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Huawei opens mobile AI door

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Huawei this week introduced new smartphones with the world’s first Kirin AI processor, which it says will deliver a faster, more customised mobile experience.

At an event in Munich yesterday, Huawei unveiled the new Mate 10 Series, which it says will open the door to new AI mobile applications.

The Huawei Mate 10, Mate 10 Pro, and Porsche Design Mate 10 are described as breakthrough AI devices that combine innovative hardware, the Kirin 970 chipset and EMUI 8.0.

The launch is a sequel to the announcement at IFA Berlin by Huawei Consumer Business Group of its first AI mobile chipset, the Kirin 970.

“As we enter the age of intelligence, AI is no longer a virtual concept but something that intertwines with our daily life,” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer Business Group. “AI can enhance user experience, provide valuable services and improve product performance The Huawei Mate 10 Series introduces the first mobile AI-specific Neural Network Processing Unit, launching a new era of intelligent smartphones.”

South Africa will be among the first to have the Mate Series smartphone in country.

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“We are delighted to bring the Mate 10 Pro and the Porsche Design Mate 10 to South Africa as we believe these smartphones will cater for the South African consumer needs as we enter the age of AI,” said Likun Zhao, GM, Huawei Consumer Business Group SA.

“Consumers will be able to pre-order their devices online after our local launch on 6 November 2017.”

This is the first time a Mate Series phone has been released in South Africa within a month of its global launch.

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Huawei provided the following information:

Key features include:

  • Kirin 970, the world’s first AI processor for smartphones with a dedicated Neural Network Processing Unit (NPU);
  • A 3D Glass Body featuring a barely-there-bezel, Huawei FullView Display and HDR10 supported technology for intensely vivid and brighter colors;
  • TÜV Fast-Charge Safety Certified Huawei SuperCharge and 4000 mAh battery with AI-powered Battery Management;
  • New Leica Dual Camera with SUMMILUX-H lenses, with both featuring  an aperture of f/1.6, and intelligent photography including AI-powered Real-Time Scene and Object Recognition and AI-powered Bokeh Effect;
  • An all-new, simplified EMUI 8.0 based on Android 8.0.

The Huawei Mate 10 and Huawei Mate 10 Pro are the first devices powered by the new Kirin 970 processor and deliver AI enhancements for a faster, more customized mobile experience. The Kirin 970 is built using an advanced TSMC 10nm semiconductor manufacturing process, and features an octa-core ARM Cortex CPU, a first-to-market Mali G72 12-core GPU and the first NPU designed specifically for a mobile device. The Kirin 970 also has a new dual ISP for AI-powered intelligent photography.

The specialized NPU, combined with Huawei’s innovative HiAI mobile computing platform, means the Kirin 970 delivers 25x better performance and 50x greater energy efficiency for AI-related tasks, compared to four Cortex-A73 cores. The Huawei Mate 10 Series is also the world’s fastest smartphone supporting super-fast LTE connectivity and download speeds. The device comes with the world’s first dual 4G SIM support and dual VoLTE connections.

By combining individual and collective intelligence for on-device AI, the new Huawei Mate Series delivers real-time responses to users, including AI-powered Real-Time Scene and Object Recognition and an AI Accelerated Translator. Kirin 970 is an open, mobile AI computing platform for third parties to create new and imaginative AI applications and which extends Huawei’s processing capabilities to the entire value chain.

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Design Qualities for New Levels of Sophistication and Comfort

With an all-new Huawei FullView Display, the Huawei Mate 10 features a stunning 5.9-inch screen with a 16:9 display, barely-there-bezel and HDR10 to support vivid colors. The 6-inch Huawei Mate 10 Pro features an 18:9 OLED display, high screen-to-body ratio and HDR10 for dynamic video viewing.

The iconic devices feature a 3D Glass Body, beautifully and symmetrically curved on all four sides for an ergonomic hold. The back of the devices feature a reflective band design to highlight the New Leica Dual Camera.

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is also IP67 Water and Dust Resistant.

New Leica Dual Camera

Huawei has again partnered with Leica to co-engineer the dual lens camera for the Huawei Mate 10 and Huawei Mate 10 Pro. They combine 12-megapixel RGB + 20-megapixel monochrome sensors, Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), dual lenses with the world’s largest aperture of f/1.6, AI-powered Bokeh Effect and AI-powered Digital Zoom. New AI-powered Real-Time Scene and Object Recognition, which automatically chooses camera settings based on the object and scene, supports an advanced AI-powered Digital Zoom function with AI Motion Detection for clearer and sharper pictures.

The Huawei Mate 10 and Huawei Mate 10 Pro pack a 4000 mAh high-density battery featuring a smart battery management system that understands user behaviour and intelligently allocates resources to maximize battery life. It supports 4.5V / 5A low-voltage fast charging, powering the device from 1 percent to 20 percent in 10 minutes, and 1 percent to 58 percent in 30 minutes. Additionally, Huawei SuperCharge is the world’s first fast charging technology to receive TÜV Fast-Charge Safety Certification, ensuring safe end-to-end charging.

The Huawei Mate 10 and Huawei Mate 10 Pro will launch with Huawei’s all-new EMUI 8.0 powered by Android 8.0. Features include an AI Engine to fully leverage the capabilities of the Kirin 970; an AI Accelerated translator to deliver faster and more accurate interactive translation for a smoother communication experience; an easy projection feature to connect the new Huawei Mate Series to a larger screen; support for a full desktop experience – either mirroring or extending the smartphone display like a PC.

New Accessories

Huawei also launched three Huawei Mate 10 accessories: the EnVizion 360 Camera, SuperCharge Power Bank, and Smart Scale.

