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New security updates released for multiple KE variants of Samsung Galaxy phones

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Samsung may not be as fast as Google or even Nokia with software updates, but the Korean company is still one of the best there is when it comes to software support.

Considering the sheer number of devices in the market, it’ll always take Samsung longer to release software updates compared to other Android vendors. No matter how long you wait, though, the update will surely arrive at some point, like it’s happening with a good number of devices ranging from the bottom-end Samsung Galaxy J2 Core to the high-end Galaxy S9+.

All of the devices mentioned in this post started receiving their updates somewhere between April 1st and today, April 15th. The latest to get the nod is the Galaxy J2 Core (SM-J260F), which is receiving an update that installs December 2018 security patches – in April 2019. As a testament to what I just said in the previous paragraph, the wait can take ages, but the update will finally arrive!

The update has software version J260FXXU1ASA1 and is based on Android 8.1 Oreo.

Last week, it was the Galaxy Note 8’s (SM-N950F) turn to receive April 2019 security patches as version N950FXXS5DSC5. Unlike the J2 Core, this one is based on Android 9 Pie, the latest stable Android OS available for the device.

Users of the Galaxy J4+ (SM-J415F), Galaxy S7 (SM-G930F) and Galaxy S7 Edge (SM-G935F) got their treats earlier on in the month, jumping to the newer March 2019 security patches courtesy of software versions J415FXXU2ASC2, G930FXXS4ESCB, and G935FXXS4ESCB, respectively. Besides the updated security patch level, the updates also brought along stability improvements, bug fixes, and general system-wide performance improvements.

The Galaxy S9 (SM-G960F) and Galaxy S9+ (SM-G965F) updates arrived on the second day of this month carrying firmware versions G960FXXU2CSC8 and G965FXXU2CSC8, respectively. Besides March 2019 security patches, the updates also come with improved selfie camera performance (default angle of view for taking selfies is now 68 degrees and speed of switching between various camera modes has been optimized) and improved stability of Wi-Fi, Messages, Contacts and Video Editor apps.

As for the Galaxy S10e, Galaxy S10, and Galaxy S10+, their second-ever software updates in Kenya arrived on the first day of this month.

Samsung doesn’t roll out software updates to all devices at once. It’s the reason some users of devices that got their updates earlier this month may still be waiting for the download notification to arrive, so a little patience will be required as you wait for your turn.

Alternatively, you can always go the manual way and find out if the firmware is ready to download on your device by heading to Settings > Software update > Download updates manually.





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KawiSafi Ventures raises $70m for clean energy accelerate in East Africa

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Acumen today announced that its for-profit fund, KawiSafi Ventures has raised approximately $70 million to drive energy access for millions of low-income people in East Africa and scale the clean energy sector.

Acumen, through Acumen Capital Partners has invested $22 million of patient, philanthropic capital across the off-grid ecosystem and impacting 81 million lives. Acumen is now going into for-profit investments away from philanthropic capital.

KawiSafi will use the funds to accelerate growth of clean energy companies in East Africa. Some of KawiSafi’s early supporters include anchor investor the Green Climate Fund along with Steve Jurvetson, Chris Anderson and the Skoll Foundation. Acumen, as sponsor, holds an equity interest in the fund.

According to Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder and CEO of Acumen, “We created KawiSafi to prove that renewable, off-grid energy can be a faster, cheaper and cleaner way to electrify the continent. By building scalable solutions that can bring power to low-income communities that have lived without electricity for too long, we can create a seismic shift in off-grid energy, releasing immense levels of human productivity and minimizing impact on the environment. Given that Africa’s population is expected to nearly double by 2030, a clean energy strategy is good not just for the continent but for everyone.”

In sub-Saharan Africa, more than 600 million people currently live without electricity and spend $17 billion a year on dirty, inefficient energy. KawiSafi aims to deliver clean, affordable energy to 10 million people, at least half of whom live in poverty, and displace more than one million tons of carbon dioxide in the next 10 years, to address energy poverty and help avert the current climate crisis. To date, KawiSafi has invested $21 million to impact 4.3 million people and avert 360 thousand tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

“The energy landscape has changed drastically in the last decade, and we have seen proven, profitable businesses emerge that are already transforming how low-income people access electricity,” said KawiSafi’s Managing Director Amar Inamdar. “These companies need early-growth capital to scale so they meet customer demand and drive innovation in a rapidly evolving ecosystem. KawiSafi will fill critical market gaps to create a sustainable, off-grid ecosystem, supporting countries to realize their UN Sustainable Development Goal of universal energy access.

d.light, a longtime Acumen investee, is one of KawiSafi’s first investments. The company, which manufactures and distributes a broad range of high-quality, affordable solar products, has impacted more than 90 million lives and offset 21 million tons of CO2. d.light recently closed $41 million in Series E financing, demonstrating how KawiSafi can help accelerate growth for companies with proven business models poised to generate significant financial and social returns.

