App Developers Look at Web and Hybrid Apps

A new survey has revealed that software developers have little interest in creating apps for smart TVs or wearables but are increasingly keen on hybrid apps and those for use on the web.

The survey by Ionic, a maker of an app development framework, questioned more than 13,000 developers to find that app developers are finding it harder to get attention for their native apps in app stores.

Essentially, it appears that the market for apps has now turned full circle with apps for the web making a comeback.

The findings, published in The Register, reveal that for developers who are not working for Google, Facebook or Snapchat are finding it increasingly difficult to develop apps.

Controversial gun app hits the headlines

A new app that utilises augmented reality to enable users to shoot someone has been condemned.

Developers in India behind the app say it’s a ‘bit of fun’ but critics say the level of violence could lead to a real incident.

Essentially, the app uses the phone’s camera and captures the real world but then overlays the special effects onto the user’s screen.

Its users can opt to use a pistol, sniper rifle or an assault rifle and even a rocket launcher to attack who they point the camera at.

There is on-screen blood and the option of sound effects to boost the overall effect.

New system could change the way people digest local news

A Google-funded trial has seen beacons being installed in Manchester to beam local news to users’ phones.

The experiment has seen 10 beacons being installed with news providers, public bodies and businesses able to beam targeted news as well as information directly to a mobile phone within 100 metres.

Developers say this ability to pinpoint an audience could transform the way local news is distributed.

The service is free of charge and will work on most mobile devices with Bluetooth and does not require the downloading of a specific app.

It’s part of Google’s Digital News Initiative and content partners include Manchester Evening News, the city council as well as Greater Manchester Police.

In other mobile phone app news …

A walker who fell 60 ft in the Lake District has praised a mobile phone app for saving his life. The man suffered a head injury and rescuers found him via Apple’s ‘Find My Friends’ app.

Waze, an alternative to Google maps, is now available for use on Android Auto.

With growing numbers of youngsters now having a smartphone, parents are being warned to monitor the apps they install. The findings from a Citizens’ Advice survey reveal that parents are being left with hefty bills being run-up by their children – one parent complained of a £300 bill after their 12-year-old son signed up to a games app.

Users of the Uber app are being warned that divorce lawyers are increasingly using the data from the app to catch out cheats. That’s because the mobile phone app logs all journeys as well as pickups, locations and drop-offs so people can be tracked easily. Also, the data cannot be hidden or deleted and is providing a treasure trove of information for divorce lawyers.

It looks like Amazon is about to add its Alexa function into its Android shopping app. The Alexa addition will work in the same way as it does on the Echo platform and can check for things like traffic, weather and news.

The number of complaints from people using banking apps rose again last year, according to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). Complaints rose from 305 in the year before to 360 over Internet and phone banking problems. Complaints include issues of security and the bank’s failure to carry out a customer’s instructions.

Bank app works in the blink of an eye

The TSB has unveiled plans for its customers to use an app that will enable access to their account with the blink of an eye.

The iris recognition software will be introduced from September for some Samsung Galaxy phones.

The bank says that this is a secure form of biometric authentication.

A spokesman for the bank said: “Iris recognition will enable a customer to unlock their TSB mobile app with a simple glance so there’s no need for passwords, IDs or memorable information.

“It’s also a customer friendly approach to identification and a secure method.”

However, one national newspaper asked cyber security experts what they thought about biometric logins.

Their reaction was for the bank not to assume that a biometric login cannot be compromised.

One chief executive, Richard Parris of Intercede, said that biometrics are quickly becoming the de facto security measure for a range of consumer and business applications.

He added: “However, German hackers have been able to trick the Samsung Galaxy S8 iris scanner with a picture of the phone owners eye and a contact lens.”

He said that biometric authentication is not immune to potential attacks and should not be the sole means of verifying a user’s identity.

App tracks students phone usage

For students in Australian schools a new app has been unveiled that will control their phone usage.

The app will monitor the students use of their mobile phone and can disable ‘distracting’ apps.

Developed by Family Zone, the app will give schools control over how students use their devices and help control online predators and cyber bullying.

Parents must give the school permission to apply the service and the option of monitoring mobile phone use in their home.

So far 40 schools in Australia have begun using the app which also gives parents control over the apps being accessed and the ability to deactivate the phone’s camera.

