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Sony announces Xperia XZ1

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Sony Mobile Communications has announced that the Xperia XZ1 and the Xperia XA1 are set to enter South Africa in October.

The product unveiling follows Sony Mobile’s recent Q1 2017 financial results, which saw operating income reach 3.6 Billion Yen (US$ 32.9 Million) for the first quarter of this year.

Sony provided the following information:

Harnessing the latest Sony innovation and audio technologies to offer immersive entertainment all wrapped up in a timeless premium design, Xperia XZ1 incorporates the latest Motion Eye camera for capturing detail beyond human eye capability, new ground-breaking technology for mobile with 3D scanning, class-leading display technologies for beautiful on-screen images including HDR display, and a premium listening experience with Hi-Res Audio.

Combining advanced processing power with super-fast download speeds, Xperia XZ1’s memory-stacked Exmor RS image sensor pushes motion capture to the next level and produces exceptional image quality. You can create sensational videos from your everyday moments by recording in 960 frames per second, providing stunning Super slow motion video playback. Plus, the 19 MP rear camera new Predictive Capture stays one step ahead and automatically starts buffering images when it detects action or even a smile, before you press the shutter button. So you can find a moment you have missed from a selection of up to four shots. Its new Autofocus burst intelligently follows your subject, adjusting the focus to make sure your action shots stay sharp. Rounding off the premium camera experience is the first-class 13-megapixel front camera with a 1/3” sensor and a display flash so you’ll get outstanding selfies in any light.

Showing a breakthrough in mobile creativity, 3D Creator is Sony’s unique, innovative in-house algorithm for fast and easy scanning of 3D objects, offering a new world of creative possibilities. For the first time ever in a smartphone, you can capture high quality 3D scans of objects in just one minute using the four scan modes; head scan, face scan, food scan and freeform scan. Each mode has its own custom guides for ease of use and after finishing your object scan there are various playful options.

Either share with your friends on messenger apps using 3D stickers or upload to the 3D community such as Sketchfab, make the scan come alive by using it to create an avatar for use in the camera AR effects options, third party apps or as a live wallpaper, or even send your scan to a 3D printer to make it into a memorable keepsake. Within the 3D Creator app you can also choose the ‘Find More’ button which takes you to even more possibilities available through Google Play, to explore a wider and ever growing 3D ecosystem.

Xperia XZ1 takes full advantage of Sony’s BRAVIA TV technology and it brings more colour and contrast to immerse yourself in your favourite shows and movies in stunning realism, by incorporating HDR (High Dynamic Range) in its 5.2” Full HD display. Further technologies, including TRILUMINOS Display for mobile, X-Reality for mobile and Dynamic Contrast Enhancer work together to give razor-sharp, detailed and brighter images on screen.

Sony audio expertise also lets you immerse yourself in the truly authentic sound of Hi-Resolution Audio with Xperia XZ1, enabling you to enjoy every nuance and detail in a track as if you’re right there with the artist. Thanks to Sony’s DSEE HX you can also enjoy more of your music in near Hi-Resolution with its upscaling capability. Enjoy your music and movies with or without headphones using the evolved stereo speakers with S-Force Front Surround, bringing you 50% more sound pressure than previous Xperia models. Plus the built in Digital Noise Cancelling (DNC) technology reduces exterior noise by up to 98% when paired with DNC headphones for undisturbed listening.

Xperia XZ1 is water resistant, dust-proof and reinforced with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on the display so it’s tough enough to take on your day. For a personalised touch, the integrated fingerprint sensor recognises you intuitively, giving it that unique and secure assurance.  Wrapping up the premium design, each inspired by natural light and the beautiful arrival of the changing tones as morning arrives; Midnight Blue and Deep Sea Black. To enhance your lifestyle choice, Sony’s new h.ear (pronounced ‘hear’) headphones (h.ear on 2 Mini Wireless, h.ear on 2 Wireless NC and h.ear in 2 Wireless) will also be available in harmonised colours to complement your Xperia, which will be available in South Africa in 2018.

Xperia XZ1 is powered by the cutting-edge Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform with X16 LTE, designed to provide blazing fast Gigabit LTE downloads speeds (up to 1Gbps) and performance to enjoy a modern lifestyle whilst working or having fun. The Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform is engineered to support stunning graphics, smooth performance and enhanced battery efficiency. Perfect for smooth, responsive gameplay of your favourite PlayStation 4 games using PS4 Remote Play. File transfers are also super-charged thanks to the USB 3.1 connection which is 10 times quicker than USB 2.0 with a transfer speed of up to 5Gbps.

Moving onto the battery life and its charging technologies, Battery Care and Qnovo Adaptive Charging, help the battery stay healthy to give you a longer battery lifespan. On days when you’re using extra energy, Smart Stamina works ahead of time to keep you powered up by estimating how long your current battery will last based on how you normally use your phone. And if it thinks you’re going to run out, it will prompt you to activate Stamina mode which cuts energy consumption so your battery lasts longer.

