Free Service to Test Mobile App Security

A new online service for developers to use when testing their mobile phone app’s security and privacy has been unveiled.

The service from High-Tech Bridge, a web security firm, will perform dynamic (DAST) and static (SAST) testing as well as behavioural analysis of hybrid and native Android and iOS apps.

The system will analyse abilities and weaknesses and provide a user friendly report on remediation guidance.

The firm’s founder, Ilia Kolochenko, said: “Mobile apps are an inseparable part of private life and everyday business and, in light of data breaches, many research reports urge the improvement of mobile app privacy and security.

“Unfortunately, most developers don’t have the time, resources or budget to test properly their mobile app before going to production.”

He added that High-Tech Bridge will fill this gap with their unique and free online service.

WhatsApp will work with landline numbers

WhatsApp has unveiled plans for its new app to work with landline numbers and have a business focused messenger service to enable easier communication.

The new service will be separate from the firm’s regular app.

The firm says that small business owners that sign up to the new app will be able to use the business version and also the regular version on the same mobile phone.

WhatsApp says this will make it easier for business owners a separate their professional and personal lives, save stress and help with organisation.

They will also be open to link their firm’s landline number to their WhatsApp Business app without having to hand out their personal number to potential clients.

When calls or messages from customers reach the landline number, the business account user will access them from their mobile phone.

Guardian unveils new mobile VR app

The Guardian newspaper has unveiled its new mobile app for virtual reality (VR) story content and has given away nearly 100,000 headsets for users to enjoy.

The newspaper now has a five strong team developing the content for the emerging technology and they’ve publish nine projects so far including the experience of solitary confinement and the experiences of an autistic teenage girl.

The headsets are made of cardboard and have been released in partnership with Google and based on their simple design and for use with Android smartphones.

Other media outlets that have been investing in virtual reality and 360° video content include the New York Times and the BBC.

The popularity of the are headsets in the UK have been underlined with research from YouGov that says headsets are more popular than wearable technology and tablets with 6% of the UK’s population now owning one.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

Facebook has revealed that its Oculus Go AR device will be launched early next year. The firm has high hopes for the platform with app developers being encouraged to exploit the opportunity which does not need to be linked to a computer to be enjoyed.

The man who designed the iconic iPhone, Sir Jonathan Ive, says people are misusing it by constantly checking their handset. Sir Jonathan told a TechFest that people should not overuse their phones or apps.

Google has revealed that its Duo app will now equal what Apple’s FaceTime app has been doing since 2010. The new level of integration means Android users will quickly and easily place a video call with a contact.

It’s been a long time coming, but it appears that Microsoft’s Window 10 ambitions have now died. Microsoft says it will abandon its smart phone operating system and Bill Gates and the chief of the mobile operating platform have already switched to Android devices.

Users Warned to be Aware of Mobile Phone Budgeting Apps

A leading British bank is warning users not to give their online banking details to any of the increasingly popular mobile phone budgeting apps.

The warning comes from NatWest which investigated a customer complaint about the information being requested.

A spokesman said: “We do not authorise the using of these phone apps.”

The apps usually link to a user’s bank account online to check spending habits and calculate how much the user can save every month. However, they need access to the account – including the four digit access code.

Along with NatWest, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is also reminding its customers that they will be breaking their security agreements by handing over personal details. Lloyds, Halifax and Nationwide have also issued warnings.

The RBS also adds that their customers may struggle to get a refund should fraudsters get hold of their personal details.

HSBC is also planning to unveil its own budgeting app in 2018 which will enable customers to view all their account information in one place and this will also include information from other banks.

However, from January next year, a new EU rule means banks will have to alter their terms to enable customers to use budgeting apps.

Meanwhile, a new survey has revealed that pension providers could do more to encourage young people save for a pension by using apps.

The findings from one pension provider found that 51% of young people are not being encouraged to save by their employer for a workplace pension.

Gambling addicts struggle with apps

According to the National Problem Gambling Clinic (NPGC) growing numbers of gambling addicts are struggling with their gambling issues on mobile phones.

And one software firm says it is working on apps that will block gambling sites from being used on a mobile phone by a problem gambler.

