AI revolution will be all about humans, says Siri trailblazer

AI revolution will be all about humans, says Siri trailblazer

This picture taken on July 12, 2017 shows Sentient Technologies founder Antoine Blondeau posing at the RISE technology conference in Hong Kong. Predictions for an AI-dominated future are increasingly common, but Antoine Blondeau has form in reading, and arguably manipulating the runes — he helped develop technology that evolved into predictive texting and Apple’s Siri. ISAAC LAWRENCE / AFP

From the contents of your fridge to room temperature — digital assistants ensure your home runs smoothly. Your screens know your taste and show channels you want to see as you enter the room. Your car is driverless and your favourite barman may just be an android.

Predictions for an AI-dominated future are increasingly common, but Antoine Blondeau has experience in reading, and arguably manipulating, the runes — he helped develop technology that evolved into predictive texting and Apple’s Siri.

“In 30 years the world will be very different,” he says, adding: “Things will be designed to meet your individual needs.”

Work, as we know it, will be redundant, he says — visual and sensory advances in robotics will see smart factories make real time decisions requiring only human oversight rather than workers, while professions such as law, journalism, accounting and retail will be streamlined with AI doing the grunt work.

Healthcare is set for a revolution, with individuals holding all the data about their general health and AI able to diagnose ailments, he explains.

Blondeau says: “If you have a doctor’s appointment, it will be perhaps for the comfort of talking things through with a human, or perhaps because regulation will dictate a human needs to dispense medicine. But you won’t necessarily need the doctor to tell you what is wrong.”

The groundwork has been done: Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home are essentially digital butlers that can respond to commands as varied as ordering pizza to managing appliances, while Samsung is working on a range of ‘smart’ fridges, capable of giving daily news briefings, ordering groceries, or messaging your family at your request.

Leading media companies are already using ‘AI journalists’ to produce simple economics and sports stories from data and templates created by their human counterparts.

Blondeau’s firm Sentient Technologies has already successfully used AI traders in the financial markets.

In partnership with US retailer Shoes.com, it created an interactive ‘smart shopper’, which uses an algorithm that picks up information from gauging not just what you like, but what you don’t, offering suggestions in the way a real retail assistant would.

In healthcare, the firm worked with America’s MIT to invent an AI nurse able to assess patterns in blood pressure data from thousands of patients to correctly identify those developing sepsis — a catastrophic immune reaction — 30 minutes before the outward onset of the condition more than 90 percent of the time in trials.

“It’s a critical window that doctors say gives them the extra time to save lives,” Blondeau says, but concedes that bringing such concepts to the masses is difficult.

“The challenge is to pass to market because of regulations but also because people have an intrinsic belief you can trust a doctor, but will they trust a machine?” he adds.

Law, he says, is the next industry ripe for change. In June, he became chairman of Hong Kong’s Dragon Law. The dynamic start-up is credited with helping overhaul the legal industry by making it more accessible and affordable.

For many the idea of mass AI-caused redundancy is terrifying, but Blondeau is pragmatic: humans simply need to rethink careers and education.

“The era where you exit the education system at 16, 21, or 24 and that is it, is broadly gone,” he explains.

“People will have to retrain and change skillsets as the technology evolves.”

Blondeau disagrees that having a world so catered to your whims and wants might lead to a myopic life, a magnified version of the current social media echo chamber, arguing that it is possible to inject ‘serendipity’ into the technology, to throw up surprises.

While computers have surpassed humans at specific tasks and games such as chess or Go, predictions of a time when they develop artificial general intelligence (AGI) enabling them to perform any intellectual task an adult can range from as early as 2030 to the end of the century.

Blondeau, who was chief executive at tech firm Dejima when it worked on CALO — one of the biggest AI projects in US history — and developed a precursor to Siri, is more circumspect.

“We will get to some kind of AGI, but its not a given that we will create something that could match our intuition,” muses Blondeau, who was also a chief operating officer at Zi Corporation, a leader in predictive text.

