Ads Could Account For More Than 50% Of Your Mobile Data Usage

So you’ve got a free minute and decide to read some news on your phone, but you’ve got no wi-fi so load up your mobile data roaming. A few minutes later you close down your browser after reading two maybe three articles, but there is one thing you don’t know about all that data you just used. The scary fact being those ads could account for well over 50% of the mobile data you just used.

In what was described as a “small-scale” study, a group explored six “popular publishers”, with the intention of finding out just how much data you use on your phone when it comes to online advertisements.

The results are shocking, to say the least. When comparing visits to the site, both with and without an ad blocker, the group found that somewhere between 18% and 79% of the data downloaded for the pages accounted to ads. If that surprises you, maybe knowing that anywhere between 6% and 68% of that came from JavaScript providing interactive elements.

With mobile provider Three blocking adverts at a network level you can see why if pages are swarmed with ad’s that do nothing but eat up your data.

Do you use an adblocker? If so what made you first start using it and are there sites that you don’t block ads to? Do you have rules for when to block a site and when you want to give them their revenue from adverts. I, for example, block any site that decides to play video adverts. I didn’t come to watch them and I don’t want to search a page to click pause only to have it load a new one a few seconds later. Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

Mobile Phones Can Inhibit Sleep According to Latest Research

Smartphones have rapidly become an integral part of daily life and many people are extremely addicted to social media websites. As a result, it’s quite common for smartphone users to take their handsets to bed and casually post status updates. According to a paper published in Frontiers in Public Health, this is detrimental to your health and results in sleep deprivation. The research shows that blue light from smartphones delays people’s natural body clock and keeps them awake during later hours.

Professor Paul Gringras, a doctor from Evelina Children’s Hospital in London, said every new model was:

“bluer and brighter.”

He also criticized smartphone manufacturers for not implementing a “sleep mode”. In an interview with the BBC, he argued:

“There is converging data to say if you are in front of one of these devices at night-time it could prevent you falling asleep by an extra hour.”

“It’s not good enough to say do less and accept this is the world we live in, they’re fun devices but we do need some protection on what they do at night-time.”

The bright light shining into people’s eyes is a major distraction. Additionally, instead of the brain slowing down late at night, the barrage of messages, videos and icons on modern smartphones makes this pretty impossible. If you value your sleep it’s imperative to switch your smart-device off, before you go to bed. Manufacturers have to do more as smartphone addiction is a reality.

Do you take your smartphone to bed?

Image courtesy of NeonTommy.

Silent Ads Are Slowing Your Smartphone and Stealing Data Allowance

Ever wondered why your battery is going down faster or your data allowance is just evaporating, though you’re not really using your smartphone that much? The answer is ads… and a lot of them. You may not see them on-screen, but research company Forensiq has said that they are there and found over 5,000 such apps available on iOS and Android.

Forensiq tells that an estimated 20 ads per minute are delivered, summing up to 700 ads per hour. That’s quite a lot, even though they are not displayed on your screen. This may not seem that bad, but take note that the ads need internet connection to work. So when you are not home and have no Wi-Fi available, your data plan is just wasted on ads you don’t want and can’t stop.

The research company notes that a single app may be able to download 2GB of data per day. In addition to data allowance loss, poor battery life will be a side effect of the apps that keep downloading and shuffling these ads. So you not only lose a lot of your monthly data allowance, but you can also find yourself with a dead phone when you need it.

A full report has been made on this issue, but it does not mention any specific apps in question. However, Google Play recently suspended three apps that had the above mentioned behaviour, namely Waxing Eyebrows, Celebrity Baby and Vampire Doctor. The latter are not available on iOS, though other similar apps are present on Apple’s store too. You may think that Apple is more strict when it comes to their store, but truth be told, silent ad-serving is not on the company’s priority list when it comes to choosing what goes on the AppStore and what doesn’t.

While you don’t really have a way of detecting these apps, you can start to take notice of how much data your phone uses daily and how much battery individual apps use. I know the Google Store has some pretty neat apps for that, but even so, the native built-in features in the latest iOS and Android operating systems should be enough to give you an idea if you have silent ad-serving apps installed.

Thank you MacNN for providing us with this information

Can Depression be Detected by Analyzing Smartphone Data?

When I first stumbled upon this story I became interested for two reasons, firstly, sufferers all too often hide this illness from view, the “yes I’m fine” is a mantra which all too often covers a veil which is impossible to imagine. According to ball park stats, more than 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression worldwide; this is the leading cause of disability on the planet. According to Mental Health UK, 1 in 4 people will experience a form of mental health related issue each year.

Secondly, it does not matter what your social standing is, how many cars you have or the wealth you have accumulated, this form of mental illness can still be developed and is indiscriminate regardless of status. Awareness is crucial and according to researchers at Northwestern University, a Smartphone’s sensor data can potentially detect depression by tracking the amount of minutes a person uses their phone per day and also how often they change their geographical location.

