Tag Archives: application

Ebook reading, travel, and other mobile apps may be leaking private data to Facebook

2019-03-25

Writers, ebook lovers, travelers, and anyone who is using downloaded applications on their mobile phones or tablets are silently leaking their personal data to Facebook. A research organization has published a study that shows how apps, including popular travel applications like TripAdvisor, Kayak, Yelp and Skyscanner continuously transmitted users’ private data to Facebook.

An earlier study indicated that 42.55% of free apps on the Google Play Store sent private data to Facebook without having users’ permission to do so. A recent study published in December 2018 discovered that at least 61% of tested mobile apps automatically transmitted personal data to Facebook the very moment the app is opened. The apps transmit a set of data to Facebook in every case: whether the user has a Facebook account or not, or whether the user is logged into Facebook or not.

Privacy International, a non-profit organisation based in London, conducted the research that discovered how extensive the leaking of private data from mobile apps is. The study focused only on Android apps downloaded from the Google Play Store, and their silent background connection to Facebook.
Kayak app screen capture
Privacy International tested many types of apps, trying to find out if they connected to Facebook servers. For instance, all tested travel applications – Tripadvisor, Yelp, Kayak, and Skyscanner (as reported by Skift) – sent data to Facebook. In addition, Kayak and Skyscanner also sent user’s Google ad id to Facebook. This, however, is not the only nasty problem travel booking apps have: they are also seriously troubled by fake reviews and misleading travel product information.

Four months after the Privacy International research paper was published, some apps were re-tested. Cnet reported that Yelp, Duolingo, Indeed, and a few religious apps were still sharing user data without having a permission to do so. Music library Spotify, and travel apps Skyscanner and Kayak don’t automatically connect with Facebook anymore.

Mobile apps send plenty of data to Facebook in the background

The report concludes that the largest set of data was leaked by the Kayak app. User’s private information that Kayak provided to Facebook included:

When the search was done
Name of the app
Google advertising id
Departure city, airport, and date
Arrival city, airport, and date
Number of tickets, including number of children
Class of tickets (economy, business or first class)

Facebook hasn’t told exactly what it does with the data it receives from the apps. The peculiar thing with this discovery is that the apps send user data to Facebook. It doesn’t matter if the user has a Facebook account, the data is always transmitted to the social media giant.

Nonetheless, Facebook explained how the data is collected. The company provides application developers with programming tools – a Software Development Kit (SDK) – that they can use, for instance, for identifying the user, for getting statistics, and for displaying ads in the app. Once a programmer includes the Facebook provided identification in the app, it starts sending data to the social media service databases.

The major observations of the Facebook data leak study

Observation 1: at least 61 percent of apps tested automatically transferred data to Facebook. This concerns all users – with and without Facebook account, or whether they are logged into Facebook or not.

Observation 2: Many apps send the user’s unique Google ad id to Facebook as well. It is an ad targeting id that is unique to the user. Using this id and data from apps, the user can be identified.

Observation 3: Some apps continuously send Facebook data that is detailed and often sensitive. Travel booking app Kayak was a prime example of this activity (as listed above).

Observation 4: For a normal mobile app user, it is practically impossible to prevent apps from sending data to Facebook. The research report proposes a high-tech solution that involves installing a firewall on the phone that can prevent traffic to specified addresses (using a firewall app such as AFWall+ or NetGuard). Changing Facebook’s privacy settings did not prevent tracking.

Tips for preventing apps from leaking private data to Facebook

tripadvisor app on phone, screen shot

The safest option is not to install an app at all, especially if an alternative exists.
Once an app has been downloaded, and the app is opened on the mobile device, there is practically nothing a user can do to prevent it from leaking data. Installing and configuring a firewall is something an ordinary people won’t do.
In some cases, accessing a social media or another service in a browser can be a safer alternative than an app. The research team tested the Opera browser, and discovered it doesn’t send data to Facebook. Dropbox is application that keeps your data away from Facebook’s databases as well.

