Zoom expands AI-powered tools for salespeople

As more and more businesses continue to return to offices, Zoom is looking to cement its position as one of the best enterprise apps out there. 

At its recent Work Transformation Summit, the  video conferencing giant unveiled Zoom IQ for Sales, an AI-powered service for salespeople that is able to quickly analyze sales meetings and produce insights. 

Zoom IQ is an add-on for Zoom Meetings and aims to help organisations become more efficient by highlighting important insights that might otherwise be missed. The service is integrated in Zoom (naturally), Salesforce, and other enterprise services. 

A platform for work 

“Zoom is always searching for ways to help our customers elevate their end customers’ experience and Zoom IQ for Sales is the latest development in that journey,” Zoom's Josh Dulberger told TechCrunch

“Zoom IQ for Sales … [can] identify opportunities, assess risks and ultimately enable and improve sales team performance. It uses natural language processing models to process post-meeting transcripts and deal progress data, generating insights for sales reps and managers.”

Zoom IQ for Sales is available now as an add-on for Zoom Meetings customers with the company adding that support for Zoom Phone is also coming soon

While Zoom was an early winner from the pandemic, its fortunes since have been mixed. The company's stock, which rocketed up and to the right in 2020, has come back to earth with a thud. 

After reaching a high of $ 559 in October 2020, Zoom now trades at $ 114, a not unrespectable figure but a far cry from where it has been. 

Efforts like IQ for Sales are Zoom's attempt at expanding its usefulness to organisations beyond purely video calls – and compete with Microsoft Teams.

After being a little slow off the block, Microsoft went into overdrive to build and promote Teams, which seamlessly integrated with the broader Microsoft 365 suite. 

Microsoft's ploy worked: Teams now has over 270 million monthly active users, according to the company, up from around 250 million in July 2021. 

Whether Zoom can catch up remains to be seen, but tools like IQ for Sales are a very good starting point. 

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Windows 11 is getting new Focus tools to boost productivity

Focus Assist has been a tentpole feature in Windows 11, and thanks to a new update, they're improving it further from today (April 5), after Microsoft announcing it at its event, thanks to the introduction of an integrated focus timer.

First introduced in Windows 10, Microsoft’s Focus Assist tools have been a useful ally in the war against notification vying to steal your attention away from work, games, and media.

Working similarly to your phone's alert slider and settings, Focus Assist allows you to filter out some or all of the notifications and alerts that could pop up and steal your attention away from whatever you are meant to be doing, so long as you remember to turn it on in the first place.

Increasing your Focus further

Thankfully that should not be as much of a problem anymore, as Windows 11 will soon be getting an integrated focus timer that is able to schedule dedicated blocks of ‘focus time’ into your schedule based on your calendar and working habits for the week.

Previously this useful Focus tool has only been available to customers of Microsoft’s paid Viva Insights program, which helps users build better working habits, so it is great to see the feature roll out to all users across Windows 11 who want to be more productive.

Currently, users looking to maximize their productivity and get the most out of Focus Assist have had to rely on setting up automatic timers or conditions upon which Focus Assist would activate, such as when a second monitor is connected or when you are playing a game.

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Apple thinks it has the tools to take your SMB to the next level

After launching in beta last year, Apple has announced that Apple Business Essentials is now available to all small businesses in the US.

The iPhone maker’s new service brings mobile device management, 24/7 Apple support and cloud storage from iCloud together into flexible subscription plans.

Apple Business Essentials is designed to support SMBs throughout the entire device management life cycle from device setup to device upgrades while also providing strong security, prioritized support, data storage and cloud backup. It begins with simple employee onboarding which allows a small business to easily configure, deploy and manage the company’s products from anywhere.

VP of enterprise and education marketing at Apple, Susan Prescott provided further insight on the company’s complete solution for SMBs in a press release, saying

“Apple has a deep and decades-long commitment to helping small businesses thrive. From dedicated business teams in our stores to the App Store Small Business Program, our goal is to help each company grow, compete, and succeed. We look forward to bringing Apple Business Essentials to even more small businesses to simplify device management, storage, support, and repairs. Using this new service leads to invaluable time savings for customers — including those without dedicated IT staff — that they can invest back into their business.”

