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HTC unveils One A9

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HTC has unveiled the latest addition to the HTC One family – the A9 – featuring the HTC Sense skin on top of the Android 6.0 Marshmallow operating system. 

The company announced: “Built for people who want a better choice, the HTC One A9 is a smartphone that combines striking design on the outside with the newest features of Android 6.0 Marshmallow with HTC Sense on the inside to create an unrivaled smartphone experience.”

HTC provided the following information:

An evolution of the iconic HTC One family design, the HTC One A9 draws on the natural beauty around us, by using rich, striking colors and unique finishes – an approach called “metalmorphics.” New curves, refined edges, and precision-cut ridges on the power button flawlessly combine with the super-thin metal frame giving the phone a natural and lightweight feel. The elegant dual finish, available in a Carbon Gray, Opal Silver, Topaz Gold and Deep Garnet, is painstakingly brushed with hairline detail and bead-blasted before the sides are polished, giving additional depth and richness that is unique to the smartphone market. Finally, in a stunning fusion of metal and glass, a 5-inch, edge-to-edge, 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 4, Full HD AMOLED screen cascades into the metal frame, giving you brighter and more vivid colors for brilliant graphics and gaming, even in direct sunlight.

Your best camera is the one you use whenever the moment strikes, so it should be able to capture stunning shots in any situation. The HTC One A9’s front and rear cameras, coupled with powerful yet simple editing tools, mean epic photos and videos are only a tap away. Its main 13MP rear camera features Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), which automatically minimises hand shake and corrects vibrations to give you a crystal-clear picture every time. Meanwhile, the front UltraPixel camera delivers the best self-portraits in any lighting condition, using HTC’s UltraPixel sensor to capture 300% more light than conventional smartphone cameras.

With the HTC One A9, no detail is too small. Offering an optional Pro mode to capture the perfect photo without being a photography expert, you can also save photos using RAW capture – a tool used by professional photographers – for an unmatched level of detail and post-shot editing flexibility. Or you can keep things simple with Photo Editor’s one-button enhancement feature, which automatically brightens colors and sharpens edges for unbelievably clear and crisp photos.

Sometimes a still photo just isn’t enough. With the HTC One A9’s Hyperlapse editing tool you can speed up your videos to 12 times as fast for a dramatic time-lapse effect, creating an immersive video that perfectly captures the moments that matter. Speed through your video or use capture mode to edit in slow motion, highlighting those unforgettable memories. Or use HTC Zoe to easily and automatically mix your best shots and videos into one professional-looking highlight reel that can be shared with friends and family to tell the story of any moment from every angle.

Game changing audio has always been core to the HTC One family – the HTC One A9 delivers amazing sound quality, with HTC BoomSound integrated into the headset combined with Dolby Audio surround technology, delivering immersive, vibrant sound that matches a live experience in your headphones by taking high-resolution audio to the next level. With a built-in DAC that delivers audio at 24-bit, 192KHz quality – better than CD quality – it provides a richness and depth like you’ve never before heard from your music collection. A powerful high-output headphone amplifier, with double the output of other handsets, provides more power and dynamic range so you can hear every nuance of your favorite music, videos and games. Optional high-resolution audio certified HTC Pro Studio Earphones deliver both noise isolation and truly immersive sound.

Cutting-edge software: Android 6.0 Marshmallow

The first non-Nexus smartphone powered by Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the HTC One A9 brings Google’s latest innovations and the simplicity of HTC Sense right out of the box. Combined with a multi-directional fingerprint scanner, Android Pay makes purchasing items as secure and as easy as “tap, pay, done.” Google’s Now on Tap feature also intuitively provides contextual information about whatever is on your screen – look up reviews for a movie from a text, hear a song mentioned in a blog post, or book seats at a restaurant from an email, all at the press of the home button.

With so many new features, the HTC One A9 has also been designed with all new power-saving capabilities to maximize battery life. Doze automatically turns off power hungry applications when your phone is left idle, such as when charging overnight, while App Standby knows when an app open in the background isn’t being used and shuts it down until you need it again. In addition, the phone’s new processor, AMOLED screen and support for the optional HTC Rapid Charger 2.0, for up to 75% faster charging are all optimized to maximize battery life throughout the day. In real terms this means, for example, that you can play 12 hours of HD video on one charge.