Change to a phone that is running on secure operating system
The research argues that Google is even bigger private data collector than Facebook. To stop Google and Facebook getting your personal data, finding a phone that doesn’t run on Android is an option. Apple iPhone is the major brand that also claims they care about customers’ privacy. Even Apple can’t completely prevent independent apps from sending data to other parties.
The best choice is to change to an open source software that has been reviewed by experts. One of them is /e/ (eelo) operating system, but at the moment, it requires an experienced techie to install it on a phone.

GDPR will affect rogue practices
The European Union online privacy regulation known as GDPR has been in effect since May 2018. The first court cases that define how it is applied have been started. Regarding GDPR, Facebook argues it is the application developer’s responsibility to manage it follows the GDPR rules. GDPR is intended to protect people from businesses that are collecting their data without permission, so the laws will have an impact on these malpractices sooner or later.

The curious case of Magik Book, an innovation seeking rationale

2018-11-06

Product catalogs are bestsellers among certain types of readers. Catalogs are made for browsing, viewing beautiful photographs and for dreaming of owning products listed on a glossy paper. Of course, catalogs were one of the first print products to move to the internet because of cost savings, accessibility and ease of keeping them up-to-date. Magik Book, however, believes print catalogs are more important than ever, and has integrated catalogs with mobile devices.
Magik Book paper product catalog and tablet app
The Magic Book concept is to sync a tablet or phone with the page of a product catalog. For instance, a company wants to create a catalog of garden furniture. It doesn’t have to be as thick and extensive as an Ikea catalog, but attractive photos taken in beautiful gardens is all-important. Before opening the catalog, a potential customer must download the Magik Book app to his or her phone or tablet. As the customer turns pages of the paper catalog, the app on the mobile device displays additional information about the product featured on the print page. In the app, it is possible to share the information to social media channels or buy the product.

An introduction video to the Magik Book below shows how it works:

In effect, the simple task of browsing a product catalog has been turned into a tech challenge that requires the shopper to have two tools at hand: the print catalog and a mobile device (with an app downloaded as well, of course).

Instead of having the entire catalog on the mobile device and allowing the reader to access all possible information in the app, an awkward integration of paper catalog and mobile device has been established. Maybe the sync between paper catalog and mobile device works via NFC, but that’s not essential. The point is that it is difficult to see why anyone would invest in two things (paper catalog and mobile app) when everything can be provided to customers in one neat digital package.

The company behind Magik Book is based in Portugal. We have a suggestion: have a vacation in Portugal, and get to know the local culture and business customs before considering a project that involves this technology.

Via Ubergizmo.

UPDATE: The syncing of the paper catalog and the mobile application works via Magik Book’s patented “advanced magnetic field technology” (magnets in each page). Thank you for the additional information, Magik Book!

Artificial intelligence computer software is already helping authors write fiction books

2018-10-22

Writers who know how to create computer software have tried to develop applications that can write for years. Earlier, we reported about automatic and semi-automatic tools that can write simple news reports and structure scientific papers. Now, fiction author Robin Sloan has developed a smart and simple tool that feeds him text when he wants ideas.
two computer monitors chatting
The New York Times visited Robin Sloan who demonstrated his idea generator-application to the reporter. This is what The Times reporter saw on the author’s computer screen.

Here is how a computer writes fiction

Mr Sloan typed in his tool: The bison have been traveling for two years back and forth. He stopped and pushed a button on the keyboard. The computer thought for a second and printed on the screen: between the main range of the city.
Another sample: The bison are gathered around the canyon. Sloan typed, and pushed a button that woke up the helper application. After a brief moment, the computer added the words by the bare sky to the screen.

