Tag: app

iPhone used to monitor heart

This one will get your heart pumping. In yet another move to use Apple products in every sector of society a company called Alivecor is set to show off a new system at the Consumer Electronics Show that uses an iPhone to monitor your heart.

While we weren’t exactly sure that Apple fanboys even had hearts, Alivecor begs to differ, believing that its iPhonECG system can make a good alternative to standard electrocardiogram (ECG) devices.

The system requires the iPhone 4 and a special case that has two electrodes on it. This case turns the phone into a wireless clinical-quality cardiac measurement tool, according to Alivecor. It can monitor heartbeats by holding it with your hands or by pressing it against your chest, displaying graphs and heart rates on an application that come as part of the package.

With a price tag of under $100 Apple users may have a heart attack at just how cheap this is compared to their trusty iThingies. This price might be cheaper than standard ECG devices, but that’s not taking into account the price of the iPhone 4 itself. Chances are that stressing over not being able to pay your bills after buying an iPhone is the reason an ECG is needed in the first place.

While the iPhonECG looks interesting, we can’t help but wonder how many people’s hearts will stop beating if they hold their iPhone 4 in the wrong way.

Here’s a video of a guy in a white coat heartily demonstrating the technology.

Nokia riles Apple with iPod, iPad, iPhone patent suit

Nokia says it has filed complaints against Jobs’ Mob in three EU countries, namely Germany, the UK and The Netherlands.

The Finnish maker of mobile phones and former Don of Symbian thee Deceased claims Apple products such as the iPod Touch, iPad and iPhone are infringing its patents. 

“These actions add 13 further Nokia patents to the 24 already asserted against Apple in the US International Trade Commission and the Delaware and Wisconsin Federal courts,” claimed Nokia’s IP VP Paul Melon, er Melin. The patents refer to “wiping gesture on a touch screen to navigate content, or enabling access to constantly changing services with an on-device app store, both filed more than ten years before the launch of the iPhone.”

Nokia’s complaint in the UK covers four patents, the complaint filed in Duesseldorf, Germany covers seven patents, the third court case (five patents) was again filed in Germany, yet in Mannheim, whilst last, but not least the case filed in The Hague covers two patents. According to Nokia, none of the patents “are essential to any wireless communication standard”.

Nokia did not go out of its way to say it had invested around 40 billion euros in R&D in the last twenty years and owns 11,000 patent families.

Apple and Nokia are currently in the midst of battling it out in front of the USITC (US International Trade Commission). Early November, the ITC ruled that Apple’s allegations against Nokia were without merit, stating the claims were either invalid or patents had not been infringed.

Nonetheless, neither company is calling it quits. The unseemly row continues.

Early November, Florian Mueller, founder of NoSoftwarePatents.com, concluded that Apple could hurt Android thanks to its multitouch patents. Apple would certainly take a beating if Nokia’s wiping gesture patent were upheld in an EU court.

Iphone agrees to be Apple fanboys' girlfriend

Apple fanboys who have been unable to get a girlfriend because they are too smug to be attractive to a member of the opposite sex, can turn to their only real friend to provide them with an answer.

In South Korea someone has penned an app which allows iPhone users to pretend they have a girlfriend.

Nabix, a South Korean developer, wrote the iPhone application which he dubbed “Honey it’s me!”.

It features the voice of a woman called “Mina,” who is a 20-something virtual woman. All a fanboy has to do is front up $1.99 and Mina will make video-calls four times a day.

There are only 100 different calls she can make, but then even an automated girl will not have much to say to an Apple fanboy.

Nabix said it would help Apple fanboys feel someone cares for them and is consistently thinking of them, well other than their mothers of course.

Apparently Apple fanboys can’t tell the difference between Mina and a real girlfriend. The application was downloaded 80,000 times on the first day alone.

Of course it is an ideal love. Mina will never tell you what to do, ever be shocked at the fact you still live in your mum’s basement when you are 35, waste money on gadgets to make up for the failure of your personality, your spots have spots and you listen to Coldplay on auto-repeat on your iPod because you don’t know of any other band.

She can’t have sex with you, but then most Apple fanboys do not really know how that would work anyway.

Strangely there is no male equivalent for Apple fan girls.

Mina will become an Android app next week. It will be interesting to see if she is more popular on the Jobs’ Mob phone or the Google machine. It will effectively prove which users are saddest.

