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  • Geebo 10:00 am on December 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , apps, ,   

    Fake Alexa app invades Apple app store 

    Fake Alexa app invades Apple app store

    If you were one of the scores of people who received the Amazon Echo for Christmas, you may want to make sure it was set up correctly. When you first set up your Echo device you need to use a smartphone or tablet app that is directly from Amazon itself. If you used a third-party app that wasn’t from Amazon you may have divulged a little more information that you should have and not to Amazon.

    It was reported yesterday that an app called “Setup for Amazon Alexa” rushed to the top of the Apple App Store’s popular apps after Christmas. The problem with this app is that not only was it not from Amazon but the app asked for much more information that should be given to a random app from the App Store, but you had to give it permission to collect all sorts of data from your iPhone or iPad in order to get your Echo to ‘work’. Of course, the app didn’t actually activate an Echo and received many complaints from Apple users.

    This is unusual for Apple as they have a very stringent process for allowing apps into their App Store. The app has since been pulled from the store but more than likely the damage has already been done to iOS users who already installed the malicious app to their Apple devices. If you are setting up any kind of device in your home that requires a mobile app to activate the device, always use the app from the manufacturer. If you’re having trouble finding it in the app store, go to the manufacturer’s website and they should have a link to the app you need. Below is a video showing you the proper way to activate your Amazon Echo.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on May 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: apps, , Samaritan, ,   

    Startup app hopes to better connect homeless to the public 

    Startup app hopes to better connect homeless to the public

    Most startup apps hope to accomplish one of two things. The first is to try to innovate some new social trend that existing social platforms haven’t thought of yet. In the crowded social space, those innovative ideas are few and far between. The other things most startup apps try to do to is to be bought out by a larger company like Facebook, Google, or Twitter in hopes of making a quick fortune. Rarely do we hear about a startup app that’s trying to help those less fortunate in society, but now a startup app out of Seattle is trying to help one of society’s most marginalized people.

    The way the Samaritan app works is that someone who is homeless can get a Bluetooth beacon from any one of Samaritan’s outreach partners. This beacon allows its holder to share their story through their app so they’re not just a faceless person holding a cardboard sign. Many of us have reasons why we don’t give money to homeless people. Some of us don’t carry cash while others have social anxieties that prevent them from talking to people they don’t know, and of course, there are some of us that don’t believe some of those needing help are truly homeless. The Samaritan app helps with a lot of those problems as money can be donated directly to a homeless person in your area who the app notifies you about. Once you receive a notification on the app, you can donate money to that person directly electronically. Users of the beacon can then use the money to get foods and services at many partnered locations, however, alcohol cannot be bought using the Samaritan service.

    So far, the app is available for both iOS and Android devices, but currently, the program is only running in Seattle. They hope to expand into 100 cities within the year. So far, the results in Seattle have been nothing short of amazing, helping people not only to get money to find food but others have been able to find housing and employment through the program. Startup culture and angel investors need to start cultivating more apps like Samaritan and fewer apps that are highlighted by some form of Kardashian.

     
  • Geebo 12:03 pm on January 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , apps, Meitu   

    Be careful what permissions your apps want on your phone 

    Be careful what permissions your apps want on your phone

    I’m sure when most of us download the latest fad app to our smart phones we just bypass the permissions screen and grant the app whatever permissions it might need to work properly. A new app is now causing concern for asking for too much permission.

    Meitu is an app that can take a photo of you, or anything else you want, and allows you to change the subject into an Anime inspired character. The problem is that Meitu is supposedly asking for way more permission than it needs. If you download the app from the Google Play store it will ask for such permissions as your location and your phone number. On the iPhone it also checks to see who your mobile carrier is.

    So why would a harmless app ask for such detailed information? According to CNET it’s so that the app’s creators can sell your information to advertisers. Meitu isn’t the only culprit here though. Many apps ask for almost total access to your phone in order to harvest your information to be sold to the highest bidder which can lead to even more obtrusive advertising than mobile devices already have to contend with.

    So the next time that screen pops up asking for your permission, maybe we should all check to make sure what permissions the app is asking for and if it’s too many maybe forego that app.

     
  • Geebo 12:51 pm on December 12, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: apps, banking, finance, spending   

    How traffic light colors helped people from overspending 

    How traffic light colors helped people from overspending

    An east coast based bank reportedly installed a simple feature on their app to keep their customers from overspending. The bank simply put in different colored notifications that would indicate how your spending compared to the previous month. Using the simple red, yellow and green combinations the app has allowed hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce their overall spending.

    This is something that more banks should probably look into, not just for protection of their customers but for better business as well. The less that customers spend from their bank accounts the more assets banks have to lend with the potential of greater profits.

    Whoever thought that all it would take were three simple colors that we’ve recognized since a young age that mean go, caution and stop?

     
  • Geebo 11:51 am on October 25, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: apps, , ,   

    Changing your number? Change your apps. 

    Changing your number? Change your apps.

    A number of smartphone apps are tied to your cell phone number. If you end up having to change your number for whatever reason, don’t forget to update your apps with your new phone number. If you forget, it may cost you a pretty penny.

    For example a woman who changed her number found mysterious charges for the ride sharing service Lyft on her credit card. When she received her new phone number the phone company recycled her phone number and the person with her old number was able to use her Lyft account to get rides. However the person with the old number claims that Lyft wouldn’t allow to update the profile that was connected to the old number.

    While no malice may have been intended a number change can cause potential headaches for users since so many apps are tied to phone numbers. Both Facebook and Twitter allow logins through cell phone numbers and if you forget to update your apps if you change could lead to someone hijacking these accounts. This could lead to something as minor as cyber-vandalism or something as damaging as identity theft.

