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.