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Review: Invygo

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Everyone knows that getting a driving license is one of life’s biggest achievements. And once you get the license, the next thing to do is go car shopping. However, if you are one of those that does not like going through all the hoops and paperwork of owning a car, not to mention, the periodic maintenance, registration renewal, insurance renewals, blah de blah, the next best thing is to opt for a car rental service.

Now, there are many options on the market when it comes to car rental services – however, most of the time, that too involves lots of paperwork. You then need to pick up the car from the rental shop, drop it off once you are done with the rental period, look out for fine prints in the agreements, and more. 

And more often than not, you don’t get exactly what you book – most likely you end up with an equivalent. And of course, you don’t get to choose brand new cars to enjoy your driving experience.

This is where apps such as Invygo come into the picture. Invygo claims to be the first app-based car subscription company in the MENA region, though there are quite a few such services on the market. However, Invygo has possibly done the “app-based car subscription” better than the others, to secure $1 Million in funding, to aid its GCC expansion.

Invygo is an app-based car subscription service that offers an alternative to owning, renting or leasing a car without the hassle or commitment. The app allows you to pay for your car on a monthly basis and return or upgrade whenever you want, without any penalties or hidden charges. What’s more surprising is that the minimum commitment is only one month. 

And using the app is super easy – just like a walk in the part. All you need to do is, download our app, browse and pick your car, choose the add-ons, agree to the terms and conditions and pay for it. Invygo has tied up with a bunch of car dealers in the UAE and the dealer contacts you directly to deliver the car you chose through the app.

In order to test out the app, Invygo was generous enough to provide us with a wallet top-up. Once you fire up the app, you need to register with your phone number. Once done, you get into the inventory and start with choosing the vehicle of your choice. 

Your contract includes a dealer certified car, roadside assistance, warranty, car replacement (in case of mechanical failure/accidents), 2500km of mileage per month (can be increased using add-on packages), doorstep delivery, full insurance, and routine maintenance, among others. For this review, we chose to go with a 2020 model of the Nissan Sunny.

The longer you go with your rental contract, the better the pricing will be. For this review, we opted for a one-month rental period. Apart from the one-month rental fee, we were charged a one-time start fee, along with additional fees for add-ons (extra mileage, and full comprehensive insurance). Please note that by default, all cars come with comprehensive insurance, which covers everything that isn’t your fault with a police report. 

This means that if the accident was your fault or if someone damaged your car in the parking lot and vanished without a trace, you will have to bear an excess amount ranging from AED 400 – AED 15,500 (!!!), depending on the dealer providing the car. So, it is always a good idea to pay a bit more and opt for a full insurance cover, so that you don’t end up paying the excess amount, even if it was your fault, as long as you have the police report. 

Trust me, when I say this. Always go for full insurance. We had an episode during our review period and I am glad I spent extra for full insurance (more on that later). Once you have added the add-ons and confirmed the final amount to be paid, you then choose the date, time and venue for the car drop-off.

Once that is done, you need to scan both the front and back of your driving license and the Emirates ID through the app. One that is done, you need to add a credit card to the app to process payments and any other charges you incur during your rental period such as Salik fees, fines, excess usage fees and so on. 

Just a heads-up though – once your subscription comes to an end and you no longer want to use the app, you can only get your account and credit card details deleted from Invygo’s system, two months after your subscription ends. This means that your data and credit details are still with Invygo, for two months from the date of your subscription end date.

I find this a bit of a hassle since I still need to keep checking for any erroneously charged dues for two months after my subscription was canceled. This isn’t an issue if you opt to go with a car rental company, since all dues are settled, done and dusted, the moment you return your rental car. Of course, you do pay a refundable deposit amount to a rental car company, the refund period of which, varies from one rental company to another. This isn’t the case if you opt to go with Invygo.

Once the payment is done, you choose the date, time and venue for the car to be dropped off. Once that is done, you are presented with an electronic contract that includes the terms and conditions. You then go through all the terms and then electronically sign the document. You then get a confirmation of the delivery of the car on your chosen date and time.

Delivery of the vehicle was hassle-free, and I was surprised to receive a brand new car that had just done 40 kms. Of course, the joy was short-lived. The next morning I woke up to find that the car had been damaged by someone in the parking lot. Since there was no third party present when I discovered this, I drove the car straight to the police station and got a police report done. 

Remember, as mentioned earlier, with a police report and full insurance, you wouldn’t have to pay an insurance excess in case of accidents, irrespective of whether it was your fault or not. Since I chose to pay extra for full insurance at the time of booking the car, I wasn’t asked to pay the excess when the dealer came to collect the car on the return date. 

Returning the car at the end of your subscription period is also quite simple. You can either choose to pause your subscription, if you are going out of the country for vacation, or cancel the subscription 5 days before the subscription renewal period to return the car without incurring any additional charges. 

Once the subscription is canceled, you get a confirmation with the date and time when the dealer would pick up the car. The overall experience using Invygo was very good. The customer support is top-notch – throughout my review period, I had hundreds of questions. Each time, the customer support team was very patient and friendly in helping me out.

The overall experience was hassle-free, right from booking a car and to receiving it, to requesting for supporting documents in case of an accident, to returning the car. Invygo is definitely the service you should look at if you want to rent a car for short- or long-term without all the hassles and hooplas!

Price: App is free to use. Car rental subscription varies.  

