How to Work Remotely Effectively During the Coronavirus Crisis

We just ended the second week of working remotely as a company because of the Coronavirus crisis.

We promised to share our experience as we go along to help you understand what it takes to keep all staff members engaged remotely.

One thing we need to agree on is that no one saw this crisis coming. It was a “Chinese problem” until it began to affect other nations.

The Kenyan government was quick to catch on with the safety measures to control its spread. We have moved from calls to work from home to mandatory dusk to dawn curfew.

Our journey of working from home got better in the second week. Here are the lessons shared by our team so far:

1. Set up your new office

If you have been working from your employer’s office for years, chances are that you have no working space at home.

Our team had the same challenge as shared in our previous post. Setting up the workspace does not happen overnight.

We cannot predict when it will be safe for us to work closely again in an office setting and neither can you.

The temptation is to curl on your couch or bed with a laptop. We have tried that. It does not work as you expect. You will be snoring after an hour or so!

Even with limited space at home, you can set up a new workstation with a comfortable desk and seat.

Here is the danger of working from your couch. By the time the crisis is over, you will be complaining of back and neck pains.

Your couch was designed for rest, TV, and family talks, not long working hours.

You may start there but by now, you should have an ergonomic workstation.

The workspace will help you in the future when you need to do assignments or personal studies at home.

2. Create boundaries

We know this challenge so well. Everyone is on a mandatory quarantine. All your family members are working from home or just staying at home.

You are a bit lucky if you live alone but the situation for many of us is a family setting.

The fireplace stories are back. For parents, your kids need attention all day.

We are moving from watching the latest news to sudden meals in the kitchen.

How do you get work done in such an environment? Set boundaries!

Call for a family meeting if you need to and agree on working hours. This means that they cannot ask for anything or walk into your workstation at certain times.

If you are a parent, explain to your kids that you are not out on holiday. Give them assignments to do while you work.

Where possible, ask for help with the kids during your working hours.

Here is a tip with boundaries. Respect other people’s boundaries if you want them to respect yours.

If you constantly interrupt others, they will do the same.

3. Constant communication

You have covered the situation at home, created the workspace you need and communicated your boundaries to everyone.

Your team members are doing the same in their new office setups.

We have noticed that we move faster when everyone is online at the same time. Communication is important when creating an app or website remotely.

You must communicate your progress at every stage and respond to your team members promptly.

This is only possible if the environment at home allows you to focus on your tasks throughout the day.

We understand that technical hitches may come along the way. For instance, a team member may lose power or internet connection.

You may hit a snag with an assigned task and need assistance.

Such a team member has the responsibility of informing others of the challenge immediately.

Luckily, we have multiple channels of communication at Muva Technologies. In our planning period, we advised the team on the best way to use each channel.

Communication is not just for a smooth workflow. Your workmates are like family depending on the relationships you create in the office.

We work more or less like a family. Everyone must check in daily with the current health status and all.

We are also sharing tips on how to stay safe and navigate the uncertainties of the day.

4. Maintain an office-like schedule

Well, this proved tough at the beginning but we are slowly catching on with the schedule.

When going to the office, you set your alarm at a certain time. For most of us, you are ready to start your day at 8am or 9am.

Do not break the routine. Remember that we are working remotely just for a season.

It will be hard to adjust after the crisis is over.

The greater benefit is that maintaining your routine helps you manage your time effectively.

Take the breaks as usual. This means that you might need to prepare your meals earlier or ask for help.

Here is a quick one, do not adopt unhealthy eating habits and blame it on the crisis.

Maintain your discipline in preparing healthy meals before or after work.

Using an office-like schedule means getting off your desk at 5pm or your usual time. This brings us to our last tip for the week.

5. Balance

We get it. You want to prove to your boss or supervisor that you are working effectively from home.

You might be tempted to work extra hours into the night because you can. You can use the time you spend in traffic to work.

However, you need balance to maintain the daily routine. Your family still needs your attention.

If you do not give them the usual time, they will have a hard time keeping the boundaries you created.

