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Apple updates MacBook

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Apple has updated the MacBook with new Intel processors, improved graphics performance, faster flash storage and an additional hour of battery life.

The new MacBook features an all-metal unibody enclosure, MacBook is now available in four aluminium finishes: gold, silver, space grey, and for the first time on a Mac, a gorgeous rose gold. A 12-inch Retina display, highly responsive full-size keyboard, Force Touch trackpad, versatile USB-C port and all-day battery life is built into a design that is just 13.1mm thin.

“MacBook is the thinnest and lightest Mac we have ever made and it’s our vision for the future of the notebook,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “Customers are going to love this update to MacBook, with the latest processors, faster graphics, faster flash storage, longer battery life and a beautiful rose gold finish.”

Apple provided the following information:

The updated MacBook features sixth-generation dual-core Intel Core M processors up to 1.3 GHz, with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1 GHz, and faster 1866 MHz memory. New Intel HD Graphics 515 deliver up to 25 percent faster graphics performance, and faster PCIe-based flash storage makes everyday tasks feel snappier — from launching apps to opening files. And now with up to 10 hours of wireless web browsing and up to 11 hours of iTunes movie playback, MacBook is the perfect notebook for all day, on-the-go computing.

MacBook comes with the incredibly small and versatile USB-C port for charging, data transfer and video output in a single connector that is one-third the size of a traditional USB port. Following the introduction of USB-C on MacBook, the ecosystem of Apple and third-party USB-C accessories has continued to grow, giving users added flexibility and capability.

With no moving parts or vents, MacBook is entirely fanless for silent, efficient performance. Designed for the wireless world, MacBook is equipped with the latest wireless technologies, including built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 for fast wireless connectivity. It is perfect for tasks like streaming content from your MacBook to your Apple TV using AirPlay, exchanging files quickly using AirDrop or using wireless headphones.

Apple also today made 8GB of memory standard across all configurations of the 13-inch MacBook Air.

Every new Mac comes with OS X El Capitan, the latest version of OS X that refines the Mac experience and improves system performance. El Capitan builds on the groundbreaking features and beautiful design of OS X Yosemite, with updates to window management, built-in apps and Spotlight search, and performance improvements to make everyday activities — like launching and switching apps, opening PDFs and accessing email — faster and more responsive.

iMovie, GarageBand and the suite of iWork apps come free with every new Mac. iMovie lets you easily create beautiful movies and you can use GarageBand to make music, or learn to play piano and guitar. The iWork suite of Pages, Numbers and Keynote makes it easy to create, edit and share stunning documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Pages, Numbers and Keynote for iCloud let you create a document on iPhone or iPad, edit it on your Mac and collaborate with friends, even if they are on a PC.

Availability

MacBook is available through Apple.com and in select Apple Authorised Resellers. MacBook comes with a 1.1 GHz dual-core Intel Core m3 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 2.2 GHz, 8GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage, and with a 1.2 GHz dual-core Intel Core m5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 2.7 GHz, 8GB of memory and 512GB of flash storage. Configure-to-order options include a 1.3 GHz dual-core Intel Core m7 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1 GHz. Additional technical specifications and accessories are available online at www.apple.com/macbook.

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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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