This study which was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research on Wednesday, involved analysing the GPS locations and phone usage of a study group of 28 people over two weeks. Their locations were tracked every five minutes. The findings showed that the average daily usage for depressed people is 68 minutes; this was compared to just 17 minutes for non-depressed individuals. It was also found that there might be a link between the amount of geographical locations and depression; the fewer places a person visits could be an indicator of depression.

To explain the correlation between phone usage and possible depression, when a person is developing or at a high risk of this illness, they tend to withdraw, the more someone uses their phone alone without talking to for example friends, this may be an indicator. Participants in the two-week study also took a standardized questionnaire measuring levels of depression which was called a PHQ-9 survey. This asks about symptoms used to diagnose depression for example sadness and loss of interest in hobbies etc. The results were that 14 people out of the controlled group did not have any signs of depression while 14 did exhibit these signs which ranged from mild to severe.

In order to gain a better understanding of the correlation between Smartphone usage and depression, a bigger study is needed. What this study does highlight is the imperceptible fine line between regular socializing and withdrawing.

I am not going to end this article to patronize or lecture, if anyone is reading this who feels as if they are feeling more miserable than normal, or has thoughts which might be extreme, I would say just find someone, whether it be a friend, relative or a trusted person or professional, and talk to them. Never think it’s just you or bottle up your feelings. If you know of a friend or relative whose mood has changed or is acting differently, then the best thing you can do is be there for them.

Thank You RT and Mental Health Foundation UK for providing us with this information

Google Chrome Is Ready to Stop Draining Your Battery

If you stopped using Google Chrome on your notebook or smartphone, then you most likely did it because of its battery draw rate. Nobody wants to see their battery go from 100 to 0 faster than an F1 racing car and Google finally saw that their browser really had a big issue.

The search giant is said to have made a few changes to its Chrome browser involving Flash content. The browser is now able to turn off unimportant content and improve battery life on mobile devices and notebooks.

Google is also taking a smart approach for Mac users. They now see that when someone focuses on a browser tab, it means that he or she is interested in that particular web page and not the dozens more opened and running alongside it. What I’m talking about is an ancient feature, already present in other browsers, which makes foreground tabs take priority and shuts down content in background tabs. But this does not mean you can’t still listen to your YouTube or SoundCloud songs in background tabs.

The browser will also see an improvement in terms of CPU usage when running in the background, going down from 0.3 to 0.1 percent. While this does not mean a great deal, I can tell you that 0.1 percent battery usage is the same amount all mobile device applications use in the background. This includes your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Mail and so on.

It is said that the new battery improvement features will be made available for the beta version of Chrome in about six weeks. Chances are that it will hit the stable version in twelve weeks, provided that no big issues crop up.

Thank you TechSpot for providing us with this information

Chrome Users Rejoice! RAM And Battery Improvements In The Works!

Google Chrome is one of the big Internet browsers. With users loving its speed, its popularity has grown, with the use of extensions and cloud synced settings letting users customise their browsing experience, but at what cost?

Google Chrome is known for two things: the fast speed and the dreadful memory hogging. For each tab of Google Chrome it takes up a space of RAM, quickly racking up how much memory the browser takes, this, however, is not the end of it with memory leaks affecting both open, active and closed tabs alike. This can quickly mean that your fast experience begins to slow and can freeze your computer. For mobile users, these problems are doubled as all the while these issues can quickly drain your battery resulting in no laptop and no internet.

But fear not, Aurimas_Chromium, an engineer for Chrome for Android stated that they are “actively working on reducing battery usage and we are looking into when Chrome is in the foreground and in the background”. He goes on to say that they are looking to improve start-up speeds and are targeting memory leaks and bloating.

Originally praised for its security and performance Chrome has become a common tool for a lot of users, both on their computers and on their mobiles. With potential fixes to memory and battery issues, Chrome could become a more stable and reliable tool on every device it hopes to reach.

Do you use Chrome? What’s the most important thing for you when you’re using a web browser?

Thank you The Inquirer and Reddit for providing us with this information.

Image Courtesy of WeeklyUps.

Google Now API Will Soon Be Available to Developers to Put in Their Apps

Director of Product Management for Google Now, Aparna Chennapragada, has announced at SXSW that an open API will soon be available to all developers to include in their apps. This means that Google Now will have the ability to search for information in more apps that just the ones allowed by Google.

The idea came when Chennapragada went to Disneyland and show how queues can eat up most of your day. This is why she now has the Google Now team working on displaying cards that would show how long the average waiting time is at various theme parks. But the feature will not stop here, having Google Now focusing on personalized user experience. This means that, for example, an individual wants to arrive at the airport early to catch a flight, the knowledge can be built in Google Now cards.

There is still the matter of what Google Now would display if it finds the same information from different sources. This is where “individual user app usage patterns” comes in, comparing the app’s personal usage and determining from which app to display the information based on the individual’s preferences.

Thank you Phonearena for providing us with this information

Facebook Messenger Sparks Anger in Low-End Smartphone Users

Facebook’s aim is to be a social network, dedicated to maintaining friendships, creating new ones, share experiences and most importantly, chatting with friends. However, the social networks appears to do exactly the opposite and spark a large number of enemies who hate its current strategy.

