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AppDate: Apple brings Clips to video

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In his latest AppDate, SEAN BACHER features Apple Clips, Bidvest Snappdrive, Shazam with AR, Facebook Messenger Lite, and StockupApp.

Apple Clips

Apple Clips is a new app that is designed to create expressive videos on iPhones and iPads. It allows one to combine video clips, photos and music into videos that can be shared via Apple’s Messages app, or on Instagram, Facebook and most other popular social networks. The app introduces Live Titles, a feature that lets users create animated captions and titles using just their voice. It includes comic book filters, speech bubbles, shapes and full-screen animated posters.

Platform: Apple iPads and iPhones running iOS 10.3 or later.

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the Apple App Store from any compatible device.

 

Bidvest Snappdrive

After a long trip, the last thing many travellers want to worry about is organising a rental car. Bidvest’s Snappdrive app makes this is a lot easier. Before leaving for a trip, users arrange a car online. After arriving at their destination, they use the app to locate their car, and will be able to unlock and start it using just a smartphone. In addition to creating a better customer experience, Bidvest is able to monitor a car’s location, speed and fuel consumption – all in real time.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Shazam, now with Augmented Reality

Shazam, one of the first apps allowing users to identify an artist by simply letting their phone “listen” to a song, has gone one step further. With its AR platform, users can now scan a QR code on marketing materials, products, packaging, advertising, events and more. Once scanned, the codes are capable of delivering AR experiences, including 3D animations, product visualisations, mini-games and 360-degree videos, directly to their phone or tablet.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Facebook Messenger Lite

In an effort to help users with older Android smartphones or slow mobile Internet connections, Facebook has launched its Messenger Lite service. It is a slimmed down, standalone version of the standard Facebook Messenger for Android that allows one to quickly and easily send text, photos and links to anyone else using Messenger or Messenger Lite. It is designed to give people the Messenger experience, no matter what technology they use. The app is less than a 10MB download, making it a lot easier to install and easier to access.

Platform: Android with an iOS version being released later this year.

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the Google Play Store for downloading instructions.

 

StockupApp

Long queues, disgruntled checkout staff and the idea of spending hard-earned money on something as boring as groceries are just a few issues that make going to the supermarket a chore. Although StockupApp doesn’t help with the money that needs to be spent, it does eliminate queues and many of the other shopping problems. Much like UberEATS, StockupApp uses a phone’s geo-location to find stores in an area. One is then able to order a range of everyday goods, including groceries, certain alcoholic beverages and even gifts – all dependent on the retailer chosen. A credit card is used to pay and the items ordered will be delivered to your door in hours.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download but a service and delivery fee is added to each purchase.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

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

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Samsung unleashes the beast

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Most new smartphone releases of the past few years have been like cat-and-mouse games with consumers and each other. It has been as if morsels of cheese are thrown into the box to make it more interesting: a little extra camera here, a little more battery there, and incremental changes to size, speed (more) and weight (less). Each change moves the needle of innovation ever-so-slightly. Until we find ourselves, a few years later, with a handset that is revolutionary compared to six years ago, but an anti-climax relative to six months before.

And then came Samsung. Probably stung by the “incremental improvement” phrase that has become almost a cliché about new Galaxy devices, the Korean giant chose to unleash a beast last week.

The new Galaxy Note 9 is not only the biggest smartphone Samsung has ever released, but one of the biggest flagship handsets that can still be called a phone. With a 6.4” display, it suddenly competes with mini-tablets and gaming consoles, among other devices that had previously faced little contest from handsets.

It offers almost ever cutting edge introduced to the Galaxy S9 and S9+ smartphones earlier this year, including the market-leading f1.5 aperture lens, and an f2.4. telephoto lens, each weighing in at 12 Megapixels. The front lens is equally impressive, with an f1.7 aperture – first introduced on the Note 8 as the widest yet on a selfie camera.

So far, so S9. However, the Note range has always been set apart by its S Pen stylus, and each edition has added new features. Born as a mere pen that writes on screens, it evolved through the likes of pressure sensitivity, allowing for artistic expression, and cut-and-paste text with translation-on-the-fly.

