Those abroad who want to keep tabs on the aftermath of the 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan Friday have several options in the form of mobile apps. Those who want to donate have mobile outlets as well. (See Japan Quake Hits Mobile Access.)
National Japanese broadcaster NHK launched a free English-language iOS app to bring in live, streamed coverage of the disaster.
Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has also launched a person-finding app that can be accessed via Web or on the mobile Web and lets users search for a person by name to confirm if they are safe or if anyone else has information about them. People abroad can also use the app to receive status updates from people in the danger zone to determine that they are safe. At press time, the database had already grown to 7,200 records.
As with past disasters, those who wish to donate also have several mobile options, including text messaging. Mobile phone users can text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. (See Mobile Haiti Relief Surpasses $33M.)
Frag Watch:GetJar Networks Inc. kicked browser Opera Software ASA out of its app store this week for launching its own alternative app store. The two stores have nearly the same number of apps and likely the same actual apps too. Opera plans to bring its store to other operating systems as well, but it will likely be met with more resistance. The GetJar-Opera spat also raises this question: When the apps are nearly the same, how many app stores do we really need? (See Mobile App Store Spat .)
Billions of Apps: It's no surprise more players want in, given the explosive growth in apps. Nearly 8 billion mobile apps were downloaded across all stores last year, according to ABI Research . Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) accounted for 5.6 billion of the 7.9 total app downloads, but the research firm says things could get more interesting in 2011 thanks to Android's growing presence in the market.
Apps In, Texts Out?: Smartphone owners are spending nearly as much time using mobile apps as they are sending text messages, according to mobile analytics company Zokem. Of course the use case for the two mobile services are different -- apps often require extended use while texts are plentiful, but are sent in mere seconds. Still, the survey found that consumers spent 667 minutes per month using mobile apps, 671 minutes sending texts, 531 minutes making phone calls and 422 minutes browsing the Web.
Securing Your Apps: Along with its iOS 4.3 update, Apple has instituted controls that make it harder for people to accidentally make in-app purchases, a problem many were encountering. New password protection features on the iPad and iPhone require a password for incremental purchases so users are less likely to do so in error. The issue was becoming so prevalent that it has even attracted the attention of the Federal Trade Commission .