The definition of artificial intelligence (AI) is broad and flexible, but Mr Sloan’s writing assistant software could be called machine learning or even a bot (for more about the AI and ML definitions, read this). The application looks at a few sentences that have been typed before the magic button was pushed, searches its database for matching phrases and suggests a few words that might fit into the context.
Robin Sloan writing tool, screen shot
Robin Sloan's software
Robin Sloan himself regards his application as a collaborator that makes his work actually harder and helps him produce different results than he alone might have been able to achieve. Sloan has made his software available (consisting of two components: torch-rnn-server and rnn-writer) for other tinkerers to try out.

So, artificial intelligence software applications are not going to write fiction books in the near future. But what about nonfiction?

Nonfiction writers may get help from AI as well

South China Morning Post reports about the AI research group of Alibaba, China’s biggest online commerce company, which has developed a machine-learning software that beats humans. It was tested with the Stanford Question Answering Dataset, and scored higher in the large-scale reading comprehension test than humans. Alibaba’s machine-learning software scored 82.44 on the test, compared with 82.30 that humans achieved.

The chief scientist behind the software believes that computers can now answer questions such as “what causes rain?” with a high level of accuracy. “We believe the technology can be applied to numerous applications such as customer service, museum tutorials, and patient inquiries online.”

Nonetheless, the Alibaba scientist reminded that the system currently works reliably with questions that have straightforward answers. If the question’s language or expressions are vague or the grammar is incorrect, or a prepared answer is missing, the software may not be able to answer correctly.

A software technology that Alibaba’s research has developed would be a great help for nonfiction writers, editors, and fact-checkers. All those small (and big) facts and details that just have to be correct in a commercial book could be verified by a piece of software.

Having access to this technology might shorten the time to write a nonfiction book.
Alibaba screen shot

The apps you want on your tablet or phone when reading ebooks

2018-05-28

For ebooks on your tablet or smartphone, you only have to download a reading app on the device. Most ereading applications come with note taking and highlighting features that let you annotate the text you are reading. As you develop new habits with digital reading and your ebook library grows, you probably want additional apps that complement the reading app. Here are a few tips for applications that can help.
ipad tablet in a bookshelf

Recommendations for ebook reading applications

If you tend to shop at the same bookstore, the easiest option is to use the reading app the store provides. For instance, if you purchase your ebooks from Kobo, use the Kobo app because it makes managing you library and purchases easy.

For tablets, good choices for ereading apps that are not tied to any specific bookstore are Bluefire Reader, Bookari, and Moon+.
reading ebook in fbreader app on LG G3
The same reading applications that run on a tablet can be used on a smartphone, but also FBreader is a good one to have on the phone because it can open a number of different ebook file formats.

For Apple computer and mobile device users, the iBooks (available at the App Store) app is an excellent choice.

It is worth reminding newcomers to the world of ebooks that Kindle books purchased from an Amazon store can only be opened with a Kindle reader, Fire tablet, or the Kindle app that is available to all PCs, tablets and phones. Other bookstores have ebooks packaged in EPUB format that is usually compatible with many reading applications, like FBreader, Aldiko, Kobo, and with all other e-readers apart from Kindle.

Useful additional apps that complement an e-reading application

Simplenote on an iPhone
Pretty soon after I began reading ebooks, I realized that didn’t want to write down my notes inside the reading application. The reason was that, especially during the early days of ebooks, it was difficult or even impossible to transfer the notes easily to a word processing software for further work. After I discovered Simplenote, I have written all my notes, drafts and lists with it. It is an online app that requires Internet connection, but it is so simple and reliable that it is all I need for my notes.

Android Authority has reviewed a number of applications that can be useful for ebook readers.

Goodreads. A large community of book lovers who can manage their personal libraries, discover new reads, and connect with other readers.
LitCharts. It displays story points, synopsis, and other information about books.
Literature Terms. A dictionary that explains terms and phrases related to literature.
Browsery. A service and app that lets you connect with other readers and discover new books.
Poems. An app that features poems from a variety of authors.

