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Apple marks time with iPhone 6s, 6s Plus

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With the launch of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus yesterday, Apple sent a message that it is comfortable with becoming predictable.

Apple’s announcement of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus was, above all, predictable. Most predictably, they were called “the most advanced iPhones ever”. The phrasing is characteristic of the Tim Cook era at Apple, with each new handset couched in similar terms. Of course, no one would have expected the new iPhones to be less advanced than previous models.

The new devices introduce 3D Touch, which senses force to enable new ways to access features and interact with content. iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus feature Retina HD displays  and 7000 series aluminium, the alloy used in the aerospace industry, in metallic finishes that now include rose gold.

iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus also introduce what Apple says is a new approach to photography called Live Photos, bringing still images to life by capturing a moment in motion. It is not very different, however, from features introduced by Samsung, Sony, LG and Huawei in recent years.

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Apple does claim line honours for its own A9 chip, though, which it calls “the most advanced chip ever in a smartphone, delivering faster performance and great battery life”.

“The only thing that has changed with iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus is everything — 3D Touch lets users interact with iPhone in entirely new and fun ways, and the innovative Live Photos brings your pictures to life,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “These are the most advanced iPhones ever, with 7000 series aluminium, ion-strengthened glass, the new 64-bit A9 chip, 12-megapixel iSight and 5-megapixel FaceTime HD cameras, faster Touch ID, LTE and Wi-Fi. Customers are going to love them.”

Despite all these improvements, it is clear that Apple has become comfortable with being predictable, and is in fact marking time between it’s two-yearly release of redesigned phones.

Apple provided the following information on the new phones:

iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus introduce new ways to navigate and experience iPhone by sensing pressure to enable new gestures — Peek and Pop — so you can dip in and out of content without losing your place. Press lightly to Peek at a photo, email, web page or other content, and press a little deeper to Pop into the content itself. With Quick Actions, 3D Touch provides shortcuts to the things you do most, so you can send a message or take a selfie with just a simple press from the Home screen.

The world’s most popular camera is even better in the new iPhones with new ways to capture and relive unforgettable moments. iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus introduce Live Photos, which go beyond snapshots to capture moments in motion. Live Photos are beautiful 12-megapixel photos that, with just a press, reveal the moments immediately before and after the shot was taken, so you can enjoy a living memory rather than an instant frozen in time.

High-definition video improves with support for 4K — with a resolution of 3840 x 2160, delivering over 8 million pixels — and the expansion of optical image stabilisation to video on iPhone 6s Plus, for taking beautiful videos in lower light. After capturing 4K video, you can edit on your Mac, PC, iPad and with the latest version of iMovie on iPhone, you can even edit two simultaneous streams.

Additional camera advancements include:

• a new state-of-the-art 12-megapixel sensor with advanced pixel technology and Apple-designed image signal processor, for truer colours and sharper, more detailed photos; and

• a new 5-megapixel FaceTime HD camera and Retina Flash, which momentarily makes the display three times brighter with True Tone lighting, for wonderfully bright selfies in low light.

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Advanced Technology

A9, Apple’s third-generation 64-bit chip powers these innovations with 70 percent faster CPU and 90 percent faster GPU performance than the A8, all with gains in energy efficiency for great battery life. The A9 chip and iOS 9 are architected together for optimal performance where it matters most, in real world usage. M9, Apple’s next-generation motion coprocessor, is embedded into A9, allowing more features to run all the time at lower power, including “Hey Siri,” without iPhone needing to be plugged in.

With advanced wireless technologies including faster Wi-Fi and LTE Advanced, iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus users can browse, download and stream content even faster.¹ The new iPhones also support up to 23 LTE bands — the most in any smartphone — for better worldwide roaming.

iOS 9, the world’s most advanced mobile operating system, brings more intelligence to iPhone with proactive assistance, powerful search and improved Siri features, all while protecting users’ privacy. Built-in apps become more powerful with a redesigned Notes app, detailed transit information in Maps, and an all-new News app for the best news reading experience on any mobile device.² The foundation of iOS is even stronger with software updates that require less space to install and advanced security features to further protect your devices.

