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AppDate: A Mac media makeover

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In his latest AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights Elmedia Player for Mac, HelpOut, the Enhanced Harry Potter series, MSC Cruises, New Truedialer, Vodacom Video Play, Tag Me, Impossible Super Ninja, 360 Panorama for BlackBerry and WhatsApp Web.

Elmedia Player for Mac

Elmedia Player for Mac is a great application for playing just about any kind of video and media file on a Mac without first having to convert it. Users are able to either stream online movies, or can store them for later viewing. The free version offers standard streaming and viewing of movies, but the pro version lets users download from YouTube, tweak audio settings and take screenshots while videos are playing.

Platform: Apple Mac OS X and above.

Expect to pay: A free download, with the pro version costing around R275

Stockists: Visit mac.eltima.com

 

HelpOut App

The HelpOut App connects households with registered service companies like plumbers, electricians, and taxi drivers. Users don’t need to trawl the Internet or Yellow Pages to find a plumber or electrician as it is all done via the app by using the phone’s location. This also means that users don’t have to wait too long for someone to get to their place. When searching for a service, only authorised companies are listed, ensuring users get the best services.

Platform: iOS and Android

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Enhanced Harry Potter series

Enhanced editions of all seven books in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series are now available on the iBooks Store for readers around the world to enjoy on their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac. Customers can download individual books featuring full original text, interactive animations and  artwork bringing the stories to life. Harry Potter fans will also find annotations throughout their literary journey, written by the author herself.

Platform: iOS and Apple Mac OS X

Expect to pay: R137 per book.

Stockists: Visit the iBooks Store from an Apple device.

 

MSC Cruises app

The MSC Cruises app offers users features like itineraries, shore excursions and even virtual ship tours. Users can also the browse MSC Cruises’ range of holiday choices and gain insights into cruise destinations. The app also allows users to set push notifications to ensure that they remain updated with the latest news and special offers. Thanks to the global positioning feature, one can also track the MSC fleet across the oceans.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

New Truedialer app

The new Truedialer app includes a more intuitive app design, and a quicker, more convenient way to find contacts. Unlike other dialers, the app offers instant access to relevant information on someone a person is about to call, and fills in missing contact information. The dialer uses a simple and easy to use numeric pad to help find numbers within as well as outside of the device’s phonebook. It comes with Truecaller integration, which offers the ability to identify more than 1.7-billion registered Truecaller numbers.

Platform: Android, iOS, Windows Phone 8 and above, BlackBerry OS 10 and above.

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Vodacom Video Play

Video Play is an app that uses spare network capacity to download and cache selected video content at a reduced cost.  Users pre-select their content, which is then downloaded during low-demand periods (typically overnight). Instead of billing per unit of data, Video Play bills in minutes, not megabytes, allowing customers to control and manage their spend. At the moment, users can download content from local producers like eNCA, eTV, Urban Brew and MobiTV.

Platform: Android and Blackberry.

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Tag Me

The Tag Me app allows selected friends to track each other in real-time by inviting a friend or group of friends to track them. It also has the ability to pin-point their location and raises the alarm if they go off-route or don’t reach their destination when expected. As a result of this functionality, this feature is also of great value-add for cyclists, hikers, runners and others, as it leaves a ‘bread crumb trail’ via blue dot navigation. The chosen rout is displayed and is updated every 10 seconds – showing total distance and time covered and indicates lost connectivity or stops longer than 10 minutes.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download, but with in-app purchases.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Impossible Super Ninja

In Impossible Super Ninja, players slip into the role of a Ninja. They have to clear towers filled with a range of traps and collect every diamond they find along their journey. They have to scale walls, jump and hop using an innovative one-touch control that is easy to pick up, yet rather hard to master. During the course of the game, users are able to unlock all the ninjas of their clan, which are illustrated in a 2D style.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download, but with loads of in-app purchases.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

360 Panorama for BlackBerry

Even though the BlackBerry camera offers a range of great functions, including multiple modes, scenes and aspect ratios, there are still some things it can’t do. One of these is taking panoramic photos. 360 Panorama is an app that allows users to take great surround panorama shots. The app is also simple to use: one can save files or share them instantly.

Platform: BlackBerry OS 10 and above

Expect to pay: R50

Stockists: BlackBerry World.

