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Google Clamps Down On Spam, Intrusive Ads In Apps

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the their-way-or-the-highway dept.

Google 122

An anonymous reader tips news that Google has sent out a letter to app developers explaining policy changes for any new apps published on the Google Play store. In-app purchases must now use Google Play's payment system unless it's for goods or services used outside the app itself. They've added language to dissuade developers from making their apps look like other apps, or like they come from other developers. But more significantly, Google has explained in detail what qualifies as spam: repetitive content, misleading product descriptions, gaming the rating system, affiliate traffic apps, or apps that send communications without user consent. Also, advertisements within apps must now follow the same rules as the app itself, and they can't be intrusive: Ads can't install things like shortcuts or icons without consent, they must notify the user of settings changes, they can't simulate notifications, and they can't request personal information to grant full app function.

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does that mean... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848003)

...that Google advertising is all SPAM?

yes, yes it does

Re:does that mean... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848323)

And once again blatant off-topic trolling on Slashdot gets modded up. And you wonder why people are fleeing in droves, Geek.net. You wonder.

Don't look now... (-1, Troll)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848009)

... but someone's raising a wall around their little garden.

Re:Don't look now... (5, Informative)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848063)

I must have missed the part about Google making it more difficult for people to install apps from 3rd party sources. Maybe you could point me to where you saw that.

Re:Don't look now... (5, Funny)

Joehonkie (665142) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848065)

Damn, if only there was some way that Android would let me install my own apps from anywhere!

Re:Don't look now... (0)

CheshireDragon (1183095) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848421)

You can. It's called 'Unknown Sources.' put a check in the box and you can install apps from anywhere. Even ones you D/L from a website, put on your SD Card, open the File Manager or your favorite file management tool and install.

Re:Don't look now... (5, Funny)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848437)

Damn, if only there was some way that internet comments could express sarcasm.

Re:Don't look now... (2)

CheshireDragon (1183095) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848539)

(sarcasm)son of a bish, I know right?(/sarcasm)

Re:Don't look now... (3, Funny)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848653)

<sarcasm>Great, that's sorted out, now if only there were a way to type less-than and greater-than signs in HTML...</sarcasm>

Re:Don't look now... (1)

CheshireDragon (1183095) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848967)

<sarcasm>Not that hard. Was just easier in parenthesis.</sarcasm>

Re:Don't look now... (1)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 2 years ago | (#40849535)

Lol we could do this all day... But, I'm out of material...

Re:Don't look now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40850147)

[attempt at humor]so in other words, you cant do this all day as you are out of material?[attempt at humor]

Re:Don't look now... (1)

SolitaryMan (538416) | more than 2 years ago | (#40850657)

SarcasmError: Not Found.

Re:Don't look now... (1)

hezekiah957 (1219288) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848553)

According to geekoid [slashdot.org] , "~" at the end of a line indicates 'Snarky'. Close enough?

Re:Don't look now... (1)

CheshireDragon (1183095) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848569)

I can go with that. sadly, none was present :/

Re:Don't look now... (1)

tycoex (1832784) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848461)

/woosh

Unless your Carrier has disallowed it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848591)

Which is incredibly common. Not Google's fault directly, though I wish they'd keep the carriers from fucking with these kinds of things.

Re:Don't look now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848913)

I think he was being sarcastic ;)

Re:Don't look now... (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848083)

How so?
They are not removing the ability to install apps from outside sources, nor the openness of android. Only limiting the kinds of apps they are willing to sell. I don't see what is wrong with that.

Re:Don't look now... (1)

CheshireDragon (1183095) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848477)

Indeed, I am in full agreement with Google on this one. There are shitty apps on there because they don't check them like Apple, but even Apple has a few shit ones on there too. I think this new policy is on top and at least will get most junk apps out.
http://play.google.com/about/developer-content-policy.html [google.com]

Re:Don't look now... (2)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 2 years ago | (#40851137)

Agreed. Isn't this the whole "Apple Store" argument: "It's their store and they can do what they want?"

