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IFA 2015: Huawei friends Mate S

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Huawei has unveiled its new flagship smartphone, the Mate S, which introduces a raft of innovations the company hopes will cement its No. 3 ranking in global phone sales.

At a media event preceding the IFA 2015 expo in Berlin this week, Huawei announced the Mate S, a luxury-focused device packed with innovative technology. Key features of the new phone include a floating 2.5D screen, a pressure sensitive touch system and a new battery technology to give maximum usage from a single charge. This is in addition to enhancements to the camera, the fingerprint reader and the touch controls introduced in previous models.

“Our goal in designing the Huawei Mate S was to develop a smartphone that offers a personalised experience, rather than a commoditised one,” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer BG. “The Huawei Mate S is based on insights we gathered about human interaction – most notably that touch is a natural action we take to understand our world. The Huawei Mate S redefines how we incorporate touch technology into our smartphones, breaking through the conventional way of touch screen control and ushering in new imagination for human-machine interaction.”

Huawei Mate S_Colors

The Mate S’ touch screen control technology uses an unconventional design to strike a balance between the phone’s capabilities and its visual appearance.

Building on the revolutionary Huawei Mate 7 smartphone, the Mate S features a 5.5 inch 2.5D AMOLED screen that is 7.2 millimeters thick at the centre but with a width on the edges of just 2.65 millimeters. The arched back cover is designed to fit into the palm of a hand, making the phone less likely to be dropped.

Touch is at the heart of the Huawei Mate S, creating an enhanced experience for users that simplifies their interaction with the device,” the company said in a product announcement. It also provided the following details on the device:

When viewing photos, they can be quickly previewed and enlarged by pressing the screen with one finger, streamlining the operations of a traditional phone.  The Mate S can also be used as a scale to weigh objects.

The phone is equipped with Fingerprint 2.0, an upgraded version of the advanced chip level security and one-key unlock technology pioneered in the Mate 7. Fingerprint 2.0 halves recognition speeds, with more accurate self-learning functions. It can also be used to control the notification bar, erase unread notifications, preview pictures, and hold and take phone calls. All of these options improve the one hand operation of the phone.

Fingerprint 2.0 and Knuckle Control 2.0 – technology first introduced in the Huawei P8 – simplifies how users switch between app operations and take screenshots. The feature offers users a new way to interact with their phone: drawing a “C” with their knuckle activates a camera, while double-clicking the screen with a knuckle records the screen in the form of a video.  With these options, every type of touch provides an opportunity to be innovative.

Camera for beginners and professionals

The Mate S is equipped with a camera that considers users’ needs in everyday life as well as professional camera setting. The 13-megapixel rear camera features an advanced sensor with optical image stabilisation, dual color-temp LED flash lights, and independent image signal processor camera units, all of which combine to capture higher quality pictures faster. The Mate S takes camera capabilities one-step further by offering an 8-megapixel front camera with soft, front lights to improve selfies.

The professional camera mode allows for manual adjustment of ISO, exposure compensation, exposure time, white balance and focusing, and functions such as the grid, and flash-assisted focusing.

The Mate S takes regular recording functions to the next level by leveraging three microphones to support a smart direction algorithm. The Mate S’ beam-forming algorithm allows all three mics to focus on the sounds coming from where the phone is facing, enabling a clear recording with minimal background noises.

For consumers on the go, the Mate S also supports Mopria printing general protocol, which includes 700 printer types across 29 leading brands.

Availability 

The Mate S will be initially available in more than 30 countries including China, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Spain, South Africa and UAE. Exact South African availability and pricing will be announced at a later date.

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ConceptD: Creatives get a tech brand of their own

The unveiling of a new brand by Acer recognises the massive computing power needed in creative professions, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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It’s a crisp Spring morning in Brooklyn. The regular water taxi from Manhattan pulls up at Duggal Greenhouse on the edge of the East River. It’s a building that symbolises the rejuvenation of Brooklyn as a hub of artistic and creative expression.

Inside the vast structure, global computer brand Acer is about to unveil its own tribute to creativity. Company CEO Jason Chen takes to the stage in faded blue jeans and brown t-shirt, underlining the connection of the event to the informality of the area.

“Brooklyn is become more and more diverse,” he tells a gathering of press from around the world, attending the Next@Acer media event. “It’s an area that is up and coming. It represents new lifestyles. And our theme today is turning a new chapter for creativity.”

Every year, Next@Acer is a parade of the cutting edge in gaming and educational laptops and computers. New devices from sub-brands like Predator, Helios and Nitro have gamers salivating. This year is no different, but there is a surprise in store, hinted in Chen’s introduction.

As a grand finale, he calls on stage Angelica Davila, whose day job is senior marketing manager for Acer Latin America. But she also happens to have a Masters degree in computer and electric engineering. A stint at Intel, where she joined a sales and marketing programme for engineers, set her on a new path.

Angelica Davila, marketing manager for Acer Latin America

For the last few months, she has been helping write Acer’s next chapter. She has shepherded into being nothing less than a new brand: ConceptD.

Click here to read more about ConceptD.

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Which voice assistant wins battle of translators?

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Take the most famous phrase from the Godfather – “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse” – or “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” from the inaugural address of US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and see just how the virtual assistants do in translating them using their newly introduced Neural Machine Translation (NMT) capabilities. One Hour Translation (OHT), the world’s largest online translation service, conducted a study to find out just how accurate these new services are.

OHT used 60 sentences from movies and famous people ranging from the Godfather and Wizard of Oz to Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, US presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Fitzgerald Kennedy and historical figures like Leonardo da Vinci and Aesop. The sentences were translated by Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri from English to French, Spanish, Chinese and German and then given to five professional translators for their assessment on a scale of 1-6. 

Google Assistant scored highest in three of the four languages surveyed – English to French, English to German and English to Spanish and second in English to Chinese.  Amazon’s Alexa, whose translation engine is powered by Microsoft Translator, was tops in the English to Chinese category. Apple’s Siri was second place in English to French and English to Spanish and third place in English to German and English to Chinese.  (See chart). All three virtual assistants are compatible with mobile phones.

“The automated assistants’ translation quality was relatively high, which means that assistants are useful for handling simple translations automatically,” says Yaron Kaufman, chief marketing officer and co-founder of OHT. He predicts that “there is no doubt that the use of assistants is growing rapidly, is becoming a part of our lives and will make a huge contribution to the business world.” 

A lot will depend on further improvements in NMT technology, which has revolutionized the field of translation over the past two years.  All the companies active in the field are investing large sums as part of this effort. “OHT is working with several of the leading NMT providers to improve their engines through the use of its hybrid online translation service that combines NMT and human post-editing,” notes Kaufman. He adds that this will no doubt have a huge impact on the use of assistants for translation purposes.

OHT has made a name for itself in assessing the level of translations by NMT engines.  Its ONEs Evaluation Score is a unique human-based assessment of the leading NMT engines conducted on a quarterly basis and used as an industry standard. 

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