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5 posts from January 2015


5 Mobile Security Tips


As smartphones and tablets become increasingly essential to users, the risk of hacking rises. Rather than allowing your smartphone or other mobile device to flap in the proverbial wind, check out five security tips to employ in the new year: 


Lock It Up

The first thing you should do in terms of mobile security is lock your device up. Andrew Jaquith, a former Forrester Research analyst and current chief technology officer for Perimeter E-Security recommends creating an easy-to-type password as your “first line of defense” if your device contains sensitive data you’d rather not share with everyone. However, it’s important passwords are long enough so "you can pair it with an auto-destruct policy--fail eight times to enter the right password and it deletes the data on the phone--to be sure your data will be safe," says Jaquith.  

Create a strong password, i.e. one that’s not easily “cracked.” Experts recommend 15-character passwords, which are 90 times harder to decipher than 14-character passwords. “Characters” in this case refers to the use of numbers as well as letters to make a strong password. 


Accept Patches 

As with PCs, mobile phones require frequent patching to remove any vulnerabilities that cropped up following the device’s release. Kevin Mahaffey, chief technology officer for mobile security firm Lookout, says users should always accept updates.

"When you are prompted on Android, update," he notes. "For iPhone users, it's a bit more complex. You need to plug in and update your apps." 


Steer Clear Of Questionable Apps

DroidDream, the most successful malicious app currently in existence, infected a quarter million Android phones in one month by posing as a real application. Avoid infecting your phone by downloading apps from trusted app stores. Using the most popular apps is also a way to avoid problems, as well as those with a considerable number of reviews and comments. 


Don’t “Jailbreak”

Security experts say it’s very important to avoid “jailbreaking” your phone, even if it is, uh, tempting. The vast majority of a phone’s security is directly linked to code signing and software sandboxing, so jailbreaking, or removing removing the digital-rights management that locks it to a certain carrier, is a way to easily weaken your device’s security. Installing antivirus software is also considered unnecessary, as such software doesn’t do much to protect the entire phone. 


Back It Up 

Finally, it’s necessary to back up your data, which luckily is not a difficult feat on mobile devices. Doing so regularly makes it much less likely to lose data. 

"Now that there is over-the-air syncing and updates, it's really easy to restore your phone," says Michael Sutton, vice president of research for cloud security firm Zscaler. "If your phone gets taken or the data deleted, it takes 30 minutes and your phone is back to normal." 



The World's Fastest Keyboardd


Software keyboard maker Fleksy is the current Guinness Book of World Records holder for “world’s fastest smartphone keyboard”....and it just got faster. 

Originally available on Android only, Fleksy has since become a popular iOS keyboard application. The company utilized the iPhone 6 Plus to annihilate its previous record, with 17-year old Marcel Fernandes Filho using the phone to break his 18.9-second record. He broke his initial record by well over a second, and wrote the same phrase: “The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus & Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human.” The second go-round took him 17.00 seconds on the Apple 5.5-inch phablet. 

“We’re very proud of Fleksy’s involvement in helping Marcel achieve this impressive feat,” Fleksy co-founder & COO Ioannis Verdelis said. “The speed & accuracy Fleksy provides have yet again proven world-class.”

The company has also announced the $1.99 price of the Android app is here to stay. 

“There is massive demand for a premium keyboard like Fleksy which combines speed, nice design, & customization options,” said Kosta Eleftheriou, Founder & CEO of Fleksy. “We want to improve the typing experience for everyone, and we hope this price drop encourages even more users to take advantage of Fleksy’s offering.”

The 5.0 update of the app features Extensions, which makes it easy to customize input options. It’s also now possible to use Fleksy as an Android launcher, or an editor for cursor control and typing “shortcuts” of frequently-used words. The 5.0 version allows users to enjoy up to three Extensions at a time, and it charges for additional features.

The update features a cleaner design as well, and 30 new themes, including those from The Hunger Games and Frozen. The app is available in 40 languages at this time; Chinese and Arabic were added this past summer. 

The app’s Android reach has surpassed two million downloads, and the iOS version has remained atop the charts in some 25 countries. The company raised $2 million to help keep up with their growth following the iOS launch. Their total in raised capital thus far is $7 million, and Fleksy is competing with SwiftKey, a well-funded, similar app that has raised $21.6 million. 

Fleksy is the world’s fastest keyboard as of May 2014 and November 2014, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.


Text Message Flu Vaccine Reminders a Success

A recent study by the Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia University Medical Center explored the effectiveness of text messages as reminders for parents of children who required flu vaccinations. These reminders served to inform parents of a deadline to administer a second dose of the influenza vaccine: a very important booster that helps to protect children between the ages of 6 months and 8 years of age from the flu. Here are the details of the study, originally published in the journal Pediatrics.

The trial conducted between 2012 and 2013 sampled children of 660 families who needed the vaccine booster. The study randomized the families involved, dividing them into three specific groups. Each group received a different kind of correspondence: an “educational” text message, a “conventional” one, or else they received a letter in the mail informing them of the second flu shot. All of the parents were informed of the importance of the second shot upon their first visit; all of the families involved had text message capabilities on their phones.

Each of the three messages had a different method of reaching the parents. In the “conventional” text message and the letter, the parents were only informed of the date in which the next dose should be administered. On the other hand, in the “educational” text message, parents were given additional information about the effects of influenza upon children, and the value of preventative medicine.