The difference between the two, of course, is that Apple owns the store and is also the mayor of the town and makes sure that nobody else opens a store in their town. Don't like it? Move to a different town.

Google is welcome to make these changes. If developers don't like it, they can still sell their applications. They can go through Amazon's Appstore [amazon.com] , Opera Mobile App Store [opera.com] , GetJar [getjar.com] , AndAppStore [andappstore.com] , Handango [handango.com] , onlyAndroid Superstore [mobihand.com] , Insyde Market [insydemarket.com] , Appoke [appoke.com] , and various others. They can also sell them via their own website or they could even put it on a CD and sell it through a real-world store in a box or something. I know--how quaint.

Re:Don't look now... (1)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848095)

So you mean there won't be alternative app stores like Amazon's app store? Or I can't install my own apps from other sources?

Re:Don't look now... (2)

Mr. McGibby (41471) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848231)

Thing is, I *want* a walled garden where I can install apps without fear of destroying my phone. I love having someone else vet the apps for malware. Now, I'm not saying that google is actually doing this, but the more they lock down their app store, the better it is. My problem is with Apple's App Store which gives you no option of going outside the walled garden if I feel like it.

Re:Don't look now... (1)

CheshireDragon (1183095) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848529)

Then don't go and install apps you are suspicious of. If you are techie you have that gut instinct of knowing something will go wrong.
And if all else fails, there is always the Factory Restore/Reset option which does a pretty good job of cleaning out the device and freeing it of all errors.

Re:Don't look now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848687)

It's just not possible to keep malware off a system, not even with good judgement. I have en app called something like "Advanced IPsec tools" on my phone. It seems totally legit, and so does the developer (some smell-time hobbyist scratcing an itch). Yet every now and then, when doing something completely different, I see "Advanced IPSec tools has been given root privileges" pop up. I *have* given it root, but why would it suddenly do some action that requires root spontaneously? I'm going to assume it's because some security association expired, or something like that, but it could equally well be phoning home and allowing the developer to take over the phone... There's just no way to have a software marketplace with many providers and still get good security (vetting apps for malware is isomorphic to the halting problem). Google is certainly trying, with its "Bouncer" software. (Posted anonymously to get a lower score, as it's just a useless rant)

Re:Don't look now... (1)

CheshireDragon (1183095) | more than 2 years ago | (#40849093)

I do agree with you to a point. I didn't want to get detailed, but...
I have rooted ever smart phone I ever owned since they came out some years ago. I have 5 and the last two Droid X and Droid 4 where I usually test 'odd' apps. Not everyone has that luxury. I was simply stating that if you don't trust the app then you may not want to try it out. Even legit looking apps and developers I have been wary of especially if it a security type app. Saved my self many a headaches by having an alternate phone to test with. If I didn't have alternate phones I would look elsewhere, ask someone else if they have a dead device(I work in a place where at least 3 a day are going in the trash) OR err on the side of safety :)

Re:Don't look now... (1)

Smauler (915644) | more than 2 years ago | (#40852259)

It's just not possible to keep malware off a system, not even with good judgement.

So how would a walled garden help?

Re:Don't look now... (4, Interesting)

queazocotal (915608) | more than 2 years ago | (#40851329)

Of the top 6 calculator apps, 5 require full access to the internet.

They make no mention of why they wish full access to the internet in their description.

Speaking personally, I would greatly prefer it if it was required for developers to provide a brief justification for every single capability they use.
And that these capabilities are actually required for the apps function, as outlined on the brief description.

A way to search for apps without certain capabilities as default would be good too.

Re:Don't look now... (2)

Migala77 (1179151) | more than 2 years ago | (#40853597)

If you want apps that require less permissions, it usually helps to look for paid apps. Free apps always want to know everything about you. As you know "if you're not paying for it, you're the product" and people want to know what they're selling. And if the app isn't what you expected, Google Play gives you a 15-minute window to get your money back.

