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Facebook launches Instagram Lite in 170 lower bandwidth countries – Toronto Sun

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JERUSALEM — Facebook said on Wednesday it was launching a “lite” version of Instagram in 170 countries that will enable people with poor internet to access the photo and video sharing social networking service.

Instagram Lite will be available for Android-based phones and require less bandwidth than the traditional version.

The app itself requires just 2 megabytes (MB) – versus 30 MB for Instagram – and runs even on slower 2G networks, allowing customers in parts of India, Africa, Asia and Latin America with older internet infrastructure to access the service.

“These are the markets where there is the greatest need,” said Tzach Hadar, director of product management at Facebook in Tel Aviv, where the app was largely developed.

“It uses a lot less data so if you have a small data package you are not going to run out when you use the service. But the aim is for us to give the same breadth of experience you get on Instagram,” he told Reuters.

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Hadar, who heads Facebook’s R&D in Israel, said 170 countries did not represent a full global launch, but “it’s a step on the way.”

He noted that other than TV and reels – for creating and sharing short video clips – Instagram Lite retained most key features of Instagram.

A lite version of Facebook itself has been available globally for five years.

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In addition to the lite versions, Facebook in Tel Aviv also developed the Express WiFi service to bring internet access to some 20 countries in Africa, Asia, and South America.

Hadar said his team was now working on a digital wallet for Facebook. “You have close to 2 billion people that have no access or limited access to banks and financial services and there are tens of billions of dollars being spent just for fees for migrants wanting to send money back to their families,” he said.

Another initiative, he said, was Facebook Shops for small businesses to sell products online.

Facebook’s R&D centre in Tel Aviv opened in 2013 after it bought Israeli mobile app-maker Onavo for an estimated $150-$200 million.

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Nigeria launches eNaira amid hope, scepticism – and plenty of uncertainty

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Nigeria on Monday became the first African nation to launch a digital currency – the eNaira – a move its leaders said will expand access to banking, enable more remittances and even grow the economy by billions of dollars.

Africa’s most populous nation joins the Bahamas, the first to launch a general purpose central bank digital currency, known as the Sand Dollar, in October. China has ongoing trials and Switzerland and the Bank of France have announced Europe’s first cross-border experiment.

But experts and cryptocurrency users in the continent’s biggest economy say the fact that there are more questions than answers regarding the eNaira – and a large amount of worry over the consistency of Central Bank (CBN) rules – means the government faces a tough path to make the eNaira a success.

Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele said during Monday’s launch that there had been “overwhelming interest and encouraging response”, adding that 33 banks, 2,000 customers and 120 merchants had already registered successfully with the platform, which is available via an app on Apple and Android.

Some 200 million nairas’ worth of eNaira, which will maintain parity with the traditional currency, has been issued to financial institutions, he said. President Muhammadu Buhari said use of the currency could grow the economy by $29 billion over ten years, enable direct government welfare payments and even increase the tax base.

Nigeria’s young, tech-savvy population has eagerly adopted digital currencies. Cryptocurrency use has grown quickly despite a Central Bank ban in February on banks and financial institutions dealing in or facilitating transactions in them.

Nigeria ranked seventh in the 2021 Global Crypto Adoption Index compiled by research firm Chainalysis. Official digital currencies, unlike crytocurrencies such as bitcoin, are backed and controlled by the central bank.

But some of what drove Nigeria’s enthusiastic adoption of cryptocurrencies was the Central Bank’s own shifting rules regarding accessing foreign currency – and the naira’s plunging value on parallel markets that saw savings shrink.

“It’s not clear looking at the CBN’s body of work that Nigerians would be comfortable using this,” said Ikemesit Effiong, head of research with Lagos-based consultancy SBM Intelligence.

He added that the CBN had not yet made clear whether users could transfer eNaira back into traditional naira, whether they could use cryptocurrency to buy or sell the eNaira or even whether there would be physical locations to use and transfer eNaira, or whether it would be entirely digital.

“There are more questions than answers, even though we are looking at the launch of this digital currency. The fact that this is the case so late in the game is concerning,” he told Reuters.

The CBN issued a nine-page FAQ, which said eNaira users would access it via the phone app, internet banking or a code dialled from mobile phones, but it did not address transferability or other questions raised by Effiong.

Only three local television channels were allowed to attend the launch, and officials took no questions.

For 28-year-old Ebuka Joseph, an art dealer and enthusiastic cryptocurrency user in the commercial capital, Lagos, the uncertainty means he will stay on the sidelines, for now.

His concerns centre on whether he would easily be able to change eNaira back into normal currency.

“I have had issues trusting the central bank … because they have already banned crypto,” he told Reuters. “I want to hear from people, see people use it, before I venture into it.”

 

(Reporting by Libby George; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou returns to work in Shenzhen, after extradition drama – Global Times

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Meng Wanzhou, CFO of Huawei Technologies, returned to work at the tech giant’s headquarters in Shenzhen on Monday after almost three years fighting extradition to the U.S. in Canada, state-backed Chinese newspaper Global Times reported.

Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei, completed three weeks of quarantine last week after returning to the southern city of Shenzhen where a crowd of well-wishers chanting patriotic slogans awaited her at the airport.

“Over the last three years, although we have struggled, we have overcome obstacles and our team has fought with more and more courage,” she said in a speech at an internal company event that was circulated online.

The extradition drama had been a central source of discord between Beijing and Washington, with Chinese officials signalling that the case had to be dropped to help end a diplomatic stalemate.

Meng was detained in December 2018 in Vancouver after a New York court issued an arrest warrant, saying she tried to cover up attempts by Huawei-linked companies to sell equipment to Iran in breach of U.S. sanctions.

She was allowed to go home after reaching an agreement https://www.reuters.com/technology/huawei-cfo-meng-appear-court-expected-reach-agreement-with-us-source-2021-09-24 with U.S. prosecutors last month to end a bank fraud case against her.

 

(Reporting by David Kirton; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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Here’s what Google says about Pixel 6 features coming to older Pixels – Android Authority

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Eric Zeman / Android Authority

TL;DR

  • Google has told Android Authority that it aims to bring as many Pixel 6 features to older Pixels as possible.
  • The company added that porting some features will require “additional technical investments.”

One thing that you can count on with new Pixel flagship launches is that at least some of the newest features will come to older Pixel phones. We saw that with the astrophotography mode, Cinematic Pan option, and Call Screening, to name a few.

The Pixel 6 range is a slighty different case though, as Google is leaning heavily on its in-house Tensor processor for some of these features. These features include Live Translate, Motion Mode, and more. Now, Google has revealed whether some Pixel 6 features could come to older devices.

“Some technologies will require additional technical investments, such as Live Translate, as our on-device language models are engineered to run on Pixel 6’s proprietary Tensor chip on TPU (which older Pixel models don’t have),” the representative continued.

“We currently do not have a firm date for rollout to older Pixels at this point in time, but stay tuned for future announcements.”

In other words, it seems like Google is well aware that it will need to work on finding ways to port some of the latest Pixel 6 features to the older Pixels. But we’re guessing that the transition to custom silicon could mean some new features simply don’t make it to older Pixels. Here’s hoping Google proves us wrong.

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