Swiss Codemonkeys, the team behind the official AppBrain Android client and the previously reviewed Face Effects app, have just rolled out another very useful Android app in the Google Play Store by the name of AppBrain Ad Detector. Aimed at alleviating the privacy and security concerns of Android users regarding all the various apps that they install on their devices, AppBrain Ad Detector helps you find out exactly what different aspects of your device each individual app might be accessing. For instance, you can keep a close tab on all the apps that have the permission to access your phone contacts, online accounts, and/or browsing history, can clutter your homescreen with spam shortcuts, automatically send push notifications, cost you money, and/or share your location. The app also helps you learn as to what ad networks are embedded in various apps, which apps have been designed using a specific social media SDK (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and what developer tools and additional developer libraries have been used to build a particular app. AppBrain Ad Detector also supports a Live Detection Mode to keep you apprised of all the various aforementioned concerns pertaining to each newly installed app. You can sort all installed apps by their respective degree of concern, and explore the concern levels of each individual app along with availing a handful of app management tools right from within AppBrain Ad Detector.
It is no hidden fact that each Android app that you install requires permissions to access certain aspects of your device to operate effectively. While most of the apps coming from trusted developers can hardly be suspected to infiltrate your privacy, there are a number of apps that may use these privileges to cause some sort of harm or annoyance to the user. Although the Google Play Store and a handful of Android apps are good at informing you exactly what various permissions a particular app might require, if you’re looking for a comprehensive and extensive all-round solution to your privacy concerns, then AppBrain Ad Detector is probably a very good choice.
The app’s homescreen presents you with the Live Detection Mode toggle that you can avail to scan each newly installed app for all possible permissions that it may require, or all the various concerns that it could bring. Apart from said toggle, you can use the Show Apps button from Ad Detector’s homescreen to sift through the list of all the installed apps by their respective concern levels, or by alphabet. Tapping the Show Concerns button on the app’s homescreen presents you with a detailed breakdown of the supported features (concern categories), and all the various apps falling under each category. For instance, you can find out exactly how many and what apps can access your contacts, send push notifications, contain Ad networks, and use a Social network SDK or a specific developer tool etc.
Tapping an app title lets you take a sneak peek into all various the concerns and privacy settings pertaining to it. From within an app’s information screen, you can navigate to its app management (system) screen, launch it, or uninstall it from your device.
The app’s main preferences screen lets you enable/disable the Live Mode, notifications upon installation of new apps, and/or the option to include/exclude system apps from the monitoring list.
All in all, a great concept. However, the option of empowering the users with management of all the various permissions for required apps, if added to the mix, would make AppBrain Ad Detector an even better prospect.