Mobile Payment Apps Present Major Security Concern

Your wallet is something you never want to lose. However, many people are now using mobile wallet applications for making purchases and money transactions. Opposed to your physical wallet, it is hard to control the security of your mobile wallet. Security breaches happen unexpectedly and quietly. A security attack to your mobile wallet can go unnoticed for quite some time.

According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek who refers to Mobile Payments as the new frontier for criminals:

“Nearly 70 percent of mobile phones aren’t password-protected, according to Sophos, a mobile security vendor. Parents allow children to play with their phones without considering that they may download some bit of malware, says Shirley Inscoe, a senior analyst at Aite Group: ‘They don’t realize the risk they may entail given the data stored on their mobile device.’

Criminals can access a mobile wallet by stealing the handset or by tricking its owner into downloading a piece of malicious code. Malware attacks on U.S. smartphones have risen 18 percent since 2011 and now add up to 15.3 percent of the world total, says mobile security vendor NQ Mobile…

…Banks and mobile-payment providers are scrambling to build—or buy—better defenses.”

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Top Mobile Carriers Worldwide

Wireless CarriersYou know that as part of your in-the-wild testing and mobile matrix coverage you’re supposed to test on different carriers. After all, differ carriers have varying coverage. So if you’re launching a mobile app, what are the most important carriers to focus on?

Obviously you’ll want to look at the region you’re launching in to identify the most important local carriers. But on a global scale, Wireless Intelligence has identified these 20 networks as having the most connections in its most recent annual report.

  1. China Mobile (China): 683 million connections, one country
  2. Vodafone Group (Albania, Australia, Czech Republic, Egypt, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, UK): 387 million connections, 22 countries
  3. América Móvil Group (United States, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay): 252 million connections, 18 countries
  4. Bharti Airtel Group (Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda, Malawi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Niger, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Madagascar, Seychelles, Nigeria, Rwanda, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka): 250 million connections, 20 countries
  5. Telefónica Group (Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Spain, Ireland, UK, Germany, Czech Republic, Italy, Slovakia, China): 243.5 million connections, 22 countries

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Apple and Google Apps by Numbers

Apps Apps AppsGoogle recently announced that it passed the 25 billion app downloads mark (impressive since they only passed the 10 billion mark 10 months ago). That announcement coupled with some app figures Apple released when the iPhone 5 was launched inspired Read Write Web to take a look at some important OS numbers.

  • Android is operating on 500 million smartphones
  • 400 million iPhones have been activated (prior to iPhone 5)
  • There are 700,000 apps in the Apple App Store
  • There are 675,000 apps in Android’s Google Play
  • Nearly 30 billion iOS apps have been downloaded
  • Just over 25 billion Android apps have been downloaded
  • 25 billion Android apps equates to 50 apps per device (if my calculations are right, Apple’s number comes out to about 75 apps per iPhone)
  • Between both major operating systems there are around 1,375,000 published apps
  • To reach Google’s new milestone of 25 billion downloaded apps, 46,012,269 apps have been downloaded per day since December

That’s a lot of apps, and a lot of downloads. Make sure your app is in tip-top shape before shipping it off to the app store/market, you don’t want it to get lost in the crowd.

Mobile Ads Get Two Thumbs Up (for accidental clicks)

No, I’m not interested in switching car insurance, I just have fat thumbs. Chances are, as a smartphone user, you have accidentally clicked on a mobile ad. This scenario was the subject of a recent Ad Age study, which found that most mobile ad clicks are indeed false positives. Take a look:

Consumers don’t appear to be turned off by mobile ads, according to a survey of nearly 10,000 people by Pew Research Center and The Economist Group. Half of tablet and smartphone users notice ads when they’re getting news on their mobile device. Of that amount, roughly 15% click on ads. “People notice ads on mobile devices and may be even more likely to click on them than they are to click on other digital ads,” the report states. A recent Ad Age study, in stark contrast, found that less than 1% of people click on digital ads regardless of the viewing platform.

