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AppDate: Opera enhances online privacy

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In this week’s AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights Opera VPN for Android, Marvel Contest of Champions, Disk Drill 3, Wayde’s World website, and Pick ’n Pay’s Super Animals.

Opera VPN for Android

The Opera VPN (virtual private network) for Android lets users enhance their online privacy, block ad-tracking cookies, access more online content, extend the geographical reach of apps and test the security of Wi-Fi networks before they connect to them. Users don’t need to register to use the app, nor do they have to sign up for any subscriptions. All they need to do is download and install the app. The Android version of the Opera VPN app follows the iOS version that rolled out globally in May.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Marvel Contest of Champions

Superb graphics, great sound and ease of use are all ingredients that make the Marvel Champions app one of the best fighting games available. The game offers players the ability to fight others head to head, start quests or enter into story mode where they will be able to upgrade their champions. At the beginning of the game one is given two characters and, as they progress, more are added.

Platform: iOS and Android

Expect to pay: Free to play, but endless in-app purchases are available.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Disk Drill 3

Corrupt files, missing partitions or accidentally deleted documents are issues most computer users have faced at some point. There are numerous applications that claim to be able to remedy these problems, but many only do half. Disk Drill for Mac, however, easily helps out with all of these problems. A user simply installs the software, selects the partition or file that needs to be recovered, and selects the rebuild or recover option. The application is able to recover over 200 file formats and also includes an option to recover files from an Android device.

Platform: iOS

Expect to pay: The free version offers very limited recovery options, while the Pro version, which costs R1300, will recover most lost files and partitions.

Stockists: www.cleverfiles.com

 

Wayde’s World website

The Wayde’s World website, sponsored by T-Systems, is a live biography website that documents every aspect of South Africa’s Olympic 400m gold medalist Wayde van Niekerk’s life, from details of his athletics career, such as training times, obstacles and achievements, to his personal life. The site, fully connected to social media platforms, takes the viewer with Wayde on his travels and provides glimpses into what makes the star athlete tick.

Platform: Any up-to-date web browser

Expect to pay: Free to use.

Stockists: www.waydesworldsa.co.za

 

Pick ’n Pay’s Super Animals

Super Animals comprises a collection of 108 cards, each depicting interesting facts about an animal. For every R150 spent at any Pick n Pay, a shopper gets a pack of four collectible cards. The cards are divided into nine categories – fastest, toughest, deadliest, smartest, fiercest, weirdest, sneakiest, loudest and showiest – and can be stored in a glossy collector’s album. In addition to luring parents into spending more money at Pick ’n Pay stores to collect the cards, an app has been made available that lets children scan the individual barcodes of each card. Once scanned, the app uses augmented reality to bring the Super Card to life. A virtual album is also included, where the scanned cards are stored and achievements unlocked.

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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CES: Most useless gadgets of all

Choosing the best of show is a popular pastime, but the worst gadgets of CES also deserve their moment of infamy, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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It’s fairly easy to choose the best new gadgets launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week. Most lists – and there are many – highlight the LG roll-up TV, the Samsung modular TV, the Royole foldable phone, the impossible burger, and the walking car.

But what about the voice assisted bed, the smart baby dining table, the self-driving suitcase and the robot that does nothing? In their current renditions, they sum up what is not only bad about technology, but how technology for its own sake quickly leads us down the rabbit hole of waste and futility.

The following pick of the worst of CES may well be a thinly veneered attempt at mockery, but it is also intended as a caution against getting caught up in hype and justification of pointless technology.

1. DUX voice-assisted bed

The single most useless product launched at CES this year must surely be a bed with Alexa voice control built in. No, not to control the bed itself, but to manage the smart home features with which Alexa and other smart speakers are associated. Or that any smartphone with Siri or Google Assistant could handle. Swedish luxury bedmaker DUX thinks it’s a good idea to manage smart lights, TV, security and air conditioning through the bed itself. Just don’t say Alexa’s “wake word” in your sleep.

2. Smart Baby Dining Table 

Ironically, the runner-up comes from a brand that also makes smart beds: China’s 37 Degree Smart Home. Self-described as “the world’s first smart furniture brand that is transforming technology into furniture”, it outdid itself with a Smart Baby Dining Table. This isa baby feeding table with a removable dining chair that contains a weight detector and adjustable camera, to make children’s weight and temperature visible to parents via the brand’s app. Score one for hands-off parenting.

Click here to read about smart diapers, self-driving suitcases, laundry folders, and bad robot companions.

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CES: Tech means no more “lost in translation”

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Talking to strangers in foreign countries just got a lot easier with recent advancements in translation technology. Last week, major companies and small startups alike showed the CES technology expo in Las Vegas how well their translation worked at live translation.

Most existing translation apps, like Bixby and Siri Translate, are still in their infancy with live speech translation, which brings about the need for dedicated solutions like these technologies:

Babel’s AIcorrect pocket translator

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The AIcorrect Translator, developed by Beijing-based Babel Technology, attracted attention as the linguistic king of the show. As an advanced application of AI technology in consumer technology, the pocket translator deals with problems in cross-linguistic communication. 

It supports real-time mutual translation in multiple situations between Chinese/English and 30 other languages, including Japanese, Korean, Thai, French, Russian and Spanish. A significant differentiator is that major languages like English being further divided into accents. The translation quality reaches as high as 96%.

It has a touch screen, where transcription and audio translation are shown at the same time. Lei Guan, CEO of Babel Technology, said: “As a Chinese pathfinder in the field of AI, we designed the device in hoping that hundreds of millions of people can have access to it and carry out cross-linguistic communication all barrier-free.” 

Click here to read about the Pilot, Travis, Pocketalk, Google and Zoi translators.

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