Mobile Marketing

Mobile Marketing With SMS Text Messaging, Mobile Apps & Mobile Websites

August 28, 2016
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5 awesome web browsers for Android

Browsing the web on your mobile device doesn’t have to be an exercise in futility. Sure, some of the stops along the information superhighway butcher its best practices, as anyone who’s had the displeasure of encountering undissmissable ads, oversized typography, and confusing graphics can tell you. But a good browser app can make even the least intuitive webpage or website better. Unlike the smartphone browsers of yesteryear, some of which omitted even basic pinch-to-zoom controls and support for tabbed browsing, the modern cream of the crop augment perusal in ways that were previously inconceivable. Some speed up the web by compressing unoptimized images and code on the fly, or by retrieving stored usernames and passwords from the cloud. Others convert content encoded with Flash, a proprietary plugin, into a form interpretable by smartphones. And still others offer support for third-party plugins — e.g., note-taking apps and sharing tools — that further beef up your browsing experience.

Related: 100 awesome Android apps that will turn your phone into a jack of all trades

Indeed, perhaps the most overwhelming element of the mobile web today isn’t taking care to avoid its many tangles, but choosing from the wealth of browsers that do so exceedingly well. They run the gamut from refined to prototypical, from proprietary to open-source, and from privacy-oriented to data dependent. There’s Opera, a desktop stalwart that’s made the successful jump to mobile; Chrome, Google’s long-in-development effort which is matched in polish and flexibility perhaps only by its desktop namesake; and Firefox, a mobile effort by nonprofit foundation Mozilla with a focus on simplicity. And that’s just scratching the surface.

Choosing a browser is a challenge, to be sure, but hardly an insurmountable one. To simplify things, we’ve picked the most streamlined, intuitive, and robust mobile browsers we could find. It’s not an exhaustive list by any means, nor a definitive one — after all, like the web, the number of mobile browsers grows by the hour. But it’s a good starting point.

Chrome

Chrome, the internet browser nearly as synonymous with the web as Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, launched on Android back in 2012. It wasn’t the first third-party browser on the platform to market, but it more than made up for its tardiness with a veritable cornucopia of features. Among the highlights? The ability to quickly initiate searches from the address bar with your voice or keyboard, browse the web in relative privacy with Incognito mode, and autofill lengthy forms with saved info such as names, credit card numbers, and addresses. And since its debut, it’s only become more compelling.

Chrome really shines if you’ve got a Google account. Once you’ve signed in, it synchronizes your bookmarks, tabs, and history across devices. It also remembers your usernames and passwords, if you allow it, and autocompletes your search inquires with a personal dictionary of learned spellings. But you needn’t sign in to benefit from Chrome’s other, labor-saving conveniences. It grants all users tabbed browsing and a rendering engine that sandboxes individual web pages, ensuring that the instability of one doesn’t affect the rest.

Last but not least, Chrome features Data Saver, a relatively new feature which conveniently taps Google’s servers to compress images, fonts, and other web objects. It confers the dual advantage of speeding up browsing and reducing your data usage, both of which are greatly appreciated when using a cellular connection.

Best for: Those already heavily immersed in the Google ecosystem.

Download now for:

Android

Opera

Opera is nothing if not a resilient company. Despite its single-digit share of the browser market and a $1.2 billion takeover by a Chinese consortium, the firm’s mobile efforts are very much alive and kicking. That’s dedication.

Opera Mobile, the Android-compatible derivative of the long-in-development Opera browser for PC, continues to receive slews of new features through successive, regular updates. The most recent is a built-in ad blocker which, as you might expect, blocks pop-ups, interstitials, and banner ads you’d otherwise encounter on any given website. Opera’s new search bar supports the standard array of queries — i.e., web, pic, video searches — but also supports QR code scanning. And Opera Turbo, a feature comparable to Chrome’s Data Saver, compresses data — up to 80 percent, Opera claims — in order to boost your browsing.

Opera Mobile is otherwise standard fare. It supports tabbed and private browsing, includes a password manager and auto-complete tool, and, if you sign in with an Opera account, the app syncs your browsing session between other signed-in devices. Performance is about on a par with Chrome, which makes sense considering the two use almost identical rendering engines.

Best for: Those who seek balance between features and ease of use.

Download now for:

Android

Firefox

Firefox, the product of the nonprofit Mozilla foundation, is, like Chrome and Opera, hardly new to the internet browsing block. The open-source browser made its debut in 2002. The Android variant, appropriately dubbed Firefox for Android, got a later start — in 2012 — but now packs the same functionality as the rest. Perhaps the undisputed headliner is support for extensions, or third-party tools that augment browsing in a variety of ways. There’s the pop-up suppressor AdBlock Plus, for instance, along with the text-to-speech engine Speechify and password manager LastPass. And that’s just scratching the surface.

