How Does the Huawei US Ban Affect South Africans?

Staff Writer / 23-08-2019 / News

US President Donald Trump issued a ban last month, barring American companies from trading with certain Chinese companies, including Huawei, which has grown rapidly over the years to become one of the major players in the market with the release of popular devices like the Mate 20 and P30 Pro. As you may know, the ban means that Google would have to cut off Huawei’s access to its Android operating system, Google apps and security updates, leaving Huawei smartphone owners worried that their beloved devices just turned into expensive paperweights. There’s no need to panic, yet.

Not long after the ban was announced, Huawei was granted a 3-month grace period that would allow them to continue doing business with Google, meaning that current users of its devices would not be affected and can still access the Google Play Store, download apps such as Gmail and YouTube, and receive security updates and patches. The long-term plan is still unclear though as no-one can predict what will happen after the 3-month grace period ends on 19 August 2019, but just in case, Huawei is developing a backup plan.

Once news of the ban broke, Huawei revealed that it has been working on its own app store and operating system, similar to Apple’s App Store and iOS. It’s reportedly called Hong Meng, but details on whether it will be ready in time if the ban continues after the grace period have been scarce. Another concern is whether there is room for a new operating system, as Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android pretty much dominate the smartphone industry worldwide. Even Microsoft had to abandon their Windows mobile OS because of poor adoption and lack of support from app developers. The other option Huawei has is switching all users to the open-source version of Android, but this OS will be limited in terms of access to Google’s apps, which will have to be accessed via a web browser or by side-loading the apps on devices, which may seem like too much trouble for the average user looking for a phone that just works right out of the box.

Huawei recently released a statement to the media: “Huawei has made substantial contributions to the development and growth of Android around the world. As one of Android’s key global partners, we have worked closely with their open-source platform to develop an ecosystem that has benefitted both users and the industry.

Huawei will continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products, covering those that have been sold and that are still in stock globally. We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally.”

For now, Huawei users will not be affected by the ban and can continue using their phones and updating them as usual. Just in case you were wondering, you cannot return your Huawei smartphone to the network you bought it from as, according to law, sellers cannot be held liable or responsible for external events that are out of their control. The bottom line is that you may never need to sell or dump your Huawei smartphone as the ban could be lifted even before the grace period runs out should Trump’s trade negotiations with China move ahead amicably.

TECH NEWS

previous
5G is Coming: Here’s What You Need to Know!

Faster internet is just around the corner with the rapid development of 5G wireless technology across the globe, but is it that much better than what we have right now? In order to understand 5G, let’s look back at the wireless technologies that paved the way for it to become a reality. The first generation (1G) of wireless technology emerged in the early 1980s with the introduction of mobile phones like the Motorola DynaTAC, which could only be used to make phone calls. Then came the second generation (2G) that improved the quality of voice calls as well as enabled SMS and later MMS. The tail end of the 90s saw the emergence of 3G technology, which finally gave cellphones internet access and video calling capabilities. The latest, and soon to be replaced, generation of wireless technology is 4G LTE, which has taken internet usage beyond mere web browsing. These 4G networks enable people to live-stream, make group video calls, stream video and music, play online games and much more thanks to faster speeds between 10 to 50 Mbps, depending on the network. Fast forward to 2019 and we have 5G on the horizon, with tech giants all scrambling to bring the 5th generation of wireless technology to consumers around the world. According to telecoms experts, 5G will provide users with real-world speeds of between 700Mbps to 3Gbps! This means that a file that took you a few minutes to download on 4G would take mere seconds on a 5G wireless connection. Other applications will also benefit from 5G technology, especially those that require real-time connections like Uber or Taxify. 5G could also aid the development of autonomous driving and robotic surgery. International tech website cbinsights.com say that 5G will revolutionize the health-care, manufacturing and automotive industries. Microscopic cameras equipped with 5G will be able to provide real-time streaming in and out of patients’ bodies, setting the groundwork for more remote diagnoses and other more complex practices. We’ve already seen progress in terms of robotic surgery - in January 2019, a team in China tested 5G remotesurgery for the first time, successfully removing an animal’s liver in the province of Fujian. However, it’s not all great news. As 5G provides more bandwidth, cell towers will have a smaller coverage radius. Networks will have to build more cell towers to reach all their subscribers, which will result in higher costs for the networks that consumers will likely end up bearing. In simple terms, 5G isn’t going to be cheap. It’s expected that 5G technology will be launched globally in 2020, but cellphone manufacturers have already started developing 5G-ready smartphones. Samsung, Huawei and LG have already released phones that support 5G; surprisingly, Apples latest iPhone 11 range lacks 5G suppo rt. Former Minister of Telecommunications Siyabonga Cwele last year stated that South Africa will only release 5G licenses when the standards of 5G have been agreed upon by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the telecommunications body of the United Nations. Some of South Africa’s networks have already started testing 5G technology and are just awaiting the official roll out from the rest of the globe. The USA has also started 5G trials this year, so you should expect it to hit SA sometime next year if all goes well. It comes with a massive jump in download speeds and lower latency, but it seems that you will have to fork out a bit more for 5G technology during the initial launch period. Stay tuned for more updates on South Africa’s 5G rollout as we get them.

Read More...

Are Google and Facebook Really Spying on You?

