Attention all Gadget Thiefs!

What is the last thing you look at before going to bed and the first thing you wearily gaze at in the morning? For a growing number of people it is their smartphone. Smart phones are now engrained in society with 7 out of 10 people owning them. Phones are now an extension of ourselves, holding our pictures, music, contact details, and apps. So imagine having your precious device lost or worse yet stolen.  Until recently a stolen smart phone was a very easy thing to sell on, there’re expensive, portable and in high demand.  Now authorities are catching up with the thieves.

Authorities from around the world have put imagespressure on Google, Microsoft, Samsung and Apple to add a “kill switch” to all devices.  Apple and Samsung devices have already implemented this function and it has been proven that it works. In the first 5 months of this functionality the number of reported thefts of iPhone’s in London dropped by 24%.

These are known as “hard Kill Devices” meaning once activated the phone essentially becomes worthless.  “An activated kill switch converts an easy-to-sell, high-value multimedia device into a jumble of plastic and glass, drastically reducing its street value.” said the report by New York Attorney General.

With 3 million smartphones stolen each year it has become a multi billion pound monster.  This type of functionality is long overdue.  Organised crime routinely target phones as a mean for income since it often is more valuable than people’s wallets or purses. “Almost a third of US robberies involve phone theft.”  There are however concerns over people hacking this functionality being used by malicious hackers remotely deactivating peoples phones and the mill switch can be avoided by putting the phone into air-plane mode.  Other critics state that this will only work for the phones as a complete piece, not stripping down the phone for parts.

With technology advancing all the time, phones get better and better and we are storing more of our lives in them. So it is about time that we take phone security more seriously and develop phones with security systems already installed in the device and not have to rely on third party apps that could potentially be a security risk.

Microsoft plans on rolling out anAntiTheft-e1330012035815 update including this lock by July 2015 and Google has said they will implement Activation Lock on all new devices manufactured and in the next major Android update all phones running the most current OS will be protected. With all the major players in the phone industry agreeing to this it is calculated that 97% of the smartphone market place will be protected by a kill switch resulting in a huge loss to crime around the world.

 

Texting whilst driving

Texting whilst driving …a concept that is familiar to one and all on the roads of Britain. Whether its a sneaky one word text at traffic lights or a novella during a run up the motorway, its something that society acknowledges is happening to a lesser or greater degree. So, hey, what’s the problem?  Well, to borrow words of veteran football commentator John Motson, “it only takes a second to …er.. kill someone by accidentally driving into them” actually his words are just the start of that sentence of course. The point being whether it’s a 1 second text or a ten minute effort, the risk of making a driving error during that time is immense. In driving terms you can drive 50 metres in a second or less so that little cute message to your friend may turn out to be your infamous last words.

The number of times I see people talking on phones whilst driving beggar’s belief. If they are not texting or talking they are looking at phones whilst driving presumably reading a Facebook banality (boo hiss) or writing a text, or maybe just placing a bet, reading the news, or whatever their passion may be. The thought that this selfish action could end someone’s life, cripple or maim some innocent on in another vehicle, or on the pavement or zebra crossing or whatever seems of little interest to these self-centred morons.

Motoring organisations including, the AA say that they find that some drivers appear “addicted to texting and  using smartphones, it’s an addiction that is very hard to break even when in the car — it will take some system to help people break that addiction.”

Meanwhile the road safety charity Brake, labels the activity “a “widespread menace” which has been shown to slow driver reaction times by 35% and increase the likelihood of a crash by 23 times for commercial drivers.”

Therefore it is with unashamed self-righteousness that I welcome the proposed new developments coming out of the Apple orchard of technological loveliness…they have proposed a method that would prevent this kind of distraction and indeed disable the functionality of certain smartphone actions when an iPhone user is driving. Apple have  applied for patents such as one describing  “a “driver handheld computing device lock-out” system that detects when a user is driving using on-board sensors or pulling information from the car when connected, blocking the use of text messaging or using other smartphone functions from the person driving”.

Apple recognise that this habit of attempting to multi task whilst already multi-tasking (driving) is anti-social. So hats off to Apple, let’s wait for their next update on this but on the face of it any effort to reduce the risk of innocents being wiped out or maimed by idiots behind the wheel is a great step forward.

 

Why apps are a business “must have”

imagesIncreasingly we turn to the web or an app for goods and services. Both provide the ideal shop window for any business wanting to be seen and heard. Apps have a further appeal because by their nature they are mobile.

