Items tagged with Google Play

The Epic Games fight against anticompetitive Apple and Google is still alive and kicking, as Epic now filed a new complaint against Google. The update adds some redacted details about Google’s allegedly anticompetitive behavior and how Epic Games believes that Google is massaging its own statements to conceal “the full scope of Google’s anticompetitive conduct.” Of course, the filing from Epic Games opens strongly, stating that Google’s former motto of “Don’t Be Evil” is just an afterthought, and the company is “using its size to do evil upon competitors, innovators, customers, and users in a slew of markets it has grown to monopolize.”... Read more...
The billing fraud and SMS-stealing malware known as Joker has returned to the Google Play Store after having its ups and downs dating back to 2017. Researchers now say Joker has a new bag of tricks and can avoid Google’s app-vetting process and sneak onto the market. Disguised within legitimate-looking apps, Joker can steal text messages, contact lists, and device information and then subscribe users to unwanted paid and premium services. Thankfully, thousands of Android applications infected with Joker have been taken down from the Google Play Store in the past several years, but it does not seem that this was enough. Since September of 2020, when the last wave of Joker takedowns happened,... Read more...
In 2018, Google launched the Android App Bundle, a new publishing format that “offers a more efficient way to build and release” an app. Since then, Android developers worldwide, like those at Adobe, Duolingo, Netflix, and Twitter, have taken advantage of this with approximately 1 million different apps. Now, Google wants to bring the benefits of the AAB to more users while modernizing Android app distribution by requiring new apps to use the AAB in August 2021. Announced on the Android Developers Google blog yesterday, APKs or Android Application Packages will be phased out as the standard publishing format over time in favor of the new AABs. With this change, AABs will allow apps... Read more...
Android app developers take note, Google is implementing new guidelines for how apps can be displayed and advertised in the Play Store. The new policies are aimed at preventing apps from misleading Android users with certain buzz words and graphics, like plastering a "Sale" banner across the app's icon in the Play Store, as well as other changes. It's a noble effort, given how big and expansive the Play Store has become. Back in 2008 when the Play Store launched, there only existed a few hundred apps and games. Google points out there are now millions of apps and games, which stretch to Android users in over 190 countries. This makes it more challenging for developers to maker their apps stand... Read more...
There is a new app in Google Play that is a potential boon for Android handset owners, and it comes directly from Google. You might not recognize its potential by its name alone, however—it is called WifiNanScan, and what it does is measure the distance between two smartphones using the Wi-Fi Aware protocol. So what's the big deal? "With this app it is possible to obtain a distance measurement with a precision of about 1 meter with phones up to 15 meters apart. Developers, OEMs and researchers can use this tool to validate distance/range measurements enabling the development of peer-to-peer ranging and data transfer, find my phone and context-aware applications based on the WiFi Aware/NAN... Read more...
Security researchers at Trend Micro say they have uncovered "several vulnerabilities" within an Android application that has been downloaded more than 1 billion times from Google Play. The app is called SHAREit by Smart Media 4U, and it is designed to make transferring photos, videos, music, and other things a snap through peer-to-peer file sharing. Interestingly, it was Lenovo that first developed the SHAREit app and launched it in 2012, but it was later spun off as a separate company. Beyond that fun fact, Lenovo has no development ties to the current iteration by Smart Media4U and the security flaws that Trend Micro's researchers say they discovered, which they say could allow an attacker... Read more...
The popular online stock trading app Robinhood is back down to a dismal one-star user rating in Google Play, as the platform continues to draw heavy criticism after it limited the ability to trade certain stocks following a surge in activity driven by the WallStreetsBets subreddit. And this time around, Google will not be wiping the slate clean, as it did after the previous flurry of negative reviews. Many of the one-star user reviews ostensibly complain about various aspects of the app itself, including technical issues, poor customer services, network connection problems, app crashes, charts not being very useful, and the list goes on. And no doubt, some of the complaints can be taken at face... Read more...
