Online banking will be overtaken by mobile apps next year

The growing popularity of mobile banking apps has been highlighted with news that more consumers will use their apps than will use a computer for banking purposes as early as 2019.

According to industry analyst CACI, 22 million people last year managed their current account from their phone.

And it is now predicted that 35 million people, or 73% of the adult population in the UK, will by 2023 bank via a phone app.

This means that customers will now generally visit a bank branch just twice a year.

The biggest increase in mobile app users will be seen in smaller coastal towns and rural areas because of poor broadband access which means users navigate towards mobile networks.

In a report, CACI says: “Mobile is quickly becoming the digital channel of choice and replacing online banking for many customers.”

Steam’s plans for iPhone blocked by Apple

A bid by Steam to launch a new app for iPhones has been blocked by Apple.

Industry watchers say this is a sign that Apple is increasingly serious about its ability for taking a slice of digital purchases that are made inside games on mobile devices.

Steam was planning to use a free app for gamers to play on their mobile phones when away from the desktop.

Now, Apple has blacked blocked the Steam Link app with Steam saying they hope the firm will reconsider in the near future.

App for monitoring children leaks data

The TeenSafe phone monitoring app has been leaking thousands of Apple ID account logins, says ZDnet.

The popular app helps parents keep track of their children’s phone activity but tens of thousands of account details have been breached.

The app promotes itself as a secure monitoring offering available on iOS and Android to enable parents to check their children’s messages as well as their search and calling history. The app also keeps track of their location.

However, ZDNet says that the apps servers – which are hosted on Amazon’s Web Services cloud platform – have been left unprotected which gives anyone access to the user database without having to use a password.

TeenSafe says it’s now closed one of its servers and is now informing customers that may have been affected.

Mobile app fraud transactions rocket

The number of fraud transactions involving mobile apps has rocketed by 680% since 2015.

The figures come from RSA Security who say that while the number of mobile app transactions has risen by 200% over the same period, fraudulent activity has risen by a much larger amount.

The firm says it is only natural that hackers follow the sharp rise in legitimate app transactions and are targeting mobile channels for fraud purposes.

They say that businesses and consumers alike need to beware of potential fraud risks with their mobile phone apps.

In other mobile phone app news

Twitter has unveiled its range of new emojis to help Android users using their service as their outmoded emojis are not showing up properly online. The ‘Twemojis’ will now display as well as they do on Apple iPhones on Android devices.

A new mobile phone control lock called Klevio One will help estate and letting agents dispense with using keys to gain access to a property since owners can grant access remotely. The system uses electronic keys to give others access.

Ground-breaking App Used by Air Ambulance Crews

A new app which enables air ambulance services to see patients before arriving to treat them is currently under trial.

The GoodSam app is being put through its spaces in two areas in England with the app sending a link to whoever called 999 on a mobile phone to open live streaming.

The images will then show medics how poorly the patient is before they set off.

Results so far, claim those air crews who have tested it, ‘have been promising’.

New bank app allows access to 21 different banks

The new mobile phone app from HSBC enables users to access up to 21 different banks including Barclays, Lloyds and Santander.

Customers will now be able to see all their accounts on one screen, regardless of who they bank with.

The Connected Money app also allows users to add their savings, mortgages and loans accounts but it’s only available for iOS users currently. Android users will be able to use it ‘soon’.

iOS Messages users hit by ‘Black Dot’

Users of Apple’s Messages app are being warned over a malicious text called the ‘Black Dot’ which will force their iPhone to freeze and, potentially, overheat.

When the text message is opened there is a black dot followed by thousands of Unicode characters which are invisible and flood the phone’s CPU until the Messages app stops working.

The users that open the text message will find their phone will be paralysed and removing it will be difficult since restarting means they will jump back into the app – and the issue begins all over again.

Indeed, until Apple releases a firmware update to address the problem, users will struggle to overcome the problem.

WhatsApp users get a warning too

Meanwhile, WhatsApp users are being warned not to open an innocent looking message since it is malicious.

