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5 Android features you should be using

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Android has many useful features, often overlooked by even the most advanced users. Here are some tips for getting the most out of an Android device.

Use Android Device Manager to secure your phone

Smartphones are attractive targets for thieves and they’re also easily lost. With Android Device Manager, you will be able to locate and ring your phone if you misplace it. You can also lock it remotely or wipe your data off if it is stolen or lost for good. To set up this feature, look at the security function in your settings manager. Once you’ve configured it, you can use Android Device Manager from any web browser, and gain access to your smartphone.

Monitor your data usage

Android includes an integrated tool that allows you to track your data usage and receive an alert when you’re about to exceed your data limit. You’ll find the data usage function in the settings menu, where you can set the device to notify you when you’ve used a certain amount of data. It’s a good idea to set the threshold a couple of hundred megabytes below your limit so that you can top up your data or save your last bit of bandwidth in case you need it.

Ensure your device knows when it’s tethered to a mobile hotspot

When your Android smartphone is tethered to a mobile hotspot shared by a tablet or smartphone, it will treat it as it does any other Wi-Fi connection. That can be pretty expensive if you have set your device to automatically download large files and updates when it is connected to a Wi-Fi connection.

This problem is easily solved. Simply go to the data usage menu and use the overflow button to list Wi-Fi networks. Then, you can use the toggle to select network restrictions for Wi-Fi networks that are actually using mobile data. This will prevent your smartphone from abusing mobile bandwidth.

Share big files with Wi-Fi

The Wi-Fi Direct support in Android devices, which lets two phones connect directly via Wi-Fi, is a great way to share large files such as videos and images. Download an app like SuperBeam to enable this feature and you’ll be able share files with someone else quickly and easily.

Notifications

Use the Android priority notification system to prevent specific apps from bothering you with unwanted notifications and to stop alerts from disturbing you when you’re sleeping. On Android, you can enable three notification settings: all, priority, or none. With none, you’ll get no alerts. With all, you’ll get the standard notifications. And priority mode allows notifications only from apps and numbers you’ve prioritised.  You can switch between these modes as you’d like to, or set it up to enter these modes at scheduled times. No more text messages or app notifications waking you up because you forgot to switch your device to silent.

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Opera launches built-in VPN on Android browser

Opera has released a new version of its mobile browser, which features a built-in virtual private network service.

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Opera has released a new version of its mobile browser, Opera for Android 51, which features a built-in VPN (virtual private network) service.

A VPN allows users to create a secure connection to a public network, and is particularly useful if users are unsure of the security levels of the public networks that they use often.

The new VPN in Opera for Android 51 is free, unlimited and easy to use. When enabled, it gives users greater control of their online privacy and improves online security, especially when connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots such as coffee shops, airports and hotels. The VPN will encrypt Internet traffic into and out of their mobile devices, which reduces the risk of malicious third parties collecting sensitive information.

“There are already more than 650 million people using VPN services globally. With Opera, any Android user can now enjoy a free and no-log service that enhances online privacy and improves security,” said Peter Wallman, SVP Opera Browser for Android.

When users enable the VPN included in Opera for Android 51, they create a private and encrypted connection between their mobile device and a remote VPN server, using strong 256-bit encryption algorithms. When enabled, the VPN hides the user’s physical location, making it difficult to track their activities on the internet.

The browser VPN service is also a no-log service, which means that the VPN servers do not log and retain any activity data, all to protect users privacy.

“Users are exposed to so many security risks when they connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots without a VPN,” said Wallman. “Enabling Opera VPN means that users makes it difficult for third parties to steal information, and users can avoid being tracked. Users no longer need to question if or how they can protect their personal information in these situations.”

According to a report by the Global World Index in 2018, the use of VPNs on mobile devices is rising. More than 42 percent of VPN users on mobile devices use VPN on a daily basis, and 35 percent of VPN users on computers use VPN daily.

The report also shows that South African VPN users said that their main reason for using a VPN service is to remain anonymous while they are online.

“Young people in particular are concerned about their online privacy as they increasingly live their lives online,” said Wallman. “Opera for Android 51 makes it easy to benefit from the security and anonymity of VPN , especially for those may not be aware of how to set these up.”

Setting up the Opera VPN is simple. Users just tap on the browser settings, go to VPN and enable the feature according to their preference. They can also select the region of their choice.

The built-in VPN is free, which means that users don’t need to download additional apps on their smartphones or pay additional fees as they would for other private VPN services. With no sign-in process, users don’t need to log in every time they want to use it.

Opera for Android is available for download in Google Play. The rollout of the new version of Opera for Android 51 will be done gradually per region.

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Future of the car is here

Three new cars, with vastly different price-tags, reveal the arrival of the future of wheels, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Just a few months ago, it was easy to argue that the car of the future was still a long way off, at least in South Africa. But a series of recent car launches have brought the high-tech vehicle to the fore in startling ways.

The Jaguar i-Pace electric vehicle (EV), BMW 330i and the Datsun Go have little in common, aside from representing an almost complete spectrum of car prices on the local market. Their tags start, respectively, at R1.7-million, R650 000 and R150 000.

Such a widely disparate trio of vehicles do not exactly come together to point to the future. Rather, they represent different futures for different segments of the market. But they also reveal what we can expect to become standard in most vehicles produced in the 2020s.

Jaguar i-Pace

The i-Pace may be out of reach of most South Africans, but it ushers in two advances that will resonate throughout the EV market as it welcomes new and more affordable cars. It is the first electric vehicle in South Africa to beat the bugbear of range anxiety.

Unlike the pioneering “old” Nissan Leaf, which had a range of up to about 150km, and did not lend itself to long distance travel, the i-Pace has a 470km range, bringing it within shouting distance of fuel-powered vehicles. A trip from Johannesburg to Durban, for example, would need just one recharge along the way.

And that brings in the other major advance: the i-Pace is the first EV launched in South Africa together with a rapid public charging network on major routes. It also comes with a home charging kit, which means the end of filling up at petrol stations.

The Jaguar i-Pace dispels one further myth about EVs: that they don’t have much power under the hood. A test drive around Gauteng revealed not only a gutsy engine, but acceleration on a par with anything in its class, and enough horsepower to enhance the safety of almost any overtaking situation.

Specs for the Jaguar i-Pace include:

  • All-wheel drive
  • Twin motors with a combined 294kW and 696Nm
  • 0-100km/h in 4.8s
  • 90kWh Lithium-ion battery, delivering up to 470km range
  • Eight-year/160 000km battery warranty
  • Two-year/34 000km service intervals

Click here to read about BMW’s self-driving technology, and how Datsun makes smart technology affordable.

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