The NPGC says the numbers of addicts struggling to control their addiction when using mobile gambling apps has risen from 24% of all gambling addicts in 2013 to 63% this year.

App alerts make users depressed

Researchers have revealed that mobile phone app alerts make users feel depressed, angry and even stressed out.

The findings from Nottingham Trent University reveal that these digital alerts have a direct effect on our moods that is immediate.

The academics examined several app notifications and found that 32% of them lead to negative emotions with users saying they felt upset, hostile, ashamed or nervous when the alerts arrived.

A spokeswoman for the research team said: “While app notifications enhance the convenience in our life, these digital alerts continuously disrupt activities with an instant call for attention. We need to understand better their impact on our well-being.”

In other mobile phone app news …

Experts who have used the new NHS app that enables patients to access their medical records, order repeat prescriptions and book a GP appointment say it’s good but there is still a long way to go before it delivers everything that health chiefs are hoping for. The app will be unveiled next year to help boost customer service levels.

Apple have quickly released an update to its iOS 11 after users complained that apps were locking while others complained that their iPhone was making a mysterious ‘crackling’ noise. The update comes two weeks after the new software was unveiled.

The new Blackberry Motion smartphone looks set to ditch its keyboard and switch to a touchscreen and will run on Android. There will be new apps for users too including a messenger app and a fingerprint scanner. The phone is expected to be unveiled in early 2018.

App Helps Avoid Shopping Queues

A supermarket has unveiled a new app that will enable its customer to scan and pay for their goods on their mobile phones as they make their way around the store.

The money is deducted directly from their credit card or bank account.

Sainsbury says its trial could make queues a thing of the past as customers scan their goods as they put them in their basket.

While it’s still early stages, the app is being tested by the supermarket in a London branch where shoppers buying the £3 lunchtime meal deal can use the app to pay.

Sainsbury’s says feedback has been positive so far though they do not know when the scheme will be eventually rolled out to its other stores.

Investors warned over mobile share trading apps

Cyber security experts are warning that some of the most popular mobile phone apps for trading shares are open to attack from hackers.

IOActive Labs says that criminals could steal money, trade shares and also check the customer’s net worth.

Indeed, the firm has checked 21 of the most popular stock trading apps and say they are worse than the personal banking apps tested by them four years ago.

A spokesman said: “There is better mobile app security when checking bank balances and paying our gas bill than found in trading apps that transfer billions and help shape the financial markets.”

Among the issues found in the apps, two exposed passwords in clear text while two in three of the apps stored sensitive data including account balances and investment strategies in an unencrypted form.

Twitter unveils lightweight mobile app

Twitter has joined the trend to slim down its mobile app for those regions where data may be slow.

The social media platform has confirmed it is testing a lightweight version in the Philippines where limited data and slower mobile phone networks make the standard app impractical.

The firm says the app focuses on Twitter’s core functions without the data chewing media abilities.

While Twitter says its move towards a light app is an experiment, they refuse to reveal whether it will be available in other countries but they have now joined Google and Facebook who are targeting similar regions with their own slimmed down mobile apps.

iPhone X face recognition restriction

Those buying the new iPhone X have been warned by Apple that children should not be using its facial recognition technology.

They say that the faces of children under the age of 13 are too similar to each other and are unable to protect the phone from intruders.

The system, called FaceID, will unlock the phone and enable access to apps and also verify payments.

Now Apple says, in a security paper it has published, that children’s faces are still developing and siblings could unlock the phone.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

Indian mobile phone users are being warned of the dangers of fake ‘Blue Whale’ apps masking malware that will attack their phone. The country is in the grip of Blue Whale, a social media game challenge, mania currently.

Police in Shanghai are using a mobile phone app to deal with food delivery employees committing traffic violations in the Chinese city. Every food outlet must now install the app for their couriers so police can track activities and record on the app the latest violation.

Electric carmaker Tesla has boosted its mobile application in its latest update offering and the app will now open the Model 3’s boot directly from the phone. The app also enables users to unlock and lock the car and also start the engine.

Android phone users are complaining that the latest Android 8.0 Oreo update has led to apps crashing unexpectedly on the firm’s Pixel and Nexus devices.

A security company in Russian has unveiled a smartphone that will prevent apps on it from collecting personal data. The Taiga phone from InfoWatch prevents apps from tracking user activities including work-related emails, photographs and documents. It also prevents an app from sending the user’s data to the creator.

UK ‘glued to their smartphones’

The level of mobile device adoption is reaching new heights as the UK’s public is increasingly ‘glued to smartphones’, say researchers.

The findings from Deloitte revealed that 53% of those aged between 16 and 75 are using their smartphones while they are walking – though for the 16 to 24 age group, this rises to 74%.

It’s a worry that 11% say they use their smartphones while crossing roads and again the proportion is higher for 16 to 24-year-olds where 21% say they do this. Apparently, this could mean that 4.5 million people regularly cross a road while using their phone.

Users are also using their smartphones to watch video content in ever increasing numbers which may put demands on networks to deliver the infrastructure to meet higher video consumption.

A spokesman for the firm said: “The first 10 years have been about changing our social lives and the next 10 could be about changing our working lives.

“The attractiveness for smartphones lies in the fact it’s a multipurpose consumer device with a set of tools that is millions of apps deep.”

Android app users face unexpected bills

Malware that has infected millions of Android devices has led to big bills being run up for unsuspecting victims.

According to Check Point Software, the malware dubbed as ‘Expensive Wall’, will send a fraudulent text message to a fake fee-based service without the permission or knowledge of the user.

Researchers say this particular malware has now been downloaded more than 4 million times before Google removed the apps in August.

Most of the malware was found in the Android app Lovely Wallpaper.

However, researchers say that the variants of the malware has now been downloaded between 6 million and 21 million times.

A spokesman for Checkpoint said: “The users of these apps are still at risk and should remove them manually from their devices.”

Alert issued on Red Alert

Meanwhile, Android users are being warned about malware called Red Alert which will steal their credentials.

The trojan has targeted more than 60 social networking and banking apps so far.

SyfLabs warns that the malware will also take over text messaging functions and can block calls coming from financial associations and banks.

Researchers also warn that the malware has been written from scratch and is not evolved from older trojans.

UK shoppers want better apps

Researchers have revealed that most people in the UK are increasingly selective about sharing their data with well-known brands.

By doing so, they expect the brand to better personalise offers and make their experience of the brand including interactions, much better.

The research from Mindshare reveals that mobile phones are becoming increasingly important to retailers and 37% of people use their tablet or phone to research a product while they are in a store.

The findings also reveal that 60% of shoppers want retail brands to improve their apps and technology to benefit their customer experience.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

Mobile phone apps have been praised by attendees at the International Coastal Clean-up conference where thousands of volunteers use apps to coordinate efforts to clean America’s coasts every year.

Industry watchers say that in early October Google will unveil a new platform called Andromeda which will merge its ChromeOS and Android platforms.

Consumers in the UK say they are unhappy with their communication experiences, including the use of apps, despite businesses saying they communicate effectively. The findings reveal 42% of those questioned say communication is ‘poor or terrible’ and it is difficult to communicate with a business and not enough of them recognise the impact of the communications experience on revenue and their brand.

Cyber attacks on mobile devices rocket

The number of cyber attacks being faced by mobile phone users are increasing and there is growing demand for secure mobile apps as a result.

Digital security firm Avast says there’s been a big leap on attacks targeting Android tablets and smartphones in the second quarter of this year.

The firm says that attacks are up 40% compared to last year.

A spokesman for the firm said: “Mobile cyber security attacks are growing quickly as the hacker strategies become more dangerous and agile. The user’s personal privacy and data is at stake.”

The growth in mobile cyber attacks is now reaching 1.7 million incidents every month and the number of viruses have also increased by 22% over the year to 788.

The top three mobile threats facing users are designed to steal personal information, spy on users and also to spam mobile users with ads.

UK consumers looking to ditch cash

Growing consumer confidence in mobile apps, including digital wallets, means shoppers are increasingly less likely to use cash for purchases.

In a report from Paysafe, a payment provider, 55% of shoppers in the UK said they will stop using cash in the next two years.

