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Future-proof with software

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Software development is a project that needs constant attention, and so development teams need to be seen as an extension of their client’s business. This partnership also needs to allow for constant feedback, writes MEGON THOMSON, Software Development Manager at redPanda Software.

Within every business and across every sector worldwide, innovation and disruption are now the primary challenges that leaders face. New technology trends and digital platforms emerge every year, and only the agile and responsive are able to truly thrive in such an environment.

This has massive repercussions for those involved in the realm of software development and digital innovation. Instead of merely implementing once-off development projects, businesses now need long-term engagements with development teams in order to stay abreast of technology development and to ensure that the best solution is in place. As with technology itself, software development is not static – and the process needs to reflect the fluid, iterative and innovative nature of today’s technology environment.

With this in mind, South African businesses and software development teams need to take a closer look at their approach. In order for the best and most agile software solution to emerge from the process, there undoubtedly needs to be a far greater level of transparency built into the relationship. In many cases, this means rethinking the entire process – and making very practical changes from the start.

Built-in Visibility

To begin with, the early engagements between clients and software development partners should be very carefully and thoughtfully approached. Often, the stakeholders or people present in these early engagements are simply not close enough to the business problem. Or, the business problem itself has not yet been properly identified and thought through. The result of either – or a combination of – these two scenarios is that the client receives a solution that they perceive as different to what they had asked for. The entire process then becomes frustrating and far more complex than both parties had envisioned.

To avoid this, it is critical that businesses have a clear idea of the problem they need to solve, and the desired business outcomes. From there, both the client and the development team must ensure that the right stakeholders are present in the early engagements, and that the details of the project are discussed at length. Each party needs to be clear on the desired outcomes; the steps involved; and the roles that they need to assume in the process. This will ensure that there is a strong element of both transparency and visibility present in the relationship throughout.

A True Partnership

Given the iterative and fast changing nature of technology itself, the entire relationship between clients and development partners also needs redefining. It is no longer enough to invest in a once-off solution or ‘intervention’ – today, businesses need to view development teams as an extension of the modern enterprise environment. The goal should be to develop a long-term relationship in which the needs of the business are very clearly understood and factored into each step of the development process.

For such a partnership to emerge, there needs to be a very structured approach put in place that allows for constant and honest feedback. In development lingo, it is called a continuous feedback loop – which places the client at the very heart of the process – and the solution itself.

This can mean that the client provides feedback even sooner than the traditional two-week sprint period. In some cases, this requires internal process changes for the client. However, once the initial groundwork has been done, the process yields a natural trust and transparency that benefits both parties in the short and long term.

For development teams, a transparent process leads to far higher productivity, as well as more consistency with regards to the quality of the software produced. For clients, they benefit from software that is not only more tailored and suited to their specific business and context, but they also achieve a solution that is future-proof and able to pivot in response to a disruptive business landscape.

Ultimately, such a solution is the smartest investment that any business can make…

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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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