Kitemarks for money apps

August 27th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

bsi.png Kitemarks for money appsA new kitemark has been launched to help people trust certain apps with their personal data.

The new BSI (British Standards Institution) kitemark has been applied to Barclay’s new Pingit mobile payment service and Barclays Mobile Banking, after they were independently assessed.

Although the kitemark is initially being piloted within the banking industry, the BSI envisages that its use will be adopted by a wider range of firms – for example within the entertainment industry.

Anyone wanting to get a kitemark for their product will have to go through hardcore testing so that their security meets the required standards for dealing with confidential data.

Those that meet the standards will be able to give customers confidence by displaying the kitemark on their products and in their marketing materials.

This is quite the thing as three quarters of Brits now use the internet for shopping and just over half now bank online.

Maureen Sumner Smith who is the UK managing director at BSI, used her mouth and said: “More and more of us are now sharing confidential information through online shopping, mobile banking, booking flights, gaming, university applications or interacting with local government. These behavioural changes from the physical to the digital demand the need for even more rigorous security measures.”

“Many organisations have good information security processes already established, but by having their systems independently tested on a regular basis as part of the BSI kitemark process, they can clearly demonstrate to customers their commitment to safeguarding information.”

BT to ruin your Christmas

August 26th, 2014 4 Comments By Ian Wade

bt logo BT to ruin your ChristmasBT are raising their prices in December. Merry Christmas!

That’s right. The telco have announced that they are to raise the prices of their phone and broadband by 6.5%

The price rise has been – surprise – defended by BT, claiming that most customers are on inclusive packages, and that bills have actually decreased by 14% in the last half decade.

It will increase the line rental for direct debit customers by 6.25% to £16.99, and the rate for calling UK landlines by 6.44%.

And also, set-up fees for landline calls, residential calls, to the speaking clock and call return charges will also increase for some or all customers.

BT’s option for low-incomes, BT Basic, will stay the same at £5.10 a month with a call allowance.

Of course, they’re not nearly as keen to have an option where you can get a fibre optic broadband connection without the need for a landline (as a lot of people just rely on their mobiles these days), but there you go.

youtube 300x300 Googles musical YouTube service! Its here!Google’s long rumoured music service is upon us!

YouTube Music Key will feature over 20 million tunes and videos curated especially for the service.

It will offer a 30-day trial for free, and then a monthly subscription giving access to what they’re bugling as “high-quality tracks – complete albums, organised into artist discographies”, specifically for YouTube with both video and audio-only streaming and offline listening.

It’s likely that the service will link in with Google’s current Play Music All Access thing, which also costs £9.99 a month.

According to reports, the YouTube service will offer concert footage, covers and remixes in addition to the official discographies of artists.

Google will offer an enhanced version of YouTube’s existing recommendation engine based on user choice, making suggestions of what to listen to as users watch videos on YouTube.

The service is expected to be offered once they’ve cleared up all the business of licensing and rowing with smaller labels.

That will no doubt be exciting… but won’t stop people enjoying the fruits of the torrent tree.

Vodafone: officially rubbish

August 20th, 2014 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

vodafone Vodafone: officially rubbishVodafone officially has the worst mobile internet performance, according to a study of mobile networks by RootMetrics, regarding best coverage, reliability and speed.

It was found that EE have the best network for reliability, speed, internet usage, calls and text and Three and O2 are doing pretty well also.

All the networks were assessed on their coverage across the whole of the UK as well as closer looks at the way they performed in each of the four nations and 16 cities.

EE – the T-Mobile and Orange tag team – bettered last year’s results by coming out on top in most of the 16 cities. Vodafone came last for mobile internet performance in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland, while 02 was the worst in Wales.

This is good news for Three who came last in 2013, but now lies second in the performance charts.

“While EE continues to dominate with strong performance at all levels across the UK-especially when it comes to speed-the other networks are on the march,” said the RootMetrics report. “Three is starting to make a showing across the board, and Vodafone and O2 are building momentum.”

“The good news: Better network performance across the UK means a better experience across all the points of your mobile life.”

A spokesperson for Vodafone said: ‘Regular independent testing of our network shows that our customers are experiencing a significantly improving network every day due to our massive ongoing investment. We are spending £1 billion on our network and services this year alone to improve mobile coverage and network quality across the UK. We are modernising the network with the very latest technology, building thousands of new outdoor sites and deploying hundreds of indoor coverage solutions.”

‘This investment has already delivered an improved service for customers across the country and we expect their experience to get significantly better as the momentum of our Project Spring investment, combined with our better quality spectrum, accelerates over the next year.”

iPhone 6 to have reversible USB

August 20th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

reversible usb port 300x225 iPhone 6 to have reversible USBLooks like the iPhone 6 will have a reversible USB cable with it.

An Apple bod posted a picture of the cable on Twitter, which helpfully showed the difference between the old school normal cable, and the new so-called “lightning” cable.

The Lightning cable can already be used in the latest round of iPads and iPhones, and so users no longer need to have freak outs about plugging them in wrong anymore.

According to a patent discovered by uSwitch, the cable is very clearly a thing. Designed to help rid the planet of “user frustration” and to reduce the potential for USB connector damage.