If you are a fan of the Star Wars universe and the popular Mandalorian series on Disney+, boy do we have an app for you. Google and Lucasfilm worked together to bring "Mando" himself into your living room through the power of augmented reality. You can get this app on select 5G phones today and obtain new experiences weekly through October of next year. "The Mandalorian AR Experience" is a way to "Retrace the Mandalorian's steps, find the Child, and harness the Force, all featuring life-sized versions of your favorite characters." As it stands, only the events of Season 1 are brought to life, but that could change over time. Over the course of the next year, we will likely see events from future... Read more...
Malware known as Joker is no laughing matter, especially if you have downloaded an infected app that could bring its payload. The Zscaler ThreatLabZ research team recently discovered seventeen Android apps with Joker malware. These particular apps were stealing device information, contacts lists, and SMS messages and signing unsuspecting users up for wireless application protocol (WAP) services. Joker malware has existed for several years, but is still quite persistent. The Zscaler ThreatLabZ research team found seventeen suspicious apps in the Google Play store. The apps were uploaded to Google Play this month and were downloaded over 120,000 times. Google has since removed the following apps:... Read more...
The researchers at Check Point Security are warning about a new strain of the Joker Dropper malware that has found its way into the Google Play Store (again). Unfortunately for unassuming Android users, Joker is a rather old piece of malware dating back to 2017, which keeps "reinventing" itself to circumvent security protections put in place by Google. The latest version of Joker is using nefarious means to subscribe its Android victims to premium services, which pads their monthly cell phone bills with additional charges. In this latest iteration, Joker hides its code in the Android manifest file for an app. By going this route, Joker doesn’t need to access a command and control (C&C)... Read more...
The security research team at Comparitech has conducted an audit of hundreds of thousands of apps on the Google Play store. The research team found common misconfigurations on Google Firebase databases that allow unauthorized parties to find and access personal data of users. Firebase is one of the most popular storage solutions for Android Apps, used by an estimated 30% of all apps on Google Play. Researchers discovered during their investigation that 4.8% of mobile apps using Firebase aren't properly secured and allow anyone access to the databases containing the personal information of users, access tokens, and other data without a password or any authentication. The security researchers examined... Read more...
Epic and Google have long aired their dirty laundry in a public feud over how much money the latter takes in profits from games in the Google Play Store. Now, Epic Games has finally caved and is putting Fortnite on the Google Play Store, but it's not at all happy about it. When Fortnite for Android launched, Epic sidestepped the Play Store and made the game downloadable directly from the Epic website, cutting off a sustainable revenue stream for Google. The game may be landing on the Play Store, but Epic says that it will still be available from Fortnite.com moving forward. Now that Fortnite is available on the Play Store, most users will download it there because of the convenience. Google makes... Read more...
There are a bunch of movie streaming services out there for people to choose from to watch movies and TV shows on the go and at home. Google is gearing up to get into the streaming movie segment in a much bigger way with ad-supported free movies. The tip on the free movies comes from an APK teardown. As it stands now, Google Play Movies & TV allows customers to purchase or rent individual movies and TV episodes. The APK teardown found code that reads, "Hundreds of movies, just a few a few ads." Other parts of the code says "Introducing" and "Watch free with ads." The code was found in version 4.18.37 of the Android application. It's unclear how much of the Google library might be available... Read more...
As with many things in life, when it comes to mobile app security, you win some and you lose some. So it goes for Google and its Play Store. A new 2019 Mobile App Thread Landscape Report put together by RiskIQ pegs the Play Store as being the second most dangerous place to download apps, in terms of the number of malicious apps that were hosted last year. At the same time, the Play Store showed a big decline in malicious apps in 2019. This is somewhat of an important ranking, considering that users downloaded over 200 billion apps in 2019, and spent more than $120 billion in app stores around the world, according the report. Looking ahead, the RiskIQ expects both figures to be even higher for... Read more...
Android Trojan xHelper haunted the Google Play Store in 2019. After several months, it appeared that the malware had disappeared. Unfortunately, xHelper was not dead but only sleeping. Security researchers at Malwarebytes Lab recently discovered that xHelper was once again infecting devices and that its reinfection seemed to be triggering off from Google Play. Android Trojan xHelper first appeared in Spring 2019 and infected over 45,000 devices. xHelper targeted users in India, the United States, and Russia. It is a malware dropper whose main purpose is to provide a backdoor to attackers. The attackers can then install other apps, steal data, or even take over the device. A Malwarebyte forum... Read more...
