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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.

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.

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.

Millions of Android Phones Hit by Malware

A major malware infection of Android phones could affect 10 million smartphone users as the mobile phone app creates fake clicks for adverts.

The warning comes from security researchers who say the malware is secretly installing apps and then spying on the phone user’s browsing habits.

The malware is currently generating around £230,000 a month for its creators.

However, most of the compromised smartphones are in China with other uses in India, Indonesia and the Philippines also affected.

The malware has been detected by two security firms who have each given the software different names; Checkpoint calls it ‘Hummingbad’ while Lookout calls it ‘Shedun’.

One security firm is warning that even with a factory reset the malware can remain in effect since it uses root privileges for installing extra mobile apps onto the user’s device.

Google says that it is constantly evolving its systems to help detect and block potential installations of infected apps and the latest Android update is said to tackle more than 100 vulnerabilities in its operating system.

Pokemon Go might be malware in disguise

A new malware is disguising itself as Pokemon Go to enable hackers to have full access to a mobile phone, researchers have revealed.

The smartphone game from Nintendo is currently very popular and allows users to collect Pokemon based on their location.

However, researchers have found a remote access kit is being bundled with the software which is currently at the top of the App Store charts in America but is unavailable currently in Europe.

This demand has led to a growing numbers of users installing non-official versions of the mobile phone app and this opens the door to a malware infection. Nintendo is warning that installing apps from other sources that are not officially vetted is ‘not advisable’.

The death of mobile news apps is predicted

The chief executive of Purple says that mobile phone news apps ‘are dying’ while texting ‘is the future’.

Purple text users everyday with information on news concerning science, technology and politics and also other messaging bots.

Rebecca Harris said: “App overload is an issue in general and it’s difficult to get someone to discover and then habitually use an app.”

Mobile phone app offers free beer as an incentive

A Czech beer firm has unveiled an app for over 18 users that will pinpoint the nearest outlet for its beers and as an incentive for using it, users can claim two free pints every month.

The Kozel Pint Finder is available now.

Cyclists get app to help in a crash

A new mobile phone app aimed at cyclists will detect whether the rider has been involved in a crash and automatically call a support centre to report it.

The Grdian app has just been launched and it utilises the smart phone sensors to help detect whether an emergency has occurred, for example a crash.

The phone will then dial automatically a 24/7 support centre and switch the speakerphone on.

The founder of the app, Simon Drinkall, said the app’s algorithm has been developed to monitor the cyclist’s energy and not their speed so there is constant monitoring for crash detection. Once the app makes a connection to the support centre, an operator will speak with the cyclist to determine whether they need emergency assistance and call for an ambulance if need be.

The mobile phone app also utilises the smart phone’s GPS to help pinpoint where the cyclist has had their accident.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news…

Indian phone users helped the numbers of mobile phone apps being downloaded every day rise by 16% in the first six months of this year. Apparently, the most popular apps being downloaded are for entertainment and social media.

The CNN news app for the Windows phone is being retired. Industry experts say the app probably has very few users but are expecting a Windows 10 news app to be announced in the coming months.

The next Apple iOS update will have a new app to enable users in America to donate their organs by joining a registry to enable the donation to take place after their death.

New App Could be the Future for Retail

It’s been described as the Tinder of the retail world and now a new app will enable users to swipe left or right and then click on an image to buy a new outfit.

Bijou Commerce says its app will enable beauty and fashion apps to offer single image browsing with users swiping right if they are impressed with the product and swiping left if not.

The firm says that the app will make shopping more engaging and simpler for retail customers.

The issue is that most apps for retailers place between four and 12 products on a screen and these look too small on many mobile phones which being some products will struggle to stand out from the crowd.

Google apps verification simplified

Google has made the verification process for its Gmail and Apps simpler by enabling users to approve a sign-in request with a single tap on their phone.

Currently users have to look up a six-digit code and type it in elsewhere – that is if they enabled two-step verification – for their apps and online accounts.

Now a pop-up will appear asking for verification which the user will just have to tap.

To enable the system, users need to visit their Google account and follow the instructions but users should appreciate the new system only works for Google accounts.

The new method follows in the footsteps of Microsoft which enabled the simple form of verification for its Account app.

Mobile phone apps could ‘treat’ mental health patients

The NHS has announced that it may begin using mobile phone apps to help treat mental health patients to help ease pressure on the service.

