Parents Notified When Kids ‘Sexting’

A new app has been produced that alerts parents when their children send an image of themselves to another user.

By using sophisticated image recognition algorithms, the Gallery Guardian can identify inappropriate pictures and alert parents immediately.

The app has been developed to meet parents’ growing concerns when suspicious material appears on their children’s mobile phone.

The aim is to fight back against the craze of ‘sexting’.

The child’s and parent’s phones are synced together which then enables the transfer of information between the devices.

The app will then monitor images as they are received or created and will detect genitalia, naked skin as well as breast exposure.

Should an image be detected, the app will alert the adult with a message stating ‘suspicious image detected’.

For Android phone users, parents will be told how the image appeared on the phone – whether it’s an Internet download, or from Snapchat or WhatsApp.

‘March of the Smombies’ warning

Scottish researchers say that pedestrians who are so focused on their smart phones and apps could lead to a rethink in road safety rules.

They say the smartphone zombies, or ‘smombies’, and a new type of transport user and they will influence the future design of our streets.

A study is underway in Glasgow to understand how people are being distracted by their mobile phones and what the impact is for road and pavement users.

A spokesman for the project said these people are at greater risk of accident because they change direction frequently and walk more slowly.

Android users warned over malware

A warning has been issued over Android users accidentally downloading a malware strain known as FalseGuide.

Researchers say that more than two million handsets now carry the software within a number of apps that have been downloaded from Google Play Store over the last year.

The apps have been promoted by fake developers and mobile phone security experts say it cannot be removed once the infection has been installed.

The result will see the victim being bombarded with adverts.

The apps are no longer available on Play Store but researchers Check Point say there’s been a big rise in recent months for malware hidden in apps.

Music apps boost interactivity

A report reveals that a growing number of musicians are resorting to new technology, including apps and 360° cameras, to reach new a generation of music fans.

The smartphone generation is discovering new music on tablets and smartphones and artists are now delivering content and apps to enable them to enjoy live concerts, music videos and to interact with the band.

One country singer in the US has created her first music media video using mobile apps as a framework that can be watched on tablets or phones more easily; it is not available for broadcast but only viewable on a phone.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

A Japanese firm has unveiled a smartphone case that will reduce phone usage, help social media addiction and prevent drunk texting.  The Otomos case is available now.

The Emaar Hospitality Group is claiming a world first by launching five apps that will boost the experience of guests at events. The apps are being integrated with the reservation system of a hotel and will offer access to loyalty programs, social media, city guides and special offers.

The United Nations has unveiled an app that enables a user to walk ‘a mile in a refugee’s shoes’. The app replicates the daily struggle of a Malaysian refugee who has been forced to flee her home.

Drivers Warned Over Drive-thru Apps

Legal experts are warning that drivers in the UK who pay for fast food at a drive-through restaurant on their mobile phone may be breaking the law.

The warning comes after the penalties for driving and using a mobile phone were doubled for those caught on British roads.

However, lawyers at one Scottish legal firm say that using a phone app to pay via contactless methods could land the driver with a £200 fine and six penalty points.

The law firm says that to use a smartphone app in anyway while the vehicle’s engine is running is illegal.

And the rules which are applied to drivers using mobiles when behind the wheel also apply to those who using their mobile devices to pay via contactless methods.

Phone users are also being warned about sneaking a peek at their social media sites including Twitter and Facebook while they are awaiting their order to be delivered.

Some regional newspapers are also reporting that Cleveland Police have been advising people to switch off engines before paying at a drive-through with their smart phone – though they point out that ‘common sense’ will be applied before anyone is prosecuted.

Phone users cause car smashes

Researchers in America have concluded that more than half of car smashes are caused by drivers using a smartphone app.

The study was carried out by Cambridge Mobile Telematics by analysing 1,000 real-world car crashes along with tens of thousands of near misses.

Among the most common forms for distraction are texting, social media and email use.

The study reveals that drivers are distracted for at least 135 seconds when they use their phone.

The research concludes that drivers who use their phone most when driving are around six times more likely to be involved in a crash in those who are not as distracted.

In other Miratrix mobile phone news …

Google has revealed that it’s Android Pay app is no longer needed for those making mobile payments after the search giant integrated the app’s functionality into a wide range of mobile banking apps.