Mobile media has become the number ONE media for consumers. To ignore this is to limit your business opportunities, reduce your market share and frankly, be left behind…the word on Commercial Street is written large and clear, get a mobile app, bring your website up to speed and link the two.

Smartphone ownership is growing. Here’s a quick check-list of the benefits of an app for business small or large, established or start up.

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  • An App will help grow your business, increase incomes, turnover and cash flow.
  • An app is always on, always available and always putting your brand in front of your customers.
  • An App will help promote your identity, your brand and your perceived image as modern and up to date. Your business icon will be visible on the user’s phone.
  • Add Push Notification and you have an immediate and easy to manage direct communication channel to those of your clients who have downloaded the app. For marketing departments this is the Holy Grail. Engage with your customers!
  • Apps will enable you to collect and collate information from your consumer base. What they like and what they want.
  • Retain existing customers by communicating with them through the app.
  • Keep updating the app either through inbuilt content management system or by refreshing content through your developer periodically.

Link the app to your website. A simple URL link will take your customers to your website where they can purchase goods, register their needs and more. All on the move. The mobile website in conjunction with the mobile app is here to stay and whilst many businesses have already seen the opportunities the combination offers, many are yet to adopt this beautiful synergy of app and website. In a couple of years the picture will be different as competition drives business’s investment into this channel. If they ignore it or leave it until later, their competitors will steal a march on them and grab market share. The advice from those who have already shifted gear would be;  act now, bring the app and website relationship to life for your business.

There are, in addition, a plethora of productivity apps which have helped business’s . The streamlining of working practice through communications and data collection, formatting and transmission in real time has sped up so many processes, reduced paper trails and increased overall efficiencies. Each month there are new releases and not all of these are distributed widely. There are many thousands of Enterprise release apps which have helped business’s gain an edge on their competitors.

Here at AppDevelopersUK we have created several business apps in this category and know from first hand testimony how powerful these apps can be out there in the field. One client commissioned us to create an app which links to their in house database of over 50 thousand component parts, each with a varying price. These can be schematically created on an iPad on the customer’s premises to give a real immediacy and to create a superb sales opportunity, whether it be fulfilling a need of the customer or up-selling. A business without an app is like a business without a website. Lost and rarely found.

 

50 Billion Apps on Apple

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The fact that Apple are about to reach the mind boggling milestone of 50 billion app downloads represents  a remarkable moment. Perhaps it’s more remarkable to note that it was only last year that Apple celebrated 25 billion app downloads. The downloads have doubled over less than 12 months! It is only as recent as January 2013 that the 40 billionth app was downloaded….

The other point to notice about these is that over half of them are available as FREE apps. The so called free app has of course engineered its own way to make money; the” in app” purchase. You get the free app with limited content or features and then are lured into downloading additional content or features through the in app offerings. This has been a particular success in the gaming side of the free app market. According to a survey by App Hero, Apple have 800,000 apps available on the store. Of these there will be a huge number presumably, which have enjoyed low levels of success whilst many others will account for huge numbers of downloads. One only has to think Angry Birds, EverNote or Google Maps for instance.

Whatever angle you look at it from, the app market, still a youthful enterprise by any standard, has made a big impression on daily lives of billions of people around the globe, and established a whole new economy. Once the app store matures we shouldn’t be surprised to see whole new avenues of commerce and business thriving and bringing new horizons to the world of apps.

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Bird Track App released on iPhone

 

Bird Track App released on iPhone

BirdTrack app

Bird Track  is released on iPhone by App Developers UK. This is a beautiful  and highly rated bird watching app organised by the British Trust for Ornithology. The purpose of the app is to collect lists and casual records for BirdTrack users within the UK and Ireland. Records can be collected offline, and then verified and uploaded later, when convenient. GPS integration included and helpful recent local species & location hotspot viewers make this a useful app for any birdwatcher in the UK and Ireland.Bird Track App released on iPhone

This is a great app for all those who love to track the movements of birds. The data is posted to a powerful database which provides information for the user on the patterns of movements of different bird species. Take a look at the BTO website http://www.bto.org/ for details.Alternatively check out the app on iTunes.

Scanning the BTO twitter feed makes it clear that the app is being very well received by the BTO community of birdwatchers. Already tens of thousands of sightings have been logged through the app and these in turn are registering on the database so that all twitchers can get instant feedback from all points of the United Kingdom.