tbreak.ae http://tbreak.ae tech'ing the Middle East Thu, 24 Jul 2014 10:59:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 SanDisk 128GB Extreme PRO USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review http://tbreak.ae/sandisk-128gb-extreme-pro-usb-3-0-flash-drive-review/ http://tbreak.ae/sandisk-128gb-extreme-pro-usb-3-0-flash-drive-review/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 10:59:42 +0000 http://tbreak.ae/?p=24301 SanDisk has gained a reputation for being reliable, affordable and available almost everywhere. From the premium to the budget conscious range, SanDisk has covered all their bases and today we review their latest flagship model, the 128GB Extreme Pro USB 3.0. Like most USB drives, the SanDisk Extreme Pro comes in a small plastic case […]

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SanDisk has gained a reputation for being reliable, affordable and available almost everywhere. From the premium to the budget conscious range, SanDisk has covered all their bases and today we review their latest flagship model, the 128GB Extreme Pro USB 3.0.

Like most USB drives, the SanDisk Extreme Pro comes in a small plastic case and all you get with it is the flash drive and a software card. The software card is a 1 year subscription to the RescuePro Deluxe recovery software that you can use to recover anything you may have accidentally deleted such as photos, videos, documents and the sort. The Extreme Pro also comes with a limited lifetime warranty so you can be assured this drive will be around for a long time.

extreme_pro_128g_packaging

The Extreme Pro comes in an aluminum casing for increased durability and a sense of quality over the traditional plastic used in most drives today. SanDisk also chose to use a slider for the USB connector which has proven to be rather durable and reliable compared to an exposed connector or a cover that could get easily lost. When connected a light comes on and blinks when the drive is being accessed. The drive is formatted to the FAT32 system to ensure wide compatibility of the product with both Windows and Mac computers. Out of the 128GB the drive contains, only 119GB is actually usable for storage but I’m sure that’s more than enough.

We used our i7-3770k with the MSI Z77A-GD80 motherboard hooked up to a Thortech PSU and 2 x 4GB of GSkill Ripjaws DDR3 RAM. For comparison we used a 16GB Lexar USB 3.0 flash drive which may not be the fastest drive out there but it will show how fast the Extreme Pro is compared to it. We used CrystalDiskMark 3.0.3 for testing both drives separately.

16GB Lexar

16GB Lexar

128GB SanDisk

128GB SanDisk

It’s quite evident the Sandisk 128GB Extreme Pro is miles ahead of the Lexar we compared it to but it does show how quick this drive can be and how much time it saves. It is by no means the smallest drive around but it isn’t so big that it can’t fit in a pocket or backpack and I don’t think anyone who buys it will complain about its size given it contains 128GB of space.

The SanDisk 128GB Extreme Pro is available for AED749.00 at Virgin, Sharaf and Emax and comes with lifetime warranty.

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Microsoft Account for Android offers easier two-step verification http://tbreak.ae/microsoft-account-android-offers-easier-two-step-verification/ http://tbreak.ae/microsoft-account-android-offers-easier-two-step-verification/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 09:57:27 +0000 http://tbreak.ae/?p=24272 The use of two-step verification security codes has made it difficult for hackers to access our accounts even if they are aware of our passwords. These codes can only be received by the user through an alternate email account, SMS or an authentication app on their smartphone. However the process to receive and enter these codes is […]

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The use of two-step verification security codes has made it difficult for hackers to access our accounts even if they are aware of our passwords. These codes can only be received by the user through an alternate email account, SMS or an authentication app on their smartphone. However the process to receive and enter these codes is a bit time consuming.

The Microsoft Account app for Android  avoids the use of security codes and acts as a security hub. Once the application is connected to your Microsoft account, any attempt to access your Microsoft Office/Outlook/OneDrive etc. by web or application will prompt a notification alert by the app whether to Approve or Deny the access. The app can also generate security codes to verify your identity if your Android device is offline. Users will now be aware if a hacker or a rogue user tried to break into their account.

