ICO warns consumers about downloading mobile apps this Christmas


The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is warning consumers to protect their personal information when downloading mobile apps, ahead of the busiest day of the year for app downloads.

Last year 328 million apps were downloaded on Christmas Day alone and many people will have the latest tablet PC or smartphone at the top of their Christmas list this year. An online survey carried out by YouGov for the ICO this month found that 59% of adults in the UK have downloaded an app. This figure is likely to increase over the festive period.

But the survey also found that 62% of people who have downloaded an app are concerned about the way apps can use their personal information. The survey found 49% of app users have decided not to download an app due to privacy concerns.

The ICO has now published some top tips to help consumers stay in control of their data when using mobile apps, along with guidance to help developers look after people’s information correctly.

ICO Principal Policy Advisor for Technology, Simon Rice, said: “Apps do all sorts of weird and wonderful things, helping someone chat with their friends, find a local restaurant or see what’s on at their local cinema. However, they often work by using personal information. This can include information you would not normally choose to give out to a stranger, such as the contact details of friends and relatives and details of your location.

“The survey published today shows people are clearly concerned about the privacy implications of this technology. Our tips aim to address this concern by showing people how they can stay in control of their personal information, while enjoying the benefits provided by the apps many of us will be downloading this Christmas.”




Top tips for keeping your personal information secure when using apps:

Only download apps from official and trusted app stores. Be extremely careful of using untrusted sources.

Read the information available about an app in the app store before you download it. Check you are happy about the personal information it will be using.

Have a regular clear-out. Many of us have downloaded an app and only used it once. If you no longer use the app, uninstall it.

Consider downloading mobile security software to help keep your device secure.

Make sure you erase any apps from the phone before you donate, resell or recycle an old device, as these may have to access to your personal information. You should be able to find a ‘factory reset’ option in the device settings.




BA first European airline to allow mobile use during take-off and landing


British Airways is the first European airline to let passengers use mobiles and tablets during take-off and landing. But calls and texts are still prohibited, so you’ll have to keep your device in flight mode.

Until today, electronic devices were limited to use only when the plane was cruising, and the fasten seat belt sign was off. From today, you can carry on playing games, reading ebooks, and listening to music as you come in to land.

Several American airlines, including Delta and JetBlue, already allow gadget use during all stages of flight. UK airlines are regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The CAA has to approve each airline before they’re cleared to allow mobile and tablet use on planes.

“The easing of restrictions will provide an average of 30 minutes’ additional personal screen time,” BA flight training manager Ian Pringle told the BBC.

“With around 300 people on a long-haul flight that will mean a combined total of approximately 150 hours’ extra viewing, reading or working.”

BA was previously the first European airline to allow passengers to charge their phones and tablets after landing, while the plane is taxiing to the terminal.



Android Jelly Bean update to come to more Sony Xperia Z devices


Sony’s Xperia Z1 and Xperia Z Ultra have already had the update the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, and now their stablemates are about to join them.

Sony’s Xperia Z, Xperia ZL, Xperia ZR and Xperia Tablet Z will get the update to Jelly Bean in the very near future. According to a report, the Jelly Bean update has been rubber-stamped by wireless device certification forum the PTCRB.

Jelly Bean isn’t the latest version of Android, however. That accolade goes to KitKat, which launched at the end of October, alongside the Google Nexus 5. KitKat has since come to other Google devices, including the Nexus 4.

The Jelly Bean update will give these other Xperia Z devices the same Smart Social Camera functionality as on the Xperia Z1. This lets you use more camera apps from within the viewfinder while you’re shooting.

When the Jelly Bean update reaches your device will depend on which network you’re on. The quickest way to be the first in line for the latest version of Android is to buy a Google device SIM-free.

This fragmentation is a big problem for Android, with so many different versions running on different devices of differing sizes and specs.



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Report claims Samsung Galaxy S5 will have eyeball-scanning tech


You’ll be able to unlock the Samsung Galaxy S5 just by looking at it, according to a new report.

Industry sources told ZDNet Korea that Samsung is readying a mobile with an iris scanner. That mobile is highly likely to be its next flagship, the Galaxy S5, which is rumoured to be due at Mobile World Congress in February.

It’s likely to work just like the iPhone 5S’s fingerprint scanner, so you use it to unlock the phone, as well as pay for purchases and log in to certain sites.

The sources also mentioned the S5 will pack a ridiculously high-resolution screen. It’ll be QHD, they say, which is 2,560×1,440 pixels – that’s four times as high as 720p HD.

Also on board will be Samsung’s new 64-bit eight-core Exynos processor, 3GB of RAM, and Android 4.4 KitKat, though it could also ship with Samsung’s own Tizen OS.

Samsung has used eye-tracking tech on its phones before. The Smart Stay feature keeps the screen lit as long as you’re looking at it, so you won’t have to prod it to stop it dimming if you’re reading a long email. But an iris scanner would be the first of its kind in a mobile.




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Nokia Android plans killed off


Nokia has stopped working on its so–called Normandy Android phone project. The news comes from sources speaking with Chinese tech site C-Technology, who claim that Espoo is instead focusing on more futuristic tech.

Plans for Normandy, a device using a ‘forked’ version of Android aimed at emerging markets where the company’s Asha phones have already proved popular, emerged earlier this week.

However, sources are saying that Nokia’s Chief Technology Office (CTO), which was developing the phone, is shifting its focus to wearable kit such as smart glasses, as well as wireless charging kit.

