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AppDate: Yet another video-on-demand app

In this AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights the new Sunday Times app, GauRider 2.0, C-flix, the BMW Museum App, Opera Mini with Video Boost, the REDISA Game, SAOTA’s 3D app, IFS Streams for Apple Watch, and SyncMate for Android.

C-flix joins VoD stream

The latest VoD (Video on Demand) player to enter the market is InterneTV with its C-flix app. Although the app is specifically designed for tablets and smartphones, it does offer a swipe option to view content on a smart TV. C-flix offers about 15 000 titles, many of them classics or older movies, but is in the process of adding later titles and apparently will soon be adding new releases before any other local VOD platform.

Platform: Android and iOS

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

Expect to pay: R62 per month.

Sunday Times app

The newly launched Sunday Times app is now easier to navigate, features a range of new features and includes functionality for faster downloads at reduced download speeds. The app now allows users to access rich content like videos, photos, galleries and even recipes. Subscribers also have an the option to download complete editions of The Times and Sunday Times in PDF format.

Platform: Android and iOS

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

Expect to pay: A free download, but is only accessible to Sunday Time subscribers.

GauRider 2.0

Apart from being able to view train departure and arrival times, GauRider 2.0 also allows users to view bus times. This version has been designed to make navigation easier and includes an option to log train rides according to departure and arrival points and train fares. The Smart Log System enables commuters to log their current gold card amounts and view if they have enough money to pay for train rides.The Smart GauSave Indicator displays the on-peak and off-peak rates, helping commuters know how much money they need to load in order to reach their destination.

Platform: iOS

Stockists: Visit the Apple App Store for downloading instructions.

Expect to pay: R80

BMW Museum App

The BMW Museum App offers users the ability to plan their tour of the museum in Munich before heading off. Users can preview highlights from the history of BMW and its products before they make their trip, while interactive technology allows them to engage more intensively with the exhibits during the visit itself. The app provides in-depth explanatory descriptions of the individual departments and exhibits and the audio and text commentaries are offered in seven different languages.

Platform: Android and iOS

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

Expect to pay: A free download.

Opera Mini with Video Boost

Android users will see less of the video-buffering wheel when watching videos through the latest Opera Mini Browser thanks to its Video Boost feature. It reduces the size of video data to lessen video loading time, which also results in less data being used. To start boosting video, users simply need to navigate to the “O” menu and tap the savings summary to change to high-savings mode. They then need to tick the box beside video boost to switch on smoother viewing. The video boost feature also shows a count where users can keep track of how many videos have been optimised.

Platform: Android

Stockists: Visit the Google Play Store for downloading instructions.

Expect to pay: A free download.

REDISA Game

The REDISA Game is developed by the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa and is designed to educate gamers on the value of waste. It is set in Jozyville, a fictional city that has become a polluted wasteland. The player’s objective is to declare war against pollution and clean up Jozyville, while making as much money as possible. Tools at the gamers’ disposal are a waste-cart and their entrepreneurial wits to make money from trash.

Platform: Windows, Android and iOS

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

Expect to pay: A free download.

SAOTA 3D app

SAOTA, a firm of architectural designers and technologists, has released an app that allows users to view their architectural designs in 3D with the use of the Google Cardboard Viewer. The app simply needs to be downloaded and a building selected to view through the Cardboard. Once selected, viewers can roam around the SAOTA masterpiece as if they were there in real life.

Platform: Android and iOS

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

Expect to pay: A free download.

IFS Streams for Apple Watch

IFS Streams is an app that will only work within an IFS ERP implementation and lets users receive real-time updates and insight into the status of relevant company information and processes. The tool actively alerts users when changes happen in business objects, workflow tasks, IFS Talk conversations, and business events that relate to the employee’s work.

Platform: Apple Watch

Stockists: Visit the Apple App Store for downloading instructions.

Expect to pay: A free download.

SyncMate for Android

SyncMate allows for the synchronisation of data on between an Apple Mac and an Android device. The free edition offers the ability to sync only contacts and calendars, while the expert edition will also include images, videos, folders and music. The expert edition also lets one mount an Android device as a disk on an Apple Mac – letting the user browse and organise files much like any other disk.

Platform: Android

Stockists: Visit the Google Play Store for downloading instructions.

Expect to pay: R600

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

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3D printed room-service? Visit the hotel of tomorrow

To mark its 100th birthday, Hilton predicts the trends that will change travel and hospitality in the next 100 years.

Intergalactic getaways, fast-food nutrient pills, 2-3 hour working days and adaptable, personalised rooms that can transport guests everywhere from jungles to mountain ranges. These are some of the predictions for the next 100 years that the Hilton hotel group has put together in celebration of its 100th anniversary.

In a report supported by expert insight from the fields of sustainability, innovation, design, human relations and nutrition, findings reveal the impact of the growing sophistication of technology and climate change on the hotel industry in the future.

