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New App Will Protect Against ‘Spies’

A new app unveiled by whistleblower Edward Snowden will turn a phone into a spy system to help protect human rights activists and journalists.

The app uses a spare mobile phone to create a makeshift intruder detection and security system.

The app is entitled ‘Haven’ and uses sensors including the microphone and camera as well as the accelerometer, gyroscope and ambient light to create a motion detector to monitor its surroundings.

The app has been created with help from the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

The former National Security Agency contractor now lives in Russia as an exile and says Haven has been created using open source so the code can be edited by users to suit their needs.

Once Haven detects a disruption or movement, a notification will be sent to the user using an encrypted messaging service.

WhatsApp will stop working on these phones

The popular messenger service WhatsApp will stop working on a variety of phones from New Year’s Day with older operating systems being dropped.

WhatsApp these older system will no longer be supported and instead they are looking to develop further on the Android and iOS platforms.

The devices that will stop working are using BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry OS and also Windows 8 – and older version.

There are now more than 1 billion WhatsApp regular users.

Bank customers can now pay cheques in with mobile phones

Customers with Barclays Bank can now pay a cheque into their account by using their mobile phone camera.

The customers will need to use the bank’s mobile phone app and snap a photo to pay money in.

Once the customer has logged into their mobile app there’s a new option in the menu to ‘pay in cheques’. They are then given on-screen instructions about how to pay a cheque into their account.

While the bank says it still testing the technology, around 175,000 customers have already managed to pay in a cheque successfully.

Other banks looking to introduce the same function include HSBC, Halifax Bank of Scotland, Lloyds and Santander.

Warning over new Trojan

Security researchers say a new Android malware has been detected that can pose as more than 2,200 banks to steal user’s passwords and then plunder the account holder’s account.

The Catelites Bot has been linked to Russian criminal gangs who have infected more than 1 million mobile phones to steal $900,000, according to research from SfyLabs and Avast.

The Trojan works by using fake mobile banking app interfaces which pulls bank names and logos from Google Play Store.

The bot is being spread via third-party app stores, the researchers have revealed.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

A court in Spain has ruled that parents have the right to read their children’s messages on WhatsApp. One mother had complained that her ex-husband had breached the country’s privacy laws after checking his nine-year-old daughter’s phone for messages.

A news story broadcast in the US reveals that Japanese app developers are reliant on Google Play Store to generate most of their revenues. Of the top 12 public firms that generate at least 25% of their income from Google, seven are in Japan.

Researchers from the University of Dundee have revealed a warning system for flooding utilising data extracted from mobile phone apps that use crowdsourced information and also data from Twitter.

A team at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University have developed a system that will correctly guess the PIN for a mobile phone based on information that is provided by its sensors. They have developed an algorithm that analyses the data and the way the phone is held to deduct which numbers are being used for the user’s PIN.

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.

Free Service to Test Mobile App Security

A new online service for developers to use when testing their mobile phone app’s security and privacy has been unveiled.

The service from High-Tech Bridge, a web security firm, will perform dynamic (DAST) and static (SAST) testing as well as behavioural analysis of hybrid and native Android and iOS apps.

The system will analyse abilities and weaknesses and provide a user friendly report on remediation guidance.

The firm’s founder, Ilia Kolochenko, said: “Mobile apps are an inseparable part of private life and everyday business and, in light of data breaches, many research reports urge the improvement of mobile app privacy and security.

“Unfortunately, most developers don’t have the time, resources or budget to test properly their mobile app before going to production.”

He added that High-Tech Bridge will fill this gap with their unique and free online service.

WhatsApp will work with landline numbers

WhatsApp has unveiled plans for its new app to work with landline numbers and have a business focused messenger service to enable easier communication.

The new service will be separate from the firm’s regular app.

The firm says that small business owners that sign up to the new app will be able to use the business version and also the regular version on the same mobile phone.

WhatsApp says this will make it easier for business owners a separate their professional and personal lives, save stress and help with organisation.

They will also be open to link their firm’s landline number to their WhatsApp Business app without having to hand out their personal number to potential clients.

When calls or messages from customers reach the landline number, the business account user will access them from their mobile phone.

Guardian unveils new mobile VR app

The Guardian newspaper has unveiled its new mobile app for virtual reality (VR) story content and has given away nearly 100,000 headsets for users to enjoy.