“AI might make a better trader, maybe a better customer operative, but will it make a better husband? That machine will need to look at a lot of cases to develop its own intuition. That will take a long time,” he says.

The prospect of AI surpassing human capabilities has divided leaders in science and technology.

Microsoft’s Bill Gates, British physicist Stephen Hawking and maverick entrepreneur Elon Musk have all sounded the alarm warning unchecked AI could lead to the destruction of mankind.

Yet Blondeau seems unflinchingly positive, pointing out nuclear technology too could have spelled armageddon.

He explains: “Like any invention it can be used for good and bad. So we have to safeguard in each industry. There will be checks along the way, we are not going to wake up one day and suddenly realise the machines are aware.”

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AfricaCom launches new technology arena to develop the blueprint for Africa 4.0

AfricaCom launches new technology arena to develop the blueprint for Africa 4.0

Providing clarity of vision for future tech trends at AfricaCom 2017 – Microsoft signs on as lead sponsor of AfricaCom 20/20.

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, AfricaCom, the continent’s largest and most influential technology, media and telecoms (TMT) event is launching a brand-new technology arena. Located in the recently expanded and soon to be opened, CTICC wing, this entire exhibition hall will be dedicated to tech innovation and Africa’s journey towards the fourth industrial revolution.

Incorporated into this bustling zone between 7th and 9th November 2017, will be an Innovation Stage featuring visionary insights on future tech trends that also includes energetic discussions on the Internet of Things (IoT), Smart Cities, Big Data, Fintech, Blockchain, E-Health and Artificial Intelligence. Add in wearable tech, drones, a host of augmented and virtual reality gadgets, games and applications, all housed in one comprehensive really smart space.

This buzzing hive of activity, will be home to more than 100 technology focused exhibitors as well as the centrepiece of the arena, AfricaCom 20/20. This is a brand-new show floor feature dedicated to accelerating Africa’s digital transformation. As the centrepiece of the Technology Arena, AfricaCom 20/20 will host the Technology Arena Launch Party to kick off the 20th-anniversary celebrations on Monday evening 6th November 2017, as well as acting as the base for all other 20th anniversary celebrations.

Underpinning the importance of this event and this stream, Microsoft has signed on as a lead sponsor. Expect a vibrant showcase of new digital solutions presented by AfricaCom’s top 20 innovators, and thought-provoking conference content built around the theme ‘providing clarity of vision on future tech trends’.

Asif Valley, Cloud Development Lead – Microsoft South Africa, commented on the company’s involvement in this year’s event saying: “Digital transformation is critically important to the success of businesses across Africa, and Microsoft is focused on helping our customers successfully achieve their digital business transformation. Powered by our people and our mission to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more, we have been driving cloud innovation and growth across Africa for a number years.

“We also recently announced a significant investment into data centres in the African region, which expands on our existing investments aimed at: unleashing innovation to solve some of the biggest problems facing humanity; building and developing small businesses; and alleviating unemployment and poverty on our continent”.

Also on display in the new TA will be especially created demo pods will also enable delegates (over 13 000 are expected this year), to interact with next generation technologies, to help shape their own thoughts and possibilities of what is to come and what might be.

Underpinning the entire show and a narrative that will particularly dominate the technology arena, are the questions: What are the skills needed to accelerate Africa’s digital transformation – what infrastructure, policy, partnerships and collaborations are required to turn Africa into a global digital giant? What will the next 20 years of digital transformation in Africa look like and how will this transformation impact different vertical markets – manufacturing, utilities, agriculture, education, government, banking and beyond.

Some of the solutions will need to include novel uses of technology to solve socio-economic challenges in Africa, as well as Innovative business models to stay ahead of the game in an age of digital disruption and transformation as we march ever closer to digital inclusion.

Providing some of the answers to these questions and shining a light on potential solutions, is this year’s AHUB, also conveniently located in the TA.