Already, 34% of Brits are visiting a cash machine once a month or less and one in six of the respondents say they rarely carry money at all.

The findings reveal that 24% of people have already adopted mobile wallets, while 12% have adopted crypto currencies for making payments.

However, 29% of people said they worried that their mobile phone could be stolen and a thief could use it to pay for items; despite these worries, 63% said they are growing increasingly confident about using a mobile phone for shopping.

The most popular way for paying is with contactless debit cards, a choice for three out of five consumers who use contactless cards regularly.

App will create augmented reality tutorials

A start-up company in Germany has created an app that will create augmented reality tutorials from a normal video.

IOXP says it can take a single video of someone who is correctly performing a task and then use artificial intelligence to convert that into an AI tutorial.

The idea is that by using augmented reality headsets, users can have step-by-step instructions to complete a task or project with the app correcting any mistakes or missteps.

Essentially, the firm’s software uses algorithms to separate the video into comprehensible chunks that will detect the user’s hands and what they are doing and recognise when they are making mistakes.

Apparently Bosch has trialled the system already with its engineers and is discussing a larger roll-out of the app’s potential.

Car keys to be replaced with apps

BMW says it is looking into replacing car keys with mobile phone apps.

The firm says that all of its customers carry a smartphone and that BMW will enable them to unlock their vehicle using it which would make keys redundant.

The move to replace keys was announced at the Frankfurt car show where BMW executives pointed to new vehicles which no longer need a key to be placed in the ignition for the vehicle to start.

A spokesman for the firm said: “If customers do not need to take the key out of their pocket, why do they need to carry it around?”

In other Miratrix mobile phone news …

Apple has revealed that it is reducing the bloat from iTunes by removing iOS App Store so users cannot sync apps from their PC or Mac to an iPhone. Users will instead need to use the new App Store on iOS to download their apps and updates.

Greater Manchester Police is asking its officers to submit their ideas for apps that will enable them to work efficiently and make better decisions while on the beat. The officers are being offered the opportunity to present their ideas to a panel of experts for them to decide whether it should be funded and then rolled out across the force’s mobile platform.

Google and Apple Showcase AR Platforms

Google and Apple are gearing up to go head-to-head with competing augmented reality (AR) platforms.

Both firms have unveiled their new are tools for iOS and Android devices this week that will enable a user to digitally superimpose an object through their phone onto the world around them.

Google’s AR offering will be released with its new Pixel phone and the Samsung Galaxy S8; Apple says the new iOS 11 operating system will be able use the technology on all of its devices.

However, iOS 11 has yet to be released and the apps for them have yet to be presented to consumers.

Among the apps for the Apple platform is one from IKEA that enables users to measure space in their homes and then digitally place a piece of furniture from the IKEA catalogue into the space on their smartphone.

British teenagers spend 40 days year on their mobile phones

A survey has revealed that teenagers spend around two hours and 40 minutes every day using their mobile phones, which is equal to nearly 41 days.

The research from broadbandchoices reveals that youngsters in Liverpool use their phones the most and spend 48 days browsing apps and text messages.

Teenagers in Glasgow and Cardiff claimed second and third places, while London teenagers were ranked in bottom place and use their phone for 37 days.

The firm’s research also reveals that 55% of parents say they wonder how they managed to survive as a teenager without a mobile phone or access to the Internet.

Parents warned of smart phone bingeing

Meanwhile, parents in the UK are being warned to monitor their children’s smartphone use over fears they are overindulging on social media.

In addition, the Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield, says phone companies are increasingly offering unlimited data for streaming apps, messaging and social media.

Her comments came after a new mobile plan was unveiled by Vodafone called Voxi which is aimed at under 25s.

The SIM-only plan allows subscribers unlimited access to a variety of apps such as Instagram, Facebook and Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and Twitter.

Tech coalition squashes botnet

As reported recently, Google was forced to bin more than 300 apps from its Play Store recently because of malware issues.

Now a coalition of tech firms has managed to dislodge a massive botnet that was using Google’s Android platform.

The malware started as a click fraud scheme with hundreds of malicious apps operating on phones but the botnet was tailored to launch distributed denial of service attacks against websites.

