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iOS 9 lands next week

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Apple has announced that iOS 9, the new version of its mobile operating system, will be available on Wednesday, September 16, as a free update for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users. 

Apple provided the following information:

The way you interact with iPad gets even better with iOS 9, thanks to new multitasking features that let users view and interact with two apps at once, side by side. With Picture-in-Picture, users can play video while browsing the web, composing email or using other apps. Built-in apps become more powerful with a redesigned Notes app offering new ways to capture ideas, detailed transit information in Maps, and an all-new News app for the best news reading experience on any mobile device.

“iOS 9 is packed with intelligence that makes every experience with iPhone and iPad even more powerful — Siri can do more than ever and new proactive assistance helps you get more done before you ask, all while protecting users’ privacy,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “With iOS 9 we focused on strengthening the foundation of iOS with a deep focus on quality, and with the help of more than one million users who participated in our first ever public beta program, we’re excited to release the best version of iOS yet.”

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Intelligence

In iOS 9, every experience with iPhone gets even better, with new intelligence that works behind the scenes to present the right information at the right time. Proactive assistance presents the most relevant information at a given time of day and suggests actions at that particular moment based on the apps you use frequently and the time of day you use them. Siri features an all-new design, contextual reminders based on time and location, and new ways to search photos and videos. Search queries deliver more relevant results from more categories, including sports scores and schedules, simple math calculations, weather conditions and stock prices.

iPad Experience

iOS 9 delivers new multitasking features designed specifically for iPad that allow you to do even more:

Slide Over lets you simultaneously work in a second app without leaving the one you’re in and easily switch between your apps.

Split View allows you to view and interact with two apps at the same time, side by side, and resize your view to prioritise one app over another.

Picture-in-Picture lets you continue a video or FaceTime call while using your favourite apps.

Typing is faster and easier with an all-new Shortcut Bar that displays convenient editing tools, and new Multi-Touch gestures make it even easier to select, edit and move text.

Built-In Apps

The powerful built-in apps on iPhone and iPad are designed for all your essential, everyday tasks. In iOS 9, we’re delivering a completely redesigned Notes app, support for transit in Maps, an all-new News app and new capabilities in Apple Pay.

The completely redesigned Notes app includes the ability to draw a quick sketch using your finger, easily create checklists to keep track of your to-dos or snap a photo directly in a note. Important items can be saved directly to the Notes app from other apps and are kept in sync across all your enabled devices with iCloud.

Maps adds support for metropolitan transit systems and schedules, and subway station entrances and exits are precisely mapped. When you plan your trip, Maps can offer a combination of trains, subways, buses and walking, and presents you with what’s nearby, delivering options for local food, drinks, shopping and more.

News delivers a reading experience that combines the rich, immersive design of a print magazine with the interactivity of digital media. News can learn your interests and suggest relevant content that’s easily shareable or saved for later, and delivers the best articles from more than 50 publishers, representing hundreds of titles from the world’s most influential news, sports, business and magazine brands, covering over one million topics.**

Apple Pay adds support for Discover, merchant rewards programs and participating store-issued credit and debit cards. Shoppers will be able to manage their cards in the new Wallet app.

Foundation

This latest release makes the foundation of iOS even stronger with refinements including battery optimisation that provides a typical user with an additional hour of battery life, and a low-power mode to further extend battery life. Software updates require less space to install and the Install Later feature can perform updates to your device when it’s not in use. Enhanced security features in iOS 9 keep your devices and Apple ID secure by strengthening the passcode that protects your devices and improving two-factor authentication by building it directly into iOS, making it harder for others to gain unauthorised access to your Apple ID. iOS 9 apps and the user interface now take advantage of Metal to deliver faster scrolling, smoother animation and better overall performance.

Availability

iOS 9 will be available beginning Wednesday, September 16 as a free software update for iPhone 4s and later, iPod touch 5th generation and later, iPad 2 and later and iPad mini and later. Some features may not be available in all regions or all languages. For more information visit www.apple.com/ios.

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Smart home arrives in SA

The smart home is no longer a distant vision confined to advanced economies, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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The smart home is a wonderful vision for controlling every aspect of one’s living environment via remote control, apps and sensors. But, because it is both complex and expensive, there has been little appetite for it in South Africa.

The two main routes for smart home installation are both fraught with peril – financial and technical.

