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AppDate: DStv Now spreads its wings

In this week’s AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights three new versions of the DStv Now app, Moya Messenger, SANewsLIVE, WhatsApp’s Enterprise Solutions and MTN Asphalt Cup.

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New DStv Now apps

MultiChoice has recently added three new versions of its streaming content app – DStv Now. The new apps can now be downloaded on selected Samsung TVs, Apple TV devices from 4th generation up and Google Certified media players running Android TV.

The DStv Now app service features live sports, live TV, shows and movies in the Catch Up library. It can, however, only be used by those who have a DStv subscription, as account details will need to be entered to activate it.

When originally launched in 2014, the idea behind the app was to give DStv subscribers a means to watch TV while not at home. However, it has also turned into a great method for allowing family members to watch their preferred shows on different devices at home. For instance, one person could be watching the Discovery Channel via the decoder while another could be watching Cartoon Network via the DStv Now app on a tablet or phone, or even on another TV in the house.

Although the DStv Now app is only available on certain devices, MulitChoice says it will soon be available for LG TVs, as well as a range of additional mobile devices.

Platform: Selected Samsung smart TVs, Apple TV devices, Google Certified media players

Cost: A free download – but a DStV subscription is needed.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Moya Messenger

The newly announced Moya Messenger was developed in South Africa and functions much the same as WhatsApp, but with one fundamental difference. It doesn’t need data to work. This is made possible by telco reverse bilging where biNu – the company that developed the app – pays for all messages that pass through Moya Messenger.

Moya Messenger offers unlimited texting, group chats, end-to-end security with automatic encryption of all messages, and automatic contact discovery that allows users to connect with others using the Moya app. Moya users are always logged on, so won’t miss a message, and all their messages are saved when their phones are switched off.

Although messages are free, sending video, images and other rich content does use airtime or data and users are warned when they will incur mobile data costs, or need to switch to Wi-Fi to send media files.

Platform: Android and iOS

Cost: A free download.

Stockist: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

SANewsLIVE,

Tiso Blackstar has launched SANewsLIVE, a mobile news-reading app that provides users with content from Tiso Blackstar’s existing websites without incurring data costs. The app has been developed for the cost-conscious consumer market or those who can’t afford large amounts of data each month, but still want to keep up to date with current news and events. SANewsLIVE delivers South African breaking news 24 hours a day and covers local, world, sports, entertainment, celebrity and business news produced round the clock by the Tiso Blackstar editorial team.

Unfortunately, in order to offset the cost of free news, users are inundated with 10 second videos, which they cannot opt out of, before they can read an article or access any video.

All major cellular networks support the SANewsLIVE service and users can download the app with a zero data balance.

Platform: Android and iOS

Cost: A free download and service

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

WhatsApp’s Enterprise Solutions

Most companies still use SMS to communicate with their customers. However this is not an ideal means of communication anymore –  mainly due to the confines of the short message. A new message delivery service developed by Praekelt.org and WhatsApp now allows users to customise a delivery profile, when signing up with a company, that will enable the company to deliver WhatApp messages based on that profile. For instance, users can decide what language that want their messages to appear in and what time they should arrive. In addition, a WhatsApp message allows for the delivery of rich content, for example the inclusion of video and images, making the message more personal.

The Praekelt WhatsApp starter plan provides a single WhatsApp number, natural language support, quick replies, FAQ management and an API for 3rd party integrations.

The service is still in a Beta launch. Those interested can sign up here: www.praekelt.org/whatsapp/

 

MTN Asphalt Cup

MTN has modified the Asphalt Cup racing game to give it a local look and feel and has set up a tournament to run from 17 August to 2 September, with gamers competing to win up to R87500 in weekly prizes. Winners are entered into the leaderboard, with eight of them getting the chance to compete in the final at Comic Con Africa event from 14 to 16 September. The winner will take home R250 000.

To participate, download the game from mtnasphaltcup.mobi or dial *464*80#.

Platform: And Android smartphone.

Cost: A free download.

Stockist: Visit: mtnasphaltcup.mobi or dial *464*80#.

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Small South African town goes smartphone-only

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

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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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10 more African countries join Facebook fact-checking

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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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