Re:Don't look now... (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | more than 2 years ago | (#40853989)

Or a soundboard that requires access to my browser history.
But I'm sure they have a good reason for that.
*clicks install*

Re:Don't look now... (1)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | more than 2 years ago | (#40852555)

Their best option might be a tiered market. A reviewed-by-Google, must-be-approved store and an open may-contain-dragons store. Same app, have a mark or option to show which tier apps are in. Allow searching only reviewed apps or reviewed and unreviewed apps. By default allow searching of all apps.

Re:Don't look now... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848395)

... but someone's raising a wall around their little garden.

That doesn't mean what you think it means.

Fuck you, Apple! (4, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848025)

In-app purchases must now use Google Play's payment system unless it's for goods or services used outside the app itself.

Goddamn money-grubbing, parasitic Apple always trying to take a take a cut from other people's hard work. Oh wait, this is Google doing it? Oh, never mind then.

Re:Fuck you, Apple! (4, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848105)

You could go use the Amazon market.

I agree google is getting greedy here, but on the other hand some devs want you to upgrade to add free by paying them via paypal, which ends up meaning you have to pay again and again when you install that app on new devices.

Re:Fuck you, Apple! (2)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848713)

Goddamn money-grubbing, parasitic Apple always trying to take a take a cut from other people's hard work. Oh wait, this is Google doing it?

Both Google and Apple require apps in their online store with in-app purchase to use their respective payment system for purchases (Google has exceptions for purchases of things used outside of the app itself, and I think Apple has a similar exception.) So far, pretty similar.

OTOH, Android, unlike iOS, allows consumers to install apps not delivered through the OS vendors app store, meaning that the restriction on the store isn't a restriction on the OS.

It is true that certain Android devices come with restrictions that make the consumer experience similar to iOS in this regard, but since consumers have a choice between those Android devices and Android devices that aren't locked down, that's an issue specific to the devices in question, not to Android as an OS.

Re:Fuck you, Apple! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40849167)

As a very nasty side-effect of Google requiring all in-app purchases to go through Checkout, only US and UK based companies can develop apps which use in-app purchases and still be in the Play store.

Re:Fuck you, Apple! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40849889)

Your information is out of date - Google Play billing is available in just about every country worth billing in.

Google Play: Countries supported for billing (3, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40851581)

As a very nasty side-effect of Google requiring all in-app purchases to go through Checkout, only US and UK based companies can develop apps which use in-app purchases and still be in the Play store.

The actual list [google.com] of supported countries is slightly longer. Currently:
Argentina
Australia
Austria
Belgium
Brazil
Canada
Czech Republic
Denmark
Finland
France
Germany
Hong Kong
Ireland
Israel
Italy
Japan
Mexico
Netherlands
New Zealand
Norway
Poland
Portugal
Russia
Singapore
Spain
South Korea
Sweden
Switzerland
Taiwan
United Kingdom
United States

Re:Fuck you, Apple! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40849939)

In-app purchases must now use Google Play's payment system unless it's for goods or services used outside the app itself.

Goddamn money-grubbing, parasitic Apple always trying to take a take a cut from other people's hard work. Oh wait, this is Google doing it? Oh, never mind then.

Haha. Cutting apps and trying to cut the amount of spam there is doesnt put money in googles pocket.

And so what if it uses googles payment system? The people who need to get paid are still getting paid just like before, only now its just more streamlined and less likely someone can rip off a customer if they have to go through google instead of using their owns means to get payment. Its like how on ebay personal checks, money orders, bid pay, western union and such were all ways to pay/get paid on ebay and I got ripped off a couple times or just plain stiffed by people on there, ever since they made it just paypal Ive never gotten screwed on a payment I got or a payment I made.