After hitting the headlines, the mobile app for United Airlines is being deluged with one star reviews from outraged users after a man was forcibly dragged from an over-booked flight.

Beach walkers are being urged by the RNLI to use apps for checking the weather and tide times after 55 people were stranded on a beach near Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire.

Researchers at Newcastle University have revealed that hackers can steal passwords and PIN numbers just from analysing how a mobile phone will tilt when being held. The researchers managed to crack a four-digit pin with 70% accuracy and had cracked it completely by the fifth attempt. Apparently, phone makers know of the problem but have not devised a solution.

Facebook has announced that its Messenger app has now reached 1.2 billion users. The firm now has three apps with more than 1 billion users each, including WhatsApp.

A study by researchers at New York University has revealed that the fingerprint sensors being used by many smartphones are not as reliable or as safe as users may believe. They managed to use artificial fingerprints that could match the user’s real prints to unlock the phone in 65% of attempts.

More bad news for users of Windows phones after an announcement that Spotify, one of the world’s most popular streaming services, is to stop maintaining its app for the platform.

Oxfam has been trialling contactless donation boxes with donors able to use their mobile phone contactless payment apps for making a donation, along with debit and credit cards.

Google Apps Collude to Mine Data

A study has revealed that thousands of apps on Google’s Android system are colluding to share their user’s data without any consent.

In addition, this is leaving the phones vulnerable to hacking.

The researchers at Virginia Tech in the US found that trusted apps were able to communicate with each other and exchange information which creates various implications for phone users.

A spokesman for the research team said: “It’s the first-time real-world evidence has been found that apps are colluding with each other.

“Apps are getting information from each other when they do not have the permissions for doing so.”

One problem is hackers could use a malicious third party app which, when downloaded, will collude with an authentic application which thinks is genuine and enable hackers to access personal data.

These apps are, apparently, accessing data from Google Play, Gmail, Google Photos and Google Docs, among others.

Businesses urged to take mobile security responsibility

A report reveals that businesses should step in to provide mobile security when users are reckless with their devices when downloading apps.

The RiskIQ report highlights that smartphone users often stray from the official app stores when downloading applications which then puts them at greater risk from malware and ransomware.

While the report highlights that the UK’s smartphone users are more conservative than their US counterparts, they are still taking risks.

One of the issues is that mobile users are ‘jailbreaking’ their devices, around 14% of users do so, so they can download apps they would not be able to use otherwise.

The report states: “While jailbreaking allows more choice, it bypasses the security mechanisms put in place by official app stores and carriers.”

The report concludes that businesses should be more proactive in fighting mobile threats since ‘careless users’ lack the relevant mobile security acumen.

Phone distraction causes car crashes

A study in America has revealed that drivers who are distracted by their phone’s apps cause 52% of smashes.

In addition, 25% of drivers will use their phone with a minute of having a crash.

The findings come from Cambridge Mobile Telematics and a spokesman said: “This is a big problem for drivers and pedestrians and it’s a dominant factor in whether you will have a crash.”

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

Smartphone users in India are being warned that the mobile apps for seven banks have been infected with malware. The warning comes as users are urged to install a personal security certificate which has been sent by hackers.

To help launch their new album, The Charlatans have turned their popular singles into phone apps. Fans have to guess the song from the icons on their screen.

A researcher says more funding should be provided to help people access digital health services in the UK. Lecturer Siobhan O’Connor said more research is needed to understand the barriers users face which include lack of mobile phone signals and not understanding how health apps can help.

Social media users in the US may be due a pay-out after a judge in San Francisco ruled that the user’s privacy may have been compromised. The ruling will cost eight firms including Kik, Foursquare, Twitter and Yelp more than $5million. The action focused on those who used their smartphone to access the platforms between 2009 and 2012.

A mobile phone app may help users access cheaper electricity from 2020 after an EU ruling. The idea is to use apps to encourage people to use electricity when it is cheap and abundant – usually on sunny days when renewable energy such as solar panels are effective. The move would see flexible prices being introduced to match energy production.

Google Launches Duo ‘Game-Changing’ App

Google has launched its Duo app and some industry watchers are predicting it could be a WhatsApp killer.

