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Freedom Day is here – delete the pub apps, they’re recording more than just your orders

Pub App Order Pay Privacy Concerns Update Wetherspoons Greene King Fullers Youngs Update

You might want to delete the pub order apps on your iPhone or Android due to privacy concerns (Image: GETTY • GOOGLE PLAY STORE)

England has now discarded almost all emergency laws designed to stop the spread of Covid-19, including social distancing rules, no limits on the number of people who can meet or attend events, table service will no longer be required in pubs and restaurants, and face coverings will not be legally required in enclosed spaces – like public transport or theatres. Some establishments will still require face coverings and other rules to encourage customers who might otherwise be put off, but these rules can not be legally enforced.

With table service no longer a requirement, it might be time to take another look at the number of pub apps downloaded to your smartphone. These applications, which allowed customers to order food and drink to their table with a smartphone, were hugely popular in recent months. The majority of the biggest pub chains across the UK have launched their own application to make ordering from your seat fuss-free.

But while the prospect of queuing shoulder-to-shoulder with other customers at the bar might not be all-that appealing, it’s worth remembering that some of the most popular apps are recording much more than your drinks order. And that might not be a trade-off you’re willing to make.

Speaking to WIRED about the worrying trend of data collection from these applications, Michael Veale, a lecturer in digital rights and regulations at University College London, said: “When hospitality started to have an obligation to take contact details last year, there was no obvious privacy-preserving tool to do this with. In many hospitality venues, they are still using the technology from the earlier part of the pandemic last year to fulfil orders and table service, which collect unnecessary information.”

Pub App Order Pay Privacy Concerns Update Wetherspoons Greene King Fullers Youngs Update

Wetherspoons launched its ordering app back in 2017 – well before the arrival of coronavirus on British shores (Image: WETHERSPOONS • GOOGLE PLAY STORE)

Wetherspoons

Wetherspoons launched its pub app before the pandemic gripped the globe. Back in 2017, the Wetherspoons app allows customers to order drinks, snacks, and food to their table. Payment is made through the app with a credit or debit card, or systems like Apple Pay and Google Pay, which use fingerprint or facial recognition to verify your identity and approve the payment.

While the order app has been around for years, its use has spiked in the pandemic. As you might expect, the Wetherspoons app collects information from any of the forms filled in within the app, including name, home address, email address and phone number.

In order to pinpoint which branch of Wetherspoons you’re in, the app taps into the GPS functionality built into your smartphone. The Android version of the app has seemingly wider-ranging permissions than the iPhone version of the same app. On Android, the Wetherspoons app has the ability to read, modify, and delete items from your USB storage. It can also snap pictures and video from your camera.

Pub App Order Pay Privacy Concerns Update Wetherspoons Greene King Fullers Youngs Update

Greene King offers a similar service to Wetherspoons with its app, but siphons a little more data (Image: GREENE KING • GOOGLE PLAY STORE)

Greene King

Like Wetherspoons, Greene King has an application designed to find and book tables at any of the 1,600 locations across the UK. As soon as you’re inside the pub, the iPhone and Android app can be used to order drinks and food to your table.

Using the app to do any of this will result in the software recording your names, contact details, booking information, loyalty card details, transaction information, date of birth, email addresses, telephone number, and payment details.

While that all makes sense, the Privacy labels in the App Store reveal that Greene King will store your search history, identifying the make and model of your smartphone, as well as how you interact with the app. That makes a little less sense.

Like the Wetherspoons app, the Google Play Store reveals more wider-ranging permissions than the iPhone version of the app. Like its Wetherspoons counterpart, Greene King can read, modify, and delete the contents stored on your USB storage, as well as take photos and videos.

Freedom Day: Dr Philip Lee calls on the government to ‘grow up’

OrderPay

The OrderPay app is used by some 1,500 pubs, bars and restaurants across the UK. The software, available on iPhone and Android, collects the usual name, email addresses, telephone number, and details of how you decided to login to the app. It also stores payment information, but not individual credit or debit card numbers. That all makes sense.

