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New macOS on the way

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Apple this week previewed macOS Sierra, a major update to its desktop operating system, which now features Siri, a universal clip board and better integration with iCloud. 

Addressing criticisms that the desktop OS has not kept up with the mobile iOS, Apple has brought Siri to the Mac with new capabilities to help with the things users do every day on their desktop.

With Siri, says Apple, users can look up information, find documents, pin or drag and drop search results, and even adjust system preferences. Integration with iCloud is expected to make Desktop and Documents folder available on an iPhone and iPad so “you always have access to the files you need”. It is not clear, however, whether users will still need to pay for capacity beyond the free 5GB on offer.

Universal Clipboard allows one to copy content, including text, images, photos and video from one Apple device and paste it in another.

“macOS Sierra is a major update that makes your Mac smarter and more helpful than ever with improvements to the apps you know and love and great new features throughout,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “With macOS Sierra, you can get information, find files and multitask using Siri, access your Desktop and Documents from anywhere, copy and paste between Macs and iOS devices, and rediscover precious memories in Photos.”

Apple provided the following information:

Siri Debuts on the Mac

Siri on the Mac is now just one click away. The familiar features of Siri are now on the Mac with brand-new capabilities specifically designed for the desktop. Easily accessible from the Dock, menu bar or keyboard, Siri lets you use your voice to search for information, find files and send messages. For example you can ask Siri to locate a specific document you worked on last night, add a meeting to your calendar or start a FaceTime call. With Siri on the Mac, you can also drag and drop items from Siri search results into your documents or emails, pin Siri search results in Notification Center to keep an eye on information like sports scores or stock prices, and even adjust system preferences, set reminders and search your Photos library. With its debut on Mac, Siri is now on all four Apple software platforms — iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS — and handles two billion requests per week across 36 countries.

Your Desktop & Documents on All Your Devices

With macOS Sierra you can automatically have all the files on your Desktop and in your Documents folder on any Mac, iOS device or even PC. You simply save your files on your Desktop or within your Documents folder as you usually do and you will have them everywhere you need them. You can access your files on your iPhone and iPad in the iCloud Drive app and on iCloud.com or the iCloud for Windows app. And when you log into a second Mac, your files are automatically on the Desktop and in the Documents folder, exactly where you saved them.

Copy & Paste Between Devices

Continuity across your Apple devices also gets better in macOS Sierra. With Universal Clipboard, the contents of your clipboard are available across all your Apple devices via iCloud. You can easily copy and paste text, images, photos and video between your Mac and your iPhone and iPad.

Tabs in Almost Every App

To help you navigate your Desktop with more efficiency, macOS Sierra takes the popular Tabs feature from Safari and makes it available across Mac apps that support multiple windows, including Maps, Mail, Pages, Numbers, Keynote and TextEdit, and even third-party apps. With Tabs you can browse multiple locations in Maps without losing your place, copy and paste between Pages documents in full screen, or quickly jump between multiple email drafts in Mail.

Picture in Picture on the Mac

You can now keep an eye on one thing while working on another. macOS Sierra lets you float video from Safari or iTunes in a window over your desktop as you work, and even resize, drag and pin video to any corner of your screen. The video stays put when you switch spaces, so you’ll never miss a thing.

Shopping on Your Mac with Apple Pay

Users love to shop online using their Macs and with macOS the shopping experience in Safari is now even better. Apple Pay on the web makes it easy to make secure and private purchases when shopping on participating websites. You no longer need to share credit or debit card numbers with an online merchant and actual card numbers are not stored on your device, nor on Apple servers. Just look for the Apple Pay button at checkout on many of your favourite shopping sites and complete your purchase with Touch ID on your iPhone or by using your Apple Watch. Strong encryption protects all communication between your devices and Apple Pay servers, and Apple Pay does not track your purchases.

Rediscover Memories with Photos

The new Memories feature in Photos helps you rediscover favourite and forgotten moments deep in your Photos library by automatically creating curated collections of occasions like a first birthday party, wedding or family vacation. With new advanced computer vision, Photos now understands the people, places and things inside your images using on-device facial, object and scene recognition and location information to group images into albums. The People feature automatically groups your photos into Albums based on who is in them. Places now displays your photos on a world map so you can see where they were taken. And, perfecting your photos like a pro is now even easier with the new Brilliance tool, which pulls in highlights and adds contrast to enhance details throughout your images.

Additional macOS Features

• Auto Unlock lets you simply walk up to your Mac while wearing your authenticated Apple Watch and be automatically logged into your desktop.

• Optimised Storage frees up space when your Mac starts getting full by storing infrequently used items in iCloud and reminding you to delete used app installers, and even clearing out duplicate downloads, caches, logs and more.

• Messages makes conversations more interesting, now allowing you to preview web links and watch video clips within the app, post reactions like a heart, thumbs up and more directly onto a message bubble with Tapback, and use bigger emoji for more message impact.

• Apple Music in iTunes makes it even easier to discover new music and browse exclusives and new releases.

Privacy in macOS

Security and privacy are fundamental to the design of Apple hardware, software and services. iMessage and FaceTime use end-to-end encryption to protect your data by making it unreadable by Apple and others. Services like Siri and Maps send data to Apple’s servers, but this data is not used to build user profiles, and Photos uses on-device intelligence to organise your images using facial, object and scene recognition.

Starting with macOS Sierra, Apple is using technology called Differential Privacy to help discover the usage patterns of a large number of users without compromising individual privacy. In macOS Sierra, this technology will help improve autocorrect suggestions and lookup hints in Notes.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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