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Apple unveils 9.7″ iPad Pro

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Apple has unveiled a new 9.7-inch iPad Pro. It features a pro Retina display with greater brightness, wider colour gamut, lower reflectivity, Night Shift mode and the new True Tone display technology to adjust white balance. 

The new iPad Pro is powered by a 64-bit A9X chip, along with a four-speaker audio system, new 12-megapixel iSight camera for shooting Live Photos and 4K video, 5-megapixel FaceTime HD camera, and faster wireless technologies. It includes support for the breakthrough Apple Pencil and a new Smart Keyboard cover.

“iPad Pro is a new generation of iPad that is indispensable and immersive, enabling people to be more productive and more creative. It’s incredibly fast, extremely portable, and completely natural to use with your fingers, Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard. And now it comes in two sizes,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

Apple provided the following information:

Designers, illustrators and businesses have quickly adopted iPad Pro and it’s changing the way they work:

“People don’t realise how much hand drawing is needed to produce computer animation,” said John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer, Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. “iPad Pro and Apple Pencil are the closest we’ve ever been able to get in the digital world to actually drawing on paper.”

“I’ve done everything including designing the latest cycling collection on iPad Pro,” said Alex Valdman, Head of Design for Rapha. “It goes with me everywhere, and has not only replaced my laptop, but my paper notebook as well. For the Rapha design team, iPad Pro will become standard issue.”

“At Citi, iPad Pro is truly transforming how we work,” said Stephen Gates, U.S. Head of Design for Citi Global Consumer Banking. “iPad Pro and Apple Pencil have played a huge part in the new Citi Design team’s work to create new innovative customer experiences. We use iPad Pro for sketching out new design concepts, presenting our work, answering our emails, working with our design files on Adobe Creative Cloud and participating in FaceTime meetings with our other design teams all over the world.”

Pro display

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro features advanced display technologies, including a True Tone display, which uses new four-channel sensors to dynamically adjust the white balance of the display to match the light around you for a more natural and accurate, paper-white viewing experience. The advanced Retina display is 25 percent brighter and 40 percent less reflective than iPad Air 2, making content even easier to see indoors and out. It uses the same wider colour gamut as the iMac with Retina 5K display, delivering 25 percent greater colour saturation¹ for more vivid colours. A custom timing controller, photo alignment and oxide TFT deliver incredible colour, contrast and clarity. Night Shift in iOS 9.3 uses iPad Pro’s clock and geolocation to automatically adjust the colours in the display to the warmer end of the spectrum after dark and may even help you get a better night’s sleep.

Pro performance

The new iPad Pro is just 6.1mm thin and weighs just under one pound, yet delivers groundbreaking performance, connectivity and versatility so you can tackle the most demanding tasks wherever you go. The powerful A9X chip with third-generation 64-bit architecture provides performance that rivals many laptops and console-class graphics, while also delivering all-day battery life. Ultrafast wireless connectivity keeps you connected wherever you go with 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO technology, support for even faster LTE Advanced with up to 50 percent faster cellular connectivity and the most LTE bands supported by any tablet. Now with Apple SIM embedded directly in the new iPad Pro, it’s even easier to connect to wireless data plans right from your device when traveling in more than 100 countries and territories.

iPad Pro has an advanced 12-megapixel iSight camera sensor featuring Focus Pixels for fast focusing, an Apple-designed image signal processor, advanced noise reduction, third-generation local tone mapping and better face detection, all resulting in sharp, detailed images, 63-megapixel panoramas and Live Photos. A True Tone flash improves low light shots and document scanning. The new iSight camera shoots 4K video, making the new iPad Pro the perfect device to shoot, edit and share pro-quality video. The improved 5-megapixel, front-facing FaceTime HD camera makes the new iPad Pro perfect for videoconferencing or connecting with loved ones.

Pro audio

The four-speaker audio system provides powerful, clear and rich stereo sound for more than twice the audio output.¹ Built-in sensors automatically adjust and optimise the audio no matter which way you’re using it. iOS 9.3 also adds support for playing video encoded with Dolby Digital Plus audio streams with support for multichannel output using the Apple Lightning Digital AV Adapter.

Pro accessories

Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, available for purchase separately, bring breakthrough levels of precision and utility to iPad Pro. Advanced sensors in Apple Pencil measure both pressure and tilt for a natural drawing, annotating and note-taking experience. A new Smart Keyboard is custom-designed for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, offering a thin yet durable keyboard that never needs to be charged or paired over Bluetooth and is easily foldable into a protective Smart Cover. The new Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader and Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter make it easy to download photos and videos from a digital camera to iPad Pro, while a new Lightning to USB-C Cable and Apple’s 29W USB-C Power Adapter enable faster charging.

Pricing & Availability

– The 9.7-inch iPad Pro comes in silver, space grey, gold and a new rose gold metallic finish, and is available in both a WiFi and WiFi + Celluar model. Both iPad Pro sizes are available in offerings of 32GB, 128GB and a new 256GB capacity, the highest of any iOS device. For more information, please visit www.apple.com/ipad.

– The 9.7-inch iPad Pro will be available to order beginning Thursday, March 24, from Apple.com, and in Apple’s retail stores, through select carriers and Apple Authorised Resellers on Thursday, March 31, in Australia, Canada, China (Wi-Fi models only), France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Singapore, the UK, US Virgin Islands and the US.

–The 9.7-inch iPad Pro will be available in early April in Albania, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Cayman Islands, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Greenland, Guam, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Macau (Wi-Fi models only), Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand (Wi-Fi models only), Turkey and UAE.

– Accessories for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro include Apple Pencil, Smart Keyboard in charcoal grey and Polyurethane iPad Pro Smart Cover and Silicone Cases, available in a range of new vibrant colours.

– A Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader, Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter, Apple 29W USB-C Power Adapter, Lightning to USB-C Cable (1 m.) and Lightning to USB-C Cable (2 m.) are also available.

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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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