Mobile Data Usage in UK Set to Soar

The amount of mobile data being used in the UK will grow sevenfold, say researchers, by 2021.

The research from CCS Insight has found that the average mobile phone user will use around 2.5 GB of data every month but by 2021, this will grow to 18 GB.

The firm says that mobile phone networks should begin making attractive offers in a bid to meet the growing demand for data.

This would include offers such as unlimited data plans and with 3 being the only network offering this, CCS says their subscribers are using, on average, 7 GB every month, around 3.5 times more than users on other networks.

However, researchers also say that data usage will not increase massively until 2022 when 5G will become increasingly popular with 17 million subscribers – by 2025, around half of all mobile users will be on a 5G network.

New app will tackle mental health in farmers

A trainee GP has launched an innovative app that will help farmers come to terms with mental health issues from their own homes.

Dr Julian Nesbitt wants to offer reliable and quick access to medical support using smart phone video technology because the farmers are often in isolated locations.

He explained: “The app will help break down barriers of access for farmers who are on the farm all day but most medical services will only be available between 9 and 5pm.”

The app means farmers can do their day job and then speak to someone when it’s convenient and there is a range of therapists dealing with issues including stress, trauma and gambling addiction.

Android malware warning

They may sound like legitimate Android apps but users are being warned of multistage malware lurking in a family of apps.

The warning from ESET has revealed that the malicious apps are being hidden in Google Play Store with names such as ‘World News’ and ‘Cleaner for Android’.

The apps that have been revealed by the firm’s researchers do not raise suspicions from users because they do not ask for app permissions and will behave as an app is designed to do.

However, another malicious app which has been downloaded without the user knowing will, after a five-minute delay, be presented as a legitimate service, for example an Adobe Flash update.

When the prompt is approved, the new app will download a mobile banking Trojan to steal the user’s financial information.

The apps have now been removed by Google and a spokesman for ESET said: “Multistage downloaders have a better chance of creeping into official app stores than a common malware will.”

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

Android users are being warned of a new exploit which will trick a user into recording their phone screen without them knowing. The exploit affects android versions 5.0 to 7.1.

A car thief in Scotland was caught after the owner used a mobile phone tracker app to find their car, a court was told. The thief was caught less than an hour after stealing the car.

Coventry commuters are being urged to use an innovative app aimed at reducing congestion, said to be the first project of its kind in the UK. The Intelligent Variable Message System (iVMS) will enable motorists to plan their route to avoid travel hotspots and help improve congestion and reduce journey times.

Supermarket shoppers can use their mobile phone’s facial recognition system to replace ID checks when buying alcohol, under a pilot scheme. The British identity app Yoti will scan a shopper’s face to confirm their identity and help remove the self-service tills bottle-neck when assistants must check identification when buying goods that are age restricted.

Millions of Phones at Risk from App Mistake

Millions of smartphone users have been put at risk because of a simple coding error in 685 phone apps, warns security firm Appthority.

The mistake means that the user’s text messages and calls are at risk of being intercepted by hackers – particularly if app developers have used the Twilio Rest API or SDK platform.

Researchers say the developers have mistakenly coded credentials for accessing services, calls and texts by provided by Twilo Inc.

Apparently, hackers can access credentials by reviewing the app’s code to gain access to data sent via those services. The flaw has been dubbed ‘Eavesdropper’.

Among the affected apps are the AT&T Navigator, which is pre-installed on many Android phones and GPS navigation apps from Telenav though researchers say they have been careful not to name all of the affected apps – and Twilio’s users include Uber and Netflix.

Shares in Twilio fell by nearly 7% after the report from Appthority was published.

The end of paper receipts?

Mobile banking apps could see the end of paper receipts since a new app could see digital receipts being used instead.

Barclays Bank has now teamed-up with tech outfit Flux to trial its new Launchpad app with 10,000 customers.

The new app means there will be no longer receipts clogging up wallets because they will be stored digitally and be harder to lose; the digital receipt will also prove beneficial in finding a receipt should a purchase break or if there is a warranty issue.

However, for the new scheme to work effectively, retailers will need to use software that enables them to send their receipts digitally to customers.

