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IFA 2015: Huawei Watch timed for Android and IOS

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Huawei has unveiled the first smartwatch from a smartphone maker to be compatible with both IOS and Android.

Huawei this week officially introduced the new Huawei watch at a media event preceding the IFA trade show in Berlin.

The watch sports a “classic design inspired by Swiss timepieces” and is intended to bridge “the gap between fashion and technology”. It enables users to stay connected with notifications of calls, texts, instant messages and emails.

Huawei Consumer Business Group Watch

Huawei provided the following product information:

Crafted to meet the expectations of the fashion conscious user, including a fully circular 1.4-inch touch-sensitive AMOLED display, coated in scratch-proof sapphire crystal (the favoured choice among Swiss watch manufacturers) and a cold-forged stainless steel frame, its design embodies the space where fashion meets technology.

The watch is 42mm in diameter – the traditional dimension for wristwatches – with a unique design with its crown located at the two o’clock position.

The watch comes in a three different colours including rose gold, stainless steel and black and the ability to select from a variety of bespoke watch face designs, across a range of classic, luxury, business, feminine, modern and simple aesthetics.

There is also a choice of straps including stainless steel mesh, stainless steel links, rose gold, and black-plated stainless steel links, and brown and black leather. The straps are easy to change and users can fit any watch strap with 18mm width lug interface.

Sporting technology

The Huawei watch is a perfect exercise companion with a heart rate sensor to measures heart rate and the 6-axis motion sensor can track activities including walking, running, cycling and mountain climbing. It is also able to download music for offline playback via Bluetooth, which can also link up to wireless headphones.

The watch is powered by the latest version of Android Wear, which for the first time supports both Android and iOS devices. Music can be started with voice commands and users can search for destinations and navigate there using the same voice actions. Locating missing phones has never been easier than with the watch’s “find my phone” function.

While the watch sets the bar from a technology standpoint Huawei is teaming up with international fashion photographer, Mario Testino to produce a campaign featuring American supermodel Karlie Kloss and one of the world’s top male models, Sean O’Pry. This is the first time that Huawei has worked with these fashion icons to convey its vision of a world where fashion and technology converge.

Benjamin Norton, Wearable Design Expert at the Huawei Consumer BG, said: “Today, consumers are rarely content with just staying connected; they are looking for a premium smartwatch that is technologically innovative. When designing this watch, we were keen to combine the best in technology and innovation with premium materials and a classic look and feel. With the sapphire crystal and circular watch face, we feel that the Huawei watch has achieved this.”

Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer Business Group, said: “Huawei is dedicated to continually innovating and creating new products to suit our consumers’ needs. This first smartwatch in our wearables family has been designed following extensive research and demonstrated consumer demand for smart wrist wear. The Huawei watch is unique within the market with its premium look and feel and classic design, combined with superior smart technology, which allows users to stay connected on the go. No doubt, wearable devices will remain one of the most significant trends in the device industry, and by leveraging Huawei’s technology and innovation, Huawei Consumer BG aims to be a leader in the wearable space.”

South African availability and pricing will be announced at a later date.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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