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‘Faster, Fresher’ Phone Apps With Flutter

Google has released a beta of the tool designed to make programmers’ lives easier when writing apps for iPhones, Android and the tech giant’s new Fuchsia OS.

The firm says its tool will help programmers to easily bridge the divide for iPhones and Android smartphones.

Flutter will now give apps a native look for either of the two platforms, the firm announced this week.

The beta will receive new updates every few weeks so those who contribute to the open source project can complete the final version which has no scheduled release date yet.

Google points out that Flutter could lead to a raft of fresh looking apps as most apps currently use native components including text boxes and buttons styled by the developer to match the core software offering from Google or Apple.

However, the interface widgets on Flutter will enable styling to go in different directions.

Apps continue to dominate ecommerce

A report has revealed that apps for North American retailers have dominated ecommerce transactions in the final quarter of 2017.

The findings from Criteo reveal that 44% of all ecommerce transaction were by retailers’ apps. The mobile web accounted for 23% and desktop users accounted for 33%.

Apps could now, say the firm’s researchers, lead the way for a boom in mobile sales as these have a better conversion rate than the mobile web and desktop.

Malware with potential for blackmail

Malware researchers say that RedDrop has the potential to blackmail smartphone users and also run up big bills on Android phones. The malware can also listen to user’s conversations.

The researchers at Wandera say that once the malware is installed it can collect huge amounts of personal data including files, contacts, photos and live recordings.

The malware also submits expensive text messages to premium services without the victim knowing.

The firm says that there are more than 53 innocent looking apps that are acting as a front-end for the malware and it is one of the most sophisticated yet aimed Android they have ever seen.

Malware thrives as hackers focus on mobile

The use of malicious apps by cyber-criminals has rocketed with growing use of banking apps and other mobile phone apps.

This is despite Google and Apple introducing security patches that have reduced firmware flaws.

Trend Micro say that after hackers successfully targeted enterprise IT systems and also personal desktop last year, they have now modified their malware for infecting modern smartphones.

In their report the firm states that the number of ransomware attacks on mobile phones rocketed from 120,000 in 2016 to nearly 469,000 last year.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

Smartphone users at the Fat Boar pub in Wrexham could earn 25% off their bills by leaving their phone at the door and not using apps while dining so they engage in conversation. More than 92,000 viewers have watched a video that explains the challenge.

The Land Rover Explore is a new Android smartphone that will survive underwater, including salt water, endure vibration and deal with extreme temperatures. It has been developed by the carmaker and Bullitt.

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.