 

WhatsApp Web

Although this is a fairly old app, very few people know about it and how helpful it can be. Go to WhatsApp.com, click on WhatApp Web and then scan the barcode displayed through the WhatsApp application on your smart device. Once properly scanned, all current conversations are displayed through your desktop’s browser, allowing you to quickly read and reply to messages without touching your phone.

Platform: Most Internet browsers on a Mac or PC.

Expect to pay: Free to use.

Stocksits: www.whatsapp.com

* Sean Bacher is editor of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @SeanBacher

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Arts and Entertainment

Deezer to host Hotstix’s Mandela tribute playlist

Deezer is celebrating Nelson Mandela on the centenary of his birthday by hosting a tribute playlist created by music legend Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse.  

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Mabuse, a legendary figure in African music, first rose to prominence in the 1970s with his band Harari and later developed a name for himself as a solo artist. One of his best known songs was the global hit BurnOut in the 1980s.

The playlist takes the listener on a captivating musical journey through the life of Nelson Mandela.  It was compiled by Mabuse, who consulted with Mandela’s family and friends to ensure that the music would be relevant and accurate. The playlist also features commentary by Mabuse, which was recorded in his Soweto home.  

“I have tried to tell the story of the music that Madiba loved,” says Mabuse. “The Playlist excludes the time in prison obviously, as Madiba would not have had exposure to music in that time.  We have focused on the music we know he loved before and after that period. This recording was really an emotional journey for me, but an incredible opportunity to document these memories.”

The playlist features the music the young Mandela loved, such as The Manhattan Brothers, Solomon Linda, Brenda Fassie and Miriam Makeba.  It includes struggle songs from Chicco, Johnny Clegg, Hugh Masekela and Yvonne Chaka Chaka.  The playlist also includes Mandela by Zahara, one of the younger artists who caught Madiba’s ear.

Mabuse also offers stories of his own songs, such as Shikisha, a song greatly beloved by the former President.

“I was delighted to share my thoughts and hope the listeners enjoyed the musical journey,” says Mabuse. “Madiba did enjoy music immensely and we all have a purpose wherever we are in the world to celebrate culture and to learn from different cultures and music forms and styles.”

This playlist was inspired by the Nelson Mandela 100 campaign, calling on corporates and individuals to act as sources of inspiration and engage in conversation and action.

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Sports streaming takes off

Live streaming of sports is coming of age as a mainstream method of viewing big games, as the latest FIFA World Cup figures from the UK show. Africa isn’t yet at the same level when it comes to the adoption of sports streaming, but usage is clearly moving in the right direction.

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England’s World Cup quarter-final against Sweden was watched by just under 20 million viewers in the UK via BBC One. While this traditional broadcast audience was huge, it was streaming that broke records: the game was the BBC’s most popular online-viewed live programme ever, with 3.8 million views. In Africa, the absolute numbers are lower but the trend towards streaming major sports events on the continent is also well under way.

According to DStv, live streaming of sports dominates the usage figures for its live and recorded TV streaming app, DStv Now. The number of people using the app in June was five times higher than a year ago, with concurrent views peaking during major football and rugby games.

Since the start of the World Cup, average weekday usage of DStv Now is up 60%. The absolute peak in concurrent usage for one event was reached on 26 June, during the Nigeria vs Argentina game. The app’s biggest ever test was on 16 June with both Springbok Rugby and World Cup Football under way at the same time, resulting in concurrent in-app views seven times higher than the peaks seen in June last year.

The World Cup has also been a major reason for new users to download and try out the app. First-time app user volumes have tripled on Android and doubled on iOS since the start of the tournament.

“While we expected live sports streaming to take off, it’s also been pleasing to see that the app is really popular for watching shows on Catch Up,” says MultiChoice South Africa Chief Operating Officer Mark Rayner. “Interestingly, some of the most popular Catch Up shows are local, with Isibaya, Binnelanders, The Queen and The River all getting a significant number of views.”

With respect to app usage, the web and Android apps are the most popular way to watch DStv Now, with Android outpacing iOS by a factor of 2:1.

“We’re continuing to develop DStv Now, with 4k streaming in testing and smart TV and Apple TV apps on their way shortly,” says Rayner. “The other key priority for us is working with the telcos to deliver mobile data propositions that make watching online painless and worry-free for our customers.”

The DStv Now app is free to all 10 million DStv customers in Africa. The app streams DStv live channels as well as supplying an extended Catch Up library. Two separate streams can be watched on different devices simultaneously, and content can also be downloaded to smartphones and tablets. The content available on the app varies according to the DStv package subscribed to.

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