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Old March 6th, 2012, 11:09 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Notsure Greetings - and a few comments :)

Greetings all,
The forum encouraged me to introduce myself, so here I am.
I am recently new to the Android scene, but I have enough expertise in technology (in my profession) to understand and recognize pros and cons of using any given system.

I used to use iPhone until I switched carriers. I wanted to give a Droid a try for a few reasons. The two most important factors were the freedom to modify the system to my liking without having to worry about the next update locking me out, and better battery longevity. Also, very high in the list of advantages is the unparalleled accessibility, integration and interoperability with other network and file system communications.

I wanted to raise a specific concern, and see what the more experienced Android community has to say about my observations.
I have seen some very disturbing patterns in the features, permissions, and overall tendencies of a diverse sampling of apps that I've discovered and tried.

To put it bluntly, my perception is that one of the core features of the Android platform is the systematic pimping of all Android users to the industry of personal information commodities.
As I say this, I realize I sound both paranoid and broadly critical.
But as I've said - this is my perception based on observations of various apps, utilities, games, etc. that I've sampled.

As an example: Winamp requires READ_PHONE_STATE. Now, a fair argument can be made that a music player would need to see if a phone call comes in, goes out, etc. in order to pause the music. That's fair - but why did the Almighty Google lump together those permissions with the permission to read the phone number and serial number of the phone? A phone call status, and the phone's number & serial number are separate pieces of data, and the knowledge of each by an application carry far different consequences to the user!
I've seen applications that require the permission to read and write SMS messages, contacts database, system logs, and many more. The most notorious example of permissions abuse is, of course, the Almighty Facebook.

Now, once again, if an application wants the ability to do such things in order to offer features, that is a sound argument in favor of the capability. However, many of these capabilities are lumped together with others, and there is no logical or practical reason to do so, other than to offer developers an incentive to produce applications for this platform; namely, the promise that they'll be able to harvest data.

This is obviously just my own speculation - but it seems apparent to me (especially in this recent trend of technology consumers giving up massive amounts of data to corporate entities without recognizing the consequences to their privacy for the rest of their lives) - that the logical conclusion of what I've observed is that one of the most integral aspects of the Android platform is the marketing value in the form of incentive offered to developers to invest in the platform.

Opinions, comments and advice welcome.


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Old March 6th, 2012, 11:16 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Welcome to Android Forums Dan. I would recommend you read this guide, it is very long but is very comprehensive.

Android permissions explained, security tips, and avoiding malware

Don't be afraid to ask any questions about a particular app.

Enjoy your stay and I hope this helps clear up your paranoia

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Old March 6th, 2012, 11:18 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Great first post Dan. I think there are many of us who share your cautious optimism on the subject of permissions. I don't know that I can comment on it though and bring any breaking information to the table but it is a topic of great interest for me.

In any event, welcome to AF! You seem like an individual who has a lot to contribute here.
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Old March 6th, 2012, 09:16 PM   #4 (permalink)
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