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AppDate: Standard Bank ups the banking app ante

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In this AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights the new Standard Bank app, Jongla messaging, TaxTim,  MiBlackBox personal assistant and the opening of the MTN Business SA App of the Year Awards.

Standard Bank smartphone app

The latest release to Standard Bank’s smartphone app enables customers to make international payments to individual recipients in almost 200 countries. It also now offers the ability for customers to adjust their daily and monthly ATM limits, as well as request vehicle finance letters. Another significant update is the built-in architectural changes necessary to roll out the app into various other regions in which the Standard Bank Group operates. Standard bank customers can also stop their cards if they get lost and can open up new saving or investment accounts.

Platform: Android, iOS and Windows Phone

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Jongla messaging

Jongla is similar to WhatsApp and other IM apps in a number of ways – most importantly, users sign up using their existing mobile numbers and the messaging app can be used across most major platforms. Jongla differs from other apps in that it has been specifically developed for people living and working in Africa – and other emerging markets where data costs are high and coverage is unreliable. The app uses only 3.4MB to download on Android phones compared to WhatsApp (23.7MB) or Facebook Messenger (30.2MB). Once downloaded, Jongla uses just 10% of the handset’s memory and its data compression techniques mean it does not consume as much mobile data as other messaging apps.

Platform: iOS, Android, Windows Phone and most modern Internet browsers

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

TaxTim

TaxTim is an interactive tax return assistant that is designed to help individual taxpayers with their tax returns. It is well laid out, making it user-friendly. It is fully integrated into SARS eFiling, meaning that, once authorised, the app can import the user’s IRP5 data for easy completion and submit the completed return directly to SARS. TaxTim has three tax return options, Lite, Smart and Ultra, to accommodate most earners, from those with a basic salary, to freelancers, commission earners, independent contractors and sole proprietors.

Platform: Any device with an up-to-date Internet browser.

Expect to pay: A free service.

Stockists: Visit www.taxtim.com

 

MiBlackBox personal assistant

MiBlackBox is a personal, virtual witness service that allows one to better communicate with loved ones or emergency services in times of need. The app lets users record calls, pictures and videos at the push of a button, subsequently relaying that information and encrypting it to a secured remote server, while also notifying an elected emergency contact or emergency services directly. MiBlackBox can also be used in cases of bullying, domestic violence, date rape, corruption or fraud, traffic officer and police interactions, road block scenarios, and even in accidents for insurance purposes. It also offers alternate methods to access the secured information, all of which is encrypted, time- and date-stamped.

Platform: Android, iOS or an up-to-date Internet browser

Expect to pay: R12 per month

Stockists: Visit www.miblackbox.co.za

 

MTN Business SA App of the Year Awards 2016

Entries for the MTN Business SA App of the Year Awards 2016 are now open. The App of the Year Awards is a springboard for creative developers and their solutions. Previous winners of the awards have gone on to launch their apps internationally, many of which have been acquired by corporates. Previous winners and category winners include SnapScan, Wumdrop, FNB Banking, Money4Jam, Zapper, Vula Mobile, and PriceCheck.

Visit www.appoftheyear.co.za for more information.

* Sean Bacher is editor of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @SeanBacher

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Kenya tool to help companies prepare for emergencies

After its team members survived last week’s Nairobi terror attack, Ushahidi decided to release a new preparedness tool for free, writes its CEO, NAT MANNING

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On Tuesday I woke up a bit before 7am in Berkeley, California where I live. I made some coffee and went over to my computer to start my work day. I checked my Slack and the news and quickly found out that there was an ongoing terrorist attack at 14 Riverside Complex in Nairobi, Kenya. The Ushahidi office is in Nairobi and about a third of our team is based there (the rest of us are spread across 10 other countries).

As I read the news, my heart plummeted, and I immediately asked the question, “is everyone on my team okay?”

Five years ago Al-Shabaab committed a similar attack at the Westgate Mall. We spent several tense hours figuring out if any of our team had been in the mall, and verifying that everyone was safe. We found out that one of our team member’s family was caught up in the attack. Luckily they made it out.

At Ushahidi we make software for crisis response, including tools to map disasters and election violence, and yet we felt helpless in the face of this attack. In the days following the Westgate attack, our team huddled and thought about what we could build that would help our team — and other teams — if we found ourselves in a similar situation to this attack again. We identified that when we first learned of the attack, nearly everyone at Ushahidi had spent that first precious few hours trying to answer the basic questions, “Is everyone okay?”, and if not, “Who needs help?” 

People had ad-hoc used multiple channels such as WhatsApp, called, emailed, or texted. We had done this for each person at Ushahidi (their job), in our families, and important people in our community. Our process was unorganised, inefficient, repetitive, and frustrating.

And from this problem we created TenFour, a check in tool that makes it easier for teams to reach one another during times of crisis. It is a simple application that lets people send a message to their team via SMS, Slack, Voice, email, and in-app, and get a response. It also works for educational institutions, companies with distributed staff, as well as part of neighbourhood networks like neighbourhood watches.

This week when I woke up to the news of the attack at Riverside, I immediately opened up the TenFour app.

Click here to read how Nat quickly confirmed the safety of his team.

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Kia multi-collision airbags

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The world’s first multi-collision airbag system has been unveiled by Hyundai Motor Group subsidiary KIA Motors, with the aim of improving airbag performance in multi-collision accidents.

Multi-collision accidents are those in which the primary impact is followed by collisions with secondary objects, such as other vehicles, trees, or electrical posts, which occur in three out of every 10 accidents. Current airbag systems do not offer secondary protection when the initial impact is insufficient to cause them to deploy. 

However, the multi-collision airbag system allows airbags to deploy effectively upon a secondary impact, by calibrating the status of the vehicle and the occupants.

The new technology detects occupants’ positions in the cabin following an initial collision. When occupants are forced into unusual positions, the effectiveness of existing safety technology may be compromised. Multi-collision airbag systems are designed to deploy even faster when initial safety systems may not be effective, providing additional safety when drivers and passengers are most vulnerable. By recalibrating the collision intensity required for deployment, the airbag system responds more promptly during the secondary impact, thereby improving the safety of multi-collision vehicle occupants.

“By improving airbag performance in multi-collision scenarios, we expect to significantly improve the safety of our drivers and passengers,” said Taesoo Chi, head of the Hyundai Motor Group’s Chassis Technology Centre. “We will continue our research on more diverse crash situations as part of our commitment to producing even safer vehicles that protect occupants and prevent injuries.”

According to statistics by the National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System (NASS-CDS), an office of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in USA, about 30% of 56,000 vehicle accidents from 2000 to 2012 in the North American region involved multi-collisions. The leading type of multi-collision accidents involved cars crossing over the centre line (30.8%), followed by collisions caused by a sudden stop at highway tollgates (13.5%), highway median strip collisions (8.0%), and sideswiping and collision with trees and electric poles (4.0%). 

These multi-collision scenarios were analysed in multilateral ways to improve airbag performance and precision in secondary collisions. Once commercialised, the system will be implemented in future new KIA vehicles. 

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