By Hayley Axford
With thousands and thousands of mobile apps available for download, we take a look at a few of them that are most useful to South Africans.
Receive news from across South Africa and the world, as well as the latest updates from Sport24, Fin24 and Channel24. Subscribe to breaking news alerts from their news room and share or comment on articles that interest you. This is not just a news app, as you can browse features from Food24, Health24, Parent24, Traveller24, Wheels24 and Women24. Daily and weekly weather forecasts in your location are available from Weather24.
Voted “One of 10 Best Apps of 2013” by Time Magazine, Umano allows you to listen to trending news, articles, talks and much more. The simple and intuitive design is perfect for using on the go, so whether you’re commuting, jogging or cooking at home, you can keep informed with what is happening in the world without having to sit down and read. This narration app will suit you well if you like podcasts or listen to audio books. You can build your own playlist or let Umano custom create one for you bases on your interests or time available. There is also download capabilities for offline listening.
While many apps have been developed for load shedding, GridWatch offers the most up to date database of load shedding schedules in South Africa and is brought to you by News24.com. Not only can you search and save load shedding schedules from across South Africa, you can also customise your app for all the areas that you frequent often, like home, school, work etc. Sign up for alerts for each schedule and receive notifications in advance so that you can be prepared for power outages.
Safety and Security
· Bull Horn Panic Button App
This South African crime fighting application can aid in deterring criminals from your community. It allows users to discreetly notify the police, neighbourhood watch and loved ones of impending crime or suspicious activity.
A beneficial safety application that keeps you connected to your friends and family members at all times for safety and security purposes. It features 5 distinct functions: crime, assistance, panic, track me and track suspect. Using this app, you can signal for help to your connected friends as long as they are within a 5km range from where you are. There is also an in-app messaging feature that allows you to chat with or message all your loved ones.
Travel and Navigation
· Awesome South Africa (ASA)
This is South Africa’s first location based travel app and is endorsed by SA Tourism for the hospitality and tourism industry. The application was designed to connect the hospitality vendors (hotels, restaurants, shops, tourism attractions etc.) to both local and visiting travellers. Awesome South Africa offers comprehensive categories that you can filter to navigate your travel experience, from finding and booking your accomodation, searching for restaurants, sourcing a travel guide and listing top attractions and activities. It also provides relevant emergency numbers and features a currency converter and much more.
· TomTom Southern Africa
With this app, you can navigate your way through the roads of South Africa and if you want, beyond the border too. As with other map apps, TomTom features voice-guided turn-by-turn car navigation, traffic information, speed camera locations, street names and points of interest. The best part, is that it works offline too, so you don’t need to stress if you have no data or internet connection. The TomTom app is now available for Android.
Private Taxi Service
Known to be your private driver in more than 50 countries, Uber is an entirely new and modern way to travel. Using the app, when you request a ride, you will be picked up within minutes and avoid having to wait in line for a taxi. Simply set your pickup location on the map (even if you do not know the exact address), get connected to your personal driver and check on the progress of your lift at any time. You never need cash on hand for this service, as you can pay with Google Wallet, PayPal or add a credit card to your secure Uber account. Their on-demand service does not require any reservations.
Free Mobile Classifieds
Marketed as “the best free classifieds app”, OLX offers advanced categories and geo localization, which makes searching for an item to purchase so much easier. Selling an item is easy, simply take a photo of the item, upload it, write a description about the product and then your ad is complete. Contact the seller or buyer directly via SMS, email or phone call. Your posted adverts and favourites can be managed under “My OLX” and shared on your favourite social media platforms.
Called “South Africa’s greatest online store”, with over 9 million products available across 19 different departments, you’ll find whatever you need on takalot.com. Purchase awesome products at great prices through a simple, safe and secure online shopping experience. Take advantage of the daily deals on a variety of products. Orders will be delivered fast to your door, anywhere in South Africa.
South Africa’s leading price comparison app lets you “compare millions of products, across thousands of categories, from hundreds of stores”. Using the in-app barcode scanner, you can snap away at a barcode of a product you like in a store and find out where you can find it at a cheaper price. It also provides expert reviews, as well as store and location information.
Vouchers / Discounts
Rated one of the best 500 apps in the world by The Sunday Times, vouchercloud lets you search for savings near to you and delivers money-saving vouchers that you can use at restaurants, “high-street shops”, online shops or areas of entertainment. More than six million customers across the globe make use of this app, saving on anything and everything from the latest tech gadgets to fashion trends.
Popular for offering unbeatable deals of up to 50-70% on the very best things to do, see, eat and buy in over 500 cities in the world. With the Groupon Android app you can buy and redeem Groupon deals directly from your mobile device and track your purchased vouchers by location and expiration date. Use Groupon Goods to enjoy low prices without settling for bargain products. Groupon deals can be shared with friends and family via social media.
The 2015 EatOut Restaurant guide features over 5900 restaurant listings from across South Africa. The app offers credible and trustworthy information to help you make the decision on which restaurant you wish to eat at. Simply search by the restaurant name or my specific kind of food from the list of 34 different food types. You can also search by province, region or suburb and select the “near me” function which finds up to 10 restaurants close to your current location. Other searches can be refined by the ambience of the restaurant you are looking for, whether it is wheelchair friendly, the average meal price you desire or whether you intend to have breakfast, lunch of dinner.
Cashless and Cardless Payments
“Payment for the things you want is as easy as a snap.” There is now no need to carry cash, or bank cards to pay for goods and services. SnapScan allows you to make quick and convenient payments using only your smartphone. Simply install the app, link your credit or debit card and start shopping at any merchant that displays a SnapScan code. Once you link your credit or debit card, all your details will be encrypted onto your phone and cannot be accessed, even if your phone gets lost or stolen. When paying for an item or service, simply scan the merchants SnapCode and it will identify the shop for you. Enter the amount you want to pay, followed by your pin and you will instantly receive a notification of your paid transaction. The merchant will also receive a notification via SMS or on their point-of-sale system to confirm that the payment has been made. SnapScan has over 1400 merchants signed up, so you can already almost pay for anything. Even though the app is from Standard Bank, you do not have to bank with them to use this service.
Lastly, you can download the Spaza Shop app, which is a marketplace for South African Android apps. This will help you to find more local apps that are relevant to you.