Leaked APK shows huge Android Market revamp

A leaked APK file of the revamped Android Market has appeared on the web, weeks before its official launch on Android smartphones.

The file appeared on XDA Developers a day after Google announced that the Android Market would be revamped for Android version 1.6 and above, which should be most handsets out there. The update is expected to go live over the next two weeks, but the leaked APK has given us a good sneak preview of what to expect.

Firstly, the UI itself has been significantly reworked. The Apps, Games and Downloads tabs are gone, replaced by nicer looking buttons, and all information relating to an app will be displayed on one page instead of being spread across multiple tabs.

A new carousel is also featured on the home and category screens, where promoted apps will be displayed. New categories are added, including widgets and live wallpapers, while related content is added to individual app pages. A purely cosmetic change involves a green curve at the top that makes the entire interface look much smoother

One change to the Market that has not gone well with users so far is the reduction of the refund window from 24 hours to a miserable 15 minutes. Google said “this change will be largely transparent to buyers, but will help developers manage their businesses more effectively,” but anyone interested in testing applications or games before buying them will have a difficult time, particularly for apps that require several hours to work with.

It’s likely that this change came as a result of comparing the Market to Apple’s App Store, which offers no refund ability. Profits for developers are most likely higher on iOS devices as a result of this policy, whereas many Android equivalents may have difficulty earning money due to the current 24 hour refund window. 

The developer side is not being ignored, with the APK file size for apps being increased to 50MB, which Google believes will specifically support “richer games”. Developers will also be able to make use of device targetting based on screen size, density and GL texture compression format.

AndroidPolice got its hands on an image of the Market at work on a tablet, showing off Android’s capability of offering a different display catered specifically for tablets. This feature is expected to fully launch for most applications with Android 3.0 some time next year.

Market 1

Market 2

Developer John Carmack says games industry will ditch discs

A major game developer has predicted the end of games on disc, saying that app stores are the way forward. John Carmack, who was the lead programmer behind Doom, Quake, Wolfenstein 3D, and Commander Keen, said that he foresees the end of traditional hard copies of games with digital downloads being the future for the gaming industry.

“Clearly, packaged goods sales are still critical on the big platforms at this stage, but that’s all going to go away sooner or later,” he said.

Let’s face it, he’s not wrong. With internet speeds increasing and more games on demand services opening it is near inevitable that box copies will become much less popular. 

In fact, disc versions often don’t include the full game, with downloadable content becoming a popular medium for game developers to increase cashflow and prevent a chunk of their material being pirated.

Carmack believes that app stores are how we will be buying our games in the future. His studio, id Software, recently released a game for Apple’s App Store called Rage HD which has given him some experience of how the app markets work.

“You know, I really, really like the app store platform as far as being able to remove obstacles to getting your product out,” he said. “You don’t have to cut deals with publishers. It’s almost completely egalitarian on there. It’s great to see all the small teams that wind up making these breakout hit games for the Apple devices.

“The fact is; on this platform, we can go ahead deal with fifteen-a-day feedback on there and directly interact with the consumers, make changes and get things out. It is the wave of the future for everything. Everybody knows that eventually [there] will be digital distribution like this – it’s only a question of time. This is the model of the future.”

Time is a big factor, as many still struggle with slow download speeds. There will also be the few with no internet access, so it’s unlikely that we’ll see a complete end of hard copies of games any time soon.

But what we are likely to see is struggling game studios moving to downloads and a large portion of games coming with downloadable content.

Android apps conceal hidden charges

Android users could be getting scammed out of money with falsely advertised prices turning out to be double in some cases when it gets to check out, or your credit card is actually charged.

A Eurodroid reader reported an incident where a purchase of a £2.55 app from the Android Market ended up costing double once VAT, currency conversion and a credit card charge were applied, revealing how the many hidden costs can ramp up the final price of a seemingly cheap app.

The app in question was called Squeeze Commander, with an advertised price of “~£2.55”. However, when Google Checkout was used it translated the price into a Euro cost of €3.56. This included an unadvertised VAT cost of €0.57. At this stage the approximate price in British Pounds was now £3.04, including VAT.

That was not the end of it, however, as the actual price charged to the card of the user was significantly higher. Firstly the real price for the app itself turned out to be £3.19, but a £1.50 debit/credit card charge was also applied, bumping up the total cost to £4.69.

