Google Shows Off New Android Dev Tools

After years of teasing and speculation, it finally looks as though foldable screen smartphones are headed to market. Google's dev announcement followed closely on the heels of Samsung's announcement at its own developer conference of a folding phone/tablet prototype with Infinity Flex Display. The Android tools will take advantage of the new display technology, which literally bends and folds, noted Stephanie Cuthbertson, director of product management at Google. The technology is based on two variations of screen design: two-screen devices and one-screen devices. Either way, the new devices will look like phones when folded, so they will fit into a pocket or purse. When unfolded, they will display screen continuity seamlessly. For example, as the device unfolds with an active image already in use, the image will transfer to the bigger screen without flutters or distortions. "Official support from the Android development team means that folding phones are being taken seriously as a new type of device," said Brandon Ackroyd, head of customer insight at Tiger Mobiles. salesforce commerce cloud Marketability Unknown Consumer interest in owning foldable devices is still an unknown factor. It might turn out that if they build them, no one will come. While Google's new developer support augurs well for Samsung and other manufacturers working on foldable devices, Ackroyd does not think it means foldable phones are going to be the must-have product of the future. "Right now, I don't see the use case or any apparent advantages," he told LinuxInsider. "What I do see, however, is a proof-of-concept of this type of foldable screen technology, and I think we're going to see many different products make use of this soon. Perhaps [it will become] the next-generation type wearable that fully wraps around your wrist." Foldable mobile devices are not guaranteed to be successful as the technology transitions from concept to reality, observed Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. "In many ways, smartphone users are the world's largest community of lab rats, in the sense that so many are willing to follow wherever handset makers lead in terms of new features and functions," he told LinuxInsider. It was not so long ago that oversized smartphones made by a few adventuresome vendors were dismissively called "phablets," he recalled, but today, larger form factors dominate the high end of the market. Foldables could catch on among consumers who are tired of lugging around phones that resemble paperback books. Those consumers still want large displays for media consumption. "It will be interesting to see whether that happens, or if buyers simply stick with the designs they know," said King. Flexible Future Given the resources that are available today, manufacturers have a good shot at making foldable screen devices appealing to consumers, suggested Rob Webber, CEO of MoneySavingPro. Futuristic-looking foldable smartphones have always been a dream concept, he noted. "Smartphones have evolved dramatically since they were first invented, especially their displays," Webber told LinuxInsider, recalling the stylus input before Apple introduced touchscreens that were able to react to the electrical impulses generated by the user's fingers. "Now we're at a stage where edge-to-edge displays are the norm. Some could say that foldable displays are just the next rung on the ladder," he said. However, it's unlikely the new technology will be a simple transition, Webber added. It will face many obstacles before the technology advances. The key to the foldable mobile device being a success is hardware and software integration, which will take time for manufacturers to perfect. Cost also might be an issue. With the continually rising prices of new smartphones, if foldable devices are going to cost significantly more, they may appeal only to a very niche market, Webber reasoned. "Having said that, I think we are currently at an exciting stage that marks the beginning of an emerging battle between manufacturers and the start of a very flexible future," he said. Potential Exploit and Failure Money may not be the only cost factor consumers will face if foldable screens catch on. Smaller yet expanding devices may be more appealing to hackers than to consumers, warned Mike Banic, vice president of marketing at Vectra. The number of Web searches performed on a mobile device has been increasing steadily. New mobile technology that makes it easier to use mobile devices to create as well as consume information means that attackers will exploit the trend, he told LinuxInsider. Additionally, the number of mobile vulnerabilities is highest on Android apps, largely due to its open source nature and the questionable security of third-party app stores, Banic said. "Mechanicals could introduce a point of failure that may cause adoption to stumble," he noted. Google Dev Support Wrapup