Another, new reversible cable was announced by the snappily titled USB Promoter Group, but that’s not compatible with ANYTHING useful at the moment.

So there you have it. Less swearing in your life.

Flappy Birds chap reveals Swing Copters

August 20th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Flappy Bird lovers unite, for the creator has announced a new game which will entertain you in a way that is so frustrating that you might chew your own hands off!

The brilliantly named Flappy Bird creator Dong Nguyen has come up with a new time-wasting bit of addictive nonsense in the form of Swing Copters.

swing copters 500x292 Flappy Birds chap reveals Swing Copters

The scrolling game demands its players to tap to make a character, handily wearing a propeller hat, fly from side to side, while avoiding troublesome platforms and hammers.

It’s out on August 21st as a free download, and there’ll be the option for players to pay 69p via an in-app thing which lays off the adverts.

Poor old Dong got it right in the neck when he took Flappy Birds down in February, after he was a bit concerned at how huge it had become.

Online critics gave heavy shade, and even – you big people – death threats were being thrown at him. He did however remain unkilled long enough to launch Flappy Birds Family on Amazon’s set-top box thing.

So anyway. Put down those weapons and rejoice again!

Snapchat soon to be an ad-fest

August 20th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

snapchat 300x300 Snapchat soon to be an ad festSnapchat is about to change the way it does things. Soon enough, you’ll be seeing ephemeral adverts, news and videos from brands, as well as the usual 5 second shots of people’s penises and boring videos of cats.

The company is working on a new service called Snapchat Discovery that will show ‘branded content’ to users.

It’ll inevitably end up with a bunch of people complaining about it on Twitter.

Apparently: “The product would let users read daily editions of publications as well as watch video clips of TV shows or movies by holding down a finger on the screen, like they do with photos and other messages on the app before disappearing.”

Of course, Snapchat need to make some money on their popular app and have gone to the people who like spending cash the most – advertising companies. Snapchat turned down a huge bid from Facebook who tried to take over it, and since Snapchat refused all offers, pretty much all messenger services decided that it’d be easier and cheaper to simply copy Snapchat’s product.

Snapchat Discovery looks like it’ll see the light of day in November, just in time for everyone to get swamped with Christmas adverts and the like.

ditto pic 300x219 Tumblr and Ditto: stalking your photos for brandsIn ‘web-stalking brand awareness reach’ news, Tumblr have teamed up with Ditto Labs. Ditto analyse photos posted on social media, and scan them for any brand-related data.

Basically anything can be deemed as data, from a brand of drink being drunkenly held aloft, to a sportswear label seen on a garment.

Apparently this deal will give advertisers the chance to see how they’re being perceived.

It’s a new way of research without badgering you on the street or filling in a form, but still feels a little stalkery.

But the futuristically named T.R. Newcomb, head of business development at Tumblr, stated: “If Coke wants to understand the nature of the conversation we can sift through and deliver it to Coke.”

He ominously added “Right now, we’re not planning to do anything ad-related.”

Yeah right. Either way, looks like Yahoo!, who bought Tumblr, are finally throwing a bit of weight around in a bid to start making more money on the blogging portal.

Snap, crackle and app!

August 19th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Where once it was Snap, Crackle & Pop, Kellogg’s Rice Krispies have now launched an app.

Yes, the jolly breakfast cereal ideal for the nippers and can multi-task as a delicious chocolate krispie cake snack, has gone all future, with an ISO app and Isobar.

rice krispie app 300x225 Snap, crackle and app!

Kids can now go on an adventure in something called Mallow Town.

They can choose one of the three characters to have an adventure, personalising it all with video and making it shareable on social media.

There’s recipes and the like too, as well as ‘engaging content aimed at the user’ type stuff.

rice krispie app2 300x225 Snap, crackle and app!

Isobar creative director, Pierre Duqesnoy, said: “It’s great to be going beyond traditional channels to create genuinely rewarding experiences for kids and parents to enjoy together. Kellogg’s Rice Krispies enjoy a special place in families’ imaginations, and this app takes this into a whole new space, powered by technology.”

Sure sounds a lot more fun now you can no longer seem to get a novelty gift with each box, which then some morons would mistake for cereal and then choke on it.

Happier times.

Apps: We’re just not as bothered as we were

August 19th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

apps 300x199 Apps: Were just not as bothered as we werePeople are not as arsed as they once were with smartphone apps, according to some new research.

A report by Deloitte shows that the average amount of apps downloaded per user per month is on the wane and declined a fair bit over the last year.

Almost a third of smartphoners in the UK do not download any apps in an average month, which is up from one-in-five last year.

Users tend to be more savvy and have a set amount a favourite apps sorted within the first few months of getting a new phone.

But it’s not a full-on sign of the collapse of the app market, as Deloitte reckon that more smartphone users over the age of 50 aren’t that bothered in adding additional stuff.

Paul Lee, whose job title ‘Head of research for technology, media and telecommunications at Deloitte’ is a bit longwinded, said, “The new adopters of smartphones use them mostly for text messaging. When you look at who uses IM services like WhatsApp and WeChat, it tends to be younger age groups and it declines very steeply with age.”

