Find out the week’s top mobile stories from around the world.
This week.. Users abandon iPhone app over location data controversy, PayPal plans full-on mobile payment App, Japanese cellphone maker calls it quits, NHS trials new mobile app to treat paranoia and much more…
AccuWeather’s iOS app may be up to something fishy. Security researcher Will Strafach published a warning about the popular weather app’s behavior on Medium and users appear to be paying attention.
According to Strafach’s Medium post, the AccuWeather app requests location permission from users not to provide customized location-based weather data but to send some quite specific geodata to a third-party company called RevealMobile. That includes:
- “Your precise GPS coordinates, including current speed and altitude.
- The name and “BSSID” of the Wi-Fi router you are currently connected to, which can be used for geolocation through various online services.
- Whether your device has bluetooth turned on or off.”
I know, it would have been easy to think that PayPal had always been a mobile payments system. After all, you could make payments from anywhere that featured an internet connection, and how much more mobile does it get than that? Well, it’s about to get even more mobile, as PayPal is setting up a new app specifically geared toward the mobile device crowd who wants to make payments in stores, a point that wasn’t always on hand for PayPal users.
Described as a “forthcoming NFC (near-field communications) wallet experience,” the new PayPal system will allow for tap-to-pay purchasing. That would likely put it in the same class of heavy-hitters as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, and might well make some wonder how PayPal could possibly compete.
The sun is setting on Japan’s consumer electronics industry, as yet another world-renowned brand tries to shed off an important business unit.
Yesterday the Nikkei business daily reported that (paywall) Fujitsu is looking to sell off its mobile phone unit as early as next month. Potential buyers include Lenovo and Foxconn, two electronics makers with firm roots in China. Such a sale signals the continued hollowing out of the country’s global electronics brands.
Signs of a possible sale first emerged in late 2015, when the company announced plans to spin off its “Ubiquitous Solutions” unit, which includes both smartphones and personal computers and accounts for 21.5% of Fujitsu’s total revenue. It did so successfully in 2016.
People with paranoia are to be offered a new NHS app which encourages them to slow down their thinking.
Users can input information about distressing thoughts and use a tool to convey the intensity of the feeling.
The app, which has been called “the first of its kind”, then encourages the user to slow down by asking a series of questions.
Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust will trial it on patients in Oxfordshire and Berkshire.
Eko – a Thai messaging app for workplace settings – has secured US$2 million in funding, it announced today.
The funding comprised a US$1 million strategic investment from Japanese trading house Itucho, which has acquired a 5 percent stake in Eko as a result. The rest of the capital came from existing shareholders who exercised follow-on rights. This values the startup at US$20 million.
Two years ago, Bangkok-based Eko raised US$5.7 million in a series A round led by Gobi Partners. Prior to this it had secured US$1 million in seed funding from 500 Startups and a number of angel investors. Other previous backers include Siemer Ventures and Tigerlabs.
Alibaba’s UC Browser has come under the government’s scanner for alleged leak of mobile data of its Indian users and may be banned in the country if found guilty, a senior IT ministry official said on Tuesday.
“There have been complaints against UC Browser that it sends mobile data of its users in India to server in China. There are complaints that even if an user has uninstalled it or cleaned browsing data, the browser retains control of DNS of user’s device,” the officer who did not wish to be named told PTI.
The officer said if the allegations against the browser are established then it may be banned in the country.
India’s universal identification program — Aadhaar — suffered a setback today after the country’s Supreme Court voted unanimously in favor of individual privacy.
Given the prevalence of data in today’s digital age, and the trend towards ‘smart living’ based on data, the ruling has the potential to be hugely impactful in India both now and in the future.
The landmark verdict ruled that the right to privacy is guaranteed within Article 21 of India’s constitution, as the BBC explains. The nine-judge court overturned earlier rulings that the government argued ran counter to that. The case itself has been years in the making, following initial complaints bout violations of privacy from Aadhaar.
The ruling gains particular significant around Aadhaar, the government program that gives a 12-digital identification number to all Indians. In doing so, it has amassed — and continues to amass — huge amounts of individual data, including personal and biometric details, for more than a billion people.
Business travellers in Europe and the US are continuing to use desktop devices to make their travel bookings despite a surge in the introduction of mobile booking technology.
A report by Phocuswright and Expedia Affiliate Network (EAN) found that only an estimated 10 per cent of total US travel bookings will be made on mobile devices this year.
China is leading the way when it comes to booking travel on mobile devices with an estimated 53 per cent share of all online travel bookings last year – compared with just a 25 per cent share in the UK and 21 per cent in the US.
The report predicts that the fastest growth in online travel will be in the Middle East, Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe and Latin America regions.
As a term, wearables has tended to mean fitness trackers or smartwatches, but the term is extending into also meaning the clothes people wear.
As the share of fitness trackers and smartwatches decreases from more than 80% of devices shipped last year to 50% in 2022, smart clothing and body sensors are projected to fill the gap.
Overall shipments of smart clothing will grow from 2 million units last year to 27 million in 2022, an annual growth rate of 59%, according to a new forecast by Tractica.
Purism’s laptops, which focus on security and privacy, have been doing so well that the company now intends to venture into another type of electronics. The San Francisco-based “freedom-respecting computer manufacturer” is planning to build what it calls the “world’s first encrypted, open platform smartphone.”
It’s named the Librem 5, and Purism aims to give it the power to make encrypted calls that hide your phone number, send encrypted texts and emails and set up VPN for web browsing.
The phone will be compatible with 2G, 3G and 4G connections and with any GSM, UMTS or LTE network. It will also adopt the kill switches on Purism’s laptops, which you’ll be able to use to quickly switch off its camera, mic, WiFi, Bluetooth and even its baseband. The device will run the company’s PureOS platform, a derivative of Debian GNU/Linux, but it will also be able to run most GNU+Linux distributions. And since Purism wants to give you as much control over the device as possible, it will release the device’s source code, so you can edit it whenever you want.