Friday, July 26, 2013

Android 4.3 refined app permissions

The key elements of discussions on app security on iOS vs Android (e.g on Tech News Today, All About Android, ... and others) have always been like this:
  • on iOS you as a user doesn't know anything (because he doesn't have to... Apple cares, so you don't have to)
  • on Android you know the permissions of the app and accept them (during installation), but still can't do anything about it (except for not installing, or rooting in some cases)
I always wondered, why the app manager or security manager did not let you change those permissions after installation as well?

It works like this: in order to do something privileged like placing a call, reading contacts, accessing the internet, ... anything outside the "sandbox" of the app, the app has to declare this in the manifest that comes with the app. If it is not declared, it is not granted, and the activity (e.g. reading contacts) will fail.

Now, with Android 4.3 it seems there is a tool to change those permissions during the life cycle for the app - see screenshot.
See also here on Android Police or here on TechCrunch.

This is really great: you can no e.g. enable location access / GPS for the one or two times you really want an app to have it, but revoke it afterwards...

One caveat, though: I'm afraid that most app developers are lazy and rely on the old model. That assume that the app will have the permission(s) simply because it asked for it during installation, so they will on catch the fact/error that the permission has been revoked, and simply crash.

Expect one or two iterations of some apps to fix this....

Still a huge improvement.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

HTC confirms One S will no longer receive Android updates

Crap, crap, crap. After only one year.
This has been out for about 2 weeks already, but - optimist as I am - I wanted to wait for HTC to backpedal on this.

They didn't... so there.
HTC confirms One S will no longer receive Android updates:

"We can confirm that the HTC One S will not receive further Android OS updates and will remain on the current version of Android and HTC Sense. We realize this news will be met with disappointment by some, but our customers should feel confident that we have designed the HTC One S to be optimized with our amazing camera and audio experiences."

Yeah, "confidence" is what I feel... right...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A weird one: RTM on my HTC

Earlier this week I noticed that the battery on my HTC One S drained really fast.
I check some settings and stats and found that the Remember the Milk app (RTM) seems to be the culprit.
  1. GPS was on all the time (seen in power > history)
    even though I explicitly turned it off... it stayed on
  2. the RTM app used more than one third of the power
    (and location alerts were disabled... so there should not have been any link to the GPS thingy above)
  3. however, RTM was using GPS all the time, as can be seen in the details.
That was weird.

And I could not make this go away.
I was pretty sure that during the previous days, I rebooted the phone (just because for lack of power...)
So I posted a question to the RTM support forum and disabled the app for the time being.

You have to re-read the last half sentence to fully understand how this was bothering me:
I - totally dependent on RTM - disabled the app on my phone. Imagine that.

The RTM folks responded, I described the problem in more detail, and got the tip/request to 
  1. uninstall RTM app (not simply disable)
  2. reboot the phone
  3. re-install RTM app from the play store.
I did as requested, and voilà the problem was gone.
RTM does not even show up any longer in the power statistic. (So nowhere near 34%).
And GPS is really only on when I need it (see history).

Should have thought of this myself: I mean, I'm in the business too long not to consider re-boot and re-install :)

Big thanks to the RTM team for their fast help