Messaging app usage continues growth

The worldwide appeal for mobile messaging apps is continuing to grow with usage set to increase by 15.5% this year.

The research from eMarketer reveals that there will be more than 1.8 billion people using apps such as WeChat and Facebook Messenger.

In addition, they are also predicting that an extra 243 million people will start using mobile phone messaging apps this year.

While growth is expected around the world, the popularity of mobile messaging apps is being fuelled by new users in five countries: China, the US, India, Brazil and Indonesia.

They will also be home to the biggest number of mobile messaging app users – though, not surprisingly, they are also the most populated countries in the world.

Gory app unveiled

For lovers of history that like to learn about dark moments and gory sites, academics in Bristol have developed a mobile app for them.

The app will notify users who pass some of the region’s gory historic sites of what occurred there hundreds of years ago.

The University of the West of England has funded a series of guides that will play court proceedings and ballads to a listener when they pass the scene of a gory and notorious crime.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

A survey of Brits and their disposable incomes has revealed that the amount being spent on mobile phone apps has rocketed by 227% over the past year.

The Chinese mobile phone market has seen a huge rise in the number of date-for-hire apps to help meet the growing demand from users to have a date when meeting relatives. Some apps aim to find an ‘instant partner’ who the user can hire and present to their relatives when visiting to help prevent conversations about getting married.

Microsoft has begun testing its Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps under its new ‘Fluent Design’ aesthetics.

A new app for making public transport payments by smartphone has hit the buffers with pioneers struggling to use it. The firm behind the app in the Netherlands says the ability to pay by mobile phone has been ‘chaotic’ and the first few days of operation has been ‘worthless’.

Google’s Android Has a Secret ‘Panic Mode’ Function

In a bid to tackle the growing threat from spyware and malware masquerading as apps, Google has apparently installed a panic mode function for its Android platform.

The aim is to kill the user’s device when activated.

The panic mode will detect when the user has an issue and return them to the home screen immediately.

It will do this when it detects the user is rapidly pressing the back button in an effort to exit a rogue app.

While it’s not public knowledge yet, one security expert says that Android’s operating system source code does contain the panic mode.

Users interested in the function will need to ensure their phone is updated to Android 7.1 Nougat.

App will help tackle university binge drinking

An app aimed at ending University binge drinking has been unveiled.

The app is now undergoing a $300,000 trial to help reduce the levels of student binge drinking in the US.

Users will be sent a survey at 6pm and depending on the answers, they will then receive regular text messages to remind them of their obligations the following day in a bid to act as a deterrent.

Researchers say the VicHealth app works almost like ‘a cyber parent’.

‘Uber for escorts’ app ruffles feathers

An app that has been described as the ‘Uber for escorts’ has ruffled feathers after launching in Scotland.

Rendevu has been popular after launching elsewhere in the UK and with more than 2,000 downloads after its launch in Scotland a month ago, critics are lining up saying the app exploits women.

The app enables clients to arrange hook-ups with the click of a button though the entrepreneurs behind the app say it’s creating a safe space for those in the sex industry.

The on-demand app allows masseurs and escorts to publish prices, availability and their location when requested.

Popularity of Personal Assistant apps declines

The take-up of mobile phone personal assistant apps has declined as growing numbers of people switch to devices such as Google Home and Amazon Echo.

Verto Analytics says that 71 million smartphone owners in the US used a personal assistant app in May but that’s a big fall from the 88 million users who did so in November last year.

Apple Siri’s is still the most popular assistant app but its annual usage has dropped by 15% and the number of daily users is also falling.

In contrast, Amazons Alexa has seen a 325% increase over the year in unique users and the number of daily users has doubled.

In other mobile phone app news …

A mobile phone app designed to help the prevention of pregnancy has been approved by the European Union. The app, Natural Cycles, was launched in Sweden in 2014 and while there are many other similar apps available, it’s the first in the world to be approved by a European health agency for use as a contraceptive.

Researchers in Australia have revealed that, on average, Australians will use 36 mobile phone apps every month. Aussies also have more apps on their phones than Europeans and Americans with most users prioritising utility apps followed by social networking apps.

