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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.

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Stop being creepy! An essential guide for digital marketers

Advertising and marketing is becoming increasingly creepy as personalisation strategies lose the plot, writes JOAN OSTERLOH, authorised Forrester Research Partner for South Africa.

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Marketers need to be aware of the “creep factor” when deploying strategies of personalisation and individualisation in their marketing efforts, Forrester’s Brendan Witcher, VP and principal analyst serving eBusiness and channel strategy professionals, warned as early as December 2017.

Six months later, Forrester senior analyst Susan Bidel was even more direct in her message: “Marketers, you need to take control of your advertising strategies and adtech stacks now to better address today’s consumers.” She cautioned that those who didn’t, were at a high risk of annoying and creeping out the very customers needed for business growth.

In its latest research, “Marketers Versus Customers: Opposing Forces  Erupt” Forrester now finds that even though marketers set out with the best intentions to implement customer-obsessed marketing and customer experience strategies, they still end up alienating and ‘creeping out’ customers, resulting in lost loyalty.

Marketers use personalisation to make their marketing more relevant and to help it stand out, Forrester says in a blog on the study. The irony is that with all the customer data that marketers use to personalise, the one thing they seem to have forgotten to find out from consumers is whether they even want personalised communication at all, the firm writes. Combined with identity resolution and increased automation, companies have created adtech and martech stacks that are creeping people out. We think our phones are listening to us. And then Facebook admits it is doing this. So, what’s gone wrong?

The report by Melissa Parrish, Forrester’s VP and group director serving marketing professionals, highlights that marketers are ignoring their customers’ desire for anonymity, by assuming that they all want personalised experiences. They are foregoing the authenticity of their own brands by “giving lip service to brand values they think resonate with customers.” There’s an overt focus on martech at the expense of human creativity. Lastly, they’re profiling customers on precarious connections and getting it wrong, sometimes with harmful and even traumatic results, she explains.

The solution is to return to true customer-centricity by going back to basics by looking at the following, Parrish writes in the report:

  1. Remember that customers are different.  Here it’s not about customer segments or personas, but rather the extent to which they expect you to know them. Treat customers and prospects differently – e.g. prospects “want value, not a background check”.
  2. Customers are tired of lookalike ads and direct mail that is poorly personalised, trying to get them to buy things for which they’re not even in the market.  Choose your target audience, focus on them, and then let go of the others.
  3. Programmatic marketing has its upsides and downsides.  Avoid the two extremes of advertising at scale across multiple channels on the one hand and limiting advertising to channels where everyone seems to be at once, such as Facebook, on the other.  Instead, target your audience with responsible content and choose platforms on which you can reach them online and offline.
  4. Consider whether you should be using cookie, key-stroke and audience data at all for your brand.  Intent-based target marketing through search optimization might be a smarter choice.
  5. Don’t assume that personalisation will make customer experiences more relevant.  Rather interview your customers and test different variations of personalised content to find the right balance between information, recommendations, simplicity and empathy.
  6. Don’t ignore the 20% who don’t want any personalisation at all – use your customer insights data to identify them, and then meet their expectation of no personalisation.

Parrish offers important recommendations for the winning marketers of the future. Since the success of marketing is measured by the bottom line of revenue generation, truly customer-obsessed marketers need KPIs that are “fine-tuned” to understand what customers value, not what’s valuable to the brand, she writes. What customers want and value should be defined in terms of four dimensions along the axes of functional-experiential, and economic-symbolic.  Then, measure the dimensions along the entire customer life cycle, she explains. What this requires is the following:

Firstly, marketing and Customer Experience (CX) teams need to unify and leverage one another’s unique skills to deliver best-in-class customer experiences that drive loyalty, customer retention and growth.  Truly customer-obsessed brands will bring CX and marketing together to harness the best that both have to offer.

Secondly, brands need to rebuild trust.  As consumers become more privacy-savvy, they will become more selective about the brands with which they are willing to share their data.  Marketers need to develop ‘Privacy Personas’ as a new marketing segment to ensure that they deliver experiences their customers are comfortable with.

Thirdly, refocus on creative excellence. In Parrish’s words “new prospecting strategies will center on great creative making an emotional impact and contextual targeting driving relevance.”

Lastly marketers need to find ways to extend customer obsession throughout the enterprise. Employees need to be empowered to deliver on the brand promise, which must align to and be in harmony with CX.   The companies that thrive will be those whose CX truly reflects brand values, Parrish concludes.  

Sources: “Marketers Versus Customers: Opposing Forces  Erupt18 Sept 2019. By Melissa Parrish with Sharyn Leaver, Brigitte Majewski, Caroline Robertson, and Stephanie Liu.

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Which should you use: PIN or Password?

By CHAD HAMMOND, a digital security expert at NordPass

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As users of this digital age, we have many different choices. You can enable or disable web cookies, depending on how much information you want a website to gather about you. You can use encrypted services or unencrypted ones, depending on how much you’re concerned about your privacy and security.

You can also use a PIN (Personal Identification Number) or password to secure your digital devices or online accounts. However, in this particular case, the choice for most of us is not as straightforward as it seems.

The other day I also had the very same discussion among my friends with three different sides of opinion. One side was backing PINs and claiming that they are safer than passwords. Others couldn’t believe that PINs made up of four, six, or eight digits can be more reliable than long and complex passwords. And the third group was claiming that both PIN and password serve the same purpose of identification and are safe to use. All sides had valuable insights, but we couldn’t reach an agreement. Sparked by this discussion, I decided to look deeper into this topic and look for the truth.

When should you use a PIN?

PIN stands for a Personal Information Number and is used the same as a password to prove that you have the right to access your data. A PIN usually consists of a string of four to eight numbers, and it was first introduced in the 1960s together with cash machines (ATMs). The obvious drawback is that a PIN is limited to 0-9 numerical digits. A PIN made up of four numbers offers 10,000 possible combinations. That may seem like an easy nut to crack, but it’s not as straightforward.

PINs are normally used on touchscreen devices and always require manual data entry. An automated brute-force attack may not work as most of the systems that use a PIN also specify maximum attempts count before disabling the device.

For example, if your device limits PIN entry to six attempts, there is a 0.06% chance that someone will be lucky enough to crack the four-digit code. Of course, if your PIN is ‘0000’ or ‘1234,’ the probability of being hacked increases massively.

When should you use a password?

A good password is a combination of numerical digits, upper- and lowercase letters, and various special characters. It could also be a phrase made up of words with the same requirements. Like the PIN, the password concept first appeared in the early 1960s and has been used ever since. A 10-character password has 59,873,693,923,837,900,000 different variations, and most of you are probably thinking you know which of the two is more secure. However, it’s not all about mathematics.

Passwords are used online or for devices like computers, which usually don’t have any limits on failed attempts. That’s why passwords can be compromised with the help of an automated brute-force attack. Of course, not all attacks are practical, as most of them would take years to crack a strong password. Buthacking technologies are evolving fast, making such attacks more sophisticated and successful.

Password vs. PIN: the verdict

Going back to the discussion that I had with my friends, we can safely say that all the opinions were correct in one way or another. The answer to this question depends on where you use your PIN or password.

If you want to unlock your touchscreen device, the safest and easiest way is to use a PIN because of the manual entry and the attempt limit. When it comes to online accounts or computers, passwords are much safer due to the simple math of available combinations.

Also, you can enable multi-factor authentication (2FA) in most online accounts . The 2FA adds another layer of safety, minimizing the risks of automated brute-force attacks. Even if someone manages to get your strong password, they won’t be able to access your account, as the second step of verification will stop them.

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