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Google’s Android One smartphone launched in Nigeria

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Google has formally launched its Android One programme in Africa, releasing the Infinix HOT 2 smartphone in Nigeria, and with five other countries to follow.

Google yesterday unveiled its roadmap for the Android One programme in Africa, with the project’s first low-cost smartphone being released in Nigeria. Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Egypt, and Morocco will follow soon.

Caesar Sengupta, VP of Product Management for Android, outlined the roll-out and its rationale on the Android Official Blog:

If you’re online in Nigeria, chances are you’re on a smartphone. Of the more than 50 million Nigerians who use the Internet, 95% do so on a mobile device — and thanks to those devices, the number of people across Nigeria and the rest of Africa with access has grown tremendously.

However, simply having an Internet connection isn’t enough. It’s important that people getting started with the Internet have a great, reliable, and relevant experience right away. This can be a challenge in places where local content may be limited, connectivity slow or intermittent, and quality phones costly.

While there’s still much more to do, we’re excited to take a step forward in addressing some of those challenges. Today in Lagos we’re announcing new products and features made to improve people’s experience when using a mobile phone to access the Internet.

First, the Android One program is expanding to Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Egypt, and Morocco with the launch of the Infinix HOT 2. This is the first Android One device made with our hardware partner Infinix, one of the hottest, fastest growing smartphone brands in Africa. Starting today, the HOT 2 is available in Nigeria at select retail outlets and online through Jumia at a recommended retail price of N17,500* (~88 USD), and it will become available in the other countries over the next few weeks.

Like all Android One phones, the HOT 2 combines a high-quality hardware experience with pure Android software. Bringing together a quad-core MediaTek processor with 1GB memory, dual SIM support, and black, white, red, blue, and gold (with 2GB memory) models, the hardware is a great complement to Lollipop 5.1.1, which provides up to 2x better performance and extended battery features. The Android One HOT 2 will also receive an update to the next version of Android (according to Infinix’s schedule), and thus stays fast and responsive over time.

Second, for people who already own a smartphone, we’re helping them get more for their MBs through a streamlined version of Google Search rolling out to devices worldwide and offering a faster experience on low RAM phones, such as those with 512MB. This feature can reduce data usage on the results page by up to 90%, while removing up to ⅓ of the time it takes to load results.

Finally, we will make the YouTube viewing experience even better by extending YouTube offline to Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, and Egypt within the next few months. This feature of the YouTube app lets you store many of the videos on YouTube for up to 48 hours, so you can watch them later when your connection may be slow — or non-existent. And if you want to quickly re-watch a video with friends without waiting for it to load, that works great too.

Nearly one year ago, Google introduced the Android One program and YouTube Offline in India. Today, 6 countries in Africa — with combined populations of 379 million people — join the list of places where Android One phones are sold. We’ve been thrilled by the progress and feel humbled by the work that’s left to do. But we look forward to continuing our work with partners to ensure that people have a great way to access the Internet, using it in ways that are relevant and useful.

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Kenya tool to help companies prepare for emergencies

After its team members survived last week’s Nairobi terror attack, Ushahidi decided to release a new preparedness tool for free, writes its CEO, NAT MANNING

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On Tuesday I woke up a bit before 7am in Berkeley, California where I live. I made some coffee and went over to my computer to start my work day. I checked my Slack and the news and quickly found out that there was an ongoing terrorist attack at 14 Riverside Complex in Nairobi, Kenya. The Ushahidi office is in Nairobi and about a third of our team is based there (the rest of us are spread across 10 other countries).

As I read the news, my heart plummeted, and I immediately asked the question, “is everyone on my team okay?”

Five years ago Al-Shabaab committed a similar attack at the Westgate Mall. We spent several tense hours figuring out if any of our team had been in the mall, and verifying that everyone was safe. We found out that one of our team member’s family was caught up in the attack. Luckily they made it out.

At Ushahidi we make software for crisis response, including tools to map disasters and election violence, and yet we felt helpless in the face of this attack. In the days following the Westgate attack, our team huddled and thought about what we could build that would help our team — and other teams — if we found ourselves in a similar situation to this attack again. We identified that when we first learned of the attack, nearly everyone at Ushahidi had spent that first precious few hours trying to answer the basic questions, “Is everyone okay?”, and if not, “Who needs help?” 

People had ad-hoc used multiple channels such as WhatsApp, called, emailed, or texted. We had done this for each person at Ushahidi (their job), in our families, and important people in our community. Our process was unorganised, inefficient, repetitive, and frustrating.

And from this problem we created TenFour, a check in tool that makes it easier for teams to reach one another during times of crisis. It is a simple application that lets people send a message to their team via SMS, Slack, Voice, email, and in-app, and get a response. It also works for educational institutions, companies with distributed staff, as well as part of neighbourhood networks like neighbourhood watches.

This week when I woke up to the news of the attack at Riverside, I immediately opened up the TenFour app.

Click here to read how Nat quickly confirmed the safety of his team.

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Kia multi-collision airbags

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The world’s first multi-collision airbag system has been unveiled by Hyundai Motor Group subsidiary KIA Motors, with the aim of improving airbag performance in multi-collision accidents.

Multi-collision accidents are those in which the primary impact is followed by collisions with secondary objects, such as other vehicles, trees, or electrical posts, which occur in three out of every 10 accidents. Current airbag systems do not offer secondary protection when the initial impact is insufficient to cause them to deploy. 

However, the multi-collision airbag system allows airbags to deploy effectively upon a secondary impact, by calibrating the status of the vehicle and the occupants.

The new technology detects occupants’ positions in the cabin following an initial collision. When occupants are forced into unusual positions, the effectiveness of existing safety technology may be compromised. Multi-collision airbag systems are designed to deploy even faster when initial safety systems may not be effective, providing additional safety when drivers and passengers are most vulnerable. By recalibrating the collision intensity required for deployment, the airbag system responds more promptly during the secondary impact, thereby improving the safety of multi-collision vehicle occupants.

“By improving airbag performance in multi-collision scenarios, we expect to significantly improve the safety of our drivers and passengers,” said Taesoo Chi, head of the Hyundai Motor Group’s Chassis Technology Centre. “We will continue our research on more diverse crash situations as part of our commitment to producing even safer vehicles that protect occupants and prevent injuries.”

According to statistics by the National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System (NASS-CDS), an office of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in USA, about 30% of 56,000 vehicle accidents from 2000 to 2012 in the North American region involved multi-collisions. The leading type of multi-collision accidents involved cars crossing over the centre line (30.8%), followed by collisions caused by a sudden stop at highway tollgates (13.5%), highway median strip collisions (8.0%), and sideswiping and collision with trees and electric poles (4.0%). 

These multi-collision scenarios were analysed in multilateral ways to improve airbag performance and precision in secondary collisions. Once commercialised, the system will be implemented in future new KIA vehicles. 

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