Google's plan to bring more Android tools to app developers is part of an ongoing program. The Dev Summit announcements suggest the company has decided to take an aggressive approach. The new features will be rolled out to a number of developers who are considered "partners." Availability then will expand further to devs before they eventually become accessible to all. "It is a solid group of announcements that most Android developers will welcome," said Pund-IT's King. "At a time when smartphone market growth appears to have stalled, introducing support for new features and form factors could offer Android device makers what they need to make their products stand out from the crowd and attract customer interest." Updates to Kotlin Programming Language Kotlin is not a Google-developed language, but it is one that devs have favored. Last week, JetBrains released the latest version of Kotlin, 1.3, which brings new language features, APIs, bug fixes and performance improvements. It has become the fastest-growing language, in terms of the number of contributors on GitHub, and has been voted the second most-loved language on Stack Overflow. In Google's surveys, the more developers use Kotlin, the higher their satisfaction, according to Google's Cuthbertson. Android Jetpack Google announced new Jetpack libraries, the next generation of tools and Android APIs to accelerate Android application development. It contains two new Architecture Component libraries: Navigation and Work Manager, that will move to Beta this month. The Navigation Architecture Component offers a simplified way to implement Android's navigation principles in an application. Plus, the new Navigation Editor in Android Studio creates and edits navigation architecture. Jetpack Navigation Editor Jetpack Navigation Editor This eliminates navigation boilerplate while adding atomic navigation operations with easier animated transitions and more. WorkManager makes it easy to perform background tasks in the most efficient manner, choosing the most appropriate solution based on the application state and device API level. Slices Google moves Android Slices to public Search experiments. Slices is a new way to bring users to an app. It works like a mini snippet of an app that surfaces content and actions. "Aside from the foldable announcement, the most interesting angle was the further development of Google Slices. This new concept allows Android apps to push relevant components and features of their apps into other places, such as the Google Search," said Tiger Mobiles' Ackroyd. By loading a small part of an app right from the search results, users can get a near-native app experience without actually fully opening the app, he said. For example, if you google 'What is the Tesla stock price?' and you have a stocks app installed, that app can use a 'slice' to give you the info. Google announced the concept of Slices with Android 9 Pie. This new paradigm allows apps to surface relevant components and features in natural places, like Google Search. This month, Google will make Slices available as part of a public Early Access Program with partners. Google also will begin experiments in the Search app to surface various Slices when relevant. Android Studio Android Studio, Google's official IDE for Android development, has a new focus on productivity, build speed, quality and fundamentals. Google launched Android Studio 3.3 beta 3 last week. Upcoming releases will add a strong focus on quality and fundamentals. Google also announced the development of Android Studio on Chrome OS early next year. Android App Bundles and Dynamic Features The Android App Bundle is the new publishing format that serves only the code and resources users need to run an app on their specific devices. It will reduce app sizes with an average of 35-40 percent savings compared to a universal APK. The app bundle now supports uncompressed native libraries. With no additional developer work needed, the app bundle now makes apps using native libraries an average of 8 percent smaller to download and 16 percent smaller on disk on M+ devices. In-app Updates API Google is giving devs more controls to ensure that users run the latest and greatest version of their apps. In-app Updates API will give devs two options. The first is a full-screen experience for critical updates when you expect the user to want the update to be applied immediately. The second option is a flexible update. It lets users continue with the existing installed version while the update is downloaded. The developer can use it to ensure that users have the most up-to-date version, because the app can be pushed to install in the background using the automatic updates feature. Instant Discovery Google hopes to make instant apps easier to adopt. The company recently made the use of Web URLs optional, so devs can send their existing Play Store deep link traffic to their instant experience if it is available.

