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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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Africa News

Smart grids needed for Africa’s utilities

Power utilities across Africa should rethink their business models and how they manage and monetise their assets to keep pace with the changing energy ecosystem, says COLIN BEANEY, Global Industry Director for Asset-intensive and Energy and Utilities at IFS.

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Africa’s abundant natural resources and urgent need for power mean that it is one of the most exciting and innovative energy markets in a world that is moving rapidly towards clean, renewable energy sources. The continent’s energy industry is taking new approaches to providing unserved and underserved communities with access to power, with an emphasis on smart technologies and greener energy sources.

Power systems are evolving from centralised, top-down systems as interest in off-grid technology grows among African businesses and consumers. And according to PwC, we will see installed power capacity rise from 2012’s 90GW to 380GW in 2040 in sub-Saharan Africa. Power utilities are needing to rethink their business models and how they manage and monetise their assets to keep pace with the changing energy ecosystem.

Energy and utilities providers are transforming from centralised supply companies to more distributed, bi-directional service providers. They can only achieve this through the evolution of “smart grids” where sensors and smart meters will be able to provide the consumer with a more granular level of detail of power usage. This shift from an energy supplier to “lifestyle provider” will require a much more dynamic and optimised approach to maintenance and field service.

African companies must thus embrace digital transformation as an imperative. This transformation begins by embracing enterprise asset management to improve asset utilisation. The subsequent steps are enhancing upstream and downstream supply chain management; resource optimisation; introducing enterprise operational intelligence; embracing new technologies such as the Internet of Things, machine learning, and predictive maintenance; and becoming a smart utility.

Embracing mobility to drive ROI

Getting it right is about putting in place an enterprise backbone that accommodates asset and project management, multinational languages and currencies, new energies and markets, visualisation of the entire value chain, and mobility apps. Mobile technologies that support the field workforce have a vital role to play in driving better ROI from utilities’ investments in enterprise asset management and enterprise resource planning solutions.

Today’s leading enterprise asset management solutions feature powerful functionality for mobile management of the complete workflow of work orders – from logging status changes and updates, from receiving and creating new orders to concluding the job and reporting time, material and expenses. Such solutions are easy to deploy and intuitive for end users to learn and use.

Importantly for organisations operating in parts of the continent with poor telecoms infrastructure, connectivity is not an issue. The solutions work offline and synchronises when network connectivity is available. Users can work on any device—laptops, tablets, and smartphones—commercial or ruggedised.

By ensuring that field technicians have easy access to information and processes, the mobile solution enables technicians and maintenance engineers to easily do the following tasks:

·         Create a new work order on the fly and log new opportunities

·         Access both historical and planned work information when requested

·         Permit customers to sign when the job is completed

·         Capture measurements and inspection notes on route work orders

·         Create new fault reports on routing

·         Facilitate documentation through photo capturing

·         Provide easy access to technical data and preventive actions.

The power of mobility allows the engineer to be the origin of all data capture on a service event. They can easily inquire on asset history, record parts used or parts needed for repair, record labour hours, and expenses as they occur, and any notes of repairs performed. When coupled with workforce management tools, such solutions unlock significant productivity gains for utilities who are trying to get the most from their workforce and assets.

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Brands fall for app vanity

The experience of a mobile screen full of icons, representing independent apps that your need to open to experience them, is making less sense. Instead, businesses should serve customers with an ‘app-like’ experience inside the digital platform they already use, says PIETER DE VILLIERS, Group CEO at Clickatell.

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Many brands remain obsessed with creating mobile apps. This not only defies trends that point to increasing consumer app apathy, but can exclude a sizeable portion  of your customers in emerging economies. Companies need to engage with their users where they are rather than forcing them onto an app, in what can only be described as brand vanity. 

In 2017 there were around 2.2 million apps available in the iOS app store and over 3 million on Google Play. And, while the number of apps being downloaded continues to rise, analysis shows that consumers are only using 30 apps per month and accessing just 9 on a day-to-day basis. 

