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AppDate: Standard Bank ups the banking app ante

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In this AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights the new Standard Bank app, Jongla messaging, TaxTim,  MiBlackBox personal assistant and the opening of the MTN Business SA App of the Year Awards.

Standard Bank smartphone app

The latest release to Standard Bank’s smartphone app enables customers to make international payments to individual recipients in almost 200 countries. It also now offers the ability for customers to adjust their daily and monthly ATM limits, as well as request vehicle finance letters. Another significant update is the built-in architectural changes necessary to roll out the app into various other regions in which the Standard Bank Group operates. Standard bank customers can also stop their cards if they get lost and can open up new saving or investment accounts.

Platform: Android, iOS and Windows Phone

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Jongla messaging

Jongla is similar to WhatsApp and other IM apps in a number of ways – most importantly, users sign up using their existing mobile numbers and the messaging app can be used across most major platforms. Jongla differs from other apps in that it has been specifically developed for people living and working in Africa – and other emerging markets where data costs are high and coverage is unreliable. The app uses only 3.4MB to download on Android phones compared to WhatsApp (23.7MB) or Facebook Messenger (30.2MB). Once downloaded, Jongla uses just 10% of the handset’s memory and its data compression techniques mean it does not consume as much mobile data as other messaging apps.

Platform: iOS, Android, Windows Phone and most modern Internet browsers

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

TaxTim

TaxTim is an interactive tax return assistant that is designed to help individual taxpayers with their tax returns. It is well laid out, making it user-friendly. It is fully integrated into SARS eFiling, meaning that, once authorised, the app can import the user’s IRP5 data for easy completion and submit the completed return directly to SARS. TaxTim has three tax return options, Lite, Smart and Ultra, to accommodate most earners, from those with a basic salary, to freelancers, commission earners, independent contractors and sole proprietors.

Platform: Any device with an up-to-date Internet browser.

Expect to pay: A free service.

Stockists: Visit www.taxtim.com

 

MiBlackBox personal assistant

MiBlackBox is a personal, virtual witness service that allows one to better communicate with loved ones or emergency services in times of need. The app lets users record calls, pictures and videos at the push of a button, subsequently relaying that information and encrypting it to a secured remote server, while also notifying an elected emergency contact or emergency services directly. MiBlackBox can also be used in cases of bullying, domestic violence, date rape, corruption or fraud, traffic officer and police interactions, road block scenarios, and even in accidents for insurance purposes. It also offers alternate methods to access the secured information, all of which is encrypted, time- and date-stamped.

Platform: Android, iOS or an up-to-date Internet browser

Expect to pay: R12 per month

Stockists: Visit www.miblackbox.co.za

 

MTN Business SA App of the Year Awards 2016

Entries for the MTN Business SA App of the Year Awards 2016 are now open. The App of the Year Awards is a springboard for creative developers and their solutions. Previous winners of the awards have gone on to launch their apps internationally, many of which have been acquired by corporates. Previous winners and category winners include SnapScan, Wumdrop, FNB Banking, Money4Jam, Zapper, Vula Mobile, and PriceCheck.

Visit www.appoftheyear.co.za for more information.

* Sean Bacher is editor of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @SeanBacher

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How we use phones to avoid human contact

A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.

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Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances. 

Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?

The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.

In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.

Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.

Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”

To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:

·         I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?

With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.

·         Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?

Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.

·         I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?

Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.

 

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Five key biometric facts

Due to their uniqueness, fingerprints are being used more and more to quickly identify and ensure the security of customers. CLAUDE LANGLEY, Regional Sales Manager, for Africa at HID Global Biometrics, outlines five facts about the technology.

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How many times in a day are you expected to identify yourself? From when you arrive at work you are required to sign in, visiting your bank, receiving healthcare services… The list is endless. When a system knows who you are, you are able to do any number common, everyday activities. Your identity is unique and precious. It is also easily stolen and the target of many hackers across the globe. Technology is constantly evolving alongside the criminal element, always looking for ways to protect data and identity. One such solution happens to be biometrics and it is rapidly gaining traction in our increasingly complex modern world.

Reliable, secure and fundamentally YOU, unique biometric traits such as fingerprints are being used by banks, enterprises and consumers to verify identity. Biometric solutions offer significant identity protection because they use unique biological details to ensure an account is only accessed by the account holder, a door only opened by the owner. Here are five things that are little known about this technology…

  • The uncut identity. Your fingerprint is unique to you. Nobody can use a copy of it to impersonate you. Good technology is capable of scanning down into the layers of the fingertip to differentiate unique elements of a person’s fingerprint, this data is then encrypted and used as a key to unlocking whichever physical or virtual door that the biometric system protects.
  • The living proof. No, there is nothing to the stories of fingerprints being used without their owner’s knowledge or permission. Biometric solutions can use specific variables to determine if the finger used to access the system is that of a present, living person.  A copy or a fake cannot be used to access a cutting-edge biometric solution.
  • Easy and convenient. Queues and documents and paperwork may well be a thing of the past should biometrics take a firmer grip of government and banking systems. The process of registering is easy, and access to identity documents and records is yours alone.
  • Security blanket. A thousand passwords and a hundred post-it notes stuck on walls and drawers.  An excel file with a list of sites and applications and their corresponding passwords, all a thing of the past.  Nobody needs to remember their password with biometrics, they only need to show up.
  • Anywhere is cool. Schools, airports, networks, offices, homes, toilets, banks, libraries, governments, border controls, immigration services, call centres, hospitals and even clubs and pubs – knowing “who” matters and biometrics can quickly and conveniently confirm your identity where needed.

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