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Mobile Phone Security: All You Need to Know

We rely on our phones to process and store reams of personal digital data. Our digital activities -- from checking bank balances to paying for a product with a tap of the screen, to sending friends and family messages over social media, to accessing work emails remotely -- have turned our phones into a goldmine of personal information. It's likely that by 2020, there will be more than 6 billion smartphone users in the world. How secure is your mobile device? It's easy to forget that your mobile phone is essentially a pocket-sized computer and that, just as with any device that can connect to the Internet, mobile phones are at risk of a cyberattack. The good news is that mobile malware is still relatively uncommon, with the total rate of infections standing at 8 percent. Mobile malware is outnumbered by PC attacks 40-1, as mobiles operate on far more customized systems, and malware must be tailored to a specific system. However, mobile malware has been increasing at an alarming rate. There was a 27 percent increase in new mobile malware in the last quarter of 2017, according to McAfee. Securing your mobile phone should be a top priority, both for personal and business use. salesforce commerce cloud Types of Mobile Malware The types of mobile malware users may be exposed to are many and varying. Following are some examples: Mobile spyware: This form of malicious software can infiltrate seemingly benign programs and secretly monitor your activity, record your location, and steal sensitive passwords. You may even have inadvertently granted an app access to harvest this information when you downloaded it. Rooting malware: A particularly unsavory form of malware, these bugs gain root access to a compromised device in order to provide hackers with administrative privileges and access to users' files. Some rooting malware, such as Ztorg, are able to embed themselves into the system folders, so that even a factory reset won't be able to remove them. Mobile banking Trojans: As mobile banking grows in popularity, an increasingly grave problem in the cybersecurity world is mobile banking viruses. In 2017, mobile banking Trojans attacked close to 260,000 users across 164 countries. Attackers masquerade as a legitimate banking app to lure users into installing it, only to steal their credentials. SMS malware: This form of malware will manipulate a mobile phone to send premium-rate text messages, often without the user noticing until they receive a shocking bill at the end of the month. How Your Mobile Phone Can Get Infected By far the most common way that your device may become infected is if you download a malicious app. Cybercriminals may pirate an existing app and list it on a third-party app store with hidden malware attached, so that users who download the app invite malicious software onto their devices. Hackers also exploit known vulnerabilities in an operating system, which is why it is paramount that you keep your device up-to-date with the latest software. The old-school method of sending a virus via fake emails can pose a threat to mobile phones as well, and this extends to suspicious texts. If you click a link on a fraudulent email or text, it probably will send you to a dummy site and automatically download malware onto your device. Another way you might expose yourself to an attack is by connecting to a public WiFi hotspot. As public WiFi is usually unencrypted, attackers can intercept the data stream between the user and the access point. Known as a "man-in-the-middle attack," this can enable intruders to eavesdrop on any conversations carried out over the compromised network. Android vs. iOS Google's Android is the main target for malware, with a reported 19 million malware programs developed especially for Android. The reason for this is three-fold: Android's dominance of the global smartphone market; the inconsistency of updates to the Android operating system; and its relatively open system for the distribution of apps. More Android phones to attack Although the Apple logo may have become ubiquitous over the years, 85 percent of smartphone users worldwide have an Android phone. Big name brands such as Samsung, Huawei and HTC all run on Google's Android OS. Frequency of OS updates Android's updates are more fragmented. When Google releases an update to Android, it takes some time for consumers to receive it, unless they have a Google branded device, such as a Pixel. Non-Google Android devices, however, are customized with different apps and services, depending on the device manufacturer and network carrier behind the phone. Each customized version rolls out Android updates at a different rate. Openness of platform Android has a more open and adaptable platform that renders it more vulnerable to cyberattacks than the Apple iOS. Users can download apps from third-party sources, which are not regulated by Google Play. This is how the majority of the 10 million Android devices became infected by the Adware Hummingbad in 2016, although a variant of the malware subsequently was discovered on 20 apps in Google's official Play Store. The so-called "walled garden" of Apple's App Store, on the other hand, means that all iPhone apps are heavily vetted by Apple before they can be listed in this centralized point of distribution. iOS Weaknesses Nevertheless, Apple's iOS is not entirely failsafe. The large-scale XCodeGhost attack that occurred in China in 2015 compromised more than 39 apps, including older versions of the popular WeChat app. The hackers had infiltrated the App Store by offering a counterfeit version of Apple's XCode software to developers. They then were able to steal data and send fake alerts to compromised devices to trick users into revealing their information. Jailbroken iPhones, in particular, are at risk of a malware attack, because they circumvent the security restrictions imposed by the App store. Users may wish to jailbreak their phones in order to gain access to free apps or those that are not available on the App Store. However, this opens them up to significant risks, and users may find they have accidentally downloaded a dangerous app. The KeyRaider hack of 2015, for instance, compromised more than 225,000 Apple accounts by targeting jailbroken iPhones and iPads. What Are the Signs of a Malware Attack on Your Phone? If you contract a virus on your