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Sean Bacher

New in apps: Clash of Clans fun and addictive

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In his first round-up of the latest apps, SEAN BACHER spotlights Clash of Clans as most enjoyable app, and downloads Silent Foto, CrumbTrail, Tumblr for Windows Phone 8 and Laser Gun the most annoying app.

Clash of Clans

Clash of Clans is a real-time-strategy (RTS) game that requires a good mix of strategy and combat, earning it the spot of the ‚”Most enjoyable app‚” in this week’s new apps roundup. Start off small and slowly grow a village where troops are trained and their abilities upgraded. Then enter battle mode, where rival clan members are fought and their gold stolen. Although the game can be played from start to finish without any in-game purchases, it may be a good idea to buy a few gems to speed things along, as the more you progress, the longer buildings take to erect with some of them taking up to two weeks to complete.

Platforms: iOS

Stockists: Apple App Store.

Expect to pay: Downloading the game is free, but in-game purchases can set you back a few hundred Rand.

Silent Foto

A smartphone’s camera resolution is now at the point where it can be used to take print-ready photos, but many of them still make a fake shutter noise to alert you that a photo has been taken. In loud situations, this doesn’t really matter, but when at conferences, for example, the shutter noise not only distracts speakers, but annoys fellow delegates. Silent Foto turns off the shutter sound completely, allowing for complete silence when the next pic is taken.

Platforms: BlackBerry OS 6 and OS 10

Stockists: BlackBerry World.

Expect to pay: Downloading the app is free and in-app purchases are available.

CrumbTrail

CrumbTrail transforms a phonebook from a basic directory with limited functionality and reliant on human memory into a tool to manage professional and private networks. It updates contact information with dates and times they were last seen or spoken to, offering an option to add notes to the contact. Contacts can then be viewed by the last time they were spoken to or by the notes added to their names, instead of only by names or surnames.

Platforms: iOS

Stockists: Apple App Store.

Expect to pay: Around R10.

Tumblr for Windows Phone 8

The social networking site that allows the posting of text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos from a browser, phone, desktop, or e-mail is now available for Windows Phone 8. The app features the Windows 8 look and feel and allows users to add posted images to their lock screens and live tiles.

Platforms: Windows Phone 8, iOS and Android.

Stockists: Visit the app store linked to your device.

Expect to pay: The app is free.

Laser Gun

An image of a high-tech laser gun that measures the number of times a user taps the screen, sending out a high-pitched sound, earns Laser Gun the spot of ‚”Most annoying app‚” in this week’s app roundup. It is a waste of storage space and bandwidth and will drive friends and family mad.

Platforms: BlackBerry OS 10, although similar apps are available for most other platforms.

Stockists: Visit the app store linked to your device.

Expect to pay: The app is free to download.

* Follow Sean on Twitter on @SeanBacher

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AppDate: Short-term insurance on the go

In this week’s app round up, SEAN BACHER highlights Liberty’s short-term insurance app, FNB’s flight booking service, MTN’s child literacy app, Namola Plus and FutureTV’s What’s New Channel.

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Liberty Short-term Insurance

The latest Liberty Short-term Insurance app allows its clients to engage with the group on their own terms, thanks to a newly developed chatbot which they can use 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Customers can obtain quotes for the short-term insurance offerings, conclude the policy initiation process, and access emergency assistance through the app. An SOS button can also arrange an Uber drive home in the event of an accident, or dispatch emergency support if needed.

Young drivers will be glad to hear that Liberty has used technology to change the status quo when analysing their driving. Traditionally, younger people who are looking for short-term insurance have been penalised as a result of preconceptions about their behaviour patterns on the road. However, the app is able to monitor diving habits and quote accordingly.

The rewards for good driving include premiums discounted by as much as 30%, and Uber vouchers worth up to R400 a year. The assessment can be conducted annually in order to qualify for further discounts.

Platform: Android, iOS or desktop

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists. Visit the Liberty website here for downloading instructions.

FNB with flight booking service

FNB app users can now book domestic and international flights using their eBucks that they have accumulated by swiping their credit card when making purchases.

According to the bank, this is far more secure than using older methods, where people would have to divulge their credit card details to third parties or websites, leaving them open to fraud and scams.

The travel feature expands the suite of services under the eBucks tab, which includes Shop on App, latest offers, complimentary lounge visits, registering for the Entertainer App discounts and a guide on how customers can earn more eBucks.

FNB & RMB Private Bank customers can expect discounts of up to 40% off on domestic and international flights. They will also have the ability to manage bookings, view their discounts and maintain family profiles on the app.

To access and start using Flights on app, customers must have an existing eBucks account and have the latest version of the FNB or RMB Private Bank app.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit FNB here for downloading instructions.