Obviously the £1.50 charge is not the fault of Android or the app developers but the bank or credit card company. It does highlight a very big problem that many users may face when trying to make the numerous small payments necessary for buying several apps from the Market.

The crux of the matter is the very inaccurate estimate and the hidden VAT charge, which clearly needs to be advertised before people hit check out. While the tilde sign (~) was indeed present in the app price, it is somewhat deceptive and evidently far off the end price, which jumped up from £2.55 to £3.19. That’s a pretty huge gap in the estimated price.

The fact that the estimated price also does not include the traditional “ex VAT” text really makes the pricing extremely misleading, so much so that we would have to question if this is done deliberately to hide the real costs and encourage higher Market sales.

Regardless of the intent behind the glaring ommissions and doubling prices, what is clear is that many Android users may be in for a bit of a shock when they get their bank statements or credit card bills, finding those handful of pounds have somehow multiplied behind the scenes.

Open source app developers do it on company time

Over two-thirds of open source developers make non-work related apps on company time, according to new figures by research firm Evans Data.

The report, entitled Open Source Software Development Survey, revealed that 67 percent of developers who work on open source applications spend some of their working hours on the projects, even though they are not authorised or sanctioned by their boss.

The figures were generated after 350 open source software developers were asked about when and where they make their apps, revealing that only 33 percent of developers don’t use company time on non-company app projects.

“It may be a discouraging thing for employers to hear but developers working on open source projects can become very involved with them and may find it hard to completely leave them alone when they’re on the clock,” said Janel Garvin, CEO of Evans Data. “And few open source developers make much money from their apps – sixty-five percent report they make next to nothing for their open source work, and they have to support themselves.”

While bosses will not be keen to hear the news, particularly if the company is struggling financially during the current economic downturn, there are plenty of worse ways to spend company time, and the majority of workers with access to the internet will admit that they spend time at work browsing the net or checking their emails, which is often far less productive.

Google operates a work policy that allows 20 percent of job time to work on personal projects, a move that Google believes increases productivity and aids the overall progress of technology. With so many app developers using company time as is, we wonder if more jobs should include this personal project time to encourage non-work related developments.

The survey also revealed that 67 percent of app developers finish their projects on time or ahead of schedule. 28.8 percent of developers make proprietary software to better meet requirements, while 27.9 percent do so to generate revenue. More than half of developers said they could resolve most major bugs within eight hours, while 63 percent said that they will be making more use of open source databases over the next year.

Apple trademarks "there is an app for that"

Fruity purveyor of broken iPhones, Apple has trademarked its ubiquitous catchphrase “there’s an app for that”.

Apparently Apple filed for the trademark back in December 2009, claiming that it brought the phrase to the attention of the world+dog on January 26, 2009.

The trademark was filed in the Advertising, Business and Retail Services, Computer and Software Services and Scientific Services categories. So it means that you can use it in any field outside those regions. So if your penguin breaks down “there is an App for that” is a perfectly legal phrase you can use.

The trademark applies to “retail store services featuring computer software provided via the Internet and other computer and electronic communication networks; retail store services featuring computer software for use on handheld mobile digital electronic devices and other consumer electronics.”

So if you are not selling something and you use the phrase, perhaps when you are tossing and turning in your sleep, you do not have to worry about a knock on the door from Apple lawyers.

Apparently the phrase “there is an app for that” has become so popular that it has permeated pop culture and become repurposed and parodied. It is for this reason, Steve Jobs wants to control it.

However, we can safely say that the phrase “there is an app for that” has not appeared in our conversation, or the conversations of any of our friends. It is the sort of thing that a bloke who in a perfectly ordinary conversation about badger sex would say “there’s an app for that” and burst into laughter which only he would share.  Normal people do not hang out with such types.


Smartphones proving "double-edged sword" for newspapers

The Guardian has reported how smartphones are proving to be a “double-edged sword” for newspaper publishers.

Using data from a report (PDF) by Orange, the newspaper highlighted today how the UK is reading more content online – but that a similar number of us are buying fewer print products.

The Orange study found that 14 percent of respondents who accessed the web on their mobile phones said they read fewer newspapers as a result. But 13 percent said that owning smartphones like the iPhone meant they read more newspaper content online.