“The ‘if in doubt download it’ attitude to consumer apps is clearly on the decline,” he points out.

Sony bring forth a phablet

August 18th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

6 sony logo w Sony bring forth a phabletSony are apparently gearing up to launch a 6.1 inch smartphone for those on a budget.

The phablet, currently known as the D2203, will have a 854 x 480 resolution, 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM, according to a listing on a GFX Bench listing.

It should also have a VGA front camera, 5 megapixel rear camera, 4GB onboard storage and support for external expansion through microSD cards

It should be launched at the IFA 2014 alongside the anticipated Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3 Compact.

This isn’t the first time Sony has veered outside the high-end market with a larger handset, as it announced its 5.3-inch mid-range Xperia T3 only recently.

Fancy one?

EE will let you jump the queue for cash

August 15th, 2014 6 Comments By Mof Gimmers

EE 4G cities 229x300 EE will let you jump the queue for cashEE has introduced a queue-jumping service, which allows people phoning them up to join a “priority” queue for 50p.

As you can imagine, there’s a lot of people moaning about it.

When you phone EE’s customer service line, an automated message offers callers the chance to jump the queue into a “priority” queue. Customers already have to pay to call the provider at certain times of the day, so some think it’s a bit rich they should be asked for more.

Most of the outrage is on social media, with one disgruntled customer spouting off: “As an already paying @EE customer, why should I have to wait longer for help because someone else with no patience can pay [to] jump the queue?”

Another spat: “I have been a customer of [T-Mobile and] @EE for 10 years now. The call jump system they want to introduce is disgusting. I’ll be off to O2 then.”

Talking to the Inquirer, an EE spokesperson said: “EE’s goal is to set the highest standard for customer service in the telecoms sector. To support that ambition we’re investing significantly in our retail stores, contact centres and account management websites and apps.”

“We’ve already committed to returning over 1,000 roles to the UK from overseas call centres, and have already opened two new UK centres. To contribute to this and other investments in service we have introduced some small charges for certain customer services.”

What do you think? Should EE up their game so they don’t need a priority queue, or is this quite handy as it’s only 50p?

HTC to make software for all

August 14th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

500px android logosvg 300x300 HTC to make software for allHTC are going to start making new software for competitors. Of course, if you have a phone made by HTC, you’ll already be familiar with Android custom skins and apps that come with the devices.

The difference here is that they’ll now be offering them to anyone who wants them.

This could be trouble for HTC however, because Google have been known to get really pissy when people don’t play by their rules. Anyone who has used Amazon’s Kindle will know that you can’t get on the Google Play store and loads of apps are missing because Google didn’t like Amazon skin of Android.

If Google get the hump with this, they might do the same to HTC.

According to reports, HTC has a team called HTC Creative Labs, who will be working to make apps for other phones. Their first task will be to create a version of Zoe, the HTC app that enables you to compile 16 pictures or videos into a small highlight video, and offer it up to everyone.

That will arrive as soon as the next 7 days, but only for phones with Android 4.4. You can expect Blinkfeed to follow suit.

We’ll have to wait and see what mood Google is in to see if they’ll start getting antsy about it all, but you get the impression Google is too busy picking fights with Amazon and Apple to give a proper monkeys.

Microsoft have come to the aid of those who like to film shedloads of shaky, shonky footage with a thing called Hyperlapse.

The technology allows you to shrink hours of footage into minutes without all the juddering and shaking. It’s the first time that time-lapse photography has been brought to first person type devices.

This is great news for anyone who has sat through their chum’s five hour epic motorway films or endless footage from an amateur rock climb.

The technology controls shake at faster playback speeds by going beyond what’s done by typical stabilization algorithms. Which in English means that it essentially smooths video by cropping out pixels at the edge of a frame.

Hyperlapse does this via a reconstructing camera movement, distance and angle with each frame and borrows pixels from multiple frames to smooth the video.

There is no news of a release date just yet, as they’ve only just managed to shrink the software down to one PC, but the possibilities are endless, and will help make Microsoft quite attractive to film makers… if they all weren’t such Apple fanboiz already.

Meet Defender: the anti-rape phone app

August 13th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

A new app could save your life. Quite literally. Defender is an integrated pepper spray which can communicate with your phone.

Should you ever need to deploy the spray, it connects with your smartphone via bluetooth, takes a photo and uploads that to your phone.

That is then sent to a 24 hour monitoring system, who then pass it on to the emergency services with your GPS coordinates. Defender then fires out oscillating light and an alarm to alert anyone nearby.

It can also be used in medical emergencies, especially handy if you find yourself trapped under a rock or something.

After some crowdfunding, it hit its target of $100,000 (£60,000) within 24 hours, and that since gone on to stand at $222,000 (£132,000) with 2000 units sold already.

Admittedly there are concerns, such as a year of monitoring setting you back £107, and that whole ‘crime to carry something that could be classed as an offensive weapon’ that we (thankfully) have in the boring old UK, but the creators reckon they’ll get around that with an alternative self-defence spray.

Probably a blast of Lynx Africa or something similarly ghastly should suffice.