The AHUB will showcase talent and facilitate ICT partnerships, and is geared to once again unleash the power of the start-up ecosystem across Africa. New in 2017, is a programme that has been designed to highlight the critical role of entrepreneurship in fuelling the continent’s digital economy. This will feature briefings for both start-us and investors, as well as live pitch sessions. Also in the mix for the first time, is the AHUB Start-up Academy with skills workshops and sector snapshots covering FinTech, E-Health, AgriTech, clean energy and ICT4D. Critical for entrepreneurs, will be a series of panel discussions aimed at helping them understand investor mentalities and also how to develop a disruptive mindset.

“AfricaCom has always been the event to come to futureproof one’s business, getting the inside track on systems that will affect growth and development as well as the opportunity of meeting other like-minded and complementary businesses involved in the sector.

“It has evolved over the years from being a purely telecommunications based event, to one where technology commands the stage. As it underpins everything, it seemed only fitting that we create an exhibit in which, to centrally house some of the most exciting tech and ideas that will impact on Africa’s digital advancement,” commented Tom Cuthell, Portfolio Director at KNect365.

Staff Writer

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Eezyfile: South Africa’s first visual storage app

Eezyfile: South Africa’s first visual storage app

Eezy Developments Launches APP for Visual Velocity

Eezy Developments has, according to the firm, revealed the launch of South Africa’s first visual storage app. Eezyfile is the first interface in South Africa that will enable users to store personal information like birth certificates, passport copies, warranties and more. The app is a combination of organisation and image recognition. Users can share images and folders with others and have conversations about the stored information.

Currently available on Google Play Store, the app not only stores information, but it also reminds users when their warranty will expire. Users can Snap an image of preferred document with Eezyfile, Save it and store it in a folder for “Home Improvements” or even a “Wish List.” The photo will be stored in the cloud and be available to share or to mull over when users add more elements to that same folder.

”We live in an age driven by technology and electronics; almost all of which come with some kind of warranty or guarantee,” shares Friedel Weihe, founder of Eezy Developments and the mastermind behind EezyFile. “This APP bridges the gap between our electronic interface and old style paper documents. Snap a picture of your warranty after purchase and EezyFile not only ensures you never lose your warranty, it reminds you when your warranty is about to expire.”

“EezyFile has strong search capabilities, as each image is tagged under various headings that you select, acting as a secure album to keep your thoughts, dreams and wish lists, organized and alive,” Weihe concludes.

Edited By Fundisiwe Maseko
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Opinion: Brendan McAravey discusses the future of SD-WAN

Opinion: Brendan McAravey discusses the future of SD-WAN

Brendan McAravey, Country Manager at Citrix South Africa.

For those that haven’t been following the rapidly growing SD-WAN market, Cisco’s acquisition of Viptela may seem to have come out of the blue. After all, $610M is a hefty premium for a very young company with an estimated $30M in annual revenue. But for those of us who have been immersed in SD-WAN for the last several years, it doesn’t come as a surprise at all.

SD-WAN is poised to cause radical disruption in enterprise networks, shaking up the MPLS/ISR technology that has dominated the branch WAN network for the last 20 years. And this move by Cisco validates the predictions from Gartner, IDC, and others that SD-WAN is not only growing, but beginning to cut into traditional networking sales.

The future is SD-WAN solutions that are built for the cloud. Applications are moving to the cloud as Software as a Service (SaaS) use grows and datacentres applications shift to public cloud. This shift requires a new way of thinking about the WAN and the branch network.

One where routing takes a back seat to secure and reliable connections from the branch to applications while cumbersome command line interfaces are replaced by simple configurations and business intent policies. In simple terms, the CLI should be gone and SaaS should be the primary consideration.

Will this precipitate more consolidation in the SD-WAN market? It may! The flurry of SD-WAN start-ups in the last several years has resulted in too many competing solutions without sufficient differentiation. It’s entirely possible that many of them will be acquired and their technology subsumed or discarded by bigger legacy networking vendors.

