Opinion

SwiftKey and Google Keyboard: Ever Heard of User Privacy?

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unnamedA few days ago, I wrote an article here discussing some changes in Google Play Store permissions handling, and how these changes may have adverse privacy risks for users. The comments on that article indicated an overwhelming amount of concern from readers as to the permissions being used by applications, with many looking to use App Ops or XPrivacy to protect themselves.

Today, I’m going to take a slight detour and look at the permissions needed by two popular apps: Google’s first party keyboard, and SwiftKey. Both of these are keyboard applications, and both are available for download for free on the Play Store . . . READ ON »

The post SwiftKey and Google Keyboard: Ever Heard of User Privacy? appeared first on xda-developers.

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Protecting Your Privacy: App Ops, Privacy Guard, and XPrivacy

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After yesterday’s article about Google’s recent changes to the Play Store that post a number of privacy concerns for users, today we are going to look at the three most popular options for users to protect their own privacy on their Android devices. First though, let’s take a look at how they work, and what they are for.

Why Should I Care?

Since the start, Android has had a permissions system, to allow users to control what apps are able to do on their device. When an application is installed, the user is prompted to agree to the permissions that an app requires. The . . . READ ON »

The post Protecting Your Privacy: App Ops, Privacy Guard, and XPrivacy appeared first on xda-developers.

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MediaTek Taking Steps to Be More Open

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Whenever a device is released by an OEM (like Huawei, ZTE, Micromax, etc.) that makes use of a MediaTek SoC, one of the first things we invariably hear from users are complaints about the lack of kernel source code. If you’ve spent any appreciable time on XDA, you undoubtedly know that we take an OEM’s responsibility to adhere to the GPLv2 very seriously. Go ahead, click the link and read about it; we’ll wait. And while you’re at it, maybe check out the nice FAQ that GNU put together.

You back? Good. Now, we understand this can be a bit difficult to . . . READ ON »

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Just How Safe is “Safe” in Android?

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We’ve all heard about the Android malware problem. After all, proponents of other mobile operating systems love to spread FUD stating that Android’s malware situation is out of control. Further, there are various entities such as antivirus firms that have vested interests in demonstrating that there is indeed an issue.

Who’s to blame the companies using these unscrupulous tactics? After all, it’s simply good business to undermine your mobile OS competitors or create demand for your product in the case of security solution providers. And up until very recently, Google unfortunately lacked a reliable way of determining and tracking the . . . READ ON »

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Google Bans Spammy Ads from Play Store

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Dollars funnel.

If you’re a developer who writes mobile apps for a living, chances are that you’ve at least experimented with mobile ads in the past. Far more true than on other competing platforms, the Android app developer ecosystem is essentially driven by in-app advertisements rather than upfront payments.

This is a topic we broached some time ago, when we presented a thread with various developers’ experiences with different monetization strategies. Long story short: Ads and in-app purchases seem to be far more powerful tools in your monetization arsenal than upfront paid apps.

This should all come as no surprise for a . . . READ ON »

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Securing Your App: The Web Side

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For anyone with a passing interest in developing apps or who has made an app that makes use of a remote web service, listen up. Much as it can be dull to talk security, particularly when it comes to Android applications, it’s still necessary. Today though, I’m going to go through some suggestions for securing applications that make use of remote web services. Whether this is a server to store data on or a server to deal with communications and messages being sent between users, it’s always worth paying attention to a few things that are often overlooked.

1. Encrypt. . . . READ ON »

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Heml.is – This Just Isn’t Security

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In light of all the recent panic over surveillance and Internet monitoring, there are a plethora of “secure” communication programs being announced and launched. These tend to make bold promises of being secure, protecting users from surveillance, and being better than equivalent services.

Yesterday, 3 notable personalities in the web-o-sphere lost much credibility in my (and anyone interested in security’s) view. Why? For using pseudo-security, and trying to market it as security. They clearly do not have a strong background in cryptography or security theory, and appear out to make money, rather than to create a well-designed and well-architected, resilient . . . READ ON »

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Google Editions: Lackluster or Leading Edge?

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The interwebz are alight. Debate and argument is intense, following the launch of the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4, Google Play editions. The Google Play edition moniker, for those  (such as I) who choose to reside under a rock, refers to the fact these devices come minus the manufacturer skins and modifications users are accustomed to, and instead ship with the “stock” Google experience, most commonly seen from AOSP or Nexus devices. A fair idea, it appears, although the launch has been met with controversy and debate over if these new handsets are a let-down. Why? Let’s take a . . . READ ON »

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Device Review: Oppo Find 5

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All too often, major device manufacturers such as HTC, Samsung, and Motorola steal the thunder with their announcements and product releases, leaving little room for smaller OEMs to enter the market. Today we’re going to put aside the HTC One and Samsung’s Next Big Thing to talk about the Oppo Find 5, the Chinese company’s first foray into the global market.

You may be asking why we at XDA-Developers would want to review a relatively obscure device that is unfortunately difficult to procure in many regions. Well, availability was recently broadened, and we’ve already been inside the device. . . READ ON »

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Secure Encryption–An (Oxy)moronic Attempt by Apple?

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In case you are someone like I am who doesn’t follow the annual “update” of iOS, this is where they make it more like Android and make use of some features Android has had for years (i.e. notification pull-down), and announce a few changes and “new” things the rest of the world has done for years.

Before I go any further, the previous sentence is intended as a joke, let’s not turn this into an iOS vs whatever war. This is about something that all platforms need to unite on: user data security.

Apple yesterday announced a new . . . READ ON »

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Android Permissions: Permissively Insecure?

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Android, as an operating system, is fairly unique in that it makes users aware of the permissions available to apps in a fairly transparent way. Compared to Blackberry or iOS, which issue granular prompts such as “Can Angry Birds access your location?” or “Can Instagram access your camera to take photos?” There is a somewhat subtle difference here: The rivals give the user a choice about these requests.

Jump over to Android where, after installing an app, it has free reign to use every permission you agreed to. While this doesn’t sound an issue, let’s take a look at the . . . READ ON »

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