New Bank App Will Push Deals to Customers

A new app from the bank First Direct will enable it to push personalised broadband and energy deals to its customers in a move that could see the end of price comparison websites.

The firm says the smartphone app will trawl thousands of deals from third-party providers and will recommend specific products to its customers.

First Direct says the app will allow consumers to hand over their saving and spending data from their financial accounts in return for notifications on money-saving deals.

Consumer groups say the move could lead to a revolution in the way consumers shop for deals and warned that banks that flog poor deals would damage their reputation.

Apple devices to be future ‘AI’ platform

Apple’s chief executive, Jeff Williams, says the new iPhone X offers developers a great platform for apps and those wanting to develop artificial reality functions.

The new phone will use facial recognition and users can pay for goods by simply glancing at their phone.

Mr Williams told a conference: “The neural engines we have in the phone and our watch are a huge piece of our future and we believe these frameworks will enable developers to create apps that will do more.

“I think we are the point with our devices and computing, and with AI’s potential, to really change the world.”

Zombie apps turn up on Google’s Play Store. Again.

According to a report, there’s been a big leap in the number of zombie apps that are generating fraudulent app clicks turning up on Google Play Store.

According to eZanga, they have found 43 fraudulent ‘live wallpaper’ apps which come from three developers but have had more than 1 million downloads.

They work in a similar way to apps identified in July so the phone does not have to be touched before the app will generate a click for a fraudulent advert.

Critics say the issue is a growing problem with Play Store which, unlike Apple’s App Store, does not have the same review processes in place and removes fraudulent apps retrospectively.

Mobile devices are increasingly the choice for online activities

Research reveals that people today are increasingly preferring to use their mobile device for online activities rather than a computer.

The findings from Kaspersky Lab found that people are using their mobile devices more often, particularly for accessing email.

Users are also increasingly shopping online while the use of computers for both of these activities is in decline.

A spokesman for the firm said: “Irrespective of age and occupation, the focus of our digital lives is shifting increasingly onto our mobile devices; people are trusting them with their secrets, confidential information, money, files and other things.”

He added that cyber criminals are changing tactics to attack mobile platforms and says tablets and smartphones need to be effectively protected as a result.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

Vodafone has unveiled passes to help users access apps when burning through their monthly data allowance. There are four passes available and are grouped by the type of app, for instance, the video pass is £9 a month and will cover Amazon Video, Netflix and YouTube, among others.

After two massive earthquakes hit Mexico, the number of users of early warning app start-up SkyAlert has doubled to nearly six million, making it one of Mexico’s most downloaded apps.

Researchers in Norway have reveal some alarming security flaws in smart watches aimed at children. They say hackers can seize control of these watches to eavesdrop and track the young users. The issue comes with those watches that use a mobile phone function for parents to communicate with their child and stay up-to-date with their location via an app.

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.

Users Warned to be Aware of Mobile Phone Budgeting Apps

A leading British bank is warning users not to give their online banking details to any of the increasingly popular mobile phone budgeting apps.

The warning comes from NatWest which investigated a customer complaint about the information being requested.

A spokesman said: “We do not authorise the using of these phone apps.”

The apps usually link to a user’s bank account online to check spending habits and calculate how much the user can save every month. However, they need access to the account – including the four digit access code.

Along with NatWest, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is also reminding its customers that they will be breaking their security agreements by handing over personal details. Lloyds, Halifax and Nationwide have also issued warnings.

The RBS also adds that their customers may struggle to get a refund should fraudsters get hold of their personal details.

HSBC is also planning to unveil its own budgeting app in 2018 which will enable customers to view all their account information in one place and this will also include information from other banks.

However, from January next year, a new EU rule means banks will have to alter their terms to enable customers to use budgeting apps.

Meanwhile, a new survey has revealed that pension providers could do more to encourage young people save for a pension by using apps.

The findings from one pension provider found that 51% of young people are not being encouraged to save by their employer for a workplace pension.

Gambling addicts struggle with apps

According to the National Problem Gambling Clinic (NPGC) growing numbers of gambling addicts are struggling with their gambling issues on mobile phones.

And one software firm says it is working on apps that will block gambling sites from being used on a mobile phone by a problem gambler.

The NPGC says the numbers of addicts struggling to control their addiction when using mobile gambling apps has risen from 24% of all gambling addicts in 2013 to 63% this year.

App alerts make users depressed

Researchers have revealed that mobile phone app alerts make users feel depressed, angry and even stressed out.

The findings from Nottingham Trent University reveal that these digital alerts have a direct effect on our moods that is immediate.

The academics examined several app notifications and found that 32% of them lead to negative emotions with users saying they felt upset, hostile, ashamed or nervous when the alerts arrived.

A spokeswoman for the research team said: “While app notifications enhance the convenience in our life, these digital alerts continuously disrupt activities with an instant call for attention. We need to understand better their impact on our well-being.”

In other mobile phone app news …

Experts who have used the new NHS app that enables patients to access their medical records, order repeat prescriptions and book a GP appointment say it’s good but there is still a long way to go before it delivers everything that health chiefs are hoping for. The app will be unveiled next year to help boost customer service levels.

Apple have quickly released an update to its iOS 11 after users complained that apps were locking while others complained that their iPhone was making a mysterious ‘crackling’ noise. The update comes two weeks after the new software was unveiled.

The new Blackberry Motion smartphone looks set to ditch its keyboard and switch to a touchscreen and will run on Android. There will be new apps for users too including a messenger app and a fingerprint scanner. The phone is expected to be unveiled in early 2018.