Google’s picks for 2015’s best Android apps

4 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apps that you download can leak personal information.

New York: Almost nine percent of popular apps downloaded from Google Play interact with websites that could compromise your security and privacy, says a study.

That’s the idea behind Google’s new “Trial Run” ad format, which will give people 60 seconds of playtime before they decide whether or not a game deserves a spot on their homescreen.Google said today it is launching a couple of new types of mobile ad formats for advertisers — a new ad that lets mobile users try out a game, and a new type of HTML5 interactive interstitial ad. “Trial Run Ads” let a user play a game in the ad for up to 60 seconds. Although apps connect to a complicated network of websites, both to function and generate advertising revenues, most users do not know their private information could compromised, said one of the researchers Michalis Faloutsos, professor at University of California, Riverside in the US. “We focused on a relatively neglected aspect of security research, which is the potential for good apps to leak personal information through the sites they interact with.

That way, they’ll only be shelling out for users who are genuinely interested in playing the game, versus those who downloaded it based simply on a product screenshot, catchy description, or a whim. Now, the company will apply that same technology to ads, which may sound boring, until you consider the ancillary benefit to you, smartphone time-waster: free game trials. The previous app streaming announcement, which so far remains a very limited trial, has serious implications for the future of information-based apps—once Google has indexed what’s inside them, do they need to exist?—and applies to Google’s search product. Google believes that if a user tries out the game and likes it, they are, in a sense pre-qualified as someone who will not only download the game but continue to play it. The apps tested were created by reputable developers and downloaded by many people, among them popular social media, shopping, news and entertainment apps.

Google reports that a high number of people who download apps never even open them. “Interactive Interstitials offer a truly custom experience that can include your app’s value proposition and the functionalities you want to highlight, all painted in your personal branding strategy,” Google said in a blog post today. By developing and using a tool called AURA (Android URL Risk Assessor), the team identified more than 250,000 URLs accessed by the 13,500 apps, which they cross-referenced for trustworthiness using VirusTotal, a database of malicious URLs, and Web of Trust (WOT), a popular website rating system. That means you’ll soon be seeing ads called Interactive Interstitials, built in HTML5-rich environments, that enable everything from slideshows that end in exclusive offers to on-screen scratch-off tickets. “Rather than just telling a user about your app, you can offer them an experience unique to your app that inspires them to want to spend time with your app,” writes Google in an blog post announcing the feature. Download the all new Zee News app for Android and iOS to stay up to date with latest headlines and news stories in Politics, Entertainment, Sports, Technology, Business and much more from India and around the world. The distinction between these ads and apps streaming as the result of a search is that while the latter offers full app-equivalent experiences, Interactive Interstitials act as small tastes of what apps can offer.

One is about streamlining the mobile experience to the point of obviating app downloads altogether; the other counterbalances that by nudging you to install. The move also follows not long after Google announced that it would let users “stream” a select handful of apps through mobile search without downloading them.

There’s going to be some tension between search-based and ad-based app streaming for information-packed, redundant apps like hotel listings and recipe books and so on, as developers decide whether to pay for streaming placement, or to let Google index their app-only content and pray to the SEO gods, or both. In this case, with what Google’s calling Trial Run Ads, that place is a minute-long trial to get a sense of the game before you commit to finding it a place in your app drawer.

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