Citrix offers NetScaler, which combines real-time path selection, edge routeing, end-to-end QoS, and WAN optimisation and delivers the mobile workspace to the branch securely, reliably, and efficiently. It ensures business continuity and IT disaster recovery, lowers WAN costs, improves app performance for mobile, remote, and branch users, and improves Skype for Business performance and quality.

What makes NetScaler unique is the fact that we don’t require customers to set certain applications to certain paths. We are able to inform our clients in real time which is the best path to use – packet by packet rather than by application. NetScaler also offers zero-touch deployment, and very minimal intervention is required at the branch level.

Key Takeaways:

  • SD-WAN is here to stay. It’s already causing disruption in telecom service providers’ profits and networking vendors’ market share. If you haven’t yet looked at SD-WAN, this should be a wakeup call to explore whether this technology can help your business.
  • As with many new technologies, the initial explosion of start-ups will subside to a few successful companies. Make sure you’re working with a company that is investing in its SD-WAN technology and is built to last. This may not be the best time to commit to a vulnerable start-up.
  • Make sure your network is looking forward, not back. While routers and MPLS have served the branch well in a datacentre-centric network, it’s time to look toward the cloud and the Internet and work with companies who are experts in application delivery.

By Brendan McAravey, Country Manager at Citrix South Africa

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Airbus BizLab targets aerospace startups in East Africa

Airbus BizLab targets aerospace startups in East Africa

Airbus BizLab has launched the #Africa4Future initiative, targeting East African startups.

Airbus BizLab, a global aerospace accelerator has launched the #Africa4Future initiative targeting start-ups that are transforming the aerospace business in East Africa. The Airbus BizLab offers early-stage projects support, in the form of a six-month “accelerator programme”. The programme will give startups access to coaches, experts and mentors.

“We are excited to finally bring this programme to East Africa. We have been impressed by some of the innovations coming out of hubs such as Gearbox, Outbox, mLab, C4D Lab among other hubs and university research labs within the region. We are looking forward to receiving inspiring ideas and concepts from Nairobi in the coming weeks,” said Bruno Gutierres, Head of the Airbus BizLabs.

Airbus BizLab searches for startups that shape the future of a growing society, support sustainable development and empower mobility through aerospace technologies (AEROmobility) which traverses the following areas; Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAVs), Satellite Operations and Imagery, 3D Printing, Smart sensors, Internet of Things (IOT), smart energy and Artificial Intelligence.

The winning startup will win a fully-paid 10-day-trip to Europe in Oct/Nov 2017 and get the chance to meet and interact with aerospace experts and boost their startup. The startup will be able to work on solutions and, depending on the advancement of the project, partner with Airbus BizLab to see it to product stage.

Airbus BizLab invites all entrepreneurs and start-up businesses from the region to apply before the 6th September 2017. East African startups with solutions or ideas that are in line with the Airbus Vision on AEROmobility are called to submit their application. Interested startups can apply Here.

Edited By: Fundisiwe Maseko
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Discovering The Next Superstar With MTN MegaStar

Discovering The Next Superstar With MTN MegaStar

Tbo Touch of TouchHD will be a part of the judging pannel for MTN MegaStar.

South African telecommunications company, MTN, and TouchHD have joined forces to launch an online talent search called MTN MegaStar. The new platform gives aspirant musical superstars the opportunity to audition in an online reality series and stand a chance to win a once in a lifetime recording deal with Temple Records, and the opportunity to work with renown producer Mike Will, in Los Angeles.

MTN MegaStar will be available exclusively on MTN Play and will feature four well-known South African personalities who will serve as judges; these are Tbo Touch, KO, Kwesta and Nomuzi. The show will be presented by actress and a radio personality, Katlego Mohoaduba.

In order to watch the online reality series, MTN subscribers will be required to subscribe for R2 per day – which will give them an unlimited access to watch their favourite episodes, behind the scenes clips, tasks given to contestants and interviews with the judges. Each episode will be a duration of eight minutes, and new episodes will be available every Wednesday and Sunday.

The MTN MegaStar will host auditions in major South African cities and will also allow contestants to audition online by uploading a short video on MTN Play – which will give them a chance to receive an express pass at the regional auditions.

