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Mobile

  • MTN, Ericsson’s new 5G network trial hits 20Gbps speeds

    It took a while for South Africa to embrace the speed that 4G LTE offers, but the latest generation of the mobile technology is already on the horizon. MTN, together with infrastructure giant Ericsson today launched their 5G technology and applications trial at the latter's HQ in Johannesburg. The trial itself won't be felt by South Africans just yet, but it does become the continent's first test of the technology, which promises faster speeds than 4G LTE, lower latency, and better coverage for high density areas. Initial numbers are promising too. According to MTN, initial tests saw a throughput of 20Gbps --...

  • Still using BBM? You can now request an Uber via platform

    BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) has seen far better days in emerging markets, as WhatsApp usurps it as the favoured instant messaging platform. That hasn't stopped a major announcement this week, as BBM operator Creative Media Works announces that you can now request an Uber via the IM service. The move will let BBM users on Android and iOS book Uber trips via the IM app's Discover tab, an emailed press statement reads. The partnership sees BBM harness the m.uber.com portal to book rides. "When launched from the Discover menu, the new Uber service asks riders to sign in with their mobile number or...

  • This is how global internet speeds changed in 2017

    You may not feel it if you're still using ADSL over century-old copper lines in South Africa, but global internet speeds over both fixed broadband and mobile networks have increased in 2017. And increased by quite a fair bit at that. According to a new report by Ookla's Speedtest, the company noted a 30.1% jump in mobile download speeds between November 2016 and November 2017, and a 38.9% increase in mobile upload speeds during the same period. This equates to a global average of 20.28Mbps down, and 8.65Mbps up. Fixed broadband networks have also accelerated. 40.11Mbps down is now the global mean, increasing...

  • Google Maps Go is the latest lightweight Android app

    We've seen quite a few lightweight versions of popular apps this year and now, it's time for Google Maps to join the party, in the form of Google Maps Go. Spotted on r/android, Google Maps Go is meant to be a more data-efficient, resource-friendly take on the standard Google Maps experience. "Designed to run smoothly on devices with limited memory and on unreliable networks without compromising speed to provide your location, real-time traffic updates, directions, and train, bus, and city transit information," reads an excerpt from the Play Store listing. As for actual features, expect the usual real-time traffic information, point of...

  • Grindr updates its app to be more gender inclusive

    Grindr, the dating app for gay, bi, trans, and queer people, is updating its app to be more inclusive of its transgender and non-binary users. The company is introducing new profile fields that offer a wider range of gender identities and pronouns, and it says it will be using more gender-neutral language within the app. The gender options now include "cis woman", "trans man", "non-binary", "non-conforming", and "queer". The change comes after the company surveyed its transgender users and consulted with the US National Center for Transgender Equality, an advocacy group. "One thing we heard over and over again from trans people using Grindr was that they felt...

  • ‘Death by Pokémon GO’ reveals how deadly the mobile game really is

    Remember June 2016? We sure do. Pokémon GO launched like a blazing comet across our skies, tuning smartphones into mini-gaming machines, and our lives into an adventure across the Johto Region. But even with those splendid memories, the app has had negative side-effects too. According to a study conducted by Purdue University, Pokémon GO has resulted in an increase in road traffic incidents in a county in Indiana. "We examine nearly 12 000 detailed police accident reports for Tippecanoe County, Indiana, over the period of March 1, 2015, through November 30, 2016," the study reads. "The reports give, among other information, the date...

  • These are MTN’s Black Friday data deals for 2017

    There are so many deals hitting consumers on Black Friday, that it's hard to keep track. (Sidenote: Gearburn's doing an excellent job in this regard). But what if you aren't looking for hardware? What if you're looking for data? MTN will be offering a number of data deals it's calling "Mega Deals" on Black Friday, appealing to those of us who send one too many high-resolution moon moon GIFs. "MTN will be offering all customers on MTN Zone and MTN Muziq price plans, a guaranteed discount of 95%, during the HAPPY HOUR timeslot from 15:00 – 15:59 daily" between 24 and...

