A word on Android permissions

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As you may know, this weekend we published the most significant update to Reverse Lookup ever. Unfortunately, it seems there has been some confusion about the permissions that the app requests, and Android permissions in general.

So please take a moment to read this blog post, and we’ll teach you a few important things to keep in mind when you are reviewing permissions -

1. Permission requests are not generated automatically.

Whenever we see or hear a discussion about Android permissions, it seems there are always people who assume that the permissions list presented during install is generated based on what the app tries to do.

This is actually false. The permissions that you are asked to approve during install are specifically requested by the developer. If the developer fails to request a needed permission, the app will simply crash when that code attempts to run.

With that being said, it’s generally bad practice for a developer to request unneeded permissions, but they can if they want. In some cases it’s difficult to avoid – some apps are written using third party frameworks that simply request everything(or at least more than what is needed). In this case, the developer may not be able to reduce the list to just what’s needed.

2. Don’t judge a permission by it’s group

When you install an Android app in the latest versions of the Play Store, you are shown a summarized list of permission groups. 

In the image below, it looks like we want access to your whole phone, and that’s understandably creepy. Calendar access? Photos? What?permission groups

But if you expand each section(image below), you can see the actual permissions we are asking for, and things start to make much more sense. You should do this for any app you install rather than just assuming it’s asking for complete access to each group.

expanded permissions

In the case of Reverse Lookup specifically, here’s what the permissions are actually used for:

  • Find Accounts – used when creating contacts so they can be attached to your Google account
  • Read Contacts - used so that we can omit people you already know from the main screen of the app
  • Modify Contacts – self explanatory – so the app can create a contact from found results if you choose that option
  • Read Call Log – used to generate the call list on the main screen – this permission wasn’t necessary in the past, but the method we used to query the call log has long been deprecated and has begun causing problems on some newer devices.
  • Directly dial phone numbers – The app contains a function to dial a number directly from the results screen
  • test access to protected storage/modify contents of USB storage – required by embedded Google maps to store temporary cache files on your SD card in order to improve performance
  • Read Phone Status – required for the ability to show a notification when receiving a phone call from an unknown number
  • Network access – needed to reach the call databases
  • View Network Connections – needed to check for internet connectivity

Recently removed permissions:

  • Location access – inadvertently requested in the past but was never used
  • Vibration – vibration functions were tested in some early test versions but never in a production release. Permission was left in until recently.

We know permissions are a scary issue for many users, and we always want to be as transparent as possible about the ones we use. We hope that this explanation has shined some light on how permissions work and specifically how and why we are using them.

If you have any further questions, as always, feel free to shoot us an email.

 

 

 

 

Beta for Reverse Lookup 2.6 Now Available

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The next update to Reverse Lookup contains a lot of changes, and we wanted to be sure we test it a little more thoroughly than usual before releasing it to the Play Store.

..So we’re happy to announce that the first Beta will be available within the next few hours.

Want to try it out early? All you have to do is join our beta tester Google Group and then follow this link to opt-in: https://play.google.com/apps/testing/com.esmobile.reverselookupfree

Keep in mind that the point of this test is to see what works and what doesn’t, and while we’re already pretty happy with the stability of the app, there’s always the possibility to encounter bugs. So please bear with us and let us know if something in the app breaks so we can fix it before launch.

We’re expecting to move forward rapidly from this point, so expect another update or two in the beta channel before we launch. We’re primarily working on aesthetics and general UX from here on out, but of course we’ll be trying to eliminate any bugs we discover as well.

Oh, one last thing.. this is a completely open beta so please feel free to share those links with anyone who may be interested.

Now Available : Sin City Video Poker

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Sin City Video Poker

Our latest game, Sin City Video Poker, is now available on Google Play. We worked hard to make this game reminiscent of the video poker machines you’ve probably dumped thousands of dollars into over the years, and we think you’ll have a lot of fun whether you are a casual player looking to kill a few minutes on a bus or a seasoned gambler who wants to practice their methods without risking real money.

We will also have an in-browser version of the game ready shortly, so check back soon for that if you don’t have an Android device.

The HTML5 version is now available here: http://nomadicratio.com/portfolio/video-poker/

Also, from now until the end of February, anyone who gets a Royal Flush and submits a screenshot of the unlocked achievement will receive an ad-free copy of the game. Use the contact page to submit  your screenshot.

 

 

New home and new app

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Well, if you’ve made it here, you now know that esMobile  has become Nomadic Ratio. We didn’t change staff or anything like that.. we simply changed our name for better visibility.

So, with that change, we’ve decided to leave our previous home at Tumblr, and move everything over to here.

While you’re visiting, be sure to check out the Sudoku game we just launched. You can play it in your browser or on nearly any Android device. Our intent is to launch a few more games in 2014, so please keep checking back.

And of course, we continue to develop and support Reverse Lookup, which is nearing it’s 1 millionth download.

Thanks as always for your continued support, and please keep checking back for more updates!

Crash fix for Motorola Razr owners (Reverse Lookup)

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Hi all. Just had a back-and-forth with a user who was having issues with the app crashing on his Razr phone after receiving Verizon’s 4.1.2 update. Apparantly this update causes many issues with the device, one being that some apps actually lose their permissions!

The user was able to solve the issue by uninstalling Reverse Lookup and then reinstalling. This forces the phone to re-accept the needed permissions.

This information will be added to the FAQ as well.

New app: Binary Clock ES

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Hey guys and gals..

We just uploaded our latest app onto the Play store. This one is just for our fellow geeks.. a little novelty application that shows you the time in binary.

It’s designed so you can customize the colors, and it’s usable as a full screen app(desk clock) or as a home screen widget.

This is super fresh so Google doesn’t have it’s Play page live yet, but search for “Binary Clock ES” in about 30 minutes from now.

And since we know some of you can’t be bothered to search on your own, we’ll post a proper link tomorrow.

Fix for HTC devices

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If you are using an HTC device, please make sure you have the latest version of Reverse Lookup from the Play store.. it solves the issues with sending a number to voicemail on those devices.

We’ll be pushing the same update for the Plus version in the next 24 hours.