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AppDate: Keep Truecaller safe

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In this AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights Truecaller Backup for Android, Open Omnia, Marketplace on Facebook, Zulzi, Opera with news feed, Pet First Aid – Red Cross, Datally by Google, and Freeletics.

Truecaller Backup for Android

Truecaller, the app that allows users to filter out unwanted calls, has released Truecaller Backup for Android. Every day thousands of Truecaller users are switching to a new phone, getting a new SIM card, resetting their device or in general having to reinstall their Truecaller app. This inevitably leads to lost contacts, blank call logs and lost data. The backup solution is designed to simplify a user’s transition to a new phone or SIM card by securely backing-up contacts and settings to Google Drive.

Once the app is reinstalled, and the correct username and password provided, a user can go through the backed up data and decide what should be restored to the new device.

Platform: Most Android mobile devices.

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the Google Play Store

 

Open Omnia

Open Omnia is a web-based programme that aims to assist students who struggle with mathematics to better understand the subject, by breaking down the formulae and providing step-by-step illustrations for mathematical equations.

A student can simply type in a mathematical problem, and the service returns a step-by-step solution to the problem. This ensures that students learn how to get to the answer – and can then apply the process to similar problems.

Platform: Most devices with an up-to-date web browser.

Expect to pay: Free to use.

Stockists: Visit www.openomnia.com

 

Marketplace on Facebook

Facebook will be rolling out its Marketplace service in South Africa in an attempt to compete with the likes of Gumtree, BidorBuy and OLX. The feature is designed to let users buy and sell items on the platform, with strict safety precautions for both parties. In addition to buying and selling, users can communicate with each other and are able to set their privacy controls to their liking. They do not need to install any third-party applications.

The feature is set to be rolled out in early February. Users wanting to start trading need to click on the Marketplace icon towards the bottom of the page.

How to use Marketplace 

  • To use Marketplace, tap on the Marketplace icon.
  • To find what you’re looking for, search at the top and filter your results by location, category or price.
  • To sell something, take a photo, describe your item, set your price and you are done.
  • Buyers and sellers can communicate with each other using Facebook Messenger.

Platform: Most devices using the latest Facebook version.

Expect to pay: A free service.

Stockists: Visit www.facebook.com to begin trading.

 

Zulzi

Zulzi is a locally developed on-demand delivery service app that brings groceries to the doors of its customers within an hour. Zulzi took first place in the Best Breakthrough Developer category of the recent MTN Business App of the Year Awards.

Zulzi is already making an impact in a number of suburbs in the north of Johannesburg, and already has more than 9 000 active registered users.  Thhe company has delivered over 15 000 orders since launch in 2016.

The app is very easy to use and offers users the ability to order products like alcohol, pharmaceuticals, food and groceries. One needs to enter their delivery address and the app will bring up a range of stores in the vicinity, from which orders can be made. Unlike many other delivery apps, the prices of the products shown on the app are usually in line with those at the physical store.

Once an order is placed, a personal shopper is assigned to collect and pay for the products, while the Zulzi user is able to monitor the order in real time.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download, but delivery charges range from R20 to R85. (This fee goes to the personal shopper, with Zulzi generating revenue from partnerships with the retailers.)

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Opera with news feed

With over 100 million users reading news through Opera and Opera mini, the company decided to develope its own artificial intelligence newsfeed. The feature is designed to learn what users read on a daily basis and then delivers video and articles based on their preferences. In addition to delivering news, the app helps users with their online shopping, delivering relevant search results and making mobile payments.

Platform: Android, iOS and desktop computers.

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit www.opera.com

 

Pet First Aid – Red Cross

When your dog or cat suddenly becomes ill, it isn’t alway possible to rush it off to the vet. However, thanks to the Pet First Aid – Red Cross app, pet owners have some veterinary advice to help their dogs or cats out until they can be taken to a professional.

The app features a variety of how-to videos for advice ranging from helping a choking animal to treating ticks and viruses. It also offers help on how to administer medication and identifying toxic substances. Using geolocation, it shows the closest vet and its operating hours.

When your pet is not sick, Pet First Aid offers quizzes on what to do in case of an emergency, teaching one not to panic and how to react efficiently and effectively.