Helsinki: Klaava Travel Guide, sample page

How to read ebooks without installing any additional applications on your PC

2018-03-26

Recently, one of my neighbors asked how she could read the ebook she had bought from a store. She had managed to download the book, but there was no way to open it. As many of us do in a hurry to start reading a new book, she had simply ignored all the prompts to download an ebook reader application to her device. Well, the problem was quickly solved once we installed a reader application for her. Microsoft has taken a step towards easier ebook experience by including ebook reading into the Edge browser application.

The thing is that every Windows 10 computer comes with the Microsoft Edge browser application that includes the feature to read ebooks.

ebook table of content in Mircosoft Edge browser
If your Microsoft Edge can not open EPUB ebooks, ensure your system has received all the security and feature updates from Microsoft.

This is how you can instantly verify if Microsoft Edge browser on your computer can open ebooks.

Open File Explorer.
Locate the EPUB ebook you want to open on your device.
Right-click on the EPUB file.
Select Open with.
Select Microsoft Edge. If it is not on the list, click Choose another app, and look for Edge.

The ebook should open in a tab in the Microsoft Edge application. If the book doesn’t open, the chances are that you are trying to read a copy-protected (DRM-locked) ebook. The rule of thumb is that ebooks bought and downloaded from a bookstore are copy-protected (you can always read them in the app the store provides), but free ebooks are not locked (and can be read in any EPUB ebook app). Kindle ebooks are a different story altogether, but the rule of thumb is that you can read them only in Kindle devices and apps.

In addition to non-DRM, not copy-protected ebooks you can download ebooks from the Microsoft Store to the Edge browser. It is still early days for ebooks on the Microsoft Store, which means that ebooks are not yet available in many countries at all.

Once you have an ebook in the Microsoft Edge, you can use the following useful features as you read a book.

Open the table of contents and jump to a page you want. Click the leftmost icon on the black bar above the book.
read aloud (TTS) in Microsoft Edge
Let the application read the book aloud to you. Click the loudspeaker icon on the black bar above the book.
highlight, make notes in ebook in Windows 10 Edge browser
Highlight or underline text. Select a section of text, and a small tool window opens up. You can also write notes that are attached to the position you selected.
change ebook font size in Windows 10 reader app Edge
Change font and font size. Choose A-icon, and you will see the options.
search any text in ebook in Edge browser EPUB reader in Windows 10
Search any text in a book. Click the magnifying glass and type your keywords.
Bookmark pages.

Especially, read aloud is a useful new feature in an ebook reading app. You can turn an EPUB ebook into an audiobook simply by asking the Edge browser to read it to you. At the moment, three voices are available for choosing which one pleases your ears the most. Edge can read web pages as well, so you can listen to articles you discover on the internet.

Smart computer applications automatically write news, scientific papers and even Harry Potter sequels

2017-12-13

Long before the term artificial intelligence (AI) was invented, clever computer programmers tried various methods to automatically produce texts for different purposes. Early attempts have been unsuccessful, but now, technology has developed so much that serious attempts for automating the writing of news reports and scientific papers are underway. What does it mean for authors?

keyboard on fire
Computer-generated brief news reports are perhaps more widely used than we are aware. For instance, The Washington Post newspaper is using a news robot called the Heliograf.

The robot working for the newspaper is not fully autonomous, but writes reports in cooperation with news editors. The editors have created templates for political news stories that feature key phrases for particular events, like elections. Heliograf is connected to a source of structured data where it can access the required data for reporting. The robot searches the database, matches the discovered relevant data with the corresponding phrases in the template, and inserts the data into the template for publishing a news report.

It is not a coincidence that the Heliograf robot was developed and taken into use after Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, took over the newspaper. With the help of the robot, The Washington Post wants to publish more news stories that can reach small local audiences that previously were out-of-reach for a major newspaper.

SciNote, an enterprise that provides scientists cloud services where they can store all their notes, papers, references, ideas – anything that has to do with their research has also chosen the human-robot collaboration method for its automatic writing application. Slate talked to the people behind the Scinote’s software technology and found out that already 20 000 scientists use the company’s cloud service.