You need time to catch up with your friends, catch the latest news, and keep the hobbies you can.

Outdoor activities are limited but you still have options for indoor activities besides watching TV.

Remote working offers an opportunity to do more every day where your work and personal development is concerned.

Learn something new. Learn new ways of doing your job. Develop a new hobby. Spend more time your family now that you can.

At the end of the crisis, you should have tangible results of how you spent the extra hours.

Stay safe!

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Is China’s TikTok App Taking Over Social Media?

Kenyans went on a craze of sharing short videos in January via TikTok. It seemed the fun and easy way of surviving the long month of “Njaanuary” as it has been coined.

It turns out that the whole world is now busy sharing videos via the TikTok app. The app allows users to create and share short videos with a limit of 15 seconds.

If you are on social media, you definitely have viewed multiple videos created using the new app. In a world that loves video content, the Chinese app seems to be overtaking other social media platforms.

Features

TikTok promises to “make your day” with real videos from real people. Sometimes a spontaneous moment is best shared in a video.

The app provides users with tools to create original short-form videos. The simple tools enable users to share bits of their day with the world.

The tools include music, special effects, and filters to create high-quality yet interesting videos.

Music in different genres is available on the platform including rock, pop, hip hop, and country among others.

Users can pause and resume recording a video several times. The feature allows you to capture only the moments you want to share on video.

Other interesting features include the ability to cut, duplicate, and combine different videos. You do not need to leave the app to use these tools.

TikTok app has become very popular among the young people, especially teenagers. Its feed has endless videos that are personalised based on the user’s interests.

The videos are in different categories including pets, gaming, comedy, memes, food, sports, and DIYs among others.

ByteDance owns the TikTok app, which was officially released into the market in 2017. The app is available on both IOS and Android platforms.

Popularity and downloads

We must admit, the app can keep you entertained all day. Even if you do not create any videos, a peep into your feed will do as the app promises, “make your day.”

In 2018, TikTok broke the record of social media platforms in the US. It was the most downloaded app in October 2018.

The video platform was the first Chinese app to achieve such a milestone and in just a year of existence in the market.

By the end of 2018, the app had already reached over 150 markets and translated into 75 languages.

Before releasing TikTok, ByteDance had introduced a similar app Douyin, which was equally successful in China. By February 2019, both apps had over one billion downloads.

Tiktok emerged at position 7 among the most downloaded apps in 10 years between 2010 and 2019. The popularity has continued in this new decade.

Overtaking Facebook and WhatsApp

Facebook and WhatsApp are perhaps the most popular social media platforms you can think of today. Both allow users to share fun stories and videos while making business connections.

The TikTok app seemed to challenge these apps. In 2019, the app overtook Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook in terms of downloads.

Data from Sensor Tower now indicate that TikTok has overthrown WhatsApp, which is also owned by Facebook alongside Instagram.

Facebook seemed to have captured the social media market by owning the three platforms. However, Chinese app developers seem determined to challenge this position.

Recent data shows that both Douyin and TikTok have been downloaded about 104 million times in January 2020. The data include both the Apple app store and Google Play Store.

In addition, the data shows a remarkable 46% increase in downloads compared to the same month in 2019. It also indicates a 27% increase from the downloads recorded in December 2019.

The data only accounted for three major markets, which include the US, Brazil and India. Hence, the actual downloads are much higher when other markets including China’s third-party Android downloads are included.

The total downloads are almost hitting the 2 billion mark. If the trend is another to go by, the app will hit and exceed this mark in 2020.

Security Concerns and Bans

Despite the rising popularity, TikTok raised some security fears. Several countries have banned the app from their markets for different reasons.

In Indonesia, the app was banned for several weeks in July 2018 because of its content. The owners move to edit the content that Indonesian users shared to meet the government requirements.

In China, the government listed 100 categories of content that are subject to censorship for TikTok and similar apps. The grounds for bans in China seem political.

It is interesting to note the tough restrictions in the app’s country of origin.