Perhaps more concerning, every time you launch the app, it will siphon GPS data, as well as allergen and dietary information, transaction history – including what you bought and how much was spent, IP address – that can be used to find your location, mobile phone service provider, model of phone, and “cookie, pixel and beacon identification information”, plus nearby Bluetooth signals.

Konrad Kollnig of Oxford University, who built the TrackerControl Slim app that analyses how Android software tracks and shares data, told WIRED that OrderPay sends some of this data to six separate data-tracking firms. That’s the highest number of any of the pub apps analysed. It also shares the location data with the OrderPay head office.

According to Kollnig, that step is completely unnecessary. He explains: “A list of all pubs could be downloaded on the Android device – as is done by the Wetherspoon app.”

In its small-print, OrderPay says that it will hold onto personal data for up to six years and could “transfer your personal information outside of the United Kingdom (UK) and European Economic Area (EEA)”.

Pub App Order Pay Privacy Concerns Update Wetherspoons Greene King Fullers Youngs Update

MyPub is used by a number of different brands, from Slug and Lettuce to WalkAbout (Image: MYPB • GOOGLE PLAY STORE)

MyPub

Finally, MyPub is the order app used by Stonegate Pub Company, which is behind all Slug & Lettuce and Walkabout locations as well as 4,500 other pubs around the UK. The privacy policy reveals that MyPub might collect names, email addresses, contact telephone numbers, passwords, as well as date of birth, gender, interests, and preferences. This is the first pub app to take note of gender.

All of this information is siphoned and used to “better understand our customers and online users, including profiling”. While that could result in promotions and events that are better suited to the people frequenting these locations… you’re handing over a lot of personal information for a pretty small benefit. When ordering at the bar, you’d be a little taken aback if the bartender had to record your gender, interests, date of birth, name, email address and mobile phone number before handing over a drink – simply so that your local can better understand its customers.

Like a number of the other pub apps in the list, Android users are hit harder with data-collection. According to the listing on the Google Play Store, MyPub can read, modify or delete the contents stored on the USB storage associated with your phone. It can also take photos and videos where necessary and track your location using GPS.

“MyPub and Greene King seem to have the best privacy properties among the apps studied,” concludes Kollnig.

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This post originally posted here Daily Express :: Life and Style
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Google bans another 25 Android apps! You must delete them NOW or pay a heavy price

Google bans another 25 Android apps! You must delete them NOW or pay a heavy price

Having just blocked nine dangerous apps that were trying to steal Facebook passwords, Google has now banned yet another bunch of popular Android applications from its Play Store with this latest batch targeting those trying to make money via the latest crypto-mining craze. This new type of online currency has boomed in recent years with vast amounts of people trying to join the revolution and make a quick buck. Cryptocurrency mining (AKA – crypto mining) uses the processing power of computers to solve complex mathematical problems that verify cryptocurrency transactions, and the miners are then rewarded with a small amount of cryptocurrency.

The apps that were recently blocked by Google, claimed to offer these money-making mining services in return for a monthly fee.

Once logged in, the user was even presented with an activity dashboard that displayed how well the app was performing and the money being made.

However, it was part of an elaborate scam with the security team at Lookout Threat Lab discovering that – after users paid the subscription – no actual cloud crypto mining ever took place.

A total of 25 applications were removed from Google’s official online marketplace with Lookout warning that more than 100 apps are still available via third-party stores that allow applications to be side-loaded onto devices.

READ MORE: Do NOT buy a new Android phone! Something even better is launching soon

Based on Lookout’s analysis, it’s thought the criminals have scammed more than 93,000 people and stolen at least $ 350,000.

That money is split between users paying for apps and buying additional fake upgrades and services. Lookout has now classified these apps into two distinct families that have been named BitScam and CloudScam.

Once told about the issue, Google promptly removed these apps from Google Play.

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“These apps were able to fly under the radar because they don’t actually do anything malicious,” said Ioannis Gasparis, a mobile application security researcher at Lookout. “They are simply shells set up to attract users caught up in the cryptocurrency craze and collect money for services that don’t exist. Purchasing goods or services online always requires a certain degree of trust — these scams prove that cryptocurrency is no exception.”