Apple Business Essentials

One of the most useful features in Apple Business Essentials is Collections which allows groups of apps to be delivered to employees or teams while settings such as VPN configurations, Wi-Fi passwords and more can be automatically pushed to devices.

To get started, employees simply need to sign in to their work account on their iPhone, iPad or Mac using a Managed Apple ID. Once this is done, they will have access to everything they need to be productive including the new Apple Business Essentials app from where they can download their organization’s work apps.

Managed Apple IDs for employees can be created by federating with Microsoft Azure, Azure Director and later this spring with Google Workspace identity services. This allows employees to log into their business laptops using a single business username and passwords.

Apple Business Essentials also works with both company-provided and personal devices and with Apple’s User Enrollment feature, employees’ personal information stays private and cryptographically separated from work data.

In addition to Apple Business Essentials, Apple has announced the launch of AppleCare+ for Business Essentials which provides organizations with 24/7 access to phone support and up to two device repairs per plan per year by individual, group or device. Employees can initiate repairs directly from the Apple Business Essentials app and an Apple-trained technician will come onsite in as little as four hours to get their devices back up and running.

Apple Business Essentials with up to 2TB of iCloud cloud storage starts at $ 2.99 per month after a two-month free trial while plans for AppleCare+ for Apple Business Essentials start at $ 9.99 per month.

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Apple could be working on a whole host of financial and banking tools

Apple is reportedly working on a multi-year plan to develop its own payment processing technology and infrastructure in an effort to further build out its portfolio of financial products.

As reported by Bloomberg, the move would allow the iPhone maker to reduce its reliance on outside partners but it could also enable the company to expand its payment features beyond the US.

According to people familiar with the matter that spoke with the news outlet, the multi-year plan would bring a number of financial tasks in-house including payment processing, risk assessment for lending, fraud analysis, credit checks and other customer-service functions like handling disputes.

Since Apple is reportedly investigating the idea of launching its own hardware subscription service, being able to run credit checks and risk assessments before providing customers with devices makes a great deal of sense.

Future financial products

Although Apple already offers a credit card as well as peer-to-peer payments for businesses, its efforts to develop its own payment processing technology and infrastructure  will be focused on future financial products.

Back in July of last year, news broke that the company is also working on a “buy now, pay later” feature for Apple Pay Transactions that would allow customers to pay for items across four interest-free payments every two weeks or across several months with interest. While the plan with four payments is known internally as “Apple Pay in 4”, the longer term payment plans have been dubbed “Apple Pay Monthly Installments”.

While Apple will continue its partnership with Goldman Sachs according to Bloomberg, the company has been discussing using in-house technology for its “Apple Pay in 4” plan. 

At the same time though, the company’s in-house financial services could allow it to expand future services to additional countries. Currently Apple Pay is available in over 70 countries but other services such as peer-to-peer payments, Apple Card and Apple Cash are still US-only.

The news that Apple wants to bring more of its financial services in-house also aligns with a recent job posting looking for a hardware validation engineer to help upgrade its datacenters. Storing financial data and handling transactions could put a heavy load on its systems which is why the company wants to upgrade its datacenters with “next-generation” storage and server equipment from Intel and AMD.

Via 9to5Mac

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1Password Developer Tools want to make it easier to set password guidance

The business password management company 1Password has launched a new set of features called Developer Tools in order to help developers better secure and share their secrets.

With Developer Tools, developers can securely generate, manage and access secrets within their development workflows beginning with Git. 1Password's new offering also helps simplify complex processes and improves security practices to ensure data is protected without slowing down the development pipeline. At the same time, Developer Tools provides developers with secure access to the secrets they need wherever they are and on any device they happen to be using.

