What We’ve Been Thinking
search, mobile, app marketing, events and some random stuff.
search, mobile, app marketing, events and some random stuff.
The world’s largest app market is in China with revenues expected to reach $42 billion (£29.9bn) by 2020.
That’s an increase from 2016’s figure of $25 billion (£17.8bn).
The app economy in China also outpaces nearly every other market in terms of consumer spending, the overall time spent on apps and the number of apps being used, says App Annie.
Spending on apps in China has rocketed by 207% in the last two years to reach $33 million (£23.5m).
Also, the average Chinese smartphone user has more than 100 apps on their phone compared with 80 apps, on average, for other smartphone users around the world.
West Yorkshire Police has unveiled plans to trial a smartphone fingerprint scanner app.
The force is working with the Home Office on the new system with a rollout of 250 scanners taking place over the coming weeks. Already, 5,500 frontline police officers have access to the smartphone app.
When using the app on their phone and the handheld scanner, officers will be able to check instantly against immigration and criminal fingerprint records.
By the end of this year, it is predicted that another 20 police forces around the UK will also begin trials of the system.
Nick Hurd, the Minister for Policing, said: “This is one of a series of systems nationally the Home Office is designing to give police officers information faster than before.
“By removing unnecessary trips to and from police stations, mobile technology will help save valuable time and enable officers to cut crime and keep us safe.”
West Yorkshire Police say that the system will be secure and all fingerprints will be automatically deleted from the officer’s device once the system has checked them.
The number of payment apps will continue to grow as countries and phone users move towards cashless societies, says one survey.
ForexBonuses says that Sweden, Canada and the UK are the world’s most cashless countries.
Sweden tops the list with 59% of all money transactions being cashless. The country now has 70 million fewer bank notes in circulation than four years ago as a result.
China is also seeing a surge in cashless payments with tech giants introducing apps.
Google has unveiled a new chatbot that will fool friends into thinking they are communicating with the smartphone owner.
The tool is called ‘Replay’ and will work with a range of popular apps including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Twitter.
The bot will interpret what friends are saying on an app and suggest replies that match the respondent’s usual conversation.
It will also use other data from Google including the user’s daily schedule and location to give any replies a touch of authenticity.
Some of the most popular apps are among those guilty of draining batteries for smart phones, says security firm Avast. They point to Facebook, Netflix and Snapchat as being the biggest offenders. However, the two worst offenders are Samsung apps while Google maps, and WhatsApp also feature in the top 10.
Mobile phone industry watchers are pointing to the remarkable resurgence of Nokia which is seeing sales rocket and has already, in one year, overtaken Sony and looks set to enter the top 10 of the biggest smartphone makers.
Researchers in America have developed a child detecting algorithm which will lock a smartphone when it detects it is being used by a child. The algorithm has been developed by researchers at the University of South Carolina who say there is no need for an activity monitoring app as this will need to be switched on whenever the device is handed to a child.
Smartphone users in the Congo can use an app called ‘Dr Love’ to learn about safe sex. Aimed at younger users, the app will answer a range of questions.
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.
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