This latest warning comes after nine more apps were recently removed from the Play Store after they were found to be tricking users into handing over Facebook login details.

Thinking about using cryptocurrency apps? Here’s some advice from Lookout

• Know the developers behind the app. What certificates or credentials do they have, what other apps have they built, does the company have a website and are you able to contact them?

• Install from an official app store . While scams are hard to spot, downloading from an official store reduces your risk of downloading malware.

• Read the terms and conditions. Most of the scam apps either have fake information or don’t have any terms available.

• Use other users’ reviews of the app for your benefit. Reading other users’ experience with the app can be eye-opening when it comes to identifying scams.

• Understand the app’s permissions and activities . Look for red flags in the app’s activities. Is the app asking for permissions that it doesn’t need to function? Does the app crash or reset abruptly, does the cryptocurrency balance get reset abruptly, do the displayed numbers make sense?

Author: David Snelling
Read more here >>> Daily Express :: Tech

Android warning: Notorious malware returns to Google Play Store – delete these 8 apps NOW

Android warning: Notorious malware returns to Google Play Store - delete these 8 apps NOW

The Joker malware is back once again, putting Android devices at risk after making its way back onto the Google Play Store. Security researchers have pinpointed eight Play Store apps that had the nefarious malware loaded onto them. The dangerous malware, which is capable of stealing sensitive information from Android devices, was hidden away on apps downloaded thousands of times.

The latest batch of Android apps infected with the Joker malware were discovered by researchers at Quick Heal Security Labs. The Indian cybersecurity firm reported the compromised apps to Google, who have now taken the infected programmes off the Google Play Store.

However, if you’re among the thousands of people who download these Android apps before they were delisted you’ll need to act quickly to remove them from your device. Here is a list of the eight offending apps: Auxiliary Message, Fast Magic SMS, Free CamScanner, Super Message, Element Scanner, Go Messages, Travel Wallpapers, Super SMS.

The Joker malware has in recent years become one of the most common Android malware threats. The nasty malware family is able to secretly sign Android users up to paid-for subscription services, which if undetected can leave victims seriously out of pocket.

READ MORE: Popular Android app could have exposed your web searches and texts

To add insult to injury the Joker malware is also able to steal sensitive information such as SMS messages, contact information as well as details about a victim’s device.

In a blog post online outlining their findings, Quick Heal Security Labs looked at one of the recently discovered apps that spreads the Joker malware.

The Play Store app, known as Element Scanner, when first booted up asks for a number of permissions. It asks for Notification access, which may seem like an innocuous request.

However, this is used to take SMS data from notifications. The app also asks for Contacts access and the ability to make and manage phone call permission.

These permissions don’t seem necessary for a simple document scanning app, and should be red flags to Android users. Afterwards, the document scanner works without showing any visible malicious activity to the user.

However, in the background two payloads are downloaded – the first payload is found in the original app located on the Play Store. This then leads to a second payload being installed, which is the notorious Joker malware.

A final payload is then downloaded for collecting received SMS data. Advising Android users on how to stay safe, Quick Heal Security Labs said: “Malware authors spread these malware applications on the Google Play Store in scanner applications, wallpaper applications, message applications. These types of applications can quickly become a target. Users should try to avoid such applications and use such kinds of applications only from trusted developers.”

They also offered some simple advice on how to stay clear of any other malware threats. This includes…

• Download applications only from trusted sources like Google Play Store

• Learn how to identify fake applications in Google Play Store

• Do not click on alien links received through messages or any other social media platforms

• Turn off installation from the unknown source option

• Read the pop-up messages you get from the Android system before accepting/allowing any new permissions

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Tech Feed

Talking Point: What's That One Switch Game You Can't Bring Yourself To Delete?

Deleting Games

I’ve finally reached the point where almost every new game I download onto my Switch gives me the same response. “There’s no room,” it says, gesturing around the virtual space cluttered with games I haven’t touched in months, or even years. “Where am I supposed to put this? Why don’t you get rid of something old?”

