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Sean Bacher

Something on the Side: A wristband to keep you on your toes

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In this week’s round-up of Something on the Side, SEAN BACHER highlights the FitBit Flex wristband, the mini GoPro Hero 3 camera, a dual-band Wi-Fi range extender from Belkin, the Epson L110 printer and a pair of wireless headphones from Jabra.

FitBit Flex

The FitBit Flex bracelet is a pedometer, sleep pattern logger and calorie counter in one. It is simple to set up, requiring the user merely to charge the bit that fits in the bracelet, set up a profile, set goals and then strap on the bracelet. Every step is logged and synched with either a desktop, Android or Apple device. Users can check on how close they are to their set goals by tapping the band to reveal a strip of LEDs (each one that is illuminated represents 20% of the pre-set goal.) Unlike other fitness bracelets, the FitBit is designed to be removed only when it needs a charge every five days or so. This means that users can get it wet without having to dry it off afterwards. At night, a double tap of the bracelet sends it into sleep mode, at which stage the FitBit Flex monitors and logs a user’s sleep pattern.

Expect to pay: R1 299

Stockists: iStores across South Africa.

GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition

At a little bigger than a matchbox, the GoPro could quite possibly be one of the smallest cameras in the world. Its diminutive size does not mean it has limited functions though, as the camera boasts12MP high-definition stills as well as video. It is designed for active users, whether they are cycling, running, skiing or even doing a little water sports. The casing is dust and water proof, meaning it can be submerged in water, although not for long periods of time.

Expect to pay: R5 600

Stockists: Visit: www.omnico.co.za

Belkin N300 dual band Wi-Fi range extender

This Wi-Fi range extender plugs into a wall socket for electricity near the edge of a router’s Wi-Fi range. Pair it with that router and it will eliminate most of the ‚”dead-spots‚” in a home or small office. The Wi-Fi range extender’s settings can be accessed from any browser on most mobile devices. It operates on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency and offers 256 bit WPA2 encryption as well as 64 or 128 it WEP encryption.

Expect to pay: R1 200

Stockists: All major electronics retail outlets across South Africa.

Epson L110 single function printer

This single function printer uses an integrated ink system, making it ideal for home offices wanting to cut their printing costs down, as it allows them to refill the cartirdges easily with Epson-genuine ink bottles. The printer features Epson’s Micro Piezo printhead technology, which allows for precisely controlled ink droplets of up to five different sizes to be ejected from the print head – resulting in sharper, grain-free photo prints with smoother tonal transitions. According to Epson, a full cartridge will print up to 4 000 pages in black and white and 6 500 pages in colour.

Expect to pay: R2 800

Stockists: Incredible Connection.

Jabra Revo Wireless

The Jabra Revo Wireless headphones connect to a phone, tablet or computer via Bluetooth, meaning the user gets maximum freedom of movement without getting caught up in a web of wires. A turntable touch control on the side of the headphones allows users to play, skip or pause music and even manage calls easily. The headphones incorporate Dolby technology, ensuring the lowest base and highest treble tones are produced with minimal distortion. The Sound App, which can be downloaded to a smartphone, allows a user to fine tune the headphones to their exact liking.

Expect to pay: R4 000

Stockists: All major electronics retail outlets across South Africa.

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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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