But tech pros say the result may be less a measure of the quality of the ads than the size of users’ thumbs.“False positives, namely clumsy digits, are the real culprits here,” says Jonathan Rick, a digital communications consultant based in Washington, D.C. This will become less of a problem for frustrated smartphone owners as screen sizes continue to get bigger, he says. Others say the digital ad world doesn’t make it easy to avoid ads either. Mark Spoonauer, editor-in-chief at LaptopMag.com, says many mobile ads are designed so that the window-shuttering “X” button is so small, it makes the ad more difficult to vanquish. “I’ve seen many people accidentally click on ads in an effort to get rid of them,” he says.

Plus, the line between mobile marketing and entertainment is becoming blurred, experts say. “It’s difficult for users to tell the difference between ads and content on small devices,” says technology analyst Jeff Kagan. Facebook and Twitter both have personalized “sponsored” stories, which are effectively advertising by another name. Zynga, which makes apps like Angry Birds and Words with Friends, also has sponsored stories. Mobile advertising is expected to reach hit $20 billion by 2015 from $2 billion currently, says Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a venture capital firm, making up 40% of all online ads.

Read the rest >>>

 

Jolla Aims to Challenge iOS and Android

Nokia n9 Runs MeeGoNokia/Intel’s MeeGo operating system is taking another go at cracking the mobile market. Jolla, a mobile startup, is looking to launch its first device running MeeGo later this year. Jolla’s CEO Jussi Hurmola (formerly of Nokia) hopes the new OS will give Apple and Google a run for its mobile money.

The new devices featuring the Linux-based system haven’t been debuted yet, but Jussi recently spoke to Gigaom about what the market can expect from Jolla and why the company thinks it has a chance of making a splash.

So when’s that phone coming and what will it look like?
Hurmola:
We’re going to announce the smartphone later this year. When we announce it, we’ll also say when you can buy it. We’re setting up an ecosystem. You can’t do a smartphone without supporting developers, services, navigation — we are setting all that up.

It’s MeeGo with our own interface, and nice new features and functionality. We can talk about these when we come out with the product, but we want to get away from that [standard user experience of] opening and closing applications. That is a five-year-old design pattern and user experience. We want to go further. They’re pretty individualistic machines these days, smartphones. We want to be the phone that handles messaging, calendars and so on in an inclusive way, so you can have concepts like the family in the device.

We’re also talking about using the MeeGo software in other devices — not just Jolla. We want to make as big a wave as possible.

Fragmentation is a big issue with Android’s different form factors. How are you going to avoid the same problem?
One interesting thing about MeeGo is it supported multiple categories of devices, from car dashboards to smartphones and laptops. We feel that’s important for us, and we’ve been playing with our UI in different devices from TVs to featurephones, and are trying to make the framework and UI components scalable. We can enable physical variation while making it easy for developers to write Qt QML native apps. We understand developers need a stable platform and the smartphone will represent the default form of Jolla’s MeeGo-based platform.

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NFL Feeling the Heat: First the Refs, Now Their Mobile Strategy

An update to a mobile app should always be a good thing. That “Install Update” notification on your phone usually signifies that developers have added new fixes or features to make an app better – not worse. However, this wasn’t really the case for the NFL 12′ app.

When the NFL 12′ update released, the criticism began to flood in.  The updated app took some big steps backwards in terms of speed and cost. Zuri Berry of Boston.com reviewed the updated app herself:

“I think everybody is done complaining about the NFL’s impasse with the referees now that there has been a labor resolution. The zebras returned for Thursday night’s football game, and harmony was restored on the playing field.

But not in cyberspace. The complaints are still streaming in from the NFL’s mobile app (iOS, Android)…

….Basically, if you want to check scores from games with NFL ’12, anticipate a 5-minute delay or more. In tests on Sunday on the iPad, the app was clearly behind its competitors (the ESPN ScoreCenter for one).

But what’s more, and what has really angered reviewers in Apple’s app store, is the charges to watch video content after it was free in the app’s previous incarnation. Now the NFL charges mobile users $1.99 a week or $9.99 a season to see highlights, its “Fantasy Live” show, or NFL.com’s live look-in show for Thursday night football (not to be confused with any game action). This is completely separate from the “NFL Game Rewind” packages, which allow customers to watch full games a day after they air. There’s a separate app for that.”

Ironically, the app is available for free on your mobile browser. Having a free web app and a $1.99 native app just doesn’t seem to add up.