The results of the study show the influence that text messages have in marketing campaigns. Families that received the “educational” text message reminder were significantly more likely to turn up for the second dose of the flu vaccine. Over 72% of parents who were in the “educational” condition responded, as compared to about the two-thirds who responded to the “conventional” text message. The families who received reminders in the mail were only 57% likely to respond.

Parents claimed that text message reminders were helpful because they not only provided pertinent information quickly, but they showed that someone actually cared about the well-being of their child. Also, most parents claimed they brought their kids in for the dosage directly because of the reminder (about 60% of the parents in the study). While 70% of the parents involved said it made them bring their children in for a vaccination sooner.

Naturally, this information is very influential for both mobile marketing campaigns and the medical industry. The informative text message is turning out to be the modern day appointment reminder call. Marketing campaigns can take a page out of the medical manual on this one: inform the client of an upcoming appointment, and educate them about the importance of keeping it. Clients are grateful and feel cared for, while organizations yield higher turnouts.



From Typing to Tapping: The App That Predicts Your Entire Text


Unveiled in December of 2014, the Coffee app will revolutionize the way we use smartwear.

The texting app is made to work with wearable tech, specifically watches like Google Android smartwatches. The Coffee app, created by Awear, is designed to make SMS texting simpler for the user. Instead of using the current methods of smartwatch texting – dictation and voice recognition – Coffee attempts to predict your entire text.

Coffee allows you to use tapping technology to access your contacts and with a few quick swipes you can easily send messages. It has hundreds of common messages like “looking forward to seeing you” or “I’m running late,” and it of course allows you to customize your own messages. And because it only takes two touches to send a message, it’s much more convenient and discreet than reaching for your phone.

Best of all, no more awkwardly talking into your watch like the cliché spy.

Here’s how it works: first, you select a recipient by tapping an image of the contact you wish to reach on your watch. (It knows who your most comment recipients are.) Next, it lists some of the most appropriate messages, according to your messaging history. Suppose you choose the option for “I’m running late.” Coffee then responds by offering you several appropriate options to complete the thought, like “5 minutes,” “15 minutes,” or “30 minutes” late.

The advantage of Awear’s Coffee is that you can send a quick text without having to pull out your phone. There is no doubt that you will still have to use your phone’s messaging app to send texts from time to time, especially if there is pertinent information to include or more novel information to send. But nothing beats an easy-to-use tapping interface that allows you to get to the point of a short text (and get on with your life).

The app is extremely adaptive, as well. Users can easily program it to provide hundreds of different message samples to send. Coffee works with Motorola, Samsung, Asus, Sony, and LG smartwatches (or any other type of Android Wear).

There are a couple of drawbacks with the Awear app. First, it is a drain on battery life. User reviews on the Google Play website report that Coffee tends to use up too much of the juice on Android phones, particularly the Moto 360. In addition, the “flick function” doesn’t work very well. The “flick function” allows you to send a text with the flick of your wrist. Unfortunately, it sounds like the programmers at Awear have a couple of bugs to work out.

Overall, the Coffee app is one powerful piece of software for those who love modern tech. Just think: you won’t have to reach for your phone to reach out or respond to friends – a couple of taps and a flick of the wrist is all you need to send back a text. 


The 5 Building Blocks of an Effective Mobile Strategy


Smartphones and tablets, it won’t have escaped your attention, are everywhere. Marketers are increasingly turning their attentions towards mobile devices as a way of reaching a wider audience, devising campaigns specifically designed to be communicated and consumed on smaller screens. Mobile strategies are now developed as completely separate entities from ‘traditional’ and even desktop marketing campaigns. 

That’s why it’s so important to understand what makes for a compelling, user-friendly mobile experience. Done right, a mobile app or mobile-optimized site will increase the amount of time people spend with your brand and make them more inclined to convert. To make the most out of your mobile strategy, focus on these five key areas:


1. Responsive Design

The mysterious, nebulous nature of search engine algorithms require a flexible approach to web design. Frequent updates to content are essential but can be highly time consuming, which is why a responsive website is invaluable. capable of automatically optimizing according to individual user history, preferences and device’s screen size.

2. Texting/Email

Communication is the critical component of a successful marketing campaign, so the more media you can wield (in the right way) the better. Emails are still effective up to a point, but make sure they’re tailored for consumption on mobile devices. If you want to text a group of numbers, use a group texting service proven to achieve results, and when you send a group text, keep the message short and succinct. Unlike desktop campaigns it’s best to avoid images and video because rich content will only slow your user experience down - and prompt them to make a hasty exit from engaging with your brand. 

3. Social Networks

For good examples of mobile-specific design, look at apps like Facebook, a very different beast to the social network’s desktop browser counterpart. Instagram is also leading the way with mobile-friendliness, applying the principles of social media to ecommerce by helping its users share pictures of merchandise. 

4. Google

It may not be everyone’s favourite interface, but having Google+ account is important; equally, allowing Google Maps to access and share location information about your business will help people to find you.

5. Mobile SEO

Mobile marketing requires an entirely different approach to SEO. Specifically, close attention should be paid to keywords, which generally need to be shorter than a typical desktop marketing campaign.