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MWC: Sailfish releases new OS

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Jolla, a Finnish mobile company and developer of open mobile operating system Sailfish OS has announced Sailfish 3 at this year’s Mobile World Congress.

In addition to its new OS, the company announced new device support for Sony’s Xperia XA2, the Gemini PDA, and INOI tablets. Sailfish is now also available for the new era of 4G Feature Phones.

This is the year of Sailfish 3, the next generation of the world’s only alternative mobile operating system. Sailfish 3 is a result of rigorous development work and the efforts made together with Jolla’s licensing partners and the Sailfish community.

Sami Pienimäki, CEO of Jolla comments: “Sailfish OS has evolved from being originally the OS for Jolla devices, all the way to supporting different major regional mobile ecosystem projects, and a vast number of mobile devices. We are very proud to be moving to the third generation in our OS development, and believe it will provide a great upgrade for all our B2G, B2B, and community customers.”

For Sailfish 3 Jolla is providing full support for regional infrastructures including steady releases & OS upgrades, services to establish independent R&D centers, local hosting, training, and a flexible feature set to support specific customer needs. Sailfish 3 will also have extended security features and options, taking the level of independence to the next level and making it a solid option for various corporate solutions.

Sailfish 3 will be rolled out in phases during Q3/2018 for all licensees and customers.

New Sailfish devices announced

Sailfish OS is officially supported now on over a dozen mobile devices, and even more through the Sailfish community. Support extends several form factors including feature phones, wearables, tablets, corporate solutions, and a range of smartphones. Further with Sailfish 3, Jolla will extend its downloadable version of the OS, the Sailfish X, to new devices, such as the Gemini PDA.

New Sailfish devices announced in MWC 2018 include upcoming support for the brand new Sony’s Xperia XA2. In collaboration with Sony Open Device Program, Jolla will make Sailfish OS available for the Xperia XA2. Through the Sailfish X program interested tech heads can purchase an official Sailfish X license and install the OS on their brand new Sony’s Xperia™ XA2 devices. The software will become available in summer 2018.

Also, coming soon with Sailfish OS is the cool Gemini PDA by Planet Computers. The popular, crowdfunded Gemini PDA is a next generation mobile PDA with a fully functioning physical keyboard and is now in shipments to its first customers. The Sailfish OS version is first demoed and shown to public in MWC 2018. Further availability will be announced later.

The third new Sailfish device announced in MWC 2018 is the new tablet by Russian brand INOI. The new INOI tablet comes in two different versions: 8” INOI T8 and 10” INOI T10. The device is primarily targeted to Russian corporate customers.

Sailfish OS now available for feature phones

In MWC 2018 Jolla is also showcasing a totally new segment for Sailfish OS: the new era of highly capable 4G feature phones.

Sami Pienimäki continues: “What sets Sailfish OS apart from its competitors in the feature phone segment is the capability to do low-spec hardware configurations and still run selected Android apps thanks to our unique solution. Sailfish OS is also VoLTE capable, which is coming increasingly important for the new era of this segment.”

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Small SA 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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Facebook fact-checking goes to 10 more African countries

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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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