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Big at rAge this weekend

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At this year’s rAge not only will visitors be treated to the latest trends in gaming, but will also catch a glimpse into what’s new in AR, VR, Multi-screen gaming and the latest Indie games.

It’s that time of year again! Time for all gamers, developers, geek-culture enthusiasts and anyone with a fondness for technology and an inclination towards escapism to attend the most hotly anticipated mega-event of the year: the really Awesome gaming expo (rAge). In addition to the massive range of products and games on display, this is probably the only event in South Africa where locals can get a real taste of what the future of consumer technology holds. rAge is the event to get a glimpse at international trends.

So, what’s hot and trending internationally right now that’ll be on show at rAge?

Augmented reality: Augmented reality is the overlay of information or imagery onto the real world, allowing users to see virtual items while looking at real-world things. Have you played Pokémon Go or experimented with Snapchat lenses? Then you get the general idea. 2015 was a year of inviting promise for AR technology, with plenty of new hardware announced and initial endeavours hitting the mainstream. 2016 is shaping up as the year that promise is fulfilled, with hardware finally making its way into the hands of consumers, and exciting new content providing unique experiences to an AR-hungry public. Whether or not we can expect to see an augmented reality-heavy 2017 will depend on whether Pokémon Go is the start of a new trend, or if it’s simply a spin-off success carried by an already successful brand.

Virtual reality: 2016 saw the rise of VR gaming with the debut of the Oculus Rift in late 2015, Sony launching PlayStation VR for the PlayStation 4 game console in 2016, and Samsung’s mobile VR system. But what is the future of VR? The platform has one key criticism: it’s isolating. Dave Ranyard, ex studio head of Sony London and now an independent VR developer, has made clear that he believes the future of VR is a social one. It’ll be about being transported to a fantasy world and doing something cool with your friends.

Multi-screen gaming: Multi-screen gaming adds a new dimension to games, allowing them to be played on TV screens, consoles and mobile devices. Chromecast, for example, gives players the ability to project games like Monopoly onto their TVs, enabling them to play the game with their smartphones. Big industry players like Google, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are producing secondary devices promoting multi-screen gaming.

Indie games: In the not-too-distant past, if you wanted your game to get massive attention, you generally had to be associated with a successful, big-name game developer or publisher. Things are changing quickly. Gaming platforms such as Zynga and Steam are giving independent game developers a way to expose their products to the market. Gamers are becoming more involved in the development process as video game schools and online courses are becoming more widespread and affordable. Some examples of hyper-successful, mega-hit indie games include UnderTale, Diner Dash and the locally-developed Broforce.

2016 has been and continues to be a tantalising year for gamers, and rAge is the only place in Africa where you can get a glimpse, a taste of what’s to come in gaming in SA in the next five years.

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Revealing the real cost of ‘free’ online services

A free service by Finnish cybersecurity provider F-Secure reveals the real cost of using “free” services by Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon, among others.

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What do Google, Facebook, and Amazon have in common? Privacy and identity scandals. From Cambridge Analytica to Google’s vulnerability in Google+, the amount of personal data sitting on these platforms is enormous.

Cybersecurity provider F-Secure has released a free online tool that helps expose the true cost of using some of the web’s most popular free services. And that cost is the abundance of data that has been collected about users by Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon Alexa, Twitter, and Snapchat. The good news is that you can take back your data “gold”.

F-Secure Data Discovery Portal sends users directly to the often hard-to-locate resources provided by each of these tech giants that allow users to review their data, securely and privately.

“What you do with the data collection is entirely between you and the service,” says Erka Koivunen, F-Secure Chief Information Security Officer. “We don’t see – and don’t want to see – your settings or your data. Our only goal is to help you find out how much of your information is out there.”

More than half of adult Facebook users, 54%, adjusted how they use the site in the wake of the scandal that revealed Cambridge Analytica had collected data without users’ permission.* But the biggest social network in the world continues to grow, reporting 2.3 billion monthly users at the end of 2018.**

“You often hear, ‘if you’re not paying, you’re the product.’ But your data is an asset to any company, whether you’re paying for a product or not,” says Koivunen. “Data enables tech companies to sell billions in ads and products, building some of the biggest businesses in the history of money.”

