Tech News In Africa

Tech News In Africa

Is it safe to download FaceApp? All your questions answered

The past week has seen a craze around a mobile app that uses neural network technology to automatically generate highly realistic transformations of faces in photographs. Developed by Russian company Wireless Lab, FaceApp, as it is known, has been around since 2017 but recently gained popularity and went viral with millions of people downloading it. The app also garnered negative responses from some people.

Here are a few tips on what to look out for if you want to download the app:

Research by ESET revealed that the FaceApp application has attracted scammers who want to make some quick profits. ESET says that scammers have been using a fake “Pro” version of the application as bait and have made an effort to spread the word about this fictitious version of the currently- viral app.

One form of the scam uses a fake website that claims to offer a premium version of FaceApp. In reality, the scammers trick their victims to click through countless offers for installing other paid apps and subscriptions, ads, surveys and so on.

The second type of scam includes YouTube videos again promoting download links for a “Pro” version. One of the fraudulent YouTube videos had over 150,000 views at the time of writing this research.

The victim also receives requests from various websites to allow the display of notifications. When enabled, these notifications lead to further fraudulent offers. The YouTube videos contain download links that point to apps whose only functionality is to make users install various additional apps. The shortened links could lead to users installing malware as well.

Pundi X unveils blockchain-powered smartphone in Rwanda

Singapore based technology company, Pundi X, officially launched its blockchain-powered smartphone in Kigali, Rwanda. The XPhone is said to be there first blockchain mobile phone launched on the African continent.

“The XPhone allows everyone to make a phone call on the blockchain,” Zac Cheah, CEO of Pundi X.

According to the tech start-up, a blockchain phone —  unlike many phones powered by android, IOS and Windows systems — is powered by Function X (FX) operating 

system – a blockchain system.

With XPhone, users are connected to the blockchain – everything they do from texting and calling to taking photos and browsing is transmitted via the blockchain.

Blockchain is generally synonymous with cryptocurrencies and the finance industry but more and more real-life applications — such as designing smart contracts, enable digital voting, create digital Ids, and enhance supply chain management — are becoming feasible solutions to service delivery problems.

In the case of XPhone, there is no centralised service provider, making it secure as consumers are in charge of their own data. The XPhone has an open-source which means that anyone that is interested to build applications and services can do it easily. The phone also enables for a smooth transition between blockchain and traditional Android mode.

The company says it plans to produce only 5,000 XPhones in late 2019, but that it was looking to partner with telecommunication companies to produce more blockchain phones.

YouTube announces updates for premium subscribers

YouTube Music has launched its latest updates for subscribers of YouTube Music Premium and YouTube Premium as well as a new playlist for South Africa. The update will allow users to switch between a song and its music video for an uninterrupted experience, plus Smart Downloads which takes the work out of downloading your favourite music.

With Smart Downloads, YouTube Music automatically saves music at night, when connected to Wi-Fi, helping music lovers to use less mobile data and save up to 500 of their favourite songs offline using their Liked Songs playlist as well as other favourite playlists and albums.

Telkom customers frustrated over new roaming partner

South African network provider, Telkom, has been hit with backlash after many customers have taken to social media to vent about the handover process from MTN to Vodacom. 

In case you missed it, Telkom announced last year that it did not plan to renew its contractwith then roaming partner, MTN, and would instead enter into an agreement with Vodacom. This switch came into effect on 1 July 2019. 

Since the handover, Telkom customers discovered two problems; (1) their devices would automatically connect to Telkom’s virtual roaming network (TelkomSA-R) on Vodacom’s infrastructure despite there being standard Telkom connectivity available and (2) Vodacom only offers All-Net data bundles, not LTE bundles, meaning LTE customers no longer had useable data. 

In response to frustrated customers, Telkom says, “We recently changed roaming partners to enhance your network experience where you don’t have Telkom coverage. Where you see TelkomSA-R at the top of your phone screen, we advise that you purchase All-Net bundles instead of Telkom bundles”.

Microsoft releases record 2019 earnings report

Microsoft released its annual fourth-quarter results on Thursday, 18 July 2019 — detailing a record-breaking fiscal year. The technology company officially ended its financial year on 30 June 2019. Here’s a quick look:

  • Revenue was $125.8 billion and increased 14 per cent
  • Operating income was $43.0 billion and increased 23 per cent
  • Net income was $39.2 billion GAAP and $36.8 billion non-GAAP and increased 137 per cent and 22 per cent, respectively
  • Diluted earnings per share was $5.06 GAAP and $4.75 non-GAAP and increased 138 per cent and 22 per cent, respectively
  • GAAP results include a $2.6 billion net income tax benefit

“It was a record fiscal year for Microsoft, a result of our deep partnerships with leading companies in every industry,” says Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft.