The Companion app – Lets users friends ‘virtually walk them home at night’ is exploding in popularity

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Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/campanion-app-surging-in-popularity-2015-9

The Companion app, created by five students from the University of Michigan, enables users to request a friend or family member to keep them company virtually and track their journey home via GPS on an online map.

Although they can do so, the friend or family member does not need to have installed the Companion app, which is available for both Android and iOS.

The user can send out several requests to different phone contacts in case people are not available to be a companion or not with their phones at the time.

Those contacted then receive an SMS text message with a hyperlink in it that sends them to a web page with an interactive map showing the user walking to their destination. If the user strays off their path, falls, is pushed, starts running, or has their headphones yanked out of their phone, the app detects these changes in movement and asks the user if they’re OK.

If the user is fine, they press a button on the app to confirm within 15 seconds. If they do not press the button, or a real emergency is occurring, the Companion app transforms the user’s phone into a personal alarm system that projects loud noises to scare criminals from the scene, and gives you the option to instantly call the police.

FluidUI – Get a prototype running on your mobile in under 15 minutes. Create incredible screenflows with our unique visual linking system. Work in high or low fidelity. Add gestures and transitions between screens to create an authentic mobile experience. Collaborate to get to the best solution.

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Source: https://www.fluidui.com/features

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Google Android apps found to be sharing data. The team studied 30 of the 358 most popular Android apps Some of the most popular apps written for Google’s Android phones do not tell users what data they are gathering, says a study by US researchers. Half of 30 applications studied share location information and unique identifiers with advertisers. Information about the data gathering was collected using software developed by the TaintDroid team. App creators should provide more information what will be done with harvested data, they say. The team of computer scientists from Intel Labs, Penn State, and Duke University chose 30 out of the 358 most popular Android apps that, when installed, ask for permission to get at location, camera and audio data. This revealed that 15 of the apps sent location information to advertisers but did not inform users that data was being shared. Some apps gathered and despatched location information even when an application was not running and some sent updates every 30 seconds. One application gathered data and sent it as soon as it was installed but before it was run for the first time. TaintDroid also found that seven of the apps shared unique identifiers, known as IMEI numbers, when sending data. Others despatched phone numbers or SIM card serial numbers. Android’s coarse grained access control provides insufficient protection against third-party applications seeking to collect sensitive data. Loose permission system could prove a boon for hi-tech thieves. The blanket permissions a user gives on installing an app can give carte blanche to malware and spyware providers to collect as much private data as they want, under the protective nicety of a simplistic warning from the operating system. The research and the TaintDroid program are due to be presented at the Usenix symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation (OSDI 10).

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Half of 30 applications studied share location information and unique identifiers with advertisers.

Information about the data gathering was collected using software developed by the team.

App creators should provide more information what will be done with harvested data, they say.

The team of computer scientists from Intel Labs, Penn State, and Duke University chose 30 out of the 358 most popular Android apps that, when installed, ask for permission to get at location, camera and audio data.

Using an extension to the Android operating system called TaintDroid, created by the team, they logged what the applications did.

This revealed that 15 of the apps sent location information to advertisers but did not inform users that data was being shared. Some apps gathered and despatched location information even when an application was not running and some sent updates every 30 seconds.

One application gathered data and sent it as soon as it was installed but before it was run for the first time.

TaintDroid also found that seven of the apps shared unique identifiers, known as IMEI numbers, when sending data. Others despatched phone numbers or SIM card serial numbers.

Trust model

The researchers said that while many Android apps ask for permission to gather information they did not do enough to inform users what was going to be done with that data or who it would be shared with.

They criticised the fact that users must “blindly trust” applications to play fair with data that they gather.

“Android’s coarse grained access control provides insufficient protection against third-party applications seeking to collect sensitive data,” wrote the researchers in a paper about their work.

Mobile security analyst Nigel Stanley from Bloor Research said the loose permission system could prove a boon for hi-tech thieves.

“The blanket permissions a user gives on installing an app can give carte blanche to malware and spyware providers to collect as much private data as they want, under the protective nicety of a simplistic warning from the operating system,” he said.

In a statement, Android creator Google said users necessarily entrusted all computing devices with some of their information.

“Android has taken steps to inform users of this trust relationship and to limit the amount of trust a user must grant to any given application developer,” it said. “We also provide developers with best practices about how to handle user data.”

It added that when apps are installed they show a screen detailing what information that program will access and users must give permission for installation to go ahead.

“We consistently advise users to only install apps they trust,” it said.

The research and the TaintDroid program are due to be presented at the Usenix symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation (OSDI 10).

Source:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-11443111