Those behind the move say things like Fitbit activity trackers and iPhones can help ease pressure on primary care services with high-tech mobile phone apps being used to determine a user’s state of mind.

The app will work by analysing the user’s breathing pattern, facial expression as well as tone and inflection of their voice to determine how well, or poorly, they are.

In a report to NHS chiefs about the potential of using more mobile phone apps, the researchers say that people appear to be willing to disclose information to a virtual psychiatrist or a computer avatar rather than to a real one.

In addition, mobile phone apps could form a new primary care approach, particularly to improve mental health.

Ghostbot helps relationships

A new app aimed at ending relationships has been launched and will analyse messages and work out how to respond to a persistent texter.

Ghostbot is described by its creators as a text messaging bot to help users ‘ghost away’ from a fleeting relationship without having to deal with the emotional baggage.

The bot may reply that the user is too busy for meeting up or simply send a thumbs down emoji to give them a more obvious rejection.

It works by detecting messages that have been marked as a ‘ghost’ by the user and the responses can be anything from a few minutes to a few hours and eventually, the bot will stop replying.

Users will be able to create links in their phone apps

Part of the frustration of using mobile apps is finding information that has caught a user’s eye but is then lost but this may come to end with a new uLink experiment being unveiled Microsoft Research.

When users trawl through several pages on a mobile app and then cannot find what they were looking for will find the new system to add bookmarks which will make their life easier.

The operation is rather similar to the deep app linking idea from Google but doesn’t involve going online for it to work.

Also, the new bookmarking system only works on Android but the ability to see and revisit specific and favourite spots within a mobile phone app looks like taking off.

Android Pay available in the UK

Android Pay enables users to pay for items and services with their NFC equipped mobile phones and it’s now live for UK users without any fanfare being made.

Androind Pay went live in America shortly after its 2015 announcement and has proved to be popular.

To help the new payment system grow in the UK, Google is promoting special offers particularly discounts on one day of the month for the increasing number of outlets that accept Android Pay.

However, Google has also announced which banks and cards in the UK will support the system including MasterCard and Visa debit and credit cards from most of the country’s financial institutions.

Most will offer the service except for Barclays which is renowned for being one of the last to join Apple Pay.

The new payment system will work anywhere where contactless payments are accepted including Costa, Boots and KFC.

In other mobile phone app news…

Microsoft has released its Flow iOS app which enables a firm’s employees to carry their corporate intranet with them so they can access key information whenever they need to. The SharePoint mobile app is for users with Office 365 and SharePoint online.

In last week’s Miratrix mobile phone app news, we highlighted that the new iOS 10 would allow users to delete the apps that come already built-in but we were wrong (and, as it turned out, was everyone else) since users can hide the apps but not delete them.

Briton’s in Relationships Use Dating Apps

The growing popularity of dating apps for mobile phones has been underlined with news that around one in four Britons use these apps even when they are in a relationship.

The study by phone maker HTC found that Brits kept their dating app profiles active even when they began a relationship though the figure rises to 34% for dating app users in Northern Ireland.

This survey also revealed that 25% of Brits admit to having at least one or more mobile phone dating apps installed.

It does appear though that mobile phone dating apps do work, with 35% of respondents saying they have met a partner from using an app and 35% of Scots said they found a meaningful relationship from using a dating app.

The report also reveals that the exponential growth of dating apps for mobile phones has seen them overtaking many dating websites that have been popular in recent years.

Unused mobile phone apps recommended for installation

Google’s Play Store will soon be suggesting which of a user’s unused apps should be uninstalled for creating more space on their phone.

Play Store will automatically suggest a list of the apps that are used less frequently so that a big app can be downloaded with sufficient free space.

Women enjoy more time on their phones than men

It’s not going to be the most startling survey you’ll read this week, but apparently women are more likely to use the internet on their phones than men are.

They will spend their time interacting with social media, games and retail sites.

The research was conducted by online audience measurement body UKOM who found that 49% of women’s internet time is spent on a smartphone.

This figure rises to 59% of women who are aged between 18 and 24.

However, just 39% of the time men spend online is with a mobile phone.

The use of a laptop or PC is the device of choice for going online for 48% of men.

UKOM says its data will help advertisers target more effectively the platforms of those they want to reach and it is also useful for mobile phone app developers too.