The app will enable one-to-one video calls between smartphone users and the calls will be encrypted.

From later this year, users will also be able to use voice calling as well.

Duo has been developed for the Android and iOS platforms which means it can be used by those who use Facetime and Skype.

The app has a feature which enables the person being called to see live video of who is calling before they answer the call.

The app has been designed to be easy-to-use and is available now.

It was unveiled at a Google conference last year and can be used by those who download the app around the world.

It might be time to ditch smartphones, say experts

Security experts say there has been a huge increase for smartphone users suffering with mobile malware infections which are causing greater levels of damage.

A security report from Nokia reveals that there are more security threats than ever before with cyber criminals now targeting mobile devices rather than PCs.

In their latest study, the firm says the number of mobile malware attacks rose by 400% last year compared to previous years.

And, worryingly, 85% of all infections were aimed at mobile devices.

The criminals are mainly targeting Android, they account rate 81% of attacks, but the number of attacks on Apple’s IOS platform are also on the rise.

Indeed, iPhones are being targeted with surveillance software that will track their calls, social media apps, text messages and GPS locations.

The report also highlights that the number of attacks aimed at Windows PC systems has seen a fall in numbers.

Smartphones won’t be able to access Facebook app

The Facebook app is about to stop working for those with older smartphones.

From the end of March, support for the Facebook Messenger app will also come to an end on the devices.

The social media outfit says it’s ending support for those devices running older versions of its apps including v10 of Messenger and v55 of Facebook.

That’s for apps running on Android and Facebook has also announced that the Facebook app for most Windows phones (mainly those with Windows 8 and 8.1) is also coming to an end.

It is possible to migrate to a latest version should smartphone users find the Facebook apps no longer work.

However, should the apps still not work, Facebook says users should access their service through a mobile phone browser.

Health apps ‘might be lying’

New York’s Attorney General has revealed that three health apps for mobile devices have reached a deal over allegations that they deceive consumers.

Two of the apps concerned, Runtastic and Cardio, claimed to measure the user’s heart beat accurately while My Baby’s Beat claimed it could turn a smartphone into a baby heart monitor.

Altogether, the phone apps have been downloaded by users more than one million times.

However, all three apps have been found not to have carried out sufficient testing that would prove their claims.

Now the developers have agreed to undertake more testing, change their ads and pay $30,000 in fines.

The apps will also alter their privacy policies and deliver more protection to consumers and reveal whether they collect and share any information that could identify the user.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

A major update for the eBay app on iOS and Android platforms has now been rolled out. For avid users of the website there are lots of new features though some depend on the mobile device being used.

Smartphone users in the US can use Walmart’s on demand video streaming service to turn their DVD discs into digital titles by using a mobile app. The Vudu function is in place now and costs $2 for converting a DVD and $5 for Blu-ray.

Scammers are moving from the internet and using mobile apps for selling cars to fleece money out of unsuspecting car buyers, particularly in the US. Apparently, the crooks are increasingly moving from Craigslist to apps such as LetGo and Facebook’s Marketplace.

There’s a new NSPCC Childline app available to help children looking for support and counselling. Developed by four teens, ‘For Me’ will deliver support and advice in confidence.

Mobile Apps Can Boost Child Health

A review of medical research has revealed that parents can help improve health outcomes for their children by using mobile phone apps as well as text messaging.

The review has appeared in a leading American medical journal and focuses on the effectiveness of using apps to tackle childhood obesity.

The researchers say that apps enable children to become healthier by boosting a number of behaviours and ensuring the eat a healthy diet and get the medicines they need.

Researchers wanted to analyse the previously conducted reviews for statistical evidence that proves there is a change in health behaviours for those who are 18 years old or younger if they use apps.

Those behind the study say the use of apps offers a chance to improve public health by utilising ‘mobile health interventions’.

Why Millennials get lost

If you have ever wondered why satnav users do silly things by abandoning their common sense, there’s an explanation.

Researchers have revealed that when people use handy devices, particularly satnavs, they switch off a part of their brain that we use for navigation.

They say that when we navigate, we exercise the brain in a different way to when we follow orders.

As part of the study, researchers looked at the street networks for major cities around the world and found most people struggled to navigate their way around small streets.

Essentially, researchers say that while brain training exercises will improve tasks for a given task, they do not improve performances for learning other tasks.

