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Computing has experienced a new generation with PC internet applications giving way to mobile applications. Broad access to wireless and cellular networks from tablets, smart phones, and other mobile devices has altered the manner in which individuals consume and communicate information, creating an exponential rice in data adoption, acceptance and usage. This paper presents a discussion on mobile computing and social networks and how they all work.
Geolocation is a technology, which uses data obtained from a user's mobile device or computer to identify a user's actual physical location. Geolocation makes it possible for a mobile device, which is connected to the internet to obtain several kinds of information in real lime and locate in on a map with a high level of accuracy at a given point in time (Ionescu, 2010). Mobile geolocation services have become insidious in 'connected' world; they have introduced profitable, innovative, and functional applications and services. With location technology, a mobile user's experience can be exceptionally personalized, which appeals to retailers, marketers, law enforcement, government entities, and regrettably criminals. In spite of their numerous benefits, mobile geolocation services increase the risk to the mobile user, service providers and anyone who utilizes data collected by service providers (Ionescu, 2010).
Geolocation applications typically do two things: they associate real world locations like parks, and restaurants to a user's location, and they report a user's location to other users. Geolocation applications, which run on mobile devices, provide a richer experience than those running on desktop personal computers due to the fact that the relevant data a user sends and receives changes and as a user's location changes.
Presently, smart phones have a GPS chip and this chip uses satellite data to gauge the exact position of the user, which then internet services like Google maps can map. But, when a GPS signal is unavailable, geolocation applications can use information from cell towers in order to triangulate a user's estimated position, and this method is not as precise as GPS, however, it has improved greatly (Ionescu, 2010). It is crucial to note that some geolocation systems use cell site triangulation and GPS together in order to zero in on the location of a mobile device, and such an arrangement is known as Assisted GPS.
The geolocation applications on mobile devices can ascertain a user's position practically accurately as long as the sky is clear. However, when a user is indoors, the geolocation application is less accurate and locations where storefronts are in close proximity, a user has to manually select the location from within the application interface. Popular examples of geolocation services in mobile devices include: Foursquare, Brightkite, Gowalla and Loopt. Foursquare works well with: Android, iPhone, Palm and Blackberry phones. Foursquare enables mobile users to check into restaurants, officers, cafes, bars, parks and almost anywhere. Brightkite works well with Android, iPhone, Nokia, Blackberry and Palm smart phones. This geolocation service lets a mobile user to establish two types of social connections: Facebook like friends and twitter like followers. On the other hand, Gowalla like foursquare works with Android, Palm, iPhone, and Blackberry on Curve, Bold and Storm phones platforms. This geolocation service has a large database of locations created by users. Loopt is available on Android, Blackberry, iPhone and numerous other phones and it combines geolocation with social networking. Just like other geolocation services, Loopt invites users to check into locations and share what the user is doing with friends in social media networks.
Mobile applications are real applications, which are downloaded and installed on mobile devices instead of being submitted within browsers. Users normally visit portals that are mobile device specific such as Android market, Apple's App Store, and Blackberry App world in a bid to get and download applications for a given operating system. Additionally, the application might pull data and content from the internet, or it might download the content so that it can be evaluated without an internet connection (Kamal, 2007).
Benefits realized by consumers because of the ability to gain access to their own data via mobile applications include: compatibility, immediacy, and upgradability. Immediacy: mobile websites are instantly accessible to users via a browser across numerous mobile platforms such as Android, iPhone, Blackberry, and so forth. Mobile applications are compatible across devices. One mobile application can reach many users across a range of mobile devices. Mobile applications can be easily found, for instance mobile websites are easier to find since their pages can be listed in industry specific directories or search results, thus, making it easy for the user to find anything. Mobile applications can be instantly updated. A mobile application is a lot more dynamic in terms of flexibility. The largest benefit to the consumer is the convenience. The line is blurry with regard to consumers versus businesses. In this respect, data which can be assessed is limited. Consumers can access common information in account status with creditors and banks. Businesses can also access large data blocks necessary to conduct affairs and carry on trade. In addition to this, e-mail is an advantage.
Developing mobile device applications is challenging because of the small screen size. There are various challenges that developers experience when developing these applications. Small screen requires the developers to think in an a simple and easy way to use UI design that utilizes all screen space in a useful and nice way, fits the small size and keeps it clear, as well as minimizing scrolling as much as possible. To say the least, large spreadsheets and databases are cumbersome and the only way to accommodate them is to have massive scrolling issues or to shrink the font. The addition of magnification properties is an additional benefit as well as the capacity to use plug-in-devices such as HDMI to provide increased viewing ( ). Apple solved the small screen issue with the iPad; but it has its own limitations. For instance, when a user increases the screen, he or she has to increase the size of the device and thus, surrender portability to an extent that it becomes problematic.
The screen resolution in mobile devices is normally expressed in pixels and it should not be confused with the screen surface area (B'Far, 2005). Due to the differences in screen resolution, an optimal layout for one display might be plainly impossible to turn into another device. This issue is especially salient for mobile computing because numerous mobile platforms have low resolution, small size displays.