Google records your conversations

Did you know that Google was recording many of the conversations that users of its products have? They have been doing it for years, apparently, and users can listen to the recorded conversations.

The problem has been highlighted because the Google voice search function is recording conversations in a bid to boost its language recognition abilities.

It’s possible, however, to visit Google’s history page and inspect their list of recordings which will also highlight where users have been on the Internet.

The portal was launched last June and may contain recordings from a user who may have believed what they were saying was private.

A report on the Independent’s website gives details of how to find the recordings and delete them.

Mobile ad blocking use rockets

The numbers of people using mobile ad blocking software has rocketed over the last year, according to new figures.

App tracking firm, Priori Data says that numbers have soared by 90% compared to the same period last year.

From their data, around 420 million mobile users around the world are blocking ads. That’s every fifth person using a mobile phone.

However, the use of ad blockers is more popular in China, Pakistan and India than it is in Europe and North America but, the firm points out, ad blocking is growing in popularity in the West too.

New mobile phone app makes it easy to enrol in clinical trials

The brains behind a new mobile phone app have their fingers crossed that it will now become easier to recruit patients for clinical trials when testing new devices or treatments.

Since it takes around 17 years on average for a laboratory breakthrough to reach a patient, there is huge potential for the app.

The app has been developed by the University at Buffalo with the aim of boosting clinical trial recruitment.

Report Reveals Smartphone Platform Use

It may not come as much of a surprise to many mobile phone app developers but it looks like the opportunities offered by Windows Phone and BlackBerry OS are coming to an end.

According to the latest report from market researchers Gartner, smart phone sales around the world grew by 4% in the first three months of 2016 but the market share for Windows Phone has dropped since the first quarter last year from 2.5% to just 0.7% this year.

The figures are even worse for BlackBerry; its market share fell by half to 0.2% this year.

In recent months, WhatsApp and Facebook have stopped offering support to the platforms and recently PayPal has dropped them too (see report below).

Now industry experts say there is little point in mobile phone app developers either supporting or releasing apps for BlackBerry and Windows Phones.

However, neither firm is exiting the smartphone market with BlackBerry developing two Android-based phones that are affordable and Microsoft is developing Windows 10 for mobile devices.

Concept of the mobile phone app is changing

An article on Techradar suggests that the concept of what a mobile phone app is, is changing so quickly that we are now entering a post app era.
Not only will the number of apps begin to fall, but how people interact with them will also change.

The article says that users will start to use virtual assistants such as Siri more often rather than use apps for smartphone functionality.

However, the amount of money being generated by apps will continue to grow for the coming years as will the number of apps being installed. Essentially, users are looking for ‘quality’, over ‘quantity’.

Smartphone makers are also adding standard apps to their products which replaces the need for buying and then installing many previously popular apps.

Apparently, by 2020, around 40% of mobile phone interactions, according to market research firm Gartner, will be using virtual private assistants.

Mobile app ads to be blocked

Mobile telephone network Three UK has announced that it is planning to block ads across its service to help keep service user’s bills down and their users safe.

All of their customers will enjoy a trial day in June when they will not see any ads on any pages they visit or apps they use. Three UK says the advertising model is ‘broken’.

Customers will have to sign up for the trial and Three says it does not believe that its customers should be paying for data charges to receive advertisements – instead, this should be borne by the advertiser.

Critics say there are some privacy concerns over ad blocking since Three will have to intercept and then read content being sent to their customer’s phone to determine which parts of it are advertisements.

Google’s new app enables everyone to be a scientist

Google has launched a new mobile phone app which enables budding scientists to access their smartphone sensors to conduct simple experiments. The generated data can then be plotted on graphs and annotated with photos and notes and comparisons made with past measurements.

This means that users can use their phone’s gyroscope, ambient light sensor or accelerometer, for instance, to boost their scientific productivity.

Campaign group takes 30 hours to read T&C’s

The length and complexity of the terms and conditions for many mobile phone apps has been a subject for debate over several years and now one campaign group has read them out aloud.

The campaigners from Norway took more than 30 hours to read out the terms and conditions from a range of common mobile phone apps to highlight what is an impossible task for many consumers.

They also highlighted that many mobile apps ask for permission to do what they like on a consumer’s phone. Among those that were read out were for popular apps including Twitter, Netflix and Facebook.

