All posts in “Mobile”

Google is hoping to help news publishers with a few new tools

Why it matters to you

Google hasn’t always been the best of friends with news publishers, but the tech giant is trying to change that.

Google is looking make friends with the media. As per a new report from Bloomberg, the internet giant is developing a series of new tools with hopes of boosting subscriptions for news publishers. First, Google is revamping its “first click free” feature, which allows audiences to access articles from subscription publications by way of search. Separately, Google is looking into publishers’ tools relating to online payments, and honing in on potential subscribers. Of course, the ultimate goal is to ensure that both consumers and content producers stay online, and therefore, continue feeding into Google’s highly lucrative ads business.

According to Bloomberg, Google is first testing its new tools with the New York Times and the Financial Times. But don’t worry — other publishers will soon be allowed to join the party, too. “It’s clear from news publishers that they can’t live on advertising alone,” said Richard Gingras, Google’s vice president for news. “But it’s also clear that we’re seeing a shift in a market.”

Part of Google’s testing will involve allowing readers to see content that might otherwise be hidden behind a paywall by offering it, free of charge, through the company’s Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP platform. Google also wants to help companies like the Times identify folks they ought to target for subscriptions through these AMP pages, and determine just how much new audiences are willing to pay, and make it easier for them to subscribe.

“This is an area, clearly, where our knowledge about our users can be brought to bear,” Gingras told Bloomberg. “There is no singular subscription strategy that will work for each publisher.”

It’s unclear as of yet whether Google will be sharing revenue with publishers who are brought in to use these new tools, and Kinsey Wilsonan adviser to Mark Thompson, president and chief executive officer of The New York Times, told Bloomberg that the publisher has yet to discuss revenue terms with the tech giant.

But if Google finds a way to make this a lucrative deal for publishers, it could result in a feed of popular articles from a host of different publications.

This nefarious Trojan may impersonate your favorite ridesharing app

Why it matters to you

Be careful the next time you hail a ride through an app — a Trojan could be trying to steal your information.

Be careful the next time you hail a ride from your favorite transportation app. You could be inadvertently hailing much more than you bargained for. As per a recent report from Kaspersky Lab, a mobile Trojan “has been caught recently stealing bank data by impersonating the interfaces of taxi-booking apps.” How might you know if your smartphone has been infected? One telltale sign, the research firm notes, is if your ridesharing app prompts you to enter your credit card number. Seeing as your favorite apps should already have this information on hand, if it asks you to re-enter the data, you may want to proceed with caution.

While the Faketoken Trojan, the malware in question, has been around for quite some time, it has gotten more sophisticated as time has passed. Kaspersky calls the latest iteration of the malware “Faketoken.q,” and notes that the Trojan generally infects smartphones through bulk SMS messages with a prompt to download images. Once its necessary modules have been installed, the Trojan begins monitoring everything that happens on your phone.

“When Faketoken detects the launch of an app whose interface it can simulate, the Trojan immediately overlays the app with its own screen,” Kaspersky writes. “To achieve that, it uses a standard Android feature that supports showing screen overlays on top of all other apps. A whole bunch of legitimate apps, such as messengers, window managers, and so on, use this feature.”

The fallacious window looks just like your original app’s interface, but instead of proceeding as normal, the Trojan asks you to enter credit card information. And from there, well … we know how the rest goes.

Apparently, a number of apps have been attacked in this way, including mobile banking apps, Android Pay, the Google Play store, flight and hotel booking apps, and of course, ridesharing apps.

As it stands, it appears that the Trojan is largely relegated to users in Russia, but it may not be long before the malware comes our way, too. To protect yourself from any nefarious activity, Kaspersky recommends that you go into Android settings and prevent the installation of apps from unknown sources. Go to Settings, then Security, and then uncheck Unknown sources.

You should also pay close mind to the permissions an app requests prior to installation, even if you download the app from an ostensibly safe source (like Google Play). Finally, you might consider installing antivirus on your phone.

‘It’s Cool’ weather alarm app reminds us the summer heat isn’t that scary

App Attack is a weekly series where we search the App Store and Google Play Store for the best apps of the week. Check out App Attack every Sunday for the latest.