Regional auditions will take place as follows:

· Durban, Sibiya Hotel on 2nd of September 2017

· Polokwane, Meropa Casino on 5th September 2017

· Cape Town, Grandwest Casino on 09th September 2017

· Port Elizabeth, The Boardwalk Casino on 13th September 2017

· Johannesburg, Maslow Hotel on 16th September 2017

The top ten selected contestants will be housed in one of Steyn City’s Mansion where they will also be required to perform and complete allocated tasks. The process of elimination will see contestants being eliminated weekly based on the public voting, and the winner of the grand prize will also be voted for by the public.

The public can vote for their preferred contestants via an SMS to 40636 R1/SMS. The elimination and judging process will not only look at singing talent, but it will also look at contributing factors such as commitment, hardworking, people’s skills which will be accessed based on the tasks given to them.

Maxwell Nonge, Chief Digital Officer: MTN SA speaking abouth the launch of MTN MegaStar said, “We are delighted to offer this exciting and cutting-edge platform to our customers, which bears testament to our ongoing support of local content. We believe that MTN MegaStars will not only unearth the good talent, but will also provide our customers with the opportunity to be part of a journey of selecting the Winner. MTN MegaStar fully demonstrates the limitless possibilities that connectivity can provide. This is one of the ways that MTN is leveraging its ubiquitous platforms to brighten its customer’s lives and leading the way into a bold, new digital world for the connected consumer.”

Subscribers also stand a chance to win weekly prizes and one lucky subscriber stands to drive away with an Audi A1.

Edited by: Dean Workman
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Discussing DDoS and the Ostrich Syndrome

Discussing DDoS and the Ostrich Syndrome

Anton Jacibsz, MD at Networks Unlimited.

The so-called Ostrich Syndrome is a term used to describe people who prefer to “stick their heads in the sand”, much as an ostrich does, rather than accept some uncomfortable facts.

Sadly, when it comes to indisputable threats like Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, every business in operation today should be acknowledging this reality and doing something to prevent these attacks, rather than just hoping: “it won’t happen to us”, particularly in light of the speed at which the digital world is evolving.

Gartner predicted that by 2020, 60 percent of digital businesses will suffer major service failures due to the inability of it security teams to manage digital risk.

“DDoS attacks are still cloaked in numerous myths. But only by fully grasping that the potential harm of the DDoS dagger is both real and brutal can attacks be mitigated,” says Simon McCullough, ‎major channel account manager: Sub-Saharan Africa at F5 Networks. “DDoS attacks certainly don’t discriminate. Any organisation, big or small, is in danger of feeling the damage associated with a DDoS attack. It is, therefore, naïve to think that your business is too small to come under attack – not in a digitally connected world.”

At present, the fastest growing DDoS attack type is volumetric. The most common falsehood, however, is businesses believing that their on-premise DDoS solution has them protected against all DDoS attacks. “However, one of the largest DDoS attacks mitigated by F5 approached 450+ Gbps, which would easily overwhelm any on-premise DDoS deployment and the Internet link bringing the network down on its knees. Further with the latest IOT attacks the magnitude of attack is reaching in terabytes, which are impossible to be mitigated at the customer or the local service provider level. Hence at F5, we recommend a hybrid approach of both on-premise and cloud scrubbing. F5’s Cloud services called Silverline can handle attack bandwidths up to 5Tbps” he says.

McCullough adds that the most damaging DDoS attacks mix brute force (volumetric) attacks as a smokescreen with targeted, application-specific attacks.

Another concern, he says, is that entire industries believe that they won’t be targeted. “The reality is that all industries come under DDoS attacks with education and professional services, emerging as new attack sectors. According to the 2016 Data Breach Investigation report by Verizon, 90 percent of reported DDoS incidents are in the professional sector, followed by 81 percent in education. Attack motivation varies from hacktivism to financially motivated cybercriminals.”