According to Orange press officers, the report was presented to The Guardian yesterday at an exclusive briefing – it was the only national newspaper represented.

Not mentioned in The Guardian report was how the newspaper itself has seen print sales suffering – while it motors ahead with offering free journalism online.

Earlier this year, The Independent reported on The Guardian’s strategy of putting its journalism on its website for free, and how The Guardian’s average daily circulation had fallen to under 300,000 copies for the first time for more than 30 years. 

According to The Indie, “while its online journalism has brought The Guardian an expanded audience, it has not brought revenue to pay for the journalism they consume”.

Namely, the revenue from online advertising had failed to increase at the same rate that print advertising had declined.

The Indie also included reference to other goings on at the Guardian Media Group, including citing worries by Guardian staff that the loss of chief exec Carolyn McCall to budget airline Easyjet implied “a lack of confidence in its strategic direction”.

The newspaper’s strategy, it continued, was led by editor Alan Rusbridger. And inside GNM’s glossy new offices in Kings Place, north London, there is concern that Mr Rusbridger’s strategy, which relies on funding excellent journalism without erecting online paywalls, is unrealistic”, it continued.

Although, of course, it pointed out that The Guardian could afford to lose money as long as the other products in the portfolio, such as AutoTrader and Emap, still made a profit and help subsidise it.

According to Guardian Media Group’s CEO’s Review of Operations, GNM’s revenue fell by £32.6 million for the year ended 28 March 2010. But there had been a “comprehensive strategic review” and “major restructuring” – resulting in 203 redundancies during the year. The CEO’s review stated: “We anticipate that the ongoing cost reduction programme will reduce GNM’s operating loss in the current financial year (2010/11), provided that revenues are stabilised.”

But back to a few more stats from that Orange research.

The report found that there were differences between the way men and women shopped online. Men were almost 50 percent more likely to access the mobile web using some form of app than women. About 46 percent of men who accessed mobile media used an app to do so, compared to just 35 percent of women. 

Overall, most UK mobile users preferred traditional browsers to apps – with 70 percent of consumers going for this option.

Many Android apps send your private information to advertisers

A large number of Android apps is covertly transmitting GPS and phone data to advertisers, according to research from Duke University, Pennsylvania State University, and Intel Labs.

The trio got together to develop software called TaintDroid, which detects when apps send private information to remote servers. They picked 30 popular free applications from the Android Market at random and found that half of them were sending sensitive information to advertisers, including the GPS-tracked location of the user and their telephone number.

The findings raise serious privacy concerns for the Android platform, which has been enjoying rising success as it competes with Apple’s iPhone. Unauthorised data mining is the last thing an Android user wants and the extent to which this is occurring is extremely worrying.

Android has a number of safety features in place, including a permissions feature for the transmission of GPS data, for example, but some apps are collecting that data without permission, sometimes as often as every 30 seconds. Because many of these apps are not designed for malicious purposes, however, they fall into a grey category which Google is reluctant to touch.

Google has the ability to remotely kill and delete an application that it considers malicious. This feature raised concerns in its own right as to how much control Google has over your phone and if it should be allowed to delete something without your permission, whether it is in your best interests or not. 

The flip side is that it is a very strong security feature which helps alleviate some problems that will no doubt plague the Android Market as it continues to grow. The problem is that while Google has this feature, it may not use it on the more ambiguous apps, since it means culling its app population, which still lags behind Apple’s App Store.

An example of Google’s reluctance is the debacle over a wallpaper app earlier this year, which covertly sent users’ phone numbers to a remote server in China, a discovery made by mobile security firm Lookout. Google investigated the matter, but it found that there was no security threat, as the company behind the app was only using the phone numbers as a unique indentifier of users. The app, which was temporarily suspended during the investigation, was allowed to remain in the Android Market.

Google has published privacy guidelines since then in attempts to get app developers to become more transparent with how data is collected and used, but the fact remains that many applications are collecting information that we did not authorise, regardless of how benign and innocent their intentions might be. With Google already in hot water over its Street View snooping it can hardly afford to appear lax when it comes to Android privacy.

* And, in related news, clothing retailer Next is to launch its own Android tablet with a 1GHz processor, 256MB of RAM, and 8GB of storage, all for £180, making it one of the cheaper entries in the tablet market and clearly one of this year’s top fashion accessories.