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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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SA’s Internet goes down again

South Africa is about to experience a small repeat of the lower speeds and loss of Internet connectivity suffered in January, thanks to a new undersea cable break, writes BRYAN TURNER

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Internet service provider Afrihost has notified customers that there are major outages across all South African Internet Service Providers (ISPs), as a result of a break in the WACS undersea cable between Portugal and England 

The cause of the cable break along the cable is unclear. it marks the second major breakage event along the West African Internet sea cables this year, and comes at the worst possible time: as South Africans grow heavily dependent on their Internet connections during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

As a result of the break, the use of international websites and services, which include VPNs (virtual private networks), may result in latency – decreased speeds and response times.  

WACS runs from Yzerfontein in the Western Cape, up the West Coast of Africa, and terminates in the United Kingdom. It makes a stop in Portugal before it reaches the UK, and the breakage is reportedly somewhere between these two countries. 

The cable is owned in portions by several companies, and the portion where the breakage has occurred belongs to Tata Communications. 

The alternate routes are:  

  • SAT3, which runs from Melkbosstrand also in the Western Cape, up the West Coast and terminates in Portugal and Spain. This cable runs nearly parallel to WACS and has less Internet capacity than WACS. 
  • ACE (Africa Coast to Europe), which also runs up the West Coast.  
  • The SEACOM cable runs from South Africa, up the East Coast of Africa, terminating in both London and Dubai.  
  • The EASSy cable also runs from South Africa, up the East Coast, terminating in Sudan, from where it connects to other cables. 

The routes most ISPs in South Africa use are WACS and SAT3, due to cost reasons. 

The impact will not be as severe as in January, though. All international traffic is being redirected via alternative cable routes. This may be a viable method for connecting users to the Internet but might not be suitable for latency-sensitive applications like International video conferencing. 

Read more about the first Internet connectivity breakage which happened on the same cable, earlier this year. 

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SA cellphones to be tracked to fight coronavirus

Several countries are tracking cellphones to understand who may have been exposed to coronavirus-infected people. South Africa is about to follow suit, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From Israel to South Korea, governments and cell networks have been implementing measures to trace the cellphones of coronavirus-infected citizens, and who they’ve been around. The mechanisms countries have used have varied.  

In Iran, citizens were encouraged to download an app that claimed to diagnose COVID-19 with a series of yes or no questions. The app also tracked real-time location with a very high level of accuracy, provided by the GPS sensor. 

In Germany, all cellphones on Deutsche Telekom are being tracked through cell tower connections, providing a much coarser location, but a less invasive method of tracking. The data is being handled by the Robert Koch Institute, the German version of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

In Taiwan, those quarantined at home are tracked via an “electronic fence”, which determines if users leave their homes.  

In South Africa, preparations have started to track cellphones based on cell tower connections. The choice of this method is understandable, as many South Africans may either feel an app is too intrusive to have installed, or may not have the data to install the app. This method also allows more cellphones, including basic feature phones, to be tracked. 

This means that users can be tracked on a fairly anonymised basis, because these locations can be accurate to about 2 square kilometers. Clearly, this method of tracking is not meant to monitor individual movements, but rather gain a sense of who’s been around which general area.  

This data could be used to find lockdown violators, if one considers that a phone connecting in Hillbrow for the first 11 days of lockdown, and then connecting in Morningside for the next 5, likely indicates a person has moved for an extended period of time. 

The distance between Hillbrow and Morningside is 17km. One would pass through several zones covered by different towers.

Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said that South African network providers have agreed to provide government with location data to help fight COVID-19. 

Details on how the data will be used, and what it will used to determine, are still unclear. 

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