Featuring the newest Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor with integrated X8 LTE and 64-bit octa-core CPUs, the HTC One A9 is designed to deliver a perfect balance of powerful performance, fast connectivity and better battery life. With support for epic LTE wireless speeds through next-generation carrier aggregation technology, it delivers more high-definition streaming videos, more pulse-pounding high-resolution audio and more storage in the cloud to hold everything your heart desires. The phone is available in both 16 and 32GB configurations and features expandable memory, supporting up to 2TB in SD card storage, perfect for storing all your apps, games, photos, music and videos.

To protect your smartphone, pair it with the HTC Dot View II case, available in Obsidian, Deep Garnet, Sea Coral and Turquoise Blue. Its retro-inspired dot matrix cover reveals instant notifications, weather updates, caller ID and more, even while closed, and simple gesture controls bring music, flashlight, radio and voice recording tools closer than ever.

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AppDate: Prepare for space

In this week’s AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights Space Nation Navigator, Hitman Sniper, Snake Mask, Memrise, WhatsApp Web, and Carrot Weather.

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Space Nation Navigator

Space Nation Navigator is a bit of a strange app. It is part game, part exercise and part educational. On the game side, users have to navigate the Mars Rover, put the International Space Station back into orbit or move their Martians to safety before a sand storm hits Mars. When it comes to exercise, Space Nation Navigator provides users with a range of exercises and Yoga videos to prepare them for space travel and working in an anti-gravity environment. The education aspect teaches users about the planets, and star constellations, and then offers quizzes on what has been taught.

Platform: Android and iOS

Cost: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Memrise

Memrise takes a new approach to help people learn new languages. Instead of providing a user with random phrases and words to memorise, the app connects you with a person already fluent in the language you want to learn. In turn, the person you are speaking to wants to learn the language in which you are fluent. Once your profile is filled out and languages selected, it connects you with people around the world who are interested in your language, and then allows you to chat with them in real-time. Memrise also lets one learn new languages through games, chatbots and grammarbots that help with spelling, tenses and pronunciations.

Platform: Android and iOS

Cost: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Hitman Sniper

Hitman Sniper is loosely based on the Agent 47 movie released a few years ago. The game offers players the ability to hone their shooting skills through a range of training courses and, once they think they are ready, they can start taking out the bad guys. Things start off easy enough, but they get more and more difficult as one progresses through the 150 missions on offer. One will also have to upgrade various gun components, like scopes, magazine capacities and silencers, to make the missions a little easier. Hitman Sniper lets users buy 16 to tackle each of the missions – either with real money or via the points accumulated by completing missions. Money and points can also be used to upgrade firearms.

Platform: Android and iOS

Cost: R7 – with a range of in-app purchases.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Snake Mask

The iconic Snake game that was preinstalled on most older Nokia phones has had a complete make-over. It now uses Facebook’s AR technology, meaning that you have to navigate the snake around obstacles in your home or office, all the while collecting coins and stars that change the snake’s speed and length. Unfortunately, Snake Mask is only available on Nokia’s new range of smartphones. However, it should not take long before it slithers onto other devices.

 

Platform: New Nokia smartphones running Android.

Cost: Free to use through the Facebook app installed on the device.

Stockists: Available through the Facebook app.

 

WhatsApp Web

Although this is by no means a new app, it is an extremely useful one, and one that not many people know about. Tapping out WhatsApps on your phone is easy enough, but thanks to WhatsApp Web it can be even easier. Open the WhatApp Web page under WhatsApp and you will see a QR code. Scan this code through WhatsApp on your mobile and you will be shown a replica of what you would normally see on your phone. You can then type and reply to messages using your computer instead of having to stop everything and unlock your phone every time a message comes through. WhatsApp Web is great if you share your computer with other people as it automatically disconnects when the browser is closed. However WhatsApp also offers an app that when installed will stay connected to your phone unless you manually remove it.

