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Opera revamps compression

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A new version of the Opera Mini Internet browser for Android now allow users to switch between different data compression methods, allowing them to optimise their data compression depending on the type of network they are on.

In the newest version of Opera Mini mobile browser for Android, users can switch between two different data compression modes: High and Extreme. With these two modes, they can optimize their data compression for different network conditions.

The new High-compression mode compresses web-pages without affecting the page display, making it the perfect mode for surfing the web on 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi networks.

The Extreme-compression mode compresses web-pages extensively, giving users a very high-speed internet experience while using very little mobile data. This mode is ideal for when users are experiencing slow network conditions, or just want to make their data plans last longer. The Extreme-compression mode can affect the layout of the web-pages and was previously the only compression mode available in Opera Mini.

“Opera Mini has for a decade helped hundred of millions of users across the globe to access their favourite content on the internet no matter which mobile phone they had or how slow their data connection was. With the rise of better smartphones and better network conditions our users now want the option to have a less aggressive data compression mode so they can experience the full internet when network conditions allow for it,” says Christian Uribe, Product Manager of Opera Mini at Opera Software.

On Facebook for example, users can clearly see the difference between the two data compression modes. In High-compression mode, users experience the site with more dynamic content and video playback. In Extreme-compression mode, users get a faster experience, but with scaled-down images and a simpler interface with less dynamic content.

Opera aims to become the dominant browser in fast-growing emerging economies

Opera Mini’s update is an important milestone toward Opera’s goal of reaching 275 million Android users by the end of 2017.

“Only half of the mobile population in India is connected to 3G networks, while in Indonesia, more than half of all smartphone users experience network problems daily. And, people all over the world turn off their phones while traveling, due to fear of data-roaming costs. In each case, Opera Mini offers a better web experience,” says Lars Boilesen, CEO, Opera Software.  “We are continuously striving to improve user experience, lowering barriers to get online in all kinds of conditions.”

About the new Opera Mini for Android

In addition to the advanced compression technology, the latest Opera Mini includes the following features:

  • New and improved UI for saved pages and bookmarks
  • Better handling of bigger downloads in High-compression mode
  • Overhauled tab switch
  • Private-browsing mode
  • Options to customize the browser layout for more thumb-friendly surfing
  • A scalable interface with higher resolution for tablets and large phones
  • Updates to the Discover news feed to provide more of the latest content across the web
  • A data counter to show daily progress on data savings, helping users keep data costs under control

How it works

Opera Mini’s compression technology routes requested webpages through one of its data-saving servers. The server removes any extraneous page elements, shaves off image pixels a user won’t miss, diagnoses the state of the user’s connection and compresses any downloads. All this before sending the page back to the user’s device. Opera Mini allows users to do more on the web while getting the most out of their data plans.

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SA startups in Visa final

Leading fintech companies from the Sub-Sahara Africa technology startup community have made it to the finals of Visa’s Everywhere Initiative.

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Among the 12 chosen, from the 238 total entries, South African startups Howler and FinChatBot will compete against innovators from across Sub Sahara Africa for a chance to secure funding of up to US$50,000 to develop their ideas when the initiative concludes in Johannesburg on July 24. 

Fintechs in Africa are making incredible strides; not only to bring more convenience to consumers, but also to enable people who would not otherwise have access to financial services or even a way to connect to the formal banking system. Venture funding for African startups jumped by 51% to $195 million in 2017 and fintech in Africa is expected to grow exponentially in the next few years as it continues to disrupt the traditional financial sector. With a clear goal of reducing reliance on cash, building digital payment based economies and increasing financial inclusion, Visa is committed to fostering an entrepreneurial spirit and driving innovation in its payments landscape. 

The Sub Saharan Africa edition of the Visa’s Everywhere Initiative challenged local fintech startup to deliver solutions based around three real life business challenges: 

  • How can startups leverage Visa Developer APIs to either:  Enable smaller merchants to accept payments in-store digitally OR Provide a safe and secure solution for online merchants to drive eCommerce and reduce cash on delivery?
  • How can startups use Visa’s APIs to leverage mass reach and social media partner platforms like Facebook to help businesses operating in fast-paced consumer centric environments improve cash flow and receive payments? 
  • How can startups leverage technology to provide services that are functional for illiterate customers to provide them with secure transaction experiences that build and enhance their confidence in the banking system?. 

Entrants were asked to submit ideas to leverage Visa’s network and technologies to resolve against at least one of the challenges. One winner per brief will be selected, with each receiving funding of US$25,000. Winners will be invited to a working meeting with Visa and may be presented with the opportunity to create a prototype. Visa will then select one overall winner to receive an additional US$25,000.

Geraldine Mitchley, Senior Director – Digital Solutions, Sub-Sahara Africa, Visa, said: “We are delighted with the response to our Visa’s Everywhere Initiative and the quality of submissions we received is an indication of the region’s rich talent pool and innovative spirit.”

“Launching this innovation program in the region has been an exciting time for the Visa SSA team, and the takeup reflects Africa’s enthusiasm to develop and pioneer solutions to the continent’s challenge – particularly in the payments technology space. I would like to congratulate the finalists and  wish them luck as they enter the final stretch.  When they come together for the final, they will not only have the chance to turn their ideas into reality, but also potentially help shape the future of payments in the region.”  

Howler which enables cashless transactions and end-to-end ticket handling for consumers and event organisers is competing in the first challenge and FinChatBot, which aims to automate part of customer services for financial service providers through AI-powered conversations is competing in the third challenge. 

The SSA edition of the Visa’s Everywhere Initiative will wrap up on July 24 in Johannesburg, with each finalist having an opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of expert judges from Visa and the payments industry. 

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Win a Poster Heater with Gadget and Takealot.com

This winter Gadget and Takealot.com are giving away three Poster Heaters, which look like posters but become heaters when you plug them in.

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Three Gadget readers will each win a unit, valued at R550 each. To enter, follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter and tell us on the @GadgetZA account how many Watts the heater consumes.

What’s the big deal about these heaters? Many of us are struggling to keep the balance between soaring electricity costs and the need to keep warm this winter.

However, the recently launched Poster Heater by EasyHeat and distributed in South Africa by Takealot.com is not only one of the most cost effective electric heaters currently on the market, it is also easy to setup and use.

As the name indicates, it is a poster similar to one you would hang on a wall. But, plug it in and it turns into a 300 Watt heater. The Poster Heater isn’t designed to heat hallways or large rooms, but rather smaller ones like a bedroom or a baby’s nursery or a dressing room.

It uses radiant heating, which means that it heats up in a couple of minutes and the heat is directed at the objects or people around it, quickly taking the chill out of the air and providing a comfortable ambient temperature.

The other advantage of radiant heating is that it doesn’t dry out the air like infrared or gas heaters. Users also don’t have to worry about their children or pets getting too close to it because, even though it gets hot, it can be touched.

To enter the competition follow the steps below:

Competition entry details:

1. Follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter. (We will ONLY be accepting entries via Twitter, so please don’t enter through the comments section of this article.)

2. Tell us on Twitter, via @GadgetZA, mentioning @Takealot in your posting, how many Watts the Poster Heater consumes.

cleardot.gif3. The competition closes on 31 July 2018.

4. Winners will be notified via Twitter on 1 August and Takealot.com will be in touch to organise delivery.

5. The competition is only open to South African residents.

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