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Nvidia launches the SHIELD Tablet http://tbreak.ae/nvidia-launches-shield-tablet/ http://tbreak.ae/nvidia-launches-shield-tablet/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:46:25 +0000 http://tbreak.ae/?p=24277 Almost a year later, Nvidia has officially announced the newest addition to the SHIELD family of portable consoles- the SHIELD tablet with a range of new powerful electronics on board and a different but familiar form factor. The device is basically a 8 inch tablet with a 1080p resolution screen running Android Kitkat OS with […]

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Almost a year later, Nvidia has officially announced the newest addition to the SHIELD family of portable consoles- the SHIELD tablet with a range of new powerful electronics on board and a different but familiar form factor.

The device is basically a 8 inch tablet with a 1080p resolution screen running Android Kitkat OS with 2GB RAM. The processor is the new Tegra K1 chip armed with four Cortex-A15 cores running at a speed of 2.2 GHz. What makes the K1 more unique is the GPU is based on Nvidia’s Kepler GPU architecture which can crank up to 365 GFlops unmatched by any other mobile GPU till date. This makes the Shield tablet highly optimized for console quality gaming on the go.

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The earlier Shield was a joystick and screen enclosed together. Nvidia decided to separate the two to provide a better gaming control and visual experience, although the use of a separate controller with a tablet doesn’t justify perfect portable gaming. The Shield controller can be connected to the tablet via the WiFi and offers low latency connectivity with the same lag time of Xbox 360 controller. WiFi connectivity can also be used to connect wireless headsets which are crucial for multiplayer gaming sessions. A new stylus is also included called the Direct Stylus 2

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The tablet comes with the usual specifications such as front facing speakers, mini HDMI port, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11 a/b/g/n 2×2 WiFi MIMO configuration, GPS, and a pair of 5mp HDR cameras on the front and rear. Internal storage comes in two varieties, one with 16GB and Wifi only, the other with 32GB and LTE. Both come with expandable storage up to 128GB. Nvidia has loaded the tablet with its own set of apps such as the Tegrazone, Gamestream, Shadowplay, Game Mapper, GRID Cloud Beta , Console mode etc. and a new set of Tegra optimized games is announced.

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The Shield Tablet will be sold at 239.99 euro for the 16GB Wifi (approx. 1188 AED) and 299.99 euro for the 32GB with LTE (approx. 1484 AED). The  Shield controllers are sold separately for approx. 216AED and a Shield Tablet cover with a kick stand for approx. 143 AED.

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Etisalat offers smartphone protection plan http://tbreak.ae/etisalat-offers-smartphone-protection-plan/ http://tbreak.ae/etisalat-offers-smartphone-protection-plan/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:30:08 +0000 http://tbreak.ae/?p=24288 UAE telecom Etisalat has launched the region’s first Smartphone Protection Plan for its customers. Applicable to new purchases only, the protection plan, which is in partnership with AXA Insurance, covers accidental damage including cracked screen, forced theft, liquid damage and other defects not covered in regular warranty. The protection plan is priced at AED 120 […]

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UAE telecom Etisalat has launched the region’s first Smartphone Protection Plan for its customers.

Applicable to new purchases only, the protection plan, which is in partnership with AXA Insurance, covers accidental damage including cracked screen, forced theft, liquid damage and other defects not covered in regular warranty. The protection plan is priced at AED 120 for 6 months or AED 250 for 12 months.

“Our competitively priced Smartphone Protection Plan provide our customers with complete peace of mind. Customers can be confident knowing that their phone is protected if anything were to happen to it. At a  small price, they can enjoy greater comfort now than having to pay for a costly new phone later,” said Khaled ElKhouly, Chief Marketing Office at Etisalat UAE.

