If you are using whatsapp… update now and consider swapping to Signal!

Whatsapp on a mobile phone

Whatsapp, never used it never will. But I know many many of my friends do – please do update! Or even better dump it and use Signal messenger.

A security flaw in WhatsApp can be, and has been, exploited to inject spyware into victims’ smartphones: all a snoop needs to do is make a booby-trapped voice call to a target’s number, and they’re in. The victim doesn’t need to do a thing other than leave their phone on.

The Facebook-owned software suffers from a classic buffer overflow weakness. This means a successful hacker can hijack the application to run malicious code that pores over encrypted chats, eavesdrops on calls, turns on the microphone and camera, accesses photos, contacts, and other information on a handheld, and potentially further compromises the device. Call logs can be altered, too, to hide the method of infection.

The issue affects WhatsApp for Android prior to v2.19.134, WhatsApp Business for Android prior to v2.19.44, WhatsApp for iOS prior to v2.19.51, WhatsApp Business for iOS prior to v2.19.51, WhatsApp for Windows Phone prior to v2.18.348, and WhatsApp for Tizen prior to v2.18.15.

Do you want to know a secret?

Secret

I have installed the Secret app but everytime I look at it, can’t decide if I should sign up or not.

If you don’t know Secret app

Secret is a mobile app (iOS and finally Android) that allows people to share messages anonymously within their circle of friends, friends of friends, and publicly. It differs from other anonymous sharing apps such as PostSecret and Whisper in that it is intended for sharing primarily with friends, potentially making it more interesting and addictive for people reading the updates wondering if its a friend they know.

The problem I have is, do I trust them to keep my secrets secret? First clue is usually in the Terms of Conditions and Privacy statement.

Looking at the ToC and Privacy, theres nothing insane described but I’m sure when Facebook was first described in the EULA it was all smiles but….

We change these Terms of Service every so often. If we make changes, we will notify you by revising the date at the top of the policy and, in some cases, provide you with additional notice

I imagine after a few months the terms will change and suddenly the secrets are less ummmmm secret?

Develop for the platform please

I have been tweeting recently a post which Sam tweeted a while back.

Reading it, reminds me of a quite major company asking me to try out their newly created Android app because they don’t actually have any designers or developers who ran Android regularly. Ok this was a good 3 years ago but still how the heck can you expect to create a Android app with no real understanding what your building for?

Worst still there were so many classic mistakes which clearly pointed to iOS developers just porting the app to Android. Simple things like pressing the menu button did nothing. The back button would take you right to start of the app again instead of a logical back step. There was no sharing button or option just a email this or post to FB/Twitter. The splash screen seemed to take forever and I always thought it was weird and out of place, all the other apps which have splash screens you can disable using a preference if they had one at all.

Syncing wasn’t a big deal in this case because it didn’t do anything so fancy but (if it did this little rant would count) boy oh boy the app went back to the developers and designers with a massive list of wtf’s…

I hate to say it but they lived up to the stereotype of designers being stuck in a bubble, this bubble was the iOS bubble.

As the writer writes…

You can argue about which is easier to use or more polished, but at the end of the day, iOS does not have as many features as Android and that means it should not be used as the “golden standard” that all apps are targeted for. Take advantage of the features and capabilities of a given device. If iOS has a better WebView, use it; if Android has better sharing support, use it. Don’t let a desire for the lowest common denominator harm your app.

In total agreement, yes I know its more expensive and requires more time, etc… but do a proper job otherwise your userbase will tell you exactly what they think by not installing your app. I think I said it before but developers this isn’t good enough sorry.

Shocking to think it was the BBC News app!

Looks like the Pacemaker app goes iOS?

Big Boom boxPacemaker?

Seems through out the South by south west festival those guys behind the Pacemaker were out in force with an ipad?

Yes strange but I assume the deal with Blackberry ended and they ported the software to another platform. iOS it seems, going by whats in his hands? Shame because I had hoped developing the app for the Blackberry would make it easy to port to Android.

Nothings been announced yet but it seems pretty obvious to me at least… Which begs the question if I would buy a ipad just as a dj tool? Unlikely…

Is the mobile phone industry ready for the pure web?

Mark Surman @ Campus Party BR 2013

The biggest mobile phone trade faire kicks off in the ever so lovely Barcelona, and the analysis seems to suggest this year it will be about all the mobile platforms tearing down Android and iOS.

