As the fastest-growing mobile market on the planet, Africa is facing huge opportunities — and distinct challenges — in news dissemination. Nieman Journalism Lab reports via @jranck.
By the end of the year, it’s estimated that more than three-quarters of the population will be cell phone subscribers, including in places where literacy rates are low and electricity is unavailable. To better serve that demographic, German media giant Deutsche Welle is using over-the-phone voice technology to deliver news.
No Internet access necessary: Just dial a number to access the program Learning by Ear, an educational show for teenagers that mixes news and explainers having to do with health, politics, the economy, the environment, and social issues.
When the series launched in 2008, it was a radio broadcast. A podcast version followed two years later. Now, Learning by Ear is available on any kind of mobile phone. (Episodes are also available to download for those with smartphones.) Each episode is 10 minutes long, but those minutes cost the user less than talking on the phone would. (The specific lower rates vary by carrier.)
The show’s already available in languages like English, French, Hausa, and Swahili.
The idea is to help give young people access to information that otherwise may not be available.
The International Olympic Committee and Twitter have worked closely in recent weeks to promote the microblog service as a means to engage with athletes, competitions and London 2012. But mobile social media users are proving so voluminous at some Olympic venues that they are now interfering with mobile networks on which the games themselves depend, the IOC says.
Cell phone service in Brazil is not good. One might therefore expect Brazilians to have been outraged when the telecommunications regulator decided to ban major carriers from selling new lines; instead, they celebrated.
According to The Wall Street Journal, North Korea's booming cellphone market now counts more than 1 million subscribers, providing citizens with an increasingly potent channel for delivering accounts from the reclusive country to the outside world.
North Korea's regime prohibits residents from making international calls with the phones or accessing the Internet with them. Still, some residents appear to be sharing information using sophisticated models that come with video and removable memory cards.
"It's tantamount to releasing countless personal video cameras and recording devices in the nation, which could be used to get information out," said Jiro Ishimaru, chief editor of Rimjin-gang, a magazine featuring news and information from undercover North Korean reporters, in an interview.
... The prospect is still remote that handsets can become a catalyst for a civilian uprising in North Korea, as they did in the Middle East last year. But the trend appears to be weakening the grip on information by North Korean leader Kim Jong Eun's hard-line communist regime, Pyongyang-watchers say.
The regime has been officially encouraging mobile-phone use for four years. It owns a 25% stake in Koryolink, North Korea's only mobile operator.
:.. The phone business provides money for the cash-strapped regime. Chinese touch-screen models for sale in Pyongyang can run as much as $400.
According to The Straits Times, North Korea has disabled video camera and memory card functions in new mobile phones, a news report said on Saturday, in what appears to be Pyongyang's latest move to tighten control over the flow of information within and across its borders. The North also removed the Bluetooth function.
Mobile health apps seem to be where everyone’s a writes Health Works Collective, but a closer look reveals that the situation isn’t at all what it seems.
... From 2010 to 2012 the percentage of Americans who have downloaded mobile health apps has stayed stable–at 10%, according to the World of DTC Marketing. And that’s despite the fact that the number of available apps has grown exponentially, from 2,993 in the beginning of 2010 to 13,619 in April of 2012.
According to the BBC, thousands of Australians have received a "death threat" text, demanding they pay 5,000 Australian dollars ($5,140) or face being murdered. The scale of the scam has surprised the police authorities.
Det Supt Brian Hay said that the scale of the scam was "unprecedented".
"We've never see this anything like this before - to have so many people contacted at the same time."
"There is an extraordinary amount of Australian consumer data that they are exploiting," he added.
He added that the scam was likely to be the work of organised criminals rather than an individual.
Text Bands aim to give kids a way to exchange positive messages when they meet in person.
Kids wearing the colorful bands bump fists or shake hands, causing the the bands to light up and the message — up to 10 characters — to transfer. Each band can hold as many as 24 messages; they include filters to help prevent negative messages.
The $14.99 bands debuted Monday in Hallmark Gold Crown stores nationwide.
The South Koreans have developed nine military applications for smart phones using the Android operating system. These include apps for functions like maps, video transfer, navigation, and intelligence. By the end of the year, the South Korean military will decide on which phone to use and how quickly it will be deployed. StrategyPage reports.
There are also plans for mobile cell phone towers, to restore service to bombed out areas, or places like North Korea where there never were cell phone towers.
South Korea is the source of over a third of Android smart phones (the largest manufacturer, Samsung, is South Korea). Moreover, South Korea is the most wired nation on the planet, in terms of the percentage of the population that have electronic communications gadgets and access to high-speed Internet.