Researchers dubbed the botnet ‘WireX’ and it has infected more than 120,000 mobile phones.

Some of the firms that worked to take down the threat include Cloudflare, Oracle and Flashpoint.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

US sanctions have led Apple to remove popular Iranian mobile phone apps from its App Store. Apple accounts for 11% of Iran’s mobile phone market and the government there says it will pursue the company to respect its customers.

A survey by comScore has revealed that most US mobile phone users do not download any apps. They found 51% of people with a mobile phone do not download anything in a month.

Microsoft has unveiled its Mixer Create app which enables gamers to stream mobile games on Android and iOS devices.

Google has revealed that its Android Wear 1.0 will have standalone apps that will enable it to be used independently of smartphone apps.

The new Sony Xperia phone has a 3D scanning app with the phone maker believing there is a big demand from users to create and distribute their 3-D creations.

The new Apple iPhone 8 will be released this month with rumoured features including wireless charging, edge-to-edge display and facial recognition. The iPhone 7S and 7S plus will also be released.

America’s Most Used Apps Revealed

New research has revealed that the most used mobile apps in America are Facebook, YouTube and Facebook Messenger.

The findings from ComScore also revealed that the average adult mobile phone user spends around 2.3 hours every day on their mobile apps.

When the data is analysed, apps account for 87% of the time used, while the mobile web is used for 13% of the time.

However, the most popular apps that have been placed on the home screen for quick access are: Facebook, Gmail, Google Maps, Amazon and Facebook Messenger.

The findings also reveal that millennials, those people aged between 18 and 24, spent two thirds of their digital media time using a mobile app – more than any other group.

Millennial’s hate uncool app designs

Comscore’s findings also reveal that Millennials are often left unimpressed with an app’s design and are killing them off at an unprecedented pace.

They will delete the app if they don’t like how it appears on the screen and logos also matter.

The firm adds that Snapchat is closing in on Instagram for popularity.

Spyware fears leads to apps removal

The fear over spyware has led to Google removing more than 500 apps from its online store.

The move follows findings from security firm Lookout which revealed that the apps could spread spyware on the user’s Android phone.

The software has the ability to siphon a user’s personal data without alerting them or the app creator. Indeed, most of the app developers were unaware of potential security flaws.

Among the apps to cause potential problems are SelfieCity and Lucky Cash – both of these have now been fixed.

Mobile phone satnav use could lead to ban

Drivers in the UK who use their mobile phone as a satnav could be facing hefty penalties.

The government has warned motorists that they will be breaking the law if they run a navigation app on their phone while driving.

The crackdown on drivers using their mobiles while behind the wheel began in April.

However, it appears that the message has not entirely reached everyone and drivers are being warned they face prosecution if they use a mobile phone while at the wheel of a car.

In addition to a £200 fine, drivers can also be banned from driving.

Android Oreo begins roll-out

The new OS for Android, Oreo, will be rolled out over the coming weeks for Nexus and Pixel phones.

There are various cosmetic updates and new features for Oreo and the OS will be, Google claims, more popular than Nougat which is used on 15% of Android devices.

The firm says phone makers look set to launch or upgrade their new devices to Android 8.0 Oreo by the end of the year.

This is the eighth major release for what is the world’s most popular mobile OS.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

Facebook has revealed that its users can take 360° photos using its app and use them as a cover image. The capability is now being rolled out and users can tag friends and also zoom into the image.

Repairing the damaged screen of a mobile phone could lead to hackers gaining control of the device. An Israeli university says hackers can plant spyware in the screen and users are warned to avoid third-party screens for their replacement since these can connect to chips in a mobile device and allow hackers access to apps and the phone’s camera.

Kaspersky Labs says there’s been an unusual spike in activity for mobile Trojan clickers to steal cash from Android users using WAP (wireless application protocol) billing. There are now thousands of affected users around the world including Russia and India.

App for fed-up parents

One fed-up dad in the UK has unveiled an app that prevents his son from using his mobile phone when ignoring texts.

Nick Herbert has revealed that the app will lock his son’s smartphone when he ignores any text messages.

The 13-year-old was playing games regularly on his smartphone rather than responding to his dad’s communications.