Listen, Nintendo Switch. You’re not my mother. And even if you were, I would tell you that you just don’t understand — all of these games are sacred to me in some way. I’m only 2/3 of the way through Luigi’s Mansion 3, and I might finish it some day! I know I haven’t finished Paper Mario: The Origami King, but I want to return to it when I’m not so annoyed about the combat! And don’t even talk to me about Breath of the Wild. As long as I don’t delete it — all 13 space-hogging gigabytes of it — there’s still the promise of more beautiful adventures in that stunning open plain.

Archive software? Or delete?

But keeping old games even when I know I won’t play them is just another type of virtual hoarding, isn’t it? It would be a little hypocritical of me to keep a bunch of gigantic games just because when, just last month, I said that Resident Evil 4 had taught me not to hold on to things. I’m a sucker for keeping things around just in case, but that rainy day never turns up. I don’t think I’ll be returning to Breath of the Wild any time soon, and if I do, I don’t think I’d mind having to start over with a new save file, anyway.

I just can't do it!

So, am I alone in keeping these games around, taking up precious space on my SD card? Why do we even do it, anyway? My theory is that deleting games (or archiving them) feels like definitively sending them into the past, turning them into memories and nostalgia. Once we’ve done that, we’re leaving that part of our lives behind us, and moving on — and admitting that life itself is moving on. By clinging to our most precious memories — represented by gigantic amounts of data, in this case — we’re refusing to move on, refusing to admit that we’ve changed, and we’re not kids any more.

Or, maybe, I’m just avoidant. It’s probably that.

But perhaps I’m not alone in this quest to refuse to pack away my toys forever! Tell me: do you have at least one Switch game that you just won’t delete, or — even worse — do you have a whole PILE of games you refuse to let go?

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This post originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Latest News

Apple Maps heads in the right direction and it might be time to delete Google Maps

Apple Maps heads in the right direction and it might be time to delete Google Maps

Google Maps is still one of the most popular ways of getting from A to B, but Apple is fiercely fighting back with a blockbuster new release to its Apple Maps app. Apple Maps first launched back in 2012 to a huge backlash that led CEO Tim Cook to publicly apologise for the release, which replaced Google Maps as the default maps option on all iPhones worldwide. At launch, users complained about the significant lack of detail, no public transport directions, and a number of missing locations and errors within the map itself.

Since that initial release, Apple has been working to right all the wrongs of its Maps app and it seems what’s coming next could finally have Google looking over their shoulder.

The huge upgrade has just been revealed as part of Apple’s new iOS 15 operating system and it comes packed with a swathe of new features that could convince some to ditch Google for good.

The whole service has been given a massive lick of paint which not only makes it far more useful but also more fun to use. Head into some of the world’s biggest cities and you’ll now find a highly detailed view with roads that show every traffic light and pedestrian crossing.

Buildings have also been preciously mapped and iconic landmarks now appear in the most intricate detail. For example, if you head to San Francisco you’ll see the Golden Gate Bridge in all of its glory or you can take a tour around the infamous Alcatraz prison.

READ MORE: Thousands of MacBook owners won’t get the latest features – are YOU one of them?

You can even visit Union Square and see a fully rendered version of the stunning Apple Store complete with iPhones and the big screen where Today at Apple sessions take place. Parks show the exact position of trees and there’s now the option to view the exact elevation of every part of the city.

Another useful featuring coming to Maps is a three-dimensional city-driving experience. This birds-eye view gives a much clearer picture of the road ahead and should help to make sure you never miss a turn or junction on the motorway.

If you prefer hopping on the bus rather than your car then Apple is improving its public transport directions with maps now showing you when your stop is approaching and when to hop off.

This feature even works on Apple Watch meaning you shouldn’t need to reach for your phone.

Other features include an improved world map view with the earth now appearing as a globe rather than a flat one-dimensional image.

And, with iOS 15, users can simply hold up iPhone, and Maps generates a highly accurate position to deliver detailed walking directions in augmented reality.

It’s a big update from Apple and, having seen a preview, it certainly looks impressive. iOS 15 will launch on iPhones in the autumn.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Tech Feed

Delete these 4 smartphone apps right now if you're concerned about privacy

Delete these 4 smartphone apps right now if you're concerned about privacy

If you’re concerned about the amount of personal data available on your smartphone for third-party applications to peruse, there are a few apps that you should probably delete as soon as possible. That’s according to a new report from Blissmark, which singled out three apps that are especially egregious when it comes to data collection.