The newspaper now has a five strong team developing the content for the emerging technology and they’ve publish nine projects so far including the experience of solitary confinement and the experiences of an autistic teenage girl.

The headsets are made of cardboard and have been released in partnership with Google and based on their simple design and for use with Android smartphones.

Other media outlets that have been investing in virtual reality and 360° video content include the New York Times and the BBC.

The popularity of the are headsets in the UK have been underlined with research from YouGov that says headsets are more popular than wearable technology and tablets with 6% of the UK’s population now owning one.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

Facebook has revealed that its Oculus Go AR device will be launched early next year. The firm has high hopes for the platform with app developers being encouraged to exploit the opportunity which does not need to be linked to a computer to be enjoyed.

The man who designed the iconic iPhone, Sir Jonathan Ive, says people are misusing it by constantly checking their handset. Sir Jonathan told a TechFest that people should not overuse their phones or apps.

Google has revealed that its Duo app will now equal what Apple’s FaceTime app has been doing since 2010. The new level of integration means Android users will quickly and easily place a video call with a contact.

It’s been a long time coming, but it appears that Microsoft’s Window 10 ambitions have now died. Microsoft says it will abandon its smart phone operating system and Bill Gates and the chief of the mobile operating platform have already switched to Android devices.

Google Unveils Android O for Testing

For any app developer interested in Android O then they can use the public beta launch to test it.

To try out the upcoming OS, users will need a compatible Pixel or Nexus device.

The new platform is promising fluid experiences and a raft of new features including a multi-window mode for picture-in-picture use, autofill and smart text selection.

The new platform will see devices boot twice as quickly and help apps to run more quickly and smoothly.

Sega releases classic games for smartphones

Sega has revealed that it will publish its classic games for use on mobile phones with each game available as a separate app.

The Forever Collection will be available for free.

The apps will be available for Android and iOS from June 22 with Sonic the Hedgehog among the first games available.

Sega then plans to release a new title every two weeks to boost the library.

While the games are free, most will have ads and they will also be playable off-line.

Should users want to avoid the ads then they can buy each game to do so.

‘Find my phone’ tech subject to lawsuit

A firm that says it has developed ‘find my phone’ tech has filed a lawsuit claiming several smartphone makers have stolen its ideas and patents.

The military comms developer says Apple, HTC and Huawei are among those who have used their tech.

AGIS Software Development has developed a desktop and mobile app called LifeRing which enables the tracking of individuals through their tablets or mobile phones – the aim is to help firefighters and first responders find people.

The firm says that four patents in particular have been pilfered.

The developer also points out that while Apple is accused of directly infringing the patents with its iOS software, Google is not accused of doing the same though some phone makers using its Android platform are.

YouTube app will resize footage

YouTube has announced that its new mobile phone up will be able to resize video footage automatically.

Essentially, users who take video upright, which appears to be most people, will find that the fixed vertical size will soon be adapted to widescreen automatically for better viewing on the YouTube platform.

In addition, YouTube has unveiled VR180 – a new VR video format.

The new format is being licensed to camera manufacturers with new devices being available later this year.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

Men wanting to test the quality of their semen can do so with the Seem system which has just won the Grand Prix at Cannes. Users need to use a lens and then video their sperm for analysis for mobility and count.

An institute in Australia is trialling a new mobile phone app that will help teenagers deal with insomnia and boost their sleeping habits. The ‘Sleep Ninja’ app is a chat bot offering tips.

A new app called HealthUnlocked will enable those with chronic health conditions or a disease to connect with people with the same health issues. The idea is to create a social network for health around the world so users can access support and advice easily.

Fears for millions of WhatsApp users that their app will stop working this month will be relieved to hear that this will no longer be the case. WhatsApp announced it was stopping support for older phones but this has now been withdrawn and they will continue supporting older mobile platforms.

A Brunel University student has unveiled a new food allergy testing app and device which should reach the market at a fraction of the price of rival products. The creation of Imogen Adams is called ‘Ally’ with the pocket-sized device offering a quick and easy test for various food allergens.

Mobile App Spending Rockets

Mobile phone users around the world were busy on their devices over the Christmas weekend and racked up more than $500 (£404) million in sales.

Users were loading up video games as well as streaming services, says research firm Sensor Tower.