Manuscript Writer is Scinote’s automatic tool for drafting a scientific paper from pieces of data. The data must be structured and organized by the researcher for the Manuscript Writer to be able to do its job, but that’s exactly what Scinote’s cloud service enforces researchers to do. The result from the Manuscript Writer is a draft paper for further work, review and editing.

A community known as Botnik has developed a writing application that can automatically continue your work once you feed the robot enough source material for analysis. That’s how Botnik has written a sequel for Harry Potter, TV show manuscripts, advertisements, and other texts. Below a page from Botnik’s Potter adaptation (photo by Botnik.org).
Botnik bot writer, Harry Potter variation, photo by Botnik.org

Most writers (and all internet users) use artificial intelligence applications daily without paying any attention to them. A search engine is a very clever piece of technology that constantly learns more about you and what you want in order to return better search results. Facebook and other social media services constantly follow and listen to you in order to tailor their newsfeeds and ads to match your desires.

The software algorithms used in writing robots and in social media services know what to do because they have enough data to start their work, and when they are fed with more data, they can improve the results.

Can a robot write books like The Lord of the Rings, Catch 22 or The Innovator’s Dilemma? No. At the moment, a robot can write something where the results are known in advance (a fixed number of possible outcomes), and the robot fills in the key data; a robot organizes a large set of data into a document; or produces variations derived from an existing source text.

Travel photography application shows where to take that perfect tourist postcard picture

2017-01-11

Accidental travel photographers tend to take photos at the same places where everyone else is taking pictures. If you want your travel pictures to look better than 99% of all photos taken in that same spot, you may want a little help from an expert. The travel photography expert is called Snapfindr, an app that runs on your smartphone or tablet.
snapfindr app screen shot
Snapfindr is a free application that shows you the exact locations of major sights in the most popular travel destinations where to take that perfect postcard image. At the moment, the application covers the top sights of Barcelona, London, New York, Paris, Prague, and Sydney.

Let’s say you are exploring Paris. You find the famous Notre Dame cathedral, and want to take a memorable photograph of the place. Snapfindr shows you exactly where to stand and which direction to point your camera. If you have a camera where you can adjust the settings, the application gives you tips on them as well. Notre Dame is only one of the locations in Paris the app covers. You can navigate from destination to destination using an online map or embedded sample images.

All right, that is what Snapfindr can do. Then, there is only a question of how and for what you use it for. Maybe you don’t want to take the same images as everyone else is taking during sightseeing tours. Perhaps there are even better ways to use Snapfindr?

One of the best use cases for this application is learning travel photography. The persons who have taken the images included in the app and written the notes for camera settings and related remarks are very skilled photographers. Anyone who wants to learn the first steps in classic travel photography can get many valuable lessons in Snapfindr:

– How to position yourself and your camera.
– How to frame the subject.
– Timing: what is the time of the day when you get the most spectacular images.
– Camera settings for that perfect picture.

Snapfindr even features sample images taken on the spot for you to compare your snapshot with the teacher’s mastershot.

For more travel photography, take a look at our writers’ galleries.

Snapfindr screen shots:
screen capture of snapfindr application

screen capture of snapfindr application

screen capture of snapfindr application

The best camera apps for smartphone travel photography

2016-07-12

Many smartphone owners are happy with the camera application the phone manufacturer has installed on the device in the factory. In general, the factory-installed camera apps get the job done, but may lack an extra feature photographers maybe looking for. Fortunately, this is exactly where smartphones are strong: you can install another camera application on your phone. But which one is the best for travel photography?
samsung, smartphone, open camera app
Many camera apps are available both for Apple devices and for Android phones and tablets, but in this article we focus on Android camera applications. Joe Hindy on AndroidAuthority wrote brief reviews of popular camera apps for Android. First, let’s list the best apps, and then, we make our recommendation for the best apps.

samsung, open camera

Open Camera can show if you are holding the camera at level.


