By Adedapo Adesanya
Opera has announced the launch of its dedicated chat service, Hype, built into the Opera Mini mobile web browser, in Nigeria.
With the introduction of Hype, Opera is redefining the concept of mobile browsers, providing users with a personalized, engaging browsing experience that enables seamless chatting, surfing and sharing – without compromising speed or driving increased data consumption.
Hype is the first African-inspired chat service built into a mobile browser, allowing users to easily set up an account and start chatting with secure end-to-end encryption right away.
This means users can now browse the web, chat with friends and share self-created memes, stickers and GIFs with other Hype users, all in one app.
The feature was developed because younger generations of internet users are expecting more social connectivity from the apps they use on their devices.
With this integration, Opera Mini becomes the first major browser in the world to integrate a social component that keeps users connected to the ones that matter the most. This unique and innovative blend is something that no other mobile browser in the Google Play Store offers.
Speaking on the expansion, Mr Jørgen Arnesen, EVP Mobile Browsers at Opera said, “Hype is an original instant messaging service from Opera, designed for the new generation of African internet users to elevate the traditional browsing experience and make it more engaging. With Opera Mini and a Hype account, Nigerians can enjoy a browsing and chatting ecosystem tailored to their needs.
“Hype bridges cultures from Sub-Saharan Africa with mobile technology, as the world’s first African-inspired chat service.”
The service was first launched in 2021 in Kenya as a pilot market and it is already showing impressive results with more than 400,000 activations and more than 10,000 invites to join Hype per day.
This launch was one facet of Opera’s emphasis on investing and growing its digital ecosystem in Africa, with the goal of bringing more people online.
To help familiarize people with the concept of an easy-to-use chatting service built into a browser and as a response to the high cost of data in Nigeria, Opera has partnered with the leading carriers in Nigeria to enable free daily browsing and chatting for those using the service.
Users of Opera Mini and Airtel, MTN and Globacom can activate a free N1.5 GB data anytime by opening the Feedback Bot in Hype, sending Unlock my free data in chat, then by clicking the link in the reply message. The free mobile data will be activated when the page is loaded.
Opera is constantly working on improving the chatting experience. Hype users can now use link previews, GIF support, and the unique built-in meme creator to make chatting with friends even more personal and fun. Moreover, users can join interest-based channels Hype Clubs to chat with those who are on the same wavelength.
Hype Clubs are organized into topic-based channels where users can easily chat about their mutual interests. If a user is into something, there is a good chance they can find a Club for it. There they can share opinions with others, or even create their own Club and gather interested people together.
Chatting with others who have the same interests is a great way to find new friends and become a part of an interest-based community. With Hype Clubs, fans of sports, gaming, the arts, and even software development are now able to find a community they can truly belong to.
The app also has a built-in meme creator which is directly into a browser’s messenger. Users can choose memes in Hype chat, then edit them by changing the text and experimenting with fonts, colours and placement – more easily than ever. This comes in handy as users no longer need to copy links from websites and switch between apps to share the memes they want.
Hype also supports GIFs and makes choosing them super simple with its search capabilities and scrollable GIF grid. To help users choose the one they want, GIF previews and full-screen views are also available.
Hype comes with the link preview feature. With it, a snapshot preview, website header and description will automatically appear in chat. This function is also available in encrypted chats and on metered networks.
To make this easier, Hype included WebSnap, a feature already known from the Opera desktop browser, allowing users to take snapshots from the web.
Once a WebSnap is captured, users can edit it by adding colours, text and emojis, making it fun and entertaining before sharing it with others.
WebSnap also allows users to smoothly share the link of the original website from which they took their snaps, so users no longer need to switch between apps to share the content they want.
Hype is the first African inspired chat service built into a mobile browser. It offers its users a series of stickers created by African artists such as Okolo Chibuike and Mayowa Alabi from Nigeria.
The sticker packs have been designed to include everyday expressions currently popular in Nigeria. This unique offer from Hype stands out from other chat services and gives Nigerians new ways of expressing themselves more accurately when using chat apps.
MTN Nigeria Blames System Error for October 9 Outage
By Adedapo Adesanya
MTN Nigeria has apologised to its subscribers, blaming the network outage experienced on Saturday, October 9 on a system error.
In a video message sent to Business Post on Sunday, the Chief Executive Officer of the company, Mr Karl Toriola, said the downtime was a result of system error from its end and not a result of sabotage as many feared, especially because it occurred a day after Facebook suffered a similar issue.
MTN users had October 9 experienced hours of network disruption, which affected calls and connections to the internet.
Mr Toriola explained that the technical team traced the cause of the downtime to an error that shifted all 4G customers to the 3G, overloading the band.
“Last Saturday, we had an outage that left our customers without a connection for several hours. On behalf of the entire MTN team, I want to start with a heartfelt apology. We are truly sorry for the disruption this caused for so many in our MTN family,” Mr Toriola said.