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Synology DS214play NAS Review http://tbreak.ae/synology-ds214play-nas-review/ http://tbreak.ae/synology-ds214play-nas-review/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 09:49:00 +0000 http://tbreak.ae/?p=24281 The last time I looked at a NAS from Synology it was the DS213J, which was a decent performer but had a few design elements that I hoped the company would address in future models. This time around I’m looking at the DS214play, which Synology is touting more as a media-friendly NAS, thanks to a […]

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The last time I looked at a NAS from Synology it was the DS213J, which was a decent performer but had a few design elements that I hoped the company would address in future models. This time around I’m looking at the DS214play, which Synology is touting more as a media-friendly NAS, thanks to a few new features that have been introduced.

Build Quality & Design

The DS214play sports a sleek black design, and is a two-bay NAS. Accessing the bays is a simple task of popping off the front curved cover to expose the two bays. Then simply eject which bay you want, and you’ll be able to slot in a 3.5” HDD in seconds, thanks to the tool-less design. You can use smaller drives if you wish, but these will need to be secured in separately. Once you’ve slotted in your drive, just pop it back into the enclosure and you’re good to go.

Also on offer are a number of ports – at the back you have two USB 3.0 ports, an eSATA port, and Gigabit Ethernet. Around the front you’ve got a single USB 2.0 port and an SD card reader – the card reader lets you insert an SD card and with a touch of a button copy its contents to a predefined folder on your NAS. This is probably useful if you want to just bulk-copy photos and content onto the NAS to edit later on. It would have been nice if Synology made the front port USB 3.0 as well for faster copying speeds, or swap one of the rear ports to the front instead.

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Keeping the DS214play cool is a single internal fan that runs very quiet, even when the system is under considerable strain. Some may argue that if this is a media device that there should be an HDMI port, however my opinion is that this isn’t necessary. With the abundance of Smart TVs and other DLNA-ready devices such as video game consoles, the DS214play is more than capable of streaming to all of these, so slapping on an HDMI port may have made little difference (and would have probably upped the system’s size or price).

Setup

Certain NAS systems can be a bit of a chore to setup, but the DS214play is so simple that even someone with zero knowledge of networking can set it up. Once it’s powered on, you just navigate to the DS214play’s web interface via its IP address, or download a software package from Synology’s website which will automatically detect the DS214play on your network and open the setup page. Once you’re directed to the setup process, you simply create admin credentials for the device and specify what kind of disk system you’d like to use. Synology offers its own SHR disk system (Synology Hybrid RAID) which is a great option for beginners to use, but of course advanced users can change this if they like. Once the drives have been initialized (which takes little under ten minutes), you’ll be directed to the DS214play’s main ‘desktop’ interface which lets you setup the various software features of the DS214play.

Software & Features

When dealing with a NAS, interface is key. If it’s too complicated then it will deter users from the product, and if it’s too simple then power users won’t be able to unlock all the features they would like. The DS214play comes somewhat in between. On one hand its simple interface makes navigating through the various options and apps extremely easy for non-technical users. On the other hand, power users can drill into the various options and configurations, and install a number of useful applications in a matter of seconds.

nas_dash

The Package Center is Synology’s app store, and in it you can find installable apps for backup, security, media, web hosting, and much more. Each app installs with just one click, and can then be launched directly from the DS214play’s desktop or from the app drawer. There are apps for organizing your media, simplifying backup routines, and even the option to install advanced services such as VPN, email, DropBox, and a Download Manager. By far the Media Server and Download Manager were the most useful apps, which allowed me to stream my content to almost any device, as well as queue files for downloading directly to the NAS without needing a PC. I was also able to use the File Manager app to seamlessly copy all my data (829GB) from my old network drive to the DS214play, which took about 5 hours to complete because my old network drive only had a 10/100 Ethernet port.

Hardware-wise you’re looking at an Intel Atom Dual-core CPU running at 1.6GHz with 1GB of DDR3 RAM. Synology claims that this updated chip allows for hardware transcoding, which delivers a more smoother streaming experience, especially when watching full HD content. The system can also hit a max of 8TB of storage, depending on the drives that you install.

Performance

We tested the DS214play in two batches – first with NASPT followed by a series of media-specific tests. The results from our NASPT run are below, compared against the DS213J.

