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Isizwe rolls out more free Wi-Fi services in Tshwane

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Tshwane residents can look forward to making free calls as well as downloading blockbuster movies free of charge on the Tshwane Free Wi-Fi network, making Tshwane the first city in the world that offers free access to movies in this way.

Kgosientso Ramokgopa, executive mayor of Tshwane, announced today that three new services, Wi-Fi Voice, Drive In and WiFi Chat will be added from today. Wi-Fi Chat is a web-based platform for information and feedback, as well as a new service delivery mechanism where users can log queries and complaints.

With Wi-Fi Voice users connected to the Tshwane Free Wi-Fi network using the Wi-Fi Voice application, will be able to make unlimited free calls to each other and the city’s customer care line, while Wi-Fi Drive In will enable users to watch a selection of movies including some of the latest Hollywood blockbusters, on their private devices in a Wi-Fi Drive Inn area.

“The high cost of voice calls creates a barrier to stimulating economic growth and creating opportunity for our youth. The City of Tshwane will effectively reduce the cost of doing business in and with the city through the Tshwane WiFi Voice app,” says Zahir Khan, COO of Project Isizwe, the non-profit organisation driving the process of bringing free Wi-Fi to communities.

Wi-Fi Drive In will be available over weekends and offer family entertainment around thirty Hollywood blockbusters on personal devices, complemented by food kiosks, flea-market stalls and kids’ areas to offer a true family experience to enjoy content previously reserved for a privileged few.  The first site will be the Fountains Valley Park and more sites will be enabled based on the model developed here.

“We envisage that this site will offer a secure environment where people can congregate and be entertained. It is important for the city to create environments for family entertainment where citizens can break away from their usual routine and engage in a unique, ground-breaking experience,” Khan says.

The Tshwane Free Wi-Fi service realises the City of Tshwane’s vision of enabling every citizen to be digitally included and part of the digital economy, regardless of personal circumstance. The value the service offers to citizens in a city where connectivity is available to everyone, has established Tshwane as a true global metropole. In addition, it ensures that the City is poised for the long-term benefits of increased GDP, productivity and efficiencies from a service delivery as well as a digital inclusion perspective.

The Tshwane Free Wi-Fi network has 700 live sites, in more than 95% of the wards in the city. So far the service has had more than 720,000 unique users. The network is available at sites at various schools, tertiary centres, libraries, health facilities, customer and municipal centres, tourism and heritage venues, as well as sites on buses, at stations and curb stops on the Areyeng Trunk Route.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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