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Old April 9th, 2010, 08:21 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Motivation for Developers? and, App security.

I've met people that won't load *ANY* apps because they don't know if they are safe. I have tried a few, but am still a bit nervous about it, too.

Can someone explain why developers write and maintain the free apps? ... I mean, it seems like a ton of thankless effort. So, is there some other benefit, or are they harvesting information from me, or what? I can understand the motivation to SELL an app, but the FREE apps ... why? Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying they shouldn't, but I'd like to know why they do it.

And what should people watch out for when loading apps? Why do some apps need to see my location or my contacts? It has nothing to do with the app. I cancel the install when I see that, but I'm sure many people don't.

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Old April 9th, 2010, 12:33 PM   #2 (permalink)
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You can gain revenue through ads built into the app. A lot of devs do this: release a free version with ads, a paid version without.
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Old April 12th, 2010, 04:05 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Everyone has their own reasons, like @grainysand says some do it for the ad revenue.. but mostly It is just the same reason that thousands of developers contribute to opensource projects such as Mozilla etc.. for the fun, experience and recognition.

To answer your questions about security, obviously if you are worried about an app you can not install it however look at what the apps are requesting carefully.. I have noticed that the headings can be a bit misleading.

For example, look at my game (signature) it requests access to 'Phone state and identity', which is under the heading 'Phone Calls' .. although my app has no access to your phone call history, to make calls or any such thing.

Check the sticky for more details.. http://androidforums.com/android-applications/36936-how-safe-find-trusted-apps-avoid-viruses-guide-those-new-android.html
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Old April 14th, 2010, 12:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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That was a good post, and a long thread. I gave me a lot to think about, but when it says 'be careful' or 'use your discretion' .... HOW? If a chess app wants to see your contacts, the author can say that he needs that so you can send invites to your friends, that's fine, but doesn't prove anything at all. That doesn't mean he's not stealing your contacts TOO. So, it's just a guessing game. You can't say 'no' to contacts, or internet access or anything.

So, this is why I asked the original question. If it's just blind trust and a guess based on gut feeling, it would probably help to know WHY the authors write these apps. I find it hard to believe ALL the free apps are there just because the authors enjoy the challenge. I could be wrong, but it's a lot of work, ... a lot of complaints, ... people whining about not enough updates, or too many updates, ...

"your icon sucks"
"your app crashed my phone"
"why can't I sort a certain way?"
etc.

I moderated a forum for a couple of years. It was basically a lot of reading, and occasionally being the center of a screaming match. It was a tough job. I imagine being an app author is about the same. I suppose it would look great on a resume, though.
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Old April 14th, 2010, 03:08 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I think its a worthwhile discussion to have..

If you think about it though Android has a much better system in place than you have probably been using in your desktop computer your entire life. Your average windows user still uses their desktop with full administrator privileges, so any app they download or malicious file has full access to wreak havok across the entire os, download and upload files etc (hence the rise of antivirus / firewalls).

I think your issue of trusting software has a much broader spectrum than just Android
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Old April 14th, 2010, 05:06 PM   #6 (permalink)
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There are a variety of good reasons people develop free apps for Android:

1. To make money off ad revenue
2. To promote a paid full version
3. To solve a personal need/desire and later make the solution public
4. To experiment with different techniques, test phone capabilities, etc.
5. To have something for a resume/portfolio, particularly when hoping to land a paid developer position
6. To gain recognition
7. To show a proof of concept

I'm sure there are others I'm missing, but that should give you some idea. Android has a good permissions system, but the reality is that most people click through installation screens regardless of operating system. If you're truly concerned about the permissions an app has, you can avoid installing it or perhaps just trust "big name" companies.
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Old April 15th, 2010, 12:01 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Also that's where reviews come in; reviews from fellow android users or Apps reviews blogs. If there's an issue, someone will have pointed it out. I'm kinda paranoid when I dl apps. I try not to dl apps that need access to personal stuff (phone state/identity) AND require internet access XD. In the end you just have to go with your gut feeling

Signing off,
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Old April 15th, 2010, 07:43 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Is the source code available for apps like it is for FOSS (Free and Open Source Software)? How does that work for Android apps? ... If I am interested in an app, can I pull up the source code somewhere?

I went digging around on the phone with Astro, but I guess I need to root the phone to see much of the non-SD storage.

I did a little googling, and someone said the Google site has the source code for apps if the author wants to put it there.
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Old April 16th, 2010, 02:56 PM   #9 (permalink)
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The source code for apps is only available if the authors make it available. So, for most, you're unlikely to be able to get the full source code.
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Old April 16th, 2010, 04:23 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IanGClifton View Post
The source code for apps is only available if the authors make it available. So, for most, you're unlikely to be able to get the full source code.
True enough, but a lot of Android app projects are hosted at code.google.com.
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