BestMe Selfie Camera
– as the name implies, the app has been designed for selfie photography
Camera FV-5
– manual control over images, including RAW format
Camera JB+
– simple photo shooting
Camera MX
– in addition to capturing photos, the app lets you edit images
Camera Zoom FX
– manual controls, RAW, 360 panorama
Candy Camera
– lots of filters
Cardboard Camera
– 360 photos for Google Cardboard
Cymera
– filters, stickers, photo editing
DSLR Camera Pro
– manual controls, histogram display, volume button as a shutter
Go Camera
– simple photo framing with filters
Google Camera
– HDR mode, slow motion video capture, wide angle mode, burst mode
Manual Camera
– strictly for taking photos exactly the way want with manual controls
Open Camera
– an open source, free, app with plenty of features
Snap Camera HDR
– plenty of features: 4K video, RAW, manual controls

You can read more about the camera apps introduced above here. What is our recommendation? Of course, it depends on what your requirements are. If you only want filters and don’t want to learn to use manual settings, download a simple app that can automatically snap decent pictures and has plenty of filters. If you know how to shoot on an SLR camera, you probably want more control over your images, and you should get an app with manual controls.

Settings in Open Camera app.

Settings in Open Camera app.


Our favourite for travel photography is Open Camera. It is a free app, and comes with features that have proven handy on the road and at home:

– an indicator that shows if the camera is at level with the horizon,
– burst mode,
– and burst interval.

Used together, the burst mode and burst interval features let you shoot timelapse picture sequences. You need a tripod or something else to hold the phone steady during the photo shoot, which can be as long as you want. For instance, we have created a timelapse from photos shot with Open Camera that has pictures taken at one minute interval for 24 hours. Open Camera won’t create the timelapse video for you, but you have to create the final timelapse on a PC.

The best apps for reading ebooks on smartphone and tablet

2016-06-26

Reading books on smartphones has increased along with the rising popularity of mobile devices that have bright, large, and sharp displays. Reading ebooks on a phone or tablet is convenient only if it is easy to download and read long texts on the device. And that is a job for an app. Which app?
reading ebook in kindle app on LG G3 smartphone
First, we will list most popular reading apps for Android (for instance, Huawei, LG, Samsung, Sony tablets and smartphones ) and Apple (iOS apps that run on iPad and iPhone) devices. Second, we will give a few tips how to choose the app that’s best for you.

All the applications can be downloaded fro Apple App Store and Google Play.

The following reading applications can open EPUB ebooks, and some can open HTML, TXT, PDF books and documents as well.

24 Symbols
Aldiko Book Reader
Bluefire Reader
Bookmate
FBReader
Google Play Books
Kobo Books
KyBook (Apple only)
Marvin (Apple only)
Moon+ Reader (Android only)
NeoSoar
Nook
Scribd
Universal Book Reader (Android only)

If you download your ebooks from the Amazon Kindle Store, you must have Amazon Kindle ereader app on your mobile device. Kindle app is available for PCs as well.

Kindle

If you purchase your books from the Apple iBooks Store, you have one choice only: Apple’s own ereading app that runs on Mac as well (in addition to the iPad and iPhone).

iBooks

Listening to books instead of reading is convenient on mobile devices as long as you remember to keep a headset with you. You need an app for that as well. Two audiobook services are popular:

Audible
Storytel

reading ebook in fbreader app on LG G3

Which ereading app is the best for you?

If you already are buying, or you are going to buy, your ebooks from Amazon Kindle Store, you must install the Kindle app. The same applies to Apple iBooks Store: if it is your bookstore, you must use the iBooks app.

If you are subscribing to a service that lets you read ebooks or listen to audiobooks for a monthly fee, you must use the application provided by the service. This applies to 24 Symbols, Audible, Bookmate, Scribd and Storytel.

Many book lovers purchase their ebooks where they happen to discover them or where they get the best deal. In addition to a must-have app, you should have an ereader application that can open EPUB and PDF books. FBReader may not pretty, but it can open many document formats. Google Play Books and Bluefire Reader are both fine EPUB and PDF reading apps.

