer trust your company. In summary, to retain customers you must gain and keep their trust with an ironclad point of sale system. What can you do to avoid a data breach? Assess your current point of sale provider and determine if they are Payment Card Industry Security Standard (PCI) compliant. Be bold and take a stand for your business and your customers against hackers. Ask your point of sale provider what steps you need to take to avoid becoming the latest weekly headline as a data breach retail pariah.

Apple Begins Watch Training for Retail Employees

Apple has begun training employees on the Apple Watch according to 9to5Mac. It’s said that the company began training yesterday in the US and the UK, as well as a few other countries. It marks the first time that anyone outside of Apple’s top employees has had a closer look at the watch.

Rumours last month suggested that training would begin in February, before Tim Cook announced that the smart watch would be released in April of this year. Employees are expected to be introduced to the product, as well as the new procedures required to sell the device. It was recently reported that Apple will be installing safes to securely store its ‘Apple Watch Edition’ model – one that will feature solid gold and is expected to costs thousands of dollars.

It won’t be long until the Apple Watch is released and we’ll have more on it as soon as we can get our hands on one.

Source: 9to5Mac

Adobe is Suing Clothing Chain Forever 21 for Pirating Software

That’s not a headline you see everyday – Adobe is leading a suit against US clothing chain Forever 21, in which they allege that the chain repeatedly pirated a number of Adobe software applications, including Photoshop and Illustrator. The company is joined in the suit by AutoDesk and Corel, who claim that the company also pirated its software too.

The suit says that the company pirated 63 different instances of Adobe software and that they “continued their infringing activities even after being contacted by Adobe regarding the infringement.” Although we don’t know exactly how much money they want, the suit wants an injunction to be issued as well as the issue of compensation for any profits missed out on as a result of the piracy, as well as court costs and any additional damages that can be justified.

While individuals often get away with piracy, it seems that Adobe and others want to make it clear to corporations that piracy is indeed serious and that such a large business should know better.

Source: The Verge

Microsoft Want Kinect Used to Recognise Shoppers, Minority Report-Style

Microsoft has proposed using its Kinect hardware in stores to recognise customers and track their shopping habits. The idea was put forward in a Microsoft blog post on Monday, entitled 2015: The Year of On-demand, Personalized Shopping.

Kinect, the motion controller for Xbox 360 and Xbox One, is able to identify faces, discern facial expressions, track body and limb movements, and recognise voice commands. Microsoft believes the technology could revolutionise how retailers engage with their customers. From Microsoft’s blog:

The NEC Biometric interface with Kinect Camera system provides demographic and face recognition services to a Kinect enabled application. Retailers can use this information for analysis and for providing the customer with a more personal selling experience. MediaCart will change the shopping cart as we know it. Adding a location-aware tablet to the cart allows a retailer to present a personal and relevant shopping experience to its customer. This allows context sensitive ads and promotions when in front of various products along with a barcode scanning capability for price lookups and basket totals.

The small matter of whether customers will stand for being tracked, catalogued, and spied on, however, isn’t broached in the blog entry.

Source: Business Insider

Apple’s New Store Displays Are Weird

Apple has always had some pretty odd store displays. From floating MacBooks to giant iPhones, you’d think they couldn’t get anymore strange.

The video bellow was taken at Apple’s Regent Street store in London, and shows iPad Smart Covers opening all by themselves. Looking at the video, it’s easy to be puzzled as to how they’re doing this. Wires? Air? Tiny motors?

If you’re not familiar with the Smart Cover, they’re Apple’s clever solution to protecting iPad displays from scratches and other damage. They utilise magnets to stick to the display and form other shapes to allow the iPad to stand in different positions. The magnets also act as a way of switching the iPad display on and off, as can be seen in the video.

So what do you think is behind this trickery? Let us know in the comments.

Via: The Verge