My favourites have to be Mobile Ubuntu which I have written about in the past and Firefox OS, which Gigaom has written about.

Love the concept of Firefox OS but interestingly there seems to be a lot of support for Firefox OS from the mobile phone industry. Last time I saw this level of support it was for Android.

From an open standards perspective, the Firefox OS is as pure as it gets right now. The whole thing is based on HTML5 – it’s all about escaping Google and Apple’s walled gardens and frolicking freely in the wilds of the open web. Half the code was written by volunteers.

There will be an official Firefox Marketplace but everyone is free to roll their own, from carriers to games specialists. Any payment method can be implemented – that factor is not in the hands of any one platform sponsor. Apps that run on the platform will also be able to run on rivals that implement HTML5, such as Google’s and Apple’s.

Although I do still ask the question of the mobile phone industry, are you ready to give people the pure web?

So back we come to this idea of the open mobile web. This is an area where luminaries such as Tim Berners-Lee have been on the warpath, pointing out very real problems with the iOS/Android model. These include the inability to share app-based content in a standardized way, and the inability to search across apps. In short: the loss of the level playing field that web technologies represent.

Firefox OS is designed to solve those problems. Weirdly, we can now witness the former walled garden proprietors genuinely extol the virtues of openness. By promoting Firefox OS, they cannot regain control – however, they hope to prise some control from the hands of Google and Apple.

Well I guess we shall see how far Firefox OS gets. Like Ubuntu, my contract is up this year so I could be tempted to switch to one of these phones. Although I’ll be honest and say Google’s extra features are pretty compelling, specially Google Now.

Hollywood is loving the apps

Inception the App

I had multiple people tell me about the Inception App on Apple iOS devices. I think its interesting but not good enough to make me want to rush out and buy a apple device.

Interestingly, Michael Breidenbrücker is one of the guys behind the app. I know Michael from my course at Ravensbourne where he co-founded Last.FM and decided to go off and develop that away from the fingers of the college. Recently… he’s been focusing on RJDJ which is a music generation tool.

Anyway, the idea of Augmented sound isn’t new but its so so interesting. The rest of the app is well a little bit of a wet squid in my view but hey you can’t have it all. The app is pretty expensive but you do get a copy of the film tied to the app. There is a question in my mind if buying the app for 10 pounds and getting the ability to tweet and like sections is actually worth it.

Ether way, you can see Hollywood jumping into the app market in a big way in 2011. Warner brothers already have a Dark knight app too, while the Unstopable app is Fox’s work and runs on Android (the largest platform now).

I do find it intriguing that Inception isn’t available on Android, I wonder if the lack of content protection mechanism (or plainly put DRM) might be the problem for Warner Brothers? No problem for Fox or even Sony though…

Welcome to Steve Jobs distortation field, where open is closed

infrastructures

Steve jobs is a tricky figure, theres no doubt about that. When he talks, you can feel the distortion field emerging from everything chosen word he uses. As I’ve always said Steve Jobs and Apple are against choice and therefore freedom. Evidence? Well theres tons this week

Steve jobs slagged off Android saying Android is too difficult to build for due to many different types of handsets. He then said "Twitterdeck" (yeah I know – think he meant Tweetdeck, has he got any clue about social media? This wouldn’t be a problem if he didn’t use it as a example) was having a nightmare developing for Android.

Steve Jobs’ amateur sleuthing last night brought up that gorgeous TweetDeck chart showing the vast variety of Android handsets out there, which the Apple CEO used to illustrate the "daunting challenge" he perceives developers have to face when creating apps that work across all devices and OS builds for the platform. Only problem with his assertion (aside from Steve calling the company TwitterDeck)? His opposite number on the TweetDeck team thinks nothing could be further from the truth: "we only have 2 guys developing on Android TweetDeck so that shows how small an issue fragmentation is."

Next evidence.

"Let’s talk about the avalanche of tablets. First, there are only a few credible competitors. And they all have seven-inch screen. This size isn’t sufficient to create great tablet apps."

"And this size is useless unless you include sandpaper so users can sand their fingers down to a quarter of their size. We’ve done extensive testing and 10 inches is the minimum tablet size."