Compared to the Christmas weekend in 2015, sales grew by 52% with mobile games leading the way to account for 87% of all worldwide app revenue for the weekend.

The biggest earning apps were all games including Pokémon GO, with the most popular non-game apps around the world being led by messaging and calling app LINE and then Netflix and Tinder.

WhatsApp users wondering what’s up

Millions of WhatsApp users will have discovered in the past week that the app is no longer working for them since the firm decided to drop support for a range of mobile platforms.

Most of these are running on old Nokia, Android and iPhone devices; users are advised to upgrade their mobile phone as soon as possible.

Currently the world’s most popular app for chat, there are around one billion active users, the move will see millions of users unable to make VOIP calls are hold video chats.

Dating apps linked to crimes

Police in England and Wales have revealed that dating apps have been linked to 500 crimes with one in three being registered as sex offences.

Researchers say 500 people have been the victims of crimes ranging from child abuse to murder because they used popular dating apps including Grindr and Tinder.

Now one online safety organisation is calling for users to be wary when using dating apps and other social media platforms.

A spokesman added that the organisation was particularly worried about the number of young people who are falling victims to sexual offences.

Phone app will reveal how fat the user is

At the popular CES exhibition there have been a range of new phones and apps unveiled but there’s one standout applications that will reveal how fat the phone user is – among other uses.

It does so by using a stand-alone sensor for the near-infrared spectrometer in the phone and analysing the data quickly.

The range of preloaded apps have various interfaces for scanning a variety of objects, including fruit, people and whether the user’s medicine is counterfeit or not.

The scanning process takes a few seconds with the data sent to a database cloud for processing and the results are then delivered.

The Changhong H2 phone will be unveiled in China in a few months and then later in Europe and the US.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

A suite of 13 Intellicare mini-apps have been unveiled which will help users seek mental health advice on their smartphone by helping to reduce depression and anxiety significantly. The user will need to use the apps up to four every day and these will offer exercises for reducing stress, worry and self-criticism.

Industry experts have announced that iOS 10 is now installed on 70% of Apple phones.

Phone Apps Face Cull on Apple’s App Store

From September 7, Apple will begin reviewing apps on the App Store and removing those that do not meet its exacting standards.

The firm says that apps that are up-to-date and of good quality will be safe but those apps that crash when launched will be immediately removed from the store.

Other apps that do not meet their guidelines will see developers getting 30 days to make changes to improve them.

Apple also says it’s also going to crackdown on the naming of apps including those that use words purely to push the app up search lists. Long app names are also going to be curtailed – a new limit of 50 characters is going to be introduced.

Many of those being removed initially will be apps that have not been updated for a long period of time and which no longer function as they were intended to do.

With more than 2 million apps in the firm’s App Store a clear-out may well be overdue though Apple watchers are waiting to see how many are actually removed.

Australian banks criticise Apple Pay

Four banks in Australia are accusing Apple of operating a cartel over its mobile payment platform, Apple Pay.

The banks want access to the firm’s contactless technology so they can develop third-party applications for its customers without them having to use Apple Pay.

With more than 3,000 financial institutions now using Apple Pay, it’s unlikely the banks will succeed with their aim but they’ve put a complaint into the country’s Competition and Consumer Commission and is urging the watchdog to act.

Students are addicted to their smart phones

Researchers have revealed that students are addicted to their smart phones with some owning more than one and apps play a big part in their lifestyles.

The findings from Mobile World Live reveal that 83% of respondents check their phone within five minutes of waking up every morning.

The most popular apps for students are WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram which account for 65% of the market and all are owned by Facebook.

Students also make great use of mobile banking apps and despite the dominance of Amazon, many prefer real-world bookstores to buy books for their studies.

However, it appears that using smartphones for making voice calls is now falling in popularity with many students opting to use messaging services instead.

Meanwhile, in a UK survey of children’s use of smart phones, it appears that games are the most popular uses for them, for 63% of mobile phone owners, while apps come a close second for 58% of children.

The study by Halifax revealed that 73% of youngsters aged between eight and 15 now own a mobile phone and nearly all of them own a tablet too.

It also appears that other digital devices are falling out of favour with one in three owning an iPod and just 22% owning an MP3 player.

In other mobile phone app news…

Coming soon – booking Uber by phone rather than by app. Uber and Lyft in the US have realised that there’s a massive market of elderly customers who would use their services but who don’t own smartphones, hence the introduction of phoning an operator to book a car.

