July 24, 2014
Mobile devices accounted for nearly two-thirds of the social networking company’s revenue, which rose 61 percent over the same quarter last year. [via The New York Times]
Facebook, based in Menlo Park, Calif., said it had about 1.32 billion monthly users around the world in June, with more than a billion of those people using the service at least partly on mobile devices.
Revenue was $2.91 billion, up 61 percent from $1.81 billion during the same period last year.
Mobile devices accounted for nearly two-thirds of Facebook’s revenue, which at this point mostly comes from ads shown on the Facebook website and apps. However, the company is beginning to supplement that with ads on other sites.
... The company accounted for 5.8 percent of the world’s estimated $120 billion in digital ad revenues in 2013, and it captured 17.77 percent of mobile ad spending, according to the research firm eMarketer.
July 22, 2014
For the first time, more Chinese people are gaining access to the Internet with mobile phones than with personal computers, reports The New York Times.
The shift is significant, if expected, in China, which is the world’s biggest market for both Internet and smartphone users.
China had 632 million Internet users at the end of June, an increase of 14.4 million since the end of December, according to a semiannual report published on Monday by the official China Internet Network Information Center, which is known as CNNIC. Of those, 83.4 percent reported gaining access to the Internet with mobile phones, exceeding for the first time the 80.9 percent who reported using computers to go online.
Read full article.
July 19, 2014
Sidewalk collisions involving pedestrians engrossed in their electronic devices have become an irritating (and sometimes dangerous) fact of city life. To prevent them, what about just creating a “no cellphones” lane on the sidewalk? Would people follow the signs? That’s what a TV crew decided to find out on a Washington, D.C., street Thursday, as part of a behavioral science experiment for a new National Geographic TV series. [via Quartz]
As expected, some pedestrians ignored the chalk markings designating a no-cellphones lane and a lane that warned pedestrians to walk “at your own risk.” Others didn’t even see them because they were too busy staring at their phones. But others stopped, took pictures and posted them—from their phones, of course.
July 16, 2014
Music distribution via ringtones and ringback tones is an unstoppable trend in Africa despite other emerging avenues such as online streaming, says an expert. ITWeb Africa reports.
Mobile is 99% of the way music is going to be consumed and distributed in Africa," Yoel Kenan, the chief executive officer of B2B music distribution and licensing service Africori, has told ITWeb Africa.
... Kenan's theory is that there is a natural evolution of music consumption in Africa.
That is, it started with the use of music as a mobile phone ringtone or ringback tone. This is what he terms the first digital music revolution. Meanwhile, the second digital music revolution in Africa is to depend on the web with streaming services.
He added that, "We are focusing on the second cycle which is has not yet hit Africa. But it is starting to hit Africa. However, the first cycle of the digital music is not showing any signs of coming down yet."
Kenan attributed this stagnation to feature phones being a major tool in Africa and only a small percentage of people in Africa have smartphones that can stream music easily from the web.
In a study by Telecoms.com in January this year, the total African handset ownership is at 993 million people with only 112 million owning smartphones.
Read full article.
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July 12, 2014
Nearly two years after the Israel Defense Forces promised otherwise, its Personal Message system for alerting civilians about incoming rockets is still not operational. [via Haaretz]
Developed at a cost of 400 million shekels ($117 million), the network is supposed to complement — and improve on — the sirens that send Israelis scurrying into bomb shelters when rockets are on the way. The principle is a simple one: alerts over smartphones and other mobile devices.
The system would be employed for all kinds of emergencies, whether rockets, an earthquake or an overturned oil tanker truck. The urgency has become evident in recent days as Hamas rockets have pelted southern Israel and have hit well north of Tel Aviv. The big problem: Many people in the center of the country say they don’t always hear the sirens.
On Thursday, the army announced that it had launched a very limited version of the service — what it described as the first stage of the system’s rollout. In that phase, the IDF would inform users once a day, based on their location, how much warning time they would need if a rocket were launched toward their area; for example, 40 seconds in Ashdod and 90 seconds in Tel Aviv.
