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Vive, WeChat take gadget honours

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Stuff magazine recently hosted its annual Gadget and App Awards for 2016 where the HTV Vive and WeChat app were among the top winners.

The HTC Vive and WeChat app were among the top winners at Stuff magazine’s annual Gadget and App Awards for 2016, named last week.

The Vive won The Gadget of the Year award, and WeChat Wallet was named Financial App of the Year. WeChat also took home the award for overall App of the Year.

Readers of the South African edition of Stuff were asked to vote for their favourite gadgets and apps of the year via the Stuff website, and there, too, WeChat took top honours in the financial services category. Meanwhile, the Readers’ Choice Award for Gadget of the Year went to GoPro’s Hero Session action camera.

TV of the Year went to LG’s outstanding OLED65E6V display, while TV Gadget of the Year went to the DStv Explora. Watch of the Year was won by the Apple Watch Series 2, and Computer of the Year — always a hotly contested category — went to the Dell XPS 13, unseating Apple, which has dominated the category in recent years with its MacBook Pro and Air devices.

Other Gadget Award winners include the iPhone 7 Plus, which took home the Smartphone of the Year Award; Fujifilm, which secured both System Camera of the Year and Compact System of the Year honours for the X-T2 and X70 respectively; and Garmin’s Vivoactive HR, which won the award for Health & Fitness Gadget of the Year.

On the local app front, category winners included video-streaming service Showmax, which took home Entertainment App of the Year; Forgood, the winner of the Social Responsibility App of the Year award, which connects organisations and causes in need with people looking to help; and food-delivery service UberEats, which won Service App of the Year despite having only launched in the second half of 2016.

“Apps have become an integral part of consumer tech experience, so it’s only fitting we include them when recognising the best tech of the year,” says Stuff editor, Craig Wilson. “With so many developers doing such excellent work in the app space in South Africa, we expect to see twice as many categories — and nominees — this year.”

The full list of winners follows below:

Gadget Awards

Smartphone of the Year — iPhone 7 Plus
International App of the Year — Prisma
Audio Gadget of the Year — Ultimate Ears Boom 2
Action Cam of the Year — DJI Phantom 4
Headphones of the Year — AKG N60NC
Home Gadget of the Year — Samsung PT SmartCam
Health & Fitness Gadget of the Year — Garmin Vivoactive HR
Watch of the Year — Apple Watch Series 2
TV Show of the Year — Game of Thrones
TV Gadget of the Year — DStv Explora
TV of the Year — LG OLED65E6V
Streaming Service of the Year — Netflix
Computer of the Year — Dell XPS 13
Car of the Year — Tesla Model X
Design of the Year — Impossible Project I-1
Game of the Year — Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Games Console of the Year — Sony PlayStation 4 Pro
Indie Game of the Year — Inside
Mobile Game of the Year — Pokémon Go
System Camera of the Year — Fujifilm X-T2
Compact Camera of the Year — Fujifilm X70
Readers’ Gadget of the Year — GoPro Hero Session
Gadget of the Year — HTC Vive

SA App Awards

Financial App of the Year — WeChat Wallet
Entertainment App of the Year — Showmax
Social Responsibility App of the Year — Forgood
Service App of the Year — UberEats

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AppDate: uKheshe bring banking to the masses

In his apps roundup, SEAN BACHER highlights uKheshe, FNB’s banking app with its will feature, Split Payments, Momentum Safety Alert and Fleetonomy.

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uKheshe micro transaction platform

Financial inclusion took another step forward as local start-up, uKheshe, South Africa’s cheapest and most convenient QR cash card and micro transaction platform, won the 2019 Global Fintech Hackcelerator @ Southern Africa competition. 

“The issue of financial inclusion is a global one and the more we can do to uplift the unbanked and under banked, the healthier their respective economies will become,” says Clayton Hayward, co-founder, uKheshe.

While 1.2 billion people have opened a financial account since 2011, there is still an estimated 1.7 billion adults worldwide (or 31% of adults) who don’t have a basic transaction account.  Globally, two-thirds of adults without an account cite a lack of money as a key reason, which implies that financial services aren’t yet affordable or designed to fit low-income users.

To find out more about uKheshe click here

FNB’s banking app with will feature

First National Bank now lets its customers draw up their own wills via the FNB Online Banking platform at no cost. To date, the bank has seen a significant increase in the number of clients who drafted their own wills online, with over 52 000 clients already accessing the functionality.