While these numbers still seem attractively high, in reality the majority of the apps we use are for messaging (like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat) and our social networking, gaming, leisure, dating or utility activities. 

Despite the facts, the application strategy as the holy grail for digital transformation is still being pushed even within large progressive brands. What’s more, some advertising agencies and digital consultants are still pushing apps as the best means for companies to connect with their customers. This has resulted in some organisations stubbornly doubling down on app strategies which are simply not showing return on investment (ROI). 

It’s not immediately clear to us whether the fascination with apps is a roll-over from long overdue projects or whether brand owners equate a mobile-first strategy with a mobile app. Mobile-first in 2018 means customer first, and therefore embracing chat commerce in order to deliver services with convenience and simplicity in mind. 

Why apps won’t win the internet

The problem with apps goes beyond user fatigue. In the first instance, many apps are poorly designed, assuming technical sophistication which may not match reality for the average customer. Poor user interfaces and attempts to provide complex engagement can result in even the best ideas missing their targets due to lack of engagement. 

Secondly, we all know that economic realities drive consumer behaviour. In Africa, new mobile phone users typically opt for feature phones over smartphones. With a longer battery life and a much more accessible price point, feature phones still allow for a basic internet connection, chat platforms like WhatsApp, and call and message functionality. In these regions, the cost of an app – even if it’s free – goes far beyond installing it. Constant updates require reliable and cheap access to the internet. For the average phone owner in an emerging market, this can be a serious challenge. 

Thirdly, and most importantly, apps must be relevant to their intended market. Frequency of usage is a key measure of relevance. 

Apps which are used on a daily basis, like health and fitness trackers, enjoy constant engagement. New features which are added are eagerly awaited by users who are happy to update their apps. 

However, users may well question the relevance of the app if they are required to conduct updates on a monthly or even weekly basis when they are only making use of the app once or twice a year. 

On average, I download one app per quarter. Some I use more frequently than others, but all of these apps need to be regularly updated to maintain security, update features, and fix bugs. Many apps are pushing out updates much more frequently. I noticed over the past year that I could go from having all apps updated, to 32 apps requiring an update in five days.

When it comes to a customer-first digital strategy, companies should be asking themselves if an app is really the best way to reach their target audience. 

In fact, at the end of 2016, Gartner predicted that by 2019, 20 percent of brands would ditch their mobile app. What’s more, in its 2018 predictions, the company forecast that by 2021, more than 50 percent of corporations would spend more per annum on bots and chatbots than on mobile app development. 

So, we need to ask, what is the alternative for CIOs, CDOs, CMOs, and digital leaders who are looking for ways to reach, retain and grow their customer base? 

The logical app alternative 

The old battle advice goes: fight your enemy where they are not. Military strategists agreed that having your enemy come to you and fight you on your own terms was preferable. In a world where customers have access to thousands of offerings and millions of deals online, we need to flip that idea to Meet Your Customers Where They Are. 

Any marketeer will tell you just a how difficult it is to drive app downloads. Development, cross platform testing and user interface aside, the marketing campaign required to get customers to download the app can swallow entire annual budgets and still come up short. 

Looking at the facts, it makes infinitely more sense to work within the digital platforms already being used by your target audience. 

Clickatell is already enabling chat commerce for some of the leading global brands with its Touch solution. This allows organisations to serve their customers with an ‘app-like’ experience inside the chat or browser platform of their customer’s choice (Twitter, Facebook Messenger, etc.) 

Brands can now send an actionable Touch link such as ‘find the nearest ATM’ or ‘reset my password’ within a chat stream that will open an intuitive touch card without the user having to download an app to perform the action. Services can also be linked to the in-app experience for brands not looking to abandon their app efforts. 

Working with our clients, many of whom are global innovators and thought leaders, we’ve found that having the courage to design with an ‘end user first’ approach and dealing with the back-end complexity behind the scenes results in cost efficient customer delight and ROI. 

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