Pricing & Availability

• iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus will be available in gold, silver, space grey and the new rose gold metallic finishes. iPhone 6s and iPhone 6 Plus will be available in 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB models. The new iPhones will be available with a range of financing plans and payment options from Apple.com, through select carriers and Apple Authorised Resellers.

• Both models will be available in the UK, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the US beginning Friday, September 25, with pre-orders beginning Saturday, September 12.

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Samsung S10 in lock-step with its rivals?

Tonight Samsung will kick off the next round in the smartphone wars with the S10 range, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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When Samsung unveils the new S10 smartphone at an event in San Francisco today, it will mark the beginning of the 2019 round of World War S. That stands for smartphone wars, although Samsung would like it to be all about the S.

Ever since the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4 in 2013, Samsung has held both technology and thought leadership in the handset world. Back then, Apple’s iPhone 5 was the last device from the American manufacturer that could lay claim to being the best smartphone in the world. With the 2013 launch of the iPhone 5s, Apple entered an era of incremental improvement, playing catch-up, and succumbing to market trends driven by its competitors.

Six years later, Samsung is fighting off the same threat. Its Chinese rival, Huawei, suddenly wrested away leadership in the past year, with the P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro regarded as at last equal to the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus and Galaxy Note 9 – if not superior. Certainly, from a cost perspective, Huawei took the lead with its more competitive prices, and therefore more value for money.

Huawei also succeeded where Apple failed: introducing more economical versions of its flagship phones. The iPhone 5c, SE and XR have all been disappointments in the sales department, mainly because the price difference was not massive enough to attract lower-income users. In contrast, the Lite editions of the Huawei P9, P10 and P20 have been huge successes, especially in South Africa.

Today, for the first time in half a decade, Samsung goes into battle on a field laid out by its competitors. It is expected to launch the Galaxy S10 Plus, S10 and S10 e, with the latter being the Samsung answer to the strategy of the iPhone XR and Huawei P20 Lite.

Does this mean Samsung is now in lock-step with its rivals, focused on matching their strategies rather than running ahead of them?

It may seem that way, but Samsung has a few tricks up its electronic sleeve. For example, it is possible it will use the S10 launch to announce its coming range of foldable phones, expected to be called the Galaxy X, Galaxy F, Galaxy Fold or Galaxy Flex. It previewed the technology at a developer conference in San Francisco last November, and this will be the ideal moment to reclaim technology leadership by going into production with foldables – even if the S10 range itself does not shoot out the lights.

However, the S10 handsets will look very different to their predecessors. First, before switching on the phone, they will be notable by the introduction of what is being called the punch-hole display, which breaks away from the current trend of having a notch at the top of the phone to house front-facing cameras and speakers. Instead, the punch-hole is a single round cut-out that will contain the front camera. It is the key element of Samsung’s “Infinity O” display – the O represents the punchhole – which will be the first truly edge-to-edge display, on the sides and top.

The S10 range will use the new Samsung user interface, One UI, also unveiled at the developer conference. It replaces the previous “skin”, unimaginatively called the Samsung Experience, to introduce a strong new interface brand.

One UI went live on the Note 8 last month, giving us a foretaste, and giving Samsung a chance to iron out the bugs in the field. It is a less cluttered interface, addressing one of the biggest complaints about most manufacturer skins. Only Nokia and Google Pixel handsets offer pure Android in the local market, but One UI is Samsung’s best compromise yet.

It introduces a new interaction area, in the bottom half, reachable with the thumb, with a viewing area at the top, allowing the user to work one-handed on the bottom area while still having apps or related content visible above. One UI also improves gesture navigation – the phone picks up hand movements without being touched – and notification management.

The S10 range will be the first phones to feature the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip, at least for the South African and American markets. That makes it 5G compatible, for when this next generation of mobile broadband becomes available in these markets.