computer, it can be quite straightforward to spot that something has gone wrong. You'll probably see hundreds of irritating pop-ups or find that your computer starts to randomly and sporadically crash. The signs of an infection on your mobile phone, however, may be harder to spot. You may have some malware lurking in the background and corrupting your phone without even realizing it. Key signs to look for are if your device suddenly begins to operate more slowly, or your battery drains more rapidly than usual. Far more than an indication that you need a phone upgrade, a noticeable and sudden drop in performance could be a sign of an infection. Another tell-tale sign to assess whether you may have a virus on your phone is if you see sudden spikes in your data usage. This could be a result of a virus running background tasks that you aren't aware of, or trying to access the Internet in order to transmit data from your phone. Strange charges on your monthly bill also could be symptomatic of a virus, as some malware can make money from sending premium texts from your phone without you noticing. Be sure to review your bill routinely so you can catch any dangerous viruses early. How to Remove Mobile Malware If you suspect that your phone may have been compromised, what steps can you take to remove malicious software? Let's first consider how to remove mobile malware from an Android phone. You need to start by putting your phone into Safe Mode. You can do this by holding down the power off button until you're prompted to reboot your device to Safe Mode. The Safe Mode will disable all third-party apps, so if you find that your device then works smoothly, you can be confident that a virus is at the root of your problem. Then go into your settings and to the apps folder. Scan for the app that you think might be the culprit, or for anything that you don't recall downloading. You can remove it manually by clicking the uninstall button. Top Tip: Sometimes the uninstall button will be gray and won't respond when you tap on it, because the malicious app has granted itself administrator status. In that case, you need to go into the security settings and deactivate administrator rights for the malicious app in question. You then should be able to remove the app from the app list. If you are still unable to remove the malicious software from your device, you will need to do a full factory reset. This can be achieved by going into your phone settings and erasing all data. Be sure that you have backed up any important files before you do this, as you will not be able to retrieve your beloved photos and important contact list afterward. How do you remove a virus from an iPhone? As explained above, iOS malware is far rarer than Android malware, but attacks are still possible. Respectable apps may have had malicious code inserted in them by a hacker. Users who have jailbroken their phones may have inadvertently downloaded a malicious app. The good news is that iOS' sandboxing structure, which restricts every app's access, prevents any malware from spreading to and corrupting other apps or the underlying operating system. This means that it is quite simple to see which is the compromised app causing your phone to malfunction. You'll only have problems when the app in question is open. First, see if there is a newer version of the app in the App Store, as the problem may have been identified and resolved in a new update. If not, you will need to outright remove the app from your device by uninstalling it. If the virus is manifesting itself as a redirect to a spammy Web page, you'll also want to clear your Safari history and data. Tips for Securing Your Mobile Phone Of course, the most effective way to protect your phone from malware is to take preventative steps to reduce the likelihood of contracting an infection in the first place. Following are our top tips for securing your mobile phone: Be wary of public WiFi hotspots Do not access any sensitive information through public WiFi, such as logging into your bank or checking sensitive work emails, as a hacker may be able to intercept your communication through a "man-in-the-middle" attack. It is far more secure to use a 3G or 4G instead, or to use a VPN. Do not jailbreak or root your device It may sound appealing to be able to download paid apps for free by jailbreaking your iPhone or rooting your Android, but this removes the protection from Apple and Google respectively. Proceed with caution if you do go down this route, or you may find yourself vulnerable to malicious apps. Only download apps from the official app stores Savvy hackers have been known to slip past the walled garden of the App Store and the security measures of Google Play Protect, but your chances of downloading a malicious app are far lower if you stick to the official app stores. Update your operating system Cybercriminals exploit vulnerabilities in operating systems to gain access to outdated smartphones. Be sure to install updates to your software as soon as a new version is released, to minimize this risk. Encrypt your device Encrypting your phone will scramble all files so that only you have access to them. You'll need to enter a PIN or password to decrypt your phone every time you want to use it. Review your access permissions Often when consumers download new apps they don't take the time to read the Terms & Conditions, or consider what data they are allowing the app to access. In some cases, it may be useful to allow an app to access your location, such as a transport or weather app. But does the app need to know your location even when you're not using it? Review your app permissions in your privacy settings, and disable any consents that don't seem essential. I hope that you found this article on mobile phone security useful -- and that you now know that protecting your device involves far more than just sticking a screen protector and case on it! Shahrum Gilani is the founder of HandsetExpert, a recommendation site for phones and tariffs. He is a graduate of the University of Cambridge and University College London, and has a doctorate in computer science. Gilani is a published author in the fields of imaging and vision. 10 6 7 26 Get Permission to License or Reproduce this Article Print Email Reprints Author Search Reader Comments Be the first to comment! 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5 Reasons Why Direct Banking Is the Next Big Thing

