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BBM Stickathon winner ‘more than just stickas’

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Last year, South Africans chose a range of new BBM ’stickas’ from Wesley van Eeden that most represent the South African culture and experience. They are now available from the BBM Shop for all major mobile operating systems.

South Africa has voted and chosen the ‘sticka’ ranges (chat icons) that most represent South African culture and experiences.  The winning designs created by Wesley van Eeden, among other entries, will be available for download from the BBM Shop on Android, iOS, BlackBerry or Windows Phones.

Wesley said that his designs represented his unique view of South Africa, captured on the BBM platform.

“I am inspired by African culture,” he said. “I love the organic, hand painted signage that you see around most CBD’s in South Africa and it’s this freshness that inspires my illustration technique.”

He said that illustration was traditionally used in a very one-dimensional way in elements like posters, logos and advertisements, meaning that the viewer could only interact with the illustrations by sight.

“Now, with these BBM Stickas, they use illustration in a way that empowers the users to be expressive in useful daily interactions,” he said. “To know that my stickas will help South Africans communicate is a very cool feeling.”

Matthew Talbot, BBM senior vice president, said: “BlackBerry has invested heavily into the South African market, not just as a technology brand, but in understanding the vibrant cultural tapestry of the local market to inspire a level of creativity that can enhance users’ experiences. We are in the business of creativity, and our ability to continue to push creative boundaries through a competition like the BBM Stickathon ensures our relevance as a brand.”

“I think the overall level of entries was very high,” said Industrial Designer and BBM Stickathon judge, Bradley Kirshenbaum of Love Jozi. “It’s amazing how South African culture can translate so perfectly into this new genre of iconography design. Stickas are not logos; they’re not illustrations; they’re a modern graphic communication tool and it’s exciting and challenging to design them.”

Kirshenbaum said he was most impressed by the fact that the designers really understood how to create a series of icons, as opposed to lone icons: “Some are less original than others, but there is a definite common thread running through them showing a strong South African visual language.”

Van Eeden wins an Apple iMac 21.5” as first prize, along with a Wacom Intuos Pro Medium drawing tablet, which he says he will put to good use as his current equipment is old.  Other prizes include a MacBook Pro and several Wacom drawing tablets.

View the locally-inspired BBM Stickathon entries at www.bbmstickathon.co.za.

 

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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