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Fitbit enters wireless headphones market

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Fibit has entered the wireless headphones market with the Fitbit Flyer. The headphones, it says, combine powerful audio with a durable, sweatproof design and customisable fit to keep users motivated through tough workouts.

The Fitbit Flyer will be available in select South African stores in mid-October 2017, at R1,999. It is available in two colours, lunar gray or nightfall blue.

The first wireless headphones to incorporate cutting-edge technology from Waves MaxxAudio, Flyer delivers two sound profiles so users can personalise their listening experience. With seamless connectivity to Fitbit’s new Fitbit Ionic smartwatch, it allows users to listen to music or Audio Coaching sessions, through the new Fitbit Coach app, without a phone. Fitbit Coach and Audio Coaching sessions in the app will be available at launch. Audio Coaching sessions on Fitbit Ionic will be available in 2018.

“As we launch our first smartwatch with on-device music, providing quality wireless headphones to better help users reach their goals is a natural extension of our product offerings,” said James Park, CEO and co-founder of Fitbit. “Coupled with research that shows 64% of fitness tracker owners are interested in purchasing wireless headphones, it makes sense for us to bring our unparalleled health and fitness expertise to this space to deliver what our consumers are looking for most: great fit they can count on all day and for any workout, along with high quality sound to keep them motivated.”

Fitbit provided the following information:

Built with fitness in mind, Flyer’s durable design includes a hydrophobic nano-coating that is rain, splash and sweatproof. A series of interchangeable ear tips, wings and fins allow you to personalise the fit of your headphones to ensure comfort and a secure fit in your ear throughout any workout. With up to six hours of playtime, you will likely tire out before your headphones do. If you need some extra battery life, Flyer’s 15-minute quick charge provides an extra hour of playtime.

“I see the positive effect music has on my clients every day, giving them the added push to workout harder and longer,” said Harley Pasternak, Fitbit Ambassador. “With Fitbit Flyer, you get great looking, comfortable headphones that work perfectly with my new Fitbit smartwatch. Paired with great sound quality, it will help keep your focus where it belongs – on your next repetition or walk – instead of worrying about your headphones staying in your ears.”

High quality sound delivers workout motivation

Flyer has been precision engineered to offer high quality, clear audio with dynamic range, including features like AAC wireless codec and Passive Noise Isolation to improve sound quality and reduce the distraction of outside noises. With two different sound settings on-device – Signature and Power Boost – you can select the profile that’s right for you by using the control box right on your headphones. As the first headphones to incorporate Waves MaxxAudio technology, which is used for audio production in hit records, major motion pictures and video games, Flyer’s Power Boost setting amplifies bass for a high- fidelity sound experience.

Essential features for all-day listening

Flyer’s durable design and superior sound quality make these headphones perfect for everyday wear – beyond workouts. The 3-button control box lets you easily adjust sound, pause music and change songs on the go, while audio prompts keep you looped into incoming calls, battery life, song volume and more. With multi-device connectivity, you can simultaneously connect to two Bluetooth devices at once, making it easy to switch back and forth between listening to music on a computer or Fitbit Ionic to accepting a call on your phone, or even chatting with your digital assistant including Cortana, Google Assistant or Siri. The dual microphone enables high quality hands-free phone calls, reducing external noises, such as wind and crowd-noise to ensure voice clarity.

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Small South African town goes smartphone-only

Vodacom partners with farming business to upgrade all residents of Wakkerstroom from 2G devices to smartphones

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All residents of the small town of Wakkerstroom, which straddles Mpumalanga and kwaZulu-Natal provinces, have had their 2G feature phones upgraded to 3G devices.

The initiative is a result of Vodacom partnering with BPG Langfontein, a farming business that employs the majority of the people living in Wakkerstroom. It is now the first smartphone-only town in South Africa. This is a model the network provider says it hopes to replicate across the country as part of its mission to connect people who live in deep rural areas and are still dependent on 2G networks.

Wakkerstroom, is the second oldest town in Mpumalanga province, on the KwaZulu-Natal border, 27 km east of Volksrust and 56 km south-east of Amersfoort.  

“There are growing expectations for big corporates the size of Vodacom to serve a social purpose, and for us to use our resources and core capabilities to make a significant contribution in transforming the lives of ordinary people,” says Zakhele Jiyane, Managing Executive for Vodacom Mpumalanga. “We are helping to remove communication barriers, so that citizens in the area can be part of the digital revolution and reap the associated benefits. By moving the more than 1400 farm workers from 2G to 3G devices, this will also free much needed spectrum and this spectrum can be re-farmed to provide for faster networks such as 3G and 4G.

