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AppDate: Bringing communities together

In his app roundup, SEAN BACHER highlights Grassroot, Saphila 2019, Zoi, Naked and Rise.




Image result for zoi app

Travelling to a foreign country for a conference or a holiday sounds very glamorous, but there is always that language barrier that makes communication rather difficult.

Zoi attempts to remove the language barrier by instantly translating what is being said to you and what you are saying to other people. It does this by “listening” to what is being said and showing subtitles on a phone’s screen. Similarly, subtitles are displayed in the other person’s language so he or she understands you.

The app is really easy to set up: simply set your language and the language of the country you are visiting. 

In addition to translation, the app is able to record all conversations – great for when conducting an interview – and will summarise all the text into voice, which cuts down on your reading time.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download, limited to 20 minutes of translation per day. R360 per month for unlimited translation plus the ability to store up to 120 recorded sessions.

Stockists: Visit Zoi for registration and downloading instructions.


Image result for naked insurance app

In the past it was up to you if you wanted to insure your car or not. Now, however, most dealerships make insurance part of the contract when buying a new car – especially when buying one on finance.

The problem is that many insurance companies tend to drag their heals when it comes to sorting out the paperwork which needs to be sent to the bank before you can take possession of the car.

Naked, an AI-driven insurance provider, says it takes all the pain out of getting a car insured by generating a proof of insurance in a matter of minutes. The company claims that a car can be insured in under 90 seconds should the client accept the quote.

The app does this by scanning the licence disc and validating the registration, VIN and other details against various databases to make sure it is legitimate. A PDF is then sent to the phone and can be printed out at the dealership or bank.

The app goes one step further: in the event of an accident the user can manage all the logistics through the app. The Naked CoverPause option allows one to pause their accident cover should the car not be used for a period of time.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit Naked’s website here for registration and a quotation


Image result for rise sleep app

Stress plays a huge role in everyone’s life and if not properly controlled can be disastrous to your health. Besides the medication available, there is one natural way to lower your stress levels: and that is sleep.

However, it is kind of a catch 22 situation – you can’t sleep because you are stressing out, and vice-versa.

Rise, a sleep management app, includes four techniques to help one sleep better:  mindfulness meditation, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation and acceptance and commitment therapy. Although there is no guarantee that these techniques will help you fall asleep, it will help some people. See reviews in the app stores to see how it has worked for a variety of people.

Rise also includes a sleep diary so you can see if the app is helping. If you find the app effective, download the full version, which unlocks around 120 addition sleep routines to help you get your full eight hours.

Platfrom: Android

Expect to pay: A free download, however the full version will cost R145

Stockists: Visit the Google Play Store here for downloading instructions.

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Small SA town goes smartphone-only

Vodacom partners with farming business to upgrade all residents of Wakkerstroom from 2G devices to smartphones



All residents of the small town of Wakkerstroom, which straddles Mpumalanga and kwaZulu-Natal provinces, have had their 2G feature phones upgraded to 3G devices.

The initiative is a result of Vodacom partnering with BPG Langfontein, a farming business that employs the majority of the people living in Wakkerstroom. It is now the first smartphone-only town in South Africa. This is a model the network provider says it hopes to replicate across the country as part of its mission to connect people who live in deep rural areas and are still dependent on 2G networks.

Wakkerstroom, is the second oldest town in Mpumalanga province, on the KwaZulu-Natal border, 27 km east of Volksrust and 56 km south-east of Amersfoort.  

“There are growing expectations for big corporates the size of Vodacom to serve a social purpose, and for us to use our resources and core capabilities to make a significant contribution in transforming the lives of ordinary people,” says Zakhele Jiyane, Managing Executive for Vodacom Mpumalanga. “We are helping to remove communication barriers, so that citizens in the area can be part of the digital revolution and reap the associated benefits. By moving the more than 1400 farm workers from 2G to 3G devices, this will also free much needed spectrum and this spectrum can be re-farmed to provide for faster networks such as 3G and 4G.

“Crucially, the move opens a new world of connectivity for farm workers in Wakkerstroom. As a result, most people in the area will now be able to use the Vodacom network to connect on the net and access online government services, eHealth services such as Mum&Baby and eCommerce. Learners can now surf the internet for the first time and access Vodacom’s eSchool free of charge and those who are actively looking for jobs can start using their smartphones and tablets to apply for jobs over the internet on Vodacom’s zero-rated career sites. This will be key for driving growth to the benefit of people living in this area.”