     
  • Geebo 9:52 am on September 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: apps, Houseparty, Meerkat,   

    Is Houseparty an app that parents need to be aware of? 

    Is Houseparty an app that parents need to be aware of?

    You remember Meerkat don’t you? It was the livestreaming app that everyone used for a day before Periscope came along and ate its lunch. Now from the makers of Meerkat comes an app called Houseparty that allows its users to engage in video group chats on their Android or iOS devices. Like most of these type of apps, it’s geared towards teens, so should parents be concerned about the app? Maybe.

    Houseparty is generally used for a group of friends to have group chats with and is intended to be more private than a livestream. In order to join a chat a user needs to know the other users’ phone number or username. That seems to limit the ability of random people to join in the chats. The app itself seems pretty innocuous, however with most social apps parents should be aware but not over-reactionary.

    While Houseparty seems to have its act together when it comes to security of its users it only takes one bad apple to start the abuse of the app. Since the group chats depend on who is hosting the chat, friends of friends can join the chat of the host allows. It’s those friends of friends that could be a predators way in to a conversation with your child.

    So as is with most apps Houseparty is just a tool that’s used to communicate in this social and digital era. It’s up to parents to make sure that the tool isn’t being used the wrong way against your children.

     
  • Geebo 9:59 am on September 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: apps, brain trainers, luminosity   

    Can you really train your brain online? 

    Can you really train your brain online?

    If you’ve ever listened to a number of podcasts, you may notice that a lot of them have the same advertisers. A few years ago one of those advertisers was a product called Luminoisity. You could hardly listen to any show on the internet without hearing an ad for Luminosity, that promised to increase your brain function with its series of mental exercises. Of course the service wasn’t free and ‘brain function’ is a vague enough term that’s difficult to quantify.

    Apparently the Federal Trade Commission had the same opinion as they’ve cracked down on these services and apps that promise to ‘train your brain’ with Luminosity allegedly being the biggest offender. At one point, the FTC says, Luminosity was implying that there program could ward off mental decline or improve brain function after a something like a stroke. This has resulted in millions of dollars in refunds to customers.

    Studies on the subject have had differing results. Some claim that the programs have shown a slight increase in IQ while others have said it’s nothing more than a placebo effect. While your results may vary, as they say, it might be wise to avoid any programs like this that cost money and promise vague benefits. Today’s brain training apps and programs may just be the modern-day version of snake oil.

     
  • Geebo 9:54 am on August 12, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: apps, chat bot,   

    Student builds app to help homeless find homes 

    Student builds app to help homeless find homes

    When we think of smart phone apps we usually think of social apps like Twitter or game apps like Pokemon Go. We rarely think of them as tools for social change. If a 19-year-old Stanford student has his way that may change.

    UK native Joshua Browder, has developed a chat bot that is helping the homeless in UK find homes. The bot asks the user a series of questions then crafts a letter that the user can send to the government to request housing. In the UK, housing is a right guaranteed by the government. Browder would like to see his app help homeless in the US be he says because of all the different homeless laws in the different cities and states makes it incredibly difficult.

    As hard as it is for the needy to navigate through the bureaucracy to obtain the services they need, more apps like this could go a long way in assisting those who need help the most.

     
  • Geebo 11:42 am on July 12, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: apps, Exchange Initiative, , , TraffickCam   

    New app let’s you help fight human trafficking 

    New app let's you help fight human trafficking

    Many times when human traffickers advertise their victims online, they often use pictures taken in the hotel rooms of where they’re being sold out of. Law enforcement can sometimes use those pictures to locate where the victims of trafficking are being held captive. Now, a smart phone app aims to help law enforcement by creating a database of pictures from hotels all over the country.

    The app, called TraffickCam, was designed by anti-human trafficking group, the Exchange Initiative. Users can download the app and when they stay in any hotel they can take pictures of the room and add them to the ever-increasing database of pictures. The more pictures there are the more chances law enforcement has of rescuing a woman or child from being sold into sexual slavery.

    With apps like Snapchat and Instagram we’re already taking scores of pictures of our surroundings everyday. With TraffickCam you can take just a few more pictures that have the potential to rescue someone from a life of violence and sexual servitude. However, an even bigger boon towards this end would be if the hotel and motel industries themselves would get involved instead of often turning a blind eye to what goes on behind their doors.

     
  • Geebo 9:56 am on July 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: apps, , , Pokemon Go   

    What exactly is Pokemon Go and is it safe? 

    What exactly is Pokemon Go?

    In case you haven’t heard, the new must have app among mobile users is Pokemon Go. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a mobile game for both iOS and Android that is based on the wildly popular Pokemon video games made by Nintendo. In the original games, the player travels around the confines of the game capturing the fantastical creatures known as Pokemon. One of the great features of the games was that you could play and trade with your friends.

    Pokemon Go is what’s known as an augmented reality game. That means that it overlays elements of the game into the real world through the screen of your mobile phone. The game puts you into the role of a Pokemon trainer and allows you to catch virtual Pokemon in the real world. The game was designed to not only get players to get up and move around but it also has a social aspect that allows other players to meet in real life.

    Even though the game is incredibly popular and fun to play, that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been drawbacks. The first thing to consider is that the game keeps its players looking down into their cell phones. If a player is not aware of their surroundings it could lead to injuries and in fact it has. Any game ultimately leads to cheating and in the case of Pokemon Go it has led at least one man to use a drone in order to try to locate rare Pokemon without putting in the footwork. Some people have even used Pokemon Go to allegedly rob players when they show up to areas where Pokemon are said to be.

    However, having said all of that Pokemon Go can be a fun and safe time for both adults and kids and even parents and their children as long as you use common sense.

     
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