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Gemini Advanced and Gemini Mobile App Are Now Available in Arabic

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Google is expanding Gemini’s mobile experience to Arabic speakers globally, making it available as a dedicated app for Android users and accessible within the Google app for iOS devices. Google is also introducing Gemini Advanced in Arabic, the latest conversational AI model by Google, to users under the Google One AI Premium plan.

People can have free access to Gemini 1.0 Pro on their phones to easily collaborate with the best of Google AI; whether by typing, talking or adding an image for all kinds of help while they are on the go. For Android, users can now download the ‘Google Gemini’ app available on Google Play and have the option to make Gemini their primary assistant from Google. As for iOS users, they can use or download the ‘Google’ app and tap the Gemini toggle to begin exploring.

Additionally, users can upgrade to Gemini Advanced, which is now available in Arabic, to access Google’s latest conversational AI model, Gemini 1.5 Pro. The model is more capable at highly complex tasks like coding, logical reasoning, following nuanced instructions and collaborating on creative projects. Users can access a two-month free trial of Gemini Advanced, and then subscribe to the monthly plan.

​​Commenting on the launch, Najeeb Jarrar, Google’s Regional Marketing Director in MENA, said: “We’re excited to bring Gemini a step closer to Arabic-speaking users in MENA and beyond, ensuring more people can supercharge their creativity and productivity with Gemini. Starting today, users can now tap on the benefits of generative AI directly from their phones and interact with other Google apps and services for more instant and personalized outcomes.”

People can also interact with other Google apps and services through extensions provided by Gemini in English and Arabic. With the extensions, released a few weeks ago, people can get real-time flight and hotel booking info for planning purposes, get location-based information from Google Maps and summarize specific content from Google Docs or Gmail right in the Gemini app. To activate the extensions feature, users can type (@) followed by the tool, including YouTube, Maps, Docs, Gmail & Drive.

Gemini, known previously as Bard, was launched in Arabic last July. Gemini understands questions in over 16 Arabic dialects and in turn shares responses in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). In May, Google announced the latest developments of the Gemini era and the future of AI during Google I/O – more of these features are coming to Arabic and the MENA region soon.

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Hold Onto Your Seats, Android Users: A Fart Button is Coming!

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Get ready, Android users, for a quirky addition to your phone calls: a fart button.

As revealed by 9to5Google, users on the beta update channel of the Google Phone app are discovering a fresh menu during their calls, titled “Audio Emoji.” This unexpected feature equips callers with a soundboard boasting six different sound effects, audible to both parties on the call. Among these effects are clapping, laughter, celebratory cheers, a sorrowful trombone tune, a “ba dum tss,” and, peculiarly, flatulence. Despite the term “emoji,” the only emoji-like aspect is the use of emojis as buttons to trigger the sounds.

Accompanying these audio emojis are brief animations that complement the sound effects. Notably, there’s a rather distasteful depiction of a “chocolate ice cream cone” squelching to the ground amidst buzzing flies. It’s not hard to guess which emoji corresponds to this effect. It appears that these animations may be exclusive to the sender, although their visibility for the receiver is uncertain, especially if they also have audio emojis activated.

The full extent of this feature’s functionality remains to be seen, as it’s gradually rolling out. I didn’t encounter it on my Pixel 8 Pro, and Google hasn’t officially announced it yet.

If you find yourself confronted with the Audio Emoji menu and prefer not to encounter a miniature cartoon poop in your calls, you can deactivate the menu by tapping an “X” located in its top right corner. However, it’s unclear whether this action prevents friends from sending sound effects your way.

Fortunately, there’s a cooldown period between emojis, which means you won’t be bombarded with a flurry of fart sounds followed by a sad trombone and a punchline sound effect. With Google I/O, the tech giant’s premier hardware and software event for 2024, just around the corner, let’s hope Google has more substantial innovations to unveil on May 14th.

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Huawei Launches Painting App Called GoPaint

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Huawei has announced the upcoming launch of GoPaint, a brand-new self-developed painting app designed specifically for tablets. This exciting development marks Huawei’s entry into the digital art app market, further solidifying their commitment to empowering creative expression.

The GoPaint app promises a wealth of features for both seasoned artists and aspiring creators. It boasts a comprehensive brush library developed in collaboration with a top art team, ensuring a diverse range of tools for various artistic styles. User-friendly features and intuitive design make GoPaint accessible even for beginners, with a full set of tutorials included to guide users on their creative journey.

This launch comes after the resounding success of Huawei’s GoPaint Worldwide Creating Activity in 2023, highlighting the growing demand for digital art tools. By leveraging valuable user insights from the industry’s first smart device vendor to launch a self-developed painting app, Huawei aims to elevate the user experience and make artistic creation accessible to all. Their core concept of “Creation of Beauty” underscores this commitment.

Huawei’s decade-long expertise in the tablet market positions them perfectly to launch this innovative app. Their industry-leading tablets, like the HUAWEI MatePad Pro 13.2″, boast features like the first large flexible OLED display and seamless integration with the pressure-sensitive HUAWEI M-Pencil (3rd generation). Combining this cutting-edge hardware with the powerful GoPaint app creates a perfect ecosystem for artistic creation.

Huawei is poised to become a trailblazer in the digital art world by bridging the gap between its innovative hardware and software. The GoPaint app, expected to be unveiled at the HUAWEI Innovative Product Launch on May 7th, signifies a new era for creative expression on Huawei tablets. With its comprehensive features, user-friendly design, and beginner-friendly tutorials, GoPaint empowers both established artists and aspiring talents to unlock their creative potential.

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