Ina Fried

Recent Posts by Ina Fried

The Apps That Weathered the Storm — Finance, Maps and News

While there is no question that smartphones can serve as a lifeline during severe weather, they also serve as a primary means of entertainment and information.

Stats compiled during Hurricane Sandy showed that navigation app use doubled, as people presumably had to find some new routes. Finance app use was also up 74 percent from the pre-hurricane week, according to mobile ad firm Velti. Weather app use was actually down 66 percent — perhaps because people could already tell what the weather was, or because they were getting that information from news sites, which saw a 50 percent jump in ad impressions.

In terms of entertainment during the storm, Velti said that music app use rose 44 percent, while game use was up just 19 percent. Of course, this probably only counts ad-supported games, and I imagine those with battery life to spare but without cell service did some gaming.

A separate study of the mobile Web, by Usablenet, showed a significant spike in visits to the Web sites of transportation and utility companies.

Overall, Sandy caused outages for various cellular and landline providers, but many storm-affected people had service, and the Internet as a whole kept trucking.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik