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Chat goes professional with Kaizala

Altron Karabina’s team tells BRYAN TURNER how Microsoft Kaizala’s strong chat capabilities boost workplace task success.

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A smartphone showing Microsoft Kaizala’s chat app

When one thinks about chat, WhatsApp comes to mind. But is WhatsApp the best tool for the workplace?

Altron Karabina’s team invited us to experience how Microsoft’s Kaizala app has been optimised for the workplace, and includes strong features like customisable chat extensions to get tasks done via chat.

“The chat experience has been rebuilt from the ground up,” says Ryan Jamieson, CTO of Altron Karabina. “It’s not just about sending messages anymore. Chats need to enhance the experience, and the intelligence from a business chat needs to feed into corporate systems. It’s difficult to do this with WhatsApp or WhatsApp for Business.”

The ability to use chat as a communication tool as well as an intelligence, data gathering tool is becoming increasingly important to businesses. It saves time for those who would be doing repetitive work.

“An airline has started to use Kaizala to manage tasks naturally in chat,” says Jacob Shihawu, principal consultant – digital workplace at Altron Karabina. “They can check on tasks, and complete tasks all in a chat, all while the airline can track how long it takes to complete these tasks. It’s the added comfort of use for users, while management can make informed decisions based on the data they receive from tasks.”

“Kaizala has transformed the way businesses collect information,” says Jamieson. “Businesses don’t need tedious forms that need to be filled in, because a Kaizala bot can accept responses in chat form. One can see this as a trend in the market, with chatbots appearing in many different situations. Accepting data naturally is how businesses can capture as much meaningful data as possible.”

Work chat platforms rely heavily on the pre-existing design language that users already understand. That’s why Kaizala resembles a chat app like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.

“The transition for companies that have done it has been simple,” says Jamieson. “Thanks to Kaizala’s look and feel resembling chat apps we already use, many are fine with using it, especially when compared to other clunkier, legacy communication software solutions out there.”

“Someone doesn’t want to call in sick by getting out of bed, going to a laptop and filling in a form for HR,” says Shihawu. “These sorts of tasks should be done through a smart device, in a natural way through a chat interface that doesn’t take a lot of effort. Just send a message to HR, let the system capture the details, and both parties can be happy.”

The platform is ready to be picked up for those who already use Microsoft 365 solutions.

“Anyone with a smart device can download the app and see how it works now, with or without a 365 workplace solution in place,” says Jamieson. “Those who are working with 365 platforms, try some of the Kaizala integrations. You might find a month’s worth of build can be done in a few hours with a natural chat platform.”

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iPhone 11 Pro Max selfie cam scores in top 10

DxOMark has announced the iPhone 11 Pro Max has scored in the top 10 devices in its selfie scores.

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The iPhone 11 Pro Max is Apple’s most recent top-of-the-line smartphone, featuring a large 6.5-inch “Super Retina” XDR OLED display, Apple’s most powerful A13 Bionic chip for processing, 4GB of RAM, IP68-rated sealing for dust/water protection, and Qi wireless charging.

The front-facing camera benefits from a hardware upgrade over previous models, with a higher-resolution 12MP sensor for sharper shots and wide-angle 23mm-equivalent lens. The lens is still fixed-focus, with the same f/2.2 aperture as the lens on the XS Max, but the wider field of view will certainly help fit more into the frame. Other features include smart HDR, and bokeh shots with Apple’s SL (Structured Light) 3D camera doing the depth sensing.

Front-camera video has been upgraded, too, with the iPhone 11 Pro Max now capable of 4K (2160p) capture at either 24/30/60fps frame rates, as well HD (1080p) capture at 30/60/120fps. The video module also benefits from gyroscope-based electronic image stabilisation (gyro-EIS) for theoretically smoother video capture using the front camera.