Xperia XA1 ‘Perfect Pictures with 23MP’

Offering best in class entertainment in the palm of your hand, it features a 23MP camera, 5” Full HD display. Bringing a vibrant choice of two colours to express your individual style – Black Single Sim and Gold Dual Sim – Xperia XA1 features a beautiful borderless design to create the illusion of a seamlessly never-ending surface whose curvature aids the perfect fit for your hand. The edge-to-edge HD (720p) 5” screen on the XA1 is supported by display technologies to deliver a crisp, sharp viewing experience.

Camera expertise are taken from Sony’s digital camera division to deliver a leading rear camera that offers 23MP high resolution with a large 1/2.3” Exmoor RS for mobile sensor.  It features a bright F2.0 lens to offer stunning high resolution images even in low-light, accurate Hybrid Autofocus so even the most spontaneous moments are always in focus, and you’re guaranteed a superfast journey from launch to capture in 0.6s. Xperia XA1 also features a 8MP, 23mm front camera wide-angle lens that will let you capture all the action even in a group selfie without missing anyone out.

With their power-efficient Mediatek octa-core processors you get a quick and smooth experience, whether you browse the web, watch a video or play your favourite game.

The Xperia XA1 is designed to ensure a longer lasting performance over the smartphone’s lifetime. Qnovo Adpative Charging monitors the battery’s health and adjusts charging current accordingly to avoid damage and maximise lifespan whilst Stamina Mode keeps your battery going for longer when you really need it the most by disabling some of the functions and extending the lifetime. Sony’s Smart Cleaner cleverly manages the performance and memory of your device by clearing the cache and unused apps automatically in order to attain the best speed and performance without degradation over time. Additionally, both models support quick charging to give you hours of power in just a few minutes charging.

Availability

Xperia XZ1 will be available locally from October 1st 2017 at a recommended retail price of R10,999 at selected operators nationwide, with complimentary Made for Xperia cover. It will ship with Android 8.0, Oreo.

Xperia XA1 will be available locally from October 1st 2017 at a recommended retail price of R3,999.00.

The Xperia XZ1 will come in Midnight Blue and Deep Sea Black. The Xperia XA1 comes in Black Single Sim and Gold Dual Sim.

Africa News

Smart grids needed for Africa’s utilities

Power utilities across Africa should rethink their business models and how they manage and monetise their assets to keep pace with the changing energy ecosystem, says COLIN BEANEY, Global Industry Director for Asset-intensive and Energy and Utilities at IFS.

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Africa’s abundant natural resources and urgent need for power mean that it is one of the most exciting and innovative energy markets in a world that is moving rapidly towards clean, renewable energy sources. The continent’s energy industry is taking new approaches to providing unserved and underserved communities with access to power, with an emphasis on smart technologies and greener energy sources.

Power systems are evolving from centralised, top-down systems as interest in off-grid technology grows among African businesses and consumers. And according to PwC, we will see installed power capacity rise from 2012’s 90GW to 380GW in 2040 in sub-Saharan Africa. Power utilities are needing to rethink their business models and how they manage and monetise their assets to keep pace with the changing energy ecosystem.

Energy and utilities providers are transforming from centralised supply companies to more distributed, bi-directional service providers. They can only achieve this through the evolution of “smart grids” where sensors and smart meters will be able to provide the consumer with a more granular level of detail of power usage. This shift from an energy supplier to “lifestyle provider” will require a much more dynamic and optimised approach to maintenance and field service.

African companies must thus embrace digital transformation as an imperative. This transformation begins by embracing enterprise asset management to improve asset utilisation. The subsequent steps are enhancing upstream and downstream supply chain management; resource optimisation; introducing enterprise operational intelligence; embracing new technologies such as the Internet of Things, machine learning, and predictive maintenance; and becoming a smart utility.

Embracing mobility to drive ROI

Getting it right is about putting in place an enterprise backbone that accommodates asset and project management, multinational languages and currencies, new energies and markets, visualisation of the entire value chain, and mobility apps. Mobile technologies that support the field workforce have a vital role to play in driving better ROI from utilities’ investments in enterprise asset management and enterprise resource planning solutions.

Today’s leading enterprise asset management solutions feature powerful functionality for mobile management of the complete workflow of work orders – from logging status changes and updates, from receiving and creating new orders to concluding the job and reporting time, material and expenses. Such solutions are easy to deploy and intuitive for end users to learn and use.

Importantly for organisations operating in parts of the continent with poor telecoms infrastructure, connectivity is not an issue. The solutions work offline and synchronises when network connectivity is available. Users can work on any device—laptops, tablets, and smartphones—commercial or ruggedised.

By ensuring that field technicians have easy access to information and processes, the mobile solution enables technicians and maintenance engineers to easily do the following tasks:

·         Create a new work order on the fly and log new opportunities

·         Access both historical and planned work information when requested

·         Permit customers to sign when the job is completed

·         Capture measurements and inspection notes on route work orders

·         Create new fault reports on routing

·         Facilitate documentation through photo capturing

·         Provide easy access to technical data and preventive actions.

