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AppDate: Keep Truecaller safe

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In this AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights Truecaller Backup for Android, Open Omnia, Marketplace on Facebook, Zulzi, Opera with news feed, Pet First Aid – Red Cross, Datally by Google, and Freeletics.

Truecaller Backup for Android

Truecaller, the app that allows users to filter out unwanted calls, has released Truecaller Backup for Android. Every day thousands of Truecaller users are switching to a new phone, getting a new SIM card, resetting their device or in general having to reinstall their Truecaller app. This inevitably leads to lost contacts, blank call logs and lost data. The backup solution is designed to simplify a user’s transition to a new phone or SIM card by securely backing-up contacts and settings to Google Drive.

Once the app is reinstalled, and the correct username and password provided, a user can go through the backed up data and decide what should be restored to the new device.

Platform: Most Android mobile devices.

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the Google Play Store

 

Open Omnia

Open Omnia is a web-based programme that aims to assist students who struggle with mathematics to better understand the subject, by breaking down the formulae and providing step-by-step illustrations for mathematical equations.

A student can simply type in a mathematical problem, and the service returns a step-by-step solution to the problem. This ensures that students learn how to get to the answer – and can then apply the process to similar problems.

Platform: Most devices with an up-to-date web browser.

Expect to pay: Free to use.

Stockists: Visit www.openomnia.com

 

Marketplace on Facebook

Facebook will be rolling out its Marketplace service in South Africa in an attempt to compete with the likes of Gumtree, BidorBuy and OLX. The feature is designed to let users buy and sell items on the platform, with strict safety precautions for both parties. In addition to buying and selling, users can communicate with each other and are able to set their privacy controls to their liking. They do not need to install any third-party applications.

The feature is set to be rolled out in early February. Users wanting to start trading need to click on the Marketplace icon towards the bottom of the page.

How to use Marketplace 

  • To use Marketplace, tap on the Marketplace icon.
  • To find what you’re looking for, search at the top and filter your results by location, category or price.
  • To sell something, take a photo, describe your item, set your price and you are done.
  • Buyers and sellers can communicate with each other using Facebook Messenger.

Platform: Most devices using the latest Facebook version.

Expect to pay: A free service.

Stockists: Visit www.facebook.com to begin trading.

 

Zulzi

Zulzi is a locally developed on-demand delivery service app that brings groceries to the doors of its customers within an hour. Zulzi took first place in the Best Breakthrough Developer category of the recent MTN Business App of the Year Awards.

Zulzi is already making an impact in a number of suburbs in the north of Johannesburg, and already has more than 9 000 active registered users.  Thhe company has delivered over 15 000 orders since launch in 2016.

The app is very easy to use and offers users the ability to order products like alcohol, pharmaceuticals, food and groceries. One needs to enter their delivery address and the app will bring up a range of stores in the vicinity, from which orders can be made. Unlike many other delivery apps, the prices of the products shown on the app are usually in line with those at the physical store.

Once an order is placed, a personal shopper is assigned to collect and pay for the products, while the Zulzi user is able to monitor the order in real time.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download, but delivery charges range from R20 to R85. (This fee goes to the personal shopper, with Zulzi generating revenue from partnerships with the retailers.)

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Opera with news feed

With over 100 million users reading news through Opera and Opera mini, the company decided to develope its own artificial intelligence newsfeed. The feature is designed to learn what users read on a daily basis and then delivers video and articles based on their preferences. In addition to delivering news, the app helps users with their online shopping, delivering relevant search results and making mobile payments.

Platform: Android, iOS and desktop computers.

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit www.opera.com

 

Pet First Aid – Red Cross

When your dog or cat suddenly becomes ill, it isn’t alway possible to rush it off to the vet. However, thanks to the Pet First Aid – Red Cross app, pet owners have some veterinary advice to help their dogs or cats out until they can be taken to a professional.

The app features a variety of how-to videos for advice ranging from helping a choking animal to treating ticks and viruses. It also offers help on how to administer medication and identifying toxic substances. Using geolocation, it shows the closest vet and its operating hours.

When your pet is not sick, Pet First Aid offers quizzes on what to do in case of an emergency, teaching one not to panic and how to react efficiently and effectively.

Even though Pet First Aid is a great app for helping pets at home, it is still advisable to take them to the vet should they get sick.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Datally

The Datally app by Google helps solve one of the biggest pain points for smartphone users around the world. Google research found that many smartphone users worry about running out of data. This is an especially acute problem for the newest generation to come online. Not only are these smartphone users constantly thinking about data balances, but they do not understand where their data is going, nor do they feel they can control allocating data to the apps they really need.