If youre going to try and take the piss out of something then atleast try not to have a pathetically sarcastic remark with holes in it big enough to fly a plane through. But I know, you so desperately want to seem snarky, savvy and intelligent infront of a group of strangers because you have no self esteem and a big ego. We get it, you have a small penis.

Re:Fuck you, Apple! (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#40853917)

Bah, I can't seem to care. It's just a dispute among ruthless businesses on how to share the spoils from exploiting their users. I mean, ads inside an app, really? Whatever, I'll continue to use Debian and leave the proprietary OSes with their crazy "business models" to the fanbois.

A good start (4, Insightful)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848027)

Now both Google and Apple need to add (and enforce membership of) a category for free apps that are just demos for their paid counterparts.

If the free version doesn't have enough functionality that a typical user would keep it around without buying addons or upgrading to the paid one, off to the "Demos" category it goes.

Re:A good start (4)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848129)

Also a "freemium" category, I want to never see another one of those again. I will buy an app, I will use free ones, but I will not pay to continue to use a game over and over.

Re:A good start (1)

danomac (1032160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848367)

I've been speaking to coworkers about app stores in general, most of them say if you paid anything for an app, you've paid too much...

Re:A good start (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848389)

You folks must be horribly underpaid.

I have no problem paying for software I use, I prefer to pay for FREE software, but will used closed stuff if the need arises. I also dislike advertising, so I rather pay $1 than look at it.

Re:A good start (1)

danomac (1032160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848711)

We aren't anywhere near underpaid. Most make a pretty fat wage here.

That's not my view personally. Those are non-technical people's POV..

I have paid for apps I use very frequently, Touchdown being one, another is a weather app that actually works and is accurate, and pocketcloud.

Now that I have the Nexus 7, I'll be likely browsing around and buying more apps and content in general. E-books sure can be expensive though, it's ridiculous. They should all be less than $10 for sure, but I've seen some as high as $40. Crazy.

Re:A good start (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40849037)

the blame for that is squarely on the publishers who are finding themselves in the same position as other Legacy Media companies, trying to keep an obsolete business model going.

Re:A good start (2)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848471)

I've been speaking to coworkers about app stores in general, most of them say if you paid anything for an app, you've paid too much...

Your coworkers' cynicism seems a little naive to me. True not every app is worth buying (those are the ones you, um, don't buy) but there are a few I've purchased and I'm very happy about. I've been playing Aralon [amazon.com] on my Xoom lately and I love it. It's basically Morrowind on your tablet. In some ways better than Morrowind as it streamlines the NPC interaction and you have mounts. The game is huge with a ton of depth and it is worth the measly $6.99 asking price. I've bought some more that are also very good and I'm not going to give a rundown of each one but suffice it to say I'm a happy customer. I only had to return one app as it crashed on start-up and Google just refunded my money with no hassle since I was within the 15 minute period.

Re:A good start (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#40852359)

I've been speaking to coworkers about app stores in general, most of them say if you paid anything for an app, you've paid too much...

Your coworkers' cynicism seems a little naive to me. True not every app is worth buying (those are the ones you, um, don't buy) but there are a few I've purchased and I'm very happy about. I've been playing Aralon on my Xoom lately and I love it.

There's other ways to read it.

1) For every paid app, there's a free version that probably does the same task. Though, granted it may be full of ads and steal your information...

2) For every paid app, you can find it for free if you just Google it. After all, if you type the app name into Google, add "Android", and one of the suggested searches is "apk" or "download". So why pay when you can get it for free? Do it on your device and it's pretty easy - just tap install.

Yes, it even applies to iOS - just a little jailbreaking required and installing some "helpful" sources.

Re:A good start (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 2 years ago | (#40854059)

I enjoy some freemium games too. You can often slowly progress thought the game having a little fun, and by the time I feel the need to pay, I'm often bored of the game, and it's off to find another.

Speed Hiker is my latest - great for 5 minute sessions where you don't even care if you have to put the phone down midway though a game. There is no pause in a online game, dear wife.

