What We’ve Been Thinking
search, mobile, app marketing, events and some random stuff.
search, mobile, app marketing, events and some random stuff.
At a conference last week, the director of NHS England’s operations and information revealed that the organisation is looking to develop an ecosystem of apps.
They are wanting apps to be developed from inside the NHS and from outside developers.
The national director, Matthew Swindells, says the ecosystem will not be about developing a single perfect solution but will focus on innovation instead.
He told conference attendees that NHS Digital is looking to outline the direction of future app work and wants to boost the range of digital options to help the health service.
According to eMarketer, 78% of digital video viewers are watching footage on their smartphone.
The firm says that 1.87 billion people will be watching video on their mobile phone in 2018, that’s nearly twice 2014’s figure.
By 2021, the numbers could rise to 2.3 billion people.
Of the available platforms, the researchers say that 1.5 billion people will be watching videos at least once a month on YouTube; that’s a 9.2% increase over last year’s figure.
Researchers say that one of the big drivers for video viewing is for people using chat apps which could see around 55% of Internet users using these apps regularly by the end of this year.
Essentially, they watch and then share videos with others on apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat.
Some users of WhatsApp are now able to transfer cash through the app, after some screenshots of the new system appeared online.
Industry watchers say that the popular app has been rumoured for a long time to be developing a peer-to-peer payment system which now looks set for rolling out.
Apparently, only a small number of WhatSapp users in India are able to use the payment system.
After a successful launch in Germany, the mobile airtime credit platform Staxter is available in the UK.
The mobile top-up, storage and recharge platform offers users the chance to pay their PAYE mobile phone bill easily or to send airtime credits to family and friends around the world without having to pay fees and service charges.
The Motion Stills app from Google will bring augmented reality to nearly every Android phone.
The app will enable users to drop a virtual 3D object into any space to give their photos a lift.
Previously, the app was only available on Pixel 2 smartphones and Google now says the stickers can now be used on nearly every Android phone with its Motion Stills app.
Google has apparently switched on the Pixel Visual Core co-processor so users of the Pixel 2 phone can take better pictures. Now app developers are being encouraged to boost the camera’s image capabilities.
Apple has revealed that its products in China will now accept mobile payment app Alipay in local stores. The tie-up with Alibaba looks set to boost the iPhone makers success in the second largest economy in the world.
A survey in the US has revealed that mobile phones are taking the largest share of e-commerce but many retailers are still not promoting apps or mobile opportunities. The findings from Shopgate highlight that e-commerce on mobile phones this year will be worth just over half of the $414 billion (£297 billion) predicted sales this year. That’s a big increase from 2004’s figure of 2% to reach 54% in 2018.
Nintendo has revealed that it is going to launch a Mario Kart Tour app for smartphones. The new app will be available after April.
Security fears have been raised after the Strava fitness app was revealed to ‘light-up’ the running routes used by users on military bases.
Strava has published a heat map that reveals where its users have logged where they are running or cycling.
Now, the data appears to reveal the structure of military bases in many countries including Afghanistan and Syria with soldiers using the app when moving around them.
US military chiefs say they are now examining the heat map for potential security issues.
The app utilises the mobile phone’s GPS to track the user’s exercise activity so they can check on their performance levels and also compare them with others.
There are around 27 million Strava users around the world.
A security report has revealed that incidents of ransomware attacks have rocketed by 93%.
The findings from Malwarebytes, an antivirus offering, says that these attacks will continue to increase.
The firm looked at the activities of hackers last year in their attempts to steal or lock personal data.
The report reveals that hackers are becoming more persistent and are targeting PCs and Macs as well as Android smartphones.
There has been a big rise in ransomware attacks where the hacker uses a virus to lock a computer or its files and then demands an extortion fee so access can be recovered by the victim.
One incident major incident last year occurred when NHS computers, as part of a worldwide ransomware attack, fell victim to the WannaCry virus.
Of the threats, Malwarebytes reports that adware is responsible for 40% of all the threats detected, an increase of 132% on 2016’s figures.
A report reveals that around one in five children aged 5 to 6 now owns a mobile phone.
By the time they are seven or eight, this figure jumps to 41% and rises again to 59% for those aged nine and 10, says the Childwise Monitor.
By the time they are 11, 90% of children have a mobile phone.
On average, children are spending around three hours every day using their phone for various activities including messaging, going online and playing games.
Parents have been warned to monitor their children’s app activity if they are using the popular smartphone game Roblox which is aimed at young children and dubbed the new Minecraft.
The app is a popular multiplayer game that enables users to design their own games and play different ones and has attracted more than 30 million players aged between eight and 12.
However, there are fears that children are receiving inappropriate messages from strangers online.
Children also report that they have seen naked characters in the game, some doing ‘adult things’, and now parents are being urged by Internet safety groups to check their children’s inbox for messages from strangers.
With so many warning signs in petrol stations for users not to use their smartphone, questions have been raised over actual safety levels with the unveiling of new apps that enable drivers to pay for their fuel without leaving their car.
The BPme app from BP has been launched this week to following in the steps of Shell’s Fill Up & Go so drivers can pay for fuel without queueing up in the station.
The apps work when the motorist pulls up alongside a pump, logs into their app, confirms the pump number as well as their payment method and the petrol station’s location service will then pinpoint where they are.
The question was raised by The Sun newspaper and the UK Petroleum Industry Association says drivers don’t have to worry about using phones when at a filling station.
They say that phone use should, however, be restricted when refuelling.
The BP app does make clear that users should only use it from inside their car.
Apple has revealed that it is bringing iOS apps to Macs this year which have the ability of natively running. This is part of the firm’s project called Marzipan which simplifies the developer tools to enable the porting of apps from iOS to macOS.
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.
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.”
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 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.
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.
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.
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%.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A new app unveiled by whistleblower Edward Snowden will turn a phone into a spy system to help protect human rights activists and journalists.
The app uses a spare mobile phone to create a makeshift intruder detection and security system.
The app is entitled ‘Haven’ and uses sensors including the microphone and camera as well as the accelerometer, gyroscope and ambient light to create a motion detector to monitor its surroundings.
The app has been created with help from the Freedom of the Press Foundation.
The former National Security Agency contractor now lives in Russia as an exile and says Haven has been created using open source so the code can be edited by users to suit their needs.
Once Haven detects a disruption or movement, a notification will be sent to the user using an encrypted messaging service.
The popular messenger service WhatsApp will stop working on a variety of phones from New Year’s Day with older operating systems being dropped.
WhatsApp these older system will no longer be supported and instead they are looking to develop further on the Android and iOS platforms.
The devices that will stop working are using BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry OS and also Windows 8 – and older version.
There are now more than 1 billion WhatsApp regular users.
Customers with Barclays Bank can now pay a cheque into their account by using their mobile phone camera.
The customers will need to use the bank’s mobile phone app and snap a photo to pay money in.
Once the customer has logged into their mobile app there’s a new option in the menu to ‘pay in cheques’. They are then given on-screen instructions about how to pay a cheque into their account.
While the bank says it still testing the technology, around 175,000 customers have already managed to pay in a cheque successfully.
Other banks looking to introduce the same function include HSBC, Halifax Bank of Scotland, Lloyds and Santander.
Security researchers say a new Android malware has been detected that can pose as more than 2,200 banks to steal user’s passwords and then plunder the account holder’s account.
The Catelites Bot has been linked to Russian criminal gangs who have infected more than 1 million mobile phones to steal $900,000, according to research from SfyLabs and Avast.
The Trojan works by using fake mobile banking app interfaces which pulls bank names and logos from Google Play Store.
The bot is being spread via third-party app stores, the researchers have revealed.
A court in Spain has ruled that parents have the right to read their children’s messages on WhatsApp. One mother had complained that her ex-husband had breached the country’s privacy laws after checking his nine-year-old daughter’s phone for messages.
A news story broadcast in the US reveals that Japanese app developers are reliant on Google Play Store to generate most of their revenues. Of the top 12 public firms that generate at least 25% of their income from Google, seven are in Japan.
Researchers from the University of Dundee have revealed a warning system for flooding utilising data extracted from mobile phone apps that use crowdsourced information and also data from Twitter.
A team at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University have developed a system that will correctly guess the PIN for a mobile phone based on information that is provided by its sensors. They have developed an algorithm that analyses the data and the way the phone is held to deduct which numbers are being used for the user’s PIN.
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