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Apple launches new iPad 

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Apple this week announced its new 9.7-inch iPad, featuring a Retina display and using the recently developed A9 CPU.

Apple this week issued a press release rather than host a launch for its new iPad, featuring a brighter 9.7-inch Retina display.

“The iPad is the world’s most popular tablet. Customers love the large, 9.7-inch display for everything from watching TV and movies, to surfing the web, making FaceTime calls, and enjoying photos, and now it is even more affordable,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “New customers and anyone looking to upgrade will love this new iPad for use at home, in school, and for work, with its gorgeous Retina display, our powerful A9 chip, and access to the more than 1.3 million apps designed specifically for it.”

It is widely believed that the low-key nature of the launch reflected the diminishing contribution of the iPad to Apple sales.

Apple provided the following information:

iPad features a beautifully bright Retina display with over 3.1 million pixels for stunning pictures and videos, and is enclosed in a sturdy yet thin aluminium unibody enclosure weighing less than half a kilo for great portability and durability. The Apple-designed A9 chip with 64‑bit desktop-class architecture delivers fast processing and graphics performance for apps and games, while maintaining the same all-day battery life¹ customers have come to expect from iPad.

The front- and back-facing cameras offer exceptional low-light performance and HD video recording, making it fun and easy to FaceTime with friends and family and capture unforgettable memories using the large Retina display as a viewfinder. Ultrafast wireless means connecting with iPad is quick and easy, and support for LTE cellular bands worldwide helps customers stay connected when travelling.² Apple SIM makes it even easier to connect to wireless data plans right from your device when travelling in more than 140 countries and regions.

Touch ID gives iPad users a simple and secure way to unlock iPad, keep personal information private within apps and approve purchases from the App Store, iTunes Store and iBooks Store. With Apple Pay³ on iPad, paying for physical goods and services within apps or on a website in Safari has never been easier.

iPad comes with iOS 10, which brings more expressive and animated ways to communicate in Messages, new ways to use Siri with your favourite apps, beautifully redesigned Maps, Photos, Apple Music and News, and the new Home app, which lets you simply and securely set up, manage and control your home all in one place. Multitasking features including Slide Over, Split View and Picture-in-Picture help you do even more.

Pricing

• iPad comes in silver, gold and space grey and is available to order beginning Friday, March 24, from Apple.com and starts delivering to customers and arriving next week in Apple Stores, through select carriers and Apple Authorised Resellers (prices may vary) in the US and more than 20 countries and regions, including Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. Denmark, India, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Turkey and other countries and regions will follow in April. Brazil, Taiwan and other countries and regions will follow in May. For more information, please visit apple.com/ipad.

• Polyurethane Smart Covers for iPad are available in charcoal grey, white, midnight blue, pink sand and (RED) at Apple.com.

• iPad mini 4, available in silver, gold and space grey, now offers more capacity for the same price at Apple.com.

• Every customer who buys iPad from Apple will be offered free Personal Setup, in-store or online, to help them customise their iPad by setting up email, showing them new apps from the App Store and more.

• Anyone who wants to learn the basics or go further

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Smart home arrives in SA

The smart home is no longer a distant vision confined to advanced economies, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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The smart home is a wonderful vision for controlling every aspect of one’s living environment via remote control, apps and sensors. But, because it is both complex and expensive, there has been little appetite for it in South Africa.

The two main routes for smart home installation are both fraught with peril – financial and technical.

The first is to call on a specialist installation company. Surprisingly, there are many in South Africa. Google “smart home” +”South Africa”, and thousands of results appear. The problem is that, because the industry is so new, few have built up solid track records and reputations. Costs vary wildly, few standards exist, and the cost of after-sales service will turn out to be more important than the upfront price.

The second route is to assemble the components of a smart home, and attempt self-installation. For the non-technical, this is often a non-starter. Not only does one need a fairly good knowledge of Wi-Fi configuration, but also a broad understanding of the Internet of Things (IoT) – the ability for devices to sense their environment, connect to each other, and share information.