First up, Facebook. If you’re a prolific Facebook user, this one might hurt. After all, there are some huge benefits to having a Facebook account – the social network is almost unmatched when it comes to keeping in touch with friends, sharing photos with family members who live on the other side of the planet and joining like-minded groups to discuss your interests.

However, when it comes to data-tracking, Facebook is a monster. But don’t take our word for it – Facebook itself has been forced to list all of the identifiers it uses to gather information on its users in Apple’s App Store as part of its new App Privacy Labels, which act like those nutritional traffic lights on food packaging.

According to Facebook, third-party companies who use Mark Zuckerberg’s social network to target users can rely on data from your browsing history, search history, numbers of your contacts, your precise location, purchase history, photos and videos shared to Facebook, your home address and mobile number, the number of times the app has crashed on your smartphone, and more.

If you’re wondering how Facebook would have any idea what your browsing history looks like, if you have Facebook open in a tab on your web browser, it can track the activity taking place in other open tabs. Even if you close the tab with Facebook but remain signed in with that browser, anytime you come across a website with those Login With Facebook buttons – the company will remember your account (as you’re still logged in) and make a note of the site you’re visting to better tailor its advertisements.

Next up, mSpy.

Blissmark describes this one as a “stalkerware app that markets itself to parents”. On the surface, mSpy pretends to be an innocent Find My Friends replacement designed to help parents keep an eye on the location of their children’s smartphones. The application, which is free to download but also offers in-app purchases, offers real-time location data and the option to set-up notifications when someone you’re watching leaves or arrives at a pre-determined destination.

All of this is possible with Apple’s Find My app, which is preinstalled on all iPhone, iPad and Mac. Apple keeps your location data locked down as it’s not massively interested in your location. Instead, it wants you and everyone else in your family to buy a pricey new iPhone – as Find My doesn’t work with any handsets running Android.

For families with smartphones on both iOS and Android, mSpy claims to be a viable alternative. However, the app wants access to an extraordinary amount of data. While it’s not alarming when mSpy requests access to your current location, it is a little baffling why software of this type would need to keep track of your text messages, phone calls, and activity on popular applications like WhatsApp and Snapchat.

And finally, Words With Friends. This is a simple Scrabble-like game designed to be played with friends and family over a Wi-Fi or mobile data connection. However, privacy monitoring FTC Guardian has highlighted some privacy worries with the app. For example, the game tracks your precise location when playing the game to show location-based adverts.

Speaking of games, FTC Guardian also singles out Angry Birds as a bad app icon to have littered on your home screen. With more than 2 billion downloads and a Hollywood movie under its belt since it launched back in 2009, Angry Birds is a global phenomenon. However, its apps, sequels and spin-offs aren’t worth flocking to if you’re concerned about privacy.

As reported by FTC Guardian, Angry Birds logs information about your phone calls, your signal strength, the mobile network you’re currently using, device ID, and number. Angry Birds also has the distinction of being one of a handful of apps that GCHQ targeted to snag user information from smartphones thanks to its poor security. Yikes.

Newer versions don’t have that exact issue, but nevertheless, it might be worth another look if you’re trying to keep your data close to your chest.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Tech Feed

Samsung extends deadline before it will DELETE your photos, videos and files

Samsung extends deadline before it will DELETE your photos, videos and files

The latter is only available until August 12, 2021. After that, you’ll only be able to download your files to local storage until Samsung Cloud completes shuts down on September 30, 2021. When that happens, Samsung will remove everything stored on Samsung Cloud by users.

In other words, if you haven’t switched your back up from Samsung Cloud to OneDrive by August 1, or downloaded all of files to another machine by September 30, then any photographs, videos, or documents will be deleted by Samsung.