F-Secure is offering the tool as part of the company’s growing focus on identity protection that secures consumers before, during, and after data breaches. By spreading awareness of the potential costs of these “free” services, the Data Discovery Portal aims to make users aware that securing their data and identity is more important than ever.

A recent F-Secure survey found that 54% of internet users over 25 worry about someone hacking into their social media accounts.*** Data is only as secure as the networks of the companies that collect it, and the passwords and tactics used to protect our accounts. While the settings these sites offer are useful, they cannot eliminate the collection of data.

Koivunen says: “While consumers effectively volunteer this information, they should know the privacy and security implications of building accounts that hold more potential insight about our identities than we could possibly share with our family. All of that information could be available to a hacker through a breach or an account takeover.”

However, there is no silver bullet for users when it comes to permanently locking down security or hiding it from the services they choose to use.

“Default privacy settings are typically quite loose, whether you’re using a social network, apps, browsers or any service,” says Koivunen. “Review your settings now, if you haven’t already, and periodically afterwards. And no matter what you can do, nothing stops these companies from knowing what you’re doing when you’re logged into their services.”

*Source: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/09/05/americans-are-changing-their-relationship-with-facebook/
**Source: https://www.theverge.com/2019/1/30/18204186/facebook-q4-2018-earnings-user-growth-revenue-increase-privacy-scandals
***Source: F-Secure Identity Protection Consumer (B2C) Survey, May 2019, conducted in cooperation with survey partner Toluna, 9 countries (USA, UK, Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Brazil, Finland, Sweden, and Japan), 400 respondents per country = 3600 respondents (+25years)

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WhatsApp comes to KaiOS

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By the end of September, WhatsApp will be pre-installed on all phones running the KaiOS operating system, which turns feature phones into smart phones. The announcement was made yesterday by KaiOS Technologies, maker of the KaiOS mobile operating system for smart feature phones, and Facebook. WhatsApp is also available for download in the KaiStore, on both 512MB and 256MB RAM devices.

“KaiOS has been a critical partner in helping us bring private messaging to smart feature phones around the world,” said Matt Idema, COO of WhatsApp. “Providing WhatsApp on KaiOS helps bridge the digital gap to connect friends and family in a simple, reliable and secure way.”

WhatsApp is a messaging tool used by more than 1.5 billion people worldwide who need a simple, reliable and secure way to communicate with friends and family. Users can use calling and messaging capabilities with end-to-end encryption that keeps correspondence private and secure. 

WhatsApp was first launched on the KaiOS-powered JioPhone in India in September of 2018. Now, with the broad release, the app is expected to reach millions of new users across Africa, Europe, North America, Southeast Asia, and Latin America.

“We’re thrilled to bring WhatsApp to the KaiOS platform and extend such an important means of communication to a brand new demographic,” said Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS Technologies. “We strive to make the internet and digital services accessible for everyone and offering WhatsApp on affordable smart feature phones is a giant leap towards this goal. We can’t wait to see the next billion users connect in meaningful ways with their loved ones, communities, and others across the globe.”

KaiOS-powered smart feature phones are a new category of mobile devices that combine the affordability of a feature phone with the essential features of a smartphone. They meet a growing demand for affordable devices from people living across Africa – and other emerging markets – who are not currently online. 

WhatsApp is now available for download from KaiStore, an app store specifically designed for KaiOS-powered devices and home to the world’s most popular apps, including the Google Assistant, YouTube, Facebook, Google Maps and Twitter. Apps in the KaiStore are customised to minimise data usage and maximise user experience for smart feature phone users.

In Africa, the KaiOS-powered MTN Smart and Orange Sanza are currently available in 22 countries, offering 256MB RAM and 3G connectivity.

KaiOS currently powers more than 100 million devices shipped worldwide, in over 100 countries. The platform enables a new category of devices that require limited memory, while still offering a rich user experience.

* For more details, visit: Meet The Devices That Are Powered by KaiOS

* Also read Arthur Goldstuck’s story, Smart feature phones spell KaiOS

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