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AppDate: Renew license easily via app

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In his latest AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights FNB’s newest mobile app, DStv Now for Compact and Extra customers, Child Friendly SA, Opera 3.0 Max, BBM News for SA and CarZar’s updated website.

FNB updated website

FNB’s latest banking app update allows users to view and pay for traffic fines and renew car licenses. For a fee, the licence is delivered by courier, and saves standing in lines and dealing with bureaucrats. It also features Augmented Reality and FNB TV. The augmented reality technology is designed to help customers find nearby eBucks retail partners, and the FNB TV service helps customers navigate banking easily with video clips that take them through the process step-by-step. The app also offer the ability to temporarily block, unblock, cancel and order any cheque, credit or debit card.

Platform: Android and Apple iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

 

DStv Now for Compact and Extra customers

DStv Now previousl allowed DStv customers of premium services to  watch streaming Live TV and access the Catch Up channel on mobile devices. These features are now available on lower-cost DStv Compact and Extra accounts at no extra cost.

By downloading the mobile app, or logging on via a desktop browser, one gets to watch Live TV, see the full DStv TV Guide, enjoy DStv Catch Up content (via streaming or download) and manage accounts.

The Live TV and DStv Catch Up content on DStv Now will be based on the package to which the user is subscribed.

Platform: Android, Apple iOS and any device with a supporting Internet browser.

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device or log on at www.now.dstv.com

 

Child Friendly SA

The Child Friendly SA app offers a easy solution to help parents-on-the-go to make more of their own day and their kids’ lives. More than 10 000 listings of child-friendly activities, services and shops are readily accessible from a smartphone. The app offers a wealth of ideas and valuable shortcuts to enriching family lives and to manage them more efficiently. Information is presented in more than 200 categories and sub-categories, covering the needs of kids from birth to the end of the high school years.

Platform: Android and Apple iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Opera 3.0 Max

Opera has rolled out its new 3.0 version of the Max app. This is a major update with a new design, optimised for easier use of the data savings and data management tools inside Opera Max. The new version also introduces an improvement to its data savings technology by adding support for Facebook savings.

Opera Max 3.0 acts like a user’s smart assistant to manage Android apps. It  starts off on a familiar feed that is customised to a user’s current data usage. It then shows “app by app” mobile and Wi-Fi data usage and also provides personalised advice on how best to reduce data usage. The tip cards on Opera Max’s new home feed will guide users through the most efficient ways to stretch their mobile data plan and help better manage their apps’ data consumption. Also, Opera Max will report on external security threat,s while providing data encryption when, for example, users are on public a Wi-Fi network.

Platform: Android

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the Google Play Store

 

BBM News now in South Africa

BBM News is a source for news from around the globe: breaking, world, local, technology, sports, entertainment, business, and more. Accessible from the BBM Discover menu, this new service provides a personalised experience that “learns” which news stories are important to a user.

BBM News also includes the ability to share news with friends and family — making it easier for consumers to pass along interesting articles, and for content providers to take advantage of “dark social sharing,” which appears to be more effective than social advertising.

Platform: Mobile devices running the BBM messenger service

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Download BBM News through the Discover menu in BBM messenger.

 

Updated CarZar website

CarZar has a new website which will deliver a faster and easier experience when selling secondhand cars. Sellers enter their car’s details on the  CarZar.co.za website, after which CarZar’s algorithm will instantly generate an estimate for the vehicle’s selling price. If the seller is happy with the estimated value, they can book a free inspection with one of CarZar’s trained car inspectors. Within 20 minutes, the inspector will make a final offer to the seller. CarZar then makes an instant payment and takes care of all the paperwork. In all, the process takes only 30 minutes.

Platform: Any device with an Internet browser

Expect to pay: A free service.

Stockists: www.carzar.co.za

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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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