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AppDate: Yet another video-on-demand app

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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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Smart home arrives in SA

The smart home is no longer a distant vision confined to advanced economies, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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The smart home is a wonderful vision for controlling every aspect of one’s living environment via remote control, apps and sensors. But, because it is both complex and expensive, there has been little appetite for it in South Africa.

The two main routes for smart home installation are both fraught with peril – financial and technical.

The first is to call on a specialist installation company. Surprisingly, there are many in South Africa. Google “smart home” +”South Africa”, and thousands of results appear. The problem is that, because the industry is so new, few have built up solid track records and reputations. Costs vary wildly, few standards exist, and the cost of after-sales service will turn out to be more important than the upfront price.

The second route is to assemble the components of a smart home, and attempt self-installation. For the non-technical, this is often a non-starter. Not only does one need a fairly good knowledge of Wi-Fi configuration, but also a broad understanding of the Internet of Things (IoT) – the ability for devices to sense their environment, connect to each other, and share information.

The good news, though, is that it is getting easier and more cost effective all the time.

My first efforts in this direction started a few years ago with finding smart plugs on Amazon.com. These are power adaptors that turn regular sockets into “smart sockets” by adding Wi-Fi and an on-off switch, among other. A smart lightbulb was sourced from Gearbest in China. At the time, these were the cheapest and most basic elements for a starter smart home environment.

Via a smartphone app, the light could be switched on from the other side of the world. It sounds trivial and silly, but on such basic functions the future is slowly built.

Fast forward a year or two, and these components are available from hundreds of outlets, they have plummeted in cost, and the range of options is bewildering. That, of course, makes the quest even more bewildering. Who can be trusted for quality, fulfilment and after-sales support? Which products will be obsolete in the next year or two as technology advances even more rapidly?

These are some of the challenges that a leading South African technology distributor, Syntech, decided to address in adding smart home products to its portfolio. It selected LifeSmart, a global brand with proven expertise in both IoT and smart home products.

Equally significantly, LifeSmart combines IoT with artificial intelligence and machine learning, meaning that the devices “learn” the best ways of connecting, sharing and integrating new elements. Because they all fall under the same brand, they are designed to integrate with the LifeSmart app, which is available for Android and iOS phones, as well as Android TV.

Click here to read about how LifeSmart makes installing smart home devices easier.

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Matrics must prepare for AI

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students writing a test

By Vian Chinner, CEO and founder of Xineoh.

Many in the matric class of 2018 are currently weighing up their options for the future. With the country’s high unemployment rate casting a shadow on their opportunities, these future jobseekers have been encouraged to look into which skills are required by the market, tailoring their occupational training to align with demand and thereby improving their chances of finding a job, writes Vian Chinner – a South African innovator, data scientist and CEO of the machine learning company specialising in consumer behaviour prediction, Xineoh.

With rapid innovation and development in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), all careers – including high-demand professions like engineers, teachers and electricians – will look significantly different in the years to come.

Notably, the third wave of internet connectivity, whereby our physical world begins to merge with that of the internet, is upon us. This is evident in how widespread AI is being implemented across industries as well as in our homes with the use of automation solutions and bots like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. So much data is collected from the physical world every day and AI makes sense of it all.

Not only do new industries related to technology like AI open new career paths, such as those specialising in data science, but it will also modify those which already exist. 

So, what should matriculants be considering when deciding what route to take?

For highly academic individuals, who are exceptionally strong in mathematics, data science is definitely the way to go. There is, and will continue to be, massive demand internationally as well as locally, with Element-AI noting that there are only between 0 and 100 data scientists in South Africa, with the true number being closer to 0.

In terms of getting a foot in the door to become a successful data scientist, practical experience, working with an AI-focused business, is essential. Students should consider getting an internship while they are studying or going straight into an internship, learning on the job and taking specialist online courses from institutions like Stanford University and MIT as they go.

This career path is, however, limited to the highly academic and mathematically gifted, but the technology is inevitably going to overlap with all other professions and so, those who are looking to begin their careers should take note of which skills will be in demand in future, versus which will be made redundant by AI.

In the next few years, technicians who are able to install and maintain new technology will be highly sought after. On the other hand, many entry level jobs will likely be taken care of by AI – from the slicing and dicing currently done by assistant chefs, to the laying of bricks by labourers in the building sector.

As a rule, students should be looking at the skills required for the job one step up from an entry level position and working towards developing these. Those training to be journalists, for instance, should work towards the skill level of an editor and a bookkeeping trainee, the role of financial consultant.

This also means that new workforce entrants should be prepared to walk into a more demanding role, with more responsibility, than perhaps previously anticipated and that the country’s education and training system should adapt to the shift in required skills.

The matric classes of 2018 have completed their schooling in the information age and we should be equipping them, and future generations, for the future market – AI is central to this.

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