A survey has revealed that half of the UK’s mobile phone users do not know their data allowances. The findings from giffgaff reveal that 52% are unaware of the limits with many regularly going over their allowance with users mainly accessing the web, social media and messaging functions.

Nearby Will Alert Users to Local Offers

Mobile phone app users with Android phones will soon be using a new feature for the system called Nearby which alerts the user to apps that may be of interest based on their current location.

There aren’t many apps supporting the function currently but they do include an in-flight entertainment app for an airline and a photo printing app when close to a High Street chemist store.

However, Google believes there is huge potential for the service as it could offer users discounts at their favourite stores by responding to a Nearby alert to download an app and claim a discount for using it.

The idea is that the user not only saves money but then uses a shop they would probably walk past.

Another proposal is that a growing number of local taxi companies are providing apps for their users and for someone new to a particular town or city then Nearby could flag up an app for a taxi firm close by.

There’s also the opportunity for using it when going abroad to find apps for museums as well as downloading apps to help translate while visiting the country.

Nearby is currently limited but the potential for the system is huge and offers mobile phone developers incredible opportunities to meet demand from local firms and organisations.

Ransomoware is on the rise

According to a report, ransomware is on the rise and 21 popular mobile phone apps could be a gateway for the activity.

The report from McAfee says it found 5,000 different versions of just 21 mobile apps that are being used to target victims; the hackers use two or more apps in a bid to launch a sophisticated attack.

The most popular apps that hackers are using are those for health monitoring, video streaming and travel planning. One reason for the rise in attacks is that app users are not regularly updating their device software.

Mobile phone use to access the Internet will rocket

Researchers have revealed that the amount of time mobile phone users spend accessing the Internet is set to skyrocket in 2016.

The news from Zenith Media reveals that mobile phones have overtaken desktop computers as the preferred device when accessing the Internet. The trend is set to jump by 28% this year.

A spokesman for the firm said: “Desktop use for Internet will fall by 16% this year and 70% of all Internet use is now carried out on a mobile phone.”

On average, mobile phone users will spend 86 minutes a day accessing the Internet from their phones, compared to 36 minutes using a desktop computer.

Safari apps could be curtailed

The South African government has announced plans to curb the use of apps which help safari park visitors to find wild animals since there’s been a huge increase in animals being killed by cars.

The mobile phone apps help give to give visitors tips in real time about where to find animals – but this is leading them to speed to the areas and they are killing wildlife on the way. There’s also been a rise in road rage as well as traffic jams.

A spokesman for the National Park Service said: “Mobile phone apps are inducing visitors to break the rules so we are exploring legal ways to curtail their use.”

Best new mobile phone apps featured

The Gizmodo website has published an interesting feature on the latest mobile phone apps available including, for Android, a facility to add security to apps by using biometrics.

The Applock Face/Voice Recognition system recognises a specific passphrase and the user’s face to help keep mobile phone apps secure.

The Notify app is a floating bubble which enables a user to respond to a notification more quickly and easily without having to switch on another app such as WhatsApp or Gmail.

The new Android Pay also gets a thumbs up and enables users to pay for items using a contactless card reader.

Among the apps being highlighted for iOS is Sorted which utilises sticky-notes to place into a calendar and add reminders.

Gizmodo also flags up Battery Share which will switch friends and contacts when the user’s phone is about to run out of battery power – it also enables users to see how much battery their friends have left too.

There’s also Opera VPN which is a free mobile phone app aimed at unlocking the Internet and getting around digital geographic blocks. The app also blocks ads and prevents trackers.

New apps for Windows Mobile include Facebook messenger, You-Doo which is a to-do list app and Tiles to enable users to access their calendar on their home screen.

In other mobile phone app news…

Message app developer Wand Labs has been snapped up by Microsoft with the firm’s work on chat bots and intelligent agents boosting their appeal.

Apple is promising users of the new iOS 10 that iPhone users will be able to delete apps that they do not want to use. Of the 23 apps preloaded as standard, this is the first time users can delete the ones they don’t like including Stocks, Tips and Compass. However, iPhone users will not be able to delete among others, Safari and iMessage.

Users of the Instagram app on Windows 10 Mobile are apparently unable to install it because the system does not meet the app’s hardware requirements.

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.