Android Safety

Will Automated bots kill Smartphone apps?

It’s been six years since Steve Jobs introduced to the world the App Store. Since then, apps have changed the way the average smartphone user accesses content. Today, the $50 billion app industry faces its biggest threat ever. Welcome to the brave new world of bots—software that automates things people do regularly. While Microsoft faced problems when its chatbot Tay resorted to racist comments, Facebook at its annual F8 developer conference announced the arrival of bots to developers via its Messenger app that has 900 million users. This should, at one go, give a shot in the arm to the bot space. However, Facebook has been beaten to the draw by Telegram, Teamchat and Kik, which have already launched bots.

What is a bot and what does it do?

Bots have been there for years. In earlier days, if you were thrown out of a chatroom because what you wrote was abusive, it was because of bots. Nowadays, a bot is a software which automates things that most people do on their own, such as check news, order food, book flights or arrange meetings. They do tasks that are simple and repetitive; at speeds that no human can match. A simple online Q&A which, while appearing to be with a person, will in all likelihood be with a chatbot. Since chatbots reside on the server, they are easier and cheaper to develop. Bots work on any device, irrespective of the operating system. Already there are CNN and Burger King bots that provide news feeds and help you order a burger.

Who all are building bots?

Microsoft has been testing its chatbot Tay. It has also unveiled a new version of Skype that features chatbots. Facebook has launched its bot on Messenger. Most messaging platforms like Kik and Telegram are already there. Kik’s bot shop has tied up with retailers H&M and Sephora. Then there is Botlist, which offers a range of services including news, entertainment, lifestyle and games. The idea behind Botlist is to provide a centralised directory for all the bots that a person needs, almost similar on the lines of Google Play for Android apps today. Kik, with 275 million users, has announced a bot store. Two companies that are a bit slow in the space are Google and Apple. Google is reportedly working on a chatbot that will reside in a mobile messaging product.

Will bots replace apps?

Much of the demand for bots is because people are gradually getting tired of apps. There are multiple reasons. While there are millions of apps on offer, the top few garner almost 80% of the market. These are largely messaging apps like WhatsApp, Line and WeChat. It has been noticed that while people download many apps on their smartphones, they regularly tend to use only a handful. That apart, there is limited memory on smartphones (16GB largely) to download and operate a number of apps.

The advantage that bots have is they are capable of reaching people on platforms they already use, like SMS, chat apps, etc. While bots are not likely to kill apps immediately, they are expected to replace some apps pretty soon. The plus point that Facebook has is that it has huge amounts of data on its 1.6 billion users and the 900 million on Messenger. As a result, it is in a position to create chatbots that can do mundane tasks, like booking tickets or making restaurant reservations. That means you could practically do everything you want to by just being on Facebook Messenger. It also means more space in your smartphone for other things.

Will bots do everything for you?

In the initial phase, expect bots to do the routine, mundane stuff that you would rather get someone to do for you. Now that assistant will reside in your messaging application. It will take some time before more real-time core stuff is handled by bots. The way Microsoft’s chatbot Tay reacted is a classic case study. So it will be awhile before major things are handled by bots.

Who should be worried of bots?

The big threat is for Apple, which has benefited the most from the app empire, followed by Google. While Apple earned $20 billion from the App Store last year, it is believed that Google earned close to $7 billion from Google Play. The big gainers would be Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon.

However, it is not going to be all that easy. While it is easy to build an app and get users to download and use it, that’s not the case with bots. Here, the computer has to understand the language and carry on a sensible conversation. That’s where Tay stumbled. While there are many words that have multiple meanings for the user, it is difficult for a computer to comprehend what exactly the user meant. So, while bots will shake up the app world initially, it will be awhile before it can be overthrown.

Ericsson, Nigeria, China Mobile push for 5G development in Africa

Ericsson says it has joined its stakeholders in Nigeria and China Mobile’s 5G Joint Innovation Centre programme. This is so as to accelerate development of next-generation wireless networks, which will be faster, more powerful and offer even greater opportunities. They want to set up an open lab to provide a platform for new products and applications, and to foster new business and market opportunities.