Re:A good start (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848173)

If the free version doesn't have enough functionality that a typical user would keep it around

Thats going to be pretty arbitrary and require lots of human effort... maybe if "the law" was something like 90% of the source code functions in your app collection must be unique or something like that? This makes life easy on the mighty GOOG also, because that could be automated. There would be issues with series like "Age of Conquest" which is basically Risk(tm)(c)(rm) where you pay per map by purchasing another app, the only difference being the new map. So that would have to be re-engineered into one Age of Conquest app, with DLC for each map. Or more likely a free app and a tutorial demo map and paid DLC maps. Which would probably save a lot of memory, so its a good idea anyway.

That said I like demos and always download them first... if the demo doesn't work, no matter how cool the app is I'm not buying the paid version. Or if the demo is no good I don't buy the real app.

Maybe if they included infrastructure for all apps to have a free and pay version...

Re:A good start (3, Insightful)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848281)

If the free version doesn't have enough functionality that a typical user would keep it around

Thats going to be pretty arbitrary and require lots of human effort...

I know this might go over the edge of the creepy factor for some people but maybe if there was a way to track frequency of use of an app and show the percentage of time the app was uninstalled within a week or something. Those stats would be very useful in gauging an app's quality in addition to the star and download numbers we have now.

Re:A good start (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848357)

How about the pulldown notify screen has a list of running apps and you rate them? Making the effort of going to the store and finding the app and then staring it simpler... Or the screen where you "tap hold" and can re-arrange icons and/or drop them in the trashcan has stars in addition to ye olde trashcan

Re:A good start (1)

CNTOAGN (1111159) | more than 2 years ago | (#40854203)

Someone else mentioned that it would be nice if apps gave justifications for their various access rights - like "full internet access" - this would be a perfectly good reason, and it would be pretty cool if all apps would tell you, when you are installing - "this app uses internet access to send which functions get used, if it is uninstalled, and the ability to rate the app - no personal information sent."

Of course a baked in analytics service for all apps, that could be disabled, would be pretty cool too... Maybe an android level API?

Re:A good start (1)

idji (984038) | more than 2 years ago | (#40849785)

all this stuff reminds me of 15 years ago when websites were simulating Win95 popups. That got cleaned up too.

Angry Birds ads (1)

bbbaldie (935205) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848069)

If they would make Angry Birds move that damned ad out of the way, I'd be able to stop disconnecting from the network before playing.

Re:Angry Birds ads (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848223)

You could just cough up the measly 99cents.
Seems like far less effort than disconnecting.

Re:Angry Birds ads (1)

bbbaldie (935205) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848669)

That wasn't an option the last time I checked. No paid ad-free Angry Birds. :-(

Re:Angry Birds ads (1)

BillX (307153) | more than 2 years ago | (#40851891)

Depending on Android version / distributor (this may be more of a thing enabled in unofficial builds, e.g. cyanogenmod), you may have the option to revoke individual permissions on a per-permission and per-app basis. Revoke its 'Internet' permission and you're good to go. Worked for Angry Birds last time I checked (with auto-updates disabled since then), however, it's possible they've added a workaround for this (e.g. force crash if certain permissions revoked).

Re:Angry Birds ads (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848255)

Go spend a dollar on the ad-free version, then.

Re:Angry Birds ads (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848507)

"Nice Android you got there. Would be a shame it it became ad-infested, eh...?"

Re:Angry Birds ads (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848373)

Problem solved [iapktop.com] . Not that I'm condoning this, mind you.

Re:Angry Birds ads (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848397)

Hm. I wonder if that's compatible with PDroid (it would depend on which files it patches and how).

Re:Angry Birds ads (1)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | more than 2 years ago | (#40852625)

That looks like it patches the .apk of the apps, not any of the framework.jar/system.jar/services.jar files that PDroid modifies.

