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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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ConceptD: Creatives get a tech brand of their own

The unveiling of a new brand by Acer recognises the massive computing power needed in creative professions, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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It’s a crisp Spring morning in Brooklyn. The regular water taxi from Manhattan pulls up at Duggal Greenhouse on the edge of the East River. It’s a building that symbolises the rejuvenation of Brooklyn as a hub of artistic and creative expression.

Inside the vast structure, global computer brand Acer is about to unveil its own tribute to creativity. Company CEO Jason Chen takes to the stage in faded blue jeans and brown t-shirt, underlining the connection of the event to the informality of the area.

“Brooklyn is become more and more diverse,” he tells a gathering of press from around the world, attending the Next@Acer media event. “It’s an area that is up and coming. It represents new lifestyles. And our theme today is turning a new chapter for creativity.”

Every year, Next@Acer is a parade of the cutting edge in gaming and educational laptops and computers. New devices from sub-brands like Predator, Helios and Nitro have gamers salivating. This year is no different, but there is a surprise in store, hinted in Chen’s introduction.

As a grand finale, he calls on stage Angelica Davila, whose day job is senior marketing manager for Acer Latin America. But she also happens to have a Masters degree in computer and electric engineering. A stint at Intel, where she joined a sales and marketing programme for engineers, set her on a new path.

Angelica Davila, marketing manager for Acer Latin America

For the last few months, she has been helping write Acer’s next chapter. She has shepherded into being nothing less than a new brand: ConceptD.

Click here to read more about ConceptD.

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Which voice assistant wins battle of translators?

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Take the most famous phrase from the Godfather – “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse” – or “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” from the inaugural address of US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and see just how the virtual assistants do in translating them using their newly introduced Neural Machine Translation (NMT) capabilities. One Hour Translation (OHT), the world’s largest online translation service, conducted a study to find out just how accurate these new services are.

OHT used 60 sentences from movies and famous people ranging from the Godfather and Wizard of Oz to Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, US presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Fitzgerald Kennedy and historical figures like Leonardo da Vinci and Aesop. The sentences were translated by Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri from English to French, Spanish, Chinese and German and then given to five professional translators for their assessment on a scale of 1-6. 

Google Assistant scored highest in three of the four languages surveyed – English to French, English to German and English to Spanish and second in English to Chinese.  Amazon’s Alexa, whose translation engine is powered by Microsoft Translator, was tops in the English to Chinese category. Apple’s Siri was second place in English to French and English to Spanish and third place in English to German and English to Chinese.  (See chart). All three virtual assistants are compatible with mobile phones.

“The automated assistants’ translation quality was relatively high, which means that assistants are useful for handling simple translations automatically,” says Yaron Kaufman, chief marketing officer and co-founder of OHT. He predicts that “there is no doubt that the use of assistants is growing rapidly, is becoming a part of our lives and will make a huge contribution to the business world.” 

A lot will depend on further improvements in NMT technology, which has revolutionized the field of translation over the past two years.  All the companies active in the field are investing large sums as part of this effort. “OHT is working with several of the leading NMT providers to improve their engines through the use of its hybrid online translation service that combines NMT and human post-editing,” notes Kaufman. He adds that this will no doubt have a huge impact on the use of assistants for translation purposes.

OHT has made a name for itself in assessing the level of translations by NMT engines.  Its ONEs Evaluation Score is a unique human-based assessment of the leading NMT engines conducted on a quarterly basis and used as an industry standard. 

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