Now, after eight months developing the app, other parents can enjoy the ReplyASAP app to encourage their children to respond to their messages.

The app works by sounding an alarm and blocking the screen with a message which prevents the mobile phone being used until the user responds.

In addition, the parent will be notified that the user has seen their message.

Parking apps are criticised

Motorists who use parking apps on their mobile phones are being fleeced, one website says.

Resolver says that despite the convenience being offered by the apps to pay for parking and find spare car parking spots, they can also offer a range of ‘sneaky extra’ charges.

This means that the overall costs can be increased by up to one third and include paying for text messages.

A spokesman for the site said: “These apps, rather than being helpful, are anti-consumer and with unnecessary charges for services the users do not ask for or need – they are ripping off motorists.”

However, the AA says that despite the growing popularity of parking apps, fewer than 20% of drivers who have them on their phones actually use them.

New app deters speeding

A new app from Toyota Europe will help deter teens from using their phones while driving and also from speeding.

The Safe and Sound needs to be downloaded by the teen driver as well as their parents and then paired.

Essentially, when the vehicle moves at speeds of more than 9mph it will use Google Maps API technology to block off every social media notification as well as incoming calls.

More importantly, the free app for Android will switch off music and play the parents’ Spotify playlist until the teen stops touching their mobile phone or returns to the road’s speed limit.

Uber users warned of malware

Customers of Uber have been warned that a virus could steal their bank card information, according to Kaspersky.

The security firm says that malware called Faketoken imitates Adobe Flash Player and disguises itself in games.

Essentially, victims are responding to a prompt to update their Flash plug-in when watching a video on their smart phone and this then downloads the malware.

Among the apps that have been hit include the Uber ride sharing app with the malware creating a fake window to steal the user’s bank card details as they are being typed in.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

A British mobile only challenger bank called Starling is attracting attention with its business model that is likely to force a rethink in the UK’s financial services sector, say reports. Without any physical branches, the bank relies entirely on its mobile phone app and those behind it say there are opportunities for other fintech firms to enter the sector.

Google has announced that its Android app will now play video previews in search results for those using mobile phones. The new offering is also available on Chrome though for those users who don’t want to watch a video start automatically, the service can be cancelled.

A new mobile phone app that enables users to jump the queue at their favourite clubs and pubs has been unveiled by three businessmen in Manchester. Viper also enables the user to buy drinks before they arrive in the venue.

App Developers Look at Web and Hybrid Apps

A new survey has revealed that software developers have little interest in creating apps for smart TVs or wearables but are increasingly keen on hybrid apps and those for use on the web.

The survey by Ionic, a maker of an app development framework, questioned more than 13,000 developers to find that app developers are finding it harder to get attention for their native apps in app stores.

Essentially, it appears that the market for apps has now turned full circle with apps for the web making a comeback.

The findings, published in The Register, reveal that for developers who are not working for Google, Facebook or Snapchat are finding it increasingly difficult to develop apps.

Controversial gun app hits the headlines

A new app that utilises augmented reality to enable users to shoot someone has been condemned.

Developers in India behind the app say it’s a ‘bit of fun’ but critics say the level of violence could lead to a real incident.

Essentially, the app uses the phone’s camera and captures the real world but then overlays the special effects onto the user’s screen.

Its users can opt to use a pistol, sniper rifle or an assault rifle and even a rocket launcher to attack who they point the camera at.

There is on-screen blood and the option of sound effects to boost the overall effect.

New system could change the way people digest local news

A Google-funded trial has seen beacons being installed in Manchester to beam local news to users’ phones.

The experiment has seen 10 beacons being installed with news providers, public bodies and businesses able to beam targeted news as well as information directly to a mobile phone within 100 metres.

Developers say this ability to pinpoint an audience could transform the way local news is distributed.

The service is free of charge and will work on most mobile devices with Bluetooth and does not require the downloading of a specific app.

It’s part of Google’s Digital News Initiative and content partners include Manchester Evening News, the city council as well as Greater Manchester Police.

In other mobile phone app news …

A walker who fell 60 ft in the Lake District has praised a mobile phone app for saving his life. The man suffered a head injury and rescuers found him via Apple’s ‘Find My Friends’ app.