MB/s
Test DS213j DS214play
HD Video Playback 7.092 11.51
2x HD Playback 10.81 11.721
4x HD Playback 11.28 11.724
HD Video Record 34.7 35.719
HD Playback and Record 8.35 13.288
Content Creation 1.66 1.965
Office Productivity 3.78 12.4
File copy to NAS 49.12 48.84
File copy from NAS 12.25 11.27
Dir copy to NAS 7.69 8.32
Dir copy from NAS 4.72 5.454
Photo Album 5.41 6.43

Since the DS214play has been advertised as being able to handle media more intelligently, I experimented with a couple of file types and sizes to see what the results were. When streaming a DVD-rip of Constantine from my collection, the quality was quite good and there was minimal pixilation on the streamed video. Bumping this up to a 1080p stream of the movie “Ted” was superb, with the difference in quality really shining through. Similarly, animated movies looked crisp and streamed perfectly, whether I was watching them on my PS3 or my iPad. The CPU load was also minimal, often not crossing more than 8% CPU utilization.

All of these files were in .avi or .mp4 format, so I threw in a few .mkv files as a measure to see if these would work as well, as I’ve previously had issues playing them on my PS3 via my MyBook Live network storage device. Unfortunately, the .mkv files didn’t play at first on any of my devices, regardless of disabling or enabling the video transcoding feature of the Media Server application. But after installing a minor recent software update on the DS214play that had been released after I started my review, the .mkv files played flawlessly on any device. Equipping the DS214play with a Gigabit Ethernet really made a difference, as scrubbing through various parts of a clip were almost instantaneous, compared with the 10/100 connection on my previous network drive.

Similar to other NAS devices, the DS214play offers you the option of accessing it remotely using a free service powered by Synology. You simply register your device with a unique name and account, and you can then access your NAS from anywhere in the world using just a web browser. The system worked perfectly, and I was able to queue a 2GB file for download onto the NAS while I was still at the office, so when I reached home the download was already finished. You can also stream videos remotely, which will depend heavily on the type of Internet connection you have on both ends. But needless to say I was able to catch up on my TV episodes from the comfort of the office with minimal interruptions.  There are also apps available for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone which makes this process even more seamless.

Conclusion

The DS214play is certainly an impressive device. If you already own a Synology NAS, you’ll be able to use most of the software features available on the DS214play, but you’ll certainly see the difference when it comes to media streaming. It’s a svelte NAS that can easily be tucked away at the corner of your living room while serving media content all around your house. It’s a little more fleshed out than similar solutions offered from other manufacturers such as WD, and while it may a bit on the pricey side at AED 1,383 given that it doesn’t ship with any drives, it’s still a durable and worthy investment to consider if you’ve got a vast media library.

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Sacked Microsoft employee shares his story http://tbreak.ae/sacked-microsoft-employee-shares-story/ http://tbreak.ae/sacked-microsoft-employee-shares-story/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 11:16:45 +0000 http://tbreak.ae/?p=24267 Last week, Microsoft laid off nearly 18,000 employees to chart a bold new direction for the company. As with any lay offs, it was hard for employees, especially those who have been with the company for a long time. One such employee, a YouTuber called Barnacules Nerdgasm, has shared his part of the story, losing […]

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Last week, Microsoft laid off nearly 18,000 employees to chart a bold new direction for the company. As with any lay offs, it was hard for employees, especially those who have been with the company for a long time. One such employee, a YouTuber called Barnacules Nerdgasm, has shared his part of the story, losing his job after servicing the technology giant for 15 years.

The video appears to be largely positive, with the employee thanking Microsoft for its extensive insurance coverage which helped with the treatment of his son who was born with PDDNOS (pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified).

He also shared how the lay offs occurred. According to him, a meeting was called on the morning of July 17, where roughly 150 people were laid off after being told their positions were no longer required in Microsoft’s new plan.

