Vodacom My Muze
Since launching its music gateway in April, Vodacom has made over 30-million songs available on My Muze, which has attracted 1,3 million visitors and almost a million app installations.
Vodacom says this is mainly due to its ease of use, the ability to catch up on music industry news and watch music videos on integrated apps like Video Play or YouTube Music, and to livestream radio and listen to podcasts from radio stations.
Designed to curate music experiences into a single destination, My Muze is aimed at empowering young or new artists and ensuring access to music.
Another differentiating feature is that My Muze gives aspiring musicians the opportunity to expose their talents, as they can upload their music with the prospect of being discovered and signed to a music record label. My Muze is a partner to the 2019 South African Music Awards and for the first time allowed consumers to cast their vote digitally for the Record of the Year.
Vodacom is offering free data for use on My Muze: It is available across all networks, but Vodacom subscribers can browse the platform without using any data.
Expect to pay: A free download
Stockists: Visit www.mymuze.com for downloading instructions.
Kauai, which operates under the multi-brand food group Real Foods, has launched an app with the aim of making it easier and more rewarding for customers to enjoy healthy eating.
The app allows customers to order ahead, skip the queue and collect their meals, smoothies and healthy snacks at a dedicated app order collection area in-store. Customers can order 10–20 minutes ahead, or can choose to collect at a pre-set time. Order ahead will be available at all Kauai stores nationwide.
The app features a rewards programme that gives customers 2% cash back on all purchases. It also has 3 status levels, with accompanying perks that customers can unlock over time, as they use the app more frequently:
- All customers starting on Green status qualify for a free coffee on their birthday
- Customers moving up to the next status level (Gold) qualify for a free smoothie on their birthday and are rewarded with a free snack when they achieve Gold status.
- Kauai customers who achieve Black status will receive a complimentary reusable smoothie cup when they reach this milestone, and also qualify for a free birthday coffee and breakfast
Platform: Android and iOS
Expect to pay: A free download
Stockists: Visit www.kauai.co.za for downloading instructions.
SANRAL’s Mobility Account
Another cashless parking app has popped into the marketplace, this time in the form of a partnership between SANRAL’s ETC (electronic toll collection) – yes, the e-toll guys that we all wish would disappear – and KaChing.
The app works much like any the other cashless parking app, except this one is reserved for registered e-tollers. A user sets up an account with a number plate, then loads some money into it and drives in and out of paid-for-parking places without having to put a hands in pocket. At the moment, the parking feature is is an opt-in service on the app, and it enables users to park at 34 KaChing operated parking lots without the need for a paper ticket or cash. Through licence plate recognition technology, parking garage booms automatically open for people using the SANRAL Mobility app. More will be available as the service picks up.
The app also allows users to view e-tolls, settle them, arrange financing and share with friends and family. A variety of additional features are offered. Bear in mind that a variety of other cashless payment apps are available for both iOS and Android operating systems in case you are not yet ready or willing to register for e-tolls.
Platform: Android and iOS
Expect to pay: A free download
Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device or download the app directly here.
KWV augmented reality app
KWV has launched a rather novel app that works with the Cathedral Cellar wines label: it now allows wine enthusiasts to add to their dinner time conversation via augmented reality.
Cathedral Cellar is a premium wine portfolio by KWV and includes the Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Triptych (a red blend), Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The new labels depict the Cathedral Cellar with copper line drawings. The labels also honour the cellar’s most impressive feature: its 32 “stukvats” (barrels), which measure approximately 3 metres in circumference, some of which tell the stories of the South African wine industry with intricate carvings.
Cathedral Cellar combines this art of storytelling with the use of augmented reality and modern marketing to share its most important element with consumers. The technology, developed by label print and augmented reality experts LABELinmotion by Vollherbst, enables consumers to scan Cathedral Cellar’s new labels using a dedicated app. By hovering their phones over the Cathedral Cellar labels, they can watch the winemaker appear on the façade of the bottle, from where he provides guided wine notes on each of the wines and shares the stories that inspired them.
Platform: Android and iOS
Expect to pay: A free download
Stockists: Visit KWV here for more information
Consumers want ease of access when opening and maintaining bank accounts, and banks want to provide this, but they do so at their own peril, as fraud syndicates are getting cleverer each day.
iiDENTIFii, an app that provides a remote biometric digital authentication and automated on-boarding technology platform, is designed to minimise many of these risks by offering various features to ensure one’s online identity is protected from start to finish. The application claims to prove the identity of a person within 30 seconds and with an accuracy of 1 error in 10 000. The current industry ratio is about 11 inaccuracies per 100 using standard biometrics.
