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Android Phones ‘Betray’ Users

Google has come under fire after revelations that Android smartphones still collect the user’s location data and sends it back to the firm – even when the phone’s location services used for apps has been switched off.

The system works by gathering information from nearby mobile phone masts and sharing the information with Google. The data can be used to calculate the user’s position.

The practice cannot be disabled.

A privacy advocate told a news website that the findings are a ‘betrayal’ of Android phone users.

The issue is with Google Play Services running in the background since this is required to access search functions and has been installed on most Android smartphones.

In response, Google says it does not retain the information though it has been collecting data for 11 months and its Android system will be updated shortly to stop the practice.

App helps turn phone into a ‘sonar’ detector

Biometric voice authentication has taken a step forward with a mouth app that turns a user’s smartphone into a ‘sonar’ detector.

The security app will check that the lip movement being monitored really is the phone’s owner speaking.

The app then enables the user’s voice to be recognised as a password for using other apps.

However, critics say it might be vulnerable to ‘replay’ attacks should an identity thief use a recording of the user’s voice.

In a bid to overcome this issue, the app will detect whether someone is using the phone ‘live’ or is misusing a recording.

The VoiceGesture app could, say its creators, help make smartphones more secure and Google is already said to be reviewing the technology which has been created by researchers at State University of Florida.

They say the app can also be extended to include various voice assists including Google Home and Amazon Echo.

Mobile gaming apps take-off in Asia-Pacific

There’s been a huge growth in mobile gaming users in the Asia Pacific region, according to research.

The findings from AppsFlyer and eMarketer point to mobile gaming becoming increasingly important for marketers in the region with the apps delivering strong revenues and audiences.

The researchers at AppsFlyer found that in 40 countries, there are 1,300 apps to choose from and 95 million apps have been installed to generate $150 million of revenue.

Meanwhile, a report from eMarketer is forecasting that around 55% of Chinese Internet users will be playing digital games by the end of this year which equates to 420 million people.

Also, they say that 54% of mobile phone users will be using a gaming app at least once a month.

EU privacy regulators to discuss Uber

The EU’s privacy regulators are to meet to discuss the massive Uber app hack.

The move follows last year’s data breach which saw the personal data from 57 million accounts being exposed.

Now, the regulators are to discuss creating a task force from various EU countries for undertaking the investigation.

The stolen data included the names, mobile phone numbers and email addresses of Uber users around the world and the firm says it paid hackers $100,000 to keep the data breach secret.

News of the data breach of its app only came after senior management were replaced.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

Microsoft has revealed that it has pulled its Skype app from China’s Android and Apple app stores. Apple has also removed several Internet phone call apps after being informed that they did not comply with local laws.

Cyclists in the UK could benefit from a new app that will warn them of potholes in the road ahead. Using smart lights and Bluetooth technology, the lights will detect imperfections and alert the cyclist with data collected via Bluetooth of cyclists avoiding spots on the road to help create a virtual map of Manchester’s roads where the trial is underway.

Newcastle University has created an app that will help protect ancient rock art in Northumberland. Researchers say that the ‘cup and ring’ marks are under threat from climate change and agriculture. The app will help pinpoint the sites so users can add information about its surroundings and conditions.

App Developers Look at Web and Hybrid Apps

A new survey has revealed that software developers have little interest in creating apps for smart TVs or wearables but are increasingly keen on hybrid apps and those for use on the web.

The survey by Ionic, a maker of an app development framework, questioned more than 13,000 developers to find that app developers are finding it harder to get attention for their native apps in app stores.

Essentially, it appears that the market for apps has now turned full circle with apps for the web making a comeback.

The findings, published in The Register, reveal that for developers who are not working for Google, Facebook or Snapchat are finding it increasingly difficult to develop apps.

Controversial gun app hits the headlines

A new app that utilises augmented reality to enable users to shoot someone has been condemned.

Developers in India behind the app say it’s a ‘bit of fun’ but critics say the level of violence could lead to a real incident.

Essentially, the app uses the phone’s camera and captures the real world but then overlays the special effects onto the user’s screen.

Its users can opt to use a pistol, sniper rifle or an assault rifle and even a rocket launcher to attack who they point the camera at.

There is on-screen blood and the option of sound effects to boost the overall effect.

New system could change the way people digest local news

A Google-funded trial has seen beacons being installed in Manchester to beam local news to users’ phones.

