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

This week.. N26 aims to become Europe’s leading mobile-only bank, mobile health and research apps struggle to realise their potential, Google’s Allo app reveals search history to contacts and much more.

Germany’s N26 aims to become Europe’s leading mobile-only bank


Berlin-based N26 has laid claim to becoming Europe’s leading mobile-only bank, growing its user base to 300,000 and recording a seven-fold growth in transaction volumes over the past year.

Operating in 17 markets across the EU, the two-year old bank has processed more than EUR3 billion in transaction volumes since inception, with 60% of the total logged in the past year.

“January and February 2017 were the strongest months in terms of customer growth in our company’s history,” says Valentin Stalf, founder and CEO of N26. “We are on track to grow to a couple of million customers over the next years,”

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Mobile health and research apps falter at the first hurdle

ars Technica

There are three billion smartphones bouncing inside pockets and bags around the world. Their owners are often within arm’s reach 24-7. With such ubiquity, constant usage, and connectivity, researchers have publicly drooled over the potential for mobile devices to become gushing conduits of health information.

They could wirelessly and effortlessly provide data on patients’ symptoms, the success or failure of new treatments, and the progression of diseases—streamlining clinical trials, research, and personalized care.

The potential is there. But reality is not, according to a study published this week in Nature Biotechnology.

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Google’s Allo app can reveal to your friends what you’ve searched


Google’s mobile messaging app Allo can reveal your Google search history to people you message, which could have big privacy implications. The behavior appears to be a glitch.

I noticed the problem in a recent conversation with a friend, in which I was testing the app. Allo includes Google Assistant, the company’s latest version of its virtual assistant software.

Google recently announced plans to make Assistant available on Android phones. The feature has been available on Google’s own Pixel phone and Google Home, its competitor to Amazon’s wildly successful Echo.

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New mobile technology abounds at SXSW 2017

Mobile Business Insights

No longer just a destination for music lovers, South by Southwest (SXSW) has become a major landmark and calendar event for the world of mobile technology.

This year’s offerings haven’t disappointed. Every year seems to bring its own signature tech innovations at the annual gathering in Austin, Texas, and early reveals in 2017 have seen new mobile technology.

One of the most impressive new products featured was the “smart” tiny home. According to The Dallas Morning News, Austin-based Kasita has come out with a tech-enabled smart home that, at just 352 square feet of space, offers the flexibility to stand alone in a rural environment or stack high in an urban setting.

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McDonald’s to trial US mobile ordering app

The Drum

Fast food chain McDonald’s has been slow to embrace mobile ordering but from this month the burger specialists will begin trialing its own app in the US in order to iron out the type of kinks experienced by the likes of Starbucks.

Digital ordering is the holy grail of restaurant chains but few have mastered the technology behind it, with Domino’s taking years to perfect its own pizza platform.

Starbucks sank under a flood of phone-based orders which proved too much for its hard-pressed baristas to handle.

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Exploring the role of the mobile industry in the connected home

Mobile Today

The ‘smart’ or connected home has been the stuff of science fiction since the 1950s, and it has long been possible to automate many domestic functions such as lighting, heating, air conditioning, access, security, and communications.

Until now, home connectivity required an expensive custom installation, with a mish-mash of different control systems. Specialist manufacturers such as Crestron, Lutron and AMX dominated a market that was out of reach for all but the well-heeled.

Three years ago there were at least 50 different connected home platforms available, and it was clear that not all could survive, ultimately leaving early adopters with now ‘dumb’ gadgets, all connected to a useless proprietary system.

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Cashless payment platform enables cheaper healthcare in Tanzania

Spring Wise

Africa provides unique challenges to both businesses and humanitarian efforts, with many countries home to high levels of low-income families, often in hard-to-access communities. We’ve seen a number of innovative approaches to these challenges, including peer-to-peer lending platform for farmers who can’t afford crop insurance. Now Jamii is hoping to increase health insurance coverage across Africa.

By partnering with Jubilee Insurance and Vodacom Tanzania, Jamii has developed a cashless platform that expedites the health insurance process for both users and hospitals and reduces the administration costs of insurance claims. Users simply sign up and pay via the mobile banking M-pesa platform, at significantly reduced costs (the lowest service comes in around USD 1 per month), with options to add several family members onto the same policy.

After a successful launch in Tanzania, Jamii is aiming to expand into other African countries in 2017, supported by investment from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Netflix original series and movies may be getting mobile-friendly cuts


Netflix is considering creating mobile-specific versions of its original TV shows and movies to improve the viewing experience for people watching on phones and tablets.

With many shows and films losing some of their impact when viewed on a tiny screen, the idea would be to create versions that offer alternate shots, scenes and framing in order to make the most of the device the content is being streamed on.

As reported by The Verge, speaking at a media briefing in San Francisco, Netflix chief product officer Neil Hunt said: “It’s not inconceivable that you could take a master [version] and make a different cut for mobile.”

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Can a sex toy spy on you?


A Canadian sex-toy maker has been accused of tracking data on the intimate habits of thousands of its customers.

The Ottawa-based company, Standard Innovation, has agreed a collective payout up to a total of C$4m (£2.4m) for users in the US, where the lawsuit was filed.

But where does that leave other sex-toy users?

Are there new forms of protection that people should now consider?

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Privacy hawks in Congress call on Homeland Security to warn Americans of SS7 hacking threat

Tech Crunch

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and California Representative Ted Lieu are pressing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on a mobile network vulnerability that they consider to be a systemic digital threat.

In a new joint letter, the two members of Congress questioned DHS Secretary John Kelly about flaws inherent in Signaling System 7 (SS7), a global telecommunications protocol that allows phone networks to route calls and texts between users.

In a study publicized during a 2014 security conference in Hamburg, researchers demonstrated how hackers could insert themselves into a device’s call-forwarding function, redirecting calls, and any private information discussed therein, to themselves before bouncing them back to the receiver.

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