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AppDate: Short-term insurance on the go

In this week’s app round up, SEAN BACHER highlights Liberty’s short-term insurance app, FNB’s flight booking service, MTN’s child literacy app, Namola Plus and FutureTV’s What’s New Channel.

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Liberty Short-term Insurance

The latest Liberty Short-term Insurance app allows its clients to engage with the group on their own terms, thanks to a newly developed chatbot which they can use 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Customers can obtain quotes for the short-term insurance offerings, conclude the policy initiation process, and access emergency assistance through the app. An SOS button can also arrange an Uber drive home in the event of an accident, or dispatch emergency support if needed.

Young drivers will be glad to hear that Liberty has used technology to change the status quo when analysing their driving. Traditionally, younger people who are looking for short-term insurance have been penalised as a result of preconceptions about their behaviour patterns on the road. However, the app is able to monitor diving habits and quote accordingly.

The rewards for good driving include premiums discounted by as much as 30%, and Uber vouchers worth up to R400 a year. The assessment can be conducted annually in order to qualify for further discounts.

Platform: Android, iOS or desktop

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists. Visit the Liberty website here for downloading instructions.

FNB with flight booking service

FNB app users can now book domestic and international flights using their eBucks that they have accumulated by swiping their credit card when making purchases.

According to the bank, this is far more secure than using older methods, where people would have to divulge their credit card details to third parties or websites, leaving them open to fraud and scams.

The travel feature expands the suite of services under the eBucks tab, which includes Shop on App, latest offers, complimentary lounge visits, registering for the Entertainer App discounts and a guide on how customers can earn more eBucks.

FNB & RMB Private Bank customers can expect discounts of up to 40% off on domestic and international flights. They will also have the ability to manage bookings, view their discounts and maintain family profiles on the app.

To access and start using Flights on app, customers must have an existing eBucks account and have the latest version of the FNB or RMB Private Bank app.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit FNB here for downloading instructions.

MTN’s Feed the Monster literacy app

With calls growing louder for government, corporates and all citizens to step up to help solve the growing literacy crisis, the MTN SA Foundation has partnered with Bellavista S.H.A.R.E. to pilot a child literacy app designed to enhance reading fluency and comprehension.

The Feed the Monster app helps make learning the fundamentals of reading more meaningful and fun, while reaching out to a wide community. In recognition of the importance of using the mother tongue to foster literacy at foundation level, MTN has localised the solution into all 11 official languages in South Africa.

The app addresses all aspects of reading, and bridges the gap between literacy skills and fluent reading.

It is targeted at readers between the ages of six and eight and works by matching letters with sounds, giving kids the ability to learn that sounds combined together make words, and words together make sentences that carry meaning.

Platform: Android

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Download the app here.

Namola Plus

Namola has extended its personal safety app with the launch of Namola Plus.

Namola Plus comes from people asking: “What if I can’t get to my phone in an emergency?” Or “What if I don’t have time to press the panic button in the Namola app?”

With Namola Plus, users get the same Namola experience, but with the following added benefits:

· Armed Response

· Private Emergency Medical Services (EMS)

This is available by subscribing to Namola Plus and continuing to use the Namola app on a phone.

In addition, users can opt for the Namola Panic Tracker with built-in GPS and SIM — no phone needed. The Namola Panic Tracker comes with all of the benefits of Plus, in a physical button you can keep in your pocket, wear around your neck, or put on your keychain. When you press the panic button, the company will attempt to call back on the device itself.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: Namola Plus costs R49 per month, with the Namola Panic Tracker costing R1 399 once-off and a R79 per month subscription

Stockists: Download the app here and then open Namola and tap on the Shop at the bottom. Pick one of the two options (app-only or standalone device). And complete check-out.

What’s New channel

Future TV has released the What’s New channel, which is said to be the world’s first on demand television streaming guide, offering viewers a guide to the top-rated series, movies and music available for streaming on television.

The What’s New Channel came about due to the frustration of having limited time yet so much to watch and not being able to recall which show is where. This problem just escalates over time as more streaming channels become available.

The app solves the problem by showcasing all new top-rated content that is launched daily, with a description of the programme; only content that has received a high rating score is included. Viewers can also preview the content by playing the trailer through the app and can play the show directly if they have a subscription to the streaming service.

What’s New Channel is currently available on Roku and Roku TV, with Apple and Smart TV versions being developed. The guide also showcases free-to-stream movies and series from services like Pluto TV and Sony Crackle.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Download What’s new Channel by clicking here.

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Tech promotes connections across groups in emerging markets

Digital technology users say they more regularly interact with people from diverse backgrounds

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Smartphone users – especially those who use social media – say they are more regularly exposed to people who have different backgrounds. They are also more connected with friends they don’t see in person, a Pew Research Center survey of adults in 11 emerging economies finds.

South Africa, included in the study, has among the most consistent levels of connection across age groups and education levels and in terms of cross-cultural connections. This suggests both that smartphones have had a greater democratisation impact in South Africa, but also that the country is more geared to diversity than most others. Of 11 countries surveyed, it has the second-lowest spread between those using smartphones and those not using them in terms of exposure to other religious groups.

