Worried about your privacy? New ad-network detectors surface in Play Store

March 14, 2012
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Ads integrated into free Android apps are a necessary evil, as app developers need to live off something after all, even if they do offer the fruits of their labor for free on Google Play Store. At the opposite pole of an imaginary moral compass are the ads that show up in any other place than the app itself (such as ads in the notification bar, or even unwanted ad-related icons on the home screen), and ads that access your personal information to provide targeting information to advertisers.

Surprisingly, up until a couple of weeks ago, Android users who were looking for a way to stop ads from taking over control of their Android device, without installing an Android security suite (and having to pay in hardware resources for the extra functionality) were pretty much out of luck. Thankfully, the situation recently changed, with the release of a couple of apps specifically designed to survey the way ad networks behave. These apps are called the Lookout Ad Network Detector and the Ad Detector.

Let’s start with Lookout App Detector. What the app really does is provide information regarding the ad-networks installed on your smartphone, as well as underline the exact personal data each ad-network collects. While extensive info is given on the behavior of push-ad-networks (those that push ads outside the app container), as well as on any of the 35 mainstream networks, the Lookout App Detector (as its name implies) only detects the bad things Android ad-networks are doing, without being able to stop them. At this point, it may be worth noting that the app’s bigger brother, the Lookout Android security suite, was one of the six Android security apps to detect more than 90% of the potential security threats, in a recent test conducted by independent anti-malware research organization AV-test.

The second app, developed by TrustGo Labs and simply named the Ad Detector, works in a similar way to Lookout’s solution: it detects the apps that push ads on you, as well as those who might access your personal data. While TrustGo’s ad-network detector is also not able to stop malicious apps from displaying, I salute the addition of a quick removal button, for quick disposal of the apps that display ads in a devious way.

Ad-Detector

Overall, my personal opinion is that you’ll be better off installing one of the top Android security apps, but if improper ad behavior is all you ever worry about, any of these two apps should provide you with the means to deal with this issue. Do you guys feel the same? Let us know in the comment section below!

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