Should a user decide to use a mobile phone and an ID document to sign up for a bank account, the app puts the following steps into process:
- It checks to see that the person is alive;
- It then matches a selfie the user has taken with the image on their ID document;
- The data is then extracted off the identity document – including the person’s name, surname and ID number;
- Finally, all the data is matched with a facial biometric at an issuing authority or government department like Home Affairs.
Once all the steps have been satisfactorily met, iiDENTIFii will sign the customers onto its systems and hand them over to a bank of their choice where they can open up a new bank account.
In addition to setting up new bank accounts, iiDENTIFii allows one to set up accounts for online gambling, retail, property and travel.
Platform: A smartphone with a hi-res camera
Expect to pay: For costs relating to signing up with iiDENTIFii visit their site here.
Stockists: Visit iiDENTIFii here for more information.
Samsung A51: Saviour of the mid-range
For a few years, Samsung has delivered some less than favourable mid-range devices compared to the competition. The Galaxy A51 is here to change all that, writes BRYAN TURNER.
It’s not often one can look at a mid-range phone and mistake it for a flagship. That’s what you can expect to experience when taking the Galaxy A51 out into the open.
Samsung went back to the drawing board with its new range of devices, and it shows. The latest Galaxy A range features some of the highest quality, budget-friendly devices we’ve seen so far. The Samsung Galaxy A51 is one of the best phones we’ve seen in a while, not just aesthetically, but in what it packs into a sub-R7000 price tag.
Looking at the device briefly, it’s very easy to mistake it for a flagship. It features a four-camera array on the back, and an Infinity-O punch-hole display – both of which are features of the high-end Samsung devices. In fact, it features a similar camera array as the Galaxy Note10 Lite but features an additional lens in the array. The cameras line up in an L-shape, clearly avoiding looking like a stovetop.
Apart from the camera array, the back of the handset features a striking pattern called Prism Crush, a pattern of pastel shades that come in black, white, blue, and pink. For the review, we used the Prism Crush Blue colour and it looks really great. The feel is clearly plastic, which isn’t too surprising for a mid-range device, but the design is definitely something that will make users opt for a clear case. It’s also great to see a design pattern that deviates from the standard single iridescent colours many manufacturers have copied from Huawei’s design.
Along the sides, it features a metal-like frame, but again, it’s plastic. On the left side, we find a SIM and microSD card tray while the right side houses the power button and volume rocker. The bottom of the phone features a very welcome USB Type-C port and a 3.5mm headphone jack, which isn’t too uncommon for mid-range phones.
On the front, the device is pretty much all screen, at an 87.4% screen-to-body ratio, thanks to a tiny chin at the bottom and the small punch hole for the camera. The earpiece has also been hidden inside the frame in attempts to maximise this screen-to-body ratio. When powered on, the 6.5-inch display looks vivid and sharp. That’s because Samsung opted to put a Super AMOLED display into this midrange unit, giving it a resolution of 1080 x 2400 (at 405 ppi) in a 20:9 format. This makes the display FullHD+, and perfect for consuming video content like Netflix and YouTube in HD.
Hidden underneath the display is an in-screen fingerprint sensor, which is very surprising to find in a mid-range device. While it is extremely accurate, it takes some getting used to because the sensor is so large that one needs to put one’s entire finger over the right part of the display to unlock it. Most other types of non-in-screen fingerprint sensors don’t mind a partial fingerprint. The display itself feels nothing like the back and that’s because it’s not plastic, but rather Gorilla Glass 3, to prevent the screen from shattering easily.
What’s interesting about this device is finding accessories which aren’t quite available in phone stores yet. When browsing online for screen protectors, one has to be on the lookout for screen protectors that are compatible with the in-screen fingerprint sensor. Make sure to check out the reviews of users before purchasing them.
In terms of software, Samsung has made a great deal of effort to make the experience slick. Gone are the days of TouchWiz (thank goodness) and now we have OneUI in its second version. OneUI makes the phone easier to use by putting most of the interaction on the bottom half of the screen and most of the view on the top part of the screen, where one’s thumbs don’t usually reach.
Out of the box, the device came with Android 10. This is a huge step forward in terms of commitment to running the latest software for major feature updates as well as for Android security patches to keep the device secure.
It also has most of the cool features from the flagship devices, like Samsung Pay, Bixby, and Link to Windows. Samsung Pay is an absolute pleasure to use, even if it still confuses the person taking your payments. From linking my cards, I have stopped taking my wallet out with me because all merchants that accept tap-to-pay will accept Samsung Pay on the A51.