"Given that tablet users will have a smartphone in their pocket, there’s no point in giving up screen size. Seven inch tablets are tweeners — too big to be a phone, and too small to compete with the iPad."

What a load of crap, if people want something smaller then the Android tablets are ideal to serve them. In Steve Jobs head, a 12inch tablet might be ideal but for the rest of us, its too big and too heavy to be really useful. Once again choice is the key word here. If you like the idea of smaller tablets, then Apple isn’t offering you the choice. Most iPad users I speak to wonder when the camera version is coming.

Even more crap…

We think this open versus closed argument is a smokescreen that hides the real question: What’s better for users, fragmented versus integrated?

"We believed integrated will trump fragmented every time."

"We are very committed to the integrated approach, no matter how many times Google characterizes it as closed, and we believe that it will triumph over the fragmented approach, no matter how any times Google characterizes it as open."

Android is fragmented, we all knew it would happen but thats not a excuse to give up your choice. I have friends who would like a physical keyboard why penalize them for this? For some people the touch screen isn’t friendly, but steve jobs doesn’t care about them. In actual fact its "Its my way or the highway!"

iOS is closed and google are right to call it so.

Finally in Q&A

One of these days we’ll eventually learn the Android numbers, and I imagine we’ll compete with them for a very long time. But we have very different approaches — ours is to make devices that just work.

Oh yeah of course just work? I’m very sure Android developers are thinking the same. Your not alone in that steve. No in actual fact your only interested in telling people through hardware and software how to live there lives.

Welcome to the steve jobs distortion field…

A great app that will never be on the iphone? Locale

In March 2005, Judge Robert Restaino jailed 46 people when a mobile phone rang in his New York courtroom and no one would admit responsibility.

So we invented Locale. Problem solved.

Locale in action

Locale was recommended to me by my good friend Sheila. And within a moment of playing with it I started thinking wow this app can do so much for me.

Locale simply makes the android phone do (setting) something when a set condition is triggered (situation). And thats about it. But this is the clever part, there are loads of plugins to make locale work in different ways.

One of my current favorites is the speak Text and Email setting which does just that. When I’m at home, I usually have the phone next to me on the sofa or on the coffee table. Using "say my name" it will speak the email or text out loud to me, so I don’t even have to look or touch the phone. Of course it also says the person calling if thats the case.

The problem is I don’t want my phone to read out messages when I’m in a public place. But this is easily solved with Locale!

I have a situation setup to say if the phone spots my ssid for wireless and/or its pluged in via usb and charging. Then change the setting to allow speaking aloud and reading my messages.

Its that easy!

One of the most common situations I’ve seen and setup myself is to turn on wifi when at home (once again using the SSID) and turn it off when your not near wifi again. I also added a setting to change the ring volume if I’m at home and when I’m not.

There are tons of conditions and sensors which can be bought and setup. From Battery, Bluetooth and Cell stations to Time, Orientation and SSID for the conditions. Volume, Sync, Brightness, Gtalk, Lock, Ringtone, Wallpaper, Wifi are some of the settings which can be tweaked based on the condition (and these are just the free ones).

I said a long time ago, (maybe before I started blogging even) that controlling your profile on the phone would be the key to mastering it. Problem was that changing profiles required too much attention. I mean who has the time or can be bothered to change the profile each time they walk into a meeting or get on the bus? Instead Locale does all the hard work by turning your phone into a series of cleverly thought out sensors…

…and this is just the start. I keep coming up with interesting uses for locale like for example if I was on Foursquare, gowalla or facebook places. I could tell my phone to automatically send a http post to a url when I’m in the location (by gps, 3g, ssid, etc) to automatically sign me in to a location.

So why is this great application not available on the iphone platform?

  1. Well the iphone doesn’t have profiles!? Why?! I have no idea… I guess Apple thought they were being clever or smart
  2. And even if it did have profiles, would Apple allow you to screw around with the defaults? I doubt it…
  3. Even if they would, the apps don’t seem to work together like on the android operating system. For example could you write a app which will turn on and turn off the wifi?
  4. Oh and if that all works, would you be able to do real multitasking and backgrounding to allow locale monitor the conditions of the phone at all times?

The control of the operating system, is squeezing the innovation at the app level. Heck i’m not the only one saying this. And this level of control will ultimately be the downfall of the iOS platform (imho).