Across every country surveyed, those who use smartphones are more likely than those who use less sophisticated phones or no phones at all to regularly interact with people from different religious groups. In most countries, people with smartphones also tend to be more likely to interact regularly with people from different political parties, income levels and racial or ethnic backgrounds. 

The Center’s new report is the third in a series exploring digital connectivity among populations in emerging economies based on nationally representative surveys of adults in Colombia, India, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, the Philippines, Tunisia, South Africa, Venezuela and Vietnam. Earlier reports examined attitudes toward misinformation and mobile technology’s social impact

The survey finds that smartphone and social media use are intertwined: A median of 91% of smartphone users in these countries also use social media or messaging apps, while a median of 81% of social media users say they own or share a smartphone. And, as with smartphone users, social media and messaging app users stand apart from non-users in how often they interact with people who are different from them. For example, 52% of Mexican social media users say they regularly interact with people of a different income level, compared with 28% of non-users. 

These results do not show with certainty that smartphones or social media are the cause of people feeling like they have more diverse networks. For example, those who have resources to buy and maintain a smartphone are likely to differ in many key ways from those who don’t, and it could be that some combination of those differences drives this phenomenon. Still, statistical modelling indicates that smartphone and social media use are independent predictors of greater social network diversity when other factors such as age, education and sex are held constant. 

Other key findings in the report include: 

  • Mobile phones and social media are broadening people’s social networks. More than half in most countries say they see in person only about half or fewer of the people they call or text. Mobile phones are also allowing many to stay in touch with people who live far away: A median of 93% of mobile phone users across the 11 countries surveyed say their phones have mostly helped them keep in touch with those who are far-flung. When it comes to social media, large shares report relationships with “friends” online who are distinct from those they see in person. A median of 46% of Facebook users across the 11 countries report seeing few or none of their Facebook friends in person regularly, compared with a median of 31% of Facebook users who often see most or all of their Facebook friends in person. 
  • Social activities and information seeking on subjects like health and education top the list of mobile activities. The survey asked mobile phone users about 10 different activities they might do on their mobile phones – activities that are social, information-seeking or commercial in nature. Among the most commonly reported activities are casual, social activities. For example, a median of 82% of mobile phone users in the 11 countries surveyed say they used their phone over the past year to send text messages and a median of 69% of users say they took pictures or videos. Many mobile phone users are also using their phones to find new information. For example, a median of 61% of mobile phone users say they used their phones over the past year to look up information about health and medicine for themselves or their families. This is more than the proportion that reports using their phones to get news and information about politics (median of 47%) or to look up information about government services (37%). Additionally, around half or more of mobile phone users in nearly all countries report having used their phones over the past 12 months to learn something important for work or school. 
  • Digital divides emerge in the new mobile-social environment. People with smartphones and social media – as well as younger people, those with higher levels of education, and men – are in some ways reaping more benefits than others, potentially contributing to digital divides. 
    • People with smartphones are much more likely to engage in activities on their phones than people with less sophisticated devices – even if the activity itself is quite simple. For example, people with smartphones are more likely than those with feature or basic phones to send text messages in each of the 11 countries surveyed, even though the activity is technically feasible from all mobile phones. Those who have smartphones are also much more likely to look up information for their households, including about health and government services. 
    •  There are also major differences in mobile usage by age and education level in how their devices are – or are not – broadening their horizons. Younger people are more likely to use their phones for nearly all activities asked about, whether those activities are social, information-seeking or commercial. Phone users with higher levels of education are also more likely to do most activities on their phones and to interact with those who are different from them regularly than those with lower levels of education. 
    •  Gender, too, plays a role in what people do with their devices and how they are exposed to different people and information. Men are more likely than women to say they encounter people who are different from them, whether in terms of race, politics, religion or income. And men tend to be more likely to look up information about government services and to obtain political news and information. 

These findings are drawn from a Pew Research Center survey conducted among 28,122 adults in 11 countries from Sept. 7 to Dec. 7, 2018. In addition to the survey, the Center conducted focus groups with participants in Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and Tunisia in March 2018, and their comments are included throughout the report. 

Read the full report at https://www.pewinternet.org/2019/08/22/in-emerging-economies-smartphone-and-social-media-users-have-broader-social-networks.

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Nokia to be first with Android 10

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Nokia is likely to be the first smartphone brand to roll out Android 10, after its manufacturer, HMD Global, announced that the Android 10 software upgrade would start in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Previously named Android Q, it was given the number after Google announced it was ditching sweet and dessert names due to confusion in different languages. Android 10 is due for release at the end of the year.

Juho Sarvikas, chief product officer of HMD Global said: “With a proven track record in delivering software updates fast, Nokia smartphones were the first whole portfolio to benefit from a 2-letter upgrade from Android Nougat to Android Oreo and then Android Pie. We were the fastest manufacturer to upgrade from Android Oreo to Android Pie across the range. 

“With today’s roll out plan we look set to do it even faster for Android Pie to Android 10 upgrades. We are the only manufacturer 100% committed to having the latest Android across the entire portfolio.”

HMD Global has given a guarantee that Nokia smartphone owners benefit from two years of OS upgrades and 3 years of security updates.

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