You can watch the nearly 20mins long, heartfelt video below:

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Facebook introduces “Read Later” feature http://tbreak.ae/facebook-introduces-read-later-feature/ http://tbreak.ae/facebook-introduces-read-later-feature/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 20:30:57 +0000 http://tbreak.ae/?p=24257 If you’re a stickler for reading, following news stories on posts and the sort, then you probably are one of the many who have a hard time keeping up with the feeds. Now, Facebook is introducing a key feature that lets you save content to read later. Identical to other third party services such as […]

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If you’re a stickler for reading, following news stories on posts and the sort, then you probably are one of the many who have a hard time keeping up with the feeds. Now, Facebook is introducing a key feature that lets you save content to read later.

Identical to other third party services such as Pocket. The feature lets you save content without leaving the page and the stories you choose to read later can be kept in a list that the user can keep secret or make it available for public viewing. Available on mobile and desktop, the save feature can be accessed through the menu in the top right corner of any post that includes a link or page.

The list can be viewed by accessing the more tab on the app and the link on the left side of Facebook’s website on the desktop. Content is organized based on categories and can be shared or deleted. Facebook also reminds you on news that’s time sensitive and is considered redundant.

Expect the save feature to roll out on the app across iOS and Android and the website in the coming week.

 

 

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ASUS, ECS, Gigabyte & MSI Z97 Motherboard Roundup http://tbreak.ae/z97-motherboard-roundup/ http://tbreak.ae/z97-motherboard-roundup/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 10:32:19 +0000 http://tbreak.ae/?p=24090 Asus Z97 Sabertooth Mark 1 Packaging The Sabertooth comes in a grey box with the brand and motherboard series clearly labeled. You get the standard fare of accessories that one expects from a modern motherboard such as SATA cables, a rear I/O plate, manuals and driver CD but in addition to these you also get […]

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Asus Z97 Sabertooth Mark 1

Packaging

The Sabertooth comes in a grey box with the brand and motherboard series clearly labeled. You get the standard fare of accessories that one expects from a modern motherboard such as SATA cables, a rear I/O plate, manuals and driver CD but in addition to these you also get 2 extra fans, a few thermal probes, dust filters and a few rubber and plastic plugs that you can use on the rear I/O ports, DRAM and PCIe slots that you aren’t going to use. These plugs are to prevent dust from building and seem like a good idea should you not clean your system for months or years even. The Sabertooth also comes with a certificate of reliability which states that this board has been tested under certain conditions and has passed said stress tests to ensure the board runs stable.

MK1 MK2 MK3 MK4 MK5 MK6

Layout

The new Z97 Sabertooth is part of Asus TUF series which emphasizes reliability and stability even when the system is under continuous load. The motherboard’s PCB is almost covered in a plastic shield which not only looks “TUF” but is also designed to reduce dust buildup and improve airflow within the board itself. Almost everything on the board is covered in this plastic shield apart from the top that has the 8 pin power connector as well as some fan headers, the area around the 24 pin power connector and the bottom where the front USB and SATA connectors are. The area around the CPU socket is of course exposed as well and even when installing the huge Noctua NH-U14S there weren’t any issues with the plastic shield getting in the way. Underneath the CPU area is a square cut out held on with 4 screws, this is where you can install one of those fans included in the accessories, the other can be installed in the rear I/O area.

In the rear I/O there’s 4 x USB 2.0, 4 x USB 3.0, 1 x HDMI, 1 x DisplayPort, 6 x Audio connectors, 2 x Gigabit LAN ports as well as a BIOS flashback button. In between the video and USB 2.0 ports is an empty space, this hole is where the other fan will divert the hot air from the system out through the I/O plate.

On the board you get 3 x PCIe x1 slots and 3 x PCIe x16 slots with the bottom one running at only 4x. On the side you get 6 x SATA ports as well as a single SATA Express port. SATA Express brings with it improved speed over regular SATA but with the slow adoption rate, Asus felt only one should be necessary for now.

What I noticed were missing were the onboard power and reset buttons as well as a diagnostic LED, something which you would expect to see in such a special motherboard. Asus must expect you won’t need to diagnose any issues with this board due to their prior testing of it.