This is why young people particularly who do not use maps and follow satnav directions are more likely to get themselves lost without having phone apps to help them.

Charities boosted with new a donation app

Charities could benefit from a new platform that enables donations to be made by mobile phone.

DonateToday allows phone users to add a charity donation to their phone bill and also have the option to Gift Aid them.

The donation facility works while the donors are online using the app rather than asking them to make a donation through text messaging or entering credit card details.

The app also has a number of suggested donation amount buttons and whether they want to give a regular donation or a simple one-off donation.

Brits still using apps behind the wheel

Despite the punishments for using mobile phones behind the wheel of a car being increased recently, Brits are still using their phones.

The fines for using a phone while behind the wheel have increased to £200 and the penalty points have been increased to six.

However, a car insurer has now found that one in five drivers admit to checking social media apps while driving since the new punishments were brought in.

Topping the list for most used is WhatsApp with 51%, though 44% of drivers are still making phone calls and 9% of drivers are streaming videos.

In addition, drivers are also posting on and browsing Facebook as well as Twitter.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

Corporations looking to make their cyber security better are faced with staff having at least one app on at least one mobile phone which means they have access to 1,427 cloud services. The findings from CSO say this provides employers with a cyber security challenge and it’s not just down to malware infected apps but also staff using legitimate apps because they enable various permissions as result.

The rapid growth in the number of apps available for gambling on mobile phones has led to a big increase in the number of gambling addicts, says the National Centre for Problem Gambling. Campaigners say the apps make gambling too easy with more than half of those seeking help from one charity admitting to being addicted to gambling on their mobile.

Researchers in India say that the popularity of mobile phone apps in the country has rocketed by 43% over the last 12 months.

Malaysia and Japanese theme park guests say they want queue busting apps to make their day out more enjoyable. The findings reveal that 91% of respondents want to buy time specific slots with a fast-track pass.

What Brits Use Their Phone For

A survey has revealed what British smartphone users are using their devices for and it’s not for making phone calls.

The research from an online retailer reveals that just 27% of respondents said they used their phone for making phone calls every week which is the 11th most popular use.

However, the use of apps is popular though in first place is texting with 88% of smartphone owners regularly sending messages, in second place is emailing and in third place is using Facebook.

Users also use their phone’s camera, in fourth place, and reading the news is in fifth spot.

The top 10 is made up with online shopping (56%), checking weather reports (54%), WhatsApp (51%), banking (45%) and watching YouTube videos (42%).

Android phones hiding pre-installed malware

There are 38 Android phones that are apparently being shipped with malware that is pre-installed during the manufacturing and supply chain process, says Checkpoint Security.

Among the phones included are the Samsung Galaxy A5 and the Asus Zenfone 2.

Checkpoint says that the threat from the malware for users is ‘severe’.

They say they have uncovered the infections on 38 devices using Android that belong to a multinational tech company and a large telecoms firm.

A spokesman explained: “While this isn’t unusual there is one detail of the attacks that stands out which is that the malware was not downloaded a result of the user’s use and arrived with the phone.”

Checkpoint says users should not download phone apps from untrusted or unusual places and to avoid ‘risky websites’.

The Israeli-based firm has also highlighted that several lines of insecure code can be used to hack the WhatsApp application despite the firm saying its system offers users a tight encryption system that cannot be hacked.

Checkpoint has revealed a technique that bypasses the encryption method by hiding code in an innocuous image.

Smartphone owners tend not to secure devices

Research has revealed that most smartphone owners do not take the steps needed to secure their mobile devices.

The survey reveals that users do not update their phone’s apps or the operating system regularly and they don’t use a pass code to restrict access.

According to Pew Research around 28% of US smartphone owners do not use a screen lock or any other security feature.

Also, just 40% will update their apps and operating system, while one in 10 say they never update their device’s operating system or apps.

Google unveils parental control software

Google has unveiled parental control software for its Android system called Family Link.

The system will enable parents to limit their child’s use of mobile devices and which apps they can have access to.

The controls will also enable parents to track and manage screen time so they can impose daily limits and bedtimes for devices so they cannot be used.

Google says that while most mobile device providers offer parental controls, their Family Link differs because it operates like a third-party parental control to monitor software use.