In the US, the Transportation Security Administration and Army banned the TikTok app in 2019 over security concerns.

The arms of government cited that the Chinese could be using the app to gather data from American users. Apps have become the easiest way for governments and criminals alike to collect private data from unsuspecting users.

The app has also raised cyber-security concerns, especially for teenagers who seem too much in love with the app.

The US government is keen to ban all GPS apps because of the risks involved. Some analysts predicts further censorship for TikTok in the US market given the strained relationship between the US and China.

In India, the app was briefly banned with the government citing concerns that the app was encouraging pornography.

The bans, however, do not seem to deter social media users from taking and sharing videos. The app’s downloads keep increasing every month in the top market including the US.

Concluding Remarks

ByteDance has proved that it is possible to overtake even the most popular and powerful networks in the world. Facebook and WhatsApp have been in the market for a long time. However, in less than four years, TikTok has overtaken the two in terms of downloads.

The owners identified a gap in social media and created a solution for it. Anyone can run a video for 15 seconds and have some fun. What gaps do you see in the world of apps or in your niche? With the right app developers in Kenya, you can fill them and achieve record-breaking results.

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5 Tips to Increase Your Earnings From Your Mobile App

In a previous article, we looked at different ways through which you can make money from your mobile app. If you have already developed your app, you may be tempted to jump right into it and start earning.

However, the reality is that not every app earns money. Some people apply the same money making strategies but fail to earn even half of their investment in developing the app.

If you are not earning from an app, chances are that you got something wrong in the development process.

We always advise that you work the best iOS or Android app developers in Kenya to ensure that you get the app right from the beginning.

However, if you already have the app or cannot afford to hire a designer, you can still earn from your app.

A few changes or updates on the app will get your target users’ attention.

If you are earning little or nothing from your app, consider these tips before dismissing your app as ineffective.

1. Choose a catchy app name

Before launching into the world of app development, realize that the competitor is stiff.

Millions of other developers are trying to earn from the same pool of mobile phone users.

Users have no time to spend on app stores looking for your app. Chances are that they will move to the next best alternative after the first trial.

Remember that the name is the first thing that potential users will see about your app.

Look for a catchy or attention-grabbing name for your app. Think about its function when drafting the name.

Users should get a hint of its purpose immediately after reading or hearing the name.

Right after choosing a name that describes or hints at its function, create a short and clear description of the purpose.

Use the description to display your app on your preferred app stores.

2. Short and informative description

App stores give you space to describe your app after the name and brief description. Use that space wisely.

If the name does not sell it or convince users about its benefit, the description should.

Consider it as your chance to persuade mobile phone users to download, install, and keep the app installed on their devices.

The description should be informative but brief. Few people if any have time to read a full easy on the app features.

The readers should read the main features before clicking on the “read more” button.

Most app users do not read past the first few sentences. A strategy that works for most apps is to list the main features in point form.

Potential users can skim through the list before making a quick decision.

3. Pick the right screenshots

Many people do not read the text in the description section until they see screenshots.

Users can determine if the app is useful or not with just a glance.

Remember that some of your target users have basic development skills.

In addition, some have already downloaded alternative apps that proved ineffective.

You can combine text with the screenshots but ensure that the final image is not clumsy.

The text should explain or name each feature on the screenshot. Remember that the app store will create a line up with the screenshots.

Hence, ensure that the images have a flow from the main features or interface to other pages on the app.

4. Differentiate your app

How different is your app from the competitors’ app?

Before launching your app, visit different stores for iOS and Android apps.

Browse the category of your app and see what your competitors have already done.

You may think you have a unique idea only to discover that another developer has already implemented it.

You can learn from your competitors but not copy everything you find.

Differentiate your app with a unique and appealing design. Ensure that it functions as good as you describe it.

Visit all the pages and sections and ensure that they are all functional. Remember that users will access on different devices with varying resolutions.

Development does not end with launching the app or attracting thousands of downloads.

You must update the app continually to include new features and accommodate the latest technologies.

Keep your users informed of the updates.

Sometimes users forget an app until they are notified of an update.

