2016 was a good year for Android apps. In addition to new and innovative smartphone applications entering the Google Play Store, many iPhone-only apps like Pokémon Go finally made their way to the Android market. Below are nine game-changing Android apps that made waves in 2016.

Pokémon Go

The game that took the world by storm in the '90s got a modern upgrade by allowing players to catch Pokémon characters in the real world thanks to augmented reality on the nostalgia-fueled phone app. Pokémon Go was named the top trending game in the Google Play Store for the 2016 calendar year, which is no small accomplishment considering it released in the summer. 

The 9 best Android apps of 2016 — from 'Pokémon Go' to Prisma

Pokémon Go topped the charts for smartphone games.Source: Thomas Cytrynowicz/AP


Those obsessed with Snapchat's filters will certainly enjoy MSQRD. The Belarus-based app, which was acquired by Facebook in March, offers live filters and face swaps for photos and videos. The fun masks can turn a user into caricatures and animals and everything in between. MSQRD has a lot in common with Snapchat but stands apart in two ways: It lets users take longer videos and offers more variety in filters.


If you're looking for truly confidential conversations, then Signal is a must-have app. The messaging app offers advanced end-to-end encryption and does not store information about whom users communicate with or when they exchange texts or calls. Signal's popularity saw a sharp spike after the election due to privacy concerns surrounding President-elect Donald Trump. 


After a successful iOS release, photo app Prisma — which turns photographs and videos into works of art using neural networks and artificial intelligence — rolled out its Android app in July. The free photo-editing app mimics the styles of well-known artists like Van Gogh, Munk, Picasso and Levitan.

The 9 best Android apps of 2016 — from 'Pokémon Go' to Prisma

Prisma turns photographs into works of art.Source: Prisma


Google's Gboard app was a game-changer for iPhone users when it was released in May, prior to the iOS 10 upgrade. The app brought fast letter swiping and Google's search engine right to the phone's keyboard, allowing users to search for GIFs and look up restaurants and addresses without leaving their chat window. The keyboard app rolled out for Android devices this week and works in over 100 languages. 

Reddit: The Official App

Prior to 2016, there were a handful of unofficial Reddit apps available for smartphones. But none of these apps did a very good job at creating a user-friendly interface for the app-version of Reddit. But in 2016, Reddit debuted its official app for iOS and Android devices. The app offers redditors a clean interface to comment and reply.

Google Allo

Google introduced Google Allo in September, promising users a "smart messaging app." Features of Google Allo include "smart reply," which suggests responses to questions and photos, and an array of photos, emojis and stickers for users to express themselves. The most promising component is the app comes with Google Assistant within Google Allo. 

The 9 best Android apps of 2016 — from 'Pokémon Go' to Prisma

Google Allo integrates Google Assistant in the messaging app.Source: Eric Risberg/AP

Giphy Cam

Giphy Cam gives users the power to create GIFs from photos, drawings and other forms of media. Users can also apply filters and overlay text onto their creations. The app was previously only available for iOS, but it finally made its debut in October for Android devices.


What are the stories all your friends are talking about? Now we know: Social news app Nuzzel curates personal news links based on your social media network. Essentially, the app promotes stories based on whether your friends and followers have shared or read the piece. While this formula may have its downfalls (for example: creating an echo chamber of ideas and thoughts), it does serve the purpose well for curating content preferred by like-minded individuals.

Author : Susmita Baral

Source : https://mic.com/articles/162710/the-9-best-android-apps-of-2016-from-pokemon-go-to-prisma#.HdcheIcF7

Categorized in Science & Tech

It looks like the things people wanted to know about the most in 2016 were Pokémon GO and the iPhone 7. The two topped Google’s this year’s searches, beating out Donald Trump and Prince.

Considering the interest in Pokémon GO earlier this year it’s no surprise the game was such a big deal in Google searches. Donald Trump came in third behind the iPhone 7 no doubt because of the circus that was the presidential election. Prince’s untimely death earned him the number four spot in Google’s searches, followed by Powerball.

Apple was easily the most popular for consumer tech-related searches with the iPhone 7 coming in at the top, and the iPhone SE and iPhone 6s coming in third and fourth. The Freedom 251—a popular smartphone in India—came in at number two, and the Google Pixel rounded out the top five.

Olympics-related search terms were popular this year thanks to the summer games in Rio. Netflix and HBO dominated TV show-related searches thanks to Stranger Things, Westworld, Luke Cage, Game of Thrones, and Black Mirror.