KawiSafi is managed by Acumen Capital Partners LLC, an Acumen-owned subsidiary that structures and manages funds investing in social enterprises poised to scale to transform the lives of low-income people everywhere and solve some of poverty’s greatest challenges. .


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BBM to shut down on 31st May

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BBM is shutting down on 31st May 2019, a statement on the BBM blog notes.

“Today we’re announcing that we will be closing BBM consumer service on 31 May 2019.”

BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM, like we all used to call it had a good run.

Back in the day, being on BBM was almost a status symbol in some quarters.

You know, long before the smartphone era began in earnest, those who had BlackBerry devices from RIM (Research in Motion, what the maker of BlackBerry phones used to be known as), had this exclusive club where they could chat with each other for hours on end. Heck, those who not only managed to break into that exclusive club but could also afford to splurge even more on the limited edition BlackBerry smartphones from Porsche Design had special BBM PINs to announce their status to the world.

Such were the good old days.

However, like many other technologies and technology companies before it, BlackBerry failed to move with the masses and the times. Not only did it miss the mass movement occasioned by the arrival of the iPhone, it also held on to BBM for far too long instead of availing it on every platform and attracting new users. It’s not lost on us the irony of Apple being accused of doing pretty much the same thing with iMessage today.

As BlackBerry took its sweet time, other messenger apps took root. WhatsApp, which had existed briefly in the pre-iOS/Android era, slowly built itself up as the messenger app of choice for the masses, including even BlackBerry users since both the sender and the recipient both needed BlackBerry devices in order to use BBM.

By the time BBM was being made available to other platforms, like our beloved Android, in May 2013, its would-be users were already hooked to other services and that move only served to, mostly, excite existing BlackBerry users who were increasingly beginning to sample what was on offer on other platforms.

As the blog post announcing the service’s shuttering next month correctly notes, “users have moved on to other platforms, while new users proved difficult to sign on.”

It is worth noting that the BBM service being shut down is the consumer service. Those who rely on BBM for their workplace chatter are still safe as the enterprise version is staying put.

Those who had made in-app purchases – like BBM stickers, for instance – on the Android app can request for refunds and those will be processed through Google Play. BBMoji purchases, however, are not eligible for any refund.

It is rather sad to see BBM go but it would be dishonest to say it will be missed. What with the likes of Telegram Messenger and their endless capabilities around.

UPDATE

BlackBerry, just like it had done with its hardware services, had outsourced BBM to Indonesian firm Emtek. It is Emtek that is responsible for pulling the plug on BBM as communicated today. As a result, BlackBerry is opening up the enterprise version of BBM to ordinary users who will still want to stick around after May 31st. The BBMe app is available on the Google Play Store.

It is worth noting, though, that the app is not as full-featured with all the fun stuff (BBMojis, stickets and all) as the consumer version and just caters to the usual stuff – chats, video calls. Importantly, it emphasizes on the security credentials that BlackBerry has been known for for years. After the first year, though, it will cost upwards of Kshs 250 to keep on using the service.





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Airtel Kenya and LG Kenya team up to offer up to 30% discount on electronics and appliances

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Both Airtel Kenya and LG Electronics are marginal names in their respective arenas here in Kenya. Perhaps with something common between them, the two have decided to team up and offer discounts of up to 30% off on LG electronics and appliances sold through the official LG Brand Shop.

Airtel Kenya and LG Kenya are running a promotion that could save you a good amount of money going into Easter holidays, but unfortunately, this discount can’t be utilized on our favorite Android gizmos, smartphones. This is because the said LG online shop doesn’t stock LG smartphones, but there’s still plenty of Android over there, including some of the best Smart TVs on the market.

In order to get the (up to) 30% discount off your next LG purchase from the LG Brand Shop, you must make your payment through Airtel Money. We all know how unpopular Airtel Money is compared to industry leader, M-PESA, but with this promo, Airtel Kenya hopes it will see an improvement in the service’s intake.

Similarly, LG hopes to see a jump in purchases of their electronics and appliances as more Kenyans look to take advantage of the offer and make savings of up to Sh 40,000.

A great move, no doubt, but as noted earlier, both Airtel and LG are not names that regularly pop up in conversations around mobile devices. We all know how essential mobile devices are if either is to realize any significant success from this partnership.

What is still unclear is for how long this promo will be around, so be sure to take advantage of it while it lasts. That is, NOW!





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