The experiment has seen 10 beacons being installed with news providers, public bodies and businesses able to beam targeted news as well as information directly to a mobile phone within 100 metres.

Developers say this ability to pinpoint an audience could transform the way local news is distributed.

The service is free of charge and will work on most mobile devices with Bluetooth and does not require the downloading of a specific app.

It’s part of Google’s Digital News Initiative and content partners include Manchester Evening News, the city council as well as Greater Manchester Police.

In other mobile phone app news …

A walker who fell 60 ft in the Lake District has praised a mobile phone app for saving his life. The man suffered a head injury and rescuers found him via Apple’s ‘Find My Friends’ app.

Waze, an alternative to Google maps, is now available for use on Android Auto.

With growing numbers of youngsters now having a smartphone, parents are being warned to monitor the apps they install. The findings from a Citizens’ Advice survey reveal that parents are being left with hefty bills being run-up by their children – one parent complained of a £300 bill after their 12-year-old son signed up to a games app.

Users of the Uber app are being warned that divorce lawyers are increasingly using the data from the app to catch out cheats. That’s because the mobile phone app logs all journeys as well as pickups, locations and drop-offs so people can be tracked easily. Also, the data cannot be hidden or deleted and is providing a treasure trove of information for divorce lawyers.

It looks like Amazon is about to add its Alexa function into its Android shopping app. The Alexa addition will work in the same way as it does on the Echo platform and can check for things like traffic, weather and news.

The number of complaints from people using banking apps rose again last year, according to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). Complaints rose from 305 in the year before to 360 over Internet and phone banking problems. Complaints include issues of security and the bank’s failure to carry out a customer’s instructions.

Free Dating Apps Hit Online Romance Sites

The growing popularity of free dating apps means that the Internet’s major players such as match.com are seeing their profits drop by 80%.

Users are now switching to mobile-based Tinder and free apps when looking for love.

One media analyst says that the mobile phone app medium has now ‘come of age’ with 70% of the UK’s internet users using their smartphone to do so.

Among the reason for the switch is that growing numbers of people are refusing to pay for a romance service and opt to use free dating apps instead which is also helping push up mobile usage.

Uber app gets a makeover

The popular taxi app Uber has undergone a makeover which includes the use of third-party app interaction.

The app itself has been streamlined to focus more on ease-of-use and their passengers needs in the first revamp since 2012.

Among the changes is to select a favourite person as a destination and the Uber app will accept that.

However, several new tools have been added to ensure passengers will not miss a journey again and travel apps can now link up with the offering.

Facebook signs up 25% of world population

The march of Facebook continues with news that it has now signed up around a quarter of the world’s population and one in six of us are using it every day.

The number of active monthly users on the site has risen by 16% since last year with a reach of 1.8 billion people.

This means that one in four people are accessing Facebook around the world at least once every month and nearly 1.2 billion people use the social network every single day – that is around one in six of the world’s population.

In addition, more than 1 billion people are using the Facebook mobile phone app and around 1.6 billion people are checking their Facebook account every month on a mobile device.

The rising popularity has seen the company generate more than £5.7 billion in revenue in the third quarter of this year; that’s a rise of 56% on last year’s quarter.

Mobile devices dominate internet use

The use of mobile devices shows no sign of abating with one research firm projecting that in 2017, 75% internet use will be on mobile devices and this will grow to 79% in 2018.

The findings from Zenith, a mobile ad firm, show that smart phone penetration is rising around the world and it is now the main route for accessing the internet.

As result, businesses as well as brands will need to improve their mobile offering for their users, says the firm.

Along with the growing number of smartphones now in circulation, faster internet access and the popularity of widescreen devices is helping to fuel the dominance of mobile.

Taxi drivers fight back over multi-booking

Taxi drivers in Hull say they are fed up with people double-booking taxis and are now fighting back which could see users of their apps being blacklisted.

Taxi drivers say they are being left out of pocket when clubbers struggle to get a cab and decide to exploit the area’s taxi apps to book several taxis at once.

Indeed, growing numbers of private hire firms in the region have been investing in smart phone apps to enable people to book a cab more easily.

But passengers who are fed-up waiting for cab, particularly at weekends, are booking more than one taxi to boost their chances of a lift but now taxi drivers say they will refuse fares if they believe the passengers have been multi-booking.