Cardless ATMs have taken off in America after Wells Fargo installed 13,000 of them in various locations. The users have an app that receives a code from their bank which they then enter into the ATM to access funds. Cardless ATMs look like taking off since consumers can use digital wallets but will need to greater take greater care of their personal information, say the banks introducing them.

Durham county council is the latest authority to use ‘The Noise App’ which enables people to record and report any noise disturbance to the authority from their mobile phone.

App Will Help Concert-goers

A mobile phone app developed by Ticketmaster could see queues at concerts and gigs becoming a thing of the past.

The app uses ‘smart tones’ to check people into the event rather than scanning a barcode or a QR code from a paper ticket.

The app also enables concertgoers to skip the queue by showing a green ‘approved’ screen on their smartphone.

Gig-goers will need to download an app and open it as they get closer to the venue where microphones will detect a unique signal from the phone and it’s this signal which is then checked against the database of ticket buyers.

It’s also thought the technology will reduce fraud since the ticket will be tied to a particular mobile device.

Growing numbers rely on banking apps

Data has revealed that growing numbers of people in the UK are setting up their savings accounts online and managing their bank account with their mobile phone.

Homeowners are also managing their mortgages this way too.

According to the British Bankers Association, nearly 20 million people in the UK logged into their mobile banking app last year – an impressive 4.9 billion times.

And, while using their app, 932 million transactions were completed.

Research reveals that the shift from branch banking to online banking is gathering pace with 86% of people now using an app to access their bank’s services.

CopyCat hits more than 14 million Android devices

Security researchers say there’s a new malware strain entitled CopyCat which has infected 14 million Android devices.

The malware will hijack apps to create fraudulent ad revenue and generate millions of dollars as a result.

Check Point says most of the victims are located in Asia and around 280,000 Android users in the US have also been hit.

They say that Google has been tracking the malware for two years and has updated Play Protect in a bid to block CopyCat.

However, millions of those who are affected have been using third-party app downloads and have been victim to phishing attacks as well.

Meanwhile, Russian security firm Group-IB has also highlighted a new virus attacking Android phones which will use their mobile banking app to attack the victim’s bank account.

Apparently, the virus is spreading quickly and masquerades as a text message from a contact in the user’s phone book.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

Industry experts say Google is facing another massive anti-trust fine from the European Commission (EC) in relation to its Android operating system. European regulators say that Google is denying consumers a wider choice of mobile services and apps and is preventing innovation by third parties. Part of the problem is the preloading of Google apps, says the EC.

The growing number of apps for smart phones is leading to the death of the compact camera with sales declining quickly, says CIPA. The most popular five cameras for those who are uploading to photo sharing site Flickr are versions of the Apple iPhone.

Microsoft has announced it is closing Windows App Studio for those who use the Windows app building tool and instead users will need to use Windows Template Studio.

A new law in China means bloatware, or pre-installed apps, on mobile phones must have software available for these apps to be uninstalled and no apps can pass on the user’s data without their permission.

Guests at Hilton Hotels in future will be able to use a mobile phone app as a key to open their room’s door. Rival groups say they remain wary of technology like this because of their security concerns but the system has been trialled at more than 1,700 hotels in North America without problems.

Research Methods Resource

Hello! I’ve started to curate some good resources for those that want to learn a little more about research methodology for their jobs. This is mainly aimed at newbies with no formal or academic research education or training.

Statistics

Need to work out a statistical sample size? Here’s a sample size generator: https://www.surveysystem.com/sscalc.htm

Not sure what statistical test to use? No problem! Bill Trochim’s Center for Social Research Methods has got a great little took for helping you find your way the correct stats test: http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/selstat/ssstart.htm

Want to learn more about specific statistical formulas and methods? They are pretty much all here: http://www.statsoft.com/Textbook

Research Design

This resource from University of South Carolina will help beginners and those out of practice get back into designer research and writing research proposals. The UI could use a little work but all and all it’s a very useful tool: http://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/purpose

CIRT has a one pager for those of you that would like a brief idea on how to design research. https://cirt.gcu.edu/research/developmentresources/tutorials/researchdesigns

Research Methodology

What are the different types of research methods, I hear you say?

Watch this video on YouTube.

Great intro video on research methods

Watch this video on YouTube.

 

I’ll update this as I come across new resources but if you find any yourself, please share below or ping me on twitter.