They will also be the first phones to feature Wi-Fi 6, the next generation of the Wi-Fi mobile wireless standard. It will perform better in congested areas, and data transfer will be up to 40% faster than the previous generation.

The phones will be the first to use ultrasound for fingerprint detection. If Samsung gets it right, this will make it the fastest in-screen fingerprint sensor on the market, and allows for a little leeway if one pushes the finger down slightly outside the fingerprint reader surface. It does mean, however, that screen protectors will have to be redesigned to avoid blocking the detection.

Not enough firsts? There are a few more.

Most notably, it will be the first phone range to feature 1 Terabyte (TB) storage – that’s a thousand Gigabytes (GB) – at least for the top-of-the-range devices. Samsung last month announced that it would be the first manufacturer to make 1TB built-in onboard flash storage. Today, it will deploy this massive advantage as it once again weaponises its technology in the fight for smartphone domination.

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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IoT set to improve authentication

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By Sherry Zameer, Senior Vice President, Internet of Things Solutions for CISMEA region at Gemalto

As it rapidly approaches maturity, the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to continue a transformational trajectory, introducing new efficiencies in multiple fields by allowing measurement and analysis on a scale that has never been possible before. From agriculture to logistics, from retail to hospitality, from traffic to health, from the home to the office, the applications for monitoring ”things” are limited only by the imagination.

And South African (and African) businesses are showing abundant imagination in their practical deployments of IoT solutions in multiple settings, creating a better tomorrow through almost universal measurement and the introduction of new levels of convenience – including how to access locations, devices and services securely.

Any company, whether South African or international, should bear in mind that understanding consumer expectations can be the key to unlocking the full potential of IoT devices and related smart services.

According to Gemalto’s latest Connected Living study, improving the way consumers authenticate themselves to services is one of the most anticipated benefits of IoT, highlighting a desire for a more seamless and secure IoT experience.

Consumers are interested in advanced ways of authenticating themselves through automatic (based on behavioral patterns) or biometric techniques, lessening the need to have to intervene manually, all in the name of a much more streamlined authentication process. Smartphone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung have already placed fingerprint and facial recognition high on the agenda. There is also a widespread positive sentiment towards IoT’s potential for improving the quality of home life through connected, smart appliances.

Personalised services is something else that wins consumers over. In fact, a fluid, personalised and unified experience with continuity of services, together with security and privacy, is critical for the successful implementation of any technology.

And those types of services are today quite possible. With everything being connected – from small gadgets to digital solutions for large enterprises – IoT is no longer just a buzzword. That much is clear in a piece from Vodacom IoT managing executive Deon Liebenberg. Writing for IOL Online, Liebenberg provides insight into the sheer range of applications for IoT: the 20 use cases he cites range from the obvious, like transport and logistics, to the connected home and wearables; he even suggests tagging pets with IoT transmitters, for those who always need to know the whereabouts of the family cat.

Low-cost tags fitted to cats, dogs, lamp posts, shipping containers or other items are just one part of the puzzle, however. There are other two pieces; arguably the most complex part is the availability of communication networks in areas where there aren’t any WiFi networks, or indeed, anything else.

And that’s where the bigger takeaway from Liebenberg’s piece and other IoT trends articles becomes apparent. The communication networks are there, as are those tags: dedicated IoT networks (like LoraWAN, SigFox and narrowband IoT) are all available in South Africa.

So, too, is the third and final essential component. Software which is able to process the data generated by the tag and transmitted over the IoT network and into the internet. In this regard, there’s no shortage of solutions available from cloud providers like AWS and Azure; electronics giant Siemens, too, is in on the action, having recently launched a new cloud-based IoT operating system to develop applications and services for process industries, including oil and gas and water management.

This combination means it is quite possible right now to enable just about any use case. Business owners, who will know best how IoT can add value in their organisation, can now see their ideas becoming reality. Most crucial of all, IoT solutions delivering new levels of efficiency and convenience are not only possible, they are able to be offered with the simple and effective security that will drive consumer acceptance.

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