Flight Plan application for a drone lets you create a predetermined route for fascinating travel photography

2015-10-24

Piloting a drone is more difficult than promotional videos filmed by manufacturers let you understand. Travel photographers who use drones in order to get new angles to places that have been photographed millions of times, should find the new feature in the Parrot Bepop drone useful. It is now possible to download Flight Plan application to a smartphone or tablet, and create a predetermined route for the drone.
parrot flight plan application
The Flight Plan app costs $10 extra but it is worth every penny. You can create a detailed route for the drone on a satellite map, and specify what the drone must do at each stage of the flight.

You tap the map to establish waypoints that define the route. At each waypoint, you can tell the drone to start shooting video, take photos, adjust the camera angle and so on. Once the plan is ready, you load it to the drone.

You can follow what the drone sees on your smartphone or tablet in real time when the drone is flying along its route. If something interesting turns up, you can interrupt the predetermined flight plan and take the drone in manual control. The drone must in Wi-Fi signal range to do this. If it isn’t, the drone will follow the preloaded route.

View a video that shows how a flight route is created and how the drone follows it:

Flight Plan app is available for Apple and Android mobile devices and it works with the Parrot Bepop drone.

Via Stuffi.

Book Weather app recommends new reads based on your book ratings

2015-09-25

Many companies have recognized the need book lovers often have when they are looking for their next book to read. Amazon has one way of recommending books, Goodreads another, and then there are dedicated apps that try and help in the discovery process. One of the applications is called Book Weather that has borrowed its symbols from weather forecasts.
book weather application on Apple App Store
Book Weather by Basement10 is a free app on Apple App Store (other versions coming later). It is intended for the iPhone but runs on an iPad as well.

Once you have installed Book Weather, create an account so that the app can remember which books you have and your ratings for the books. You can follow other readers and they can follow you.

Search for books you have or you wish you had and add them to your library. Rate the books as you add them to your library. Book Weather calculates average ratings for the books, and displays a weather symbol to indicate how hot the book is among readers.

The application worked fine on iPad, but the number books it recognized was low. We tried to enter several popular English non-fiction books into our Book Weather library, but since the app didn’t recognize the books, they weren’t added at all.

A video shows you the key features of Book Weather:

book weather application

Analyzed: the best travel apps for smartphones

2015-08-24

Travel related activities are dramatically changing thanks to innovations in digital technology. GPS-assisted maps on a smartphone or travel guidebooks on a tablet are essential tools for all travelers today. A new wave of travel applications has disrupted established industries, like lodging and car rental. Probably because of the phase of change at the moment, however, only few travel apps are truly useful and easy to use.
booking.com screen shot
Applause, an enterprise that tests and evaluates mobile apps, analyzed travel apps that had been rated more than 150 times on Apple App Store or on Google Play Store. Only 8 of those apps earned high quality scores according to Applause’s own rating system. 8 high quality travel apps were:

Booking.com – hotel reservations and reviews.
Alaska Airlines – flights.
Kayak – hotels, flights, car rentals.
TripAdvisor – hotels, vacation rentals, flights, restaurant reviews.
TripIt – travel organizer.
Hotels.com – hotel booking.
Zipcar – car sharing.
Orbitz – hotels, flights, cars.

All these applications have been developed by established organizations. A large number of startup businesses that have entered travel business recently may need more time and effort to finetune their great ideas and vision into truly usable apps.

One thing we hope travel app developers should really take seriously is offline use. Recently, we made a tour in a remote area where mobile network connectivity was patchy at best, sometimes we couldn’t connect to a network at all for most of the day. None of the apps from big brands, like Here, Google Sheets or Google Docs, that had offline functionality actually worked in offline mode. We used them on a smartphone and on a tablet. Naturally, an app that makes hotel room reservations requires it is connected to a network, but many other apps should work when the mobile device is offline.