The subject line reads, ‘This is very interesting!’ but has hidden characters within it which will force the phone to shut down or stop working.

Google’s Play Store security questioned

Researchers have questioned Google’s security protection after apps that had been banned from the Play Store simply changed name and were put back on sale.

Symantec say they found seven malicious apps that were previously removed by Google after being flagged up as security risks.

However, they say that the apps have been re-uploaded from new developer accounts with a new name and are available for download.

After the apps were re-reported, Google has now removed them once more.

In other Miratrix news …

It has been revealed that the UK government has asked five app consultancy firms to develop an immigration app that will be used to help register’s EU citizens after Brexit.

A class action lawsuit has been launched in California against Facebook after revelations that the firm collected data logs of phone calls and messages through via its smartphone apps.

Android Users Warned Over Sophisticated Malware

Android smartphone users are being warned about a sophisticated malware strain that enables hackers to spy on just about any activity on a user’s phone.

The malware steals pictures, contacts, messages, call logs as well as browser data. The strain is also capable of making audio recordings of calls being made and dial numbers.

The malware has been called ZooPark and can steal usernames and passwords because it has a key logging feature.

The revelation is being made by cyber security outfit Kaspersky.

The firm says the malware has been affecting Android phones since June 2015 and is mainly focused on the Middle East but is starting to spread.

Tesco unveils native mobile registration

As one of the leading mobile banking apps, Tesco Bank has unveiled native mobile registration for users.

It’s the first firm to use the innovative technology which enables customers to set-up and access their account using a smartphone without having to register at Tescobank.com first.

The bank says it’s made the move because when customers were surveyed, they said registering first was a source of frustration and Tesco wants to make banking ‘as easy and simple’ as possible.

The new look app also enables users to block and unblock features for their credit cards and access accounts using fingerprints, Face ID, a five digit pass code or their online banking logging information.

Doctors and nurses ‘need a WhatsApp style’ service

A report is calling for a new WhatsApp style messaging service to be introduced for doctors and nurses in the NHS.

The aim is to have a data compliant healthcare messaging service that can be accessed on mobile devices by NHS care teams.

The paper also lays out a path to improve the take-up of new technology for NHS England that will empower clinicians and patients and help lead to a paperless NHS.

However, a new digital messaging services app will improve communications and help discourage NHS workers using commercial apps, including WhatsApp, which do not meet the relevant standards for sharing patient information.

In other mobile phone app news …

A school in Guernsey is trialling an app that will lock some functions on students’ smartphones during school hours. Elizabeth College says it wants to restrict what students are able to do during break times with their mobile phones including playing games.

Cattle herders in Kenya are using a new app for use in times of drought where they can find pasture for their livestock. The Afriscout app utilises satellite images to locate water and grass for users.

A children’s charity has unveiled a ‘game-changing’ app aimed at reducing child marriage in Bangladesh. Plan International says the app will enable officers and priests who register marriages to verify the groom’s and bride’s ages by using a digital database; it’s illegal for girls under 18 and for men aged under 21 from marrying.

Google’s new Chat messaging service has started its roll-out and is aimed at replacing text messages on Android phones. The new app will be integrated on Android phones.

Warning Over Apps Leaking Personal Data

Internet security firm Kaspersky is warning that nearly four million smartphone apps are leaking sensitive data about the app’s user.

The data being lost includes phone numbers and email addresses which is being transmitted unencrypted over the HTTP protocol.

This was, researchers say, instead of using HTTPS, a more secure way for data communication.

The firm says that careless design means that a user’s data can be easily intercepted.

In the worst case scenario, they say this data could be used for blackmail purposes.

More Windows phone apps killed off

Microsoft has revealed that more apps for its Windows phone are to be killed off.

From May, support for Teams, Yammer and Skype for B usiness will be dropped.

Users have been told that they have a month to find alternative apps or use the functions using a web browser.