In addition, the speed issues the NFL is experiencing could be traced to a load issue or could be attributed to an actual bug. The only way to figure out what is causing the lag, is to put the app through some functional and load testing. Hopefully the NFL will be releasing an “update to the update” sooner than later – although, it will be hard to recover from all the App Store criticism.

Do you use the NFL 12’ app? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

 

7 Tips and Tricks for iOS 6

With criticism heavily hammering the new maps app, the release of Apple’s iOS 6 doesn’t impress customers as its predecessors did. But if we take the troubled map off the table, iOS 6 does show some improvement to the prior versions. Below we put together a short list of 7 tips and tricks for iOS 6 from PCMAG and Cult of Mac that might change your perspective about the new version.

1. Respond to incoming calls with a text message. Sometimes people call you at a bad time, when you are at a meeting or a movie. Now you can reply with a text message. When a call comes in, you can swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal the option and reply with either a canned or customized message which requires just a few steps to set up. Settings > Phone > Reply with Message

Incoming Call Text Response

2. Activate Do Not Disturb to temporarily block incoming calls. This new feature allows you to schedule your own quiet time with the option to authorize only pre-selected contacts to come through. Settings > Notifications > Do Not Disturb.

Do Not Disturb

3. Full-screen reading experience. In iOS 6, a new button called “Reader” will appear in the top right of your Safari browser when you land on a text page, such as blogs and news articles. Activating Reader will reform the page layout to full-screen mode. If you’d like to share the content with someone, simply click on the arrow shown on the top left to open options to share the content.

Reader

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Major Security Flaw Uncovered on Google’s Android OS

Security vulnerabilities when used to a hacker’s advantage can do a number of things – including stealing or erasing all of a smartphone user’s personal data. According to recent news, mobile devices using Google’s Android OS are at risk of being disabled or wiped clean because of a security flaw that was discovered but not dealt with properly.

Richard Lardner of The Huffington Post covered this scary security threat:

“Opening a link to a website or a mobile application embedded with malicious code can trigger an attack capable of destroying the memory card in Android-equipped handsets made by Samsung, HTC, Motorola and Sony Ericsson, rendering the devices useless, computer security researcher Ravi Borgaonkar wrote in a blog post Friday. Another code that can erase a user’s data by performing a factory reset of the device appears to target only the newly released and top selling Galaxy S III and other Samsung phones, he wrote.

Borgaonkar informed Google of the vulnerability in June, he said. A fix was issued quickly, he said, but it wasn’t publicized, leaving smartphone owners largely unaware that the problem existed and how they could fix it.

Google declined to comment. Android debuted in 2008 and now dominates the smartphone market. Nearly 198 million smartphones using Android were sold in the first six months of 2012, according to the research firm IDC. About 243 million Android-equipped phones were sold in 2011, IDC said.

Versions of Android that are vulnerable include Gingerbread, Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean, according to Borgaonkar. He said the Honeycomb version of Android, designed for tablets, needs to be tested to determine if it is at risk as well.Continue Reading

Issues with Apple’s Passbook

Apple PassbookMaps on iOS 6 certainly got a lot of flack, but Erica Ogg of Gigaom felt like the new Passbook feature was also rushed to production. Here’s Erica’s list of why she feels Passbook still has a ways to go:

Setting up Passbook involves many more steps than you would think.
Why is it necessary to download one app just to use another app?

The implementation of notifications is odd.
A notification appeared on my screen from United with my flight time. It stayed there all day, even to a certain point after the flight. It wasn’t clickable and nothing I did would make it go away.

What happened to the location-aware notification advertised?
The way Apple described it, when my iPhone 5′s GPS detected I was near the airport the pass would pop up on my screen so I wouldn’t have to go searching for it.

Using the app more than once breaks the experience.
The link to the App Store within Passbook? It completely disappeared. And there’s nothing that tells me how to find it.

Brightness doesn’t correspond to the setting for the whole phone.
Passbook passes still display with the brightness of a thousand suns (or so).

It doesn’t appear to be designed for the iPhone 5 screen.
Passbook appears on the iPhone 5 screen the way the apps whose developers have not yet modified their apps for the new 4-inch screen do.

Read Erica’s full article at Gigaom >>>

For Apple’s history of not releasing products until “they just work” it sure seems like they rushed iOS 6 and some of its hallmark features.