South Korean soldiers, like their American counterparts, want battlefield Internet via a smart phone type device.
The developed nations continue to debate the best way of introducing mobile payments. In Africa, and in Kenya specifically, the use of mobile money is already well established. In fact it is doing so well that the World Bank has issued a warning about the way payments systems are developing and the threat of monopoly. The Wall Street Journal reports.
According to the World Bank there are over 40 million mobile money users worldwide and almost half of those are in Kenya, a country with more cellphones than adults.
More than eight in ten of the country’s cellphone owners use mobile money, mostly through the largest mobile network Safaricom’s M-Pesa service. The World Bank recommends interoperability across mobile money services.
Although Kenya has more than three mobile money operators, none allows cross network services. Only Tangaza and Mobikash offer mobile money across networks in the country but the services which serve parts of Nairobi are just a drop in the ocean compared to nearly 30 million mobile subscribers across the country.
This move [to interoperability] might not go well with the mobile money operators as it would mean a cut in their profits…
According to the World Bank, transactions across networks expand a firm’s clients and even increases revenue through surcharge. Mobile money operators however see this as a threat to their business after investing much in their infrastructure.
The warnings from the World Bank about allowing a monopoly to develop reflect the success of mobile money in Kenya. A post by Izabella Kaminska in the ft.com’s Aphaville blog suggests that this could be a model for Europe. The article also provides a description of how the mobile money system was born.
Do you know what your apps are doing when you are not paying attention? How are they taking care of your personal data? An iOS app called Clueful from security company Bitdefender told users exactly what the apps on their iPhone were doing. That is a valuable service for consumers who may trust an app simply because it had the App Store stamp of approval, when not all apps are so trustworthy. Yet Apple has removed Clueful from the App Store for unspecified reasons.
According to Bitdefender, Clueful “identifies deviant apps on your iPhone. It looks at what applications are currently running in memory and it retrieves audit information from the Clueful Cloud. This audit info lets you know if the app is taking your address book, sharing your location, etc.”
Clueful would also let you know if an app integrated a mobile analytics platform so it could track a user’s behavior within the app. Mobile analytics is a powerful tool for developers, and the information is extremely useful to developers for marketing and designing updates.
... What this comes down to is a basic matter of trust. Apple wants consumers to implicitly trust what they download from the App Store. The company has established a rigorous approval process for any app that is published on the App Store for precisely that reason. If Apple cannot keep malicious or carelessly developed apps out, people will not trust the App Store and will be less likely to download from it.
The Cellphone Accident Preventer (CAP) takes preventing behind-the-wheel mobile phone use to a new Orwellian level by making distracted-driving indiscretions public – and automatically ratting them out to the police.
The Philippines looks set to expand its rapid monitoring system, based on mobile phone text messaging, to lessen the number of deaths and improve emergency response times. With over 7,000 islands and more than 100 million people, the archipelago experiences an average of 20 typhoons a year, with stronger storms in recent years.
When it comes to real-time data on the behavior of emerging markets, mobile phones might offer the best glimpse into this unpredictable and rapidly changing demographic, says Eric Tyler for The Guardian.
Three quarters of the world's more than six billion mobile phones are located in the developing world, and the ubiquity of these devices in under-served areas provides valuable digital traces of activity that have never existed before.
In particular, there is an unprecedented and largely overlooked opportunity to harness this digital data for global development efforts. From tracking the outbreak of diseases to better understanding unrepresented populations, a few promising examples are coming to light, and this mobile phone data is even proving to offer lifesavings insights
The number of Chinese users accessing the Internet from mobile phones has surpassed that of the personal computer, marking a significant milestone created by the boom of smartphones, a Chinese government report said on Thursday. Reuters reports.
China is the world's largest Internet market and the trend represents a turning point for companies such as Baidu Inc and Sina Corp, who need to move their business models toward the mobile sphere in order to capture growth.
The number of users who accessed the Internet from mobile phones rose 22.2 percent from a year earlier to 388 million, compared with 380 million users who accessed it via a desktop computer. It is the first time mobile Internet access has outstripped that of the PC, the China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC) said.
Nokia led the wireless revolution in the 1990s and set its sights on ushering the world into the era of smartphones. Now that the smartphone era has arrived, the company is racing to roll out competitive products as its stock price collapses and thousands of employees lose their jobs.
Research conducted by Bitdefender claims that almost one in five Apple iPhone apps can access a user's Address Book, while some 41 percent can track the users location and more than a thirds also store user data without encrypting it. Cellular News reports.