Re:Angry Birds ads (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 2 years ago | (#40850149)

Angry birds is the reason I installed an ad blocker... I'm all for ad supported free stuff, but not when the ad actually gets in the way.

GOOG app store for windows (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848075)

Oh Mighty GOOG, your lowly human followers beseech you to create an app store for windows much like your mighty holiness has created for your son, Android.

K thx bye (aka amen)

P.S. and osx and linux app stores too if its not too much trouble, your mighty holiness.

Re:GOOG app store for windows (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848803)

Oh Mighty GOOG, your lowly human followers beseech you to create an app store for windows much like your mighty holiness has created for your son, Android.

K thx bye (aka amen)

P.S. and osx and linux app stores too if its not too much trouble, your mighty holiness.

Well, you've got Chrome browser (including Native Client and other desktop-app-enabling functionality) + Chrome Web Store. That's probably as close as you are likely to get.

Good move, but beware the abuse (4, Insightful)

Qwavel (733416) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848081)

I'm sure this will be welcomed by (most users and developers alike.

However, the more control they exercise, the more danger that they will abuse it (e.g. a carrier partner asks Google to get rid of an app that acts as an SMS gateway, so users don't need to pay for carriers' SMS package).

I believe that the key to keeping this sort of abuse under control (other then clear rules) is for Google to specify which rule was broken for every app that gets rejected.

CommonsGuy wrote a good post about this (no, I'm not him):
http://commonsware.com/blog/2012/02/23/think-about-principles.html [commonsware.com]

Re:Good move, but beware the abuse (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848145)

Even if they do that, you can still install such an app from third party sources.

That limits what they can do far more.

Re:Good move, but beware the abuse (2)

mmurphy000 (556983) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848677)

CommonsGuy wrote a good post about this (no, I'm not him)

No, but I am! :-) (and thanks for the kind words!)

Re:Good move, but beware the abuse (2)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 2 years ago | (#40851163)

No, I'm CommonsGuy!

Re:Good move, but beware the abuse (1)

PuZZleDucK (2478702) | more than 2 years ago | (#40852289)

No, I'm CommonsGuy!

No, I'm CommonsGuy!

Re:Good move, but beware the abuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40850587)

However, the more control they exercise, the more danger that they will abuse it (e.g. a carrier partner asks Google to get rid of an app that acts as an SMS gateway, so users don't need to pay for carriers' SMS package).

Google can, and I am of the impression already do, block apps that carriers don't like (e.g. tethering apps) but they aren't so crude as to block it from the Play Store, they just block it for phones from that carrier.

Another good idea for Android (5, Insightful)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848155)

I noticed in Jelly Bean that a user can find out what app put spam in the notification bar. The user can then revoke the app's ability to ever put any more notifications into the notification bar.

Let's take that further. In Settings, Manage Applications, how about letting me manage the actual permissions that an app gets?

So even if a Flashlight app declares in the manifest both Internet Access and Abuse My Personal Contacts permissions, I can simply deny the app any subset of those permissions. This would go a very long way toward eliminating the worst abuses we are seeing. After all, why does a Flashlight app need the Abuse My Personal Contacts permission?

Re:Another good idea for Android (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848189)

There are many alternative android distributions that do just that. Cyanogenmod is one.

Unfortunately many apps just crash if they can't get access to the resources they expect. There is another solution and that is applications that lie to the apps. You need root do to that, but it is very handy.

Re:Another good idea for Android (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848525)

I've yet to have apps crash on me personally, which is odd because i usually have horrid luck.
I almost always deny apps internet access, because fuck, a flashlight app doesn't need to connect to the internet.
It just needs to be a damn flashlight.

Re:Another good idea for Android (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848551)

Why not just use a flashlight that does not ask for that?

Torch would be one such well behaved app.

