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AppDate: Kaspersky clamps down home networks

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In this edition of AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights the Kaspersky Lab IoT device scanner, Knysna’s Municipality Citizen Engagement Application, Lego Mindstorms, the Exclusive Books app, HeyLets and Showmax for Xbox One.

Kaspersky Lab IoT device scanner

The Kaspersky Lab IoT device scanner allows home users to monitor their networks and see which devices are connected. The app does an overall scan once installed and notifies the user of any security flaws that may be present. For instance, when installed on my network, it alerted me that a port was open on my router that could allow hackers to gain access and steal sensitive data.

The app continually monitors the network and offers alerts should new devices try to connect with incorrect credentials.

Platform: Android

Expect to pay: The app is still in a beta and has not yet been officially released.

Stockists: Visit www.kaspersky.co.za for more information.

 

Knysna Municipality Citizen Engagement Application

The Knysna Municipality and ComUnity have collaborated to create the Knysna Municipality Citizen Engagement Application (Knysna app) in order to drive a more direct, interactive and open relationship between the municipality and its communities.

The app was designed to make it easier for emergency services to respond to needs faster, as app users receive the most relevant and up-to-date information directly on their mobile devices. Community members can log and track service issues or phone any municipal division from the app, allowing them to report or inform other community members of incidents.

The municipality can also keep communities informed of upcoming events and festivals, and can post public service delivery notices, such as electricity or water interruptions and weather forecasts.

But the app also proved to serve a much deeper purpose when devastating fires swept the region in June – the Knysna Joint Operations Centre (JOC) that coordinated the crisis response was able to use it to keep in close and constant touch with communities, which assisted in prioritising their safety and that of their families, pets and belongings.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Lego Mindstorms

Lego Mindstorms is designed to give children a head start in their programming careers. The app works in conjunction with the Lego Mindstorms EV3 robotics construction set and allows kids to use basic programming code to make their robots move, shoot and act in a particular way.

This app also lets kids create their own robot programs from scratch by dragging and dropping blocks of code into sequence and then playing that code out to see what each block does.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download, but the construction set will need to be bought first.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Exclusive Books app

The Exclusive Books app sends users special offers, alerts them to in-store promotions and activities, and allows Exclusive Books’ Fanatics members to link their membership and carry around a virtual Fanatics card in their mobile devices.

In addition, the app stores a ‘Favourites’ list to receive notifications of special offers at the stores and gives directions to Exclusive Books Cafes and Social Kitchen & Bar outlets.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

HeyLets

HeyLets is a personalised feed of fun experiences and cool places recommended by people that enjoy doing the same things you do. Discover new food, nightlife, shows and outdoor adventures in your hometown, and get travel tips from around the world.

Select Your Interests –- Easily and quickly choose from 45 interest categories. This will help us deliver the best experiences possible to you and locate other community members who share the same interests.

Explore What Locals Recommend –- Scroll through a beautiful feed of hidden gems, fantastic new places and amazing new experiences you never knew existed.

Once installed, filter experiences by categories, from nightclubs and extreme sports to scenic hikes and farmers markets. Or search by keyword to find the ultimate truffle fries. User can filter by location to find things to do on upcoming trips and Wishlist option saves experiences you want to try.

In addition, if you have had a good meal or just enjoyed a good concert, you can share what you love by posting a video or photo along with a short description about what made it great.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Showmax for Xbox One

In addition to streaming Showmax content though a DStv Explora, Android and iOS devices, viewers can now use their Xbox One consoles.

To get the app, they need will need their Showmax username and password and go to the Store tab on their Xbox One. Once signed in, the app will download to the Xbox, where it can be pinned to a user’s home screen.

The app looks and functions very similarly to the other Showmax apps, so users should have no problem using it once signed in.

Platform: Xbox One

Expect to pay: A free download, but users need to be signed up for Showmax.

Platform: Any Xbox One console.

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

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Huge appetite for foldable phones – when prices fall

Samsung, Huawei and Motorola have all shown their cards, but consumers are concerned about durability, size, and enhanced use cases, according to Strategy Analytics

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Foldable devices are a long-awaited disrupter in the smartphone market, exciting leading-edge early adopters keen for a bold new type of device. But the acceptance of foldable devices by mainstream segments will depend on the extent to which the current barriers to adoption are addressed.