Interestingly, it’s believed that Microsoft did not tell Nokia to call time on the Google–based blower. Nokia’s CTO is one of the few parts of the Finnish firm which is not being sold to the Redmond–based company, but is bound by an agreement not to make phones or tablets under the Nokia brand name for two years.

Nokia’s devices and services businesses will come fully under control of Microsoft early in the new year, after the takeover deal was approved by regulators in Europe and the United States.




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iOS 7.1 beta 2 released: faster, with custom design tweaks

peoples-phone-apple-io7-1-betaApple has released the second beta version of iOS 7 to developers, bringing a host of design tweaks and improvements to the operating system.

iOS 7.1 beta 2 is available now from the iOS Dev Centre and over the air.

The animations in the beta are faster than in the consumer version of iOS 7. It also gives users control over some of the design elements.

Users can choose whether to turn on button shapes, to give tappable text a shaded background. This will make it more obvious which text is tappable, and which isn’t, and so make it easier to navigate around the operating system.

Other improvements include the Touch ID and Passcode Settings being more prominently displayed, a new bounce animation for the Control Centre, a new list view/toggle in the Calendar app, and a new wallpaper from the iPad Air.

The dark keyboard option from the first beta has been dropped, too.

There’s no word on when these features will find their way into the next consumer build of iOS 7. Apple rolls out betas for developers to test and see what they like and what doesn’t work, so there’s a chance not every tweak will see the light of day.





Apple iWatch: October 2014 release date rumoured

peoples-phone-apple-iwatchApple’s much–rumoured iWatch will launch in October 2014, making its debut at the same time as the next-generation iPhone 6. That’s according to a report from Chinese tech site C Technology, which served up a series of nailed on predictions about the iPhone 5s earlier this year.

While details about the iWatch remain scarce, Chinese sources say that Apple is looking into a wireless charging solution. The aim would be to power up the smart watch a metre away from a power source. That suggests it could draw juice from an iPhone or iPad.

Word is the battery will be a small 100mAh effort, about a third of the size of the paltry model found inside Samsung’s Galaxy Gear. That battery has led to Sammy’s smart watch being dismissed for lacking decent charge skills.

The report says that battery life is a concern for Cupertino, with Tim Cook and co actively searching for ways to boost it to around four or five days.

With new smart watches from Samsung, Sony and possibly Google due in the next 12 months, Apple will be desperate to get everything spot on with its first attempt, creating an iPhone moment. The question is, is the demand for wearable tech really that high? Hopefully we’ll know by October next year.

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BT introduces automatic wi-fi connection for iOS users



BT has today announced a new iOS app that will automatically connect users to any of its 5.2 million wi-fi hotspots in the UK. The new feature gives customers a seamless wireless broadband connection at any of BT’s hotspots, so customers can connect to BT Wi-fi hassle free.

The new free BT Wi-fi iOS app with automatic connection is available to anyone running an iOS 6 and above device and can be downloaded here: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/bt-wi-fi/id384404559

Erik Raphael, Director of BT Wi-fi and devices said, “Latest figures show that BT Wi-fi use has more than doubled in the last quarter to 6.6bn minutes. As demand is increasing, it makes sense that customers can automatically connect to our hotspots. Our new iOS app connects a customer whenever they are near a hotspot without the need to open the app again. This makes it even easier to find and use BT Wi-fi.”

BT can also confirm the forthcoming launch of their first ever Windows 8.1 app delivering automatic wi-fi connection to desktop, laptop and tablet devices. When in range of a BT Wi-fi hotspot, users will see if they are connected as the live tiles on the home screen will change colour to reflect status.

The free BT Wi-fi app is also available to download on Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone devices: buff.ly/1455wBp Auto

All BT Wi-fi hotspots are free and unlimited for BT Broadband customers. The hotspots are in millions of homes, thousands of independent businesses, plus branded sites including Starbucks, Young’s pubs, Hilton Hotels and GAME stores.


Checkout the latest deals on BT Broadband here.

Ofcom rules Freephone numbers must be free on mobile



Ofcom has ruled that Freephone numbers must be free on mobile phones. 0800, 0808 and 116 numbers are currently free on landlines, but mobile users are required to pay.

The plans are part of a new, overarching strategy from Ofcom, which will see premium rate charges from mobiles explained more clearly. Currently, charges for calling 08 and 09 numbers vary massively between networks.

Under new rules, users will be able to see a breakdown of costs on their monthly bill. An access charge, set by the networks, will sit alongside a service charge, set by the business being called. The idea is to increase competition and give consumers a better deal.

The move to make Freephone numbers free on mobile, along with tweaks to premium rate lines, will not be rolled out until June 2015.




US airline Delta says no to mobile phone calls on planes

Delta boss Richard Anderson said the airline will ban mobile phone calls on planes even if US regulators allow the technology to be used in-flight.
Delta boss Richard Anderson said the airline will ban mobile phone calls on planes even if US regulators allow the technology to be used in-flight.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently said it would consider lifting its ban on in-flight calls. Mr Anderson said a majority of Delta’s customers who were surveyed indicated calls would be “a disruption to the travel experience”. He added in-flight crews also objected to allowing mobile phones to be used.
“Even as technology advances and as regulations are changed, we will not only consider what we can do, but as importantly we will also consider what is right for our customers and our employees,” said Mr Anderson in a memo to staff.
While the FCC has indicated it is open to amending its rules, another US agency – the Transportation Department – has said it is thinking about instituting a ban of its own.
A recent poll by the Associated Press news agency suggested that 48% of Americans opposed allowing mobile phone calls during flights. Among those who flew at least once last year, it was 59%.