“We know that millions of people rely on us to stay connected to their loved ones, to manage their businesses, to coordinate their lives. We take that responsibility and privilege very seriously. That’s why we are putting new measures in place to make sure we never experience anything like last Saturday again.
“Our technical teams have traced the cause of the problem to an error that shifted all our 4G customers onto the 3G band. This overloaded the 3G band, causing a domino effect that impacted the whole network. Our engineers were able to resolve the problem.
“I know that recently other technology companies suffered outages. I want to reassure you that last Saturday’s event is in no way connected to those. This wasn’t [a] sabotage, it was a regrettable error,” the MTN chief added.
He further announced that MTN had refunded customers airtime and data used yesterday in addition to the time-bound subscription extension earlier promised.
He also assured users that MTN was working to ensure that they never experience such challenges with the network again.
“While we work to strengthen our network to prevent further disruptions of any kind, we wanted to find a way to say sorry. Something more than extending the validity of all time-bound plans by 24 hours, which we did as soon as service was restored,” he added.
“So, while we can’t give you back the time you lost last Saturday, we can give you back what you spent yesterday. Every customer on the MTN network has received a refund for the data and airtime that they used between 12 noon and 7 pm yesterday.
“We hope it shows how much we value our customers. You truly are our most important focus.
“We all have challenges, each and everyone, young or old, personally or professionally. What matters is how we respond. With you by our side, we will continue to improve and grow,” Mr Toriola stated.
This newspaper understands that many MTN users were given 1MB of data valid till October 31.
FG Inaugurates Governing Boards to Fast Track Development
By Sodeinde Temidayo David
In a bid to fast track the development of the country as well as overcome science, technology and innovation (STI) challenges, the federal government has inaugurated governing boards and councils of agencies or institutes under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.
Recall that recently, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the change of name of the Ministry of Science and Technology to STI in a bid to focus on ensuring the provision of STI-based solutions to overcome societal challenges.
On Thursday in Abuja, the Minister of STI, Mr Ogbonnaya Onu, during the inauguration, noted that in spite of the present challenges, his team was determined to break grounds by building a world-class ministry that would be the best in Africa and comparable with the best in the world.
However, he stressed that the team must work together efficiently to achieve this noble goal, as they are now in the path of repositioning and strengthening the Ministry to emphasize the desire to contribute to national development efforts of this administration to lift 100 million people out of poverty within the next decade.
According to Mr Onu, using the enormous power of STI, the focus will be on the development of abundant natural resources as well as the orderly exploitation of huge potentials of people and businesses.
The Minister further noted that the role assigned by the federal government on the ministry as custodian of all the fundamentals of innovations in Nigeria carries enormous responsibilities coupled with the recent change of name by the ministry.
“The new logo, vision and mission statement, our core values and critical success factors (CSF) would be unveiled very soon. A rebranded Ministry is emerging with implications for the commitment of all stakeholders within the STI ecosystem, especially the members of the various boards and councils of the Ministry.
“I employ you all to be diligent and unrelenting in the new journey to greater heights of service to our nation,” he noted.
The Minister also urged the governing boards and council members to familiarise themselves with the relevant instruments governing the operation and supervision of their respective agencies and institutes.
He expressed that the role and responsibilities of governing boards are stated in the relevant government circulars, laws, public service, administrative guidelines regulating the relationship with parastatals and government-owned companies.
In his remarks, Mr Micah Umoh, who represented the Chairman Senate Committee on Science, assured to give their full support to achieve the goal for the initiative.
Third Telecom Consumer Initiative Holds October 15
By Sodeinde Temidayo David
The third edition of the Telecom Consumer Town Hall on Radio (TCTHR) will take place on Friday, October 15 2021, at 7:30 am, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said.
The telecom consumer initiative will air on the Human Rights Radio, 101.1 FM, Abuja and will focus on the benefits of the National Identification Number to Subscriber Identity Modules (NIN-SIM) integration.
Interested individuals can tune in to listen and participate in the discussion via life streaming on the Human Rights Radio social handles, the telecommunications industry regulator said.
The TCTHR is the modified version of the Consumer Town Hall Meeting, a consumer outreach programme of the Consumer Affairs Bureau of the NCC.
Like its forerunner, the TCTHR is a train that will traverse Nigeria in keeping with management’s commitment to reach and engage every telecom consumer wherever they are.
It could be recalled that two editions of the TCTHR had taken place earlier in Kano and Lagos.
The key purpose of the programme is to create greater awareness on the linking of SIM to NIN and to educate consumers on the benefits and how to achieve NIN-SIM integration, and which consumers can reach the commission.
This initiative over the years has made it easy for consumers of telecom services in the country, who are dissatisfied with services rendered to them by any of the service providers to file a complaint.
The NCC has insisted on October 31 as the deadline for users to link their NIN to their SIM cards, stressing those who fail to do this would soon be denied the opportunity of acquiring driving licences and passports.
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