Extensions aren’t Firefox’s only unique contribution to mobile browsers. Its night-viewing mode dims the colors of webpages in order to minimize eye strain. Firefox for Android also features a robust set of privacy controls that allow you to, among other things, block advertising networks from tracking your browsing habits. And the seamlesness of Firefox’s bookmark, history, password, and tab synchronization are second to none.

But Firefox for Android tends to rest on the laurels of extensions — it lacks a native data compression feature, for example, and sports only a basic home page. Rest assured there’s an extension for practically everything, but you’ll have to resign yourself to tracking them all down.

Best for: Those who don’t mind a bit of tinkering.

Download now for:

Android

Puffin

If you aren’t familiar with CloudMosa’s Puffin browser, not to worry, as it doesn’t have quite the same pedigree as some of its heavyweight competition. But what it lacks in sheer force of brand it makes up for in novelty with one of the oddest collections of esoteric, albeit useful, mobile browser tools. It’s able to emulate a mouse cursor or trackpad. It has a virtual gamepad and a built-in virtual keyboard. And it lets you customize its themes.

What truly separates Puffin from the crowd, though, is its support for Adobe Flash content. It uses remote servers to download, process, and stream Flash games and videos to your device, and, more often than not, does so splendidly. It’s not perfect, however. Video content restricted by geography is often out of the question thanks to CloudMosa’s US-based servers, and the browser’s free tier only allows Flash streaming up to 12 hours a day. Still, if there’s a stalwart site or player out there yet clinging desperately to the internet plugin past, Puffin’s Flash remains one of the best ways around it.

Puffin also has a privacy mode, data compression, and a handful of add-ons like Twitter, Facebook, and Pocket.

Best for: Those who favor Flash above all else.

Download now for:

Android

Dolphin

Dolphin debuted to much fanfare as one of the first browsers on Android to support multi-touch gestures. The mobile landscape is a bit more competitive nowadays, but Dolphin has managed to avoid drifting into obsolescence with a robust set of time-saving tools. The cleverly named Dolphin Sonar lets you perform complex voice queries like “search eBay for Nike Shoes” and “go to Google.com.” Moreover, gesture browsing allows you to associate finger-traced characters with websites (e.g., “T” for Twitter). And Webzine, an answer of a sorts to Flipboard, aggregates more than 300 web sources in a variety of disciplines within an offline, “magazine-style” digest.

Dolphin’s competitive in other ways. It, like Firefox and Puffin, supports add-ons. It features tabbed browsing, too, plus private browsing, form autocompletion, and password management. And it supports syncing via Dolphin Connect, too. Log in with your Google or Facebook, install the corresponding Chrome or Firefox extension on your computer, and your tabs, history, and your bookmarks will automatically sync silently in the background.

Best for: Those seeking a kitchen sink’s worth of features.

Download now for:

Android

August 28, 2016
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How chat apps are transforming the global conversation

Young women launghing at smartphonesImage copyright
Thinkstock

Image caption

Which chat app you use largely depends on where you live

The world loves to chat, and mobile phones have made instant yakking as easy as pie, whether by text, video, photo, voice, or all methods combined.

No wonder so many of us blunder into lamp-posts and each other rather than looking where we’re going.

But which dedicated chat app do you use? WhatsApp, Snapchat, Viber, Line? That largely depends on where in the world you live.

In China the biggest chat network is WeChat; in Japan the market leader is Line; KakaoTalk rules OK in Korea; Kik is huge in Canada and the US; Hike bosses India; while in the Arab world niche networks such as Palringo and Soma dominate.

And the number of chat platforms continues to proliferate, as tech companies aim to emulate the eye-watering valuations achieved by the leaders.

Snapchat was recently valued at nearly $20bn (£15bn). Facebook bought WhatsApp for $22bn in 2014 and this week changed the app’s privacy policy to allow businesses to message its billion-plus users directly.

In July, Line raised about $1.3bn in a stock market flotation that valued the company at around $6bn. And now chat networks are even investing in each other, with China’s WeChat recently leading a $175m funding round in India’s Hike network.

But can the market sustain so many platforms? Can we have too much chat?

Talkaholics

In 1993, US researchers James C McCroskey and Virginia P Richmond created the Talkaholic Scale, a method of identifying people who were aware of their tendencies to “over-communicate in a consistent and compulsive manner”.

In the intervening two decades, this scale could be applied to the way people obsess about their mobile devices.

Source: Statista

Initially it was SMS and text messaging that made such communication compulsive. Then it was instant messaging with text, photos and videos.

And now you can access banking, shopping and other services within these chat apps.