Waze, an alternative to Google maps, is now available for use on Android Auto.

With growing numbers of youngsters now having a smartphone, parents are being warned to monitor the apps they install. The findings from a Citizens’ Advice survey reveal that parents are being left with hefty bills being run-up by their children – one parent complained of a £300 bill after their 12-year-old son signed up to a games app.

Users of the Uber app are being warned that divorce lawyers are increasingly using the data from the app to catch out cheats. That’s because the mobile phone app logs all journeys as well as pickups, locations and drop-offs so people can be tracked easily. Also, the data cannot be hidden or deleted and is providing a treasure trove of information for divorce lawyers.

It looks like Amazon is about to add its Alexa function into its Android shopping app. The Alexa addition will work in the same way as it does on the Echo platform and can check for things like traffic, weather and news.

The number of complaints from people using banking apps rose again last year, according to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). Complaints rose from 305 in the year before to 360 over Internet and phone banking problems. Complaints include issues of security and the bank’s failure to carry out a customer’s instructions.

Bank app works in the blink of an eye

The TSB has unveiled plans for its customers to use an app that will enable access to their account with the blink of an eye.

The iris recognition software will be introduced from September for some Samsung Galaxy phones.

The bank says that this is a secure form of biometric authentication.

A spokesman for the bank said: “Iris recognition will enable a customer to unlock their TSB mobile app with a simple glance so there’s no need for passwords, IDs or memorable information.

“It’s also a customer friendly approach to identification and a secure method.”

However, one national newspaper asked cyber security experts what they thought about biometric logins.

Their reaction was for the bank not to assume that a biometric login cannot be compromised.

One chief executive, Richard Parris of Intercede, said that biometrics are quickly becoming the de facto security measure for a range of consumer and business applications.

He added: “However, German hackers have been able to trick the Samsung Galaxy S8 iris scanner with a picture of the phone owners eye and a contact lens.”

He said that biometric authentication is not immune to potential attacks and should not be the sole means of verifying a user’s identity.

App tracks students phone usage

For students in Australian schools a new app has been unveiled that will control their phone usage.

The app will monitor the students use of their mobile phone and can disable ‘distracting’ apps.

Developed by Family Zone, the app will give schools control over how students use their devices and help control online predators and cyber bullying.

Parents must give the school permission to apply the service and the option of monitoring mobile phone use in their home.

So far 40 schools in Australia have begun using the app which also gives parents control over the apps being accessed and the ability to deactivate the phone’s camera.

Messaging app usage continues growth

The worldwide appeal for mobile messaging apps is continuing to grow with usage set to increase by 15.5% this year.

The research from eMarketer reveals that there will be more than 1.8 billion people using apps such as WeChat and Facebook Messenger.

In addition, they are also predicting that an extra 243 million people will start using mobile phone messaging apps this year.

While growth is expected around the world, the popularity of mobile messaging apps is being fuelled by new users in five countries: China, the US, India, Brazil and Indonesia.

They will also be home to the biggest number of mobile messaging app users – though, not surprisingly, they are also the most populated countries in the world.

Gory app unveiled

For lovers of history that like to learn about dark moments and gory sites, academics in Bristol have developed a mobile app for them.

The app will notify users who pass some of the region’s gory historic sites of what occurred there hundreds of years ago.

The University of the West of England has funded a series of guides that will play court proceedings and ballads to a listener when they pass the scene of a gory and notorious crime.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

A survey of Brits and their disposable incomes has revealed that the amount being spent on mobile phone apps has rocketed by 227% over the past year.

The Chinese mobile phone market has seen a huge rise in the number of date-for-hire apps to help meet the growing demand from users to have a date when meeting relatives. Some apps aim to find an ‘instant partner’ who the user can hire and present to their relatives when visiting to help prevent conversations about getting married.

Microsoft has begun testing its Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps under its new ‘Fluent Design’ aesthetics.

A new app for making public transport payments by smartphone has hit the buffers with pioneers struggling to use it. The firm behind the app in the Netherlands says the ability to pay by mobile phone has been ‘chaotic’ and the first few days of operation has been ‘worthless’.