Yammer will still be available as an app for Android and iOS phones and the firm says it will still continue investing in Skype for Business as well as Microsoft teams.

Phones and apps are crucial for British job hunters

Nearly 90% of jobseekers in the UK looking for new jobs believe that their smart phone is crucial in the jobhunting process.

Research from Textlocal reveals that 89% of those questioned agreed with this sentiment and the firm says there’s been a 55% rise in people opting into recruitment communications.

The firm says that 45% of jobseekers are looking for new jobs on their mobile phones every day and 59% of those questioned us saving a potential job to apply for later.

Crypto crackdown questioned

Researchers say that despite Google’s best efforts to prevent any crypto currency apps being available on Play Store, there are still lots of these apps available.

TheNextWeb says that even after Google took action recently to clamp down on crypto currency apps, many are still available.

The research also highlight that there was a malicious app available, it mimics MyEtherWallet, and it received 500 downloads before Google took the app down.

As part of their research, the firm says that across the mobile phone app sector they uncovered 661 malicious apps and most of these appeared on Google play.

In other mobile phone app news …

Over the past year, around half of adults in the US have increased their use of mobile banking apps with one in three using their banking app more than any other app on their phone, a survey has revealed.

Swiss drugs firm Novartis has unveiled a mobile phone app that will collect data from those taking part in eye disease studies. The ‘FocalView’ app has been put together using Apple’s ResearchKit and will enable researchers to track eye disease progression from patients without them needing to visit a doctor.

The new Gmail app will feature the ‘snooze’ button, says Google. The function will resend emails when the user chooses – or when they can deal with the emails properly.

Research from Ofcom has revealed that nine in 10 Brits believe that using the Internet has more benefits than risks but nearly all are turned off by digital advertising. The average time spent online is 24 hours a week which has doubled from what it was 10 years ago. The research also highlights that using apps and smartphones is an important part of this growing popularity, with 74% of those aged under 24 saying they could not live without their phone.

Google Rolls-out New Chat Messenger

Google has revealed that it has begun the global roll-out of a new Chat messaging service which they have designed to replace text messaging on Android phones.

The firm has also revealed that it is pausing development of its Allo app.

The Chat messaging service will have features including group text, read receipts and videos, currently not available with text messaging.

The new service will eventually be integrated as the default messaging app for Android.

However, it still needs mobile phone operators to enable the service and it will not offer encrypted messages.

The Chat messenger is the latest after several failed attempts by Google to create a feature-rich mobile messaging app but these have, so far, failed to attract a large audience.

TaskRabbit app hit by ‘cyber security incident’

The popular app which helps people find a handyman for hire, called TaskRabbit, has been taken down after a ‘cyber security incident’.

Professionals and customers alike have been left in the lurch after those behind the app said they are working with police and IT experts to work out what has happened.

Now, app users cannot access their account and service professionals cannot be contacted.

The app works in four locations in the UK: Manchester, London, Birmingham and Bristol, but there is no indication of how many customers or service providers have been affected.

Also, there’s no indication of what information may have been breached in the incident – though users are being warned to change passwords on other accounts.

The TaskRabbit website has also been taken down and the California-based company, which is owned by IKEA, says it’s working hard to resolve the problem.

Netflix launches mobile previews on iPhone

Netflix has revealed that iPhone users can watch previews of its shows and the app will soon be available for Android phones as well.

The mobile previews are available to boost the video browsing experience on mobile phones and users simply use a slideshow and swipe to find the preview they want to see.

The previews load quickly and have been personalised to the user’s own tastes, Netflix says.

New Smart Pension app is a ‘game changer’

Smart Pension, a workplace pension platform, says it is launching an app that will prove to be a ‘game changer’ and transform the way a new generation saves for a pension.

The app enables users to track in real time their pension balance from their phone and then encourages dynamic engagement so they can opt for self-selecting their own funds and increasing contribution levels.

The app will replace paper annual reports and there’s a planned daily video along with animated financial illustrations and talking avatars.

