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Apple releases new iPod

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More than a decade after it was first launched, the iPod has been given yet another new lease on life as Apple unveils a touch model and refreshes the colour options across the range.

Despite speculation that the iPod has reached the end of its life, Apple this week introduced a new iPod touch, along with a new lineup of colours for all iPod models. The announcement comes 14 years after the first iPod was launched in 2001, and amid a general consensus that increased capacity and capabilities of iPhones have made the iPod redundant.

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The iPod touch features a new 8 megapixel iSight camera, an improved FaceTime HD camera, the Apple-designed A8 chip with 10 times faster graphics performance for a more immersive gaming experience, and better fitness tracking with the M8 motion coprocessor. It incorporates the newly launched Apple Music service and access to a global 24/7 broadcast on Beats 1 radio.

“iPod touch gives customers around the world access to Apple Music, the App Store and iOS, the world’s most advanced mobile operating system,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of iPhone, iPod and iOS Product Marketing. “With big advancements like the A8 chip and the 8 megapixel iSight camera, customers can experience next-level gameplay, take even more beautiful photos and enjoy their favourite music, TV shows and movies.”

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With the A8 chip, the same used in the iPhone 6, users can play more immersive games for hours at a time. iPod touch’s 4-inch Retina display and rich collection of gaming titles are further enhanced with iimproved graphics performance and thousands of Metal-optimised games. With the advanced iSight and FaceTime HD cameras, iPod touch owners, for the first time, can use popular features like slo-mo and burst mode. Three times faster Wi-Fi enhances FaceTime calls and download of movies and TV shows.

The App Store on iPod touch, available in 155 countries, gives users access to 1,5-million apps across 24 categories. iPod touch is also an ideal way to carry a music collection in one’s pocket. iTunes boasts the world’s largest music catalogue, and with Apple Music, customers have access to the streaming music service, Beats 1, Apple’s first ever live radio station, and Connect, where artists can communicate directly to fans. Apple Music is available on iPod touch through the Music app — users are invited to a 3-month trial, after which a monthly membership fee will apply. A family plan providing service for up to six family members is also available.

iPod touch comes with iOS 8 and a collection of powerful built-in apps, including iMessage, Photos and Health app.

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Availability

The new iPod touch and the entire iPod family in its five new colours is available from today through select Apple Authorised Resellers. iPod touch requires a Wi-Fi connection or a Mac or PC; USB 2.0 port; Mac OS X v10.7.5 or later; Windows 7, Windows 8 or later; and iTunes 12.2 or later. An Apple ID is required for some iPod touch features.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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