i'm steve

My Phone Is Stuck With Outdated Apps

Sun 29 Jul 2014

Most people these days will fill their smartphone with latest apps and games, and for sure apps are part of the reason what makes smartphone so create. They enhance the phone with features, provide users with information, acting as a gaming devices… There’s no doubt apps are so crucial to smartphone and that’s why companies like Apple & Google are so keen on making their AppStore better, development tools richer so that more developer will develop for the platforms, and more users would want to buy apps from the stores.

So it makes perfect sense for people to install the latest version of the apps the used, so that they could enjoy the most out of an app, which often times, means a faster & richer apps.

That’s not the case for me though. Currently, I am using an Android device from Samsung, Note 2 to be specific. Most of those apps I am using daily are still stuck with their old versions, which are predominantly more than 6 month old or even longer. It’s not that my device couldn’t handle the latest version, nor the Android OS is too old that apps are no longer compatible. It’s a voluntary decision I made.

But why would I want to do that?

Apps are requesting more & more permissions these days, and there’s no way for one to tell why an app needs certain permissions, even if you are able to decode what a particular permission means. Besides, with the latest update on Google Play, some apps updates might try to sneak in new permission requests which instead of marking as “NEW” like before, there would be no indication as long as it’s within the same common permission groups allowed before. This in turns, making the situation even harder tackle.

Example Permission Request Dialog

Why would an app needs SMS access? What does it mean by “allows the app to determine device id & call informations”? As an developer, I can guess, the SMS access is for auto account verification thru SMS message; while the device ID are for say, GCM. Who knows?

Android is still lacking the opt-out security feature that iOS have, where you could just turn off a particular permissions requested by an app. Once a permission is granted to an app, there’s no way for you to opt out unless, of course, uninstalling it. There was an experimental feature being discovered inside the Android OS – App Ops, it won’t be ready in the near future.

Unless I could tell if an app is requesting tremendous number of permissions for a good reason & do-no-evil, I would resist in installing / upgrading those apps as long as I could. That’s why my phone is still stuck with old apps.