Vodacom has already deployed 4G base stations in Wakkestroom as part of this initiative.

For the next phase of this project, says Vodacom, it is going to educate the farm workers about data and the benefits of the Internet. Vodacom will also look at various ways in which it can help empower members of this community in areas of education, gender-based violence and health.

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Facebook fact-checking goes to 10 more African countries



Facebook today announced the expansion of its Third-Party Fact-Checking programme to 10 additional African countries, which now join  Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Cameroon and Senegal in the project,

In partnership with Agence France-Presse (AFP), the France 24 Observers, Pesa Check and Dubawa, this programme forms part of its work in helping assess the accuracy and quality of news people find on Facebook, whilst reducing the spread of misinformation on its platform.

Working with a network of fact-checking organizations, certified by the non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network, third-party fact-checking will now be available in Ethiopia, Zambia, Somalia and Burkina Faso through AFP, Uganda and Tanzania through both Pesa Check and AFP, Democratic Republic of Congo and Cote d’Ivoire through the France 24 Observers and AFP, Guinea Conakry through the France 24 Observers, and Ghana through Dubawa.

Feedback from the Facebook community is one of many signals Facebook uses to raise potentially false stories to fact-checkers for review. Local articles will be fact-checked alongside the verification of photos and videos. If one of our fact-checking partners identifies a story as false, Facebook will show it lower in News Feed, significantly reducing its distribution.

Kojo Boakye, Facebook Head of Public Policy, Africa, said: “The expansion of third-party fact-checking to now cover 15 countries in a little over a year shows firsthand our commitment and dedication to the continent, alongside our recent local language expansion as part of this programme. Taking steps to help tackle false news on Facebook is a responsibility we take seriously, we know misinformation is a problem, and these are important steps in continuing to address this issue. We know that third-party fact-checking alone is not the solution, it is one of many initiatives and programmes we are investing in to help to improve the quality of information people see on Facebook. While we’ve made great progress, we will keep investing to ensure Facebook remains a place for all ideas, but not for the spread of false news.”

When third-party fact-checkers fact-check a news story, Facebook will show these in Related Articles immediately below the story in News Feed. Page Admins and people on Facebook will also receive notifications if they try to share a story or have shared one in the past that’s been determined to be false, empowering people to decide for themselves what to read, trust, and share.

Providing fact-checking in English and French across eight countries, Phil Chetwynd, AFP Global News Director said: “AFP is delighted to be expanding its fact-checking project with Facebook. We are known for the high quality of our journalism from across Africa and we will be leveraging our unparalleled network of bureaus and journalists on the continent to combat misinformation.”

Eric Mugendi, Managing Editor from Pesa Check who will provide fact-checking services in Swahili and English added: “Social networks like Facebook haven’t just changed how Africans consume the news. Social media is often the primary access to digital content or the ‘Internet’ for many Africans. They shape our perceptions of the world, our public discourse, and how we interact with public figures. This project helps us dramatically expand our fact-checking to debunk claims that could otherwise cause real-world harm. The project helps us respond more quickly and directly. We’re seeing real positive results in our interactions with both publishers and the public itself. The project also helps our fact-checks reach a far larger audience than we would otherwise. This has helped us better understand the information vacuum and other viral dynamics that drive the spread of false information in Africa. Our growing impact is a small but tangible contribution to better informed societies in Africa.”

Caroline Anipah, Programme Officer, Dubawa (Ghana) said: “Dubawa is excited to be in Ghana where the misinformation and disinformation have become widespread as a result of technological advancement and increasing internet penetration. Dubawa intends to raise the quality of information available to the public with the ultimate aim of curbing the spread of misinformation and disinformation and promoting good governance and accountability.”

Derek Thomson, editor-in-chief of the France 24 Observers, said: “Our African users are constantly sending us questionable images and messages they’ve received via social media, asking us ‘Is this true? Can you check it?’ It’s our responsibility as fact-checking journalists to verify the information that’s circulating, and get the truth back out there. Participating in the Facebook programme helps ensure that our fact-checks are reaching the people who shared the false news in the first place.”

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