The social network giant appears to have made another attempt at ‘forcing’ users to install its Facebook Messenger, the standalone app that you now need to chat with your friends. Previously, the Facebook mobile app incorporated all its features, including the chat feature.

The new app however rips the chat feature and users are required to have both the Facebook and Facebook Messenger app installed in order to enjoy the full experience on their mobile devices.

By separating the two, Facebook apparently made quite a lot of its users frustrated of having to depend on two apps instead of just one. Older smartphone users are especially infuriated by the social network’s decision due to the fact that they simply do not have the processing power of using them both simultaneously. A user commenting on this strategy shares her (paranoid) way around it all:

“If you root your phone so that Facebook is not in the bloatware, then don’t download either one. I use it straight from the website browser and delete my cache, history, data when I log out. The heavy battery use of the apps following me around like big brother and the slowdown of my phone was enough to justify this option.” she said.

Another user seems to skip using the Facebook app altogether, refusing to install it due to its ‘intrusive’ permissions required just to get the app on the smartphone:

“I guess I’ll be taking numbers and sending more text messages. I’m not downloading Messenger and I sure as hell refuse to upgrade Facebook. Haven’t upgraded the app since October. The permissions required are beyond intrusive and are absolutely unnecessary.”

Others are just moving to other means of communications and simpler apps that provide these features, stating that developers are just releasing apps based on their usage preference and not the actual consumer:

“Sometimes it seems that the people creating these apps assume that everyone uses them in the way they do; that everyone has the latest devices with lots of storage space. With FourSquare/Swarm I honestly can’t see the point for me; I don’t give a toss where people are right now, because I’m not a 20-something valley geek who hangs out at just a few places with all my mates, which seems to be the point of the new app.”

All users’ frustrations seem to make sense, since the Facebook app itself uses around 150 MB storage space. Installing another one for the same service is simply too much for some users owning lower-end smartphones and even the features do not justify the space it requires in order to get the full Facebook experience on your smartphone.

Thank you TechRadar for providing us with this information

Maxthon Releases Windows PC Browser Designed for Faster Video Playback

Maxthon is a web browser for Windows, OS X and Linux, developed in China by the company Maxthon Ltd. Latest news point to the browser receiving an update aimed towards video playback, having features such as “AdSkipper” providing support for skipping through advertisements without slowing the video downloads.

The company has recently struck a deal with MediaTek to pre-load the browser onto more than 100 million handsets this year, having its strategy focused on mobile handset. However, PC users will still receive a lot of support from the company, having the browser include Linux support this March and the new Windows PC desktop version.

With over 100 million unique devices per month using the browser, Pew Research has made a study and came up with some interesting results. The study is said to show that 78% of adults watch or download videos online, having Maxthon using the provided information in order to add video-optimisation to the new version of its browser.

It is also said that the company claims its browser uses memory and CPU usage more efficiently, having video play much faster and with fewer stops and lags. The browser allows users to even drag videos out of the browser screen as well as use the “boss key” to add a “very boring, work-like-looking spreadsheet”over the video you are watching.

Maxthon’s vice president, Karl Mattson, states that the video-optimisation feature was first introduced earlier this year in China, where the ad-skip feature proved to be extremely useful, having users previously dealing with a “flood” of advertisements when attempting to watch videos. It is said that users watching videos on the Maxthon browser, regardless of internet speed, will notice almost no lag, stability over time and video fast-forwarding.

Flash videos are said to work best with the browser at hand, having HTML5 formats currently being worked on. This means that users should get the best results when attempting to watch Netflix and Hulu on Maxthon, having YouTube performance depending on the user agent set in the browser’s settings.

The company has also stated that Windows PC users will not be the only ones receiving the video-optimisation feature, having the other platforms, such as Android, iOS, OS X, Windows Phone and Linux scheduled to receive the feature later on.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information

Statistics Report That Mobile Data Nearly Doubled In 2013

According to industry analyst Chetan Sharma, a consultant for wireless carriers, mobile data usage nearly doubled in the last year. On a global scale the average is now at 240MB per month, up from 140MB last year, while usage on the US jumped from 690MB to 1.2GB on average during 2013.

Sharma said the growth in data use could be attributed to the widespread coverage LTE, along with faster and bigger smartphones better suited for browsing. Though not explicitly mentioned in the report, the growing popularity of mobile apps such as Instagram, Snapchat and Vine probably played their part too.

This news is very beneficial to companies like T-Mobile or Sprint, which unlike Verizon and AT&T, don’t enforce hard limits on data usage per month. For now the average is still within lower than 4GB traffic, and although Verizon’s CEO has said unlimited plans are not sustainable there’s nothing stopping them from gradually adapting to consumers’ growing needs.

Wi-Fi does not get neglected in all this, and also holds a key point in internet connectivity, helping offload as much as 60% to 70% of the total traffic in most countries. With Wi-Fi sharing services like Fon making their way to the US in 2013 and companies like Republic Wireless falling back to Wi-Fi to provide service, there’s still a lot going on in this space to keep you from being at the mercy of wireless carriers’ data caps and overage charges.

Thank you Tech Spot for providing us with this information