Even though Pet First Aid is a great app for helping pets at home, it is still advisable to take them to the vet should they get sick.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Datally

The Datally app by Google helps solve one of the biggest pain points for smartphone users around the world. Google research found that many smartphone users worry about running out of data. This is an especially acute problem for the newest generation to come online. Not only are these smartphone users constantly thinking about data balances, but they do not understand where their data is going, nor do they feel they can control allocating data to the apps they really need.

Datally empowers users to solve these problems with four key features:

Data Saver. Apps frequently use data in the background for updating content and information. Datally’s Data Saver feature lets users control data on an app-by-app basis, so that data only goes to apps they need.

Data Saver bubble. Once Data Saver is turned on, Datally’s Data Saver bubble will appear when a user goes into an app. Whenever that app uses data, the Data Saver bubble will show the current rate of data usage, and users can easily choose to block that app’s data use if things start to get out of control. The Data Saver bubble is like a speedometer for mobile data.

Personalised alerts. Datally alerts users when apps start consuming a lot of data, and it allows them to see how much data they’ve used on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

Wi-Fi finder. There are times when users want to use more data than they have on their mobile plans, such as when they want to watch HD videos. Public Wi-Fi is an important access point for high-bandwidth connectivity, so Datally’s Find Wi-Fi feature reveals the networks nearby, rated by the Datally community. Once connected, users can rate the Wi-Fi networks based on their own experience.

Platform: Android devices running Android 5.0 (Lollipop) and higher.

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the Google Play Store

 

Freeletics

Freeletics is a training app that combines full-body routines and exercises with running for a complete fat-shredding workout. The app is fast, efficient, effective, and it keeps you fit in under 20 minutes a day. It is designed for professional athletes or those merely looking to lose weight and tone up.

Whether you prefer to train outdoors, in your kitchen, at the gym or in your office, Freeletics will take you through every step. The app uses a virtual coach to assess your fitness level. It then combines the results with your age, weight and workout goals to customise an exercise plan. You’ll then have access to the online community of “Free Athletes”— to share tips, get advice and even compete with each another.

You can workout anytime, anywhere with little to no equipment. All workouts are designed to last between 5 and 30 minutes and you have more than 1000 training variations to choose from.cleardot.gif

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download.

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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VoD cuts the cord in SA

Some 20% of South Africans who sign up for a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service such as Netflix or Showmax do so with the intention of cancelling their pay television subscription.

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That’s according to GfK’s international ViewScape survey*, which this year covers Africa (South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria) for the first time.

The study—which surveyed 1,250 people representative of urban South African adults with Internet access—shows that 90% of the country’s online adults today use at least one online video service and that just over half are paying to view digital online content. The average user spends around 7 hours and two minutes a day consuming video content, with broadcast television accounting for just 42% of the time South Africans spend in front of a screen.

Consumers in South Africa spend nearly as much of their daily viewing time – 39% of the total – watching free digital video sources such as YouTube and Facebook as they do on linear television. People aged 18 to 24 years spend more than eight hours a day watching video content as they tend to spend more time with free digital video than people above their age.

Says Benjamin Ballensiefen, managing director for Sub Sahara Africa at GfK: “The media industry is experiencing a revolution as digital platforms transform viewers’ video consumption behaviour. The GfK ViewScape study is one of the first to not only examine broadcast television consumption in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, but also to quantify how linear and online forms of content distribution fit together in the dynamic world of video consumption.”

The study finds that just over a third of South African adults are using streaming video on demand (SVOD) services, with only 16% of SVOD users subscribing to multiple services. Around 23% use per-pay-view platforms such as DSTV Box Office, while about 10% download pirated content from the Internet. Around 82% still sometimes watch content on disc-based media.

“Linear and non-linear television both play significant roles in South Africa’s video landscape, though disruption from digital players poses a growing threat to the incumbents,” says Molemo Moahloli, general manager for media research & regional business development at GfK Sub Sahara Africa. “Among most demographics, usage of paid online content is incremental to consumption of linear television, but there are signs that younger consumers are beginning to substitute SVOD for pay-television subscriptions.”

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New data rules raise business trust challenges

When the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on May 25th, financial services firms will face a new potential threat to their on-going challenges with building strong customer relationships, writes DARREL ORSMOND, Financial Services Industry Head at SAP Africa.

