Ask NerdGirl: Google I/O Is This Week! Why Do Apps Require Unnecessary Permissions? Streaming Video!
May 17, 2010 7:41 AM –
Google I/O is just a few days away! Of course it starts the same day I’ll be taking a train from Cleveland to New York so I’ll be having some fun testing tethering apps along the way. Seems fitting that the first question of the week has to do with Google!
Google Voice 0.3.3: Do you know when Google is gunna release this version and what it will add? I Use this app all the time! I Love it!
The last update was March 23rd. It finally pushed the notifications almost instantly. I was excited to see that. Judging by how Google I/O is next week and they’ve recently updated Maps, Goggles, the mobile sites, image search, and place pages, and now they’re about to officially release Android 2.2 (Froyo), I can’t imagine it’s too long before we see another update to Voice. It seems that they’re really working hard on the mobile end of things and I love it!
Why do so many apps that seem really useful require access to areas of the phone that they really shouldn’t need.
Zxing’s Bar Code scanner wants to access the browser history, bookmarks read/write contact data-why? Where are all the tech privacy advocates on this-not a single article that I’ve seen.
Why do I only see QR bar code links [on all the Android app sites] that only point to Google’s Android Market, when they could simply provide a link to the apk?
Think about it, if you don’t want to give access to your history and contacts, you wouldn’t have the means to scan the QR code right?
I know this was answered by AndroidTapp Admin Man himself, but I wanted to put my two cents into this as well.
When I first started downloading apps I noticed these permissions too. Why does my camera app want to know my phonebook? Why does Key Ring need to know my GPS location? And of course why would my barcode scanner need my browser history? You need to consider what the app is really doing.
Let’s go through the Barcode Scanner as an example:
Modify/delete SD card contents – You can save scanned barcodes and retrieve them later. These are saved to the SD card. You can also delete the barcodes when you no longer need them so that is why it can delete.
Read Browser’s history and bookmarks – You can actually send a QR code of a bookmark or a recently visited page to someone. Therefore, the app needs to access this information.
Read contact data – You can send a code using the built in share feature. This enables the program to get your contacts so you can share it.
Write contact data – When you send something, if you send it to someone that isn’t in your phonebook, it will save the data for you to insert later.
Full Internet access – When you scan a barcode, not only does it go to the market, but it could go to a page to compare prices or a website for a company.
Take pictures – The app uses the camera built into the phone to take a picture of the barcode.
Control flashlight – If you have a flash built in you can turn it on so you can scan a barcode easier in low light.
Control vibrator – When a barcode is scanned you can have it vibrate when it is found.
So, just because an app looks like it does one thing, it may have the option to do even more. Yes, be wary of what you download and it is always a good idea to check what it has access to, but 99% of the time, it’s there for a reason.
Is there a site that is capable of streaming movies to my Droid? Without adobe flash it seems impossible.
There are apps for that, Todd!
Skyfire Mobile Browser – allows you to view some Flash videos directly from the browser.
Androrb – This is not exactly what you’re looking for, but I like it. With an Orb account and Orb running on your computer you can stream the videos you have on your computer onto your phone. They don’t need to be on the same network, which is really nice, and the quality isn’t the worst. Best part, it’s free!
SPB TV – With this app you can watch live streaming broadcasts from around the world. The free version only allows you to watch 6 channels, but the full version gives you over a hundred. The paid version is $9.95.
Stream Media Player – This app allows you to watch Internet video, listen to Internet radio, and watch web cameras. It also is a media player for your local media files.
I haven’t used SPB TV and Stream Media player extensively, but it can’t hurt to try them out. Now Hulu just needs to make an app…
Even while I’m on vacation this coming week I’m going to be answering your questions to make sure to keep sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org