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AppDate: Get deleted files back

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In this AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights Disk Drill, KaChing Cashless parking, Opera’s Rovio content offering, JustWatch, USB Network Gate, Bang & Olufsen’s BeoHome Design App, MyFord Mobile app, Rush courier and Office Lens.

Disk Drill

Although Apple computers are renowned for being reliable devices that need little to no maintenance, things can go wrong. Disk Drill by CleverFiles allows users to recover lost files from flash drives, memory cards and internal hard drives on a Mac. The program is even able to recover entire partitions that may have disappeared or have been inadvertently deleted. Disk Drill is easy to use: simply click the scan button and wait while it gathers all storage information on the computer. Once done, click on the recently deleted files and hit the recover button. A few minutes later, they will reappear on your computer in their original location.

Platform: Apple OS X and above

Expect to pay: Three versions are available, a free limited Basic version, the Pro version for one user and three Macs for R1 400, and the Enterprise version for an unlimited number of computers or users for R6 400.

Stockists:  www.cleverfiles.com

 

KaChing Cashless parking

Finding money for parking after a long day of shopping is the absolute pits; inevitably the change you need is nowhere to be found and the parking ticket has mysteriously disappeared. Finding it or finding change can add another 30 minutes before you can get out of the shopping mall. A newly-launched app called KaChing removes these hassles. Once the app is downloaded to a phone, input the car’s number plate along with a voucher or credit card details, and you are set to drive in and out without any queuing at the ticket or pay machine. Additional cameras are installed at shopping centre exits and entrances that scan the number plate and automatically debit the loaded credit card or voucher. At the moment the KaChing service is only available at a few shopping malls around South Africa, but the company has plans to roll out the service to more later in the year.

Platform: Most modern smartphones.

Expect to pay: A free app download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Rovio content through Opera Apps Club

Rovio, the creator of Angry Birds, has partnered with Opera to bring its family of games to the Opera Apps Club service. Opera Apps Club subscribers will have access to four of Rovio’s blockbuster titles, including Angry Birds Rio, Angry Birds Space, Angry Birds Stella and Bad Piggies. Subscribers will also benefit from exclusive deals, promotions and bonuses. These offers are not available in the current free versions of the games and therefore are exclusive to Opera Apps Club subscribers.

Platform: Any device running the Opera Apps Club.

Expect to pay: Free to download but users must be a member of the Opera Apps Club.

Stockists: Access the titles through the Opera Apps Club.

 

JustWatch

With a range of Video on Demand streaming services available in South Africa, it has now become quite difficult to keep up with what content is available on what service. Now, however, there is an app that will help viewers keep track. JustWatch allows one to filter out newly added movies and shows, and search across the various services by genre, IMDB rating or release date. The app even lets a user search for a certain movie based on the cheapest price. The app itself is very easy to use, with a neatly laid out user interface, and is able to search across Netflix, ShowMax, BoxOffice, iTunes, and Mubi, with more providers being added in the future.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

USB Network Gate

The USB Network Gate allows a user to remotely connect USB devices to a computer over a network. Should all your computer’s USB ports be taken, you can still remotely connect to a flash disk or USB camera. According to the company, this can even be done from another country, making it easy to print confidential documents to a remote printer, or access files from an external hard drive without having to lug it around.

Platform: Windows, Linux and OS X

Expect to pay: R1 300

Stockists:  http://www.eltima.com

 

Bang & Olufsen BeoHome Design App

Before going out to spend a good few thousand on one of Bang & Olufsen’s wireless sound systems, it may be a good idea to see how the system will look and function in your lounge. The BeoHome Design app allows a user to virtually place the speakers and sound systems wherever an iPad’s camera is pointed. The user can then select the speaker colour that best suits its surroundings. The app also offers the ability to select the best-sized TV and speaker stands, and lets one move furniture around using augmented reality.

Platform: iPad Mini 2, iPad Air and the iPad Pro.

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the Apple App Store for downloading instructions.

 

MyFord Mobile app

Although this isn’t exactly the app Pierce Brosnan was using to control his BMW 750iL from the backseat in Tomorrow Never Dies, it does offer some nifty features. The app is designed especially for Ford’s electric car range and can be used on most Android or Apple smartwatches. Once installed and connected to the car, users can view the current range and status of the car’s battery, remotely air condition the car’s cabin and remotely lock and unlock the car. The app will also display the vehicle’s mileage summary, display personal driving habits and even show the user where the car is parked with walking or driving directions to it. (A similar app is available for BMW electric cars)

Platform: Most Android or Apple smartwatches.

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your watch.

 

Rush courier app

With Rush, South African consumers no longer need to stand in queues at the post office to get a parcel delivered. The app is installed on top of the WeChat platform and allows users to order a courier to their places of residence at the click of a button. Rush has partnered with Courier Guy, Courier IT, Skynet, RTT and Globeflight, and allows users to choose which company they want to use based on price, delivery time, speed or courier reputation. Rush also offers the choice to insure packages, with insurance underwritten by Hollard Insurance.

Platform: Most devices with WeChat pre-installed.

