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AppDate: Windows 10 devices get more social

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In this AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights Facebook, Messenger and Instagram for Windows 10, Soundcloud Go for South Africa, Anti-Ad from Kaspersky Lab, Friendbase virtual chat and JustWatch streaming search engine.

Facebook, Messenger and Instagram for Windows 10

The new Facebook, Messenger and Instagram apps for Windows 10 devices are designed to take advantage of the operating system’s Live Tiles. This means, that once a user pins an app to the Home screen, updates and news feeds are immediately available without having to open each app individually. In addition, the Instagram app now offers direct messaging, an updated search and explore function, and easy account switching.

Platform: Windows 10 phones and tablets

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the Windows Store from a Windows 10 device.

 

Soundcloud Go in South Africa

As with many video and music on demand services, a lot of the content is not available in South Africa due to licensing issues – the latest being Soundcloud Go. The service offers an expanded musical catalogue due to licensing deals with Warner, Universal and Sony, as well as tracks from 20,000 independent labels – many of which are not available in South Africa. However, virtual private network provider (VPN) NordVPN now allows South Africans to access the songs by installing the VPN before signing up for the Soundcloud Go service. Incidentally, NordVPN also allows South Africans to access the full Netflix range of movies and series by performing a similar setup.

Platform: Most smartphones and tablets as well as desktop and laptops.

Expect to pay: NordVPN is a free download, but subscribing to Soundcloud Go will cost around R150 per month.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device to download NordVPN and then sign up for Soundcloud Go.

 

Anti-Ad from Kaspersky Lab

Anti-Ad from Kaspersky Lab is a free extension for iPhone users for Safari. It automatically blocks the advertising banners, links and popup windows that infuriate most users . The extension can be customised to allow certain adverts to display and, if need be, the extension can be completely disabled should one want to see the entire page.

Platform: Most iOS device running iOS 9 and above.

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the App Store for downloading instructions.

 

Friendbase virtual chat

Friendbase virtual chat allows one to connect with friends and family around the world. Nothing new there, but it does make chatting a little more interesting as it allows users to customise their chat room’s look and feel. One can also add pets, and challenge friends to multiplayer games like tennis. The chat room can be navigated, meaning once an avatar has been chosen, it can be directed around the room.

Platform: Android, iOS and Facebook play.

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

JustWatch streaming search engine

With all the VoD services currently available and new ones being added every day, it starts to become a little difficult to find certain shows. JustWatch makes things a little easier as it allows one to search across multiple VoD providers from a single search bar. JustWatch is able to search Netflix, Showmax, BoxOffice, iTunes and Mubi – with other providers like Google Play being added shortly.

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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Load-shedding leads
local searches

South Africans are searching in the dark, according to the latest Google Search trends.

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With more 1 million search queries generated in the space of 76 hours, load-shedding was by far the top trending search on Google South Africa this week.

Valentine’s Day came a distant second.

After news emerged last Sunday of the impending stage 3 load shedding, South Africans had generated more than 1-million load-shedding search queries by the time Tuesday came around:

  • “Loadshedding schedule” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding schedule” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Eskom load shedding” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding Cape Town” – generated more than 50k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding schedule” – generated more than 400k on Monday
  • “Load shedding Johannesburg” – generated more than 20k searches on Monday
  • Load shedding schedule” generated more than 200k search queries on Tuesday

Leading up to Valentine’s Day, South Africans generated close to 300k search queries related to the romantic festival, including searches for quotes and gift ideas:

  • “Valentines Day” generated more than 100k search queries on Thursday
  • “Happy Valentines Day Images” and “Valentines Day Images” generated more than 10k search queries each on Thursday, with “Happy Valentines Day 2019” generating more than 20k search queries on Wednesday
  • “Valentines Day Specials 2019” generated more than 5k search queries on Thursday
  • “Love quotes” generated more than 5k search queries on Thursday
  • “Valentines Day quotes” generated more than 100k search queries and “Valentine messages” generated more than 50 000 search queries on Wednesday

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40

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Showmax invites
student films

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Thanks to the growing popularity of video-on-demand services, there’s a new opportunity to help kickstart the careers of local filmmakers.

Numerous Hollywood blockbusters (District 9Tomb Raider 2018, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron to name a few) have featured substantial shoots in Johannesburg and Cape Town. While providing great opportunities for SA’s production talent, aspiring writers and directors don’t get the same benefit.

So where can local creatives showcase their work? Broadcast TV isn’t a natural home for unknown short films, and while self-publishing platforms are readily available hosting options, it’s tough to get noticed and get traffic when competing with videos from across the planet.

But with the emergence of video-on-demand services into the mainstream, there’s now a solution. The African film school AFDA has teamed up with the streaming service Showmax to give local talent a much larger platform than ever before. From 18 February, eighteen of the best recent short films made by AFDA students from their Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth campuses will be live on Showmax. Drama, documentary, fantasy, and animation are all represented, in pieces running from under eight minutes to almost half-an-hour long. The full list of movies is included below.

Teresa Passchier, CEO of AFDA, said: “AFDA, Africa’s number-one school for the Creative Economy, is proud to kickstart this exciting and meaningful journey with Showmax and AFDA students, ensuring emerging young African filmmakers’ voices are heard and given a platform. It’s ground-breaking to share young, local, culturally relevant content on the same platform as Hollywood blockbusters. I am certain that this unique initiative will serve to boost and develop the African film industry and the careers of many young South African and African students alike.”

Included in the short films coming to Showmax are the award winners Junior and O-PunchaJunior, directed by Bert Dijkstra, picked up the Audience Award in the Made in South Africa Competition at the shnit Worldwide Shortfilmfestival Awards 2017. O-Puncha, directed by Adam Hansen, won two awards at the 5th annual Eldorado Film Festival: Best Student Made Short, and Best Editing – Alexander La Cock.

Another celebrated film is Sicela Amanzi directed by Mlu Godola, which talks to the subject of water shortage. The film’s heroine Zoleka is a mild-mannered young woman forced to go to extreme lengths when a small community’s only source of water unexpectedly collapses. The power of films like this is they shine a light on critical topical issues in new ways.

Speaking about working with the film school, Candice Fangueiro, Head of Content for Showmax, said: “There’s immense depth of filmmaking talent in Africa and it’s a privilege to be able to give that talent a home and a platform. Showmax is becoming part of the fabric of film and TV production in Africa, and importantly we’re doing this as a partner rather than just as a consumer. This is a key competitive advantage of being local and something we aim to continue to work on.”

AFDA is an Academy Award-winning institution, founded in 1994, and the first and only African film school to win an Oscar – for the Best Foreign Student film in 2006, the postgraduate film Elalini, directed by Tristan Holmes.

The full list of AFDA short films coming to Showmax is as follows:

Film titleDirectorGenre
Lullaby from the CryptKeenan Lott & Raven DavidsAnimation
Ko Ga CherenyaneSibonokuhle MyatazaDocumentary
IzilwaneKyllian RouxDrama
MallemeuleJaco Van BoschDrama
Canal StreetBrodie MuirheadDrama
On the FenceWarrick BewsDrama
The Righteous FewLindo LangaDrama
Hlogoma PeakLuke AhrensDrama
Frozen FlameCameron HeathmanAnimation
WolfBrett van DortFantasy
The Walk HomeSisanda DyantyiDrama
BearWesley RoodtDrama
JuniorBert DijkstraDrama
O-PunchaAdam HansenDrama
UmngenoSiphosethu NdungeDrama
DoreenLuvuyo Equiano NyawoseDrama
ForeverLindo LangaMusical
Sicela AmanziMlu GodolaDrama

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