In other Miratrix mobile phone news …

The latest WikiLeaks release offers a good reason for smartphone users to regularly update their apps, says Columbia University’s Steven Bellovin. He says the CIA’s work will inspire ‘low-end hackers’ and Europol is also urging users to update their phone’s apps.

Wishbone, the popular quiz app aimed at teens has, apparently, been hacked with users’ personal information being stolen.

The most popular phones targeted by thieves in the UK are: the HTC M8, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, Apple iPhone 6 Plus, Apple iPhone 6, Apple iPhone S6.

Market research firm Statcounter says the dominance of Windows 10 to access the internet is coming to an end with the rapid popularity of Google’s Android OS being used for mobile phones, tablets and desktops and laptops soon to overtake the Windows platform.

Survey Reveals Mobile Apps are Best Practice for Small Firms

Researchers have revealed that growing numbers of small and medium sized businesses (SME’s) are moving quickly towards adopting mobile apps to boost their business.

The survey by Clutch reveals that 42% of SME’s have already built their own mobile app because they say the app is an important tool to boost their operations.

The survey also reveals that 67% of SME’s say they will have a mobile app in place by the end of this year.

The firms say their need for an app must also provide a worthwhile return on investment and one of the main purposes for having an app developed is to improve customer service.

Those firms who have not created an app is down to the age of management personnel and the company size and also the resources they have to devote to developing an application.

The survey found that larger SME’s with younger managers are more likely to have mobile apps to help the business while the SME’s with owners below the age of 45 are twice as likely to have a mobile app than those aged over 45.

Apps boosted on Android Wear 2.0

It’s a few months late but the new Android Wear 2.0 release has a big impact on apps.

Previously, the smart watch would sync automatically with apps on the user’s smartphone whether they wanted the apps to do this or not.

Now, however, the user will download specific apps to the watch and choose whether they want to sync the app with their smartphone.

In addition, users can also download standalone apps for their wearable tech that do not need a companion app for the user’s smartphone.

McDonald’s reveals ‘pay ahead’ app

Fast-food chain McDonald’s has unveiled plans to launch an app that enables customers to order and pay for food ahead of arriving in a restaurant.

Starting in the US, they will be rolled out around the world’s 20,000 restaurants and industry watchers say this is the first step for the firm to begin home deliveries.

The new service will connect directly with the McDonald’s current mobile phone app.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

Drivers in the UK who use a mobile phone at the wheel of their car will now be fined £200 and handed six penalty points on their licence. However, some are still confused about being able to use apps, particularly sat nav apps, though the law states they must not touch their phone when behind the wheel.

Rugby league players in New Zealand have been told to delete betting apps from their smartphones to avoid gambling on matches; betting on games is against their code of conduct and several players have fallen foul of the rules.

Research has revealed that the time US phone users spend on their apps is now five hours every day, says Flurry, an analytical firm.

The data tracking app Glasswire is now available for Android phones. The app shows users which of their phone’s apps is using the most data and when.

Business App Use is on the Rise

App usage in the UK has rocketed by 28% over the last 12 months as people increasingly turn to their smartphones for professional and social tasks, according to a report.

Flurry Analytics has examined mobile app activity for global trends and reveals that there are now more than 940,000 apps being used on 2.1 billion devices and these generate around 10 billion sessions every day.

In the UK, mobile phone users are turning to their devices for social and messaging app sessions which grew by 46% while productivity and utilities app sessions grew by 45%.

In France, the use of sports app rocketed by an impressive 190% in 2016.

Measure consumer activity across application portfolios

The data generated by Flurry helps marketers and developers to analyse and measure consumer activity across application portfolios.

The latest report reveals that app usage sessions in the UK grew by 28%, in Germany the numbers rose by 25% and in France by 16%.

When the figures for the UK’s usage are broken down, sessions for sports apps grew by 31%, for photography by 22% and travel by 15%.

However, business and finance apps saw a 2% increase, while lifestyle and shopping apps grew by 1%.

In comparison, sessions for games fell by 9%, apps for music, media and entertainment fell by 18% and personalisation apps fell by 46%.

Flurry says the most popular apps for mobile devices are sticky apps that are tied to the user’s daily habits; for instance, these are generally apps that rely on live data such as finance and business as well as sports.