The power of mobility allows the engineer to be the origin of all data capture on a service event. They can easily inquire on asset history, record parts used or parts needed for repair, record labour hours, and expenses as they occur, and any notes of repairs performed. When coupled with workforce management tools, such solutions unlock significant productivity gains for utilities who are trying to get the most from their workforce and assets.

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Brands fall for app vanity

The experience of a mobile screen full of icons, representing independent apps that your need to open to experience them, is making less sense. Instead, businesses should serve customers with an ‘app-like’ experience inside the digital platform they already use, says PIETER DE VILLIERS, Group CEO at Clickatell.

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Many brands remain obsessed with creating mobile apps. This not only defies trends that point to increasing consumer app apathy, but can exclude a sizeable portion  of your customers in emerging economies. Companies need to engage with their users where they are rather than forcing them onto an app, in what can only be described as brand vanity. 

In 2017 there were around 2.2 million apps available in the iOS app store and over 3 million on Google Play. And, while the number of apps being downloaded continues to rise, analysis shows that consumers are only using 30 apps per month and accessing just 9 on a day-to-day basis. 

While these numbers still seem attractively high, in reality the majority of the apps we use are for messaging (like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat) and our social networking, gaming, leisure, dating or utility activities. 

Despite the facts, the application strategy as the holy grail for digital transformation is still being pushed even within large progressive brands. What’s more, some advertising agencies and digital consultants are still pushing apps as the best means for companies to connect with their customers. This has resulted in some organisations stubbornly doubling down on app strategies which are simply not showing return on investment (ROI). 

It’s not immediately clear to us whether the fascination with apps is a roll-over from long overdue projects or whether brand owners equate a mobile-first strategy with a mobile app. Mobile-first in 2018 means customer first, and therefore embracing chat commerce in order to deliver services with convenience and simplicity in mind. 

Why apps won’t win the internet

The problem with apps goes beyond user fatigue. In the first instance, many apps are poorly designed, assuming technical sophistication which may not match reality for the average customer. Poor user interfaces and attempts to provide complex engagement can result in even the best ideas missing their targets due to lack of engagement. 

Secondly, we all know that economic realities drive consumer behaviour. In Africa, new mobile phone users typically opt for feature phones over smartphones. With a longer battery life and a much more accessible price point, feature phones still allow for a basic internet connection, chat platforms like WhatsApp, and call and message functionality. In these regions, the cost of an app – even if it’s free – goes far beyond installing it. Constant updates require reliable and cheap access to the internet. For the average phone owner in an emerging market, this can be a serious challenge. 

Thirdly, and most importantly, apps must be relevant to their intended market. Frequency of usage is a key measure of relevance. 

Apps which are used on a daily basis, like health and fitness trackers, enjoy constant engagement. New features which are added are eagerly awaited by users who are happy to update their apps. 

However, users may well question the relevance of the app if they are required to conduct updates on a monthly or even weekly basis when they are only making use of the app once or twice a year. 

On average, I download one app per quarter. Some I use more frequently than others, but all of these apps need to be regularly updated to maintain security, update features, and fix bugs. Many apps are pushing out updates much more frequently. I noticed over the past year that I could go from having all apps updated, to 32 apps requiring an update in five days.

When it comes to a customer-first digital strategy, companies should be asking themselves if an app is really the best way to reach their target audience. 

In fact, at the end of 2016, Gartner predicted that by 2019, 20 percent of brands would ditch their mobile app. What’s more, in its 2018 predictions, the company forecast that by 2021, more than 50 percent of corporations would spend more per annum on bots and chatbots than on mobile app development. 

So, we need to ask, what is the alternative for CIOs, CDOs, CMOs, and digital leaders who are looking for ways to reach, retain and grow their customer base? 

The logical app alternative 

The old battle advice goes: fight your enemy where they are not. Military strategists agreed that having your enemy come to you and fight you on your own terms was preferable. In a world where customers have access to thousands of offerings and millions of deals online, we need to flip that idea to Meet Your Customers Where They Are. 

Any marketeer will tell you just a how difficult it is to drive app downloads. Development, cross platform testing and user interface aside, the marketing campaign required to get customers to download the app can swallow entire annual budgets and still come up short. 

Looking at the facts, it makes infinitely more sense to work within the digital platforms already being used by your target audience. 

Clickatell is already enabling chat commerce for some of the leading global brands with its Touch solution. This allows organisations to serve their customers with an ‘app-like’ experience inside the chat or browser platform of their customer’s choice (Twitter, Facebook Messenger, etc.) 

Brands can now send an actionable Touch link such as ‘find the nearest ATM’ or ‘reset my password’ within a chat stream that will open an intuitive touch card without the user having to download an app to perform the action. Services can also be linked to the in-app experience for brands not looking to abandon their app efforts. 

Working with our clients, many of whom are global innovators and thought leaders, we’ve found that having the courage to design with an ‘end user first’ approach and dealing with the back-end complexity behind the scenes results in cost efficient customer delight and ROI. 

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