Datally empowers users to solve these problems with four key features:

Data Saver. Apps frequently use data in the background for updating content and information. Datally’s Data Saver feature lets users control data on an app-by-app basis, so that data only goes to apps they need.

Data Saver bubble. Once Data Saver is turned on, Datally’s Data Saver bubble will appear when a user goes into an app. Whenever that app uses data, the Data Saver bubble will show the current rate of data usage, and users can easily choose to block that app’s data use if things start to get out of control. The Data Saver bubble is like a speedometer for mobile data.

Personalised alerts. Datally alerts users when apps start consuming a lot of data, and it allows them to see how much data they’ve used on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

Wi-Fi finder. There are times when users want to use more data than they have on their mobile plans, such as when they want to watch HD videos. Public Wi-Fi is an important access point for high-bandwidth connectivity, so Datally’s Find Wi-Fi feature reveals the networks nearby, rated by the Datally community. Once connected, users can rate the Wi-Fi networks based on their own experience.

Platform: Android devices running Android 5.0 (Lollipop) and higher.

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the Google Play Store

 

Freeletics

Freeletics is a training app that combines full-body routines and exercises with running for a complete fat-shredding workout. The app is fast, efficient, effective, and it keeps you fit in under 20 minutes a day. It is designed for professional athletes or those merely looking to lose weight and tone up.

Whether you prefer to train outdoors, in your kitchen, at the gym or in your office, Freeletics will take you through every step. The app uses a virtual coach to assess your fitness level. It then combines the results with your age, weight and workout goals to customise an exercise plan. You’ll then have access to the online community of “Free Athletes”— to share tips, get advice and even compete with each another.

You can workout anytime, anywhere with little to no equipment. All workouts are designed to last between 5 and 30 minutes and you have more than 1000 training variations to choose from.cleardot.gif

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

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

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Half of SA mobile phone users avoid data activity

Research shows 87% of South Africans have cellphones, but 50% have data issues and a quarter struggle to find a place to charge them

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A Pew Research Center survey of 11 nations has found South Africans second most likely to avoid doing things on their cellphones because of fears of data charges. The 50% of users who report this fear is second only to Lebanon, where 66% avoid data use.

As ownership of mobile phones, especially smartphones, spreads rapidly across the globe, there are still notable numbers of people in emerging economies who do not own – or even use someone else’s – mobile phone, a Pew Research Center survey of 11 nations finds. However, in this department South Africa scores well, with only 13% not having phones – in line with a median of 6% of adults in the countries polled do not use mobile phones at all, and a median of 7% do not own phones but instead borrow them from others. 

These mobile divides between have and have-nots are most pronounced in Venezuela, where about a third of adults (32%) do not own or use mobile phones, India (30%) and the Philippines (27%).

At the same time, the new findings show that mobile divides also exist among those who own phones. A median of 46% in these countries say they frequently or occasionally have difficulties getting reliable phone connections, 37% say it can be a challenge to pay for their phones and 33% report finding places to charge their phones is a problem at least occasionally. In addition, a median of 42% report frequently or occasionally avoiding some activities on their phones because they use too much data. 

In some countries, mobile owners’ challenges are particularly striking. In Lebanon, for example, 77% of phone owners report having problems getting reliable mobile connections, and about two-thirds (66%) say they avoid doing things with their phones because those activities use too much data. In Jordan, nearly half (48%) report having trouble paying for their phone, while in Tunisia four-in-ten (40%) say it can be a challenge to find places to recharge their phones. 

“The spread of mobile phones brings a variety of benefits to users in emerging economies, and they can clearly spell out what appeals to them about the arrival of a phone in their lives,” says Laura Silver, senior researcher at Pew Research Center. “Still, our survey shows that these devices bring new challenges and headaches to users at the same time they open up new divisions in their societies. It turns out that digital divides take several forms in these countries.” 

Beyond those concerns, there are other issues that can disrupt life for some phone users and sharers. Around three-quarters or more of mobile phone owners in every country except India report concerns about identity theft, and around nine-in-ten or more in Mexico (95%), Colombia (94%), Tunisia (90%), South Africa (89%) and the Philippines (89%) say they are at least somewhat concerned about the issue. 

For mobile sharers, concerns about device security can also play a role in why people choose not to own their own devices. While cost is the primary reason mobile phone sharers give for why they do not personally have a phone (a median of 34% across eight countries reports this), the second most commonly cited reason is that a previous mobile phone was lost, broken or stolen. 

Additionally, a median of 29% of mobile owners in these 11 emerging economies report they have frequently or occasionally experienced problems finding information online in their preferred language. This problem ranges from 17% of mobile owners in Jordan to 37% in South Africa – the highest of all countries surveyed.