  • MTN data services down across South Africa

    MTN's data services are down for scores of users across South Africa's major cities after an "unsuccessful" network upgrade. "MTN undertook an upgrade on a section of its network last night," the company wrote in a tweet Thursday. "The upgrade was unfortunately unsuccessful and has resulted in a data fault on the network serving Randburg and parts of Cape Town. Only the data service is affected, voice systems remain fully functional." According to additional reports from users on Twitter, the network's customers have been experiencing issues since 7am Thursday morning. The company notes that users across Cape Town and Randburg are experiencing issues,...

  • RCS: introducing the successor to SMS

    It's been in the pipeline for a few years now, but RCS (Rich Communication Services) is slowly making its way around the world, being billed as the successor of sorts to SMS. But how exactly is the service better than traditional SMS? What do you need to take advantage of the service? We got some answers from David O'Byrne, RCS lead at the GSMA, the organisation at the helm of the standard. For starters, O'Byrne outlines the platform's capabilities. Effectively the draw card is that RCS hopes to be as seamless as placing a call or creating an SMS -- no extra apps needed....

  • Facebook Creator app launches on iOS

    Facebook has taken a leaf out of YouTube's book and launched an app and website specifically geared towards "creators" (people who post videos to its platform). The app is essentially a rebrand of the celebrity app Facebook Mentions, which was promoted as a better way to build communities. In fact, users will only be able to find the new Facebook Creator in the App Store when searching "Facebook Mentions", despite the actual title having changed. The app is meant to make it easier for creators to post videos, go live, and connect with their communities. It offers exclusive features like adding intros and...

  • Crime reporting app Namola now available across South Africa

    South African crime response app Namola is now available to use across the country, the company and its partner Dialdirect announced Friday. The app, which was initially available in Tshwane, allows users to request police or emergency assistance by sharing acute details with officials, including current location, and the nature of the emergency from their devices. It has been dubbed the "Uber for police". "For genuine alerts, police, other emergency response and citizen responders are then dispatched and monitored," the company noted in a press release. According to Dialdirect's executive head Warwick Scott-Rodger, the app is a "smart compliment" to other police dispatcher...

  • Konnect Africa debuts SmartWiFi satellite broadband hotspot service

    Satellite broadband provider Konnect Africa has today announced its new hotspot service dubbed SmartWiFi. The announcement was made by the Eutelsat-owned company at AfricaCom 2017 in Cape Town. SmartWiFi will use Konnect Africa's satellite network to provide connectivity to the likes of hospitals, schools and retailers across South Africa. Unlike traditional access points that usually serve a small area, Konnect Africa's SmartWiFi will be "able to access the internet from a distance of several hundred meters around the hotspot". It can also be expanded further through the use of repeaters. This allows SmartWiFi to be employed in non-urban areas, explained Laurent Grimaldi, the...

  • Vodacom’s NB-IoT network is now live in Gauteng

    Vodacom's first commercially available Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) network is now live in Gauteng. This announcement is the latest in a string of IoT plays made by the company this year. The NB-IoT network, the company hopes, will accelerate the growth of IoT in South Africa by allowing customers to build and run Low Power Wide Area network (LPWAN) applications. LPWAN is slower than the likes of WiFi, but covers much greater areas and allows for devices to be connected more efficiently. In September 2017, Vodacom announced its three-millionth device IoT connection, and currently sees around 55 000 new devices registered on its network each...

  • Uber Driver app adds ‘no thanks’ button, rating protection & more

    Uber has been in the news a fair bit recently, from protests involving metered taxis to UberEATS finally launched in Durban. But the company's latest set of tweaks is aimed at improving operations for drivers. It today announced a number of features heading to the Uber Driver app, which the company claims will "make it even easier for driver-partners across South Africa to choose when, where, and how they drive". "Over the last few months, we’ve spent a lot of time listening to and engaging with over 12 000 driver-partners across South Africa, hearing what they care about when using the...

  • Google Play Store adding Instant Apps, more in upcoming update

    A number of changes are coming to the Google Play Store its parent company announced Thursday. Usually the unchanged bastion of the Google ecosystem, the Play Store will finally receive a much needed nip and tuck. As for an implementation timeline, the company remained as mum as ever. Nevertheless, sifting through the latest Google Developers Blog post, here are three standout interface and functionality tweaks heading to the Play Store sometime before the world ends. Revamped Editor's Choice Vineet Buch, author of the post and Google Play's director of product management, noted that a revamped version of Editor's Choice is now live in...