Lookout Ad Network Detector, a Security app to Detect ad networks from other Android apps with Helpful explanations
Mar 13, 2012 11:51 AM –
Lookout Ad Network Detector is a new addition to the Lookout Labs suite of Android security apps and, by all accounts, a pretty handy idea for the security conscious. This one lets you know which advertising networks (such as Admob and Tapjoy) are present on your device, what types of ads these networks can display and also what information they gather. They also offer some neat administration links to limit or alter these settings. Incredibly useful for those who like to track such things.
Tested on: HTC Desire HD
Pros & Cons:
- Easy to use!
- Fast analysis!
- Lots of useful information!
- Administrative options!
- Would be nice to view by app, not just by ad network.
- Frequent reports of force closure?
Lookout Labs develop polished and popular mobile security applications for Android. I’ve personally used the Lookout Security & Antivirus app for some time now and have always felt all the more secure with it installed. They have produced other useful apps that compliment this app too. Lookout Ad Network Detector is one such app and it essentially lets you know what ad-networks have access to your device, what ads they can show and what information they can gather.
For the uninitiated, ad networks such as Admob and TapJoy provide the ads you see contained in many free apps and games. If you’ve ever seen an ad banner or pop-ups during a game, these will have come from a ad network of some form. Some of these can be incredibly annoying and, depending on permissions, can have access to some of your data to provide targeted ads to your device.
With Lookout Ad Network Detector, some of the guesswork is done for you in this regard. You are initially presented with a introduction screen with a helpful green button to ‘Start Scan’. Once pressed and your apps have been scanned you have a list of results that contain figures besides the ad networks which:
- Display ads in Android notification bar
- Modify default browser homepage or bookmarks
- Add icons to desktop
- Phone call, SMS, or camera on ad touch
- Collect personal information
- Collect location information
- Collect device or mobile network information
You can then tap these to reveal which ad networks have such permissions on your device. I would use some caution here and not freak out too much if you have a high number- essentially think realistically as to what this means. If an app, which was free on Google Play, uses an ad network which collects locational information, it’s unlikely this is used to track you personally- merely to give you ads which are relevant to your geographically.
Some other inferences might appear less wholesome, however, and the app allows you to have a closer look at what each ad network does. This includes: Apps that use this network, Behaviour, Privacy and (if it applies) Opt out. These tabs give a brief explanation of each and suitable links to App settings should you wish to remove the app itself. It’s very intuitive and simply laid out, great if you want to perhaps limit exposure to ad networks and can’t be bothered with browsing small print to identify what it all means.
Lookout Ad Network Detector – Front page
Lookout Ad Network Detector – Analyzing
Lookout Ad Network Detector – Results
Lookout Ad Network Detector – Results, in-depth
Lookout Ad Network Detector – Found ad-network list
Lookout Ad Network Detector – Affected apps list, links to app settings
Lookout Ad Network Detector – Behaviour and Privacy explanations
If you’re concerned about the access these ad networks have to your device, I think it’s certainly something worth at least monitoring, Lookout Ad Network Detector is brilliant and a simple means to analyse these things on your phone. The way the app tells you in plain language- what it all means is also very handy and user-friendly. The ability to then easily do something about it, like with Admob apps you can opt out of the location-based service or simply delete the app, is highly intuitive.
Ease of Use:
The app is incredibly easy to use and you’d have to be a complete technophobe to get confused by the app. In a few simple taps you can really see what ad networks exist on your device and figure out what they are doing.
I would consider this something you run every so often, and certainly something to utilise if you download a lot of apps and games.
The interface looks pretty slick, certainly in-line with the other Lookout Labs applications. It has polish, even if the function of the app is quite straight forward.
Tags: Ad Network
, Android App
, Android Apps
, Android Security
, AndroidTapp.com App Review
, Lookout Ad Network Detector
, Lookout Security and Antivirus
Categorised in: Tools