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AppDate: One to rule them all

In his apps roundup, SEAN BACHER highlights Google One, JET8’s latest partnership, Ourhood, the new Zulzi app and ES File Explorer.

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Google One

There is OneDrive, DropBox, iCloud and Google Drive, to name a few cloud storage services. All of these come with their own advantages and disadvantages and every one has its own app. So remembering where you saved a document can turn out to be a nightmare – and then there is the password issue.

The Google One app aims to simplify this by allowing you to save everything in one place. Besides offering loads of storage space, Google One allows you to manage storage plans according to needs. For instance, Google Drive data, Gmail and original-quality photos and videos in Google Photos can all be accessed directly from the app. 

In addition, Google has a team of experts who can be accessed directly from the app and are ready to help with any of Google’s other services.

Once signed up as a Google One member, one can access benefits like Google Play credit and discounts on hotel pricing.

In addition, Google One can be shared with up to five friends, allowing them to access the storage at no extra cost.

Google One offers 100GB of storage for R28 per month, 200GB for R42 per month and 2TB for R141 per month.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: The app is a free download, but monthly billing depends on your storage needs

Stockists: Sign up for a Google One account here 

 

JET 8 partners with Soccer Laduma

 

JET8 has partnered with the biggest soccer publication in Africa, Soccer Laduma. The Soccer Laduma App runs off JET8’s Social Commerce Technology. Soccer Laduma readers will be able to create content and earn JETPoints when they share this content on social media platforms. They can use the JETPoints in the Soccer Laduma App’s shop to redeem products like Kick-Off and Soccer Laduma.

JET8’s user data exchange programme facilitates the transaction between a user and third parties where a user can opt-in if they want anyone to purchase their personal data directly from them.

As an added bonus, the Soccer Laduma app allows soccer fans to create branded content and customise their photos and videos with branded Geo-stickers and Geo-frames, and earn points (‘JETPoints’) for every in-app like, comment, and share, as well as for cross-posting onto external social networks.

Platform: Android or a computer with an up-to-date Internet browser

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the Google play store here for downloading instructions

 

OurHood

Image result for ourhood app
OurHood
is an app that connects communities via real-time communication with verified neighbours. It is used not only to unite communities in their fight against crime but, thanks to its interactive interface inspired by common social media feeds, also eradicates reams of unnecessary WhatsApp chatter across community forum platforms. It offers features like Community Policing Forums and Home Owner Association material, minutes and updates, classified adverts for local services and recommendations – from lost pets to restaurant deals – and pertinent community-specific insights and education. All are offered users via both mobile and desktop-enabled applications. 

To date, the app connects over 1 300 neighbourhoods across the country and has attracted an equity investment from Lightswitch Solutions, a Cape Town based software development house. The investment from Lightswitch Solutions will ensure ongoing development, updates and improvements of the OurHood app. 

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the Google Play and the AppStore  for downloading instructions

 

Zulzi

 

Online shopping is nothing new. Thousands of apps let you buy anything from houses to alcohol. However, the newly relaunched Zulzi app allows you to get fresh local produce, organics, meat, dairy, eggs, drinks, snacks, bulk items, diapers, snacks, and fresh flowers – kind of like a supermarket shopping app.

Zulzi claims it is the largest on-demand delivery service in the country. However, that is rather hard to believe, considering it only delivers in Johannesburg and Cape Town and only to certain suburbs.

However, users are able to choose from over 150 retailers, including Woolworths, Spar, Pick n Pay, Dis-chem and Clicks.

Additional features include:

* Delivery in as little as 1 hour

* Reorder items from previous purchases

* Chat directly with your personal shopper

* Tag favourite items for easier shopping

 

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit Zulzi website here for registration

ES File Explorer 

Image result for es file explorer 

ES File Explorer includes a space analyser that scans an Android device to help free up space. It does this by finding temporary Internet files, cookies and any other unnecessary files that get installed by apps. Don’t worry though, you have the option to manually go through the files and select the ones you want removed. But after using it for a few weeks I found that the “Delete All” option works best.

In addition, users can effortlessly share media over Wi-Fi. The app also includes an app manager that allows one to uninstall apps or backup any information stored by the apps before removing them. 

For the power user, ES File Explorer offers a Root Explorer feature that lets you get down into the nitty-gritty of the phone’s operating system. However, a word of warning: if you don’t know what you are doing, stay away from this feature, otherwise your phone may just become a very expensive paperweight.

One negative is that the app brings up adverts all the time, with some of them using up most of the screen space. 

Platform: Android

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Download the app here

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Did an earthquake take out SA Internet?