Image copyright
Techstars

“WhatsApp, WeChat, Line, Snapchat and a handful of others would seem to have the platform side sewn up as we head towards a one-stop-shop approach, where messaging apps become almost a command line for people’s lives,” says Eamonn Carey from Techstars, the tech start-up accelerator.

So how do the newcomers differentiate themselves in such a crowded market and keep their users loyal?

Chat goes niche

The trend is towards chat that can be conducted in a safe place by users who share a common interest.

“Niche networks will have a big role to play in what otherwise is a saturated market,” says Mr Carey.

For example, London-based Palringo is a social chat platform that helps people find games that can be played in chat groups of up to 2,000 people.

Image copyright
Palringo

Image caption

Palringo chief executive Tim Rea thinks games and chat work well together

This combination of chat and games helped Palringo become one of the fastest-growing UK tech companies last year, with these chat games making up to 50% of its revenues through in-game purchases.

“The proliferation of chat networks when there are different territory-specific market leaders meant we had to find a common language,” says Palringo chief executive Tim Rea.

“That language is games and we’re seeing huge growth with our in-chat games.”

Wire offers chat with ad-free embedded YouTube videos and gifs (short animations).

Image copyright
Bloomberg

Image caption

Authorities worry that chat apps using encryption are a boon to terrorists

Backed by Skype co-founder Janus Friis, the company says it is attracting 200,000 users a month. It focuses on privacy as its unique selling point.

Co-founder and chief technology officer Alan Duric explains: “Wire is a privacy-focused messaging app that works across devices and incorporates chat features that users love – text, voice, video and pictures – underpinned by end-to-end encryption that is completely open sourced.”

Popular chat app Telegram has also emphasised encryption as a key feature, much to the annoyance of European leaders concerned about the use of such secret platforms by potential terrorists.

What’s the story?

But the battle to keep users is even more fierce than the battle to attract them. Chatters are a fickle lot it seems.

In August, picture messaging app Instagram released its “Stories” feature where users can post moments of their day in a slideshow of video, photos and captions.

This feature almost replicates a similar component that has proved very successful on rival chat network SnapChat, uncannily also known as “Stories”.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

A woman sends a Snapchat selfie overlaid with a “filter” of popstar Sia’s distinctive hairdo

This duplication of content reflects how users of chat networks are quick to jump ship if another app is offering something new and appealing.

According to a survey of 30,000 people aged 12-25 from comparison app Wishbone, 43% of respondents would delete Snapchat if Instagram’s new Stories emulated the popular “filters” feature originally created by Snapchat.

Filters enable chatters to distort their photos and overlay them with cartoonish add-ons, from a dog’s ears to a cat’s whiskers.

Biz buzz

Away from the consumer world, business chat apps are also flourishing.

Intercom is a messaging platform that is trying to establish itself as a business platform, while having the look and feel of the best consumer messaging apps. It works with 13,000 businesses and more than a billion people use it.

“What’s really exciting to us is the potential of messaging, as it is the most personal medium we have to communicate virtually,” says Eoghan McCabe, Intercom’s chief executive.

Image copyright
Thinkstock

Image caption

Businesses are trying to emulate the success of consumer chat apps

“Businesses can use messaging to avoid being faceless, stuffy brands and connect on a human level with their customers.”

There are plenty of others, from Slack to Flock, HipChat to Zapier – the list seems endless.

Although chat apps don’t appear to have reached saturation point just yet, new entrants are having to box clever to find their niche in this ever-expanding market.

Not all may survive, but with the number of global smartphone users forecast to rise from about two billion now to nearly three billion in 2020, it looks like there’s going to be a lot more chatting going on.


Follow Technology of Business editor @matthew_wall on Twitter

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August 27, 2016
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RELATIONSHIP TIPS: Dos and don’ts of texting when dating

Text messages are an efficient way to pass a quick message, but during dating they can be a double-edged sword. It may seem insignificant, but your text etiquette can either nip a blossoming love in the bud, or cause it to flourish. Here’s a look at how texts influence the direction a potential relationship will take:

 

1. THE DOWNSIDE: According to Dr Chris Hart, a psychologist based in Nairobi, while texts make communication easier, they also expose lovebirds to dating traps. “Texts are more flippant, more sexual and can be used to perpetuate lies or to serve up the brutal truth, to the detriment of budding relationships,” he warns.

 

2. TEXTSPEAK AND GRAMMAR: Texting language which is usually abbreviated and which disregards common grammar rules, is one of the most common pet peeves. Messages littered with acronyms such as ROTLF, SWYP and emoticons can be very annoying to the receiver and may make you look immature. Relationship coach Susan Gacheru advises people to observe grammatically correct sentence constructions and to proof-read messages before hitting the send button, to avoid turning off the recipient.

