How to keep your Android phone add-on free

For the past few days, I’ve been dealing with an annoying pop-up on my Galaxy Nexus phone that has a link to various apps on the Google Play Store. In other words, an adware has slipped in on my phone through one of the recently installed apps.

Now I don’t mind ad-supported aps, it’s a small trade off for getting cool apps for free. What I just can’t stand pop-up ads that show up regardless of what I’m doing on the phone.

pop-up ads And this being the first time an app has been giving out pop-up ads on my Android phone I knew that it’s caused by an app that has been recently added to my set of regularly-used apps that I have built-up over the course of going through different Android phones.

As I remember, among the last apps installed on my phone was the Simple MP3 Downloader which is used to download songs off the Internet. First I thought it was the other weather and clock app but the pop-ups continued to appear even after uninstalling those. What’s needed was something to scan my phone for any suspicious apps. A security app was out of the question because it felt like an overkill. Also I’m not fond of installing anti-virus apps on my phone as it would just be an unnecessary drain on the precious battery and CPU cycle.

So I did the next best thing, look for an app or method of scanning all installed apps on my phone for a component or sign that it is the source of that annoying pop-up add. Looking at what app on the Play store it lands to didn’t help because it would recommend a different app from a different developer each time.

Next step I tried to identify the culprit was to look at the initial URI that the pop-up ad points to. No good either as it lead to mobile advertising platforms that hosted the ads like airpush dot com and millennial media dot com

Finally, a thread on Android Central led me to Addons Detector app, it scans all installed apps on your Android phone and checks what additional components they harbor that is used in serving ads or gathering data from your phone for advertising purposes.

My suspicions were confirmed when the Addons Detector app pointed to the same Simple MP3 downloader. Looking at its permissions, it asked for more than what its stated description and function is. Why would an app that searches for free downloadable music need access to my contacts list and SD card contents? It went the way of the Dodo when I uninstalled it without hesitation.

Lesson learned: Always double-check an app’s permission settings to see what it really does once it gets installed and running on your phone even if it came from the Google Play Store.

3 Replies to “How to keep your Android phone add-on free”

  1. I’m also guilty of not reading the app’s permission settings before I install it. I need to make that a habit. Btw, thanks for sharing about the Addon Detector app. Will install it and check my phone ASAP.

    1. Turns out there was another app that was giving out those pop-ups. AntSmasher. So what I did was searched and downloaded a similar app sans the add-on component as my daughter loves to play that game.

  2. Good thing you found the culprit. I avoid downloading free apps, especially games because of the ads. If possible I purchase the ad-free version or pay extra to remove the ads.

    I’ve downloaded and installed the Addons Detector app and glad to know that none of the apps I have on my devices have extra spam/pop-up components.

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