The Biggest Apps of 2015, Why the iPhone’s Camera Is So Good… [Tech News Digest]

Google and Facebook own us all, Apple has too many employees, the error code denoting Internet censorship, hacking Hello Kitty fans, and Saturday Night Live mocks flaming hoverboards.

The Most Popular Apps of 2015

Thanks to Nielsen, we now have a list of the 10 most popular apps of 2015. All 10 are produced by just three companies: Google, Facebook, and Apple. Facebook takes the top spot with its core app used by 126 million users, while Google occupies five of the top 10 spots, with YouTube being its biggest app thanks to 97 million users.

  1. Facebook
  2. YouTube
  3. Facebook Messenger
  4. Google Search
  5. Google Play
  6. Google Maps
  7. Gmail
  8. Instagram
  9. Apple Music
  10. Apple Maps

This list was compiled from surveys of smartphone users in the U.S. The year-on-year users figures suggest Google has somewhat topped out in terms of growth, with the biggest movers being Facebook Messenger, Apple Music, and Instagram. Facebook Messenger has had a particularly good year, and now boasts 96 million users.

Which of these apps do you have installed on your smartphone? If it’s all or most of them, is that because they came pre-installed on your mobile or because you can’t live without them. Are there any new apps you can see jostling their way into the top 10 list by the end of 2016? If so, which? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

800 People Work on the iPhone Camera

There’s one very simple reason why the iPhone 6s has (arguably) the best camera of any smartphone you can buy today. As revealed during the 60 Minutes special on Apple, 800 people now work on the camera inside your iPhone. That’s 800 engineers and other specialists working on just one aspect of the iPhone sitting in your pocket.

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This snippet of information pales into insignificance when weighed against Apple’s attitude to paying tax, but it’s interesting nonetheless. According to Graham Townsend, who leads the huge team working on the iPhone’s camera, “There’s over 200 separate individual parts” in the camera module.

This helps to explain why Apple always makes such a big thing of the improvements made to the camera on the latest iPhone, even though the incremental changes are imperceptible to most of us. However, the difference between the camera on the original iPhone and the camera on the iPhone 6s shows just what the 800-strong team has accomplished.

Online Censorship Gets a 451 Error Code

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has approved the use of HTTP 451, an error code designed to flag up online censorship. The error code was originally proposed in 2013 by former Google engineer Tim Bray, but is only now being adopted.

Internet users should see the 451 error code — named after Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (one of a handful of banned books all geeks should read) — when a Web page is being censored by a government, organization, or individual.

IETF chair Mark Nottingham told Wired:

“As censorship became more visible and prevalent on the Web, we started to hear from sites that they’d like to be able to make this distinction. More importantly, we started to hear from members of the community that they wanted to be able to discover instances of censorship in an automated fashion.”

Unfortunately, while “Unavailable for Legal Reasons” is being adopted as a new standard, that doesn’t mean it will always be displayed. Governments can actually disallow the use of HTTP 451, meaning end users will still see a 404 error message if they click on a blacklisted website. Because Big Brother is real but trying to hide just out of view.

Hello Kitty Fans Exposed Online

Millions of Hello Kitty fans have had their personal information leaked online. However, while it was first thought to be as a result of someone hacking into sanriotown.com, it’s now thought to have been the fault of a “misconfigured MongoDB installation.”

Regardless of the cause, the security breach has resulted in the personal details of 3.3 million people being exposed online. According to Salted Hash, the leaked information includes names, birthdays, email addresses, and passwords. The company behind the popular mascot is investigating the incident.

If you’re a member of sanriotown.com or other Hello Kitty fan portals such as hellokitty.com, hellokitty.com.my, and mymelody.com, we recommend changing your password as soon as possible. It would also be prudent to make sure you’re not using the same password on any other sites.

SNL Makes Fun of Hoverboards

And finally, Saturday Night Live takes a look at the latest craze sweeping the world… hoverboards. I mean, these things aren’t real hoverboards anyway, but in lieu of a working one they’ll do. At least until they catch on fire or accelerate out of control, obviously.

This SNL sketch, one of the best SNL sketches we have seen recently, shows hoverboards catching fire for no reason. It’s a safety issue that has led Amazon to stop selling various brands, and should make you think twice about giving one to your kids this Christmas.

Your Views on Today’s Tech News

How many of the 10 most popular apps do you use? How much better can the iPhone’s camera get? What other error codes would you like to see added? Should websites be doing more to protect our data? Do you see the appeal of hoverboards?

Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.

Tech News Digest is a daily column paring the technology news of the day down into bite-sized chunks that are easy to read and perfect for sharing.

Image Credits: Microsiervos via Flickr