Re:Another good idea for Android (2)

queazocotal (915608) | more than 2 years ago | (#40851377)

Part of the problem is that there is no sane way to discover this app.
For example, I wanted a calculator app which diddn't request stupid permissions.
The only way to do this was to go down the list, click install - for every app.

Because this is hard and slow, even technically adept users are not likely to always do this.
So the apps that don't request excess permissions don't get found and used preferentially over those that do.
So the permission list tends to expand, as publishers are not penalised for it.

If there is a 'good' app at 6th in the list, it takes about 50 interactions with the device to find it.

Re:Another good idea for Android (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 2 years ago | (#40853625)

> The only way to do this was to go down the list, click install - for every app.
> Because this is hard and slow, even technically adept users are not likely to always do this.

No, go to the Play Store on the web, look for an app (Torch, in this case) then click on the Permissions tab:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.colinmcdonough.android.torch&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwyLDEsImNvbS5jb2xpbm1jZG9ub3VnaC5hbmRyb2lkLnRvcmNoIl0 [google.com]

You can then install (or ininstall) from the web.

Re:Another good idea for Android (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848315)

After all, why does a Flashlight app need the Abuse My Personal Contacts permission?

This is probably asking too much, or over thinking it, but I would have it fail gracefully and not let the app know, or feed it misinformation.
For example "Abuse My Personal Contacts" should be able to lie and tell it I have no contacts OR lie and tell it my only personal contacts are "abuse@ftc.gov" or "spamreport@gmail" or purely randomized addresses or whatever.

You can fail "Abuse My Internet Access" by returning that the inet is down, but its just as funny to let it silently drop all traffic.

Really there's four options:
1) Tell it the user told it to F off, in which case the spam app will pester the user to re-enable, so its probably useless
2) Tell it the service is down (sorry, just bad luck we have no inet access right now, or the user has zero contacts in their book) in which case the app Might pester the user, so its less useful
3) Tell it the service is up and silently drop or randomize everything. This would probably work pretty well most of the time. Suuuuuure, app, you've just posted my score or result or whatever on FB or twitter or spammed all the email addresses in my contacts, yeah app you just trust me that it wasn't all just dropped without being sent
4) Let the app have its way with the user, do whatever it wants

Re:Another good idea for Android (1)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848433)

I haven't installed Pandora on my Nexus 7 because of the permissions they want. They have a long detailed explanation of why they say they need to access my contacts list for, but i don't actually want to do any of the things they say the need the info for, and they're already under investigation for sharing personal info with other companies.

I still have the last version of Pandora from before they added Personal Contacts to the permissions installed on my phone, and i'm perfectly happy with how that works. If i could just install the latest version but "break" the permissions i don't like that would be great.

Re:Another good idea for Android (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848523)

Cyanogenmod or numerous apps that require root can do just that.

Re:Another good idea for Android (1)

vlueboy (1799360) | more than 2 years ago | (#40849471)

I still have the last version of Pandora from before they added Personal Contacts to the permissions installed on my phone

Yet another reason to always deny updates. The important things will just update themselves anyway (like the infamous and confirmation-less Market -> Google Play rename) but you can keep the latest Facebook address-wipe "feature" from affecting your phone.

What would be better is some tool to keep the OS services from spamming you. I keep clearing the "You have 20 updates waiting", notification only to see it again a few times a day. While we're at that, how about google stops asking me for a cellphone number every time I attempt to use it? Not like they are oblivious to it...

Re:Another good idea for Android (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848469)

it's possible google didn't implement it like that to avoid stepping on j2me security model turf(which is exactly like you and many others have asked for, even if it was fucked uppedly implemented in most phones).

however its more likely they were just lazy.

Re:Another good idea for Android (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848819)

I'm not sure about jelly bean.. but my older android phone has all sorts of crapware put on by the carrier, that I cannot uninstall I have a notification every single day about updates being available for them.. I have never used them, see lots of comments about the update causing problems, and no way to uninstall.. can I at least tell it to stop checking for updates?