Now campaigners want mobile phone app developers and publishers to trim T&Cs and say that to compare the effort, it would take someone 70 hours and 40 minutes just to read the Bible.

In other mobile phone app news…

PayPal has announced its support for mobile operating systems is being reduced with BlackBerry, Windows Phone and Amazon Fire OS being discontinued from the end of June. Instead, PayPal will only support iOS and Android.

A survey of satnav apps for smart phones has revealed which are the best. The research was conducted by motoring magazine Autoexpress which found that CoPilot Premium occupied the number one slot followed by TomTom GO mobile and then Waze. They were closely followed by Scout and Google.

Google has announced that it plans on giving Chromebook users access to its Play Store which could offer mobile phone app developers a big opportunity by making their apps available to laptop users with ‘relatively few teaks’, according to one mobile app expert.

New App Enables Other Apps to be Used Without Installation

Google’s Android Instant Apps enables users to open an app from their mobile phone without having to install it first.

The firm says it is helping to bridge the gap between mobile and web-based apps.

The move follows requests from developers who want users to access their apps more quickly and the new platform enables mobile users to open an app without having to install it.

Instead of spending a few minutes downloading and then installing an app, Android Instant App enables developers to partition their app into smaller parts for downloading in several seconds. The only drawback is that each module is restricted to being less than 4 MB in size.

The platform enables a potential user to trial an app and if they like what’s on the screen they can tap a button which will install the app’s full version.

Apple’s Wallet to support UK driving licences?

The end of plastic photo cards could nigh with UK driving licences set to become digital in the coming future.

The DVLA’s chief executive, Oliver Morely, tweeted an image of an iPhone displaying a driving licence in the Apple Wallet app.

There’s no timeline for the introduction of digital driving licences but the DVLA says it is experimenting with platforms to ensure the system is robust and secure.

Vodafone offers monthly billing for apps

Rather than paying for apps in Google’s Play Store every time one is downloaded, Vodafone customers can now use the firm’s Charge to Bill which will add their cost onto the customer’s monthly phone bill.

Users can download apps, films, music, games, e-books and TV shows to their Android device and pay for it when their phone bill lands.

Mobile app identifies strangers with 70% accuracy

A new Russian app called ‘FindFace’ is causing a stir since it will identify 70% of strangers accurately.

Developers behind the mobile app say it can be used by the police to fight crime and help people track someone down for a date.

The FindFace app can identify passers-by with 70% accuracy – so long as the user takes a photograph of them and that person has a social profile on the VK.com networking site.

iPhone app will share video clips

A new app for iPhones enables users to create and then share their collection of one minute video clips, or as they are known to users, Chains, with other users able to add their own video responses.

Called Chain, the numbers of people signing up has been impressive and those behind the app say it’s a new way to communicate and share with fans and friends. It’s also possible for charities to build up support for their cars by using the app, say the developers.

Banking app for blind people

A new mobile phone app which enables partially sighted and blind people to use a bank’s services has been launched by NatWest in conjunction with the Royal National Institute of Blind People.

The bank says it has made dozens of improvements to help people with a visual impairment to access their banking services.

Around two million people are registered as being blind in the UK and NatWest says that 10,000 of their customers will utilise the app.

New mobile app tracks Whales

A new phone app has been launched so the public can help track Whale movements off the Atlantic coast of Canada this year.

The Whale Alert app will display active whale management areas to help reduce fatalities when Whales are struck by ships and the app will highlight those areas to be avoided by vessels.

The app also supports whale sighting reports from those in the maritime community as well as the general public with the information being shared in real time.

Users Want More Mobile Apps

A survey of Internet users has revealed that they expect to use more personalised mobile phone apps over the coming three years.

More than one in three respondents said they are looking for secure and convenient apps that react and adapt to the user’s current location.

In addition, they also expect websites to become more personalised and they believe payment methods will become quicker.

Other apps to improve their lives would be real-time online customer service, ordering products ‘on the go’ and they expect faster delivery times in the years to come.

YouTube launches app to communicate

YouTube is trialling a new smartphone app feature which enables users to discuss and share videos from the platform without using other services to connect with family and friends.

It’s only currently available to a small test group but looks set to be rolled out for use on Android phones and iPhones.

The idea is to keep users on the YouTube platform for longer without them resorting to copying and pasting links into tweets and Facebook messages.

