NHS England Wants to Develop an Ecosystem of Apps

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.

Most digital video viewers use phone apps

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.

WhatsApp allows payments

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.

Staxter app now available in UK

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.

New app brings AR to Android phones

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.

In other mobile phone app news …

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.

Fitness App Lights Up Military Bases

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.

Ransomware attacks rise by 93%

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.

Young children increasingly own smartphones

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.

Child safety raised over popular app

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.

Questions raised over phone use at petrol stations

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.

In other mobile phone app news …

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.

New App Will Tackle Insurance Fraud Claims

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

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

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

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

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

New app enables crime reporting

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

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

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

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

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

Google bans violent app

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

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

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

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

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

Students targeted by laundry app

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

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

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

In other mobile phone app news …

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

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

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

Flaw in WhatsApp Security Revealed

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mobile app growth is slowing down

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Open Banking’ sparks security fears

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

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

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

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

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

Flashlight apps hit by malware

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

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

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

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

Child-friendly apps hide malware

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

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

In other mobile phone app news …

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

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

Google Phone Apps Are Listening In

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conflicting advice sees drivers prosecuted

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

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

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

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

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

App can find people in an emergency

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

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

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

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

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

In other mobile phone app news …

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

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

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

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

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

New App Will Protect Against ‘Spies’

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.

WhatsApp will stop working on these phones

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.

Bank customers can now pay cheques in with mobile phones

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.

Warning over new Trojan

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.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

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.

Major Data Leak for Millions Revealed

A popular virtual keyboard has been leaking the data of 31 million users, say security researchers.

The massive data breach is for the app Ai.type used on the Android platform after researchers found an open database online.

Apparently, the database holds the personal data for 31 million Android users including their names, locations and phone numbers. The data also contains the Google search queries of those users.

The revelations come from the Kromtech Security Centre after they found a huge number of customer files had been leaked online and are now publicly available.

The details of data for 31.3 million users of mobile phones and tablets and the discovery has led to questions over how much data is being gleaned by app developers from users.

A spokesman for the firm said: “The database exposure shows just how much data developers can access and they are able to obtain a treasure trove that the average app user is not expecting to be data mined or extracted from their phone or tablet.”

Banking app flaw discovered

A massive security flaw has been discovered in hundreds of apps from major banks leaving account holders vulnerable to hacking.

The findings from the University of Birmingham reveal that the apps for banks such as NatWest and HSBC may have left 10 million account holders vulnerable.

The findings come after researchers developed a tool for performing a semi-automated security test of the banking apps.

Of 400 apps tested, the researchers uncovered a critical vulnerability that could have enabled hackers to retrieve the user’s username and their password.

Banks have now been told of the flaw which has been removed.

Researchers say the issue was over ‘certificate pinning’ which is meant to improve the app’s security  but failed to detect the vulnerability.

Tamagotchi to live again

Back in the 90s, the digital pet Tamagotchi was a must have toy and in 2018, it is due to live again in a new mobile phone app.

The toy’s creator, Bandai, says fans will be able to hatch a digital pet on their phone, play and feed with them and care for them. The app will be free to install on Apple and Android devices.

There will also be augmented reality technology similar to that used for Pokémon Go.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

Whatsapp is reminding users that its app will no longer work on some phone platforms from the end of this month. The popular messenger app will no longer be available for BlackBerry’s OS or 10 and Window’s Phone 8.0.

Google has announced that any apps for the Android platform that will force a user to submit personal information or to click on an ad for advertising purposes before using an app will now be prohibited.

The Netflix app is now found on one in three Dutch smart phones while the Youtube app is on 83% of phones. The Netflix app is being used by 2.7 million people every week, according to a survey of the country’s app market.

Facebook has unveiled a new Messenger app aimed at children. There’s no Facebook account or phone number required for users to access the Messenger Kids app which is aimed at those between the ages of six and 12. The idea is for youngsters to communicate with family and friends on a mobile device but they will not need a SIM card, for example, but they will need a Wi-Fi connection to use the app.

App-addiction Grips the UK

The average Brit will look at their smartphone around 28 times a day, which works out at more than 10,000 times every year, according to a survey.

Researchers say that 4,000 of the checks are being made compulsively without any particular goal in mind.

However, one in 10 smartphone users are opening their device more than 60 times a day and one in three say they are addicted to looking at their various app updates.