The firm’s co-founder Will Wynne said: “The young organise their lives around their phones and have high expectations of how transparent and intuitive their mobile interaction is, particularly for their money.”

In other mobile phone app news …

A drug dealer is the first to be convicted after an image he sent of himself holding ecstasy tablets on WhatsApp led to his identification through a pioneering fingerprint identification technique by South Wales police.

The winners of a competition to design technology that would rectify a social challenge saw students from Worcestershire’s Bishop Perowne College winning for an antitheft bike app they developed.

An Australian tech firm has launched a legal action in the UK accusing Google of abusing its dominant position. The firm, Unlockd, rewards customers for watching adverts on a smartphone but Google is seeking to cut the advertising content to the app.

Facebook Unveils Terms Revamp

Facebook has unveiled a number of changes to its terms of service, including those that cover using its apps, in a bid to make its data policies clearer.

The firm also urges users to check regularly for updates.

The social network has enjoyed a torrid time in recent weeks with revelations that huge numbers of its users’ personal data was being harvested by app developers and the firm itself.

The data policy changes also extend to Instagram and Messenger with Facebook saying that these terms will make clear that it will personalise the service it offers to users by using the choices, connections and settings that the user’s select.

Skyscanner app expands in UK

Skyscanner has unveiled that its iPhone app users are now not just able to access flights and hotel booking information but they can buy cheap rail tickets in the UK.

The firm’s mobile apps have been downloaded by more than 70 million users and these mobile devices account for 60% of the firm’s traffic. The new offering is only available in the UK currently.

Skyscanner says as an Android phone app is still in development.

Parents warned over dangerous apps for children

Parents are being warned that there are 10 potentially dangerous mobile phone apps being used by children and they should ensure their offspring stay safe.

The warning comes amid growing fears that youngsters are being exposed to danger online and several regional newspapers have been highlighting the work of a US-based blogger.

In their research, it’s claimed that there are some apps that are ‘off-limits’ and parents should ensure that their child has not downloaded them.

The first is a calculator app and while it looks like a calculator, it’s really a secret photo vault.

This means a user can hide private videos and photos in plain sight with the app is also able to store private notes and surf with a private browser.

The Omegle app has also been highlighted since this gives children a chance to chat online to strangers and Yubo (formerly Yellow) which enables youngsters to swap photos and text with a stranger nearby.

Other apps highlighted include Ask.fm, Whisper, Burnbook, Hot or Not, Wishbone and Kik Messenger.

Checkout-less shopping app being developed

Sainsbury’s has revealed that it is developing an app for mobile phones to enable customers to pay without using the checkout.

The app follows in the steps of the Amazon Go stores in Seattle and other apps are also being developed by Budgens and the Co-op in the UK.

Now, an in-house team at Sainsbury’s is looking to deliver a faster and seamless shopping experience without the need to queue at checkouts.

It has already been trialled at the supermarket’s store at London Euston station for meal deal offers.

Meanwhile, queue management systems firm, Qmatic, has unveiled an app that enables shoppers to join a vertical queue while they are shopping without having to stand with other shoppers physically.

The customer uses an app to scan a QR code and they select a service from a menu including the option of virtually queueing.

In other mobile phone app news …

Growing numbers of teachers say that mobile phones should be banned in school since pupils are using apps to take upskirt and down blouse shots to publish on social media websites. Some teachers have also had images posted on YouTube. One union says that teachers have been targeted on Facebook while others have had to endure threats online.

The popular battle shooter game Fortnite is now available on the iOS app store. However, the app is only available for those phones that aren’t older than the iPhone SE or 6S.

Popular dating app Grindr has hit the headlines after it was revealed that the app was sharing its users HIV status with outside companies. The firm says ‘these are standard practices’ for the mobile app ecosystem and no information is being sold.

Facebook Faces Lawsuit Over its Messenger App

Three Facebook Messenger app users have launched a lawsuit against the online giant over privacy concerns.

They claim that the social network violated their privacy by compiling phone call logs and their text messages.

