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AppDate: Liberty brings learning channel to app

In this week’s app roundup, SEAN BACHER takes a look at TenFold, Uber ICEplus, KLM’s Travel Guide, MTN’s Supersonic, and Samsung Pay with Discovery Tab.

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TenFold

Liberty has partnered with the Mindset Network to deliver Maths and Physical Science education to learners across South Africa using a mobile app called TenFold Education. It offers educational content and extra learning material for learners in grades 10 to 12.

In the 1990s, millions of school children tuned into the Liberty Learning Channel to watch William Smith and other educators teach Maths and Physical Science in a studio, using a projector. While this format was relevant back then, the learning landscape today has completely evolved.

In addition to TenFold, a 60-minute interactive television show airs on DSTV Channel Mindset TV. It offers a full learning experience aligned to the CAPS curriculum, and is broadcast every day during school terms. The content on the TenFold App provides interactive nuggets of the same information, and houses hundreds of hours of instructional video resources, and exam style assessments.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Download TenFold for Android hereand for iOS here.

Uber ICEplus

Using Uber safely starts with riders checking their ride details. But what happens when an accident or an incident happens on a trip? With safety being a number one priority for Uber, it has provided features to keep riders safe from before your trip starts to after it ends, ensuring transparency and traceability. One such feature is the in-app emergency button which is available to riders during trips in any safety-related incidents.

This feature, which is provided by ICEplus, a mobile panic button solution, can be found in Uber’s safety toolkit, making it easily accessible for riders on their home screen.

Where safety is compromised, riders can call for assistance directly from the Uber app by tapping the shield icon on the map. Once the in-app button has been activated, riders will be connected to ICEplus Incident Management Centre, where a consultant will assess the nature of the safety incident and either dispatch a third-party private security company or medical response team to the rider’s location. The ICEplus agent will stay on the line with riders until they are safe.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Accessible through through the Uber app which can be downloaded here

KLM’s Travel Guide

Alexa users can go in search of the KLM destination best suited to them using KLM’s Travel Guide. The app offers inspiration as well as personal advice in terms of flight duration, budget, travel dates and specifications, such as a “city trip” or “beach holiday”. 

Based on this information, KLM suggests the destination that best fulfils the passenger’s wishes, along with the ticket price and a short description. This KLM service is available on all speakers running the Alexa operating system, with or without a screen.

Platform: Available on any device using the Alexa OS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit KLM here for more information. 

Click here to read about MTN’s Supersonic fibre and Samsung Pay with Discover Tab

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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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