5. Advertise

You got everything right from the design to the name, description, and functional pages.

The next step is to make noise about the app.

Mobile phone users need to know that your app exists.

Remember your earnings depend on the number of users who click your ads, buy your products or services, or subscribe to additional features.

The more people download the app the higher the chances of converting them into sales.

If you have a business website, encourage visitors to download the app for a better experience.

Social media and email marketing can help get the word out at a low cost.

If you have enough resources, consider the traditional advertisements such as radio, television or billboards.

One promotional strategy that can attract hundreds of users is offering discounts on the subscription fee or items bought on the app.

Advertising goes hand in hand with a great design, offering solutions and constant updates.

Some users may download the app for the discounts or out of curiosity.

The functions on the app will them using the app. Hence, do not over-sell the app in your marketing campaigns or make false promises.

Focus on solving problems or meeting your users’ needs.

If the app meets their expectations and needs, you will have a constant flow of income from it.

Every business requires a strategy including making money through a mobile app.

Do not compromise on your choice of an app developer to save the investment cost.

Experienced developers know the best features and functionalities that will keep your users engaged.

Remember you face stiff competition from developers around the world and hence the need to create a unique and functional app.

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10 Ways to Identify Fake Loan Apps in Kenya

The debate on whether loan apps in Kenya are helpful or enslaving continues. In fact, some people have termed loan apps as modern-day shylocks.

The arguments do not matter much to those facing financial constraints. Most people borrow to meet their basic needs that their income cannot meet.

Recent reports from different groups including the Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Digital and Lenders Association of Kenya (DLAK) warn Kenyans of rogue apps.

Are you using a fake loan app? Read on…

Statistics

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in association with the government and the FSD conducted a study on mobile lenders. The team produced the Digital Credit Audit report.

The study showed that by September 2018, the two main app stores, Google PlayStore and Apple’s App Store had 110 mobile loan apps.

According to the findings, 74 unique app developers had developed money lending apps.

By April 2019, 65 out of the 110 apps were no longer listed on the app stores.  Instead, 43 new developers joined the stores and introduced 43 new apps.

The changes within just a few months raise many red flags.

The team found out that most of the digital lenders are neither SACCOs nor banks. The lenders are not accredited to any financial institution.

This means that if you save with the lender, your savings are not secured in any way. In addition, such lenders are not insured.

If established banks go down, what do you think of unregulated digital lenders?

If more than half of loan apps are pulled down in just 7 months, why should you consider borrowing money from loans apps in Kenya?

Ways to identify fake loan apps

If your income can meet your bills and emergencies, you may not think of a loan. Again if you can access an unsecured loan from a local bank, an instant loan may never cross your mind.

Unfortunately, this is not the case for millions of Kenyans. Many depend on loans to survive.

Banks have also turned to online lending after the stringent rules that the Banking Amendment Act 2016 introduced.

Hence, if you don’t land in the hands of private digital lenders, you will end up in Mshwari, KCB-Mpesa loan, Stawi loan app, Kopa Chapaa by Faulu, Timiza from Barclays, Eazzy loan from Equity or Co-op Cash.

You may not qualify for a loan from these apps. Your alternative is private or international lenders like Tala, Zenka, Branch, or Saida.

New names have also in the Kenyan market such as Berry Loan App, KopaKash, Okash, Tumiwa, Uwezo Kash and Pezesha among others.

How can you tell if you are just about to borrow money from a rogue digital lender?

1. High registration fee

According to the Digital Credit Audit report, rogue lenders charge anywhere between Ksh.200 to 400 as registration fee.

Of course, the lenders know by now that borrowers are looking for free apps. With the high number of apps in the stores, coming clean with the registration fee is not an option.

Look out for claims that the fee is for checking your CRB record or score. You will never see the evidence that they actually checked your score.

Actually, you may not have access to the app after sending your registration fee. Some begin malfunctioning immediately and deny a fresh registration with the same details.