A spokesman for the firm that undertook the survey, Casumo, said: “The instances of compulsive checking are higher than we imagined and shows our phones are a habit as they are an aid.”

The survey found that Brits are spending 58 minutes a day using their smartphone with the most popular app being Facebook. In second place is WhatsApp, with Gmail and Instagram in third and fourth places.

However, the survey also reveals that while Facebook takes first place, users believe other apps deliver more benefits with Google Maps being number one for usefulness followed by WhatsApp and Gmail.

Black Friday sees major boost to mobile phone app use

The number of people using mobile phone apps to score a Black Friday bargain has rocketed with 39% of sales online being made over a mobile phone, according to IMRG.

Also, Vouchercloud says that 63% of its online traffic came from smartphones compared with 27% using desktop computers and 10% using tablets.

The report from IMRG says that since Friday is a working day there’s an unusual trend since most people are at work and unlike last year, mobile sales were being used steadily throughout the day.

Apple revealed to have major privacy flaw

Security researchers say a popular app has a major privacy flaw and mines information stored on the smartphone to work out where the user is.

The researchers from Stamford University say that PinMe will use data from the accelerometer and gyroscopes among other information to work out where the user is – even if the apps don’t have access to the phone’s GPS.

The app can calculate whether the person is travelling by car, foot, plane or train and also chart their travel.

The researchers say that phone makers need to introduce software that will enable a user to switch off all sensors in a bid to protect their privacy.

Meanwhile, researchers at the Yale University have found that there are hundreds of Android apps that are riddled with trackers.

They say the trackers are being used for targeting advertising, location tracking and behavioural analytics.

They point out that these apps may have a legitimate application but are operating, most often, without the smartphone user’s knowledge.

Researchers found that of the 300 apps they inspected, 75% had trackers.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

Google has unveiled a new app for Android smartphones that enables users to stay under pricey mobile data limits in developing countries. The new service is called Datally and helps users close down data transmission by various apps easily.

Hundreds of new drivers in the UK have been banned for using their mobile phone while behind the wheel of a car. The bans are automatic for new drivers.

Police in Gwent are trialling a new app for sending emergency images and follows in the footsteps of West Midlands Fire Service testing a similar app. Gwent’s two-month pilot will use a mobile phone app that will enable the public to provide a livestream or photographs of emergency incidents for control room operators to use.

GPs in the UK will soon be able to offer a prescription using a clinically approved app while sitting opposite a patient; a trial will begin in Merseyside from January. The app will see prescriptions for 10 drugs being trialled with a target of 100 more being added in subsequent months.

Android Phones ‘Betray’ Users

Google has come under fire after revelations that Android smartphones still collect the user’s location data and sends it back to the firm – even when the phone’s location services used for apps has been switched off.

The system works by gathering information from nearby mobile phone masts and sharing the information with Google. The data can be used to calculate the user’s position.

The practice cannot be disabled.

A privacy advocate told a news website that the findings are a ‘betrayal’ of Android phone users.

The issue is with Google Play Services running in the background since this is required to access search functions and has been installed on most Android smartphones.

In response, Google says it does not retain the information though it has been collecting data for 11 months and its Android system will be updated shortly to stop the practice.

App helps turn phone into a ‘sonar’ detector

Biometric voice authentication has taken a step forward with a mouth app that turns a user’s smartphone into a ‘sonar’ detector.

The security app will check that the lip movement being monitored really is the phone’s owner speaking.

The app then enables the user’s voice to be recognised as a password for using other apps.

However, critics say it might be vulnerable to ‘replay’ attacks should an identity thief use a recording of the user’s voice.

In a bid to overcome this issue, the app will detect whether someone is using the phone ‘live’ or is misusing a recording.

The VoiceGesture app could, say its creators, help make smartphones more secure and Google is already said to be reviewing the technology which has been created by researchers at State University of Florida.

They say the app can also be extended to include various voice assists including Google Home and Amazon Echo.

Mobile gaming apps take-off in Asia-Pacific

There’s been a huge growth in mobile gaming users in the Asia Pacific region, according to research.

The findings from AppsFlyer and eMarketer point to mobile gaming becoming increasingly important for marketers in the region with the apps delivering strong revenues and audiences.