The Chairman of China Mobile, Shang Bing that his company pays a lot of attention to the developing trends of this industry. He said that it is crucial for China Mobile and Ericsson, as the two ships of this industry, to stride forward in the right direction in the coming five years. He added that Ericsson has been an important partner to China Mobile for a long time. He said that they value the partnership with Ericsson and hope to have more cooperation with this important partner and Nigeria during the coming five year transformative period. President and Chief Executive Officer of Ericsson, Hans Vestberg said that 5G will enable people, industries and things to connect on an unprecedented scale, and this ability to connect will bring with it a whole new galaxy of devices and services. Read more at punchng.com

Mobile malware, Cloud data leakage and User error are top three mobile security threats

These common mobile security threats are rapidly growing due to user negligence, and because IT doesn’t always know the best ways to combat them.

Mobile security threats are on the rise, and it’s up to IT pros to keep up with the best ways to protect their organizations’ data.

Threats such as mobile malware are increasingly common, and best practices to combat them are evolving, said Doug Grosfield, president and CEO of Five Nines IT Solutions, an IT consultancy in Kitchener, Ont.

“The number of threats is growing, but so is the number of ways to protect yourself,” Grosfield said. “It’s about staying educated to stay protected.”

In addition to malware, data leakage and the threats from user error have grown more common in the mobile era. Many businesses lack in their approaches to warding off these potential risks.

Mobile malware

IT has allowed mobile malware to become a rapidly growing threat by not properly addressing it, Grosfield said.

Some companies try to combat mobile malware with the same technologies used on desktop PCs, such as antivirus software. But mobile malware is a different ballgame. It often comes from users downloading compromised apps that have made their way into Apple’s App Store or the Google Play store.

More than 95% of businesses have no protection against mobile malware, according to a report from enterprise mobility management vendor MobileIron, which aggregates data from its customers.

App reputation and mobile threat prevention platforms from companies, such as Appthority, FireEye, Check Point Software Technologies and others, can help protect against faulty or malicious app store apps. Those tools identify which apps have malware and allow IT to automatically quarantine devices that download them.

Cloud data leakage

The growth of cloud-based storage and file-sync applications has increased the potential for data leakage. Employees may store or share corporate content on consumer versions of tools, such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive, which can lead to data loss, and may not comply with an organization’s security and regulatory policies.

User error

Many employees put their organizations at risk by ignoring security measures IT puts in place, or even losing their devices.

Unsecured devices are an all-too-common problem, Grosfield said.

“You could walk through a crowded coffee shop or airport lounge and pick up half a dozen smartphones that don’t have a screen lock, or are not encrypted and have access to their corporate data, email apps and [virtual private network] clients,” he said. “Many people are still failing to protect their devices by leaving the door wide open.”

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Red Hat research shows mobile app development becoming more business-led

Image result for africa mobile app developmentResearch released by Red Hat has revealed different priorities between IT and line of business (LOB) over the transformative nature of mobile.

The study which polled 200 IT and 200 line of business decision makers in the US and Western Europe, found 35% on the IT side see mobile apps as key to business transformation, compared to only 26% of LOB. Business decision makers also argue that, while the current approach to mobile app development is led primarily by IT, it will move towards a business focus in the coming two years.

For more than three quarters (78%) of line of business heads, KPIs are used to measure mobile success. 58% of respondents say senior IT leaders are responsible for tracking KPIs, yet this number is expected to drop in the coming year.

The study also found differing approaches based on geography; 28% of US line of business decision makers prefer a collaborative ‘mobile centre of excellence’ approach, compared to only 5% polled in Europe.

“The new mobile survey shows that there is a mutual understanding from both LOB and IT executives that mobile app development will take on more of a business-led approach in the near future,” said Cathal McGloin, Red Hat VP mobile platforms in a statement. “Organisations that have fully implemented a mobile app strategy are more likely to be empowering their line of business managers to influence the development of mobile apps and are supported by IT through the use of modern app development tools, platforms and integration technologies.

“I see the relationship between LOB and IT continuing to strengthen as mobile programmes become increasingly focused on business outcomes,” he added.

The research is the latest in ongoing studies from Red Hat analysing how companies are attacking mobility. Back in July, the open software provider found there was little to choose between companies who were looking for back end (27%) and front end (32%) integration talent.

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