Major brands have been throwing their foldable bets into the hat to see what the market wants from a foldable, namely how big the screens should be and how the devices should fold. Samsung and Huawei have both designed devices that unfold from smartphones to tablets, each with their own method of how the devices go about folding. Motorola has recently designed a smartphone that folds in half, and it resembles a flip phone.

Assessing consumer desire for foldable smartphones, a new report from the User Experience Strategies group at Strategy Analytics has found that the perceived value of the foldable form does not outweigh the added cost.

Key report findings include:

  • The idea of having a larger-displayed smartphone in a portable size is perceived as valuable to the vast majority of consumers in the UK and the US. But, willingness to pay extra for a foldable device does not align with the desire to purchase one. Manufacturers must understand that there will be low sell-through until costs come down.
  • But as the acceptance for traditional smartphone display sizes continues to increase, so does the imposed friction of trying to use them one-handed. Unless a foldable phone has a wider folded state, entering text when closed is too cumbersome, forcing users to utilize two hands to enter text, when in the opened state.
  • Use cases need to be adequately demonstrated for consumers to fully understand and appreciate the potential for a foldable phone, though their priorities seemed fixed on promoting ‘two devices in one’ equaling a better video viewing experience. Identification and promotion of meaningful new use cases will be vital to success.

Christopher Dodge, Associate Director, UXIP and report author said: “As multitasking will look to be a core selling point for foldable phones, it is imperative that the execution be simplified and intuitive. Our data suggests there are a lot of uncertainties that come with foldable phone ownership, stemming mainly from concerns with durability and size, in addition to concerns over enhanced use cases.

“But our data also shows that when the consumers are able to use a foldable phone in hand, there is a solid reduction of doubt and concern about the concept. This means that the in-store experience may more important than ever in driving awareness, capabilities, and potential use cases.”

Said Paul Brown, Director, UXIP: “The big question is whether the perceived value will outweigh the added cost; and the initial response from consumers is ‘no.’ The ability for foldable displays to resolve real consumer pain-points is, in our view critical to whether these devices will become a niche segment of the smartphone market or the dominant form-factor of the future. Until costs come down, these devices will not take off.”

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Huawei puts $1-bn into local developer programme

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Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) South Africa has announced the launch of a local Developer Programme called Shining-Star. Huawei announced an investment of $1-billion in support of this programme across global markets, of which South Africa forms part.

‘‘HMS already has more than 570 million global users, including more than 15 million in Africa, with our business covering more than 170 countries,’’ says Likun Zhao, vice president of Huawei Consumer Business Group for Middle East and Africa. “We provide a trusted, device-centric and inter-connected eco-system that improves the user experience, helping them to discover quality content while ensuring security and privacy.”

The developer programme, announced at AfricaCom in Cape Town last week, is the first of its kind in South Africa. Huawei says it “will provide an encompassing eco-system that aims to encourage local developer innovation and support, while Huawei’s AppGallery provides a platform for developers to showcase and publish their apps”.

The platform offers open e-point access and intelligent global distribution for all apps, ranging from smart home, gaming and music to education and health-related apps.

The Shining-Star Programme has been successfully implemented in Malaysia, which has the highest number of Huawei users relative to other smartphone brands in this country. Like Malaysia, South Africa has a considerable number of Huawei users.

Shining-Star will focus on assisting local app developers who face challenges like lack of funding for app eco-systems, testing, and monetisation of their apps. South African developers particularly struggle to market their games and find investors.

“We are committed to working on empowering local app developers by offering them some much-needed infrastructure, guidance, skills and support to grow local talent,” said Zhao. “Our focus is to provide an open platform for developers that they can use to launch and market their apps, as well as give them extensive support in the form of technical development, testing, and legal and marketing tools.”

Huawei HMS Core is a hub with tools like the Account Kit, which enables users to access developers’ apps using Huawei IDs; Game Service, which enables game development; Location Kit, which provides developers with hybrid locations; Drive Kit, a data storage and management solution; and Map Kit, which offers customisation of map formats to developers.

In addition to these developer-specific tools, the Huawei HMS Core hub has growth enablers like the Push Kit and an Analytics Kit, which enable, respectively, the sending of messages and analysis of user behaviour. An Ad Kit and In-App Purchases Kit are also available, so developers can earn income from their apps. Key resources such as API reference, development guides and sample code assist are also part of the programme.

At present, more than 50,000 apps are connected to HMS Core worldwide.

* App developers with a completed app can visit https://developer.huawei.com/consumer/en/, or contact the Huawei SA Business Development team on developersa@huawei.com to find out how Huawei can support them.

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