Re:Another good idea for Android (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 2 years ago | (#40850237)

I'm not sure about jelly bean.. but my older android phone has all sorts of crapware put on by the carrier, that I cannot uninstall I have a notification every single day about updates being available for them.. I have never used them, see lots of comments about the update causing problems, and no way to uninstall.. can I at least tell it to stop checking for updates?

If you remount /system as readwrite (requires root) you can just uninstall the bundled apps in the usual way.

free jobs (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848167)

just as Edwin responded I'm surprised that a person can profit $5197 in 1 month on the computer. have you read this page http://www.makecash16.com

Google should also have Certified apps (4, Interesting)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848245)

Similar to Apple, Google should introduce a program for developers who wish to pay to have their app certified. The app would earn some kind of certification that Google has inspected the app, it meets various technical (not necessarily style) guidelines. Then the app is displayed in the store with a branded trademarked logo indicating it is certified.

Google could also have multiple levels of certification like Silver, Gold, Rhodium, etc.

----
we will meet in Red 3 at the hour of scampering

Re:Google should also have Certified apps (1)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848593)

Oh the bitching and moaning that would ensue over the certified "haves" and "have nots". Sounds like a good opportunity for a third party though.

Re:Google should also have Certified apps (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#40850213)

Please, it's not a bad idea and it's Google's store anyway. Following his thought, anyone who objected could either release without certification or not release in the store at all.

Take that! (2)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848347)

and they can't request personal information to grant full app function.

Yeah! No muscling in on Google's turf! [slashdot.org]

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40851371)

Are you guys worried that Microsoft is going to try and market Windows 8 through the Google App Store?

Evil Bit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848371)

Maybe Google should require malicious apps to set require an evil permission [faqs.org] ?

Corrected title (0)

Loopy (41728) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848521)

"Google clamps down on Spam, Intrusive Ads In Apps from competitors

Re:Corrected title (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 2 years ago | (#40850265)

"Google clamps down on Spam, Intrusive Ads In Apps from competitors

I can't think of any Google applications on Android that even use ads...

In any case, I'm happy to see all the apps that include AirPush get banned from Google Play - I have no time for any developer who thinks its a good idea (especially since they never warn you that they are using AirPush when you install the app).

About frickin' time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848895)

It's suited Google for some time to turn a blind eye to all the duplicate apps with misleading names and icons, and all the crap apps that do little or nothing. Why? Because they could pretend to have as many apps as the App Store, while at the same time bragging about how open and free they are compared to Apple. Unfortunately,the result has been to seriously damaged the user experience, especially back before the Play app redesign. They should have done this years ago.

In-app purchases must use Google Play? (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 2 years ago | (#40851561)

Well, that sucks. I live in an area (China) where Google does not allow any payments AT ALL. That's right, I can't buy anything even if I want to. I even tried using a VPN to come from America - nope, Google looks at your SIM card. China Unicom, no dice. Pleco, an excellent Chinese dictionary application, cleverly got around this by offering a web page where you could buy a registration number outside the app. See, most of their customers are in China, obviously. Now that's in ruins. Good job, Google. Dicks.

Re:In-app purchases must use Google Play? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40853115)

Or Pleco could just offer downloads of the APK from their own website...

Re:In-app purchases must use Google Play? (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 2 years ago | (#40853777)

Which would promptly be pirated all over the net.

Installing shortcuts without permission? (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 2 years ago | (#40851593)

I am surprised the Android doesn't limit creation of shortcuts or icons external to the app, to an API? This API would automatically notify the user on trigger. If there is one, how are these apps successfully getting around it? Wouldn't this be something that Google could detect before listing an app?

Note, I am not an Android developer, so excuse any ignorance here.

Who's google What's a google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40854285)

There's a very very productive trend going on here.
No more packets to or from Google, Facebook, Twitter, CBS, Discus, etc
It's not a paranoid thing, it's a legal decision

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