Ad-Blocking on Android

Ad-Blocking on Android

Jan 25, 2012

Thanks to Android apps having more permissions than on other platforms, this also means that it’s easier for apps to deliver ads in different ways. Developers can push ads to the notification bar, or even maliciously install app icons that are links to advertisements. While advertising itself is not a bad thing – it helps many developers make money in a challenging environment, and websites such as ours use advertising to help keep things going, and to pay talented writers to keep churning out interesting and informative content. I do not recommend just disabling all ads without enabling them judiciously for services users wish to support. However, advertisements can be intrusive and annoying, which is why many users disable it on their phones.

Thankfully, there are applications that can help detect which apps are serving the most odious of applications, and offer ways to remove them. First, detecting ads can be done through free apps like Addons Detector. What this does is that it detects the kinds of third-party services that installed apps can use: this includes push notification services like Airpush, typical banner ad services like AdMob, social gaming services, and other, non-malicious services. However, this app can’t necessarily remove those services themselves.

Airpush in particular, being one of the most well-known push notification ad services, can be removed either through their Airpush Permanent Opt out app that hypothetically opts out a device from receiving Airpush ads. Apps like Airblocker – Airpush Block can be used to block ads on rooted devices. This is the issue – blocking ads at the server level requires editing the hosts file, which is in the system folder, which requires a rooted device. However, plenty of free solutions exist either in custom roms or on the Android Market to block ads, such as AdFree Android which modifies the hosts file to block ads. While removing ads can improve device performance, it can have the effect of shorting legitimate website owners and app developers of necessary ad revenue, so use these judiciously.

Japanese Carrier KDDI Pushes Advertisements to Users’ Phones Through Bloatware

Japanese Carrier KDDI Pushes Advertisements to Users’ Phones Through Bloatware

Jan 24, 2012

Japanese carrier KDDI is offering a particularly nasty proposition to its customers: advertisements in the notification bar, served by difficult-to-remove bloatware. KDDI phones come with their own app store, the au one Market, preinstalled on their phones. This app is then pushing advertisements to the devices as notifications. This isn’t something that can be disabled easily, and the au one Market is not easily removed from these phones. This is obviously an annoyance for many users: notifications are supposed to be notifications about things that are important to the user, not an advertisement served indiscriminately to the user with no relevance. Airpush, which provides similar services to developers looking to monetize their apps, has not been well-received from Android users. It’s gotten to the point where Airpush themselves offer an app to opt out from their ads, though user reviews indicate this is not a perfect solution.

Thankfully, when these users upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich, this bloatware will be more easily disabled. But then, carriers typically are slow to adopt new versions of Android as upgrades for existing phones. It’s a catch-22 of anti-consumer behavior; hopefully US carriers won’t get any funny ideas from this.