The concept of Direct Banking – an online and mobile only bank – delivers serious bottom-line benefits, for those with a well-defined strategy. Direct banks have become a popular means of driving deposit growth to underpin lending, and to meet customers' increasingly demanding expectations for an on-demand, digital and mobile banking experience. The recent surge in the return to establishing direct banks over the last two years is a trend that is still in its infancy – particularly as financial institutions continue to battle the soaring costs of deposits in a rising interest rate environment. Here are five key facts about what direct banks can offer, and why they're becoming so prevalent and on the rise. FACT 1: Direct banks fuel deposit growth and expand customer reach. Direct banks offer the speed to market, reduced overhead, lower acquisition costs and expedited onboarding that can empower a bank to fast-track deposit acquisition, and expand their market and customer base. The cost of acquiring and servicing customers and deposits via the Direct Bank model are significantly lower than via a traditional bank, yielding better efficiency ratios for the financial institution. Evidence also shows that customer attrition is often lower with direct banks; they aren't as subject to the life events that tend to trigger closing accounts in traditional banks.Recent entrants to direct banking launched in the last year cited primary objectives of the potential to rapidly drive deposit growth, to support improved deposit/loan ratios for the parent organization. In a short time, they have already built wildly successful direct banks which meet both of those objectives. New products and services can be offered to specific customer segments without the constraints of geographic limitations. Moving far beyond regional name brand recognition, direct banks have national exposure and thus national customer potential. FACT 2: Direct banks put customers front and center. Thanks to the combination of today's mobile and digital banking and payment technology, customers know that they don't have to settle for anything less than a truly customer-centric banking experience, and that is exactly what direct banks can offer. Across all age groups, consumers say that simplicity, trust, control, and digital self-service are the most important attributes in their banking relationships. FACT 3: Direct banks don't have to cause channel conflict. Without proper parameters, launching a direct bank could unfortunately result in existing customers swapping accounts to earn a higher deposit interest rate than what their current product offers — but this can be avoided with proper planning and execution. Financial institutions that have a well-defined Direct Bank strategy can proactively ensure that they don't cannibalize their traditional account models with their direct bank. They can also determine whether they'll stand up their own direct – unencumbered by the existing technology within the bank. Direct Banks can be integrated into their existing ecosystem, or be independent, whichever the bank chooses. Note that some financial institutions want to rebrand their direct bank name (to emphasize being new and different), while others prefer to retain the traditional bank name (due to name recognition and client loyalty perspectives). The good news is that both approaches can succeed. Some neobanks also realize they can more effectively penetrate key markets with an omnichannel experience. A café-style branch location where a significant portion of the direct bank prospects and customers live doesn't require the same level of costs, planning, and infrastructure as a full-scale branch model, but may help direct bank customers gain the peace of mind they need to expand their banking relationship to include more sophisticated products and services. FACT 4: Direct banks support financial inclusion. Direct banks give financial institutions the ability to present a new brand identity to an untapped portion of the market, and reach customers who are outside of the branch footprint—including the unbanked. For example: • Bandhan Bank uses technology to manage a fully integrated banking and payments platform through a totally outsourced delivery model. This equipped the bank to deliver on its 2 pronged strategy to connect customers in India's rural and urban areas, including deploying 14,000 handhelds to reach unbanked customers. • Fincare embraces technology to pursue its mission of engaging rural women in India, along with ESAF Microfinance, whose mission is to provide a human touch behind technology-driven banking processes. • RGVN (North East) Microfinance has been empowered to work towards its goal of improving the financial state of every person it can reach. FACT 5: Direct banks can expedite speed to market. In today's digital world, a financial institution's core processing system needs to support customer types across any channel, any device, and in a branch, contact center and back office. Increasingly, all this needs to happen in real-time. The processing system also needs to be open so that it can be integrated across the entire bank's banking and payment ecosystem. Whether the business goals are to drive the deposit growth needed to underpin lending, to expand target market and reach, to reinvent the customer experience, and/or to lower acquisition costs (or all the above) Direct Banking offers the right solution.

