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Huawei ups the smartphone ante

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Last week Huawei released its P20 series of smartphones in South Africa, setting high expectations in the local market. SEAN BACHER was there.

When Huawei announced the availability of its latest smartphones, the P20 and the P20 Pro, in South Africa this week, it also set high expectations for increased market share.

“Even though we don’t quite have the market share we would like, we are slowly increasing it due to our superior quality and service at a more reasonable price,” says Akhram Mohamed, product director at Huawei South Africa.

He said that innovation in the smartphone market is starting to stagnate, and Huawei needed to push the boundaries.

“All modern phones have front and rear cameras and use the same operating system with the manufacturer’s skin plastered on it, with a few widgets and proprietary apps to set them apart.

“It’s for this reason that so much research and development went into the P20 series. The P20 uses a Leica dual camera with a 12MP sensor and a 20MP monochrome one. The P20 Pro uses a triple camera — with the highest total pixel count on a smartphone to date. It uses a 40MP RGB sensor, a 20MP monochrome sensor and an 8MP sensor with telephoto lens offering the best picture quality during the day and night.”

Due to the P20 series having great cameras and being more powerful because of  the Kirin 970 CPU, and running Google’s 8.1 operating system, the latest Huawei devices have been among the few selected by Google to use Google ARCore.

ARCore enables developers to build apps that can understand a user’s environment and place objects and information in it using augmented reality. This needs a lot more processing power than most current phones can offer.

Mohamed says the ARCore combined with the Kirin 970 CPU the P20 series will be able to help in the education sector. For example, many kids in South Africa have never seen a European city but, with the P20 series using Google ARCore and virtual reality, the phone is able to bring the city to them, allowing them to roam the virtual streets.

In addition, the cameras and high speed offered by the CPU will allow the visually impaired to take photos of an object and get an audio description of what that object is.

Users can also take pictures of stars and planets and get information like name and orbit. While this is currently available with numerous apps on the Google Play Store, most of these deliver the information slowly due to the lack of processing power.

In addition to the P20’s superior cameras and speed, Mohamed also believes the phone’s ability to multitask will be a big attraction to many.

“So many users carry two phones around with them – one for business and one for leisure. Our latest devices can be both a professional device, thanks to speed and security, and a leisure one, offered by the advanced camera features and 128GB of on-board storage.”

Both phones are currently available at all major cellular retail outlets. The Huawei P20 series comes in Black, Midnight Blue and two new gradient colours, Twilight and Pink Gold.

The P20 sells for R13 000 and the P20 Pro for R16 000.

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

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How we use phones to avoid human contact

A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.

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Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances. 

Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?

The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.

In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.

Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.

Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”

To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:

·         I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?

With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.

·         Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?

Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.

·         I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?

Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.

 

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Five key biometric facts

Due to their uniqueness, fingerprints are being used more and more to quickly identify and ensure the security of customers. CLAUDE LANGLEY, Regional Sales Manager, for Africa at HID Global Biometrics, outlines five facts about the technology.

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How many times in a day are you expected to identify yourself? From when you arrive at work you are required to sign in, visiting your bank, receiving healthcare services… The list is endless. When a system knows who you are, you are able to do any number common, everyday activities. Your identity is unique and precious. It is also easily stolen and the target of many hackers across the globe. Technology is constantly evolving alongside the criminal element, always looking for ways to protect data and identity. One such solution happens to be biometrics and it is rapidly gaining traction in our increasingly complex modern world.

Reliable, secure and fundamentally YOU, unique biometric traits such as fingerprints are being used by banks, enterprises and consumers to verify identity. Biometric solutions offer significant identity protection because they use unique biological details to ensure an account is only accessed by the account holder, a door only opened by the owner. Here are five things that are little known about this technology…

  • The uncut identity. Your fingerprint is unique to you. Nobody can use a copy of it to impersonate you. Good technology is capable of scanning down into the layers of the fingertip to differentiate unique elements of a person’s fingerprint, this data is then encrypted and used as a key to unlocking whichever physical or virtual door that the biometric system protects.
  • The living proof. No, there is nothing to the stories of fingerprints being used without their owner’s knowledge or permission. Biometric solutions can use specific variables to determine if the finger used to access the system is that of a present, living person.  A copy or a fake cannot be used to access a cutting-edge biometric solution.
  • Easy and convenient. Queues and documents and paperwork may well be a thing of the past should biometrics take a firmer grip of government and banking systems. The process of registering is easy, and access to identity documents and records is yours alone.
  • Security blanket. A thousand passwords and a hundred post-it notes stuck on walls and drawers.  An excel file with a list of sites and applications and their corresponding passwords, all a thing of the past.  Nobody needs to remember their password with biometrics, they only need to show up.
  • Anywhere is cool. Schools, airports, networks, offices, homes, toilets, banks, libraries, governments, border controls, immigration services, call centres, hospitals and even clubs and pubs – knowing “who” matters and biometrics can quickly and conveniently confirm your identity where needed.

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