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App takes pain from parking

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Ford has unveiled details of two new mobility projects aimed at addressing the daily frustration of finding parking in a crowded city.

Together with mobile app valet service Cheyaoshi and smart parking developer Ding Ding, Ford is experimenting with real solutions to take the stress out of getting around.

“For millions of commuters in Asia Pacific, finding parking comes at the cost of wasted time and fuel,” said John Larsen, director, Ford Smart Mobility, Ford Asia Pacific. All this adds to longer commutes, worsening congestion and higher stress. Our mobile valet experiment with Cheyaoshi and our smart parking experiment with Ding Ding are a couple ways we are trying to find innovative solutions to help commuters.”

The need for better parking solutions is illustrated by a recent survey conducted on behalf of Ford across Asia Pacific. More than one in five survey respondents said their commute is the worst part of their day, on top of 34 percent who simply find it inconvenient – and for a third of respondents, it is getting worse. For more than 18 percent of respondents across the region, finding parking is the primary reason for a worsening commute. This makes it a prime target for Ford, which is investing in smart mobility experiments across the region as it works to once again change the way that people move.

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The problem is particularly acute in China, where nearly one-quarter of survey respondents blamed parking difficulties for a worsening commute. But China’s eagerness to adopt new technologies – more than 48 percent see advanced technologies like autonomous features and real-time traffic information as potential congestion cures – also makes it an ideal market for the parking experiments.

“The work we’ve been doing with Cheyaoshi and Ding Ding helps relieve some of the pain of parking today and also helps us determine the approaches that are most effective for commuters,” said Julius Marchwicki, director, Connected Vehicles and Services, Ford Asia Pacific. “These kinds of experiments deepen our understanding of what commuters want and need, and enable us to serve them more effectively as a mobility company.”

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At Ford’s Asia Pacific headquarters in Shanghai’s bustling Lujiazui financial district, four out of ten employees said in an internal survey that they spend an extra 10 to 20 minutes every day finding parking near the office. Together with Cheyaoshi, Ford found cheaper, available parking about a kilometer from the Ford office, and launched a valet program to make parking more convenient.

Participants used the app to have a valet meet them at the Ford office in the morning; the valet then parked the car, where it waited safely until the user summoned it using the app. At the end of the day, employees could then either have the car delivered to the office, or anywhere within a 2.5-kilometer radius.

Another partnership – the Ford and Ding Ding Parking Space Lock experiment – approaches the problem of urban parking through the sharing economy. Vehicle owners can use SYNC, Ford’s leading voice controlled infotainment system, to activate and deactivate a physical parking space lock on one of tens of thousands of parking spaces on Ding Ding’s platform, granting users exclusive use of conveniently located parking spaces. Once a driver has locked a parking space, they can also use the app to rent it out to other drivers for a share of parking fees, or authorize family and friends to use it for free. All functions are activated through SYNC giving users convenient hands-free control of Ding Ding’s functions. In addition, drivers of Ford vehicles can reserve exclusive VIP spaces on Ding Ding’s platform using SYNC, including in busy areas.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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