Confirming the three-month extension to the initial deadline, Samsung wrote in an email to customers with data locked away in its Samsung Cloud service, “To make sure we provide our customers with enough time to migrate or download their data, we have decided to postpone the final end of features date by an extra 3 months from the originally announced date.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Tech Feed

Google could delete your Gmail, Photos and Drive! New rules start tomorrow

Google could delete your Gmail, Photos and Drive! New rules start tomorrow

“If you’re inactive for 2 years (24 months) in Gmail, Drive or Photos, we may delete the content in the product(s) in which you’re inactive. If you exceed your storage limit for 2 years, we may delete your content across Gmail, Drive and Photos,” the firm said.

The other thing to note is that the new rules come into force on June 1 2021 meaning nothing will be deleted until at least June 1 2023.

If you haven’t touched your Photos for Gmail for a long time, Google will inform you a number of times before hitting the delete button so users shouldn’t lose any content without hearing about it first.

Along with Google now being able to remove content, there’s another big change that comes into force from tomorrow as well.

Until now, Google Photos users have been able to upload endless pictures to the cloud without having to pay a penny for the privilege.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Tech Feed

These apps are destroying your smartphone battery life and you should probably delete them

These apps are destroying your smartphone battery life and you should probably delete them
If you’re struggling to reach the end of the day without hunting for a charger, it might be time to have a rethink of some of the applications on your smartphone. Thankfully, cloud storage company pCloud has made it incredibly easy to pinpoint the biggest battery-drain culprits as it has published a comprehensive breakdown of the most demanding apps.
These apps are likely to be draining the most resources from your phone, which means they’re also likely responsible for any slow down you’ve seen in performance, as well as taking up oodles of storage. In other words, if you’re phone is starting to drag its feet or you’re having to carry around an external battery pack all the time… these should be the first apps to meet their maker.

In first place, the Fitbit app.

That makes a certain amount of sense. After all, depending on which Fitbit model you own, the app on your smartphone might be in-charge of gathering location data so that you can trace the exact route of your walk or run on a map. Not only that, but Fitbit keeps the app updated with the latest statistics from friends’ and family’s trackers, especially if you’re competing against them in fitness competitions.

That said, while it might be handy to always have the figures on your sleep patterns, resting heart-rate, step count, and more …it might be worth restricting some of the features of the app to claw back some battery life.

Also in the top five worst offenders are Skype, Uber and Facebook. The latter is almost always in any of these round-ups of worst battery life drainers, so that’s hardly surprising. However, Uber isn’t an app we’ve seen singled-out before. Of course, when the application is open – it’s monitoring your location at all times, allowing you to communicate with the driver or share your ETA with friends – however, it’s noteworthy that Uber is so demanding when the app is sitting on your homepage in the background too.

Summarising its findings, the team at pCloud states: “Collectively, social media apps make up six out of the 20 most demanding apps on your phone battery. On average, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, WhatsApp and Linkedin permit 11 extra features to run in the background, such as photos, Wi-Fi, locations and the microphone. All of these require more power to run and ultimately demand more from your phone and its battery.

“Our study found that online dating drains your phone battery just as much as your emotions. Online dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble and Grinder make up 15% of the top killer apps, allowing on average 11 features to run in the background. All three dating apps don’t have dark mode available and therefore require more energy when using them, causing the battery to drain quicker.”

And when it comes to storage, pCloud’s study found that travel apps should be the first headed for the (digital) bin.

Ranking the top 30 applications that use memory on your phone, United Airlines took as much as 437.8MB of free space, while Lyft and Uber occupied 325.1MB and 299.6MB, respectively. Takeaway apps were also notorious for draining any free storage on your handset – likely because these apps keep glossy, high-resolution images of the menu and the restaurant in your cache so there’s less time spent loading when you’re famished.

That’s all well and good when you’re drooling and ready to order, but in the cold light of day, that’s storage you’d almost certainly rather use to store music to listen offline or take a snap with the camera.

“If you want to try multiple food apps be sure to delete and redownload them when necessary,” pCloud advises.

“Overall, the study clearly indicates that social media apps are still one of the biggest phone killers when it comes to draining your battery. However, it also highlights that apps such as fitness or travel – which require multiple applications to run in the background – are even more demanding on our phone’s battery and storage systems.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Tech Feed