Key front camera specifications:

  • 12MP-resolution sensor
  • Fixed-focus, 23mm-equivalent f/2.2-aperture lens
  • SL 3D camera
  • Smart HDR
  • Portrait mode with bokeh and depth control
  • 4K 2160p/60fps video

DxOMark provided the following review:

Achieving a DxOMark Selfie Score of 91, the front camera on the iPhone 11 Pro Max offers a nice improvement in image quality over the XS Max, and ranks just inside the top ten in our database. The addition of a wider lens on the new device is a big plus, helping you fit more into the frame and get better compositions in a range of situations. There are other strengths, too, including a higher score for focus, with both faces and backgrounds boasting good detail at a range of distances, and effective bokeh shots when you want to blur the background. Selfies pack plenty of punch outdoors, too, with accurate exposure on faces, and fairly wide dynamic range ensuring well-controlled highlights and skin tones even in very bright conditions.

Colour rendering has been improved on the iPhone 11 Pro Max, too. White balance is typically a little yellow, but the warmer skin tones can be attractive, and good saturation ensures that colours are pleasant and often vivid in outdoor shots. Details are also well preserved, with well-defined facial features in both single and group selfies at close and medium range; and skin tone rendering usually looks natural.

Bokeh shots are also a key strength for the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s selfie shooter, and the strong background blur looks really striking. Apple’s SL 3D camera generally does a good job with depth estimation and subject isolation. A notable area for further development, however, is noise, which is often very prevalent in both indoor and low-light images. Noise has improved slightly since the XS Max, but front-facing cameras from key competitors continue to offer smoother results in low-light conditions.

Video shows some of the same strengths and weaknesses as stills. The lens’s wider field of view, good focus at most distances, and extended depth of field make the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s front camera a much more suitable solution for vlogging compared to previous iterations. Video exposure is also very good, with the inclusion of HDR processing offering a fairly wide dynamic range in bright outdoor lighting conditions, which is still a little rare for video on front cameras. Colour is pleasant when white balance is accurate, and although slight white balance instabilities are evident, the device generally avoids any offensive colour casts. 4K capture also ensures good detail in videos; fine detail is well preserved, especially in outdoor conditions, and the texture-versus-noise compromise is good. Detail and noise in indoor videos is the main opportunity for improvement, however, with a significant loss of detail and strong noise visible in lower light conditions.

Read more about how the scores are calculated on DxOMark’s website.

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New Acer TravelMate convertible coming

The Acer TravelMate Spin B3, which features a flip-over screen and an 11.6″ screen, will launch in April.

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Acer has announced a convertible TravelMate Spin B3 device, intended for the education market. The 11.6-inch notebook comes with enhanced performance and has a sturdy design to protect it from knocks.

The TravelMate Spin B3 features the latest Intel Pentium and Celeron processors, intended to give students the power they need for classroom work. The laptop also complies with the MIL-STD 810G military standard, meaning that it’s strong enough to survive bumps and accidental spills. A pressure-resistant top cover, shock-absorbent rubber bumper and reinforced corners all add to the durability of the device. The notebook can also get students through the school day (up to 12 hours of battery life) on a single charge.

The TravelMate Spin B3 adapts to the demands of a school day via four usage modes: students can write essays in clamshell mode, watch videos or lectures in display mode, make space on a desk in tent mode when they need to work by hand, and make use of tablet mode when they need to write by hand in maths or art class, for example. An optional world-facing camera above the keyboard allows students to capture photos and videos in tablet mode. It includes Wacom AES technology to provide a natural writing experience, and comes with a dockable stylus.

There is an optional battery indicator light on the front cover which enables teachers to see which students’ laptops are low on battery. The devices have anchored keys that are difficult to remove and an easy-fix keyboard, making it convenient for the school’s IT technician to repair.

The laptop comes with: Ethernet, two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, an HDMI port and on select models, a fully-functional USB Type-C port that allows for charging, 5GB/s data transfer and connection to external displays.
The TravelMate Spin B3 will be available in April, starting at R4000.

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