“Crucially, the move opens a new world of connectivity for farm workers in Wakkerstroom. As a result, most people in the area will now be able to use the Vodacom network to connect on the net and access online government services, eHealth services such as Mum&Baby and eCommerce. Learners can now surf the internet for the first time and access Vodacom’s eSchool free of charge and those who are actively looking for jobs can start using their smartphones and tablets to apply for jobs over the internet on Vodacom’s zero-rated career sites. This will be key for driving growth to the benefit of people living in this area.”

Vodacom has already deployed 4G base stations in Wakkestroom as part of this initiative.

For the next phase of this project, says Vodacom, it is going to educate the farm workers about data and the benefits of the Internet. Vodacom will also look at various ways in which it can help empower members of this community in areas of education, gender-based violence and health.

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10 more African countries join Facebook fact-checking

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Facebook today announced the expansion of its Third-Party Fact-Checking programme to 10 additional African countries, which now join  Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Cameroon and Senegal in the project,

In partnership with Agence France-Presse (AFP), the France 24 Observers, Pesa Check and Dubawa, this programme forms part of its work in helping assess the accuracy and quality of news people find on Facebook, whilst reducing the spread of misinformation on its platform.

Working with a network of fact-checking organizations, certified by the non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network, third-party fact-checking will now be available in Ethiopia, Zambia, Somalia and Burkina Faso through AFP, Uganda and Tanzania through both Pesa Check and AFP, Democratic Republic of Congo and Cote d’Ivoire through the France 24 Observers and AFP, Guinea Conakry through the France 24 Observers, and Ghana through Dubawa.

Feedback from the Facebook community is one of many signals Facebook uses to raise potentially false stories to fact-checkers for review. Local articles will be fact-checked alongside the verification of photos and videos. If one of our fact-checking partners identifies a story as false, Facebook will show it lower in News Feed, significantly reducing its distribution.

Kojo Boakye, Facebook Head of Public Policy, Africa, said: “The expansion of third-party fact-checking to now cover 15 countries in a little over a year shows firsthand our commitment and dedication to the continent, alongside our recent local language expansion as part of this programme. Taking steps to help tackle false news on Facebook is a responsibility we take seriously, we know misinformation is a problem, and these are important steps in continuing to address this issue. We know that third-party fact-checking alone is not the solution, it is one of many initiatives and programmes we are investing in to help to improve the quality of information people see on Facebook. While we’ve made great progress, we will keep investing to ensure Facebook remains a place for all ideas, but not for the spread of false news.”

When third-party fact-checkers fact-check a news story, Facebook will show these in Related Articles immediately below the story in News Feed. Page Admins and people on Facebook will also receive notifications if they try to share a story or have shared one in the past that’s been determined to be false, empowering people to decide for themselves what to read, trust, and share.

Providing fact-checking in English and French across eight countries, Phil Chetwynd, AFP Global News Director said: “AFP is delighted to be expanding its fact-checking project with Facebook. We are known for the high quality of our journalism from across Africa and we will be leveraging our unparalleled network of bureaus and journalists on the continent to combat misinformation.”

Eric Mugendi, Managing Editor from Pesa Check who will provide fact-checking services in Swahili and English added: “Social networks like Facebook haven’t just changed how Africans consume the news. Social media is often the primary access to digital content or the ‘Internet’ for many Africans. They shape our perceptions of the world, our public discourse, and how we interact with public figures. This project helps us dramatically expand our fact-checking to debunk claims that could otherwise cause real-world harm. The project helps us respond more quickly and directly. We’re seeing real positive results in our interactions with both publishers and the public itself. The project also helps our fact-checks reach a far larger audience than we would otherwise. This has helped us better understand the information vacuum and other viral dynamics that drive the spread of false information in Africa. Our growing impact is a small but tangible contribution to better informed societies in Africa.”

Caroline Anipah, Programme Officer, Dubawa (Ghana) said: “Dubawa is excited to be in Ghana where the misinformation and disinformation have become widespread as a result of technological advancement and increasing internet penetration. Dubawa intends to raise the quality of information available to the public with the ultimate aim of curbing the spread of misinformation and disinformation and promoting good governance and accountability.”

Derek Thomson, editor-in-chief of the France 24 Observers, said: “Our African users are constantly sending us questionable images and messages they’ve received via social media, asking us ‘Is this true? Can you check it?’ It’s our responsibility as fact-checking journalists to verify the information that’s circulating, and get the truth back out there. Participating in the Facebook programme helps ensure that our fact-checks are reaching the people who shared the false news in the first place.”

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