 

3. DURING AND AFTER A DATE: Even more annoying in this age of mobile phones, is going on a date with someone whose eyes and fingers are glued to their phone. “New couples get along much better when there are no mobile phones in sight to distract them,” says Dr Hart, adding that if you are expecting an important call or message, it is prudent to let your date know in advance. “Also remember to send an appreciative date after the first date and a message after you get intimate the first time, even if you don’t plan to see your date again.”

 

4. RESPONSE RATE: You should never respond to text messages from a potential date instantly. According to Dr Hart, waiting for a while will show that you have a life. However, you should also take note to respond in a timely way. “Try not to take hours to respond to a message from a love interest,” says psychologist Patrick Musau. “If you are not too familiar with someone, don’t text them beyond certain hours.” In the same vein, avoid drunk-texting or sending inappropriate emojis or photos.

 

5. LONG TEXTS: Long compositions are not a good idea; most people don’t have the time to read them. According to Musau, if you have lengthy issues to discuss, do not text them. “Also, do not take to SMS to express your heartfelt  feelings to a potential partner.” Dr Randi Gunther, a relationship coach and author of Heroic Love adds that you should avoid whining, complaining, making demands, or expressing anger in a text. And if you’ve gone on several dates and are comfortable sending each other sensual messages, keep them romantic, discreet and tasteful.

 

August 27, 2016
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ANTI-SCAM GUIDE for men seeking a Russian wife

ANTI-SCAM GUIDE for men seeking a Russian wifeClick Image To Visit SiteDear Elena Petrova, I just want to thank you for writing the ANTI-SCAM GUIDE. I am an American man 30 years old and I have been searching for a life partner for quite some time now. Just within the last few months I started reading about Russian women. I know a few American men with Russian wives and after some early difficulties (mostly culture shock) they are all very happily married and in one of the marriages the man is 58 and his wife is only 37!!!! That seems a little "extreme" to me, but they are very happy together.

I am very embarrassed to write that I was scammed by the first Russian woman that I wrote to. Your "situation #1" fits me exactly. The really bad thing is that I saw your guide a few months ago and figured "Oh I don’t need that, only a loser gets scammed." Boy was I wrong!!! Your guide would have saved me 2 months of heartache and $600. The woman wrote me beautiful letters and I almost instantly fell in love. I have to say that I don’t worry about being scammed out of the money, even though I am NOT rich she made me feel so special and I haven’t felt that good in years. Sometimes I still cry over her but after reading your guide I wonder if she was ever "for real" or not.
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August 27, 2016
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Hackers can remotely hijack your iPhone with a simple text message

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If you own an iPhone, update it right now even as you read this article because it can be hacked using three zero-days. According to news reports, an Emirati human rights activist named Ahmed Mansoor’s iPhone was hacked using one of the three zero-days an. Mansoor reportedly received an SMS message which promised new details of torture in the country’s state prisons, along with a link to follow if he was interested. If Mansoor had followed the link, it would have jailbroken his phone on the spot and implanted it with malware, capable of logging encrypted messages, activating the microphone and secretly tracking its movements.

The zero-days are reportedly being sold to world governments and authorities by an Israeli cyber security company called NSO Group. In fact, NSO Group is so secretive that it repeatedly changes its name to avoid undue exposure.

The incident came to light when Security company Lookout and internet watchdog group Citizen Lab investigated the cyber attack on Mansoor’s iPhone and found it to be the product of NSO Group, a “cyber war” organization based in Israel that’s responsible for distributing a powerful, government-exclusive spyware product called Pegasus.

Both the companies immediately notified Apple about the serious zero-days which NSO Group was selling and Apple immediately rolled out a patch for three previously unknown zero-day exploits that were used to target the iPhone 6 of Mansoor.

The vulnerabilities, known as “zero days” because they were previously unknown to Apple, give the hackers total access to an iPhone through a spear-phishing text message. Those text messages were designed to mimic the types of message a user might receive from a legitimate site, said the security researchers. Among those impersonated to get users to click on the links: the Red Cross, Facebook, Google, and even the Pokémon Company. Once clicked, the message downloaded malware, which gave the attackers total access to the phone.

“We were made aware of this vulnerability and immediately fixed it with iOS 9.3.5,” Apple said in a statement. “We advise all of our customers to always download the latest version of iOS to protect themselves against potential security exploits.”

The Citizen Lap report states that other NSO Group zero-day targets include activists and journalists in Yemen, Turkey, Mozambique, Mexico, Kenya, and the UAE.

Kindly update your iPhone/iPad to the latest version to avoid falling prey to such an attack. If you are somehow unable to update your iPhone/iPad kindly avoid clicking on even trusted links till your device is patched.

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