In this AppDate issue, SEAN BACHER highlights Mobi Moola, Qlik Playground, ttrumpet with the Ward feature, LikeMoney.co.za and HouseMe.
Mobi Moola, an app aimed at enabling cellphone users to pay for public transport using their airtime, was named the winner at the recent TADHack challenge sponsored by MTN. The app was designed for people who use taxis daily and don’t have the correct amount of cash for a trip. Mobi Moola uses USSD and can be installed on most smartphones or feature phones to transfer payment to taxi operators, using airtime from any mobile operator. The taxi driver generates a QR code which generates a USSD string, or a QR code is placed on the side of a taxi and scanned, launching the payment system.
Platform: Android and iOS
Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.
Expect to pay: A free download
ttrumpet with Ward Feature
The locally developed ttrumpet community app now includes a Ward feature. This allow consumers to report service delivery issues such as blocked drains, burst pipes, electricity outages, missing manhole covers, refuse issues, and faulty street signs. The app uses a device’s geo-location, so municipalities know exactly where the issues are and can move to correct them. Users can then access that fault through the app to view its current status and time it will take until it is repaired.
Platform: Android and iOS
Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.
Expect to pay: A free download.
LikeMoney.co.za allows South Africans to make more informed decisions when choosing a particular service or product. For example, users can compare financial products based on what their friends and other social media users like and recommend. They can then use the website to compare credit card deals, bank account costs, insurance costs, investment returns and broadband deals. LikeMoney is designed to provide unbiased, objective and independent information so users can evaluate the benefits of financial and consumer products without being pressured by any one provider.
Platform: Any device with an up-to-date Internet browser
Expect to pay: A free service.
These days finding a suitable tenant can be a challenge. Although you can interview and do a few background checks on a candidate, you never really know who you are inviting to move in with you. HouseMe, a mobile app and web portal, aims to streamline the process. It offers an online auction mechanism where landlords receive bids on their rental properties from prospective tenants eager to secure their accommodation. Through its growing database of registered users, HouseME also offers tenant-rating scores to give landlords peace of mind when selecting a tenant and includes guaranteed rental for landlord. From a tenant’s perspective, because some come from all over South Africa and are not always able to view property, the HouseMe app verifies every listed property and provides the most recent photos.
Platform: Android or any device with an Internet browser.
Expect to pay: A free service.
Qlik Playground is a web-based application that gives developers an easy way to learn about, use, and experiment with the Qlik platform. The app gives developers a “sandbox” to experiment and try out specific APIs for working with, analysing, and visualising data. By connecting to their own data and accessing public data sets through Qlik’s APIs, developers can get hands-on experience on how certain data sets interact with others, and bring them to life visually.
Platform: An up-to-date Internet browser
Expect to pay: Free to use.
When will we stop calling them phones?
If you don’t remember when phones were only used to talk to people, you may wonder why we still use this term for handsets, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK, on the eve of the 10th birthday of the app.
Do you remember when handsets were called phones because, well, we used them to phone people?
It took 120 years from the invention of the telephone to the use of phones to send text.
Between Alexander Graham Bell coining the term “telephone” in 1876 and Finland’s two main mobile operators allowing SMS messages between consumers in 1995, only science fiction writers and movie-makers imagined instant communication evolving much beyond voice. Even when BlackBerry shook the business world with email on a phone at the end of the last century, most consumers were adamant they would stick to voice.
It’s hard to imagine today that the smartphone as we know it has been with us for less than 10 years. Apple introduced the iPhone, the world’s first mass-market touchscreen phone, in June 2007, but it is arguable that it was the advent of the app store in July the following year that changed our relationship with phones forever.
That was the moment when the revolution in our hands truly began, when it became possible for a “phone” to carry any service that had previously existed on the World Wide Web.
Today, most activity carried out by most people on their mobile devices would probably follow the order of social media in first place – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn all jostling for attention – and instant messaging in close second, thanks to WhatsApp, Messenger, SnapChat and the like. Phone calls – using voice that is – probably don’t even take third place, but play fourth or fifth fiddle to mapping and navigation, driven by Google Maps and Waze, and transport, thanks to Uber, Taxify, and other support services in South Africa like MyCiti, Admyt and Kaching.
Despite the high cost of data, free public Wi-Fi is also seeing an explosion in use of streaming video – whether Youtube, Netflix, Showmax, or GETblack – and streaming music, particularly with the arrival of Spotify to compete with Simfy Africa.