 

Platform: Any up-to-date Internet browser

Cost: Free to use and install

Stockists: Visit www.WhatsApp.com

 

Carrot Weather

There are thousands of weather apps on the Internet these days and all of them do the same thing – inform you of the weather in your area. However, Carrot Weather has taken what is just another app and turned it into something fun. By fun, I mean sarcastic, rude and completely politically incorrect. A user starts off by selecting religious and political views. It then asks about personality, ranging from friendly to homicidal to overkill – which includes profanity. So, for instance, instead of waking up to to the standard partly cloudy forecast, Carrot Weather will display something like: “It’s only partly sunny, the sun is a total effing failure.” It also has a range of insults that it throws at you whenever you open the app – some of them downright insulting, so it is definitely not for those who are easily offended. The app’s user interface is very simple, displaying a week’s daily forecast and hourly forecasts for the day selected.

Platform: Android and iOS

Cost: Free to download but with adverts. The premium, advert free version costs R12 per month.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

* Sean Bacher is editor of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @SeanBacher

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SA Start-up reinvents PABX

For any South African business, the idea of setting up or changing a telephonic switchboard system is the stuff of nightmares. Dealing with expensive hardware and hearing things like QSIG and VOIP is not what you’d call exciting.But now there is an app.

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Enter BuzzBox (www.buzzboxcloud.co.za), a web-based telephone switchboard that is aimed at small and medium sized businesses wanting to take the hassle and cost out of the company switchboard. Whether you are a small one-man operation or a larger organisation with staff working remotely, BuzzBox is the best switchboard solution.

What sets BuzzBox apart from anything else on the market is its easy-to-use dashboard. It puts you in control of everything from picking your phone number to setting up voice prompts and managing your business-hours schedule.

BuzzBox was developed when the startup behind it, Jini-Guru, needed such a service for its own use across multiple continents. “When we started Jini-Guru we could not find a seamless online process that would allow us to set up a full web-based switchboard, so we decided to build one for ourselves,” says Mike Smits, Director at Jini-Guru.

He says a lot of startups today are tech savvy and know how to use apps and the services that go with it. “It’s the uberisation of services and its driving demand for instant service activation.”

BuzzBox works as an app on both iOS and Android but users wanting a desk phone option can choose from a variety of devices on offer or use their existing VOIP phones.

Setting up a BuzzBox account takes 5 minutes. During registration your FICA documents are uploaded [ID and proof or residence] and you get to pick your phone number before the account is created. Companies that want to keep an existing number can do so too.

The real magic happens when you log on to the BuzzBox Dashboard. The main screen displays a summary of statistics for your account while the left-hand menu provides you quick access to various configuration settings and reports.

Setting up new extensions or external numbers is done with a few clicks and you can even set up various departments which is a great way to route a call to various people in a department, like sales or support.

The intuitive user interface also makes it easy to set up hold-music and voice prompts. You can add voice prompts by recording them straight to your phone, just make sure you use a clear voice with quiet surroundings for the best customer experience.

One of the main features of BuzzBox is its call recording feature that allows an organisation to record calls for legislative purposes, such as a lawyer, or for customer service purposes such as support. Recordings are stored securely online, and you have the ability to download recordings for playback. Companies can opt-in for this service and it’s free to use. Recordings are stored online and are fully encrypted so only you can listen to, or download them. Storage costs R1 for every 1000 minutes of stored recordings.

Other features include call forwarding and scheduling. The latter allows you to set office hours for your organisation which will divert calls to an after-hours messaging service. You also have the option to enable routing to an employee who is on call after hours.

BuzzBox also has a reseller program for companies wanting to offer this as a switchboard solution to their existing customers.

The costs for this service is R89 p/m for the first phone number which includes your first extension for free. Thereafter you’ll pay R89p/m per extension. Calls between extensions are free but you pay per second for all outgoing phone calls. More info on pricing can be found here: https://buzzboxcloud.co.za/pricing/

BuzzBox is offering a Launch promotion where they are offering the first line and extension free for 12 months. Only pay for calls. Use promo code “feoifyaa” during sign-up to apply your discount.

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