  • The EnVizion 360 Camera can shoot 5K photos and 360-degree 2K videos with multiple viewing modes for users to share across their social media channels.
  • Huawei’s SuperCharge™ Power Bank supports a 4.5V / 5A low-voltage fast charge.
  • The Smart Scale can monitor and analyze health information such as body fat percentage and Body Mass Index through a mobile app.

* For more information, please visit: http://consumer.Huawei.com/en/  

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Samsung unleashes the beast

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Most new smartphone releases of the past few years have been like cat-and-mouse games with consumers and each other. It has been as if morsels of cheese are thrown into the box to make it more interesting: a little extra camera here, a little more battery there, and incremental changes to size, speed (more) and weight (less). Each change moves the needle of innovation ever-so-slightly. Until we find ourselves, a few years later, with a handset that is revolutionary compared to six years ago, but an anti-climax relative to six months before.

And then came Samsung. Probably stung by the “incremental improvement” phrase that has become almost a cliché about new Galaxy devices, the Korean giant chose to unleash a beast last week.

The new Galaxy Note 9 is not only the biggest smartphone Samsung has ever released, but one of the biggest flagship handsets that can still be called a phone. With a 6.4” display, it suddenly competes with mini-tablets and gaming consoles, among other devices that had previously faced little contest from handsets.

It offers almost ever cutting edge introduced to the Galaxy S9 and S9+ smartphones earlier this year, including the market-leading f1.5 aperture lens, and an f2.4. telephoto lens, each weighing in at 12 Megapixels. The front lens is equally impressive, with an f1.7 aperture – first introduced on the Note 8 as the widest yet on a selfie camera.

So far, so S9. However, the Note range has always been set apart by its S Pen stylus, and each edition has added new features. Born as a mere pen that writes on screens, it evolved through the likes of pressure sensitivity, allowing for artistic expression, and cut-and-paste text with translation-on-the-fly.

(Click here or below to read more about the Samsung Galaxy S Pen stylus) Samsung Galaxy S9 Features)

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SA ride permit system ‘broken’

Despite the amendments to the National Land Transport Act, ALON LITS, General Manager, Uber in Sub Saharan Africa, believes that many premature given that the necessary, well-functioning systems and processes are not yet in place to make these regulatory changes viable.

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The spirit and intention of the amendments to the National Land Transport Act No 5  (NLTA), 2009 put forward by the Ministry of Transport are to be commended. It is especially pleasing that these amendments include ridesharing and e-hailing operators and drivers as legitimate participants in the country’s public transport system, which point to government’s willingness to embrace the changes and innovation taking place in the country’s transport industry.

However, there are aspects of the proposed amendments that are, at best, premature given that the necessary, well-functioning systems and processes are not yet in place to make these regulatory changes viable.

Of particular concern are the significant financial penalties that will need to be paid by ridesharing and e-hailing companies whose independent operators are found to be transporting passengers without a legal permit issued by the relevant local authority. These fines can be as high as R100 000 per driver operating without a permit. Apart from being an excessive penalty it is grossly unfair given that a large number of local authorities don’t yet have functioning permit issuing systems and processes in place.

The truth is that the operating permit issuance system in South Africa is effectively broken. The application and issuance processes for operating licenses are fundamentally flawed and subject to extensive delays, sometimes over a year in length.  This situation is exacerbated by the fact that it is very difficult for applicants whose permit applications haven’t yet been approved to get reasons for the extensive delays on the issuing of those permits.

Uber has had extensive first-hand experience with the frustratingly slow process of applying for these permits, with drivers often having to wait months and, in some cases more than a year, for their permits.

Sadly, there appears to be no sense of urgency amongst local authorities to prioritise fixing the flawed permit issuing systems and processes or address the large, and growing, backlogs of permit applications. As such, in order for the proposed stringent permit enforcement rules to be effective and fair to all role players, the long-standing issues around permit issuance first need to be addressed. At the very least, before the proposed legislation amendments are implemented, the National Transport Ministry needs to address the following issues:

  1. Efficient processes and systems must be put in place in all local authorities to allow drivers to easily apply for the operating permits they require
  2. Service level agreements need to be put in place with local authorities whereby they are required to assess applications and issue permits within the prescribed 60-day period.
  3. Local authorities need to be given deadlines by which their current permit application backlogs must be addressed to allow for faster processing of new applications once the amendments are promulgated.

If the Transport Ministry implements the proposed legislation amendments before ensuring that these permit issuance challenges are addressed, many drivers will be faced with the difficult choice of either having to operate illegally whilst awaiting their approved permits and risking significant fines and/or arrest, or stopping operations until they receive their permits, thereby losing what is, for many of them, their only source of income.

As such, if the Ministry of Transport is not able to address these particular challenges, it is only reasonable to ask it to reconsider this amendment and delay its implementation until the necessary infrastructure is in place to ensure it does not impact negatively on the country’s transport industry. The legislators must have been aware of the challenges of passing such a significant law, as the Amendment Bill allows for the Minister to use his discretion to delay implementation of provisions for up to 5 years.

Fair trade and healthy competition are the cornerstones of any effective and growing economy. However, these clauses (Section 66 (7) and Section 66A) of the NLTA amendment, as well as the proposal that regulators be given authority to define the geographic locations or zones in which vehicles may operate, are contrary to the spirit of both. As a good corporate citizen, Uber is committed to supplementing and enhancing South Africa’s national transport system and contributing positively to the industry. If passed into law without the revisions suggested above, these new amendments will limit our business and many others from playing the supportive roles we all can, and should, in growing the SA transport and tourism industries as well as many other key economic sectors.

What’s more, if passed as they currently stand, the amendments will effectively limit South African consumers from having full access to the range of convenient transport options they deserve; which has the potential to harm the reputation and credibility of the entire transport industry.

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