“Citizens who have devices that support the system will receive a message by cellphone that will notify them of the time they have for a missile to strike,” the IDF said. “At this stage, the network will not operate as an alert system.” The system is compatible with Samsung, Sony, HTC and LG phones, it added.
July 8, 2014
In the city of Kasuga, education authorities have encouraged students to surrender their phones to adults between 10pm and 6am Though the board has support from local schools, there are no penalties in place for those who disobey.
This latest campaign by authorities in Kasuga came after discussions with parent-teacher associations concerned about smartphone use amongst teens.
Posters and leaflets have been sent to the city’s six junior high schools asking them to observe the ban.
Read full article.
According to The Telegraph, British Airways will turn away passengers booked on US-bound flights if their electrical devices will not switch on.
Holidaymakers and business travellers who arrive at airport security with uncharged mobile phones or other electrical items will be stopped from boarding planes bound for the United States and effectively treated like “terrorists”. British Airways said passengers who fail to turn on devices when asked will be immediately banned from their US flight and have to reschedule, even if they offer to abandon the item or send it on separately.
Britain’s main airline warned that even a new device bought in the airport lounge after passing through security will have to be charged up or the passenger will not be allowed to board at the gate. Any transfer passenger whose device has gone flat on the first leg will also be prevented from their onward travel unless they can recharge first.
Turning on an electronic device can show a security screener that the laptop computer or mobile phone is a working device and that its batteries are not hidden explosives.
The move caused confusion at airports on Monday.
July 3, 2014
According to Dr. Bastawrous at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine there are 39 million sufferers of blindness around the world. 80% are from low-income countries, and the majority are blind from diseases that are either curable or preventable. Dr. Bastawrous has been harnessing the power of mobile technology to deliver eye care in an innovative new way to these individuals. An installment of Digital Diversity by Ken Banks in National Geographic.
Peek is a smartphone app aimed at community healthcare workers which allows them to deliver eye care everywhere. The app is able to scan the eye to check for diseases as well as other problems. It works by looking at visual acuity, visual field, colour vision and contrast sensitivity allowing Peek to diagnose blindness, visual impairment, cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and other retinal and optic nerve diseases and crucial indicators of brain tumour and haemorrhage.
The app allows individuals with minimal training to conduct a comprehensive examination. By using a smartphone it replaces bulky traditional equipment which is expensive, fragile and often requires a continuous power source.
Dr. Bastawrous and his team are currently running multiple trials in Kenya within communities and schools. To ensure that everyone understands the benefits of the new technology, everything is being shared in simple, non-technical language.
June 26, 2014
The Moscow city government is asking citizens to weigh in on the fate of the Shukhov radio tower, a rusted icon of Soviet constructivist architecture that’s threatened with demolition. Designed by Vladimir Shukhov, the 92-year-old steel-lattice structure has been called Russia’s Eiffel Tower, but years of official neglect have left it badly in need of repairs. [via full article">Quartz]
Russia’s state broadcasting committee announced this spring that the tower would be dismantled and relocated, likely opening up the site to valuable development. Protesters, preservationists, and a starry array of international architects have petitioned President Vladimir Putin to reconsider, and restore the state-owned structure instead.
The vote, which began this week and runs until July 6, is being held on Active Citizen, an iOS and Android app released by the city last month. The app polls citizens on topics such as street-tree planting and changes to daylight savings time. On the question of the Shukhov tower, they’re being asked to choose between dismantling the tower and refurbishing it.
Read full article.
June 25, 2014
From July, anyone travelling in any of the EU member countries with their smartphone will enjoy a few less numbers on their bill. As part of new roaming caps coming into effect next week, the European Commission has cut the price of data downloads by 55 percent. This means the most you'll pay for a megabyte is 20 cents instead of 45.
Bitcoin has all the buzz right now. But there's another financial innovation that could have a far more meaningful impact on the lives of billion of people without bank accounts across the world. ReadWriteWeb reports.
In 2007, two years before the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto wrote the original proposal for Bitcoin, Safaricom, a Kenyan telecommunications company effectively controlled by Vodafone, launched M-Pesa, a service that let anyone with an active cell-phone line send and receive money instantly.
