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iPad, Apple Watch, get updates

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The upgraded iPad features a 10.2-inch Retina display, Apple Pencil support, the fast A10 Fusion chip, advanced cameras and sensors, high portability, fast connectivity, and all-day battery life. 

“The new iPad packs even more value into our most popular and affordable iPad model featuring a bigger 10.2-inch Retina display, support for Apple Pencil and for the first time, the full-size Smart Keyboard,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of Product Marketing. “The new iPad was built to run iPadOS, which introduces powerful new ways to multitask, manage and mark up documents, use Apple Pencil and view more information at a glance on a redesigned Home screen. This new iPad with iPadOS takes everything people love about our most popular iPad and makes it even better for creating, learning, working and playing.”

The new iPad has nearly 3.5 million pixels and a wide viewing angle, making it a canvas for creative expression and immersive augmented reality (AR) experiences that take advantage of its enhanced cameras and advanced sensors. Featuring the powerful A10 Fusion chip, the new seventh-generation iPad claims up to two times faster performance over the top-selling Windows PC1 for multitasking and smooth gameplay in Apple Arcade.

Designed to be ultra-portable and durable, the iPad features an enclosure made from 100 percent recycled aluminum. Staying connected is convenient on the iPad with ultra-fast wireless performance and support for Gigabit-class LTE connectivity delivering three times faster cellular data connections. With Touch ID us available for unlocking the iPad.

iPadOS offers new capabilities and intuitive features designed for a better experience of the iPad. A redesigned Home screen shows more apps on each page and the Today View can now be added, allowing quick access to widgets for at-a-glance information, including news headlines, weather and calendar events. Working with multiple files and documents from the same app is now more convenient, with updates to Split View, as well as switching between multiple apps using Slide Over.

The Apple Pencil opens up new ways to be creative and more productive, and more integrated into the iPad experience. Customers can now mark up and send entire webpages or documents by swiping Apple Pencil from the bottom corner of the screen, and a redesigned tool palette gives faster access to useful tools, colorus and shapes.

Managing documents in the Files app with iPadOS gets more powerful with support for external USB drives and file servers. Safari brings desktop-class browsing to the iPad so users always get an optimised website, as well as support for popular web apps like Squarespace and Google Docs.

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SA’s Internet goes down again

South Africa is about to experience a small repeat of the lower speeds and loss of Internet connectivity suffered in January, thanks to a new undersea cable break, writes BRYAN TURNER

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Internet service provider Afrihost has notified customers that there are major outages across all South African Internet Service Providers (ISPs), as a result of a break in the WACS undersea cable between Portugal and England 

The cause of the cable break along the cable is unclear. it marks the second major breakage event along the West African Internet sea cables this year, and comes at the worst possible time: as South Africans grow heavily dependent on their Internet connections during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

As a result of the break, the use of international websites and services, which include VPNs (virtual private networks), may result in latency – decreased speeds and response times.  

WACS runs from Yzerfontein in the Western Cape, up the West Coast of Africa, and terminates in the United Kingdom. It makes a stop in Portugal before it reaches the UK, and the breakage is reportedly somewhere between these two countries. 

The cable is owned in portions by several companies, and the portion where the breakage has occurred belongs to Tata Communications. 

The alternate routes are:  

  • SAT3, which runs from Melkbosstrand also in the Western Cape, up the West Coast and terminates in Portugal and Spain. This cable runs nearly parallel to WACS and has less Internet capacity than WACS. 
  • ACE (Africa Coast to Europe), which also runs up the West Coast.  
  • The SEACOM cable runs from South Africa, up the East Coast of Africa, terminating in both London and Dubai.  
  • The EASSy cable also runs from South Africa, up the East Coast, terminating in Sudan, from where it connects to other cables. 

The routes most ISPs in South Africa use are WACS and SAT3, due to cost reasons. 

The impact will not be as severe as in January, though. All international traffic is being redirected via alternative cable routes. This may be a viable method for connecting users to the Internet but might not be suitable for latency-sensitive applications like International video conferencing. 

Read more about the first Internet connectivity breakage which happened on the same cable, earlier this year. 

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SA cellphones to be tracked to fight coronavirus

Several countries are tracking cellphones to understand who may have been exposed to coronavirus-infected people. South Africa is about to follow suit, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From Israel to South Korea, governments and cell networks have been implementing measures to trace the cellphones of coronavirus-infected citizens, and who they’ve been around. The mechanisms countries have used have varied.  

In Iran, citizens were encouraged to download an app that claimed to diagnose COVID-19 with a series of yes or no questions. The app also tracked real-time location with a very high level of accuracy, provided by the GPS sensor. 

In Germany, all cellphones on Deutsche Telekom are being tracked through cell tower connections, providing a much coarser location, but a less invasive method of tracking. The data is being handled by the Robert Koch Institute, the German version of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

In Taiwan, those quarantined at home are tracked via an “electronic fence”, which determines if users leave their homes.  

In South Africa, preparations have started to track cellphones based on cell tower connections. The choice of this method is understandable, as many South Africans may either feel an app is too intrusive to have installed, or may not have the data to install the app. This method also allows more cellphones, including basic feature phones, to be tracked. 

This means that users can be tracked on a fairly anonymised basis, because these locations can be accurate to about 2 square kilometers. Clearly, this method of tracking is not meant to monitor individual movements, but rather gain a sense of who’s been around which general area.  

This data could be used to find lockdown violators, if one considers that a phone connecting in Hillbrow for the first 11 days of lockdown, and then connecting in Morningside for the next 5, likely indicates a person has moved for an extended period of time. 

The distance between Hillbrow and Morningside is 17km. One would pass through several zones covered by different towers.

Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said that South African network providers have agreed to provide government with location data to help fight COVID-19. 

Details on how the data will be used, and what it will used to determine, are still unclear. 

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