New App Will Tackle Insurance Fraud Claims

Insurance firms are increasingly using technology to verify authentic videos and photos in the fight against insurance fraud.

With insurance claims now asking for user-submitted images means that the potential for fraud is increasing.

Also, with hundreds of apps that allow users to manipulate videos and photos means they can edit the appearance of the image and also its time, date and location.

Now Truepic, a start-up, says it has developed the technology which can instantly verify and authenticate images and the firm is now working with insurance firms in a bid to tackle fraudulent claims.

Essentially, the new system will work via the insurance firm’s own app by using Truepic’s SDK camera which will verify that any video or image has not been edited.

New app enables crime reporting

Smartphone users in the French city of Nice can use a mobile phone app to report a crime.

So far, 2,000 people have signed up to try out the service for them to record and report a crime to the police – and they can do it in a matter of seconds.

The app enables video streaming and geo-locating so police officers can see exactly where someone reporting a crime is and what’s happening around them.

The police support the app and say it will help them to become more efficient when processing calls from the public.

A spokesman for Nice’s Municipal Police said: “We manage 75,000 calls a year and the app will help us manage the numbers we get at our surveillance centre. The difficulty for us is to work out the caller’s location so we can send a team to them.”

Google bans violent app

After a mother warned Google about a violent app that threatens children with a knife, the tech giant immediately banned it.

The Monster Machines and Blaze apps were free on Google Play Store but they made sinister threats to children including a threat to stab them with a knife.

The apps are based on a popular children’s cartoon series but appear not to have any official links.

The mother’s warning follows a growing trend of parent highlighting the need to monitor children’s use of apps after some, including one featuring the popular character Peppa Pig, were found to be violent.

The parents are using YouTube to show the apps being played by young children so viewers can see how violent some apps can be.

Students targeted by laundry app

Students are being targeted by a laundry app that will enable their dirty washing to be picked up, cleaned and then dropped off.

Aimed primarily at London-based university students the app also has secure lockers where students can leave their laundry and pick it up afterwards.

The app, Laundry Check, has been created by a firm that uses industrial cleaning facilities and they will deliver and pick up clothes using hybrid vehicles.

In other mobile phone app news …

The UK government is helping to fund the world’s first mobile app which will identify innovative ways to help people with a disability in a poor country to get a job.

A WhatsApp update will enable some Android phone users to switch off group chat notifications but enable alerts for single messages, among several updates. The phones need to use Google’s latest Android operating system for the updates to function.

Commuters fed up with the state of public transport can now use GrumpNow to complain. The developer says it has already been downloaded several hundred times since being launched in late 2017. The data is then compiled to log the travellers’ issues.

Flaw in WhatsApp Security Revealed

A security flaw in WhatsApp could enable a hacker to spy on a private group chat, warn researchers.

The vulnerability means that anyone with access to WhatsApp servers can join a private group or insert someone without the chatroom administrator’s permission.

The findings from researchers at Ruhr University in Germany point out that sensitive conversations including those by women MPs at Westminster discussing sexual harassment could be infiltrated by an outsider.

Also, once a hacker accesses a group they then have the phone number of each group member and will automatically share secret keys and have access to all future messages.

The researchers say that for any users who are looking for absolute privacy in their group chat should sign up with encrypted app Signal or restrict their WhatsApp use to simply sending private messages.

The researchers also called on WhatsApp to introduce a new authentication mechanism for any new invitations to a group.

Mobile app growth is slowing down

Researchers at Flurry say that the growth in global mobile apps is slowing down even though smartphone users are still spending more than five hours every day using their device.

Now the firm says that apps need to build-in daily usage habits in a bid to boost growth.

Flurry has now measured app activity growth and found that in 2016, the number of sessions grew by just 6%. In 2015, growth was 11%.

They have tracked more than 1 million apps across more than 2.6 billion devices for their study.

Also, there are big changes in how people use apps; for shopping, use grew by 54% as consumers continue to move their spending online with media, music and entertainment coming a close second with 43% growth.

The steepest decline was seen by lifestyle apps which fell by 40%. Gaming also fell again with a decline measured at 15%.

‘Open Banking’ sparks security fears

New rules imposed from 13 January mean a revolution is about to hit the finance world.

That’s when we will get more power over the data that banks hold about us.

