Archive for Apps

Tech Tip – Sleep App That Could Help You Work

We spend one-third of our lives asleep, and it has been estimated that around £30bn and 200,000 working days are lost in the UK each year through a lack of good sleep (gov.uk).  The Rise app shows you how to get better sleep, and keeps a record of your sleeping progress, thereby helping you to feel better and be more productive at work.

Rise offers 4 techniques to help users with sleep, provided by experts, 120 sleep relaxing guides, and sleep tracking tools to enable you to understand how your sleep is affected by the techniques. The app learns your sleep patterns and suggests the technique that may suit you best.  Rise claims that a massive 85% of app respondents reported better sleep after using the Sleep Better app.

You can find the Rise app in Google Play and Apple iTunes stores.

Tech Tip – Lightbeam Screen-Sharing App

If you’d like an app that enables you to easily share mobile screens with a friend or colleague, for work or leisure, Lightbeam is a new, free, cross-platform app which does just that.

The social screen sharing app also makes it easy to book group itineraries and reservations for trips, and it also works as a video chat service.

To download the app find it on Apple’s iTunes, and on Google Play Store.

Surveillance Attack on WhatsApp

It has been reported that it was a surveillance attack on Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging app that caused the company to urge all of its 1.5bn users to update their apps as an extra precaution recently.

What Kind of Attack?

Technical commentators have identified the attack on WhatsApp as a ‘zero-day’ exploit that is used to load spyware onto the victim’s phone.  Once the victim’s WhatsApp has been hijacked and the spyware loaded onto the phone, it can, for example, access encrypted chats, access photos, contacts and other information, as well as being able to eavesdrop on calls, and even turn on the microphone and camera.  It has been reported that the exploit can also alter the call logs and hide the method of infection.

How?

The attack is reported to be able to use the WhatsApp’s voice calling function to ring a target’s device. Even if the target person doesn’t pick the call up the surveillance software can be installed, and the call can be wiped from the device’s call log.  The exploit can happen by using a buffer overflow weakness in the WhatsApp VOIP stack which enables an overwriting of other parts of the app’s memory.

It has been reported that the vulnerability is present in the Google Android, Apple iOS, and Microsoft Windows Phone builds of WhatsApp.

Who?

According to reports in the Financial Times which broke the story of the WhatsApp attack (which was first discovered earlier this month), Facebook had identified the likely attackers as a private Israeli company, The NSO Group, that is part-owned by the London-based private equity firm Novalpina Capital.  According to reports, The NSO Group are known to work with governments to deliver spyware, and one of their main products called Pegasus can collect intimate data from a targeted device.  This can include capturing data through the microphone and camera and also gathering location data.

Denial

The NSO Group have denied responsibility.  NSO has said that their technology is only licensed to authorised government intelligence and law enforcement agencies for the sole purpose of fighting crime and terror, and that NSO wouldn’t or couldn’t use the technology in its own right to target any person or organisation.

Past Problems

WhatsApp has been in the news before for less than positive reasons.  For example, back in November 2017, WhatsApp was used by ‘phishing’ fraudsters to circulate convincing links for supermarket vouchers in order to obtain bank details.

Fix?

As a result of the attack, as well as urging all of its 1.5bn users to update their apps, engineers at Facebook have created a patch for the vulnerability (CVE-2019-3568).

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Many of us think of WhatsApp as being an encrypted message app, and therefore somehow more secure. This story shows that WhatsApp vulnerabilities are likely to have existed for some time.  Although it is not clear how many users have been affected by this attack, many tech and security commentators think that it may have been a focused attack, perhaps of a select group of people.

It is interesting that we are now hearing about the dangers of many attacks being perhaps linked in some way to states and state-sponsored groups rather than individual actors, and the pressure is now on big tech companies to be able to find ways to guard against these more sophisticated and evolving kinds of attacks and threats that are potentially on a large scale.  It is also interesting how individuals could be targeted by malware loaded in a call that the recipient doesn’t even pick up, and it perhaps opens up the potential for new kinds of industrial espionage and surveillance.

Tech Tip – Free Online Presentation App ‘Zoho Show’

If you’d like an app that enables you to create and collaborate, publish and broadcast presentations from any device, quickly and easily, Zoho Show free online presentation software may be for you.

It offers many different themes and has a contextual user-focused interface that guides you through authoring slides, and it has animations and transitions to help set the tone of your presentation for your particular audience.

Zoho Show is available for Apple and Android and is compatible with PowerPoint.  Find more information online here https://www.zoho.com/show/ or download Show from iTunes or the Google Play store.

Tech Tip – The JigSpace App

If you’d like to have the ability to instantly see a step-by-step interactive 3D breakdown of a complex idea, product, or phenomenon, so that you can understand exactly how it works, and be able to explain it (e.g. for a work or education project) then the JigSpace app could be for you.