Also, by keeping people using YouTube for longer means they will be able to show more adverts to the site’s one billion regular users.

Phone app to repair potholes

A new mobile app to repair potholes has been trialled.

Entitled ‘Changify’ the idea is for users to photograph a pothole and send it to the private contractor responsible for fixing it and bypassing the local authority’s complaints procedure.

The app has been a success in Plymouth and those behind it say the technology will help better manage our cities.

The apps users can also report where litter is building up and roadworks where no work appears to be done.

Fire hit residents get app

The residents of Fort McMurray where a huge wildfire ravaged most of the city have access to a new smartphone app which enables them to look at the condition of their property.

Launched by the provincial government of Alberta, the app provides satellite overviews of those areas devastated by the wildfire which forced 80,000 people to flee their homes. More than 2,400 buildings were destroyed.

App to find missing children

Police in China have launched a mobile phone app to help encourage people to report where missing children are being held.

Users of the app will receive updates when a child disappears with their details and a description as the police work to encourage the help in fighting child traffickers, which is a growing problem in China.

In other mobile phone app news…

Google says its ‘Project Tango’ will encourage developers to create mobile phone apps that utilise indoor 3-D mapping. The firm says it sees applications ranging from virtual reality to advertising.

Microsoft has announced that users of some Windows 10 mobile phones will soon be able to use a fingerprint scanner.

WhatsApp has launched a desktop app that will link with a user’s mobile app as it looks to expand beyond web-based and mobile platforms. The new app will run on Windows and Mac OS and will, the firm says, offer a new way to stay in touch anywhere and anytime.

GoPro App, Banks go Biometric & Samsonite App Saves Luggage

Building society launches new app with biometrics

The Nationwide Building Society is the latest UK bank to announce an app for its customers but theirs will use customer behaviour as an extra security layer.
The app will monitor a customer’s ‘behavioural biometrics’ in how they use their tablet or smartphone and use that information to detect and whether it is their customer who is using the device.
Still in its early development, Nationwide says that the biometrics will be used in addition to voice recognition and fingerprint scanning.

Lost luggage can now be tracked by mobile apps

Luggage maker Samsonite has announced plans to install tracking beacons that can be found by customers using a mobile app.
Available to British as well as European travellers, the technology will be launched later this year and will reveal where a suitcase’s location to within 75metres.
There could be a big demand for the app since more than 24 million baggage items went missing around the world in 2014.
Called ‘Track&Go’, the system will utilise tracking beacons which Samsonite will build into its suit cases – the technology will be competitively priced, says the firm.
One interesting aspect is that when the suitcase owner realises their case is missing, they can report it lost via the app but if another registered user picks up a Bluetooth signal when the lost suitcase passes close by them, it is hoped that they can help recover the suitcase and it’s this community aspect that Samsonite says will be a big attraction for users.

Have a GoPro? There might be an app for that soon

In a bid to stimulate developer interest, GoPro has unveiled a specialist program to help inspire new mobile phone apps for its cameras.
The program is offering developers a toolkit to develop mobile apps to carry out a variety of tasks including previewing live footage, connecting and controlling GoPro cameras and handling media. The move is part of the camera maker’s drive for their cameras to be used for other purposes and not just in action sports.

Mobile phone app may replace contraceptive pill

A new mobile phone app that can pinpoint a woman’s most fertile times could replace the contraceptive pill, says a study.
During testing, more than 4,000 women tried to test the Swedish app’s accuracy and researchers found the app was as accurate for use as a contraceptive as the pill was.
Called ‘Natural Cycles’, the app costs £60 a year and users have to enter their temperature every morning for the app to be accurate. The result is a calendar that displays a fertile day when contraception will be needed and ‘green days’ when the likelihood of falling pregnant is low.

In other mobile app news

Facebook has announced that it is planning to add a news section to its smartphone app with users being offered multiple news sections. There’s no launch date as yet but the aim is to encourage Facebook users to use their app rather than switching to Google news or Twitter.
Google has unveiled a new API for its Consumer Surveys to help developers create or integrate surveys into their own mobile apps. The idea is to help businesses and people utilise data more efficiently.
According to reports, the App Store may be changing since Apple has, apparently, formed a secret team to develop opportunities. Among the proposals, is a way for developers to pay for their apps to appear on top of search results, similar to Google’s model.