(Click here or below to read more about the Samsung Galaxy S Pen stylus) Samsung Galaxy S9 Features)

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SA ride permit system ‘broken’

Despite the amendments to the National Land Transport Act, ALON LITS, General Manager, Uber in Sub Saharan Africa, believes that many premature given that the necessary, well-functioning systems and processes are not yet in place to make these regulatory changes viable.

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The spirit and intention of the amendments to the National Land Transport Act No 5  (NLTA), 2009 put forward by the Ministry of Transport are to be commended. It is especially pleasing that these amendments include ridesharing and e-hailing operators and drivers as legitimate participants in the country’s public transport system, which point to government’s willingness to embrace the changes and innovation taking place in the country’s transport industry.

However, there are aspects of the proposed amendments that are, at best, premature given that the necessary, well-functioning systems and processes are not yet in place to make these regulatory changes viable.

Of particular concern are the significant financial penalties that will need to be paid by ridesharing and e-hailing companies whose independent operators are found to be transporting passengers without a legal permit issued by the relevant local authority. These fines can be as high as R100 000 per driver operating without a permit. Apart from being an excessive penalty it is grossly unfair given that a large number of local authorities don’t yet have functioning permit issuing systems and processes in place.

The truth is that the operating permit issuance system in South Africa is effectively broken. The application and issuance processes for operating licenses are fundamentally flawed and subject to extensive delays, sometimes over a year in length.  This situation is exacerbated by the fact that it is very difficult for applicants whose permit applications haven’t yet been approved to get reasons for the extensive delays on the issuing of those permits.

Uber has had extensive first-hand experience with the frustratingly slow process of applying for these permits, with drivers often having to wait months and, in some cases more than a year, for their permits.

Sadly, there appears to be no sense of urgency amongst local authorities to prioritise fixing the flawed permit issuing systems and processes or address the large, and growing, backlogs of permit applications. As such, in order for the proposed stringent permit enforcement rules to be effective and fair to all role players, the long-standing issues around permit issuance first need to be addressed. At the very least, before the proposed legislation amendments are implemented, the National Transport Ministry needs to address the following issues:

  1. Efficient processes and systems must be put in place in all local authorities to allow drivers to easily apply for the operating permits they require
  2. Service level agreements need to be put in place with local authorities whereby they are required to assess applications and issue permits within the prescribed 60-day period.
  3. Local authorities need to be given deadlines by which their current permit application backlogs must be addressed to allow for faster processing of new applications once the amendments are promulgated.

If the Transport Ministry implements the proposed legislation amendments before ensuring that these permit issuance challenges are addressed, many drivers will be faced with the difficult choice of either having to operate illegally whilst awaiting their approved permits and risking significant fines and/or arrest, or stopping operations until they receive their permits, thereby losing what is, for many of them, their only source of income.

As such, if the Ministry of Transport is not able to address these particular challenges, it is only reasonable to ask it to reconsider this amendment and delay its implementation until the necessary infrastructure is in place to ensure it does not impact negatively on the country’s transport industry. The legislators must have been aware of the challenges of passing such a significant law, as the Amendment Bill allows for the Minister to use his discretion to delay implementation of provisions for up to 5 years.

Fair trade and healthy competition are the cornerstones of any effective and growing economy. However, these clauses (Section 66 (7) and Section 66A) of the NLTA amendment, as well as the proposal that regulators be given authority to define the geographic locations or zones in which vehicles may operate, are contrary to the spirit of both. As a good corporate citizen, Uber is committed to supplementing and enhancing South Africa’s national transport system and contributing positively to the industry. If passed into law without the revisions suggested above, these new amendments will limit our business and many others from playing the supportive roles we all can, and should, in growing the SA transport and tourism industries as well as many other key economic sectors.

What’s more, if passed as they currently stand, the amendments will effectively limit South African consumers from having full access to the range of convenient transport options they deserve; which has the potential to harm the reputation and credibility of the entire transport industry.

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