The good news, though, is that it is getting easier and more cost effective all the time.

My first efforts in this direction started a few years ago with finding smart plugs on Amazon.com. These are power adaptors that turn regular sockets into “smart sockets” by adding Wi-Fi and an on-off switch, among other. A smart lightbulb was sourced from Gearbest in China. At the time, these were the cheapest and most basic elements for a starter smart home environment.

Via a smartphone app, the light could be switched on from the other side of the world. It sounds trivial and silly, but on such basic functions the future is slowly built.

Fast forward a year or two, and these components are available from hundreds of outlets, they have plummeted in cost, and the range of options is bewildering. That, of course, makes the quest even more bewildering. Who can be trusted for quality, fulfilment and after-sales support? Which products will be obsolete in the next year or two as technology advances even more rapidly?

These are some of the challenges that a leading South African technology distributor, Syntech, decided to address in adding smart home products to its portfolio. It selected LifeSmart, a global brand with proven expertise in both IoT and smart home products.

Equally significantly, LifeSmart combines IoT with artificial intelligence and machine learning, meaning that the devices “learn” the best ways of connecting, sharing and integrating new elements. Because they all fall under the same brand, they are designed to integrate with the LifeSmart app, which is available for Android and iOS phones, as well as Android TV.

Click here to read about how LifeSmart makes installing smart home devices easier.

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Matrics must prepare for AI

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students writing a test

By Vian Chinner, CEO and founder of Xineoh.

Many in the matric class of 2018 are currently weighing up their options for the future. With the country’s high unemployment rate casting a shadow on their opportunities, these future jobseekers have been encouraged to look into which skills are required by the market, tailoring their occupational training to align with demand and thereby improving their chances of finding a job, writes Vian Chinner – a South African innovator, data scientist and CEO of the machine learning company specialising in consumer behaviour prediction, Xineoh.

With rapid innovation and development in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), all careers – including high-demand professions like engineers, teachers and electricians – will look significantly different in the years to come.

Notably, the third wave of internet connectivity, whereby our physical world begins to merge with that of the internet, is upon us. This is evident in how widespread AI is being implemented across industries as well as in our homes with the use of automation solutions and bots like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. So much data is collected from the physical world every day and AI makes sense of it all.

Not only do new industries related to technology like AI open new career paths, such as those specialising in data science, but it will also modify those which already exist. 

So, what should matriculants be considering when deciding what route to take?

For highly academic individuals, who are exceptionally strong in mathematics, data science is definitely the way to go. There is, and will continue to be, massive demand internationally as well as locally, with Element-AI noting that there are only between 0 and 100 data scientists in South Africa, with the true number being closer to 0.

In terms of getting a foot in the door to become a successful data scientist, practical experience, working with an AI-focused business, is essential. Students should consider getting an internship while they are studying or going straight into an internship, learning on the job and taking specialist online courses from institutions like Stanford University and MIT as they go.

This career path is, however, limited to the highly academic and mathematically gifted, but the technology is inevitably going to overlap with all other professions and so, those who are looking to begin their careers should take note of which skills will be in demand in future, versus which will be made redundant by AI.

In the next few years, technicians who are able to install and maintain new technology will be highly sought after. On the other hand, many entry level jobs will likely be taken care of by AI – from the slicing and dicing currently done by assistant chefs, to the laying of bricks by labourers in the building sector.

As a rule, students should be looking at the skills required for the job one step up from an entry level position and working towards developing these. Those training to be journalists, for instance, should work towards the skill level of an editor and a bookkeeping trainee, the role of financial consultant.

This also means that new workforce entrants should be prepared to walk into a more demanding role, with more responsibility, than perhaps previously anticipated and that the country’s education and training system should adapt to the shift in required skills.

The matric classes of 2018 have completed their schooling in the information age and we should be equipping them, and future generations, for the future market – AI is central to this.

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