Mobile Phone News

Microsoft launches rival to Snapchat

Skype Qik LogoSnapchat may have had some ups and downs when it comes to privacy, but its popularity as a means of mobile communication cannot be overstated. It is no surprise that Microsoft has attempted to emulate its success with the launch of a rival app called Skype Qik.

While it bears the Skype branding, it is not integrated with the existing mobile VoIP app, instead coming as a separate program. It is available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone already and lets you share short video clips without text or any other information included.

The videos can be transmitted in chunks lasting up to 42 seconds and, like other messaging apps, the communications between smartphone users are threaded for easy reference. So unlike Snapchat, which deletes images shortly after they are received, there will be some continuity with Skype Qik, as the clips will linger for a total of two weeks.

This should strike a balance between privacy and convenience, although increasingly savvy users may still have questions about how effective the app is at keeping their info safe.

Skype Qik is free to download and has arrived on the biggest operating systems this week for people to begin experimenting.

Snapchat leak reveals importance of phone privacy

snapchat logoImage messaging service, Snapchat, has become a popular way for people to communicate with one another using images and text rather than plain instant messaging alone. But now a leak of private pics brought about by third party apps linked to the mobile platform has raised questions about privacy in the age of the smartphone.

This is not an isolated incident, as hackers have been harvesting images for a protracted period, creating a library containing more than 13GB of pictures transferred by Snapchat.

Although Snapchat is designed to delete these pictures after a short period, the fact that third party apps have been able to integrate with its systems, means that hackers were provided with a backdoor which made the theft possible.

Anyone who uses a smartphone should take the time to keep their personal data safe using a strong password to keep the keypad locked. And the same goes for any other connected devices and services you use.

But to a certain degree, there is little anyone could have done to prevent this leak, other than simply not using Snapchat at all, or at least steering clear of any third party apps that might not be so scrupulously protected.

Demand for iPhone 6 Plus outstrips supply

iPhone 6The iPhone 6 Plus is one of the most in-demand smartphones on the planet at the moment, with Apple reportedly having to increase production of this device at the expense of manufacturing the standard iPhone 6, according to DigiTimes.

It seems that the sheer size of the 5.5 inch phablet has been enough to coax plenty of consumers across the world to part ways with their cash. In fact, it is likely that many were waiting eagerly for a bigger iPhone to arrive so that there was finally a solid alternative to Samsung’s Android-based Galaxy Note range.

While the changes that Apple has made to the manufacturing ratios may take a few weeks to filter through the supply chain, by Christmas there should be many more iPhone 6 Plus models on the market.

Hopefully, this will not put too much of a dent in the number of the normal 4.7 inch iPhone 6 which are for sale, especially since the upcoming winter shopping period is generally an important one for tech companies. With Apple finally on the big screen bandwagon, you can expect the majority of new devices from its rivals to follow suit.

Stress test proves Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is tough

Galaxy Note 4
Galaxy Note 4

Samsung has capitalised on the criticism levelled against the iPhone 6 Plus and its apparently fragile, bendable shell, by creating a new video in which it shows just how much force the new Galaxy Note 4 phablet can withstand.

The ad is not only designed to impress users with the robust build of this upcoming handset, but also points out that just because a phone has a large screen it does not necessarily mean that it will be weak and flawed.

A thorough bend test was carried out on the Note 4 to show that it can withstand the weight of being sat on over and over against by a typical user without coming away with any ill effects. This is, apparently, thanks to the fact that it has a magnesium frame on the inside, unlike the iPhone 6 Plus.

Of course, critics will point out that the Galaxy Note 4 has generated controversy of its own as a result of the fact that there are reports of a small gap existing around the 5.7 inch QHD screen, which Samsung has explained away as being a ‘feature’ of the phone rather than a manufacturing error.

Google’s Ara modular smartphone to offer hot component swapping

Google Modular Phone
Project Ara

Project Ara is Google’s latest wheeze to crack open the smartphone market, this time using a modular design that lets users customise their components and upgrade on the fly. As its release draws closer, more details are emerging to flesh out the features that it will offer.

The latest information about Project Ara includes claims that it will not only allow for components to be chopped and changed as users see fit, but will even allow this to take place when the phone is still powered on.

Specifically, it will be possible to take off the camera module and replace it with a different one without turning off the handset itself. This could mean that photography fans can take a number of different lenses and sensors out with them and pick the one that is most appropriate for a given scenario.

Project Ara is going to be built around the Android operating system and it will feature several different handset sizes, to cover multiple parts of the market. Pricing and the full specification details remain a mystery, but you can expect to learn much more ahead of its commercial launch next spring.