Seabed avalanches caused by an earthquake could have cut several undersea cables, leading to one of South Africa’s biggest Internet outages yet, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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Picture by TooMuchCoffeeMan from pixabay.com

There is still no official explanation for freak breaks 11 days ago in two separate undersea cables that provide international access to South Africa’s Internet users. However, as reported in the Sunday Times yesterday, the most common causes of such breaks are damage by ship anchors and earthquakes at sea.

However, the freak occurrence of two separate cables being cut simultaneously far out at sea, as happened on the morning of 16 January, can only be explained by sea-bed activity.  One of the cables was cut in two places, and it is widely believed that a third major cable was also cut.

The cable damage mostly occurred in or near an area called the Congo Canyon, which starts inland and extends 220km into the sea. It is known for having the world’s strongest “turbidity currents”, underwater sediment avalanches over hundreds of kilometers, which are known to destroy undersea cables.

The most likely culprit is a 5.6 magnitude earthquake that struck the Atlantic Ocean near Ascension Island shortly before the cables were cut on the morning of 16 January. The earthquake occurred just before 8am South African time, and local ISPs reported losing international access from just before 10am. The epicentre of the earthquake was more than a thousand kilometres off the coast of Africa, but disturbances caused by seismic activity at sea become more powerful as they approach the coast. Combined with turbidity currents, this could well have taken out all cables in the area.

The West Africa Cable System (WACS) was cut in two places, and the South Atlantic 3 (SAT3) cable in one location. Industry insiders believe that the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) cable was also cut, but it has not been publicly confirmed.

South Africa is connected to the global Internet via seven such cables, with a total capacity of 42.3 terabits per second (tbps).  These cables, in turn, connect to additional cables connecting the West and East coasts of Africa, with a single cable running from Angola to Brazil providing another 40 tbps.

However, it emerged in the past week that smaller ISPs in South Africa had bought capacity on only one or two cables. In a freak occurrence, two of the most commonly used cables, the WACS and SAT 3 cables, were cut simultaneously, plunging millions of Internet users into data darkness.

Customers of the major mobile network operators – Vodacom and MTN – were largely unaffected, as these tend to have both part-ownership and access to most of the cables running up both the East and West coasts of Africa.

Visit the next page to read about how ISPs have battled to reroute access, how massive resources are needed to deal with these kinds of outages, and when the ship will reach the breakage points.

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Lenovo express-delivers new range from CES to SA

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Lenovo has unveiled its new range of ThinkBook laptops, barely two weeks after they were showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. 

The company’s newest sub-brand, ThinkBook, is intended to meet the demand for more aesthetically pleasing, yet agile and powerful devices.

The new range is aimed at small and medium enterprises. According to the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), there are more than 2-million SMEs in South Africa – although there are only 667,433 in the formal sector. This tallies with estimates in recent editions of SME Survey, produced by World Wide Worx, which suggest 650,000 active, formal businesses in South Africa. These SMEs employ about 14% of the South African workforce. 

Lenovo argues that access to affordable, yet efficient, technology is a crucial factor in aiding business success and contributing towards the success of the nation. The company has found, in its own research, that younger people prefer working, creating and communicating online “with stylish devices that make a statement”. This means they require streamlined laptops which can be used to collaborate from any remote location, to enhance productivity.

Lenovo said in a statement on Thursday night: “Backed by customer research, ThinkBook is specially designed for SMEs, who typically purchase consumer laptops for perceived design and price advantages but can no longer rationalise their lack of extended services and warranties – core needs of any business. ThinkBook allows growing firms to keep a competitive edge in attracting today’s young tech-savvy execs with trendy yet cost-effective devices. 

Thibault Dousson, general manager of  Lenovo for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said at the launch event: “With the capacity, SMEs have to grow and upskill the country’s workforce, they are perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between the public sector and large enterprise. Bearing in mind the demands of the digital economy, this sector needs skills and resources in order to compete, and that is where devices such as the ThinkBook come in.”

In South Africa, ThinkBook laptops are now available in 13-, 14- and 15-inch variants. The flagship ThinkBook 14 and ThinkBook 15 devices are powered by Windows 10 Pro and up to 10th Gen Intel Core processing, which Lenovo says combines high performance with intuitive, time-saving features. Options include Intel Optane memory, WiFi 6, and discrete graphics.

The ThinkBook 15 comes at just 18.9mm thin, while the ThinkBook 14 is a mere 17.9mm, both with FHD displays and two Dolby Audio speakers, dual-array, Skype certified microphones and a USB 3.1 (Gen2, Type-C) port.

Lenovo has also introduced the ThinkBook S series, including an elegant 13.3-inch ThinkBook 13s. The sleek and light device is constructed of a metallic finish on an all-aluminium chassis, alongside a narrow bezel display. As with the ThinkBook 14 and 15, the ThinkBook 13s also features advanced Intel processing and an FHD display, Dolby Vision and Harman speakers with Dolby Audio.

Visit the next page to read about the design and features of the new ThinkBook range.

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