The lawsuit follows Facebook’s acknowledgement that it has been accessing text and call logs from Android phones since 2015.

The firm says that only those users who gave permissions have been affected and it did not collect the contents of calls or messages and users can opt of data collection.

Meanwhile, while giving evidence to MPs, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie claimed that Facebook is using user’s mobile phone microphones to listen to their user’s conversations and tailor adverts to their needs when using the firm’s apps.

BBC announces an app to capture children’s audience

The BBC has responded to growing on-demand viewing habits by unveiling an app aimed at children.

The broadcaster says it is currently running the risk of ‘being overtaken by competitors’.

In its latest Annual Plan, it says that 82% of children are going to YouTube to enjoy on-demand content, around 50% head to Netflix and 29% use the BBC iPlayer.

Now, the BBC is launching an app aimed at 6 to 12-year-olds to provide a ‘daily diet of funny, inspiring and fascinating facts’.

The app will also help users build social communities around their passions.

In research, it’s been revealed that children aged between 5 to 15 are spending more time online than they do watching TV; it is 15 hours 18 minutes for online viewing and 14 hours for TV. Also, 43% of those aged between 12 and 15 are using their mobile phone for watching TV.

Mobile phone app only bank moves into business

The award winning Starling Bank is the first UK licensed mobile only bank to unveil a business account for entrepreneurs and small firms.

The app is easy to use and enables small business owners to open their account in under 10 minutes, direct from their mobile phone.

The bank account carries no fees for running the account and there are no fees for making payments or withdrawing cash.

The bank says customers can manage their bank account from their mobile phone and can pay suppliers, including international payments, directly from the app.

In other mobile phone app news …

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been accused of spying on millions of voters using a mobile phone app that was downloaded more than 5 million times. The app apparently sent user’s personal data to third-party websites without permission.

Traders in the Shropshire town of Bridgnorth are using their WhatsApp messaging app to fight against a wave of shoplifting by communicating effectively between businesses warning them of shoplifters.

The TPS Protect app, launched last August, has been updated to help users block unwanted scam and nuisance calls – and now it helps protects against those selling cryptocurrency investments.

New AR Apps and Games Unveiled

Google has unveiled a raft of new augmented reality apps and games for Android phones.

The tech giant has unveiled more than 60 ARCore apps that are now available in its Play Store.

ARCore is the platform that enables app developers to create augmented reality experiences for Android smartphones.

Essentially, by using the phone’s camera, and app will track the user’s position in real time and place them into digitally rendered worlds.

This week has also seen Google unveil its Instant Apps to attract game developers to use will allow its services.

Google Play Instant allows a game demo to be played on an Android device by simply clicking a link rather than the user installing a full game.

Google is also highlighting improvements to its gamepad ecosystem and an improved way to create multiplayer game servers.

Security flaw discovered in Siri

A serious security flaw has been discovered in Siri which means it can read out private notifications even when the phone is locked.

Apple says it is working on an iPhone fix for the phone’s next software update.

While Siri will not read out notifications on iMessage, the flaw means that messages received via Signal, Slack and Facebook Messenger could be.

Wagamama’s launches tasty app

The world’s first Uber-style bill free app has been launched by Wagamama and diners will save around 12 minutes on every visit.

The restaurant app allows diners to order and pay automatically without having to deal with a waiter.

The restaurant chain says its app is the first ‘frictionless payment app’ in the world.

The new system is about to go live in all of their 129 restaurants.

Details of new EU immigration app revealed

With 3.7 million EU citizens, along with their non-EU partners, needing to apply for ‘settled status’ when the UK leaves the European Union next year will see a new app being created.

The Home Office has unveiled plans for the app to make the process easy since they will need to deal with 5,000 people every day over two years.

The aim is to create a hassle-free and simple system for those who want to remain in the UK.

The Home Office is now consulting widely to design a system that will help people pass the settled status test rather than rejecting them.

Behind the app will be a complex, interlinked database which will link the applicant’s submission to evidence of their current presence in the country.

