Back in 2011, I wrote about flashlight applications for mobile devices. It was curious to find all kinds of flashlight applications everyfriggingwhere, because I had actually made this sort of app... back in June 19th, 1996. Full source code in the article above.

And now? Authorities have to step in. This is officially sad now. =)

One thing has come up since 2011 - I actually have an Android tablet now. I've yet to have any need for a flashlight app (mostly because the stairway to my home has perfectly functional ceiling lights, thank you very much). Also because the tablet has a large bright screen so it doesn't really need any apps to provide extra luminocity - I can always just fire up Google Play Books or something.

But this article does prove one thing about mobile annoyances: If you get an app from Google Play, make sure they have a set of permissions that actually make frigging sense. As you can see from the source code for my flashlight app, all it does is clear the screen and wait for you to do something. You'll notice that this sort of application has no need for, say, network communication, address book and GPS data. I used my flashlight app on a puny laptop with no network connections whatsoever, a single-tasking operating system with no standard address book to begin with, and certainly no frigging GPS functionality. Many free apps in Google Play want network access to display ads, which absolutely sucks, because they can then potentially use the network access to do other shit. (I recently downloaded one of the l33test apps ever and, when you try to install it, it gleefully says that it doesn't need any special permissions!)

I had this exact same problem when trying to recently find an app that clears up application caches. You can do this by hand by clearing every app's cache separately by going to Android's Settings app, but I wanted an app that does all of them in one fell swoop. The only permission such an application needs is "delete all app cache data" and maybe "measure app storage space". It shouldn't need network permissions, and especially no need for contact information or sensitive data!

Bottom line is, please pay attention to the permission screen and actually read the Google Play description to see why the application needs the special permissions. If it seems the app needs permissions that don't really match with what the application is doing, you may as well consider the app a little bit fishy.

 

(This post also serves as a test of my new front page layout. Let's see if this shows up properly as the most recent blog entry =)