An App That Prevents Texting While Driving!

A company in Baton Rouge, LA, has developed an app called Cellcontrol.  The app is designed to keep teenagers from texting while driving.  Basically, the parent sets up an account and downloads the software, then waits for a trigger device to arrive in the mail.  When the trigger arrives, it is installed into the car.  If the teenager tries to text while behind the wheel with the car in motion, the phone won’t operate.

Cellcontrol has various settings that can be used not only for teenagers, but for transportation fleets.  It can block or allow any combination of talk, handsfree talk, texting, email, internet, and apps.  It also has a function that can report mileage, speed, and idle time.  Emergency numbers are always allowed, so that the user is never “cut off” from 911.  The app works on any phone or computer, and costs $129.95 for a single family version.

Canadian educational television station TVO has released two apps designed to increase memory in children from six to nine.  TVO partnered with the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) on the apps, which have been proven efficacious in a controlled randomized laboratory experiment.

The apps, called “Hop, Frog, Hop,” and “Ribbit, Frog, Ribbit,” have been proven to increase what is called “working memory,” which helps the child learn in all subject areas, with a stronger effect on math.  Working memory is defined as “the ability to hold and manipulate
information in the mind for a brief period of time.”  Learning increases as the ability to hold information increases.

In a six week study of over 60 students, kids showed statistical improvement in tasks that measured working memory and self-regulation over a control group which played math games.  The apps are free at tvokids.com, and there are versions for all tablets and for android phones.

The New Jersey Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, has developed an app which allows citizens to tape encounters with police.  The app, called “Police Tape,” is similar to an app which was released in June by the New York chapter, and is available on Android phones, with an iPhone version awaiting approval by Apple.

The app is part of a growing trend of apps which allow users to not only record police encounters, but notify family, friends, and attorneys when they have been arrested.  In May, Justice Department affirmed that the public has a constitutional right to record encounters.    To utilize the app, the user simply pushes a button, and it turns on either audio or video without making the phone look like it is on.

Users who feel that they have been unfairly treated in these encounters are encouraged to upload the video or audio to the ACLU website, where they will be assessed by ACLU personnel.  The New Jersey app is presently intended for use in New Jersey only, but ACLU policy counsel Alex Shalom said that if someone from outside the area uploads an encounter in which rights were violated, they would forward it to the appropriate state office.

Scientists from Saarland University in Germany have developed a new app called “SRT AppGuard.”  The app accesses every app installed on a smartphone and shows the user exactly what it does.  It also allows users to grant or revoke privileges to any app at any time.
The app works by accessing the code used in programming other apps, and determining their functions.

The app was developed because many new apps are transmitting confidential information from their customers to various databases.  According to Michael Backes, a professor at the college, “My smartphone knows everything about me, starting with my name, my phone number, my e-mail address, my interests, up to my current location.  It even knows my friends quite well, as it saves their contact details, too.”

Backes and fellow researchers have found that many apps with simple functions on the surface have a covert purpose of mining smartphones for personal data.  The data is then uploaded for use and for sale to other users.  Information can include contact details of users and their friends, GPS locations, interests, and even buying patterns.

According to researech at the University of California, Santa Barbara, 21 percent of the 825 apps they examined forward the ID number of the smartphone, four percent forward the GPS location, and 0.5 percent forward the address book.  The app is currently free, and works on Android.

An ex-Apple employee, Matt Drance, has made five suggestions to help app developers get Apple employees interested in their apps.  Getting Apple employees interested in the apps is an effective way to increase the chances of it being featured in the App Store.  The suggestions are below.

“Try to attend Apple events whenever you can.”  This is a sure way to meet Apple employees and tell them about your app.

“Build an app that uses Apple’s newest features.”  Apple is more likely to highlight newer features in their events and advertising.

“Make a good demo video for the app.”  The video should be professional and focused.

“Focus on the app’s execution.”  Apple wants to know that apps are well-designed and that they work well.

“Pitch the publications that Apple employees actually read.”  Apple employees peruse the same magazines and websites that Apple fans and users do, such as MacWorld and Daring Fireball.  Inclusions in these and similar media increases the chances of Apple employees being interested in your app.

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