Other key findings from the survey include: 

Nonuse tends to be more common among adults with lower levels of income and education. In the Philippines, for instance, 10% of respondents with more education say they do not use a phone, compared with 38% of those with lower levels of education. This pattern exists in all 11 countries surveyed. Similarly, across most of the nations, older people are more likely than younger people to be non-users. 

Non-users are divided over whether they would like to own a mobile phone in the future. Venezuelan non-users stand out for their keen interest in acquiring a mobile phone; 86% of mobile phone non-users in Venezuela say they would like to get a phone in the future. Elsewhere, these numbers vary markedly, from around half or more desiring a mobile phone in South Africa (65%), Colombia (61%) and Tunisia (52%), to fewer than half in Mexico (41%), the Philippines (35%), India (31%) and Lebanon (9%). 

In some countries, issues of technological literacy are particularly pronounced. For example, around a quarter of Indians (26%) say the primary reason they share a phone is because it is too complicated to use, followed by Mexicans (11%) and Filipinos (10%). 

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MUST you buy into Black Friday? The pros and cons

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Black Friday, once only a North American marketing frenzy, has become a critical entry in the calendars of South African retail business owners.

Research published by Stats SA says that historically, the most important month of the year for retail trade is December, when many consumers are on holiday and go Christmas shopping. But December 2018 was a tough month for retail in South Africa with the volume of sales falling by 1,4% year-on-year.

The poor performance of retailers in December followed a fruitful November, when Black Friday boosted sales to 2,9% year-on-year.

Dov Girnun, CEO of Merchant Capital, an innovative fintech funder that provides working capital to retail SME’s across the country, says Black Friday presents a moment in time in the sales cycle, and business owners still need to consider whether the concept will make sense for their business’s growth.

“Small business growth is a delicate balance between doing what works and taking advantage of the right opportunities. Retail business owners should carefully weigh up the pros and cons before being swept away by the Black Friday wave,” says Girnun.

Girnun outlines the following pro’s and con’s that retailers should consider before jumping on the Black Friday bandwagon.

Shopper enthusiasm

Pro: Savvy customers look forward to a good bargain. They actually plan their year-end spending around this one retail event. They believe that they will enjoy savings and great deals which will often prompt larger spending and additional ‘treats’ for themselves.

Con: There was a time when festive season shopping mainly occurred in December. Black Friday has changed this. What was normally a very good festive season trade, can now mean rapidly reduced December turnover. Retailers need to work this new spending habit into their projections and stock flow.

Significant noise

Pro: If you can deliver agile marketing messaging and have a tactical social and email marketing campaign behind you, you may well be able to fight the clutter and up your sales in a meaningful way. 

Girnun says: “In our experience, small businesses use the funds we lend them for anything that will be additive to the growth of their business: to hire more employees; buy new equipment; refurbish their store; buy more stock – and even for marketing – they don’t necessarily have to be elaborate plans, but each funding step is crucial to the next.” 

Con: As a small business you are up against the big guys: large retailers with huge marketing campaigns behind them. Certain larger retailers will even offer loss-leaders to draw in customers.

Shed old stock for small business growth

Pro: Small business growth is often the difference between sitting with old stock or shedding your load. Black Friday is a great way to encourage take-up of old redundant inventory. Making way for the new.

Con: On this day, over any other, customers are price-sensitive. They expect a good deal otherwise will gladly shop elsewhere. Heavy discounts might be the only way to win that sale over your competitor. But this is often a discount that isn’t worth the sale.

Scaling up for traffic

Pro: Black Friday is a marketing vehicle to assist in scaling up your customer traffic. It is a unique opportunity to attract new customers and satisfy existing ones. Just make sure that your store has the capability to restock quickly and check customers out efficiently.

Con: Sub-par in-store or online service can have a negative knock-on effect on your brand. So make sure you employ more staff and security on the day and upgrade your online systems so that they can carry an abnormal load should it arise.

Realising retailers’ eleventh-hour cash needs and taking the rapid evolution of technology into account, funders like Merchant Capital have the capability of assessing and approving a loan in just 24 – 48 hours, offering retailers an opportunity to scale up if need be at lower risk.

What are your competitors doing?

Pro: If your competitors are in the space, this may mean it’s good for your vertical. Simply being there may be a good way to claim your stake in some way.

Con: If you aren’t in the game, you can almost guarantee it will be a bad sales day. But FOMO alone (Fear Of Missing Out), is a dangerous hill to climb. So think clearly and make decisions that are right for your business!

Girnun says: “The jury is out as to whether Black Friday makes sense for all small businesses. But what is very clear is that retailers need to think long and hard about capacity, strategy, bottom-line, and long-term impact before committing to partake in Black Friday.”

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