Approximately 80% of South Africans don’t have a valid will in place; and many people believe that it’s a need only when they get older, or later in life. 

“Whilst the digital process is simple and easy to use, the solution also helps with a dedicated client support centre should clients need further assistance or advice regarding the drafting of their wills,” says Johan Strydom, Growth Head, FNB Wealth and Investments. “The solution aims to simplify the process and allows customers to easily draft a will online anytime and at any place, at no cost. In addition, FNB will keep your original will in safe custody at no extra cost.”

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Available the FNB app which can be be downloaded here.

Split Payments

PayFast has launched Split Payments, a South African-first that instantly splits a portion of an online payment with a third party. The service is designed to facilitate fast, safe payments for platform-based businesses, including online marketplaces.

For those who run a marketplace that brings together multiple sellers or merchants looking for new sales channels, Split Payments addresses payment headaches with a simple API integration.

Consumers are used to engaging with large global transactional platforms such as AirBnB, Uber, and Amazon. The benefits and extended reach of these types of platforms are catching on locally, and organisations like estate agency groups and even community marketplaces are setting up digital trading platforms.

The app allows businesses to instantly split out commission, membership or listing fees, when a payment is made via one of its supported payment methods.

For each online payment received  the business can determine what the split is, either a fixed amount, a percentage, or a combination of both. Custom recurring payment integration, such as subscriptions payments, can also be split automatically.

Platform: iOS and Android

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Download Split Payments here

Read more about Momentum’s new Safety Alert app and Fleetonomy.

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Why 4G is still a thing

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Even with the 5G era already upon us, investment in 4G/LTE networks is still vitally important for operators in sub-Saharan Africa and must remain a core focus of network construction for the immediate future. This is according to David Chen, Vice-President, Huawei Southern Africa. 

“Currently, the mobile broadband penetration rate in Africa is only 47%, while 4G penetration rate is merely 10%,” Chen said.

“Insufficient coverage causes LTE users to fall back to the 2G or 3G networks, resulting in significant decline in user experience. It also leads to congestion on the 2G and 3G networks and makes it difficult to release spectrum used by 2G and 3G.”

Chen said that LTE and 5G complement each other and are evolving in parallel. In the next few years, 5G will mainly be used in more industrial communications.

LTE will remain the primary choice for global mobile communications through 2025. It will form the basic layer of national networks, especially when it comes to the mobile broadband access.

“It will take a long time for 5G to provide nationwide continuous coverage. Before that, enhanced LTE networks can guarantee optimal user experience for 5G users, including services such as VR, AR, and cloud gaming,” said Chen.

He said that it is important for operators to invest in 4G to secure future growth, as it is estimated that there will be an additional 80 million LTE users in sub-Saharan Africa by 2025.

Driven by this growth, LTE traffic in sub-Saharan Africa will increase by a factor of 8.8. By 2025, about 80% of all data traffic in the region will be over an LTE network.

LTE will also be the main source of future revenue for operators.

“According to GSMA Intelligence, 2G and 3G users in sub-Saharan Africa will gradually migrate to 4G,” said Chen. “By 2025, the proportion of 2G users will drop from 46% to 12%.”

Part of the reason for the migration to 4G is because the ecosystem is mature.

“The price of feature phones supporting VoLTE in the sub-Saharan Africa market has been as low as $25,” Chen said.

Since 5G equipment is already available, there is an opportunity for operators to build out their 4G networks while ensuring that they can evolve to 5G in future.

Chen offered the following tips to operators to ensure they are ready for 5G:

  • All future equipment installations should be 5G ready, allowing easy upgrades to 5G through software updates.
  • Software should support multi-standard spectrum sharing to improve spectrum efficiency, and to allow the smooth migration of 2G and 3G users.
  • Networks must support 4G and 5G coordination, in terms of spectrum, operation and maintenance. This will ensure that users have a consistent experience as we enter the 5G era.
  • The value of existing ICT infrastructure, such as base station sites, must be maximised to avoid overlapping services and wasted resources. This would mean boosting the capacity and coverage of every station for optimum efficiency.
  • Carriers should explore the business case for all possible 5G innovations when building 4G networks, and not just embrace 5G for its own sake. This will mean building business models around IoT, video, live broadcast, augmented reality, and virtual reality.
  • It is important that operators build partnerships with providers that can support the ongoing spectrum evolution with fast site upgrades and large-capacity solutions. The idea is to maximise the value of 4G networks, and smoothly evolve to 5G without unnecessary infrastructure investment.

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