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Find out the week’s top mobile stories from around the world.

This week..  Facebook blocks UK insurer from mining user data with its app, why Vine was a bad match for Twitter, European millennials still waiting for mobile money’s “uber” moment, how talking to your apps became the next big thing and much more.

Facebook blocks Admiral’s car insurance discount plan


Facebook has blocked plans by an insurer to view young drivers’ profiles to help set car insurance premiums.

In a planned trial, insurer Admiral wanted new motorists’ permission to look at their posts and likes to judge their safety as a driver.

Were a young driver considered to be low-risk, a discount would be offered.

But on the day of the planned launch, Facebook said that Admiral would not be able to determine discounts on the basis of Facebook posts and likes.

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Why vine was a bad match for Twitter

The New Yorker

On Sunday, October 23rd, Michael Pachter and a friend took out the boat they jointly own, a Boston Whaler, on the Pacific Ocean, to watch the final day of the Breitling Huntington Beach Airshow. Like most air shows, it promised to entertain spectators with the sight of gaudily painted fighter jets performing impossible stunts in close formation.

After the show, as Pachter was motoring the eight miles back to Long Beach, four F-16s—part of the United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, known as the Thunderbirds, which had headlined the show—rocketed past, flying low overhead on their way back to Nevada’s Nellis Air Force Base. They flew past “literally a hundred yards away—so loud it was earth-shattering,” Pachter said.

His immediate impulse was to pull out his phone and record a video of their booming flight…

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European millennials waiting for the ‘Uber moment’ of mobile payments


Only a quarter of UK millennials are using mobile payments technology, according to research from VocaLink, the latest in a long line of tech firms trying to figure out how young people want to pay.

The survey of more than 4000 18 to 35 year olds across four European countries suggests that while there is an appetite for innovation in the payments sector, millennials have yet to find an Uber or Snapchat equivalent – something which meets their needs and is a significant upgrade on existing tools.

More than half of the Germans quizzed have never used mobile payments, while in the UK just two per cent of respondents actively use Apple Pay despite the fact that 46% use iPhones. Around one in five European millennials who have attempted to use mobile payment technology have abandoned it.

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Brazil telecom revenue to grow due to Pay TV, broadband


Brazil telecom revenues may touch $46.99 billion by 2021 as operators have started making investment in Pay TV and broadband.

Brazilian telecom industry has initiated investments in Pay TV and broadband, with focus on increasing data capacity and expanding geographic coverage, suggest Frost & Sullivan reports.

Previous analysis from Research and Markets has revealed that total revenue from the sale of telecommunication services in Brazil will decline from $46.36 billion in 2014 to $40.67 billion in 2018.

Also, the fixed broadband market is expected to reach 27.19 million accounts by 2018, while the fixed telephony lines will increase from 44.78 million in 2014 to 47.41 million in 2018.

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Mobile web browsing overtakes desktop for the first time


Mobile devices are used more than traditional computers for web browsing, as smartphone and tablet use overtook desktop for the first time, October figures show.

Mobile web browsing has been steadily growing since 2009, while the desktop’s share of web traffic has steadily decreased. In October, the two crossed over, with global mobile and tablet browsing accounting for 51.3% versus the desktop’s 48.7%, according to the latest data from web analytics firm StatCounter.

Aodhan Cullen, chief executive of StatCounter, said: “This should be a wake up call especially for small businesses, sole traders and professionals to make sure that their websites are mobile friendly. Many older websites are not.

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Black Hat Europe: IoT devices can hack phones

Network World

The Internet of things (IoT) has already been used to launch the biggest DDoS attacks ever, but now it represents a potential path for attackers to compromise cell phones.

Flaws in Belkin WeMo devices – electrical switches, cameras, light bulbs, coffee makers, air purifiers, etc. – enabled Invincea Labs researchers to not only hack into the devices, but to use that access to attack an Android phone running the app that controls the WeMo devices.

“This is the first instance we’ve seen of IoT hacking something else,” says researcher Scott Tenaglia, who pledges to look for other vulnerable devices that might be abused to carry out similar attacks.

Tenaglia and his fellow researcher Joe Tanen are presenting their research this week at Black Hat Europe in London.

Belkin says it has issued patches for the flaws.

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Facebook quarterly profit soars, lifted by mobile ads

Facebook on Wednesday delivered another blockbuster earnings performance, showing solid growth in mobile ad revenues as the social network expands into new services.

While Facebook topped Wall Street expectations in the quarter, shares dove more than eight percent to $116.54 after an earnings call during which executives warned that revenue growth should be more tempered next year and that the company planned to invest heavily in engineers and data-centers for long-term goals.

“People were expecting them to hit it out of the park, and it is hard to sustain that,” Silicon Valley analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group said of the market reaction to what appeared to be a stellar earnings report.

Profit leapt 166 percent to $2.4 billion on revenue that surged to $7 billion from $4.5 billion during the same period a year earlier, third quarter results showed.

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Google Overhauls Mobile App Store


Alphabet’s Google is redoubling efforts to help developers of Android mobile apps build their businesses as concerns mount that the app economy has reached saturation.

Under the leadership of Sameer Samat, who rejoined Google earlier this year after a spell as president of wearable tech firm Jawbone, the company is sharpening Google Play store recommendations with artificial intelligence and expanding support for various payment platforms, among other initiatives.

Google’s efforts in some way mirror those of arch-rival Apple, which revamped its App Store this year with quicker review times for new apps and an increase in the cut of revenue that goes to developers.

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Chat bots: How talking to your apps became the next big thing


Bots are applications that are designed to respond to conversational language. The aim is to create services — whether that’s the ability to order a pizza or to enter a meeting in a calendar — where the dialogue with the app is as natural and apparently unscripted as an interaction you might have with a human.

Chat bots are like narrow versions of digital assistants like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant, designed to perform specific tasks. Interest in bots has rocketed recently and developers are racing to incorporate them into services built on popular messaging apps and websites to create a form of virtual customer services.

This has also sparked a mini technology arms race, as the big tech vendors try to persuade developers to use their bot platform. Google recently acquired, which has around 60,000 developers using its bot-building technology; Microsoft claims around 45,000 developers for its Bot Framework; and Facebook has around 34,000 working on its platform.

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A Cashless Economy in Zimbabwe? With Little Cash, There’s Little Choice

New York Times

HARARE, Zimbabwe — The time came for worshipers to surrender their tithes on Sunday morning. But instead of dropping bills into a collection plate, the congregants at a large Pentecostal church rose and filed toward the deacons clutching hand-held card-reading machines. With a swipe, they were done.

“Yes, it looks like shoppers in a supermarket,” said Mercy Chihota, 33, a member of the church, the United Family International Ministries, in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital. “It feels good, but strange at the moment, because it’s very new.”

Of all the places speeding toward a cashless economy, this nation in southern Africa may not come to mind. About 90 percent of Zimbabweans work in the informal economy, where cash is usually a must. The country, despite the spread of cheap smartphones in recent years, remains low-tech. Blackouts are part of everyday life.

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