In other mobile phone app news …

Small firms wanting a digest of lots of data could use a new app called Ikoolo which brings together sales software, invoice and social media. It has been launched by a British entrepreneur.

Researchers have launched an app to help farmers in Africa combat the spread of a maize-eating pest, funded by the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organisation.

A new mobile app from developers at the University of Turku in Finland will help smartphone users monitor their risk of suffering with a stroke.

After an update, Google Lens is now available on iOS. The app is a visual search engine and will provide information about a landmark or artwork when pointed at it. Also, Google’s Files Go app has had a search bar added.

Vodafone has unveiled an app called Get the Flow which helps those who suffer with stuttering deal with it with a rap. It’s available in the Netherlands and uses well-known Dutch rappers to help children who stutter practice with others to help boost their confidence.

Fears That Malware is Preloaded on Phones

Security experts have raised fears that some popular Android smartphones have malware preloaded on them.

The warning comes from Check Point who say that RottenSys is disguised as a tool to help users manage their wifi connections.

They say the ‘aggressive’ type of malware has infected nearly five million devices.

The malware asks for sensitive permissions and has entered devices from the supplier chain.

The phones infected have been made by Samsung, Honor, Huawei and Vivo, among others.

Checkpoint says that RottenSys is an aggressive ad network which has, over a 10-day period, created 13.2 million impressions and nearly 550,000 clicks.

NHS staff disciplined for using apps

It has been revealed that NHS staff have been disciplined because they have been relying on various apps to communicate with other staff members and also patients.

Among the apps being used include Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

Apparently, around one in 50 of the NHS personnel who have been disciplined have been for issues including confidentiality threats and malicious uses.

However, around 43% of NHS staff say they rely on instant messaging apps while at work.

In a report, the staff are using consumer apps to communicate and for those staff aged between 18 and 24, the usage of apps to communicate was greatest.

Those who admitted to using communication apps said they did so because the NHS channels provided were unsatisfactory and patient care has not suffered.

One in four Americans are ‘online constantly’

Research has revealed that more than a quarter of Americans admit to being almost ‘constantly online’.

The Pew Research Center says numbers have risen since 2015 by 4%.

However, internet habits are affected by age, race and income level and only 11% of Americans say they never go online.

Of those going online most often, their use of apps is a major attraction, say researchers.

Co-op rolls out payment app technology

While tech giants have grabbed the headlines for making paying for groceries easier, for instance Amazon Go’s checkoutless stores, the Co-op has unveiled its own plans.

The six largest supermarket in the UK has launched its Pay in Aisle technology.

The app will enable customers to pay for purchases on their phone without needing to visit the till. The app utilises MasterCard’s secure digital payments platform.

It’s currently under trial in Manchester with a roll-out starting in the summer.

In other mobile phone app news …

It’s likely to be one of the biggest games apps of the year, and Fortnite will, this week, go live on smartphones after its maker Epic Games began sending out invites to players.

The next step for Australia’s Department of Defence after they barred staff from using Chinese-made smartphones is to ban them from using the WeChat app. The move follows a warning to the US Senate Intelligence Committee, from the FBI, over issues of firms that are run by, or are close to, foreign governments.

A security flaw on Facebook Messenger enables fraudsters to exploit the opportunity to impersonate users of the app to target friends and family. While it is possible to use Messenger with just a mobile phone number, users cannot report another person for impersonating them on Facebook and must sign up and do so via their profile. Facebook says it is aware of the issue and is looking to fix it.

A day of silence was ordered in the Indonesian city of Bali where social media was shut down for a day of silence to mark New Year. Phone companies agreed with the request, for the first time, to turn off the island’s mobile internet connection.

Venmo says Millennials are increasingly signing up to their app because they want to watch their money more carefully after experiencing a recession.

A row has broken out in Leeds after it was revealed that motorists are forced to pay more to park if they use an app for doing so. Motorists say they are unhappy given there aren’t enough cash machines available.