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AppDate: Opera enhances online privacy

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In this week’s AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights Opera VPN for Android, Marvel Contest of Champions, Disk Drill 3, Wayde’s World website, and Pick ’n Pay’s Super Animals.

Opera VPN for Android

The Opera VPN (virtual private network) for Android lets users enhance their online privacy, block ad-tracking cookies, access more online content, extend the geographical reach of apps and test the security of Wi-Fi networks before they connect to them. Users don’t need to register to use the app, nor do they have to sign up for any subscriptions. All they need to do is download and install the app. The Android version of the Opera VPN app follows the iOS version that rolled out globally in May.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Marvel Contest of Champions

Superb graphics, great sound and ease of use are all ingredients that make the Marvel Champions app one of the best fighting games available. The game offers players the ability to fight others head to head, start quests or enter into story mode where they will be able to upgrade their champions. At the beginning of the game one is given two characters and, as they progress, more are added.

Platform: iOS and Android

Expect to pay: Free to play, but endless in-app purchases are available.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Disk Drill 3

Corrupt files, missing partitions or accidentally deleted documents are issues most computer users have faced at some point. There are numerous applications that claim to be able to remedy these problems, but many only do half. Disk Drill for Mac, however, easily helps out with all of these problems. A user simply installs the software, selects the partition or file that needs to be recovered, and selects the rebuild or recover option. The application is able to recover over 200 file formats and also includes an option to recover files from an Android device.

Platform: iOS

Expect to pay: The free version offers very limited recovery options, while the Pro version, which costs R1300, will recover most lost files and partitions.

Stockists: www.cleverfiles.com

 

Wayde’s World website

The Wayde’s World website, sponsored by T-Systems, is a live biography website that documents every aspect of South Africa’s Olympic 400m gold medalist Wayde van Niekerk’s life, from details of his athletics career, such as training times, obstacles and achievements, to his personal life. The site, fully connected to social media platforms, takes the viewer with Wayde on his travels and provides glimpses into what makes the star athlete tick.

Platform: Any up-to-date web browser

Expect to pay: Free to use.

Stockists: www.waydesworldsa.co.za

 

Pick ’n Pay’s Super Animals

Super Animals comprises a collection of 108 cards, each depicting interesting facts about an animal. For every R150 spent at any Pick n Pay, a shopper gets a pack of four collectible cards. The cards are divided into nine categories – fastest, toughest, deadliest, smartest, fiercest, weirdest, sneakiest, loudest and showiest – and can be stored in a glossy collector’s album. In addition to luring parents into spending more money at Pick ’n Pay stores to collect the cards, an app has been made available that lets children scan the individual barcodes of each card. Once scanned, the app uses augmented reality to bring the Super Card to life. A virtual album is also included, where the scanned cards are stored and achievements unlocked.

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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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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