If you live in a state with all four seasons, you likely have a love-hate relationship with the heat. During brutal winters, it’s easy to long for the days when you won’t have to wear multiple layers. But then those scorching summer days hit — and so does the sweat — and you start to realize cold weather isn’t all that bad. This week, we have an app that will help you find the right balance between hot and cold.

It’s Cool — currently only available for iOS — is a weather alarm meant specifically to notify you when the weather is nice. In the App Store, the developer explained the idea was born from spending too many summer days and nights inside. With temperatures sky-rocketing, we don’t often realize how much time we spend sitting in air conditioned spaces to shelter us from the heat. Warm seasons are meant to be spent outside, and a weather alarm could be just the push we need to keep us from getting summer cabin fever.

This app is simple to use and doesn’t have much to its interface. Upon downloading it, you’re greeted by an animated bell with a plant inside and a sun hovering over it. Above the bell is the city or town you’re in and to the left of it you have the option of setting the temperature at either Fahrenheit or Celsius.

On the bottom is where you see the current temperature, a description of the current weather, and how many hours until it reaches your preferred temperature outside. The dial at the bottom lets you easily slide back and forth between the temperatures. Once you’ve stopped at your desired temperature, it will automatically set an alarm to notify you later. Underneath the set temperature, the app also lets you know how many hours it will take to reach it.

When I first tried out it out, the temperature in New York City was 85 degrees and partly cloudy. I set the dial to alert me at 84 degrees which said it would take two hours. But after two hours went by, the temperature went down and I didn’t get an alert. Then, I tried again by bringing it down to 77 degrees which said it would take four hours before alerting me. Even after four hours, I still had zero notifications on my phone.

After reading through the reviews on the App Store, I noticed that other users were posting the same complaint. It’s clear the developer — TinRocket — was well aware, because after a brief Twitter direct message exchange I was guided to a support article dedicated to the exact same problem.

its cool app attack it s settings

In the beginning, you’re asked for permission to use location information, access to background data, and permission to send push notifications. If you want to use the app to its fullest extent, make sure tap allow for all of them. If you tap don’t allow by accident, you can always go to Settings and scroll down to the It’s Cool app. There, you’ll have to turn the location on to While Using in order to find the local weather. Then, toggle Background App Refresh on to allow the app to check the weather periodically. If you want to receive notifications between the hours of 11 PM and 7 PM, toggle off Do Not Disturb mode.

After fixing the settings, I started receiving notifications to my phone. When the outdoors reached 68 degrees, I saw a push notification that read exactly that. Some could argue you could easily step outside and check the weather, or even simply open a window. But since it did take a few hours, I forgot that I was even waiting for the temperature to drop since I was focused on other tasks. Even though we tell ourselves we’ll go outside once it gets cooler, it’s more likely we’ll be too buried in our phones to remember. That’s where the handy-dandy notification comes in.

its cool app attack it s notification

While summer is coming to an end, temperatures in September still remain high — you technically have one more month to make up for staying indoors these past few months. Even if you don’t plan on using it to go outside, the app could help lower those AC bills.

Google needs to pay Apple a small fortune to remain the default search engine on iOS

Apple and Google could be the biggest frenemies in tech. While they both compete like there’s no tomorrow, they also partner on some very specific deals. For instance, Google is paying a ton of money to remain the default search engine on iOS.

As CNBC first reported, according to a Bernstein analyst, Google could pay as much as $3 billion a year just to remain the default option in Safari.

Business Insider also obtained that Bernstein report and shared the thinking behind this number. Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi starts from a previous court document from 2014 that stated that Google had to pay $1 billion every year to remain the default search engine on iOS back in 2014.

But mobile traffic as well as iPhone sales have been growing steadily since then. If you look at Apple’s services revenue, and in particular licensing revenue, as well as Google’s traffic acquisition costs, that number could be around $3 billion right now.

It shows that Google is still highly dependent from Apple. The vast majority of Google’s revenue comes from ads on search result pages. And Apple controls roughly 18 percent of the smartphone market.

