Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Phone spam

What would you think if you installed a program on your PC and once or twice a day it popped up an ad, even if the program wasn't running? There are several possible terms, none of them complimentary.

That is what started happening with my phone several days ago. Once or twice a day I would see a star in the notification bar with a link to a questionable site. My first thought was that I had installed a new program that caused this. I tried uninstalling my most recent programs but that did not work. I also did a virus check of my phone but that didn't find anything, either.

Eventually I tracked it down thanks to some Googling and message boards. It turns out that there is a new player in the Android marketplace called AirPush. They make an add-on. A developer adds this to an existing app and it starts delivering ads. AirPush says that it can substantially increase a developer's income. That is because it separates the ad from the app so ads are delivered even when the app is not being used.

Now, I don't have any problem with a free app displaying an ad at the bottom when I use it. I figure that is no different from ads on broadcast TV. But, I really object when the ads appear when I am not using the app. This would be like having my TV turn itself on and showing an ad at random times.

Fortunately someone wrote a free app called AirPush Detector. This identifies any installed apps that use AirPush. With the help of that I determined that BloggerDroid was the culprit and removed it. It was a small loss - I installed it a year ago and only used it a few times.

BloggerDroid did not include AirPush when I installed it. That was added later and pushed out as an update. This is pretty sneaky since in made it nearly impossible to identify the offending app without AirPush Detector.

Until now I have strongly preferred Android over Apple because I don't like giving so much control of my technology over to as capricious a company as Apple. This may make me rethink my position. I don't like giving control of my phone over to Steve Jobs but I like AirPush even less.

With luck Google will come out with a policy forbidding this. If not, I can get a new phone next year.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

FYI - You can permanently opt out with their opt out app and still use apps without ever seeing their ads.