Viber ends Windows apps work

VoIP and instant messaging service Viber has announced it will no longer work on Windows mobile phone apps.

The client for these is still available to download but there will be no new features or updates released for it. The app is still available in Windows store and functions problem-free.

Viber says it will focus on the more popular platforms for mobile devices: Android and iOS.

It’s not been a good week for Windows phone users with the BBC sending notifications that its iPlayer app will be closed from April.

Users can still stream BBC audio and video through the Microsoft Edge browser but this only works for a Windows phone that runs Windows 10 Mobile.

Mobile apps boost retail sales

Research has revealed that mobile devices helped deliver around $2 trillion last year in off-line retail sales in the US which accounted for two thirds of shopping in the category.

The study by Forrester points out that while the numbers are impressive, they could be higher.

Indeed, they say that American consumers shopping with smartphones has yet to peak and within four years, shoppers there will be spending $152 billion on their mobile phones or 24% of online sales.

In addition, mobile phone sales will account for $1.4 trillion in off-line sales over the same period.

However, despite the heavy influence of mobile phone apps in retail sales, the study reveals that retailers are still under-investing in their mobile applications.

Their findings also reveal that shoppers are increasingly using apps as a tool to find a product locally but retail firms need to invest in their digital platforms with loyalty offers, store maps as well as digital inventory to help boost sales.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

Users of the Skype Wi-Fi service will find their app will no longer work from March 31 after Microsoft confirmed this service is being discontinued. The app for iOS and Android will also not be available for users to download.

App developers may be interested to know that the latest LG flagship smartphone is able to show two apps at the same time. The elongated display has been unveiled at a leading trade show in Barcelona and, the makers say, it no longer supports slide-in enhancements.

Apps Create Second-Hand Car Security Risk

It has been revealed that a leading IBM researcher could continue to track, unlock and control his old car by using his mobile app several years after trading it in.

He says that the security shortcomings for so-called ‘smart’ vehicles means new owners need to take special steps.

Indeed, the same security flaw is present in apps that are operated by the four biggest car makers and raises questions about other apps used for smart devices that have been bought second-hand.

The IBM worker said when he sold his car he removed all of his personal data from it but could still access the controls remotely from a smart phone app.

Industry experts are now pointing to potential security flaws in everything from home security systems to fridge freezers.

It appears that the ‘internet of things’ is essentially storing information on external cloud servers so while a factory reset in the car will have wiped personal data, the information may have been retained on the cloud.

The news follows an announcement from a Russian security firm Kaspersky who say Android car control apps have other security flaws as well.

These flaws could enable a hacker to take control of a vehicle or even steal it.

One in three UK retailers do not have an app

Research has revealed that one in three retailers do not have a mobile phone app and shopping app users are not keen on apps that do not enable them to interact with other brands.

The findings from Episerver also found users do not want to scroll through pages of icons looking for a suitable app to use.

However, the firm also says that those retailers who do not currently have an application to access their goods and services may actually understand mobile marketing and app fatigue hitting consumers.

Their survey also reveals that most retailers are now focusing on mobile web marketing and pouring money into content creation, search and advertising for their offering to be discovered via a browser.

The exceptions to this are for consumers who want to access a favourite brand by using an app including checking bank balances, flight times and booking train tickets.

Banking apps show security vulnerability

An analysis of 50 of the world’s leading banking apps has revealed they all have several security vulnerabilities.

The research by Prado Lab highlighted security flaws which could put around 500 million people who use these apps at risk from hackers.

A spokesman for the firm said the biggest worry was for the number of banks that are involved and not one banking app managed to pass the firm’s access test.

The survey looked at the world’s top 50 banks and their apps and the security firm says they now need to address these major security issues urgently.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

Pakistan’s meteorological department has unveiled an app to help people there get the latest weather reports directly on their smartphone.

According to insiders, Google’s AI messaging app Allo is heading to our desktops. So far, there have been up to 50 million downloads of Allo to smartphones.

The Indian government is offering smartphone users free anti-virus software to help protect them from malware hidden in apps.

Watching porn on your smartphone could be a serious mistake since thousands of users are, apparently, downloading a malicious Android app for using Pornhub that locks their phone when used.