“DDoS solutions are most certainly worth the investment, especially when you need mitigation. Businesses must be prepared to keep their business online and shine for execs,” McCullough stresses.

Anton Jacobsz, managing director at Networks Unlimited, the company that distributes F5 throughout Africa, adds: “Awareness about the severity of any potential cyber threat is paramount for both public and private organisations across the African continent. All business should be responsive, especially as a number of DDoS attacks are not for financial gain, but are often used as a smokescreen to distract from the real crime happening, such as taking over data, an account or the entire organisation.”

Edited By: Fundisiwe Maseko
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DELL EMC and BT team up to research SDN of the future

DELL EMC and BT team up to research SDN of the future

BT and Dell EMC team up to research flexible, Software-Defined Networks of the future.

The agile, programmable telecoms networks of the future has moved a step closer as BT and Dell EMC announced a research collaboration dedicated to exploring a new way of managing network traffic.

The proof-of-concept trial, which is taking place at the BT Labs in Adastral Park, Suffolk, will explore how disaggregated switching can create flexible networks which are more responsive to customer needs by using standard open network switches commonly found in data centres, coupled with specialist switching software.

In contrast to the traditionally integrated network switches currently used by operators and enterprises around the world, disaggregated switching uses merchant silicon based switching systems combined with either commercially available or open source system software. This represents a significant shift architecturally, applying server-like principles to the delivery of dynamic network services over fixed-line and wireless networks.

BT is evaluating the performance of Dell EMC disaggregated switches against traditional integrated switching hardware to test the performance, economics and programmability of this new, virtualised approach, which is important as customers increasingly require more flexible, agile networks.

Disaggregated switches have several potential advantages over traditional network switches, as they can be managed flexibly using Netconf protocol and YANG models. This makes the entire system inherently programmable and allows the switches to be operated in tandem to provide new network services or make configuration changes rapidly.

BT will work with Dell EMC to look at a number of potential use cases as part of the trial as the company evolves its network strategy to maximise the benefits of SDN (software-defined networks), NFV (network functions virtualisation) and programmable silicon. These include the instant activation of Ethernet circuits from a third party (such as an enterprise), and the ability of the system to deliver real-time network operational data.

The platform also has the potential to deliver other programmable use cases such as bandwidth calendaring – flexing the bandwidth of an Ethernet circuit according to customer needs via a predetermined calendar – and delivering network telemetry data to third parties automatically.

Neil J. McRae, chief architect for BT said, “This proof-of-concept trial with Dell EMC will enable us to evaluate the performance of disaggregated switches against traditionally integrated network switches, and make informed decisions about the role this kind of solution will play in the dynamic network services of the future. We’re determined to ensure that BT’s network continues to be world-class and able to deliver the services our customers need, when and how they need them. Agility and programmability, maximising the benefits of SDN, are therefore key to our future network evolution.”

“The service provider network of tomorrow cannot be built on yesterday’s technology,” said Tom Burns, senior vice president & general manager, Dell EMC Networking, Enterprise Infrastructure & Service Provider Solutions. “We’re energised and focused on collaborating with BT to drive innovation and help achieve their goals of enhancing network agility, flexibility and programmability to provide the high level of service their customers expect.”

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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Samsung Galaxy S8 Review – An Elegant Powerhouse

Samsung Galaxy S8 Review – An Elegant Powerhouse

Samsung has officially launched its latest elegant powerhouse, the Samsung Galaxy S8. The latest device from the mobile phone manufacturer sports an elegant design and some serious power under the hood.

When taking a closer look at the specs, we found that the Samsung Galaxy S8 features – depending on the market – either a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or Samsung’s own Exynos 8895 chipset inside. Along with its powerful chipset, the Samsung Galaxy S8 also comes packed with 4GB of RAM. With these combined, Android 7.0 runs smoother than on any other device we have used in the past. With all this power under its hood, the Samsung Galaxy S8 also comes standard with plenty of storage space… 64GB to be exact, which can be upgraded – via the SIM tray – with a 256GB MicroSD Card.