The researchers at AppsFlyer found that in 40 countries, there are 1,300 apps to choose from and 95 million apps have been installed to generate $150 million of revenue.

Meanwhile, a report from eMarketer is forecasting that around 55% of Chinese Internet users will be playing digital games by the end of this year which equates to 420 million people.

Also, they say that 54% of mobile phone users will be using a gaming app at least once a month.

EU privacy regulators to discuss Uber

The EU’s privacy regulators are to meet to discuss the massive Uber app hack.

The move follows last year’s data breach which saw the personal data from 57 million accounts being exposed.

Now, the regulators are to discuss creating a task force from various EU countries for undertaking the investigation.

The stolen data included the names, mobile phone numbers and email addresses of Uber users around the world and the firm says it paid hackers $100,000 to keep the data breach secret.

News of the data breach of its app only came after senior management were replaced.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

Microsoft has revealed that it has pulled its Skype app from China’s Android and Apple app stores. Apple has also removed several Internet phone call apps after being informed that they did not comply with local laws.

Cyclists in the UK could benefit from a new app that will warn them of potholes in the road ahead. Using smart lights and Bluetooth technology, the lights will detect imperfections and alert the cyclist with data collected via Bluetooth of cyclists avoiding spots on the road to help create a virtual map of Manchester’s roads where the trial is underway.

Newcastle University has created an app that will help protect ancient rock art in Northumberland. Researchers say that the ‘cup and ring’ marks are under threat from climate change and agriculture. The app will help pinpoint the sites so users can add information about its surroundings and conditions.

Mobile Data Usage in UK Set to Soar

The amount of mobile data being used in the UK will grow sevenfold, say researchers, by 2021.

The research from CCS Insight has found that the average mobile phone user will use around 2.5 GB of data every month but by 2021, this will grow to 18 GB.

The firm says that mobile phone networks should begin making attractive offers in a bid to meet the growing demand for data.

This would include offers such as unlimited data plans and with 3 being the only network offering this, CCS says their subscribers are using, on average, 7 GB every month, around 3.5 times more than users on other networks.

However, researchers also say that data usage will not increase massively until 2022 when 5G will become increasingly popular with 17 million subscribers – by 2025, around half of all mobile users will be on a 5G network.

New app will tackle mental health in farmers

A trainee GP has launched an innovative app that will help farmers come to terms with mental health issues from their own homes.

Dr Julian Nesbitt wants to offer reliable and quick access to medical support using smart phone video technology because the farmers are often in isolated locations.

He explained: “The app will help break down barriers of access for farmers who are on the farm all day but most medical services will only be available between 9 and 5pm.”

The app means farmers can do their day job and then speak to someone when it’s convenient and there is a range of therapists dealing with issues including stress, trauma and gambling addiction.

Android malware warning

They may sound like legitimate Android apps but users are being warned of multistage malware lurking in a family of apps.

The warning from ESET has revealed that the malicious apps are being hidden in Google Play Store with names such as ‘World News’ and ‘Cleaner for Android’.

The apps that have been revealed by the firm’s researchers do not raise suspicions from users because they do not ask for app permissions and will behave as an app is designed to do.

However, another malicious app which has been downloaded without the user knowing will, after a five-minute delay, be presented as a legitimate service, for example an Adobe Flash update.

When the prompt is approved, the new app will download a mobile banking Trojan to steal the user’s financial information.

The apps have now been removed by Google and a spokesman for ESET said: “Multistage downloaders have a better chance of creeping into official app stores than a common malware will.”

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

Android users are being warned of a new exploit which will trick a user into recording their phone screen without them knowing. The exploit affects android versions 5.0 to 7.1.

A car thief in Scotland was caught after the owner used a mobile phone tracker app to find their car, a court was told. The thief was caught less than an hour after stealing the car.

Coventry commuters are being urged to use an innovative app aimed at reducing congestion, said to be the first project of its kind in the UK. The Intelligent Variable Message System (iVMS) will enable motorists to plan their route to avoid travel hotspots and help improve congestion and reduce journey times.

Supermarket shoppers can use their mobile phone’s facial recognition system to replace ID checks when buying alcohol, under a pilot scheme. The British identity app Yoti will scan a shopper’s face to confirm their identity and help remove the self-service tills bottle-neck when assistants must check identification when buying goods that are age restricted.