Growing numbers of stores, including New Look and Topshop, are moving away from printed receipts already by emailing them to their customers instead.

With the new system, there’s no need to hand over email details since the Barclays pay machine will send a receipt directly to the customer’s mobile phone app.

In other mobile phone app news …

Smartphone users in the UK are increasingly comfortable sharing their device’s location with an app, compared with two years ago. Around 55% of phone users said they are comfortable doing so while 11% said they always allow their apps to access their location, says marketing firm Verve.

A new app for smartphones may help parents keep their children safe while on social media, particularly to help prevent them from sending explicit images, messages and personal details. The Oyoty app will run automatically to detect whether an image is showing too much flesh and will suggest a rethink before the child user sends it out.

The rise of tracking apps for plane flights has been revealed with the news that 230,000 people followed Priti Patel’s eight hour flight back to the UK before resigning from government. FlightRadar24 says the international secretary’s flight is now the most monitored ever.

Facebook says the UK is the first country outside of the US to get its Messenger payments service. Launched in 2015, the app is used to split restaurant bills and send money, among other uses, with most users sending £38 on average. Facebook says the UK has been chosen because there are so many ‘mobile savvy consumers’ in the country.

Global App Downloads Reach Record Levels

The growing popularity of apps has been underlined with news that nearly 26 billion apps were downloaded around the world, a rise of more than 8%, over the past year.

The figures are for new downloads and do not cover app updates or reinstalls.

The worldwide consumer spend for apps for Google Play and iOS has also increased by 28% to reach nearly $17 (£12.9) billion.

The researchers also reveal that app usage is also increasing at ‘significant pace’ and the time people are spending an apps is also increasing to 325 billion hours in the third quarter of 2017.

The growth of apps being downloaded is driven by new smart phone owners with the consumer spend on Google Play is nearly double in the third quarter of this year than that recorded by iOS.

The world’s largest market for spending on apps is China which has just recorded its highest ever annual growth figures.

Half of young Brits use banking apps

Banking apps are proving increasingly popular with more than half of British ‘Millennials’ regularly using their mobile phone for their financial affairs, says a survey.

The findings from Visa reveal that 38% of Brits are using banking apps regularly while for 18 to 34-year-olds, the figure rises to 53%.

However, 31% of millennials confessed that they have never used a banking app before.

Of the financial activities, most are using the apps for making payments securely and the users are increasingly keen to use biometric technology for authenticating their identity.

A spokesman for Visa said: “The retail banking industry has been revolutionised with mobile technology and until recently conducting simple transactions meant visiting a bank branch.

“Now banks are embracing the flexibility being offered by apps to enable customers to stay on top of their finances while they are on the move. Anyone with a tablet or smartphone can now take their bank branch with them.”

Dating apps have hacking vulnerabilities

A number of dating apps have been found to have vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers, says Kaspersky Lab.

The Russian firm says the vulnerabilities enable a user’s location to be accessed easily while the Android versions of some apps enable a user’s messages to be accessed.

Hackers can also, in some cases, log into a person’s profile.

The researchers say that the apps, including Zoosk, Tinder, WeChat and Happn, can have their location data hacked.

In separate research, Kaspersky also points out that growing numbers of us prefer to use mobile devices rather than computers for our online activities.

However, they add that there is a blasé attitude from users about their device’s security with online threats increasing.

In other Miratrix mobile app news …

An app unveiled by Facebook which is aimed at making users be more productive is now available as a desktop version. Workplace Chat, which is similar to Slack, could only previously be accessed via a mobile phone and, Facebook claims, around 30,000 organisations are now using the app.

Security experts at Check Point are warning that the Reaper botnet has now infected more than one million organisations and their computers and mobile devices. The firm says that those behind the network may be gearing up to wreak havoc soon.

Travel firm Booking.com says that in 2018 travellers will increasingly use technology and apps when arranging their travelling experiences. They also want to use technology to better understand their accommodation and destination before booking.

Amazon has unveiled a new Kindle app which will, the firm claims, encourage people to read more e-books using their mobile phones. They say the new app has been inspired by books and so the app has the ‘look and feel’ of reading a real book with larger book covers and new fonts. There’s also a new community tab for readers to access the Goodreads community.