Who has time for phone calls?
The changing of the phone guard in South Africa was officially signaled last week with the announcement of Vodacom’s annual results. Voice revenue for the 2018 financial year ending 31 March had fallen by 4.6%, to make up 40.6% of Vodacom’s revenue. Total revenue had grown by 8.1%, which meant voice seriously underperformed the group, and had fallen by 4% as a share of revenue, from 2017’s 44.6%.
The reason? Data had not only outperformed the group, increasing revenue by 12.8%, but it had also risen from 39.7% to 42.8% of group revenue,
This means that data has not only outperformed voice for the first time – as had been predicted by World Wide Worx a year ago – but it has also become Vodacom’s biggest contributor to revenue.
That scenario is being played out across all mobile network operators. In the same way, instant messaging began destroying SMS revenues as far back as five years ago – to the extent that SMS barely gets a mention in annual reports.
Data overtaking voice revenues signals the demise of voice as the main service and key selling point of mobile network operators. It also points to mobile phones – let’s call them handsets – shifting their primary focus. Voice quality will remain important, but now more a subset of audio quality rather than of connectivity. Sound quality will become a major differentiator as these devices become primary platforms for movies and music.
Contact management, privacy and security will become critical features as the handset becomes the storage device for one’s entire personal life.
Integration with accessories like smartwatches and activity monitors, earphones and earbuds, virtual home assistants and virtual car assistants, will become central to the functionality of these devices. Why? Because the handsets will control everything else? Hardly.
More likely, these gadgets will become an extension of who we are, what we do and where we are. As a result, they must be context aware, and also context compatible. This means they must hand over appropriate functions to appropriate devices at the appropriate time.
I need to communicate only using my earpiece? The handset must make it so. I have to use gesture control, and therefore some kind of sensor placed on my glasses, collar or wrist? The handset must instantly surrender its centrality.
There are numerous other scenarios and technology examples, many out of the pages of science fiction, that point to the changing role of the “phone”. The one thing that’s obvious is that it will be silly to call it a phone for much longer.
MTN 5G test gets 520Mbps
MTN and Huawei have launched Africa’s first 5G field trial with an end-to-end Huawei 5G solution.
The field trial demonstrated a 5G Fixed-Wireless Access (FWA) use case with Huawei’s 5G 28GHz mmWave Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) in a real-world environment in Hatfield Pretoria, South Africa. Speeds of 520Mbps downlink and 77Mbps uplink were attained throughout respectively.
“These 5G trials provide us with an opportunity to future proof our network and prepare it for the evolution of these new generation networks. We have gleaned invaluable insights about the modifications that we need to do on our core, radio and transmission network from these pilots. It is important to note that the transition to 5G is not just a flick of a switch, but it’s a roadmap that requires technical modifications and network architecture changes to ensure that we meet the standards that this technology requires. We are pleased that we are laying the groundwork that will lead to the full realisation of the boundless opportunities that are inherent in the digital world.” says Babak Fouladi, Group Chief Technology & Information Systems Officer, at MTN Group.
Giovanni Chiarelli, Chief Technology and Information Officer for MTN SA said: “Next generation services such as virtual and augmented reality, ultra-high definition video streaming, and cloud gaming require massive capacity and higher user data rates. The use of millimeter-wave spectrum bands is one of the key 5G enabling technologies to deliver the required capacity and massive data rates required for 5G’s Enhanced Mobile Broadband use cases. MTN and Huawei’s joint field trial of the first 5G mmWave Fixed-Wireless Access solution in Africa will also pave the way for a fixed-wireless access solution that is capable of replacing conventional fixed access technologies, such as fibre.”
“Huawei is continuing to invest heavily in innovative 5G technologies”, said Edward Deng, President of Wireless Network Product Line of Huawei. “5G mmWave technology can achieve unprecedented fiber-like speed for mobile broadband access. This trial has shown the capabilities of 5G technology to deliver exceptional user experience for Enhanced Mobile Broadband applications. With customer-centric innovation in mind, Huawei will continue to partner with MTN to deliver best-in-class advanced wireless solutions.”
“We are excited about the potential the technology will bring as well as the potential advancements we will see in the fields of medicine, entertainment and education. MTN has been investing heavily to further improve our network, with the recent “Best in Test” and MyBroadband best network recognition affirming this. With our focus on providing the South Africans with the best customer experience, speedy allocation of spectrum can help bring more of these technologies to our customers,” says Giovanni.