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Europe Moves to Standardise USB-C by 2024

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USB-c

By Adedapo Adesanya

Europe is set to force manufacturers to create a universal charging solution under a new rule proposed by the European Commission (EC) that will see all devices use only USB-C chargers by 2024.

All smartphones sold in the EU must have USB-C chargers, the proposal said.

The aim is to reduce waste by encouraging consumers to re-use existing chargers when buying a new device.

The proposed rules will apply to smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers, and handheld video game consoles.

Other products including earbuds, smart-watches and fitness trackers were not considered for technical reasons linked to the sizes and use conditions.

The proposal also standardises fast charging speeds – meaning devices capable of fast charging will be charged at the same speeds.

Most Android phones come with USB micro-B charging ports but only a small percentage have moved to the more modern USB-C standard.

New models of the iPad and MacBook use USB-C charging ports, as do high-end phone models from popular Android manufacturers such as Samsung and Huawei.

The changes would apply to the charging port on the device body, whereas the end of the cable connecting to a plug could be USB-C or USB-A.

According to data, around half of chargers sold with mobile phones in the European Union in 2018 had a USB micro-B connector, while 29 per cent had a USB C connector and 21 per cent a Lightning connector.

The legislative proposal, known as a Directive, will be debated by the European Parliament and national governments.

MEPs and member states may suggest amendments to the proposal. Only once the EC has agreed on these amendments will the directive be enacted.

The EC hopes that will happen in 2022 – after which member states usually have two years to enact the rules into national law, and manufacturers will have 24 months to change their charging ports.

“We gave industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions, now time is ripe for legislative action for a common charger.

“This is an important win for our consumers and environment and in line with our green and digital ambitions,” Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager said.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Technology

Interswitch Unveils Report on Future of Africa’s Digital Economy

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Digital Economy Policy

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A report aimed to help drive the growth of African businesses through blockchain technology has been unveiled by Interswitch Group, a leading integrated digital payment and e-commerce company on the continent.

The whitepaper titled Blockchain Technology: The Future of Africa’s Digital Economy, according to the Managing Director of Transaction Switching and Payment Processing at Interswitch, Mr Akeem Lawal, “was inspired by the need to demystify the ambiguity around blockchain technology for African businesses, thereby driving digitization and socio-economic growth across African markets.”

“We are passionate about empowering Africans and advancing the African payment landscape, and we are consistently identifying opportunities and exploring innovative ways to enable businesses to transform and scale,” he added.

Blockchain technology is a digital ledger that stores transactions. Essentially, it is a digital system for recording transactions in multiple places at the same time thereby making it impossible to falsify the data stored on it. The technology is evolving globally and businesses are integrating Blockchain technology into their business infrastructure.

The whitepaper document released by Interswitch contains details on how businesses can leverage blockchain technology to transform their businesses and the prospects it portends for the future of Africa’s digital economy.

Mr Lawal disclosed that the document encapsulates the benefits of blockchain technology and how it will help strengthen businesses because of its efficiency, better security in keeping records and safety.

“While the blockchain technology is a relatively new phenomenon in Nigeria and Africa, we are particularly excited about our partnership with Interstellar with whom we are developing a native blockchain infrastructure that is tailored to suit the African market,” he stated.

“This initiative will deepen digital payment, lower the cost of local and cross border payment as well as champion the cause for localization of emerging technology,” Mr Lawal assured.

He urged everyone to read the whitepaper document because it addresses existing challenges in the Fintech sector and simplifies the use of blockchain technology in unravelling these challenges.

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Technology

Google Thrills Android Lovers With Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro

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Pixel 6 Pro

By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel

It is an exciting moment for Andriod and Pixel lovers as Google is set to reveal its new Pixel 6 and 6 pro phones in a few hours’ time.

While the multinational technology company traditionally holds an October hardware event to reveal its new Pixel phones, it is a new thing that it had already announced this year’s innovations to be unveiled.

“On October 19, we’re officially introducing you to Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro—the completely reimagined Google phones. Powered by Tensor, Google’s first custom mobile chip, they’re fast, smart, and secure. And they adapt to you. #Pixel6Launch,” the company had earlier disclosed.

However, the excitement from fans all over the globe seems to be below expectation given that a lot has already been learned about the upcoming Google flagship, thanks to some leaks on the key details of the phones which have been in circulation before now.

There are no confirmations on what the new products will function like, but various leaks have it that the regular Pixel 6 is set to have a 6.4-inch FHD+ display with a 90Hz refresh rate.

It has also been speculated to sport a 50MP main camera and a 12MP ultrawide, while the Pixel 6 Pro ups the ante with a 6.71-inch QHD+ display with a 120Hz refresh rate and a third 48MP telephoto camera with 4x optical zoom.

Regardless, the introduction of the two new versions will see not only a significant departure from previous Pixels but also Google’s first attempt at its own silicon & Artificial Intelligence – a revolutionary outcome for Android users.

What has been confirmed is that the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will be the flagship devices for the latest Android version – 12, which also has a major visual design change.

The event which is themed Pixel Fall Launch will not only focus on the introduction of Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro as there is room for surprises, that is, the unveiling of sister gadgets or applications.

According to Google, the launch is scheduled to commence at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. BST. This means that for West African Time, it will be watchable starting from 6 pm today, and can be viewed on several platforms using various live-stream options.

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Economy

Apple Rolls Out New AirPods, MacBooks, Processor

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Apple AirPods

By Adedapo Adesanya

At its virtual MacBook event on Monday, tech giant, Apple, launched the new generation AirPods which will support spatial audio, thanks to new sensors that support features like spatial audio.

The new Airpods sport a new design, closer to the AirPods Pro, but they lack the rubber in-ear tip. The case also charges magnetically using Apple’s magnetic charger MagSafe.

Apple says the third-generation AirPods have more powerful bass than previous models and that the AirPods now have six hours of battery life for listening to audio.

The new AirPods cost $179 (N102,388) and will hit the shelves next week.

Apple launched its first AirPods in 2016 and turned the wireless earphone market on its head.

Apple is the largest AirPods brand as it holds 29 per cent of the market share in the third quarter of 2020, three times that of its closest competitor, Xiaomi.

Also at the event, the company announced new chips, M1 Pro and M1 Max, for new high-end MacBook Pro laptops.

The M1 Max is a more powerful version of the M1 and M1 Pro. It has 57 billion transistors, Apple said, and a 32-core graphics processor, saying that its graphics processor compares favourably to current laptop graphics processors, especially when using less power.

Apple said the new MacBook Pro laptops are completely reimagined as they will come with Apple’s M1 Pro chip, a new processor Apple says has a 10-core processing unit that is 70 per cent faster than its current M1 chip.

The new models have an HDMI port to connect to displays and TVs, an SD card slot for photographers. It also uses a MagSafe magnetic connector, bringing back a beloved feature from older MacBooks.

Users can still charge using the USB-C ports, of which there are three, which support Thunderbolt connections.

It comes in 16-inch and 14-inch sizes with denser screens and ProMotion screens with a higher refresh rate, a feature that landed on the iPhone 13 this year. The displays are using MiniLED technology, the company said.

The new models do not have a Touch Bar touchscreen on the keyboard but have a fingerprint sensor on the power button.

The 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,999 (N1.1 million). The 16-inch model starts at $2,499 (N1.4 million), representing a slight price increase from previous models.

Apple’s $99 (N56,628) smart speaker, HomePod Mini, will also be available in a variety of new colours including orange, yellow, and blue. Previously, it was only available in white and dark grey.

** FX rates were calculated at N572 per Dollar, the black market rates.

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