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KaiOS users can now send Ding top-up requests to overseas relatives
by Paul Hill
KaiOS Technologies has announced that users of its smart feature phone operating system, KaiOS, can now send Ding requests to relatives overseas if they want a mobile top-up. Ding works in a similar way to remittance payments, but instead of cash, the recipient receives mobile credit on their device.
The new service is available in the KaiStore. Once accessed, KaiOS users can go through their address book and select a contact they’d like to request a top-up from. As an example, a teenager with a KaiOS device living in Mexico could ping one of their parents working in the United States who could top-up their kid’s phone via Ding.com.
Commenting on the news, Ruper Shaw, Chief Commercial Officer at Ding, said:
Ding’s network consists of over 550 mobile operators based in more than 140 countries; this covers 95% of the world’s population so there’s a good chance it’ll work for most people. If you’d like to see a full list of supported countries and carriers check out Ding’s Countries page.
Ofcom says recent changes to mobile and broadband services are saving people millions
by Paul Hill
The UK’s digital regulator, Ofcom, has announced that changes it introduced last year to mobile and broadband to protect customers are helping people to save millions of pounds. Last year, the regulator introduced new rules that alerted customers that they were nearing the end of a contract and helped protect vulnerable customers from out-of-contract charges; now, these alterations seem to be paying off.
Ofcom found that 62% of broadband customers who were coming to the end of their contract signed a new deal with their current provider or switched to a new one when their existing deal ended, this is up from 47% of customers in 2019. The increase is likely due to the fact that customers are made aware of their contract status so they can take action, whereas, in the past, it might have slipped by without them noticing.
Ofcom also found that broadband customers who were out of contract fell from 40% in 2019 to 35% in 2020. Being out of contract can mean paying £5.10 more per month so the prompts about the contract coming to an end are useful for those who want to save that bit of money each month.
As for vulnerable broadband customers, Ofcom revealed that those out-of-contract pay £2.30 per month more than the average which is still a reduction from 2019 when the figure stood at £4.40 per month.
Finally, Ofcom said that it had noticed an increase in the number of mobile customers that took action to secure a new deal. The figure rose from 70% in 2019 to 76% in 2020. This could have to do with the action Ofcom took in late 2020 to ban networks from selling locked phones, making it easier to switch.
Apple's self-driving car plans are accelerated by former Tesla Autopilot software executive
by Moshe Jacobs
Apple has acquired former Tesla Autopilot software executive employee Christopher Moore, as reported by Bloomberg. Christopher Moore's onboarding is the latest in Apple's efforts to accelerate its self-driving car plans.
The hiring of Christopher Moore presents an interesting dynamic to Apple's self-driving car project. Moore has, in the past, refuted arguably unrealistic statements made by Tesla's CEO Elon Musk in regards to the proficiency of Autopilot performance being able to reach Level 5 autonomy within a couple of years.
Christopher Moore is said to report to Stuart Bowers, yet another employee who formerly worked at Tesla and was picked up by Apple.
In the past 5 years, Apple has been, not-so-secretively, working on an electric self-driving vehicle codenamed Project Titan. While it seems that Apple's exact goals are unknown with what it hopes to achieve, as can be evidenced by the constant rotation of management as well as its shift in plans from building a vehicle to compiling autonomous driving software and back again to building a vehicle, the Apple Car project is seemingly still accelerating forward. In regards to its self-driving software, Apple is said to be implementing LiDAR scanners and video cameras for awareness of the surrounding environment.
Whatever transpires from Project Titan, whether solely autonomous software or a full-fledged self-driving vehicle, it will sure to be just another notch on Apple's belt.
By Jay Bonggolto
Huawei to launch HarmonyOS and new devices on June 2
by Jay Bonggolto
Huawei unveiled HarmonyOS in 2019, its homegrown operating system designed to run on various smart devices including smartphones, wearables, wireless earbuds, laptops, tablets, and self-driving cars. A year later, the company announced a version of the OS specifically built for smartphones, dubbed HarmonyOS 2.0, though it was not meant for release until sometime in 2021.
Today, the Chinese phone maker posted a new video online teasing the upcoming launch of HarmonyOS and other products on June 2. The teaser was shared on Twitter.
It's not clear whether the event will be China-only or worldwide, but it's expected to mark a new milestone in Huawei's efforts to cut its reliance on Android after U.S. sanctions prevented Google from providing support to its mobile devices. Huawei didn't say as well whether it's launching a new smartphone in June, apart from indicating that it would unveil new products in addition to HarmonyOS.
Huawei positions the new operating system as a key step in addressing the impact of U.S. sanctions that adversely affected its business worldwide. Aside from the Google ban, Huawei's access to critical U.S. technology that's necessary to manufacture its own Kirin processor was blocked.
The company's solution is to focus on its software ecosystem. Huawei's founder and CEO, Ren Zhengfei, most recently called on employees to "dare to lead the world" in software in a move to counter the impact of U.S. sanctions, according to an internal memo. He said transitioning to software and services will give the company "greater independence and autonomy" as these are beyond the reach of U.S. control.
UK turning to legislation to get rid of mobile not-spots
by Paul Hill
The UK government has announced that it will propose law changes in an effort to boost mobile connectivity in rural areas to help those who live, work, and travel in those places. Under the legislation, mobile carriers will be allowed to make new and existing masts up to five metres taller and two metres wider to boost their range, it also allows operators to attach equipment that lets them be shared more easily.
The government believes that the change will encourage mobile carriers to improve their existing masts rather than build new ones. The increased size would still allow them to reach a similar number of users as building new masts, enabling innovations such as remote healthcare, self-driving vehicles, and smart home devices.
The legislation will give protection to protected areas such as national parks, the Broads, conservation areas, areas of outstanding natural beauty, and world heritage sites but will allow for masts on buildings to be placed nearer to highways to boost coverage.
Commenting on the new legislation, Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said:
While the new legislation will loosen restrictions, the government said that local authorities would still need to give their approval for masts and will have a say on where they’re placed and their appearance. The new plans will first go to consultation until 14 June 2021 to get feedback before starting the process of becoming law.