MTN’s Feed the Monster literacy app

With calls growing louder for government, corporates and all citizens to step up to help solve the growing literacy crisis, the MTN SA Foundation has partnered with Bellavista S.H.A.R.E. to pilot a child literacy app designed to enhance reading fluency and comprehension.

The Feed the Monster app helps make learning the fundamentals of reading more meaningful and fun, while reaching out to a wide community. In recognition of the importance of using the mother tongue to foster literacy at foundation level, MTN has localised the solution into all 11 official languages in South Africa.

The app addresses all aspects of reading, and bridges the gap between literacy skills and fluent reading.

It is targeted at readers between the ages of six and eight and works by matching letters with sounds, giving kids the ability to learn that sounds combined together make words, and words together make sentences that carry meaning.

Platform: Android

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Download the app here.

Namola Plus

Namola has extended its personal safety app with the launch of Namola Plus.

Namola Plus comes from people asking: “What if I can’t get to my phone in an emergency?” Or “What if I don’t have time to press the panic button in the Namola app?”

With Namola Plus, users get the same Namola experience, but with the following added benefits:

· Armed Response

· Private Emergency Medical Services (EMS)

This is available by subscribing to Namola Plus and continuing to use the Namola app on a phone.

In addition, users can opt for the Namola Panic Tracker with built-in GPS and SIM — no phone needed. The Namola Panic Tracker comes with all of the benefits of Plus, in a physical button you can keep in your pocket, wear around your neck, or put on your keychain. When you press the panic button, the company will attempt to call back on the device itself.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: Namola Plus costs R49 per month, with the Namola Panic Tracker costing R1 399 once-off and a R79 per month subscription

Stockists: Download the app here and then open Namola and tap on the Shop at the bottom. Pick one of the two options (app-only or standalone device). And complete check-out.

What’s New channel

Future TV has released the What’s New channel, which is said to be the world’s first on demand television streaming guide, offering viewers a guide to the top-rated series, movies and music available for streaming on television.

The What’s New Channel came about due to the frustration of having limited time yet so much to watch and not being able to recall which show is where. This problem just escalates over time as more streaming channels become available.

The app solves the problem by showcasing all new top-rated content that is launched daily, with a description of the programme; only content that has received a high rating score is included. Viewers can also preview the content by playing the trailer through the app and can play the show directly if they have a subscription to the streaming service.

What’s New Channel is currently available on Roku and Roku TV, with Apple and Smart TV versions being developed. The guide also showcases free-to-stream movies and series from services like Pluto TV and Sony Crackle.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Download What’s new Channel by clicking here.

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AppDate: Whistleblowing with confidence

In his latest app roundup, SEAN BACHER highlights ExposeIT, OceansCam, Standard Bank’s My360, Samsung Pay on Galaxy A70 and A9 and WorldRemit.

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ExposeIT

EOH has announced the internal launch of the ExposeIT app, a whistleblowing tool that provides a secure, completely anonymous and confidential platform to employees who may be victims of, or bear witness to wrongdoings of any kind within their organisation.

The development of the app came about after Pretoria-based fraud-prevention experts XTND came across an app called Bravely, which was designed to combat bullying at schools by allowing children to anonymously report bullying incidents to authorities. XTND saw the potential and signed an agreement with Bravely’s developers, ZappApp, to adapt the app for use in an organisational context as a tool to enable robust cases to be constructed on whistleblower evidence, without the anonymity of the whistleblower becoming compromised.

Identification information isn’t stored anywhere on the system, meaning that even if the app is somehow hacked, whistleblower identities will not be compromised. It is not only difficult to establish the identity of a whistleblower using the app; it’s impossible. The ExposeIT App also allows users to upload and securely send video files, photos, documents or any other form of evidence available to the whistleblower. This allows a case to be built that stands a high chance of leading to convictions or disciplinary action.

All information collected via the ExposeIT App is reviewed by an independent law firm, categorised, recorded and stored for further analysis. Evidence and investigative actions are automatically time and date stamped for compliance and reference purposes, ensuring that no complaint is neglected or ignored.

Platform: Accessible through devices with an up-to-date Internet browser

Expect to pay: Details were not available at the time of publishing.

Stockists: ExposeIT is still only available to EOH employees but is set to be made available to the public in the coming months.

OceansCam

The JET8 Foundation has partnered with The Lewis Pugh Foundation to develop the first social commerce mobile application focused on saving the oceans.  

The OceansCam app incorporates JET8’s FinTech technology to reward users for in-app engagement through JETPoints – a social currency with which users can make contributions to the The Lewis Pugh Foundation.

OceansCam lets one share photos to encourage friends to support ocean protection. It’s message: “So next time you pick up a piece of plastic on a beach, find an alternative for single use plastic, or have a memorable ocean encounter, share it on OceansCam and spread the love!”

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Download the app here.

Click here to read about Standard Bank’s insurance app, Samsung Pay on the Galaxy A series, and a money transfer app for international business payments.

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