It as seems as Google is getting its ducks in a row in preparation for its Stadia cloud gaming service going live later this month. Ahead of Stadia's launch on November 19, Google has made available a Stadia app for Android in the Play Store. Anyone who owns a compatible handset can head over there right now and download it. Stadia will enable to gamers to play titles like Red Dead Redemption 2, Borderlands 3, and Cyberpunk 2077 (to name just a few of the bigger hits arriving on the platform) on desktops and laptops, on Chrome OS devices, and on televisions through a Chromecast Ultra dongle. It can also be played on Pixel 2 and later handsets. In its current form, the Stadia app is listed at... Read more...
Adware is rampant in app stores. Google, Apple, and others frequently take down malicious apps, but it can be difficult to determine who published these apps in the first place. ESET researchers recently discovered not only a year-long adware campaign, but the developer behind it. ESET researchers found a total of 42 apps with similar adware on Google Play. The campaign had been running since 2018 and the apps were installed over 8 million times. Many of the apps had already been removed and the researchers reported the remaining outliers to Google. These apps have now all been deleted from the Google Play Store, but you may still find them in third-party app stores. You can find a complete list... Read more...
A new app called Gradient has gone viral. The point of the app is to take a picture of you and then gradually match you with your celebrity look alike. It's certainly not the first app of the sort that is meant to show users who their celeb look-alike is, among other things. Gradient is available for iOS and Android devices and is developed by a group called Ticket to the Moon Inc. The app has seen a boom in popularity recently as it has been used and the results of its matchups shared by celebrities like Jimmy Kimmel (seen above), Diplo, and the Kardashians. Kimmel morphing into Matt Damon we have to believe is a joke. The two have a long-running fake beef that has been a subject of Kimmel's... Read more...
The number of malicious Android apps that make it to the Google Play store continues to grow at an alarming rate. Sophos has issued a new report regarding 15 apps on Google Play that are abusive and designed to do nothing but serve ads to smartphone users. On top of spamming users with ads on their mobile devices, they hide their app icons in the launcher to make it hard for users to find and remove the apps. Sophos says that some of the apps take things a bit further and disguise themselves in the Phone app settings page. In total, these apps have been installed on more than 1.3 million devices globally. One of the apps that Sophos has discovered goes so far as to launch the first time and seemingly... Read more...
The battle against malware never ends. Nearly 200 harmful apps were discovered in the Google Play Store in September 2019. These apps were installed by over 335 million users. Most of the harmful ads contained malicious or misleading malware. These apps were downloaded by more than 300 million people. Google removed 46 apps alone from Chinese developer iHandy. Most of their apps feature tools for selfies, security and antivirus utilities, keyboards, horoscopes, emoji, and health. The developer claims that they attract more than 180 million monthly users. Google noted that the apps included “deceptive or disruptive” ads, which violates their policies. The apps even drained users' batteries... Read more...
Last week Google gutted around 46 apps that were pushed from a single Chinese developer. The developer goes by the name of iHandy, and when Google axed the apps, it didn't say why it removed them. A new report is now indicating that the reason why Google removed the apps was due to "deceptive or disruptive ads." A Google spokesperson told BuzzFeed that Google Play developer policies explicitly prohibit these types of ads. Google notes that the policies are in place to create the best experience for users and notes that when violations of its policies are found, "we take action." The apps are another example of adware and malware on the Google Play store that isn't being discovered... Read more...
The latest “Joker” spyware is no laughing matter as it can easily compromise a lot of the personal data you keep on your phone. Researchers recently discovered spyware that can access your SMS messages, contact list and other information. The spyware was found in over 24 Android apps on Google Play and has infected nearly 500,000 users. The “Joker” spyware was originally detected this past June and was named after one of its command-and-control (C2) domain names. It can gain access to a victim’s SMS messages, contacts list, and other specific device information. It can also sign victims up for premium subscription services without their knowledge. The Joker is able... Read more...
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