Bixby is useful if you’re in the Samsung app ecosystem, especially for owners of SmartThings devices like Samsung TVs and SmartThings-enabled smart home devices. Otherwise, Google Assistant is still accessible for those who still want to use the standard Google experience.
Link to Windows is an interesting feature that started with the Galaxy Note10 and has since trickled down into the mid-range. It allows users to send SMS messages, view recently taken photos, and receive notifications from the phone, all on a Windows 10 PC. This can be enabled by going to the Your Phone app found in the start menu.
The rear camera is phenomenal for a mid-range device and features a 48MP wide sensor. The photos come out as 12MP images, which is a common trick of many manufacturers to achieve high-quality photography. It does this by combining 4 pixels into a single superpixel to get the best colours out of the picture, while still remaining sharp. It also performs surprisingly well in low light, which is not something we were expecting from a mid-range device.
The 12MP ultra-wide angle lens spans 123-degrees, which is very wide and also useful for getting shots in where one can’t move back further. It’s not as great as the main lens but does the trick for getting everyone in for a group photo in a galley kitchen.
The 5MP depth-sensing lens supplements the portrait mode, which adds a blur effect to the background of the photo – the same lens as its predecessor, the Galaxy A50. It features a 32MP wide-angle selfie camera, which is perfect for fitting everyone into a large group selfie.
The processor is an Exynos 9611, which is an Octa-core processor. It performs well in most situations, and there is software built in to give games a boost, so it performs well with graphically intensive games too. In terms of RAM, there are 4GB, 6GB, and 8GB variants, so keep an eye out for which one you are trying. For the review, we had the 4GB, and it performs well with multitasking and day-to-day tasks.
For storage, it comes in a 128GB model on Samsung’s website, which seems to be the standard size. This is extremely welcome in the mid-range segment and is the largest we’ve seen for internal storage capacity as a starting point.
At a recommended selling price of R6,999, the Samsung Galaxy A51 marks the beginning of a great era for Samsung, because it provides a feature-rich handset at an affordable price.
Prepare now for 2030
Traditional businesses are toast unless they start preparing for the future now, warns ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK
Don’t say you haven’t been warned. Various forecasts point to the likelihood that technologies using artificial intelligence will generate up to 15% of the world’s gross domestic product by 2030. PwC suggests that it will add $15.7-trillion to the global economy.
That, in turn, will ensure that a sizeable proportion of the world’s business will be conducted on advanced digital platforms. In other words, the 15% is just the springboard for vast swathes of activity that will dominate business. Those that stick to the old way of doing things will simply be left out of the new economy.
This means traditional businesses are already toast, but only if they decide not to start preparing now.
“This future economy is something that should be on everybody’s mind and in every government’s strategy,” says Mohammed Amin, Dell Technologies senior vice president for Middle East, Russia, Africa and Turkey. During a visit to South Africa this week, he said it was no longer a matter of selling technology for its own sake.
“If you’re not part of this wagon to the future, you need to jump on it. The world’s IT companies are not pushing digital transformation and multi-cloud strategy just for the sake of selling technology. We’re doing it to optimise your business and to help make you part of the future.”
He says three primary trends need to be leveraged by business.
“I believe that artificial intelligence is the ship that is going to take us for the future. The fuel is going to be data. And infrastructure will be software-defined. You have to build an agile, dynamic infrastructure to thrive in this future.”
Amin, an Egyptian-Canadian, points to the sensation created by his late compatriot, the Egyptian diva Umm Kulthum, who died 45 years ago. Last year, she appeared in the world’s first hologram concert, at the World Youth Forum in Egypt. Then, in December, she performed – as a hologram – for paying audiences in Saudi Arabia and Dubai.
“Imagine people paying for tickets to watch a hologram. It means the world is open to this. It is moving so fast, and we are in the heart of this.”
It is also an example of how technology companies are no longer focused only on technology but also on enhancing human lives.
“We’re involved in so many projects, from healthcare to education. Education especially is very important, because it is shifting from ‘what to learn’ to ‘how to learn’. It’s an amazing shift. You need to know how to learn because you will need to experience and learn in so many fields to be qualified for the future.”
Amin does not believe doomsday prophecies of much of the world’s population being rendered jobless by robots and AI. However, some “straightforward” jobs will be readily replaceable. Even lawyers and general practice doctors, for example, could be replaced by smartphone apps.
“The job market will grow, but the profile required is going to change. Jobs will be available, but for certain profiles. By 2030, 85% of the job market will be for jobs we don’t know today. This is the challenge that education faces.”
- Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee