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Report: Be Wary of Free Android Apps

Report: Be Wary of Free Android Apps
By Barry Levine

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Nearly 7 percent of free Android apps could access user address books, the Juniper Networks study found, while slightly more than 2 percent of paid ones could, and 2.5 percent of free Android apps could silently send text messages versus 1.45 percent of paid apps. In other capabilities, such as secretly initiating calls, free apps also outnumbered paid.
 



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In addition, the report suggests that more information be provided to those who use free apps, and that users recognize that "free" comes at a price.

Google's Approach

We asked Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, if the security issues surrounding free Android apps in particular are something that consumer and business buyers should be concerned about.

They "ought to be," he said, adding that he didn't see it happening. Greengart said there are pros and cons to Google's approach to the submission of apps for its Android marketplace, compared to Apple's greater vigilance. Pros include "more innovation and getting apps to market faster," he said, while the downsides include these kinds of security and privacy issues.

Ross Rubin, principal analyst for Reticle Research, agreed that consumers are generally more focused on factors like screen size or coverage area when they select a mobile device, while businesses tend to "have somewhat more scrutiny, especially for company-issued devices."

He noted, however, that Google, as well as Amazon, has begun to "step up the guidelines for app submissions," although they are not yet at the level of scrutiny that Apple or Microsoft provide.

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