Chief product officer and GM of emerging solutions at 1Password, Akshay Bhargava explained in a press release how Developer Tools can make security more convenient for developers, saying:

“Developers encounter a lot of complexity when building and deploying secure software, and it can often seem like security and convenience are irreconcilable. 1Password Developer Tools aims to make their lives easier by making complex security processes more convenient, and making doing the secure thing, the easy thing.”

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Managing secrets

According to 1Password's recent Hiding in Plain Sight report, a quarter of employees at IT and DevOps companies have secrets in ten or more different locations and have shared them with colleagues using email, Slack and other insecure channels. Over half (61%) of projects are also delayed due to poor secret management and one in three (36%) developers have shared secrets over insecure channels to increase their productivity.

In addition to protecting personal passwords and information, Developer Tools can enhance productivity by enabling quick generation of SSH keys, seamless access to data via a command line interface (CLI) using biometric authentication and secure secrets management in one app.

Once SSH keys have been generated with just a few clicks, 1Password for the browser will autofill public keys into popular sites including GitHub, GitLab, BitBucket and Digital Ocean. Then by using Developer Tools' built-in SSH agent, developers can push code to GitHub and authenticate other SSH workflows in a terminal by simply scanning their fingerprint.

Developers can also use the new set of features to store secrets in encrypted vaults as one of several default item types including API credential, AWS account, database, server or SSH key to help prevent breaches caused by leaked secrets.

Organizations and developers interested in storing their secrets using 1Password can check out the company's Developer Documentation portal for more information on Developer Tools.

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Squarespace users are getting some super useful new video tools

Top website hosting service Squarespace has announced a range of new video tools that it thinks will greatly please creators. 

Although embedding video, such as from YouTube, has always been possible on Squarespace, the new additions are focused on hosting and monetizing that video content, such as its relatively new Member Areas service. 

Broadly, the new tools let website owners sell access to video content, host video content directly, and upload up to 30 minutes of high-res content. There are also new tagging and merchandising tools. 

Squarespace video hosting

The company has also rebuilt its video player from scratch to accommodate the new features, which includes playback, speed, and resolution controls alongside deep integration with the Squarespace platform. 

“We launched Member Areas in 2020 to provide creators with a new way to sell content through memberships,” said Squarespace. “Since then, we’ve seen an increase in video content being utilised, and to help customers better leverage this medium, our latest releases offer a seamless way to monetise video content such as classes.”

Hosting video, and offering extensive tools to manage it, puts Squarespace more directly in competition with the likes of Patreon and YouTube, both of which offer options to monetise content. OnlyFans is also now a direct rival, although it remains unclear what Squarespace's content moderation policy says about adult content. 

In recent days, Substack, the newsletter platform, has also added the ability to host video for creators in beta, a feature that will be well-received by those with many subscribers already paying for their services. 

Via Engadget

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Google Meet arms hosts with tools to silence disruptive attendees

Keeping your meetings on track in Google Meet is about to get a whole lot easier as Google has added the ability to lock audio and video in its video conferencing software.

Previously the feature was only available when using Google Meet on a computer but now the company has made it possible for hosts and co-hosts to lock all participants' audio and video from iOS devices.  According to an update in the Google Workspace blog though, Google also plans to make this feature available for Android smartphones early next year.

By giving hosts and co-host the ability to mute all participants' audio and preventing them from using their cameras, it will be easier to keep meetings on track and productive as there will be less disruptions.

Audio Lock & Video Lock

Google Meet's new Audio Lock & Video Lock setting applies to all devices regardless of whether it's set on a computer or an iOS device.

However, when this feature is enabled, mobile participants may be removed from a meeting if their device doesn't have the most recent version of the Meet or Gmail app, Android OS version M or newer or iOS version 12 or newer. Once the feature has been disabled though, these removed participants will be able to rejoin a meeting.

It's also worth noting that this feature is available to all Google Workspace customers as well as all G Suite Basic and Business customers.

While employees, managers and partners are a bit better at quieting down in a meeting, Audio Lock & Video Lock could be particularly useful for teachers and educators conducting remote learning classes using Google Meet.

Looking to improve your video call experience? Check out our roundups of the best video conferencing softwarebest business webcams and best headsets for conference calls

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How do malware removal tools work?