BIOS and Software

The Sabertooth Mark 1 uses Asus own UEFI BIOS which is still one of the best out there. Easy to navigate and use the Sabertooth’s BIOS looks similar to the BIOS used in Asus own ROG series of boards except the predominant color scheme is grey. It lets you tweak and adjust almost every aspect of the board as well as monitor temperatures and fan speeds. Like the ROG BIOS, the TUF BIOS has the AI Tweaker that lets you tweak the system for the best possible performance and overclock. It even has the same preset overclocking profiles that give you an instant speed bump provided your CPU can handle it.

AI Suite 3 makes a comeback in the Z97 series of boards too however unlike the 5 way optimization we saw with the Z97 Deluxe reviewed earlier, the Sabertooth’s software focuses on thermals rather than performance. The system analyzes the temperature of your system and the fans attached and adjust them to suit the various loads on the system which may arise. Other than that the Sabertooth’s AI Suite is similar to other Asus boards that use this latest iteration of their AI software.

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Overclocking

Using the BIOS EZ Tuning wizard the Core i7-4770k reached 4.4GHz at 1.3V. With further tweaks using Intel’s Xtreme Tuning Utility (XTU) the CPU reached 4.6GHz at 1.312. It did run at 84C under load which might not be the best speed to keep it at unless proper cooling is ensured.

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Jibo wants to be your family robot http://tbreak.ae/jibo-wants-family-robot/ http://tbreak.ae/jibo-wants-family-robot/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 10:24:48 +0000 http://tbreak.ae/?p=24249 Hey, robots will eventually prevail and come to dominate over the human race. But before that happens, let’s make some use of them. Next in line of some impressive robotics is Jibo, which the company claims will be your family robot. The Wall-E’s Eve look-alike features two hi-res cameras, an internal microphone, and Siri-like capabilities […]

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Hey, robots will eventually prevail and come to dominate over the human race. But before that happens, let’s make some use of them.

Next in line of some impressive robotics is Jibo, which the company claims will be your family robot. The Wall-E’s Eve look-alike features two hi-res cameras, an internal microphone, and Siri-like capabilities to learn, search, manage and communicate. It’s pretty cute actually.

Jibo is able to identify individuals and offer personalized calenders and reminders, work as a photographer in birthday parties, and even allow video calling using its built-in screen, through which it can also emote like laugh, smile, or even, weirdly, show love.

1

The best part about Jibo, other than it’s $499 pricing, is that it’s an open-platform. Which means developers can freely experiment with Jibo and allow it to do whatever they want. Jibo supports WiFi, Bluetooth, and has iOS and Android companion apps for controlling purposes.

Jibo is expected to ship around December 2015 – that’s right, end of next year.

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Facebook targets small business owners with a Buy button http://tbreak.ae/facebook-targets-small-business-owners-buy-button/ http://tbreak.ae/facebook-targets-small-business-owners-buy-button/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 03:24:54 +0000 http://tbreak.ae/?p=24243 Facebook announced on Thursday that they will be testing a new buy button with a number of small businesses in the U.S According to the report by CNN money, the button is available on the mobile and desktop versions of the website and will allow customers to purchase products directly this way. While Facebook isn’t specifying […]

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Facebook announced on Thursday that they will be testing a new buy button with a number of small businesses in the U.S

According to the report by CNN money, the button is available on the mobile and desktop versions of the website and will allow customers to purchase products directly this way.

While Facebook isn’t specifying how many businesses are taking part in this test, they estimate that if successful, Facebook may well release the buy button globally targeting over 30 million business pages that are run everyday. The social media giant wants to build an e-commerce platform that helps businesses without the hassle. When the buy button is clicked, users are directed to make a transaction, processing goes through a third party or a vendor. All this happens without the user leaving the page or sharing information directly to Facebook.

While the feature is free for now and in testing stages, it’s likely that this could potentially become a paid service to not only build sales but to analyse how well retailers engage with their customers.

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