The aim is to boost competition and help us save more money.

However, industry experts say that the growing use of banking apps is creating a big security concern with crooks able to carry out more bank transfer scams.

The rules have been introduced by the European Union so banks and building societies must now allow developers of web and mobile phone apps to plug into the user’s current account data if the customer gives them permission.

Flashlight apps hit by malware

Researchers have revealed that malicious adware has infected more than 22 flashlight apps which have been downloaded between 1.5 and 7.5 million times.

The malware has been tagged as ‘LightsOut’ and will generate ad revenue secretly for its developers.

The malware will bombard constantly the phone’s user with pop-up ads that must be clicked before they can use their device.

The apps are found on Google’s Play Store and after they have been launched, the app hides its icon on the main screen so it is more difficult to find and then uninstall the app.

Child-friendly apps hide malware

Researchers say they have found more than 60 child-friendly apps that are hiding malware designed to rob mobile phone users or display pornography.

The apps are available from Google Play Store and, security firm CheckPoint says, the apps have child friendly themes including ‘Fidget spinner for Minecraft’. They’ve called the malware AdultSwine and Google now says it has removed the apps from Play.

In other mobile phone app news …

Some of Apple’s biggest investors are calling on the firm to limit how long children can use apps and its smartphones. The call has been welcomed by academics who say that imposing restrictions will help youngsters.

Russian smartphone users are being warned over malware that will access their banking text messages to enable criminals to intercept bank security codes. They can then use the codes to access and reset bank account passwords and empty the bank account itself. The malware is dubbed as ‘FakeBank’.

Google Phone Apps Are Listening In

An investigation has revealed that apps on Google’s Play Store are allowing firms to listen in on the TV shows being watched by users so they can target adverts more effectively.

The findings from the New York Times reveals that more than 250 Android apps are using listening software that will control the smartphone’s microphone.

The same method is being used by 24 apps found in Apple’s App Store.

Most of the apps tend to be free games that are being downloaded hundreds of thousands of times and are being rated as suitable for all age groups.

The apps are using software from an American company called Alphonso which collects television viewing data for advertising firms – they say the technology is being used in more than 1,000 apps but refuses to disclose which these are.

They point out that the app’s terms and conditions make clear the app’s monitoring activities and users must give their permission to opt in.

Conflicting advice sees drivers prosecuted

Drivers in the UK are being prosecuted when using their smartphone as a satnav because of conflicting advice which is causing confusion.

Motoring organisations say that police forces and government ministers are creating the confusion by offering advice about what is legal and illegal when it comes to using a mobile phone when driving.

With tougher new penalties being introduced last year to clamp down on drivers using phones to send text messages and make calls, the move also covered the use of satnav apps.

Drivers are warned by the Department for Transport they should not to ‘use’ their phones while at the wheel but police in some parts of the UK say drivers are not allowed to ‘touch’ their phone or it should be placed ‘out of sight’.

With more than 200 drivers being prosecuted every day, motoring organisations are urging clarity over the use of mobile phones and any apps that can be used safely.

App can find people in an emergency

Researchers have developed an app that can find people who have had an accident in a remote area without a phone signal.

The team from Universidad de Alicante in Spain say the app can also be used for other emergency situations including floods, earthquakes and forest fires where the local mobile phone infrastructure has been destroyed.

A spokesman said: “The app can be used with any smartphone and without the signal will emit the WiFi signal which will act as a distress beacon over several kilometres.”

The signal carries the co-ordinates of the person who has had an accident along with a short message that gives brief details about what has happened to them.

To operate, the mobile phone app needs to be activated will which will then activate the distress signal.

In other mobile phone app news …

The new version of the iconic Nokia 3310 phone will soon connect to 4G and will run a number of basic Android apps. One of those will be a stripped down version of WhatsApp.

Apple has unveiled an update to its App Store guidelines including those apps used for exhibitions and live events.

Google has announced that its Android Auto app will go wireless this year without the need for a compatible head unit to access apps.

A report from online travel agent Opodo has revealed that Millennials are so obsessed with their smartphones that 75% of them say that they worry more about their battery life than enjoying the holiday.

Visitors to St Mark’s Square in Venice can use a new app which will tell them when to avoid the area if it’s overcrowded. The implementation coincides with the introduction of traffic lights to help control pedestrian access.