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Understanding Bank Account Number Portability - PSD2

Account Number portability (ANP) is set to be a game-changing year for retail banking in EU. As the PSD2 (Revised Directive on Payment Services Directive) becomes implemented, Customer are provided with various option such as AISP, PISP, Account Portability. All would have heard of Mobile Number Portability (MNP) where customer have the choice of having same mobile number but with different service provider. ANP (Account Number portability) is flexibility provided to customers to port their accounts (restricted to Personal / Business Current accounts only) across banks in EU zone. Only very few bank offer such services to attract more customer. ANP is an innovation boom for the customer to shift to any of the bank who provide better service, technology and customer service. EU is encouraging bank to use Payment Account Directive (PAD) method to switch accounts across Banks. The following process are followed while transferring account from one bank to another Customer historical transaction records are shared digitally from one bank to another where the account is been ported along with customer information file. All the existing payment instructions, which are held with the sender bank, are Switched / Ported to the receiving bank via PAD switches. Any Outgoing payment related standing instruction are delinked from the sender bank and these information are share to the new bank where the account is ported and new bank setup all the instructions in their system as is so customer never misses any outgoing payment which needs to paid as per customer request. How does Payment system work for the newly ported account number? Once the account numbers are ported, Banks provide unique IBAN (International Bank Account number to each account in EU Zone. This IBAN number helps to find the contra account i.e. customer account number when any payment is processed through any payment system (SWIFT, BACS, Direct Debits, CHAPs).There will be delinking IBAN number with the old bank and new bank will provides its IBAN once the account is successfully transferred. Bank should follow few common alias numbers mapping with old account number. Banks have to invest in their Core banking system, mobile banking, and internet banking system to show the Alias number across channel to the customer. This is to ensure the customer still use the same old account number along with alias number for easy reference. Advantages of Account number Portability: Customer tend to enjoy same banking services without any interruption to existing payment services with more innovative solution and better service quality. Banks get more opportunities to cater customer needs in area of Wealth / Asset management, Insurance, Advisory services to new customer who are on boarded from different banks. Data portability across banks will provide enormous opportunities for Fintech companies to provide innovative solutions. For Customer ANP will provide Reduction of cost, innovative solution, more product availability, Security (2 Factor Authentication, e-tokens, biometric), Omni channel Benefits and better service will be main advantage of ANP. For Bank, ANP will increase customer base for bank and proportionality increase profitability gradually. Overall, Bank needs to update their system to enable account number portability as additional features to attract customers from competitors. More over Banks are provided opportunity to tap deposit accounts from ANP customer if Banks provide better service quality, rates offered are better than others in the market

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BREAKING DOWN 'Financial Blog'

