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BlackBerry takes next smartphone Leap, but not yet in South Africa

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BlackBerry has announced the BlackBerry Leap in the United Kingdom and a rollout in major markets, but a South African release date has yet to be announced.

The UK became the first roll-out market on 15 April, with the company targeting what it called “the first young power professionals who want to get things done and companies looking for enterprise fleet renewals”. The BlackBerry Leap was made available on ShopBlackBerry.com and through select carriers and partners. It will continue to rollout over the next few weeks across various countries, including Germany, France, United States, Canada, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and India. South Africa is not part of the initial release.

“With an all-touch screen, the BlackBerry Leap rounds out our portfolio of BlackBerry 10 devices, offering an affordable choice to mobile professionals who require a smartphone that safeguards sensitive communications and keeps them productive,” said Ron Louks, President, Devices and Emerging Solutions at BlackBerry.

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BlackBerry Leap features the latest BlackBerry 10.3.1 operating system, a brilliant edge-to-edge five-inch HD display and more than a full day’s battery power.

The company provided the following description of the top features of the BlackBerry Leap:

Security to Maintain Privacy – You can feel safe in the knowledge that BlackBerry Leap was designed with the highest standards of security in mind to protect your privacy. It is equipped with support for encryption, plus built-in malware protection and back-up, wipe and restore. All to give you control and help secure your data against the next embarrassing and potentially costly cyberattack.

Battery That Powers Through a Full Day – With up to 25 hours of heavy use, the BlackBerry Leap will power through even your most demanding day. The impressive 2800 mAh battery and optimization of power consumption in BlackBerry 10 gives users more than a full day of productive usage.

Best-in-Class BlackBerry Keyboard – Type faster and more accurately on a touchscreen keyboard that learns how you write. With superior error correction, multi-language support, customized adaption and flow, BlackBerry’s touchscreen keyboard helps to reduce the mistakes and missteps that can hold you back.

BlackBerry 10 OS 10.3.1 –BlackBerry Leap comes preloaded with the new BlackBerry 10.3.1 operating system, offering a fresh look that incorporates updated icons and an instant action bar so that users’ most commonly accessed functions are in the center of their screen. Additional features include:

BlackBerry Blend – BlackBerry Blend brings messaging and content that is on your BlackBerry smartphone to your computer and tablet. Get instant message notifications, read and respond to your work and personal email, BBM or text messages, and access your documents, calendar, contacts and media in real time on whatever device you are on, powered by your BlackBerry. BlackBerry Blend works across desktop operating systems, including Mac OS X 10.7 +, Windows 7+ and Android tablets running Android 4.4+ via cellular, USB or Wi-Fi connections.

BlackBerry Assistant – The BlackBerry Assistant is BlackBerry’s first digital assistant and can be used with voice and text commands to help users manage work and personal email, contacts, calendar and other native BlackBerry 10 applications. It’s the only smartphone assistant on the market today that can access both personal and work content in your work perimeter. BlackBerry Assistant intelligently determines how to respond to you based on how you interact with it – if you type, it responds silently, if you speak, it speaks back and if you activate over Bluetooth, it speaks back with additional context because it assumes you might not have access to the screen.

Dual app storefronts preloaded for access to a huge selection of apps for work and play:

BlackBerry World – BlackBerry World offers essential business and productivity apps for professionals looking to drive efficient communications and collaboration including Box, Evernote, Cisco WebEx Meetings and Documents to Go.

Amazon Appstore – Discover and download popular Android apps and games through the Amazon Appstore including Candy Crush Saga, Pinterest, SoundCloud, Kindle and Amazon Shopping.

* Visit Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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SAFTA awards get first streaming video nominees

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The 2019 nominations for The South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) were announced late last week, and for the first time in the 13-year history of the awards, a TV series produced for a video-on-demand service was in contention. The result was a surprise boost to streaming service Showmax.

The comedy series Tali’s Wedding Diary, which premiered in December 2017, represented a major step for the then two-year old streaming service. It was the debut Showmax Original, the first time Showmax ventured into producing its own content. The gamble paid off, with the show becoming the most watched of any series on its first day on Showmax, and now Tali’s Wedding Diary has been further recognised with seven SAFTA nominations, making it this year’s most nominated comedy.

“When we first floated the idea of Tali’s Wedding Diary, we joked about winning awards,” says Candice Fangueiro, Showmax’s head of content. “At that point, just getting our first Showmax Original off the ground was already a major challenge and it was more than we could hope for to actually hit it out of the park. I was stunned when I heard the news about the nominations – it’s amazing to be considered in the same company as these other shows and thanks to this we’re already seeing a fresh spike in Tali views.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary was also a first for co-creator and star Julia Anastasopoulos, who until then was best known as YouTube star SuzelleDIY. “I am so thrilled about the SAFTA nominations for Tali’s Wedding Diary,” says Julia, who is up for Best Actress – TV Comedy and Best Achievement in Scriptwriting – TV Comedy, along with her husband Ari Kruger and Daniel Zimbler. 

“It was such a big and daunting step to create a full TV comedy series and intro a brand-new character. I really didn’t know how it would be received and am so happy to have received such positive feedback for the show and the Tali Babes character, along with the nominations. It feels so good to be recognised for something we poured our hearts into. None of it would have been possible, of course, without the incredible hard work and vision of my husband Ari and the incredible team, cast and crew that were part of the show. And a huge thank you to Showmax of course for making it all possible. Congratulations and best of luck to the entire team and to all the other nominees.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary is a mockumentary that follows Tali, a self-obsessed Joburg princess who’s moved to Cape Town and is planning her wedding to property-agent fiancé Darren (Anton Taylor). The series was inspired by Julia’s own wedding to Ari, her SuzelleDIY and Tali’s Wedding Diary co-creator, who is also up for Best Achievement In Directing – TV Comedy.  

In addition to Julia and Ari’s nominations, Tali’s Wedding Diary is up for Best TV Comedy, Art Direction (Keren Setton),  Cinematography (James Adey), and Editing (Richard Starkey). Winners will be announced on 2 March 2019 at Sun City Superbowl.

Following the success of Tali’s Wedding Diary, the second Showmax Original, The Girl From St Agnes, was released earlier this month. A third Showmax Original, Trippin With Skhumba, is slated for release at the end of February.

“With three Showmax Originals now under our belt and more on the way, we’d like to think this is the start of many more SAFTA nominations for shows from a streaming service,” concludes Candice.

South African content currently on Showmax has 110 nominations and includes the most nominated movie (Five Fingers With Marseilles), telenovela (The River), drama (Lockdown) and soap (Isibaya), with more SAFTA nominees scheduled for the coming months.

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