In other Miratrix news …

Google Tango, the firm’s augmented reality technology, has been unveiled on its first smartphone. Although it’s only available on a Lenovo device, industry watchers believe other phone makers will offer the technology with lots of AR optimised apps being unveiled in the near future.

The next generation of text messaging has been unveiled for Sprint subscribers using Android devices with a new Google Messenger app offering rich communication service (RCS). The new service adds more functionality which includes seeing when another person is typing a response to a text message.

Mobile Phone Apps for Banking Use Soar

More bank customers are switching to accessing their account information with mobile phone apps rather than using desktop computers.

According to the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), customers were logging onto banking websites from their desktop computers, on average, 4.3 million times every day last year, that’s down from 4.4 million in the year before.

Meanwhile, the use of apps on tablets and mobile phones rocketed to 11 million logins every day last year – up from 7 million logins the year before.

The BBA’s chief executive, Anthony Browne, said that customers are loving the new technology that enables them to do banking around the clock.

The report from the Association also reveals that customers who make payments are still preferring to use their computer rather than a mobile app.

Last year, customers made 417 million payments on the Internet compared with 347 million payments made via a mobile phone app – though the number made by phone rocketed by 54% last year.

There’s also a slew of new app-based banks which make it easier for customers to carry out a range of transactions while they are only move and they include Tandem, Starling and Atom.

Mobile phone app stops Uber

While Uber continues its march to dominate the world’s use of taxis, it has spectacularly failed to launch in one British city after local cabbies launched their own mobile phone app.

Taxi drivers in Oxford responded when Uber announced it would launch a service in the university town.

The firm applied to set-up its service there and said more than 50,000 people had tried to access its service from Oxford even though there was no service available.

However, private hire firms and licensed taxi drivers rallied and in a bid to block the firm, they developed their own mobile phone app which enables users to request a car.

Uber’s bid to set up a service in the city has now been rejected after it failed to submit details in time.

Firms clamour to join Pokemon Go

The world has apparently gone mad for the phone app Pokemon Go and now it’s been revealed that restaurants and pubs in the UK are paying £100 every day to become Pokemon Go destinations.

The idea is they will lure gamers into their premises as they hunt for the game’s characters.

Indeed, Maxwell’s burger restaurant in London says it has boosted its revenues by 26%.

The trend has been dubbed ‘Pokemonomics’ as businesses pay for virtual creatures to be found.

A social club in Reading says its revenues grow by 10% after it paid to become a destination.

Launched on 13 July in the UK, it has been downloaded more than 5 million times and now has more than 21 million users around the world.

However, one leading psychologist says playing the game is bad for people’s health and warned parents to restrict the time their children play Pokemon Go on their mobile phones.

John Oates, a lecturer with the Open University, says the craze will prevent young people from developing their social skills and that no one should play for more than two hours a day – and then only six days a week.

China is new big player in mobile gaming market

Research has revealed that China has now gone past the United States as the leading generator of iOS game revenue.

App Annie says the surge is probably the result of a huge growth in multiplayer collaborative games and these have contributed around 75% of the App Store’s revenue.

Most of the top revenue earning mobile phone games in China are generally developed locally and include Hero Moba.

Now experts say that the huge earning potential in China will boost Western mobile phone app developers to enter the Chinese market.

Free app allows people to donate food

A new app has been unveiled for people living in Cardiff that allows them to give away food rather than waste it.

The app connects neighbours, cafes and independent shops to encourage them to share their surplus food instead of binning it.

Called Olio, it is the first ever food sharing app in the UK and aims to combat food waste in Cardiff.

Described as being the Freecycle for food, smart phone users can share food that is close to its use by date from markets, cafes and shops and also pick up vegetables from allotments as well as cakes from bakers.

Users simply take a photograph of their food, place it on the app and they can also put a price on it but they must tell people when to pick it up. The system then sends an alert out to all nearby users and also reminds them in future when more food is put up for offer.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news…

The US Congress has released a long delayed report asking what can be done to plug the gap between privacy protection and the use of health gadgets including mobile phone apps. While the report says the law is failing to keep up with the pace of progress, it offered no solutions as to how to protect privacy.

Popular pub chain Wetherspoon’s has launched its ‘Order and Pay’ mobile phone app which enables users to browse its menu and select food and drink items without leaving their table.