As most users update to the latest version of iOS in just a few months, it doesn’t take long to change the default setting on hundreds of millions of iPhones. Google has no choice but to spend a ton of money to acquire this traffic.

A few years ago, the iPhone shipped with a built-in YouTube app and Google Maps. When Apple realized that Google was becoming a serious competitor with Android, the company removed the YouTube app from iOS and worked on Apple Maps. Apple isn’t afraid of saying no to Google when it comes to iOS features.

Apple could probably not get as much money from Microsoft Bing, Yahoo Search or DuckDuckGo, but Apple doesn’t really need it anyway as it brings more than $45 billion in revenue per quarter now. It’s all about hurting Google’s bottom line.

As John Gruber noted, Apple is in a strong position in this negotiation. While it’s true that DuckDuckGo and Bing have gotten better over the years, it still lags behind when you’re using those search engines in non-English languages.

This incongruous situation is a great example of asynchronous competition. Apple and Google keep innovating and competing as hard as they can on the smartphone front. But they also partner on other aspects and even pay each other. Business schools will turn this situation into a great case study.

The 10 best calendar apps for Android and iOS help you organize a chaotic day

One of the reasons we buy smartphones is because they help us organize our lives. No other apps help you accomplish this better than your calendar app. Smartphones come with built-in calendar apps, but sometimes these apps just don’t quite cut it. There are some great third-party apps that will enhance the basic capabilities of your built-in calendar app so that you can do much more than you ever thought was possible.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the best calendar apps we could find for both iOS and Android. We hope that one of them will be the perfect fit for you and will make your life easier to manage.

If productivity is important to you, don’t forget to check our list of top 10 productivity apps and the best note taking apps for iOS and Android.

The Best

Fantastical 2

Fantastical 2 iOS

For iOS, the best calendar app can only be Fantastical 2. It works with the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, and it takes advantage of some of the new hardware features like 3D Touch and Force Touch. What pushes it above the rest of the apps available on iOS is how it supports multiple languages, lets people use speech to create reminders, and even supports the use of simple text phrases to make reminders and alerts. It’s intuitive, quick, convenient, and feature-rich, which is everything you want from an app you’re hoping will make your life easier to schedule.

The iPad app gets its own unique dashboard view, which provides quick and easy access to all of your events and reminders. If you have an Apple Watch, there’s a dedicated app for that as well, which will have your reminders pushed to it, and allow you to speak directly to the watch to add new events, thanks to the Force Touch capabilities. English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese are all supported.

Many of the app’s features are standard fare and just what you’d expect a calendar app to offer, but Fantastical 2 strives to make every process more convenient in order to save time. For example, you can start a sentence with “reminder,” “to do,” or “task” to create reminders, or use phrases like “remind me tomorrow at 3PM,” or “alarm 3PM” to set new alerts. You can also add a geofence to an alert so that it’ll go off when you leave or arrive at a specific location. For example, if you head out to a grocery store, you’ll be reminded of the fact that you need milk and bread.

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For Android users, we can’t recommend CloudCal enough. CloudCal has a unique way of showing how busy you are on any given day. The Android app uses a system it calls Magic Circles, which turn the days of the month into clock faces, and show different colored circles, or segments of a circle. Each one corresponds to whatever tasks you have scheduled for that day. If it’s someone’s birthday, there would be a complete magic circle on that day. If you have a meeting at work that same day, there would be another colored segment on the outside of the previously mentioned circle labeled “Meeting.” The goal of the magic circle system is to give people a rough understanding of what their day will be like, and how much free time they’ll have in between everything.

To complement the magic circles, CloudCal features gesture support, customizable views, calendar import, and it can work alongside other apps like Uber, Maps, and Waze. However, that requires those apps to be installed, and you’ll need to purchase the Pro version of the app for $2.50 first. Once installed, you can call an Uber from within CloudCal, or use Maps and Waze to attach locations to scheduled events and tasks. The biggest factor behind our recommendation is the app’s unique Magic Circles system, which is stylish and gets information across quickly. There’s also the fact that you can use other apps like Uber, Maps, and Waze to complement CloudCal’s features and functions. We also like that you can attach photos, audio files, and Dropbox files to events.

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