Powering the Samsung Galaxy S8 is a 3000mAh, which will essentially offer up around about a days worth of battery life. Yes, this is a device that will need a charge at least once a day. With heavy usage, such as using Google Maps for an extended period of time or playing games such as Pokemon Go, you are likely to burn through the battery in about half a day. Thankfully, the Samsung Galaxy S8 features fast charging capabilities. This allows the user to, while using Samsung’s fast charging accessories, replenish 100 percent of the device’s battery life in just over an hour. This allows users to keep on the move without having to wait for their Samsung Galaxy S8 to charge. While faster charging is something the Galaxy S8 can do out of the box… Samsung also offers some great accessories such as the Wireless Charging Dock for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+.

During the launch campaign, Samsung went with the payoff line “Unbox Your Phone”… This essentially meant that the company was aiming to add more screen and less bezel to the design of the Samsung Galaxy S8. This was a great move by the firm as the 2K/QHD 5.8-inch (Or 6.8-inch if you are looking at purchasing the S8+) edge-to-edge display is not only attractive, but also something rather unique to experience. Images and colours really pop on the display and watching content from online Video On Demand services is a dream. Also adding to experience is the ability to activate Edge Panels, which allow the user to add panels that feature their favourite apps, contacts, and news sources. While there are plenty of Edge Panels that come standard with the device, users can also download more.

Apart from being a powerhouse, as well as having the capability to charge rapidly, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is also water and dust resistant. Granted, this is limited to 1.5m and for a maximum duration of 30 minutes; however, it won’t stop you from navigating through the streets of Orlando, Florida – much like we did – during a torrential storm. It also won’t stop you from taking pics of the family while they splash about in the pool on a hot day.

Speaking of taking photos… the Samsung Galaxy S8 comes standard with an upgraded 8MP F1.7 front camera, complete with smart autofocus. In addition, there is a 12MP F1.7 Dual Pixel rear camera, which delivers enhanced multi-frame image processing, for sharper photos, even in low-light environments. Samsung has also embedded a few great camera features. These include the ability to take a wide selfie as well as a virtual shot with the front-facing camera. The rear-facing camera also has some great features such as the ability to capture hyper-lapse videos as well as slow motion videos. It doesn’t stop there as Samsung has also included multiple filters as well as stickers and masks that can be applied to photos.

When it comes to extra features, the Samsung Galaxy S8 comes standard with the Bixby digital assistant. Bixby is an intelligent interface that, according to the firm, will help users get more out of their phone. With the new Bixby button, consumers will be able to conveniently access Bixby and navigate through services and apps with simple voice, touch, vision and text commands. At launch, Bixby was designed to integrate with several Samsung native apps and features including Camera, Contacts, Gallery, Messages and Settings, with the plan to expand its capabilities to include more Samsung and third-party apps in the near future. To add to this, contextual awareness capabilities enable Bixby to offer personalised help based on what it continues to learn about the user’s interests, situation and location.

Moving away from Bixby, which is still being improved upon by Samsung, the Samsung Galaxy S8 can also be used as desktop computer with the optional DeX Dock. The docking station allows users to connect a screen, keyboard, mouse and network cable to the phone so it can be used as a computer. Software vendors such as VMware and Citrix have already announced support for DeX.

Security remains a major focus for Samsung, which means that the Samsung Galaxy S8 will come standard with Samsung Knox. To add to the security of the device, users also have the ability to secure their device either by pin, pattern or password. While these are standard ways of securing the device the Samsung Galaxy S8 also features biometric security measures such as fingerprint and iris scanning. While these work rather well, Samsung’s placement and size of the fingerprint sensor should have been reconsidered. Yes, it works well; however, it just feels and looks out of place. To add to this it is awkward to use at first. Granted, it took some time to get used to, but it still feels like a haphazard experience to unlock the device.

Apart from the awkwardly placed fingerprint scanner, the Samsung Galaxy is beautifully designed and essentially almost the perfect, yet rather costly, mobile phone. When it comes to pricing, the Recommended Retail Price (RRP) of the Samsung Galaxy S8 will be R15,499. There is also the option to pick up the Samsung Galaxy S8+, which retails for R17,499 and features a larger screen.