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The regulation – dubbed GDPR for short – is aimed at giving European citizens control back over their personal data. Any firm that creates, stores, manages or transfers personal information of an EU citizen can be held liable under the new regulation. Non-compliance is not an option: the fines are steep, with a maximum penalty of €20-million – or nearly R300-million – for transgressors.

GDPR marks a step toward improved individual rights over large corporates and states that prevents the latter from using and abusing personal information at their discretion. Considering the prevailing trust deficit – one global EY survey found that 60% of global consumers worry about hacking of bank accounts or bank cards, and 58% worry about the amount of personal and private data organisations have about them – the new regulation comes at an opportune time. But it is almost certain to cause disruption to normal business practices when implemented, and therein lies both a threat and an opportunity.

The fundamentals of trust

GDPR is set to tamper with two fundamental factors that can have a detrimental effect on the implicit trust between financial services providers and their customers: firstly, customers will suddenly be challenged to validate that what they thought companies were already doing – storing and managing their personal data in a manner that is respectful of their privacy – is actually happening. Secondly, the outbreak of stories relating to companies mistreating customer data or exposing customers due to security breaches will increase the chances that customers now seek tangible reassurance from their providers that their data is stored correctly.

The recent news of Facebook’s indiscriminate sharing of 50 million of its members’ personal data to an outside firm has not only led to public outcry but could cost the company $2-trillion in fines should the Federal Trade Commission choose to pursue the matter to its fullest extent. The matter of trust also extends beyond personal data: in EY’s 2016 Global Consumer Banking Survey, less than a third of respondents had complete trust that their banks were being transparent about fees and charges.

This is forcing companies to reconsider their role in building and maintaining trust with its customers. In any customer relationship, much is done based on implicit trust. A personal banking customer will enjoy a measure of familiarity that often provides them with some latitude – for example when applying for access to a new service or an overdraft facility – that can save them a lot of time and energy. Under GDPR and South Africa’s POPI act, this process is drastically complicated: banks may now be obliged to obtain permission to share customer data between different business units (for example because they are part of different legal entities and have not expressly received permission). A customer may now allow banks to use their personal data in risk scoring models, but prevent them from determining whether they qualify for private banking services.

What used to happen naturally within standard banking processes may be suddenly constrained by regulation, directly affecting the bank’s relationship with its customers, as well as its ability to upsell to existing customers.

The risk of compliance

Are we moving to an overly bureaucratic world where even the simplest action is subject to a string of onerous processes? Compliance officers are already embedded within every function in a typical financial services institution, as well as at management level. Often the reporting of risk processes sits outside formal line functions and end up going straight to the board. This can have a stifling effect on innovation, with potentially negative consequences for customer service.

A typical banking environment is already creaking under the weight of close to 100 acts, which makes it difficult to take the calculated risks needed to develop and launch innovative new banking products. Entire new industries could now emerge, focusing purely on the matter of compliance and associated litigation. GDPR already requires the services of Data Protection Officers, but the growing complexity of regulatory compliance could add a swathe of new job functions and disciplines. None of this points to the type of innovation that the modern titans of business are renowned for.

A three-step plan of action

So how must banks and other financial services firms respond? I would argue there are three main elements to successfully navigating the immediate impact of the new regulations:

Firstly, ensuring that the technologies you use to secure, manage and store personal data is sufficiently robust. Modern financial services providers have a wealth of customer data at their disposal, including unstructured data from non-traditional sources such as social media. The tools they use to process and safeguard this data needs to be able to withstand the threats posed by potential data breaches and malicious attacks.

Secondly, rethinking the core organisational processes governing their interactions with customers. This includes the internal measures for setting terms and conditions, how customers are informed of their intention to use their data, and how risk is assessed. A customer applying for medical insurance will disclose deeply personal information about themselves to the insurance provider: it is imperative the insurer provides reassurance that the customer’s data will be treated respectfully and with discretion and with their express permission.

Thirdly, financial services firms need to define a core set of principles for how they treat customers and what constitutes fair treatment. This should be an extension of a broader organisational focus on treating customers fairly, and can go some way to repairing the trust deficit between the financial services industry and the customers they serve.

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