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Google Home and Amazon Echo come to South Africa

The devices are directly imported from the USA by Cellucity, but are ICASA-approved and carry a local warranty

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The Cellucity retail chain has announced that it will bring a wide range of Google and Amazon gadgets into South Africa for the festive season. It will be launching the Google home range of smart speakers, as well as Google’s Chromecast smart TV device and a range of Amazon products.

The company said in a statement: “Smart home speakers are all the rage right now – not only fun and entertaining; they are also useful at helping you plan your day. Set the alarm – no problem, check the weather – no problem. Check the traffic; yes, you probably guessed it – no problem! And, with the festive period around the corner, they make the ideal gift whether you are tech-savvy or a newbie to the world of IoT.

“We are not ones to shy away from trends and are excited to be able to offer a range of smart speakers. For our Google lovers, we are happy to be launching the Google Home range.”

The Google Home Mini is a stylish compact speaker with all the functionality of Google Assistant. Users can ask it questions or give it commands, hands-free. Although the Google Mini offers exceptional clarity of sound, those looking for a bit of oomph will probably look to the Google Home Assistant Smart Speaker. As with the Google Mini, the Google Home offers Google Assistant but offers enhanced sound, bass and far-field voice recognition.

“If you are looking for more than just a smart speaker, check out the Smart Home Hub,” advises Cellucity. “With all the functionality of the Google Smart Mini and Home, the Home Hub doubles as a digital photo frame and offers the advantage of video playback. 

The following Google Home products can be purchased either upfront or added on to selected Vodacom contracts at Cellucity:

  • Google Home Mini at R899, or from R40 per month as an add-on to selected Vodacom contract packages.
  • Google Home Smart at R2499
  • Google Home Hub from R2499, or R90 per month as an add-on to selected Vodacom contract packages.

For TV viewers, Cellucity has launched Google Chromecast, which connects to any smart TV. It’s compact and mobile so can br taken with on holiday. The Chromecast, which is ideal for bringing Netflix or Showmax to a smart TV, will be available from R849.

For those looking to Amazon products, Cellucity is launching the Amazon Echo speakers 2nd and 3rd Gen at R999 and R1499 respectively. It is also offering the Amazon Firestick 4K, allowing users to stream shows and content in 4K. The Firestick will be available from R1299.

 All the Google Home and Amazon products are easy to pair with both Android and iOS. 

It is important to note that all features may not yet be available in South Africa, particularly with Amazon products, but Cellucity says it is working on it. The devices have been imported directly from the USA, but have been ICASA approved and will carry a local warranty. 

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GoFundMe hits R9bn in donations for people and causes

The world’s largest social fundraising platform has announced that Its community has made more than 120-million donations

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GoFundMe this week released its annual Year in Giving report, revealing that its community has donated more than 120-million times, raising over $9-billion for people, causes, and organisations since the company’s founding in 2010.

In a letter to the GoFundMe community, CEO Rob Solomon emphasised how GoFundMe witnesses not only the good in people worldwide, but their generosity and their action every day.

“As we enter a new decade, GoFundMe is committed to spreading compassion and empathy through our platform,” said Solomon in the letter. “Together, we can bring more good into the world and unlock the power of global giving.”

The GoFundMe giving community continues to grow with both repeat donors and new donors. In fact, nearly 60% of donors were new this year. After someone makes a donation, they continue to engage with the community and give to multiple causes. In fact, one passionate individual donated 293 times to 234 different fundraisers in this past year alone. Donations are made every second, ranging from $5 to $50,000. This year, more than 40% of donations were under $50.

GoFundMe continues to be a mirror of current events across the globe. This year, young changemakers started the Fridays for Futuremovement to fight climate change, which led to a 60% increase in fundraiser descriptions mentioning ‘climate change’. Additionally, the community rallied together to support one another during natural disasters like Hurricane Dorian and the California wildfires, where thousands of fundraisers were started to help those in need.

The report includes a snapshot of giving trends from the year based on global GoFundMe data. It also includes company milestones from 2019, such as launching the company’s non-profit and advocacy arm, GoFundMe.org, and introducing GoFundMe Charity, which provides enterprise software with no subscription fees or contracts to charities of every size.

Highlights from GoFundMe’s 2019 Year in Giving report include:

  • Global giving trends and data
  • Top 10 most generous countries
  • Top 10 most generous U.S. states and cities
  • Biggest moments in 2019

To view the entire report, visit: www.gofundme.com/2019

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Cars

For users, in-car touchscreens ever more useless

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As touchscreens become more commonplace, the gulf of perceived differences in the performance of these features between cars and other devices (such as mobile and in-home) has become wider. A new report from the In-Vehicle UX (IVX) group at Strategy Analytics has investigated car owners’ satisfaction with their on-board touchscreens. Long hamstrung by poor UX and extended production cycles, in-car touchscreens are seen by car users and buyers as lagging behind the experience offered by touchscreens outside the car. As such, consumer satisfaction has continued to slide in China and Europe, while reaching historic lows in the US.

Surveying consumers in the US, Western Europe, and China via web-survey, key report findings include:

  • Difficult text entry and excessive fingerprint smudging are common complaints among all car owners.
  • Because touchscreens have reached market saturation in the US, satisfaction with in-car screens has tailed off significantly.
  • However, touchscreens remain a relatively newer phenomenon in many car models in Western Europe (compared with the US) and thus their limitations are less prominent in the minds of car owners.
  • Overall touchscreen satisfaction fell for the fifth straight year in China, indicating a growing impatience for in-car UX to match UX found elsewhere in the consumer electronics space.

Derek Viita, Senior Analyst and report author, says, “Part of the issue with fingerprint smudging is the angle at which in-car touchscreens are installed – they make every fingerprint increasingly visible.

“Fingerprint smudging is an issue across all touchscreen-based consumer electronics. But in most form factors and especially mobile devices, consumers can quite easily adjust their viewing angle. This is not always the case with fixed in-car screens.”

Says Chris Schreiner, Director, Syndicated Research UXIP, “Although hardware quality certainly figures in many of the usual complaints car owners have about their screens, it is not the sole factor. Cockpit layout and UI design can play important roles in mitigating some issues with in-car touchscreens.”

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