The JigSpace app for iPhone and iPad is a platform to explore and share interactive, 3D ‘knowledge for anything’. When you ask, “How does that work?” the answer is right in front of you in … interactive 3D. The basic JigSpace app is available for free from Apple iTunes.

Slack Builds Email Bridge

Chat App and collaborative working tool Slack appears to have given up the fight to eliminate email by allowing the introduction of new tools that enable Slack collaboration features inside Gmail and Outlook, thereby building a more inclusive ‘email bridge’.

What Is Slack?

Slack, launched ‘way back’ in 2013, is a cloud-based set of proprietary team collaboration tools and services. It provides mobile apps for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and is available for the Apple Watch, enabling users to send direct messages, see mentions, and send replies.

Slack teams enable users (communities, groups, or teams) to join through a URL or invitation sent by a team admin or owner. It was intended as an organisational communication tool, but it has gradually been morphing into a community platform i.e. it is a business technology that has crossed-over into personal use.

Email Bridge

After having a five-year battle against email, Slack is building an “email bridge” into its platform that will allow those who only have email to communicate with Slack users.

Aim

The change is aimed at getting those members of an organisation on board who have signed up to the Slack app but are not willing to switch entirely from email to Slack. The acceptance that not everyone wants to give up using their email altogether has made way for a belief by Slack that something at least needs to be built-in to the app to allow companies and organisations to be able to leverage the strengths of all their workers, and at least allow those organisation and team members who are separated because of their Slack vs email situation to be connected to the important conversations within Slack. It will also now mean that companies and organisations have time to make the transition in working practices at their own pace (or not ) i.e. migrate (or not migrate) entirely to Slack.

How?

The change supports Slack’s current Outlook and Gmail functionality, which enables users to forward emails into a channel where members can view and discuss the content and plan responses from inside Slack. It also allows anything set within the Outlook or Gmail Calendar to be automatically synced to Slack.

The new changes will allow team members who have email but have not committed to Slack to receive an email notification when they’re mentioned by their username in channels or are sent a direct message.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Slack appears to have listened to Slack users who’d like a way to keep connected with their e-mail only / waiting to receive credentials colleagues, and the email bridge is likely to meet with their approval in this respect.  For Slack, it also presents the opportunity gently for those people who are more resistant to change into eventually making the move to Slack.

This change is one of several announced by Slack, such as the ‘Actions’ feature last year, and the two new toolkits (announced in February this year) that will allow non-coders to build apps within Slack.

Slack knows that there are open source and other alternatives in the market, and the addition of more features and more alliances will help Slack to provide more valuable tools to users, thereby helping it to gain and retain loyalty and compete in a rapidly evolving market.

Tech Tip – Free Graphic Design App For Android

Design social media posts, ads, presentations, cards, flyers and more with ‘Desygner’, a free, popular graphic design app for phone or tablet.  The app has an intuitive interface and thousands of templates to choose from. Although the basic offering is free, you can switch up to a £5.99 monthly subscription if you plan to use the app regularly.

To install the app, look for ‘Desygner’ in Google Play.

Tech Tip – Integrated Audio Recording and Note-Taking App

The ‘Noted’ app is a fully-integrated audio recording and note-taking app that can help you to keep track of meetings, interviews, lectures and more.  The app records audio, while also allowing you to type out notes which have rich text and image support.  These notes are automatically time-stamped with easily searchable “time tags”, and the recordings + accompanying notes can be synced through iCloud, organized into notebooks, and quickly searched through.

The basic Noted app free tier has core functionality and allows you to save five recordings. Premium plans e.g. Noted+ allow for more recordings + offer other features such as removing unwanted background noise and enhancing recordings for clearer playback and exporting notes to PDF.

The Noted app is available for Mac, iPhone/iPad, and now the Apple watch so you can capture spontaneous conversations.

To get Noted, go to the Mac Apple Store (itunes.apple.com) and download the basic version for free.  In-app upgrades can be purchased if you require more recordings and functionality. More details about an Android offering coming soon.

Tech Tip – Discover How Your Phone Is Tracking Your Movements

If you’d like to see what data your phone has been collecting about your movements here’s how:

For iPhone:

You can see what Apple refers to as your ‘Significant Locations’ by going to:

Settings > Privacy > Location Services >

Scroll down and select System Services > Significant Locations.

You will need to prove it’s you before being given this info e.g. by fingerprint scan, Face ID or typing in your passcode.

For Android:

You can see what is referred to as ‘Your Timeline’ by:

Opening the Google Maps app.

Clicking on the menu (3 horizontal bars, top left)

Selecting ‘Your Timeline’.

At this point, you may get an on-screen permissions message about turning tracking on or off.