2. Data access

Beware of the permissions you grant to any app including loan apps when installing. For instance, an app may request to read your exact GPS location, which is expected with loan apps.

However, why should you grant permission to your phone gallery or messages/SMS app? Some will not install until you grant access to your call logs or your device identity.

A genuine lender does not need such information. You never know how the app owners use such information in this age of cybercrimes.

Also Read: Top 5 Instant Loan Apps in Kenya

3. Mimicked names

We know about brands like Tala, Branch, Fuliza, and Coop Cash. As you search the app store, you will come across loan apps in Kenya with twisted names.

For instance, you may see Tala Kash, Fuliza Sasa, Tala Pewa Loans or Mkopo Branch Rahisi.

Such lenders target borrowers who are unaware of the right brand names of loan apps. Stay away from such apps.

4. Rewards or prizes for referrals

If you need to refer other borrowers to an app to gain points, rewards, or qualify for a higher amount, you are in the wrong hands.

Some fake apps will not even grant the first loan before you enlist other borrowers and earn enough points.

Your creditworthiness should be sufficient to qualify you for a loan from a genuine lender.

5. Minimal details asked

How easy is it to qualify for your first loan? Is the app promising a high amount even with a low credit score?

Lending online does not eliminate the need to verify the identity and creditworthiness of the borrower.

If the lender needs few personal details to issue loans, chances are they have obtained the information illegally. Else, the app may go down at any time after earning a high interest from you.

See Also: Safaricom’s Fuliza Wins a Prestigious Award Months after Launch

6. Fake physical address and contacts

Most borrowers do not bother to check the contacts and address of digital lenders until they run into trouble. Check this information first no matter how pressing your financial need is at all times.

If you cannot get through the phone numbers given at any time of the day, discontinue the service. A loan app should be accessible and functional 24/7 with a quick support team.

7. Negative reviews

Do not believe every promise that an online lender makes. Check other borrowers’ reviews on the app store.

If all you read are complaints, do not ignore and assume that your experience will be different. Check the lender’s response to the complaints as well.

8. Exorbitant interest rates

Even the best loan apps in Kenya charge higher interest rates than banks do. However, rogue apps go beyond the normal rates for apps.

Compare the interest rates from established brands first to determine the prevailing interest rate.

9. Sudden changes in terms

Have you ever used app, qualified for a certain amount but your limit went down after payment? Loan apps promise to increase your limit when you pay in full and on time.

If the terms change suddenly, you are probably dealing with crooks who cannot sustain their business.

They come up with excuses for penalizing defaulters or changing loan limits even with evidence of previous communication.

10. Frequent breakdown 

Here is one more red flag for rogue loan apps. An app hangs when you are trying to request a loan or choose a longer repayment period.

The malfunction rarely comes before you repay for the first loan or send the mandatory registration fee.

If you can hardly complete a process without a dysfunction, you are most likely using a rogue app.

You will not miss the red flags if you do your homework. Do not take chances. Seek for information before you share your confidential data with unknown digital lenders

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Huawei Mate 30 Phone Series Are Finally Out Without Google Apps

The Huawei ban in the US got many people talking around the world. The ban is perhaps the greatest challenge that the Chinese company has faced this year.

Huawei promised to bounce back and keep dominating the Android world.

The newly launched Mate 30 phone series is proof that the tech giant is determined to stay on top.

The ban meant that Huawei could no longer include Google services in new phone models.

Hence, both Huawei Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro models have no Google apps. This means you cannot access your favourite apps on the Google Play Store.

In addition, you cannot access Gmail, YouTube, Maps, Photos or Google Drive.

The missing features have everyone wondering if the company will manage to sell the phones beyond China.

Would you buy a phone without Google Services? Well, before we talk about the price range, let us look at the specs.

Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro Specs and Features

Phone manufacturers often introduce two models of the same series at different prices. The Pro version has premium or better features, which is the case with the Mate 30 series.

Similar features:

Both phones have the same processor (Huawei Kirin 990), Operating system (EMU1 10), and Memory (8GB RAM). Both phones have a similar third rear camera (f/2.4 aperture 8MP, Telephoto camera).