“Pesa” means money in Swahili, and M-Pesa, short for mobile money, has become synonymous with money in Kenya. M-Pesa transactions accounts for 40 percent of the gross domestic product. It has spread beyond Kenya’s borders to South Africa, Afghanistan, India, and most recently Romania. It doesn't require smartphones; it works on the very basic so-called “feature” phones that are common in the developing world. If you can send a text message, you can bank with M-Pesa.
M-Pesa has enabled millions of the unbanked to emerge from subsistence living into the makings of a middle-class life.
Bitcoin is the answer that Silicon Valley is putting forward for the 70% of the world that is unbanked. It’s easy to understand why entrepreneurs and investors are charmed by the technical elegance and openness of Bitcoin, which provides both a decentralized system for transactions and its own form of stored value.
Therein lie two key differences between M-Pesa and Bitcoin:
M-Pesa works with existing national currencies, making it far simpler to withdraw and spend.M-Pesa is controlled by Vodafone, whereas Bitcoin is an open technology.
Could M-Pesa be the AOL of mobile money—set to become big for a brief period, only to be overtaken by more open technologies? here are four reasons why this way of thinking about M-Pesa could be wrong.
Iraqis have been turning to an app which allows group messages to be sent between phones, without the need for an internet connection, in an effort to circumnavigate government restrictions. The BBC reports.
About 40,000 users downloaded Firechat last week, compared with 6,600 over the previous few months, the company says.
The internet has been blocked in some Iraqi provinces, as authorities seek to prevent militants from communicating. Access to social media sites has also been severely restricted.
Firechat allows users to take part in group chats with between two and 10,000 people, without the need for an internet connection.
Using a technology known as "mesh networking". A mesh network allows a single connection to the net to be shared between multiple devices, many of which can be removed without the network failing. The devices can still chat to each other even if the net connection is severed.
Firechat does not have access to the content of the messages. However, discussions are not private, and can be seen by anyone in the area.
June 23, 2014
WeChat is the latest messaging app to take a leaf out of Snapchat's 'ephemeral' book, introducing a new feature on its iOS app that lets you recall the last message you sent within two minutes. [via TNW]
All you have to do is long-press the message to activate a series of options, click ?Unsend? and the messagewill disappear from both your chat screen and the recipient?s. The feature also works on photos.
In the meantime, the iOS version of WeChat?s Chinese counterpart, has also received an update today that lets users deposit money into their wallet within the app, then transfer money to their friends or make payments directly without having to leave the app.
Read full article.
Life-size fibreglass cows, modelled on Worthy Farm's famous dairy herd, have been converted into 4G Wi-Fi hotspots.
They are powered by a bespoke 4G network, which will be installed on the 1,200-acre site by EE, the technology partner of Glastonbury Festival 2014.
Read full article.
The mobile phone text message may soon become a thing of past on the mainland, government figures suggest, reports South China Morning Post.
In the first five months of this year, mainland mobile users each sent an average of 39.8 texts per month, according to the latest statistics released by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. That is a fall of 18.4 per cent compared with the same period last year.
Texts generated less than $3.5 billion yuan (22 billion Yuan) in revenue for mainland telecommunications companies in the first five months of the year, a 13 per cent fall compared with the same period last year. Mobile internet services brought in more than 100 billion yuan in revenue in the same period, a growth of nearly 50 per cent.
The first text sent using the short messaging service, or SMS, was received in 1992 on the mainland and towards the end of the decade the technology rapidly gained in popularity.
Read full article.
June 20, 2014
What if a schizophrenic patient could have the equivalent of a therapist in a pocket, watching for symptoms of a relapse?
That’s the promise of a smartphone-based system now being tested at a hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y. The app, called CrossCheck, uses a suite of sensors to create a profile of a patient’s healthy behavioral and social patterns and can then raise an alert when the patient deviates from the norm.
Despite boasting 15 mobile money services, India lag so far behind other developing nations. Quartz looks into the reasons why.