Malware removal software is an important part of the armory of tools that can be used to defend your PC from being compromised by a malicious payload of one kind or another.

If you’re wondering how anti-malware tools differ from antivirus, we cover that in-depth elsewhere, but suffice it to say that malware removal apps offer a much more focused kind of protection against malware, and the facilities to rid your system of an infection.

But how do these applications work exactly? Read on for our full examination of how malware removal tools protect your device and what to expect if you install one of these utilities on your system.

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On-demand scanning

As with an antivirus app, when installed on your machine, a piece of anti-malware software will give you the ability to scan the system to check if any malware is present.

There’ll be a ‘Scan’ button on the main menu of the app (most likely, or a submenu perhaps), and simply clicking on that will scan your drive(s) and memory. Just the same as with an antivirus, the malware removal tool will have (regularly updated) definitions of common malware. It’ll look for matches based on the content of this library of definitions, and if anything is found on your PC, that will (obviously) be flagged as malicious.

That will happen in a post-scan report, where any suspect discoveries are highlighted, and you’ll get the option to quarantine these offenders (or indeed malware might be automatically quarantined). Quarantining, as you might expect, is the banishment of a file to a cordoned-off area of the system, where it can no longer reach or harm your device or data.

Malwarebytes Threat Scan Result

(Image credit: Malwarebytes)

As well as malware, Potentially Unwanted Programs (known as PUPs for short) may be reported in scan results, which are, as the name suggests, apps that you might not want on your system (a good anti-malware app will explain why they’re possibly undesirable). These don’t have to be quarantined, as they’re not actively doing any harm, so it’s up to you whether to take action on those. (You’re better safe than sorry in these cases, more than likely, but occasionally legitimate apps can be flagged, and you may want to ignore warnings in these cases).

This on-demand scanning is present with all anti-malware software, and one approach that some folks take is to install a freebie malware removal app just to sit on their system as a backup to a primary antivirus.

In other words, the tactic here is to rely on the antivirus in the main, but to run a manual scan with a second line of defense – the anti-malware – every now and then, just to see if it picks up on anything that the antivirus could have missed. That might only be a PUP, and not outright malware, but still, it could be something that you don’t want on your system, and would otherwise have sat there if you hadn’t plumped for a second opinion.

Real-time defenses

Malware removal software can give you more than just on-demand scanning, though, and some apps offer real-time defenses in the same vein as an antivirus. Real-time protection simply means that the anti-malware tool has a constant shield up, scrutinizing every file being introduced onto your system (and the processes currently running) for anything suspicious.

That gives you more watertight protection, and means you can run an anti-malware app as your frontline protection against malware, with no need for an antivirus (at least in theory).

Obviously it helps if you choose one of the best tools of this purpose, such as our current top-ranked pick Malwarebytes. Its premium version sports real-time protection, backed up by heuristics (monitoring for malware-like behavior, to catch threats which are brand new and not yet included in the program’s library of malware definitions).

Malwarebytes Premium Main Menu

(Image credit: Malwarebytes)

Remember that anti-malware is built to major in such behavioral detection, and finding fresh threats that an antivirus might miss. You also get web defenses (against phishing and other online scams) for safer browsing, plus anti-ransomware tech – a broader level of protection, in other words, from the paid Malwarebytes app (as you might expect).

All that said, it’s still true that the best antivirus apps may offer a more accurate malware detection engine – at the time of writing, that is indeed the case according to the independent test labs, although Malwarebytes is rated solidly enough for overall protection – so you may prefer to run one of our best antivirus picks backed up by the free version of Malwarebytes (or your preferred anti-malware choice) for on-demand duties.

How do malware removal tools work?

Whatever the case, anti-malware apps offer a laser-focused protection against malware (and the likes of PUPs), and as we’ve seen, the good ones can work on multiple levels just like antivirus – with on-demand, plus real-time protection backed with heuristic tech – running the gamut of defensive countermeasures against all the nastiness out there, including ransomware, phishing and more.

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