Conclusion:
Whether you are looking at picking up the Samsung Galaxy S8 or the S8+ you will not be disappointed. This device is hands down an elegant powerhouse, which features military-grade security as well as a sleek and sexy design. Just be warned, while the device is rock solid when it comes to security, the front screen and back panel are prone to hairline scratches… So be sure to obtain a full body cover for the device or alternatively a back cover and screen guard.

By: Darryl Linington
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Quake Champions: Early Access Announced

Quake Champions: Early Access Announced

Quake Champions: Early Access Announced.

Quake Champions is set to exit its Closed Beta phase and officially enter into Early Access on Steam and the Bethesda.net launcher. Starting on August 22, the Quake Champions will receive a host of content, including new maps, features and a special new Champion: the mighty DOOM Slayer from the DOOM series.

“With a fast, skill-based game like Quake Champions, nothing is more important than continual testing and refining based on player feedback to ensure the game is balanced, optimised, and fun for all levels of players, from pro to new,” said Tim Willits, Studio Director, id Software. “The Early Access version of Quake Champions is, obviously, a work-in-progress, but represents a solid and robust version of the game, with four modes, 11 Champions, and variety of maps. Early Access will allow us to work closely with players to improve the game and add additional features before the official launch of Quake Champions in the coming months.”

The Champions Pack
Players who want to jump in and frag their way to global dominance will be able to buy the Champions Pack, which will unlock all current and future Champions as well as other exclusive in-game bonuses for $29.99, 25% off the final retail price of $39.99.

To play Quake Champions during Early Access, players can buy the Champions Pack, which includes:

  • All 11 current Champions, including Ranger, Visor, Scalebearer, Nyx, Anarki, Clutch, Sorlag, Galena, Slash, Wolfenstein’s BJ Blazkowicz, and the new DOOM Slayer
  • All future Champions, including at least six additional Champions expected to release before the end of 2018, and any that follow
  • An exclusive Early Access skin for Ranger, available only during the Early Access period for Champions Pack players
  • Three Reliquaries (loot chests containing three in-game items for profile, Champion and weapon customization, including skins, shaders, nameplates and more)

Quake Champions’ free-to-play version will launch at a later date. However, players who previously redeemed a Closed Beta key will be able to continue playing Quake Champions in free-to-play mode, only via Bethesda.net. These players will play on the same servers as Champions Pack owners and have the option of upgrading to the Champions Pack or buying additional Champions at any time. Players new to Quake Champions will need to either buy the Champions Pack or wait until free-to-play mode launches at a later date.

Put a little DOOM in Your Quake!
Quake Champions’ newest playable Champion, DOOM Slayer, comes straight from the depths of hell to the Arenas, wielding his pounding fists and an unceasing thirst for blood. Fans of DOOM can run amok using DOOM Slayer’s active ability, Berserk – smashing enemies into bloody piles of gibs with his bare hands. DOOM Slayer’s passive ability will also be familiar to DOOM fans; reach new heights with Double Jump, which allows the DOOM Slayer to jump a second time while in mid-air.

Additional Content & Features Going Live at Early Access
In addition to the new Champion, Quake Champions Early Access will also introduce a host of new content and features for players, including:

  • Two New Maps: Church of Azathoth and Tempest Shrine
  • Rune Challenges: Players will be rewarded for completing new Rune Challenges found in Backpacks
  • Lore System: Players will find Lore Items hidden throughout Arenas in vases. By collecting all 10 Lore Items for a specific Champion, they will unlock that Champion’s high-end Lore Skin.
  • Improved New Player Onboarding: New features to help get fresh fraggers up to speed include a movement tutorial, shooting gallery and the ability to choose a skill level
  • New Customisation Options: New options include new Champion skin sets and weapon shaders
  • In-Game Voice Chat

Edited by: Darryl Linington
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