In much of the developing world, mobile money is evolving. Initially just a means of making payments, it’s now becoming a platform for an entire financial-services industry. But one of the world’s biggest and poorest countries has remained immune to the attractions of mobile money. Despite the potential benefits, “the uptake has been limited,” says Graham Wright of MicroSave, a financial-inclusion organisation working in India. “And because of those challenges, the mobile operators are unsure about how much to invest in this business.”
Analysts think that mobile money transfers in India could be worth $350 billion annually (paywall) by next year. Yet the state of the industry remains small: Less money moves through wireless transfers in India than in either Pakistan or Bangladesh, both of which have smaller, poorer populations.
Read full article.
Texting: The quiet king. By daily use, it’s nearly three times more popular than phone calls.
Messaging is an everything network. It’s identity, it’s social, it’s intent (“hey do you want to see Spider-Man”), it’s location (“yo I’m in the theater”). It’s the purest form of social network, so simply social that we scarcely consider it a network.
Watch Over Me Watch Over Me is an ingenious app that turns the smartphone into a emergency alert system. It's just the latest mobile tool that is helping people reach out for help when they need it. Fastcompany reports.
Since launching a year ago on iOS and Android, Watch Over Me has attracted 140,000 users all over the world, with the majority so far located in Southeast Asia.
The premise is easy to understand: When a user feels worried about her safety, she sets the app to check in on her in a specified time period--say in the 30 minutes it will take to walk home late at night or drive home in a nasty storm. At 30 minutes, Watch Over Me pings the user three times at one-minute intervals. If the person doesn't respond, it sends an SMS or email with her current location to designated emergency contacts, who can then decide whether to notify the police (the SMS feature requires a monthly fee). On Android devices, it’ll also activate the phone’s camera and take a 10 second audio and video clip.
Watch Over Me, built on Twilio's SMS platform, adds to a growing number of mobile services that help people reach out when they are in need of help.
Read full article.
Google and Microsoft will add a "kill-switch" feature to their Android and Windows phone operating systems, reports the BBC.
The feature is a method of making a handset completely useless if it is stolen, rendering a theft pointless.
Authorities have been urging tech firms to take steps to help curb phone theft and argued that a kill-switch feature can help resolve the problem.
Apple and Samsung, two of the biggest phone makers, offer a similar feature on some of their devices.
The move by Google and Microsoft means that kill switches will now be a part of the three most popular phone operating systems in the world.
Read full article.
June 19, 2014
The Fire phone, the product of four years of research and development, offers Amazon fans the chance to live in an Amazon-themed world, where just about every element can be identified, listed, ranked, shared and, of course, ordered.
It offered a view of a mobile future that will be alluring to some but might repel others.
[via The New York Times]
Jeff Bezos just pulled back the curtain on Fire Phone's Firefly feature, which scans music, art and even products you have lying around in the real world. Why? So you can buy it all from Amazon, of course. [via engadget]
Here's how it works: You'll be able to use the phone's Firefly app (which you can invoke with a dedicated button) to snap images of DVDs, books, QR codes, CDs, bar codes and more. From there, the app chews on that data to recognize it and finds the product in its massive database.
Read full article.
June 14, 2014
According to The Times of India, the Chennai state government has jsut introduced a billing notice by SMS of bi-monthly electricity fees, soon after the reading is taken.
The SMS will contain the electricity charges as well as the last date for payment of the bill. Consumers will get an SMS three days before the last date to remind him or her about the impending payment, said a statement.
June 13, 2014
Innovative and powerful 'text and drive' ad from Volkswagen that played in a movie house. [via Design Taxi]
A study finds use of 'text speak' including shortened words and abbreviations can actually improve children's spelling because they sound out words and phrases. The Telegraph reports.
... The study, published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology, analysed the text messages sent by primary, secondary and university students and their performance in grammar and spelling tests. This was repeated a year later with the 234 participants.
Researchers found no connection between grammatical errors or omissions made in text messages such as “wanna” and “gr8”, and children’s understanding of grammar and spelling. Use of errors among primary school age pupils – such as ‘they is’ rather than ‘they are’ – also led to positive improvements in grammatical ability 12 months letter.