The use of financial blogs has become a great tool for investors to share their thoughts on the latest news in the finance industry. Financial blogs are not only provided by major financial websites, but also from individual investors. Since anyone is capable writing a blog without restrictions on the information used, investors should be wary of what they read. Although reputable websites are reliable with their information, blogs provided by individuals may be more subject to manipulation. Unethical investors can use an investing blog to promote stocks in ways to benefit positions they have taken. Investors who use blogs should be aware these sites exist and ensure that a blog they read has an adequate disclosure policy before they act on anything. Consumers of financial blogs should pay keen attention to sources of information a blogger uses to buttress his or her arguments, pertaining to buying or selling a particular stock. Even though citation requirements may be more looser for blogs than it is for traditional journalistic content, bloggers worth their salt will disclose where they received their quantitative data, so readers can evaluate the level of credence. The most thorough and credible bloggers include a link to the sources of their information, coupled with an explanation detailing precisely how they contextualized the data, for example: “The information is from a study conducted by ABC Equity Research, which tracked the top performing tech stocks over the last five years.” While many financial blogs focus on stock analysis, others focus on financial planning and wealth management issues. These may be geared towards a spectrum of end consumers, ranging from retail and millennial investors, to high-net-worth individuals. A breakdown of financial blog topics includes: For millennials: How to establish and maintain strong credit. How to save for retirement when living paycheck to paycheck. How to establish a retirement savings plan. For high-net-worth individuals: How to succeed your business to the next generation. How to achieve tax-advantaged trust and estate planning. How to open a family office. Read more: Financial Blog https://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/financialblog.asp#ixzz5WIX86mYK Follow us: Investopedia on Facebook

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Investment Themes for Advisors: A Quarterly Review

To help you stay up-to-date on what your peers are reading, we’ve compiled a roundup of the top five investment themes that advisors have been reading about in Research Portal within Morningstar Cloud. 5 investment themes that financial advisors were thinking about last quarter: A trade war and rising rates weren’t enough to derail the bull market in the third quarter (although October was a different story). A look at third-quarter stock markets through the unique lens of the Morningstar Global Market Barometer shows how the U.S. and Japan paced the gains, but other major markets in Europe, along with China, struggled. At the same time, the Morningstar Style BoxTM highlighted the big gains posted by growth stocks. Index strategist Dan Lefkovitz recaps the quarter in a report available exclusively in Research Portal. Sign in to get access or take a free trial. Do you know a fund company’s average fund rating? The Morningstar Quantitative RatingTM for funds was first introduced last June. Since then, our quantitative research team has been putting this rating to work in new ways. One takeaway: By combining our fundamental analyst-driven fund rating with the Quantitative Rating, it’s possible to create an average fund rating for a money manager and track whether the firm’s fortunes are improving or declining. Read our analysis of how the rating has performed in its first year. Some active bond funds are bucking the active/passive trend . While many investors seem to have written off actively managed funds as unlikely to beat their benchmarks, the managers of intermediate bond funds are proving the naysayers wrong. Morningstar’s Active/Passive Barometer can help advisors assess where they stand the best chance of finding managers that outperform by comparing performance against comparable passive strategies (as opposed to an index in which clients can’t invest). Read highlights from the most recent report, including the good news for some active bond funds. Give your client presentations more heft… High-quality, client-ready presentations on investing and market trends are at your fingertips in the Morningstar Presentations Publication library in Morningstar Cloud. These FINRA-approved presentations include topics such as retirement investing, investing in a rising rate environment, and the popular chart book which tracks stocks, bonds, bills and inflation over the last nine decades. … with even more charts. The quarterly Markets Observer is an in-depth chart book for global financial markets, mutual fund performance, asset flows and industry trends, as well as economic indicators. It offers nearly 50 pages of charts and tables. And for advisors, Morningstar provides a client-ready version that’s FINRA-approved. The second-quarter Observer highlighted gains in tech stocks, stretched valuations across investment classes and a shifting yield curve.

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Top 10 IT Skills in Demand for 2018