Seeing the iPhone 7 so high in this year’s Google searches isn’t too surprising since Apple’s smartphones always tend to rank well. What’s really interesting is that Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 didn’t rank in the top five for all searches or consumer tech. Maybe if the Note 7 started exploding earlier it would’ve fared better.

Auhtor : 

Categorized in Social

THERE COMES A time in everyone’s life when they consider, for better or for worse, downloading Pokémon Go. Now it seems scammers are ready for that impulsive moment to arrive, and they’re just waiting to redirect unsuspecting players to an app store where they may catch more than Pikachus.

New research from the security firm Trend Micro indicates that bogus third-party stores—a long-running problem for Android—have now been surprisingly successful in targeting iPhone users, tricking them into installing ad-laced impostor apps on their devices. TrendMicro highlights two third-party app services: Haima, which is based in China, and the Vietnam-based HiStore. Both have achieved millions of downloads of their counterfeit Pokémon Go apps for iOS (an impressive and concerning 10 million in the case of HiStore) as well as other fake versions of popular apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Haima’s fake Minecraft app, by Trend Micro’s count, has been downloaded more than 68 million times. The companies promote their phony apps heavily on social media, luring people into clicking on them instead of searching in Apple’s App Store. And it’s working.

The Hack

In the new scheme, the adware distributors set up their app stores through Apple’s Developer Enterprise Program. The service is meant for companies that want to build and distribute proprietary internal apps to their employees. When a company tricks someone into downloading a repackaged version of an app, the software contains adware that starts evaluating information about the victim’s device and mobile network to serve more targeted ads. Then, as the victim uses the app, ad firms deliver ads to the phone, paying fees to the scammers for the privilege.

Apple has always been aggressive about policing its apps. The company just announced a massive cleanup of its App Store at the beginning of September. And the Developer Enterprise Program gets similar scrutiny. When an app is approved it receives a certificate that Apple can revoke at any time, rendering the app unusable wherever it has been downloaded. But making a new Developer Enterprise account and getting a new certificate costs only $299. So when Apple pulls the plug on one certificate, scammers just start using a new one. While investigating Haima, Trend Micro found that the service used five different certificates over just 15 days. Apple didn’t respond to WIRED’s request for comment.

The scheme is relatively simple. But the scammers still put serious effort into ensuring that their apps actually work, so customers will keep using them for as long as the fraudulently obtained certificates remain valid. When Pokémon Go was first released and limited to functioning in certain geographic areas, Trend Micro notes that Haima had a version of its fake app that spoofed location data to get around the legitimate app’s restrictions, allowing people who had unknowingly downloaded the scam version to continue using it from anywhere. As Pokémon Go eased these restrictions, Haima updated the app accordingly.

Who’s Affected?

If you’re sure that you always download your apps from the Apple AppStore or Google Play Store your apps are secure. On the rare occasion that a malicious app actually gets approved and is available for download from these legitimate app stores, Apple and Google are generally swift about removing it, revoking its certificate and notifying customers. If you don’t pay attention to where you get your apps or you’re prone to clicking on random links without considering their origin you could be at increased risk. The best way to protect yourself against downloading fake apps loaded with adware is to navigate to authentic app stores and search for the app you want within them, instead of using an outside search engine or social media.

Fake apps can put your phone’s data and even its hardware like its GPS or its microphone in the hands of bad actors. Christopher Budd, a global threat communications manager at Trend Micro notes that the latest research focused on adware, but scam apps downloaded from unaffiliated app stores put users at risk of being exposed to all sorts of malware. “The biggest thing is the importance of going only to the official app stores,” Budd says. “The mobile malware problem that we’ve seen is almost exclusively a problem with third-party locations.”

How Serious is This?

While repackaged, scammy apps are an old problem, Trend Micro’s research is a reminder that they remain pervasive, and reach Apple devices, too. “As far as iOS this is a fairly unusual and new thing,” Budd says, noting that the sheer number of the downloads—reaching tens of millions—is unprecedented for fake iOS apps. “It’s all about scale,” he says. The research didn’t reveal any evidence that scammers are using truly malicious malware that steals data or other cybercriminal behavior—at least for now. But Trend Micro notes that developers should still take steps to make their apps more difficult to hijack, like obfuscating code so it’s harder for bad actors to access.

The crucial takeaway for consumers, though, is simpler: Use official app stores exclusively for finding and downloading apps. When it comes to mysterious software from untrusted Chinese purveyors, “gotta catch’ em all” is an ill-advised strategy.

Source : https://www.wired.com/2016/09/hack-brief-beware-spammy-pokemon-go-apps-pushed-millions-iphones/

Categorized in Others

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