The first is to call on a specialist installation company. Surprisingly, there are many in South Africa. Google “smart home” +”South Africa”, and thousands of results appear. The problem is that, because the industry is so new, few have built up solid track records and reputations. Costs vary wildly, few standards exist, and the cost of after-sales service will turn out to be more important than the upfront price.

The second route is to assemble the components of a smart home, and attempt self-installation. For the non-technical, this is often a non-starter. Not only does one need a fairly good knowledge of Wi-Fi configuration, but also a broad understanding of the Internet of Things (IoT) – the ability for devices to sense their environment, connect to each other, and share information.

The good news, though, is that it is getting easier and more cost effective all the time.

My first efforts in this direction started a few years ago with finding smart plugs on Amazon.com. These are power adaptors that turn regular sockets into “smart sockets” by adding Wi-Fi and an on-off switch, among other. A smart lightbulb was sourced from Gearbest in China. At the time, these were the cheapest and most basic elements for a starter smart home environment.

Via a smartphone app, the light could be switched on from the other side of the world. It sounds trivial and silly, but on such basic functions the future is slowly built.

Fast forward a year or two, and these components are available from hundreds of outlets, they have plummeted in cost, and the range of options is bewildering. That, of course, makes the quest even more bewildering. Who can be trusted for quality, fulfilment and after-sales support? Which products will be obsolete in the next year or two as technology advances even more rapidly?

These are some of the challenges that a leading South African technology distributor, Syntech, decided to address in adding smart home products to its portfolio. It selected LifeSmart, a global brand with proven expertise in both IoT and smart home products.

Equally significantly, LifeSmart combines IoT with artificial intelligence and machine learning, meaning that the devices “learn” the best ways of connecting, sharing and integrating new elements. Because they all fall under the same brand, they are designed to integrate with the LifeSmart app, which is available for Android and iOS phones, as well as Android TV.

Click here to read about how LifeSmart makes installing smart home devices easier.

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Matrics must prepare for AI

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students writing a test

By Vian Chinner, CEO and founder of Xineoh.

Many in the matric class of 2018 are currently weighing up their options for the future. With the country’s high unemployment rate casting a shadow on their opportunities, these future jobseekers have been encouraged to look into which skills are required by the market, tailoring their occupational training to align with demand and thereby improving their chances of finding a job, writes Vian Chinner – a South African innovator, data scientist and CEO of the machine learning company specialising in consumer behaviour prediction, Xineoh.

With rapid innovation and development in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), all careers – including high-demand professions like engineers, teachers and electricians – will look significantly different in the years to come.

Notably, the third wave of internet connectivity, whereby our physical world begins to merge with that of the internet, is upon us. This is evident in how widespread AI is being implemented across industries as well as in our homes with the use of automation solutions and bots like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. So much data is collected from the physical world every day and AI makes sense of it all.

Not only do new industries related to technology like AI open new career paths, such as those specialising in data science, but it will also modify those which already exist. 

So, what should matriculants be considering when deciding what route to take?

For highly academic individuals, who are exceptionally strong in mathematics, data science is definitely the way to go. There is, and will continue to be, massive demand internationally as well as locally, with Element-AI noting that there are only between 0 and 100 data scientists in South Africa, with the true number being closer to 0.

In terms of getting a foot in the door to become a successful data scientist, practical experience, working with an AI-focused business, is essential. Students should consider getting an internship while they are studying or going straight into an internship, learning on the job and taking specialist online courses from institutions like Stanford University and MIT as they go.

This career path is, however, limited to the highly academic and mathematically gifted, but the technology is inevitably going to overlap with all other professions and so, those who are looking to begin their careers should take note of which skills will be in demand in future, versus which will be made redundant by AI.

In the next few years, technicians who are able to install and maintain new technology will be highly sought after. On the other hand, many entry level jobs will likely be taken care of by AI – from the slicing and dicing currently done by assistant chefs, to the laying of bricks by labourers in the building sector.

As a rule, students should be looking at the skills required for the job one step up from an entry level position and working towards developing these. Those training to be journalists, for instance, should work towards the skill level of an editor and a bookkeeping trainee, the role of financial consultant.

This also means that new workforce entrants should be prepared to walk into a more demanding role, with more responsibility, than perhaps previously anticipated and that the country’s education and training system should adapt to the shift in required skills.

The matric classes of 2018 have completed their schooling in the information age and we should be equipping them, and future generations, for the future market – AI is central to this.

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