We are facing an era of rapid change and widespread disruption for the technology industry. Anyone who stops advancing their career education will quickly become sidelined in such a fast-paced market. To stay relevant, IT professionals should continually seek to reskill and upskill themselves through the ongoing development of new technical proficiencies, and by expanding their professional networks. Here is a brief description of what I consider to be the most in-demand tech skills for 2018: 1. Computer Science and Data Science: Increasingly we live in a world in which nearly every device is becoming a kind of computer, so the importance of developing generalized and specialized expertise in this foundational field of computer science cannot be overstated. 2. Software Programming: Back in 2011, celebrity venture capitalist Marc Andreessen famously proclaimed, “Why Software Is Eating the World” in an essay for the Wall Street Journal. Andreessen’s premise has only intensified in the ensuing years as software code continues to gobble up our daily attention through cloud-based systems, mobile devices, social media platforms and smart appliances. Make no doubt about it: The need for talented coders will only continue to increase. 3. Cybersecurity: Nearly every day we hear some fresh report about a massive security breach or data hacking incident. Yet those news reports don’t even scratch the surface of all the other attacks which occur daily but go unreported to preserve corporate reputations, or to protect client data and intellectual property. The war on cybercriminals and state-sponsored cyberattacks is perhaps the gravest danger facing our society and economy today. 4. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: A debate has raged here recently in Silicon Valley over dire warnings that artificially intelligent machines may eclipse human learning abilities by mid-century – in which case, the machines would no longer need to depend on human developers and programmers! That’s why it is becoming so critical to hire enough qualified people to handle these new technological challenges unleashed by AI and machine learning. As our machines become ever-smarter, our data must be handled more carefully and ethically in a socially meaningful context to preserve our global humanity. 5. Internet of Things (IoT): As we move into 2018, we will see a much higher adoption rate for industrial IoT sensors, which are already making a big impact across the manufacturing, automotive, aerospace and engineering sectors. Other areas where we expect greater uptake of IoT systems include shipping, retail, agriculture and healthcare. This expansion will trigger a need to hire many more IoT professionals, resulting in the rise of many new types of IoT-specific roles within companies. 6. Natural Language Processing: We are seeing a growing trend towards natural language processing and away from screen and keyboard interactions. The rise of Alexa, Siri and Echo are leading this change among consumers. In 2018, this rise of natural language processing will become more popular because it is so much more efficient and convenient than existing user interfaces. As a result, voice commands will become increasingly integrated with home automation systems and IoT networks. 7. Biotechnology and Healthcare IT: Biotechnology has become the prime source for many medicines and therapies that make our lives better. The field focuses on the intersection of biology and technology, leading to an explosion of new products that are designed to enrich our lives and make us healthier. From vaccine production to genetic modification, biotechnology is everywhere. As a result, biotech careers are extremely promising for new graduates. Healthcare IT jobs are also expected to grow rapidly as more hospital systems and doctor’s offices transition from manila file folders to online record-keeping systems and cloud-based data storage. 8. Industrial Robotics and Automation: Fears that mechanization and robots will end the need for a human workforce have existed since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. These fears aren’t unfounded – jobs defined by repetitive manual tasks have been consistently replaced by technology, which has led to workforce upheavals in the past. With new advancements in robotics and automation, many manual, repetitive, and predictable tasks are set to be replaced by machines, a source of considerable fear today. For that very reason, skills in these fields will be in increasingly high demand. 9. Data Analytics and Business Intelligence: As our society evolves to be more computer-dependent, we are embracing an unprecedented surge of diverse data sources that can quickly overwhelm our ability to make sense from it all. IT professionals who specialize in data analysis will be able to drive greater productivity and efficiency for their organizations. In addition, the ability to create compelling new formats for data visualization will spur further innovations. 10. “Soft Skills” including verbal and written communications, careful listening and emotional intelligence: Scientists and engineers are typically hard-wired to pursue logical reasoning based on the scientific method. All too often, they lose their focus on softer “people” skills which are crucial to manage distributed online projects across diverse teams and locations. Going forward, today’s IT leaders will need to become more reliant on soft skills and emotional intelligence to guide complex projects involving the digital transformation of legacy IT systems.

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Another 3D Touch replacement: iOS 12.1.1 lets iPhone XR expand alerts with Haptic Touch

The upcoming iOS 12.1.1 update, which is currently in testing, will let iPhone XR owners expand notifications with long-press actions.

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Apple

Have you noticed that your Apple Pencil has become unresponsive after the initial setup with your 2018 iPad Pro? There’s a perfectly logical explanation for that

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News on mobile

As rumored, Samsung has been working on its iPhone killer for quite a number of years. The phone has just reached a prototype stage where they could show it off to the public and demonstrate how the device could run three apps at the same time when opened.

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