In our contemporary world, the implication of mobile phones is getting apparent with the effect that these devices have had on mobile computing, social media networking sites. Innovations of mobile computing have seen the rise of iPhone and Android platforms where third party developers have developed numerous applications, which run on these devices. The age old problem of which method can be used to decide which platform to be used is not easy to decipher. Blackberry mobile devices are ubiquitous across mobile carriers in the United States; however, not every form is available on each carrier's network. In the same way, consumers who want iPhones do not have a choice to but to sign up with the mobile carrier AT&T. In the U.S T-Mobile is the only mobile carrier offering Android phones while the Palm Pre is restricted to Sprint. Thus, research should be done on compatibility problems and popularity in a bid to garner versatility across mobile device users. This can be done by depending on the software manufacture's information or by third party application of research (Unhelkar, 2009). In order to the software manufacturers to gain royalties, proprietary issues are problems that are always going to be there. But, the key is to be informed about what platform is compatible, and what has the largest user base.
In mobile applications, availability is about a provider doing the best to create reliable application infrastructure and components, designing quick recovery technology to eliminate or minimize downtime, and accepting the reality that a mobile application will probably experience some failures. Reducing failures without reducing repair time will not maximize accessibility. Simply reducing the failure is just part of the solution. Designing for availability is about detecting, anticipating, and automatically resolving software or hardware failures before they result in data corruption, service errors, thus minimizing downtime. A conventional method of providing high availability mobile applications is to use a duplicate system that has fully replicated components.
Mobile phones or smart phones with advanced abilities like those of PCs are appearing in more individual's pockets. Mobile devices such as smart phones give users access to the internet, the e-mail, GPS navigation, and numerous other applications. But, the security of mobile devices has not kept pace with conventional computer security. Technical security measures for example antivirus, encryption and firewalls, are not common on mobile devices, and mobile devices operating systems are not updated as often as those on PCs. Furthermore, mobile social networking applications at times do not have the detailed privacy controls like those on personal computers. Regrettably, numerous mobile device users do not identify such security limitations; many fail to enable the security software, which normally comes with their phones and they believe that using the internet on their devices is safer than surfing the internet on their personal computers.
Meanwhile, mobile devices are becoming more valuable as targets for attack. Individuals are using mobile devices for many activities and frequently store sensitive data such as contact information, calendars, passwords, and emails on the devices. Mobile device applications for social networking keep a lot of personal data. However, recent innovations in mobile commerce have enabled its users to carry out numerous transactions from their mobile devices, such as banking, purchase applications and goods, redeem tickets, process point-of-sale payments and pay at cash registers.
Customers might associate hacking and security breaches with the personal computer, however, because of the large growth of tablets and smart phones in the past few years, cybercriminals have turned attention to the budding mobile device platform, looking for new ways to extract personal credit card and identification from unsuspecting users. Even though mobile security issues make headlines often with harrowing statistics, for example roughly forty percent of mobile users in the United States still click on a risky links. Whilst hacking in mobile devices can happen in various ways, one of the most ordinary access points is through insecure mobile application. Individuals should be concerned about what kind of information the applications they install have access to and what actually gets shared on an ordinary basis. Mobile users should be more wary of which free internet hubs they are connecting to, because most mobile users do not think twice about connecting to any open and free wireless network.
For instance, according to Mennecke & Strader (2002), approximately a hundred thousand android applications were recently considered questionable or suspicious. Despite the fact that not all mobile applications were considered malicious, they performed debatable tasks and have access to private data that presents a threat to users.
Mobile devices share numerous vulnerabilities of computers. But, the factors, which make them easy to use, carry, and modify, make them vulnerable to various attacks such as hacking and so forth. Besides, numerous seemingly software apps are malicious. Anybody can develop mobile applications for some of the most famous mobile operating systems, and provides might offer third party mobile applications with no or little assessment of their safety. Sources, which are not affiliated with mobile service providers, might also offer unregulated applications, which access locked mobile phone abilities (Mennecke & Strader, 2002). Some users 'jailbreak' or 'root' their mobile devices, evading operating system lockout features to install these applications.
In order to make mobile devices more secure, there are several steps that mobile users should consider. First, when selecting a mobile device, it is imperative to consider its security features. A user should ask the service provide if the mobile device offers file encryption, the capacity to delete known malicious applications. Secondly, a user should configure the device to be more secure. Many mobile devices have password features, which locks them till the correct password is entered. A user should enable this feature. Thirdly, users should not follow links sent in suspicious text messages or email because these links might lead to malicious websites. Users should also configure web accounts to use secure connections by using encrypted and secure connections. Enabling such a feature discourages attackers from spying on web sessions. Users should research on mobile applications before installing them. They should also disable mobile interfaces, which are not presently in use, for example Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and infrared since malicious attackers can exploit vulnerabilities in software, which uses these interfaces (Mennecke & Strader, 2002). Lastly, users should be careful when using social networking apps because these applications might reveal more personal data than planned, and to unintended parties. Thus, mobile users should be particularly careful when using services, which that trail their location.
In sum, the implication of mobile devices is getting clearer and with the effect of these devices on social networking sites, mobile computing has gotten better because of attention from vendors and developers. Such innovations have witnessed the rise of platforms such as iPhone, Android and so on. This paper has explained the benefits of using mobile applications, challenges of developing mobile applications, ways of providing high availability and how to make mobile devices more secure.