Other similar features include the horizontal display and phone colors. You can pick any color from black, space silver, cosmic purple, or emerald green.

Differences in features

The table below displays the features of both 5G phones:

Feature Mate 30 Mate 30 Pro
Display 2340 x 1080 OLED screen (6.62 inches) 2400 x 11176 OLED screen (6.53 inches)
Storage 128 GB 256 GB
Front Camera 24MP 32MP
First Rear Camera f/1.8 aperture, Super sensing camera (40MP) f/1.6 aperture, Super sensing camera (40MP)
Second Rear Camera f/2.2 aperture, ultra wide angel camera (16MP) f/1.8 aperture, cine camera (40MP)
Fourth Rear Camera None 3D Depth sensing camera
Battery 4,200 mAh 4,500 mAh

You can tell from the list of features that Huawei went all out with the cameras and displays. Multiple rear cameras are the latest trend in smartphones.

In today’s world of selfies and preferences for visual content, phone brands are keen on the quality of both front and rear cameras.

Another notable feature is the large storage space, especially for the Mate 30 Pro.

You cannot offer 4 cameras and fail to provide enough space to store the photos and videos.

For the Mate 30 Pro customers, the Cine Camera stands out. Such a camera gives high-quality time-lapse videos.

Users can also take ultra slow motion and light videos.

The Porsche Design

The regular collection of both Huawei Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro has a matte finish in the four colors mentioned above.

The Porsche Design is a luxurious design of the same series of phone. You can go for the vegan leather forest green finish or the vegan leather orange.

You know how far you go to protect a new phone device with extra covers. This Porsche design protects the Android smartphone besides its expensive look and finish.

Pricing

Here is the part that everyone is curious to know- the price. We wish to tell you that the price fair but it is not.

China is the first market for the phone series. Both models will be on sale next month (October).

The Mate 30 price is set at €799, which is about $883. That is about Ksh. 80,000. How many phone brands sell at this price?

The Mate 30 Pro is priced at €1,099, which is around $1, 214. Converted to Kenya shillings, the phone is about Ksh.120, 000.

The Porsche Design (named Mate 30 RS) is more expensive than the other two, perhaps way too expensive.

The price tag is €2,095, which is converted to $2,318. We are talking about nearly the same specs with a leather finish at about Ksh. 230,000.

Thoughts on missing Google services

Back to the most intriguing part of this phone launch. In addition to the steep prices, the 5G phones lack Google services.

Huawei is spending about $1 billion to develop its own app store now that Google Play Store is still banned.

The move is the company’s effort to overcome the effects of the trade wars.

However, the question that most people have asked since the launch was first announced is on selling or marketing the devices.

The Chinese market is likely to keep supporting its brand. Huawei phones have been contributing to the company’s revenues for years.

The main challenge is marketing the phones at such high prices without Google services to the rest of the world.

We develop mobiles apps in Kenya so we understand how important Google Play Store is to phone buyers.

In fact, most people upgrade to expensive brands to access more features including their favourite apps and games.

For taxi-hailing apps like Uber and Taxify, a phone without Google Maps is simply out of question. Delivery and logistics apps fall into this category as well.

Video content has become increasingly popular among internet users and the majority trust the YouTube platform.

Consider the fact that the Android platform is the most popular in Kenya and around the world.

App owners prefer to list their apps on Google Play Store for easy access and to reach the large market.

Are customers willing to suddenly change from Google to Huawei’s new app store? Will app owners be willing to list their apps elsewhere for the sake of Huawei phone users?

The reality is that only a slice of the market for Android smartphones can afford the new Mate 30 phone models.

Huawei will have to keep rethinking its brand strategy before the world buys its new app store.

Conclusion

Despite the major missing feature, the Huawei Mate 30 and Mater 30 Pro have very competitive features. It is impossible for phone manufacturers to ignore the quality of Android smartphones that Huawei offers in the market. Huawei is still a competitive brand and with the right strategy, the company will stay afloat.

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