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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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When will we stop calling them phones?

If you don’t remember when phones were only used to talk to people, you may wonder why we still use this term for handsets, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK, on the eve of the 10th birthday of the app.

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Do you remember when handsets were called phones because, well, we used them to phone people?

It took 120 years from the invention of the telephone to the use of phones to send text.

Between Alexander Graham Bell coining the term “telephone” in 1876 and Finland’s two main mobile operators allowing SMS messages between consumers in 1995, only science fiction writers and movie-makers imagined instant communication evolving much beyond voice. Even when BlackBerry shook the business world with email on a phone at the end of the last century, most consumers were adamant they would stick to voice.

It’s hard to imagine today that the smartphone as we know it has been with us for less than 10 years. Apple introduced the iPhone, the world’s first mass-market touchscreen phone, in June 2007, but it is arguable that it was the advent of the app store in July the following year that changed our relationship with phones forever.

That was the moment when the revolution in our hands truly began, when it became possible for a “phone” to carry any service that had previously existed on the World Wide Web.

Today, most activity carried out by most people on their mobile devices would probably follow the order of social media in first place – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn all jostling for attention – and  instant messaging in close second, thanks to WhatsApp, Messenger, SnapChat and the like. Phone calls – using voice that is – probably don’t even take third place, but play fourth or fifth fiddle to mapping and navigation, driven by Google Maps and Waze, and transport, thanks to Uber, Taxify, and other support services in South Africa like MyCiti,  Admyt and Kaching.

Despite the high cost of data, free public Wi-Fi is also seeing an explosion in use of streaming video – whether Youtube, Netflix, Showmax, or GETblack – and streaming music, particularly with the arrival of Spotify to compete with Simfy Africa.

Who has time for phone calls?

The changing of the phone guard in South Africa was officially signaled last week with the announcement of Vodacom’s annual results. Voice revenue for the 2018 financial year ending 31 March had fallen by 4.6%, to make up 40.6% of Vodacom’s revenue. Total revenue had grown by 8.1%, which meant voice seriously underperformed the group, and had fallen by 4% as a share of revenue, from 2017’s 44.6%.

The reason? Data had not only outperformed the group, increasing revenue by 12.8%, but it had also risen from 39.7% to 42.8% of group revenue,

This means that data has not only outperformed voice for the first time – as had been predicted by World Wide Worx a year ago – but it has also become Vodacom’s biggest contributor to revenue.

That scenario is being played out across all mobile network operators. In the same way, instant messaging began destroying SMS revenues as far back as five years ago – to the extent that SMS barely gets a mention in annual reports.

Data overtaking voice revenues signals the demise of voice as the main service and key selling point of mobile network operators. It also points to mobile phones – let’s call them handsets – shifting their primary focus. Voice quality will remain important, but now more a subset of audio quality rather than of connectivity. Sound quality will become a major differentiator as these devices become primary platforms for movies and music.

Contact management, privacy and security will become critical features as the handset becomes the storage device for one’s entire personal life.

Integration with accessories like smartwatches and activity monitors, earphones and earbuds, virtual home assistants and virtual car assistants, will become central to the functionality of these devices. Why? Because the handsets will control everything else? Hardly.

More likely, these gadgets will become an extension of who we are, what we do and where we are. As a result, they must be context aware, and also context compatible. This means they must hand over appropriate functions to appropriate devices at the appropriate time. 

I need to communicate only using my earpiece? The handset must make it so. I have to use gesture control, and therefore some kind of sensor placed on my glasses, collar or wrist? The handset must instantly surrender its centrality.

There are numerous other scenarios and technology examples, many out of the pages of science fiction, that point to the changing role of the “phone”. The one thing that’s obvious is that it will be silly to call it a phone for much longer.

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube
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MTN 5G test gets 520Mbps

MTN and Huawei have launched Africa’s first 5G field trial with an end-to-end Huawei 5G solution.

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The field trial demonstrated a 5G Fixed-Wireless Access (FWA) use case with Huawei’s 5G 28GHz mmWave Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) in a real-world environment in Hatfield Pretoria, South Africa. Speeds of 520Mbps downlink and 77Mbps uplink were attained throughout respectively.

“These 5G trials provide us with an opportunity to future proof our network and prepare it for the evolution of these new generation networks. We have gleaned invaluable insights about the modifications that we need to do on our core, radio and transmission network from these pilots. It is important to note that the transition to 5G is not just a flick of a switch, but it’s a roadmap that requires technical modifications and network architecture changes to ensure that we meet the standards that this technology requires. We are pleased that we are laying the groundwork that will lead to the full realisation of the boundless opportunities that are inherent in the digital world.” says Babak Fouladi, Group Chief Technology & Information Systems Officer, at MTN Group.

Giovanni Chiarelli, Chief Technology and Information Officer for MTN SA said: “Next generation services such as virtual and augmented reality, ultra-high definition video streaming, and cloud gaming require massive capacity and higher user data rates. The use of millimeter-wave spectrum bands is one of the key 5G enabling technologies to deliver the required capacity and massive data rates required for 5G’s Enhanced Mobile Broadband use cases. MTN and Huawei’s joint field trial of the first 5G mmWave Fixed-Wireless Access solution in Africa will also pave the way for a fixed-wireless access solution that is capable of replacing conventional fixed access technologies, such as fibre.”

“Huawei is continuing to invest heavily in innovative 5G technologies”, said Edward Deng, President of Wireless Network Product Line of Huawei. “5G mmWave technology can achieve unprecedented fiber-like speed for mobile broadband access. This trial has shown the capabilities of 5G technology to deliver exceptional user experience for Enhanced Mobile Broadband applications. With customer-centric innovation in mind, Huawei will continue to partner with MTN to deliver best-in-class advanced wireless solutions.”

“We are excited about the potential the technology will bring as well as the potential advancements we will see in the fields of medicine, entertainment and education. MTN has been investing heavily to further improve our network, with the recent “Best in Test” and MyBroadband best network recognition affirming this. With our focus on providing the South Africans with the best customer experience, speedy allocation of spectrum can help bring more of these technologies to our customers,” says Giovanni.

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