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Office Lens

Office Lens is like having a scanner in your pocket as it makes pictures of whiteboards and docs readable, as well as trimming and enhancing them. It is then able to save them to OneNote, where they can be used as PDFs, Word and PowerPoint documents. The app includes OCR, so that written notes can be converted to characters and the text copied and embedded in documents.

Platform: Windows Phone 8 and above.

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the Microsoft Windows Store.

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

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Homemation creates comfort through smart homes

Home automation is more than just turning the lights on and off, Homemation’s Gedaliah Tobias tells BRYAN TURNER

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The world is taking interior design notes from the Danish, in a style of living called hygge (pronounced hoo-gah). Its meaning varies from person to person: some see hygge as a warm fire on a cold winter’s night, others see it as a cup of hot coffee in the morning. The amount of “good feelings” one gets from these relaxing activities depends on what one values as indulgent.

But how does technology fit into this “art of feeling good”?

We asked Homemation marketing manager Gedaliah Tobias to take us through a fully automated home of the future and show us how automation creates comfort and good feelings.

“The house is powered by Control4, which you can think of as the brain of the smart home,” says Tobias. “It controls everything from the aircon to smart vacuum cleaners.”

The home of the future is secured by a connected lock. It acts like other locks with keypads and includes a key in the event of a power interruption. The keypad is especially useful to those who want to provide temporary access to visitors, staff, or simply kids who might lose their parents’ house keys.

“The keypad is especially useful for temporary access,” says Tobias. “For example, if you have a garden service that needs to use the home for the day, they can be given a code that only turns off the perimeter alarm beams in the garden for the day and time. If that code is used outside of the day and time range, users can set up alerts for their armed response to be alerted. This type of smart access boosts security.”

Once inside, one is greeted with a “scene” – a type of recipe for electronic success. The scene starts by turning on the lights, then by alerting the user to disarm the alarm. After the alarm is disarmed, the user can start another more complicated scene.

“Users can request customised scene buttons,” says Tobias. “For example, if I press the ‘Dinner call’ scene, the lights start to flash in the bedroom, there’s an announcement from the smart speakers, the blinds start to come down, the lighting is shifted to the dinner table. Shifting focus with lighting creates a mood to bring the house together for dinner.”

Homemation creates these customised scene buttons to enable users to control their homes without having to use another device. In addition to scene buttons, there are several ways to control the smart home.

 “Everything in the smart home is controllable from your phone, the touchscreens around the house, the TV, and the dedicated remote control. Everyone is different, so having multiple ways to control the house is a huge value add.”

We ask Tobias where Homemation recommends non-smart home users should start on their smart home journey.

“Before anything, the Control4 infrastructure needs to be set up. This involves a lot of communications and electrical cabling to be run to different areas of the home to enable connectivity throughout the home. After the infrastructure is set up, the system is ready for smart home devices, like lighting and sound.”

“For new smart home users, the best bang for their buck would be to start with lighting once the infrastructure is set up. Taking it one step at a time is wise.”

•    For more information, visit https://www.homemation.co.za/

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Face App grabs SA attention

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South Africans generated more than 100 000 search queries for “Face App” on Wednesday, while only generating 50 000 for “Mandela Day”. The Internet wentcrazy over the two-year-old app, which uses artificial intelligence to create a rendering of what users might look like in a few decades. Face App went viral as users posted their aged likenesses on social media in the #faceappchallenge. Privacy experts, however, warned that the app (made in Russia) may pose a threat to users’ privacy as it stores photos on its servers, with US Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, appealing to the FBI to investigate the app. 

In other top searches on Google this week, “Johnny Clegg” garnered more than 500 000 search queries on Tuesday as the news of his passing broke. The ‘White Zulu’ of Juluka and Savuka fame was an internationally acclaimed musician who was also an important figure in the fight against apartheid. Tributes to Clegg have been flooding media and social media over the past couple of days. Clegg succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 66.

More than 200 000 search queries were generated for “Mark Batchelor” on Monday after the former soccer star was brutally gunned down outside his Olivedale home in Gauteng. Investigations into the shooting are still ongoing. Batchelor played for Orlando Pirates, Wits University, Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns, Moroka Swallows and Bafana Bafana. 

“Jacob Zuma” also garnered more than 100 000 search queries on Monday as he made his first, much-anticipated appearance in front of the Zondo Commission on state capture. 

On Sunday “Macdonald Ndou” picked up more than 10 000 search queries after reports of theMuvhango actor’s arrest made the rounds. Ndou was held on various charges including extortion and kidnapping. The Hawks have reportedly provisionally withdrawn charges against the TV star, but a spokesperson said the decision to withdraw does not mean the charges will not be reinstated.

“Serena Williams” garnered more than 50 000 searches on Saturday as the tennis superstar suffered a 6-2, 6-2 defeat against Simona Halep in a Wimbledon final that lasted just 56 minutes. Williams later told Agence France Presse, “She [Halep] played out of her mind” and “I was like a deer in headlights”.

Last Friday, South Africans produced more than 20 000 search queries for “Duduzane Zuma” as the Randburg Magistrates Court found the former first son not guilty of a charge of culpable homicide. In February 2014, Zuma was involved in a car crash that took the life of Phumzile Dube when his vehicle crashed into the taxi she was travelling in.

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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