The study of more than 65,000 apps distributed widely on the Apple App Store revealed tens of thousands tap contact information and access data without explicit user permission.
While many apps clearly use these privileges to function, others have no obvious use for the data they may be collecting, ranging from accessing a user's phone book to tracking usage. By default, apps on the App Store only ask for permission to access location-related services and not when accessing the Address Book or other functions.
Like many rabbis, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner receives many requests for religious advice. A hundred years ago, Jewish people would put pencil to paper and send off their question to the rabbi and then await a response. At the end of the last century, email inquires became popular. Today, it’s not uncommon for rabbis to receive text messages from their congregants asking them to render a decision. The Jewish Week reports.
For Rabbi Aviner, these text message come into this phone as much as 200 on an average day. He can expect upwards of 500 text messages if it’s before a Jewish holiday. And Aviner actually responds to each one. He is skilled in both Jewish law as well as a gift for brevity.
Aviner has saved each of these text message teshuvot (Jewish legal responses) and they are have been published as a set.
Acision, known for its mobile messaging solutions has conducted a study into the world of the SMS. It’s a technology that is more than twenty years old but it is still one of the most widely used communications methods in the world. TheNextWeb reports.
So why do we love SMS? Acision worked with Internet psychologist Graham Jones to look at survey results from the UK and find out why it’s so popular in the broadband era.
.. It seems that there is a divide in the reasons why we send messages and their content and what we choose as a method for relaying that information.
“People today are also compartmentalising their messages as they all have a specific purpose. Email is being used much less for personal communication and much more for business, whereas social networks tend to remain a medium to message friends and peers, sometimes on a one-to-many basis,” says Jones.
“Text messaging remains a functional communication tool, but still with a personal aspect, which could explain its longevity,” he continues. “You can say things in text you wouldn’t necessarily say on another communication tool.
As you probably know by now, Apple is planning to ditch Google Maps when it releases the newest version of the iPhone later this year (a pandemonious event that could come as soon as next month, according to the latest rumors). The company announced back in June plans to produce its own mapping software. This is big news for cartography geeks, but it comes with a catch. Without Google Maps, the new Apple operating system won’t include the transit navigation capability that Google has worked with cities to pioneer over the last seven years. [via The Atlantic Cities]
Apple’s in-house software, in other words, will be able to tell you how to get from LaGuardia to Yankee Stadium by car, but not by public transit. For now, at least, Apple appears to be banking on third-party developers to fill that gap by creating transit tools you can download in the app store. But the strategy relies on a pretty big assumption. Third-party developers need open data to build these tools.
"Of course, that would only work in cities that are actually sharing their data," says Sean Barbeau, a research associate at the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida.
According to The Next Web, Google has rolled out a new service in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya that lets Gmail users send and receive emails using the built-in SMS features of their mobile phones.
The implications of this are pretty big – this means mobile Internet access isn’t required, and users don’t need a new-fangled smartphone with 3G or WiFi capabilities either. For emerging markets, where iPhone and Android uptake may not be what it is in the Western world, not to mention limited Web access, Gmail SMS is a significant launch.
PayPal has bought Card.io, a young company that has developed technology for using smartphone cameras to scan credit cards. TechRadar reports.
PayPal already works with Card.io, using its technology in PayPal Here to take payments simply by snapping a picture of a credit card. It can also use a triangular blue iPhone dongle for swiping them instead.
The Card.io employees will join forces with the PayPal global product team. With whom, according to PayPal's global product VP Hill Ferguson, they will "create new experiences to make it even easier for consumers and merchants to use the PayPal digital wallet.
The number of mobile phone subscriptions has skyrocketed over the past 12 years. Less than 1 billion mobile subscriptions were active in 2000, while there’s six billion subscriptions active today. Last year alone, mobile users downloaded more than 30 billion apps.
Additionally, the vast majority of today’s mobile subscriptions (5 billion) are in developing countries, a sign of mobile technology’s importance in countries which haven’t gone through the expensive and difficult process of building land-based communications infrastructure.
The Indian government is opening up a new front in it its battle against high-priced drugs by the so-called Big Pharma. FirstPost reports.
A report in the Times of India says the government plans to launch in August an SMS service by which consumers can get information on cheaper versions of the pricey drugs prescribed by their doctors.
The move comes close on the heels of media reports that the government is planning to give free medicines and legally restrict doctors from prescribing branded drugs, a move aimed at helping millions to gain access to cheap healthcare.
According to the ToI report, if a patient gets a pricey drug prescribed, he can SMS the name of the drug to a particular number. In reply, he will get cheaper options of the same combination drug.