Read full article.
June 11, 2014
Mozilla, the organisation behind the Firefox browser, has announced it will start selling low-cost smartphones in India within the "next few months".
Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, the firm's chief operating officer suggested the handsets, which will be manufactured by two Indian companies, would retail at $25 (£15).
They will run Mozilla's HTML5 web-based mobile operating system, Firefox OS.
The firm already sells Firefox-powered phones in Europe and Latin America.
The current handsets, which are sold via eBay, retail at £59.99 in the UK, or $69.99 in the US.
June 6, 2014
Africa's claim to be the "mobile continent" is even stronger than previously thought, with researchers predicting internet use on mobile phones will increase 20-fold in the next five years – double the rate of growth in the rest of the world. [via The Guardian]
By the end of 2014, it is forecast that there will be more than 635m mobile subscriptions in sub-Saharan Africa.
People in Africa use mobiles for online activities that others normally perform on laptops or desktop computers as the technology overcomes weak or non-existent landline infrastructure in large swaths of the world's poorest continent.
Declining prices of handsets and data, along with faster transmission speeds, mean Facebook, Twitter and cash transfer services can reach both the growing African middle class and the remotest rural areas, where villagers often find ingenious ways of keeping phones charged.
June 5, 2014
The Central African Republic has issued a nationwide ban on text messages after the government learned that protests were being organized that way. [via The Washington Times]
The use of any SMS by all mobile phone subscribers is suspended from Monday June 2, 2014, until further notice,” the telecommunications ministry said Tuesday, citing a decision by Prime Minister Andre Nzapayeke, Agence France-Presse reported. Mobile subscribers in the conflict-torn country who try to send text messages are getting the response: “SMS not allowed.”Read more.
The ban comes after days of violent demonstrations in CAR’s capital of Bangui, and a mass SMS campaign calling for a general strike. Mr. Nzapayeke had made an appeal on Sunday for people to stop demonstrating in Bangui and return to work, AFP reported.
June 3, 2014
Apple has unveiled a radical overhaul of its Mac software alongside a brand new iOS 8. The latest iOS software now has interactive notifications, a keyboard that predicts what users will type, and a Snapchat-style self-destruct button for video and audio messages, reports the Daily Mail.
According to stuff, this feature has caught the imagination of the tech industry, as well as the legion of Apple users who have Snapchat accounts.
More than 700 million messages and photos are shared on Snapchat each day. These digital missives appear for a total of 10 seconds before disappearing.
Not only are self-destructing messages the core of three-year old company’s offering, selling ad space to their momentarily captive audience is the central pillar of their commercial strategy.
The company recently turned down a US$3 billion cash acquisition offer from Facebook, with Spiegel declaring he wasn’t interested in short term gain.
Read full article.
May 29, 2014
Specifically, PERES measures four things: Temperature, humidity, ammonia, and volatile organic compounds VOCs. It uses this data to detect whether meat is fresh and safe to eat. The device connects to your Android or iOS smartphone via Bluetooth, and works with most common types of meat – beef, poultry, pork and fish.
PERES is being offered through crowd-funding site IndieGogo, where it has already surpassed its $50,000 goal. The device is scheduled to enter mass production in October 2014 with an expected retail price of $150.
May 26, 2014
Sticker-based apps like Line and WeChat have transformed mobile messaging in Asia, but they have been slow to catch on in North America. [via The New York Times]
Tokyo start-up Line, along with WeChat from China, has sought to pepper the messaging experience with an array of stickers, social games and even weather forecasts. Their sprawling online offerings make them huge distribution platforms for content, not just messaging services. “It’s messaging, evolved,” said Takeshi Idezawa, Line’s chief operating officer.
Line has signed up 430 million users, almost 90 percent of them outside Japan. (It does not break out the number of active users.) WhatsApp said in February that it had 465 million monthly active users, while WeChat’s parent company, Tencent, said its number of monthly active users reached 355 million at the end 2013.
Read full article.