Key predictions for the hotel of the future include:

Personalisation is King

  • Technology will allow every space, fitting and furnishing to continuously update to respond to an individual’s real-time needs – the Lobby will conjure up anything from a tranquil spa to a buzzy bar, giving every guest the perfect, personal welcome
  • From temperature and lighting, to entertainment and beyond, microchips under the skin will enable us to wirelessly control the setting around us based on what we need, whenever we need it

The Human Touch

  • In a world filled with Artificial Intelligence, human contact and the personal touch will be more critical and sought after than ever
  • Technology will free up time for hotel staff to focus on what matters most: helping guests to connect with one another and building memorable moments

‘Sustainable Everything’ – The Role of Responsibility

  • Only businesses that are inherently responsible will survive the next century
  • Sustainability will be baked into everything about a hotel’s design – from weather-proofed domes, to buildings made from ocean-dredged plastic
  • Hotels will act as the Town Hall of any community, managing local resources and contributing to the areas they serve with community-tended insect farms and vertical hydroponic crop gardens

Menu Surprises and Personalisation

  • Our diets will include more plant-based recipes and some surprising sources of protein – Beetle Bolognese, Plankton Pies and Seaweed Green Velvet Cake will be menu staples!
  • Decadent 3D-printed dinners and room service will provide unrivalled plate personalisation
  • Chefs will be provided with biometric data for each guest, automatically creating meals based on preferences and nutritional requirements

Futuristic Fitness and Digital Detoxes

  • Outswim a virtual sea turtle in the pool, or challenge yourself to climb the digital face of Mount Everest, your exercise routine will be as unique as you are. What’s more, exercise energy generated from workouts will be used to power the hotel, providing a zero-impact, circular system. Guests could even earn rewards based on reaching workout targets
  • Pick up where you left off with trackable workouts and holographic personal trainers
  • Offline will be the new luxury as we seek to find moments of tech-free time

“Since its inception in 1919, Hilton has pioneered the hospitality industry, introducing first-to-market concepts such as air-conditioning and in-room televisions. Last year, Hilton also became the first hospitality company to set science-based targets to reduce its environmental impact,” said Simon Vincent, EVP & President, EMEA, Hilton. “We enter our second century with the same commitment to innovation, harnessing the power of our people and technology to respond to guest demands. Our research paints an exciting future for the hospitality industry, highlighting the growing importance of human interaction in an increasingly tech-centric world.”

Futurologist Gerd Leonhard said: “In 2119 we will still be searching for unique experiences, but they will be more personalised than ever. As technology shapes our lives we will seek out moments of offline connection with others, including hotel team members who will help us truly get what we need from our stays. 100 years from now hotels will have to create opportunities to converse, collaborate and connect, delivering moments that matter, individually, to each and every guest.”

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Gadget ed to chair Digital Council

Specialist financial services provider Sasfin Bank has established a Digital Advisory Council to provide the market with industry-leading expertise and insights on trends shaping the use of technology in financial services.

Digitalisation is one of the most powerful forces for change shaping Finance today. This has turned Fintech into one of the most vibrant sectors in both information technology and among start-ups, generating billions of dollars in investment and development globally. The South African fintech space is dynamic, and Sasfin is playing a leading role in the transformation of local financial services and the resulting enhancement of customer experiences.

“We have been investing in fintech development in-house and acquiring or integrating fintech start-ups,” says Sasfin CEO Michael Sassoon. “Over the last year we have built further digital offerings, integrated via APIs into leading businesses and invested in fintechs. We built and launched B\\YOND, an innovative digital business banking platform and SWIP, a digital wealth and investing platform. We have invested in Payabill, an online SME lender and DMA, a digital trading platform. We recently announced our alliance banking relationship, leveraging open banking, with Hello Paisa to offer seamless banking to the unbanked. We feel that there is a huge opportunity to improve the experience of South African businesses and savers through using technology. We have therefore created an independent forum to assess how to even better improve financial services for South Africans by leveraging the digital economy.”

Arthur Goldstuck, founder of high-tech research consultancy World Wide Worx, editor-in-chief of Gadget, and a globally respected technology analyst has accepted Sasfin’s invitation to head up the Sasfin Digital Advisory Council, an independent think tank that will help Sasfin and its clients decipher the fintech present and future.

“The Sasfin Digital Advisory Council is broader than providing only the bank with a source of insight on how digital services are evolving and lessons from across the world,” said CEO Michael Sassoon. “Sasfin has been involved in fintech investing for many years and we are leveraging this experience as well as the experience of independent experts such as Arthur to provide insights and guidance to interested stakeholders in this space.”

The team appointed to the Digital Advisory Council is being selected for the breadth and range of knowledge they would bring to the table, with further appointments to the Council being announced soon.  There will also be room for the Council to co-opt specialist expertise as it is required.

Goldstuck, who has been covering the fintech sector as an analyst, commentator and columnist for many years, says he sees the role as a welcome challenge.

“There has been a long-standing need for a clear understanding of the impact being made by fintech today, and the exponential change it will cause tomorrow,” said Goldstuck. “My role will be, partly, to curate the wide spectrum of fintech and digitalisation knowledge and insights that the members will bring to the Digital Advisory Council, and help create scenarios that businesses and policymakers may use to navigate the future – both inside and outside Sasfin.”

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