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BlackBerry releases new Android phone

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BlackBerry has released a new Android smartphone, the DTEK60. Over and above the security features like a fingerprint scanner, the phone also lets one expand memory and take great photos with the 21MP auto-focus rear camera.

As part of what BlackBerry calls its transition towards a device software licensing strategy, the DTEK60’s hardware is manufactured by TCL, makers of Alcatel handsets, and comes equipped with BlackBerry’s security software. It is now available for sale at ShopBlackBerry in North America and Europe and will roll out to other regions in coming weeks.

DTEK60 is the second device in the DTEK series of Android smartphones. It provides enterprises and organizations with full access to the Android ecosystem and higher-end specs to help power productivity. It comes equipped with all the security features that BlackBerry’s Android OS devices have, including best-in-class security patching and the DTEK by BlackBerry app that allows users to monitor and control privacy on the phone.

“With the DTEK60, BlackBerry continues to focus on our strengths: state-of-the-art software and security solutions,” said Ralph Pini, Chief Operating Officer and General Manager of Mobility Solutions at BlackBerry. “When you see our logo it means security, from our class-leading enterprise software to devices secured by BlackBerry software.”

Features available on the DTEK60, as supplied by BlackBerry, include:

·         Fingerprint Sensor: For quick and convenient turn on and unlock, the BlackBerry Fingerprint Sensor provides added security for unlocking your phone, accessing Password Keeper and making purchases – including Android Pay. Add up to five fingerprints which are fully encrypted with security you can trust.

·         BlackBerry Intelligent Keyboard: DTEK60 has a smart keyboard designed to learn from users and increase typing accuracy and speed. It provides word suggestions as you type and includes up to three languages, letting you flick them into place for faster conversations.

·         BlackBerry Hub: This unified inbox is an irreplaceable tool for consolidating all of your messages in one place – whether it is email, calendar, social or phone calls.

·         Customizable BlackBerry Convenience Key: With the press of a button, the Convenience Key provides quick access to your most used applications and more.

·         Stunning Screen: DTEK60 has a 5.5” Quad HD display, capable of displaying 16 million colors. The screen is made of scratch-resistant glass and features a specialized oleophobic coating to protect against smudges and fingerprints.

·         Expandable Memory: With support for micro SD cards up to 2 TB, DTEK60 provides the flexibility to add affordable and hot-swappable memory to download, install, capture and share as your needs evolve.

·         Dazzling Camera: DTEK60 is engineered to deliver professional-looking photos with an 8MP front facing camera and a 21MP auto-focus rear camera. Plus, features like Phase Detection Auto Focus and a dual-tone LED flash are designed to help the camera focus instantly and accurately for a blur-free, realistic looking photos, even in low light.

·         Long Lasting Battery:  DTEK60 packs a 3000 mAh battery with enough power to withstand up to 24 hours of mixed use.

The device also comes equipped with the security and productivity features that past Android for BlackBerry devices have included:

·         Rapid Security Patching: BlackBerry has a record of being the quickest to deliver security patches, setting the bar in incident response and patch management to protect your device from malicious threats.

·         DTEK by BlackBerry App: Enables users to automatically monitor their OS and apps to know when their privacy could be at risk and to take action to improve it. The DTEK app also monitors applications and notifies you when someone is: taking pictures or videos without your knowledge, turning your microphone on, sending a text message, or accessing your contacts or location.

·         Hardware Root of Trust: BlackBerry uses a proprietary technique that adds security from the start, allowing for the tracking, verification and provisioning of the DTEK60.

·         Secure Boot Process: Starting with the root of trust, each stage of DTEK60’s secure boot chain must first verify that the next component is fully intact before proceeding, ensuring your device has not been tampered with since the last restart.

·         Android OS hardening: BlackBerry provides additional security patches, improves upon Android’s native Address Space Layout Randomization and reduces the number of system applications and services running with elevated permissions. This makes it more difficult for attackers to compromise the OS.

·         FIPS 140-2 Compliant Full Disk Encryption: Protects your private information, like pictures or bank information, from being stolen if you were to lose your phone.

·         Android™ for Work and Google Play™ for Work: Allows for fast, simple and secure integration with an enterprise environment as well as easy access to numerous rich business and IT-managed apps.

·         Full Enterprise Mobility Management Support: DTEK60 supports BlackBerry’s powerful suite of EMM applications and secure productivity solutions, including: WatchDox by BlackBerry for secure file-sharing, Good Work for business-class email and collaboration tools, Strong Authentication by BlackBerry as a VPN solution, SecuSUITE for Enterprise for secure voice and instant messaging communication, BBM Protected for encrypted messaging and BES12 for secure cross-platform management.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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