Privacy has become a major concern in the always-connected age of smart devices and ever-present social networks like Facebook and tech giants like Google. Most people do not want devices listening to their conversations, storing them, or worse, sending these private conversations back to social networks and developers through their apps. But this seems to be exactly what’s happening! So, are social networks like Facebook and search giants like Google really spying on you through their apps? The quick and easy answer to that is, “yes, they are”, but probably not in the way you think. There’s been many reported occasions where users have had private conversations and then had adverts relating to that specific topic turn up on Facebook or even on search engines like Google. Dutch publication VRT NWS reported that Google hires independent contractors from around the world to listen to and transcribe audio recordings from Google Assistant in order to improve the technology. Amazon has also been shown to practice this with its Alexa smart assistant. Your smartphone ‘listens’ for trigger words such as ‘Hey Google’ in order to record what you’re saying, decipher it and deliver accurate results. Without the triggers, your voice recordings are just stored on the device for a certain amount of time before being overwritten; however, the concern is that these recordings may not be out of the reach of third-party apps like Facebook or WhatsApp who use this data to target you with customised, highly specific ads. Jason Nurse, Assistant Professor in Cyber Security at the University of Kent explains this idea further, saying, “Imagine you have just started to think about where to go for your next holiday. You spend the morning visiting travel agents to discuss the latest deals and then visit your favourite restaurant, a popular Caribbean food chain in the city. Excited about your potential trip, later that night you watch mostly TV shows on the tropics. The next day, your social media feed contains flight, hotel and tour ads with deals to Barbados. Essentially, this is how data is gathered from your smart devices and then advertisers grab the opportunity to target you.” Surely by now you’re asking, ‘Is all this legal?’ It absolutely is. Remember those terms and conditions you accepted without reading? This is where you’re agreeing to let companies share your data with third parties. Even with new laws that try to protect people’s information, tech firms are constantly looking to push the boundaries of data gathering and algorithm design in ways that can feel invasive. There is a way to control what Google hears. Since it’s reliant on voice-activation when it hears the phrase ‘Hey Google’, disabling its access to your microphone would put a stop to the app listening and recording your voice. Tech website komando.com states that Google introduced a new My Account tool that lets you access your recordings and delete them if you want. You can also ask Google to permanently stop recording your voice. Here’s how to turn off the "OK Google" wake phrase: On Android, just go to Settings >> Google >> Search >> Voice and turn “OK Google” detection off. There is also a way to disable Facebook's access to your microphone. For Android users, go to Settings >> Applications >>Application Manager >> Facebook >> Permissions >> and then turn off the mic. Disabling this will affect how you use the app itself as some of its features will not be available, such as Live Video. To be fair, these tech firms listen to your conversations to train their AI to be better at understanding you and delivering accurate results. It also streamlines their advertising campaigns to deliver online ads that are relevant to you. The problem is that they haven’t been entirely honest or forthcoming about how these technologies work, which has understandably angered a lot of people. However, if targeted ads and an accurate AI are not important to you, a simple fix is to just shut off these services as described above, or you could just watch what you say in the vicinity of your smartphone!

Read More...

Apple iPhone 11, Pro and Pro Max are Here!

September marks the start of Spring in South Africa, but for Apple fans, it's when the new range of iPhones is officially unveiled. Apple recently pulled the hood off their new range of iPhones, dubbed iPhone 11. The range includes the entry-level iPhone 11, as well as the higher-spec iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Max. Let's look at how this range differs from last year's X series. iPhone 11 Overview Apple says it's placed the fastest ever A13 Bionic Processor and GPU into this smartphone, making it capable of running a trillion applications per second. It comes loaded with the latest iOS 13 software and in terms of looks, it's available in 6 new colours (White, Black, Red, Lavender, Yellow and Green) with an aluminium and glass design and a 6.1” Liquid Retina Screen. The iPhone 11 supports faster charging, and Apple claims the battery will last longer (approx. 1 hour) than the one found in the iPhone XR. There's no doubt that the camera plays a huge role in the smartphone consumer's life and Apple hasn't disappointed with this. The iPhone 11 has 2 rear camera lenses - a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens and a new 12-megapixel ultrawide camera with a 120-degree field of view. For selfie fans, Apple has introduced a feature called 'slowfies' for the front facing camera, which means you can now take slo-mo selfie shots. There are a couple of new features on the camera, including Night Mode and 4K video at 60 frames per second, which is rather impressive. They have a new quick-take video feature where you only have to hold the shutter button to start taking videos without switching to Video Mode. iPhone Pro and iPhone Pro Max The Pro-branded models are being touted as the "most powerful iPhones ever". Look and Feel Both of these handsets will sport the all new surgical-grade stainless steel exterior with a matte finish and will be available in gold or midnight green. Cameras The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max will both house triple cameras at the rear. They've added the new 12MP wide-angle camera to allow you to cram more into a single photo. On the downside, you will have to deal with a slightly bulkier and not too aesthetically pleasing camera housing on the rear of the phones. Under the Hood These iPhones will also pack the punch of the new iOS 13, making it, as they claim, the world's fastest smartphone. Apple are promising loads of power with this range while also offering longer battery life. The iPhone 11 Pro will have four more hours of battery life than its predecessor, the iPhone XS. The iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max feature 5.8” and 6.8” Super Retina XDR OLED screens with a 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio. Both devices come with a fast charger included in the box. Verdict If you're a die-hard Apple fan, your mind is probably already made up. If you already own an iPhone from last year, you may want to wait for the next iteration in 2020 or even 2021 as the iPhone 11 range doesn't offer enough compelling upgrades to warrant a purchase so soon. The official release date for the iPhone 11 range in South Africa is the 27th September 2019.

Read More...

next