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 Daydream VR to be Launched

It was first unveiled in May and now Google’s Daydream VR platform will launch on 4 October.

The virtual reality headset along with the controller and headphones will be unveiled and the full list of features and apps will be disclosed.

The system will utilise the latest Android phones with the headset providing a better mobile VR experience than ever before.

Google has been investing heavily on virtual reality films and games and recruiting various YouTube stars to create a catalogue of VR content.

There will also be a variety of games and apps as well as videos available which leaves huge opportunities for app developers to cash in on what could be a popular system.

Google has also set the price low, industry watchers believe the headset will cost less than £30 and will not need to rely on a powerful PC but instead of the capabilities of a mobile phone.

iOS10 ‘hidden features’ create buzz

While the complaints about the iOS10 roll-out are still infuriating some users with unworkable Apple phones, some people have found ‘hidden feature’ apps which range from multiple browsing tabs and magnifying text.

Other features include the ability to choose which apps to download first when users want to update their phone rather than having to downloads apps they don’t want to access before one they do want.

Along with the ability to easily magnify images or text, the iOS10 also has a smart looking new stopwatch.

Parents can control children’s apps

A firm in Swindon has unveiled a new mobile phone app that enables parents to remotely manage the screen time as well as the downloading of games and applications of their children.

The app also restricts which websites their offspring can visit and also screen their contacts and calls.

Parents can also locate where the youngsters are.

It’s the brainchild of Supotco who say its app is a world first since no other offering offers such a comprehensive level of protection for children.

Mobile network operators have expressed interest in the app with a view to offering it as a package for their customers.

Snapchat announces Snap Inc

It’s one of the world’s most popular apps and now the firm behind Snapchat says it is changing its name to Snap Inc.

The reason for the move is that the organisation is describing itself as a ‘camera company’ and has unveiled a new product.

Called ‘Spectacles’, these are sunglasses that come with a built-in camera that is able to record footage in ‘circular’ video so the user does not have to decide between filming in landscape or portrait modes.

The footage can also be played in fullscreen on any device and in any orientation.

If the new product is successful, it will see more users accessing its apps to enjoy the product – the firm appears keen to target those outside of the 18 – 34 demographic.

There are obvious similarities to the Google Glass project but the new glasses are much cheaper, around $100, and are linked to social networking and able to take images throughout the day.

In other mobile phone app news…

BlackBerry has announced it is to stop making mobile phones after 14 years of production. Instead, the firm says it’s going to focus on creating software, including security and apps, rather than devices. In 2010, BlackBerry’s share of the mobile phone market was 18% but in the same period this year, their market share has fallen to 0.1%.

It looks like Twitter might be up for sale after its board said it was open for offers but the expected $30 billion price tag may put off most suitors. The shares in Twitter have risen as a result as tech giants look to buy up the popular social media platform and boost its profitability and apps that work with it.