Will there be ads on the Android lock screen? Hopefully not

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I am of the paranoid sort, and online advertising never fails to set my suspicion on high alert. But I do get it… companies have to keep the lights on, and ads have always been the easiest (although not always most successful) means of monetizing just about any online thing. However, recent news about the Android lock screen concerned me more.

There are many speculations claiming that a company intends to add advertisements to the Android lock screen. While dispelling these myths, Jack Wallen also adds a level of caution, saying that trust shouldn’t be placed so freely. On July 12, 2022, Jack Wallen, a Contributing Writer, wrote a piece. android-phone.jpg A story about yet another new advertising platform for the Android operating system has been making the rounds on the internet. Jack Wallen investigates the rumour and comes to the conclusion that it is nothing more than that—a rumour.

Highlights

  • Let’s pause here for a second, as you should already feel slightly suspicious about such a platform. A lock screen that pushes content to your device that may (or may not) allow users to customize said content (in Glance’s case, it does allow for such customizations). That customization (as I mentioned earlier) means consumers could fall victim to untrustworthy third-party entities. Does that mean Glance will vet every third party that uses their platform? If not, that could become a recipe for disaster.

  • There’s a mobile ad company named Glance (a subsidiary of InMobi), which is a mobile marketing platform based in India. Glance built a platform used to serve up content on the Android lock screen. This platform is already in use on low-end devices (such as the Jio Phone Next) and serves as a dynamic lock screen that can display various types of content, such as wallpapers, news, and even video.

Beyond the dangers of malicious mobile advertising, consumers are already inundated with ads. And even though you’d be able to unlock your phone without ever having to interact with those ads, this is still far from a good idea. Those ads will take up system resources, use data, clutter your lock screen, and just generally diminish the whole Android experience. And given some Android devices already suffer from serious bloatware (where carriers will install their own inferior apps alongside superior pre-installed apps), adding yet another layer on top of things will only serve to drain even more resources. To make matters worse, you can’t uninstall or deactivate the bloatware. Imagine, then, that you have an entire overlay on your device with one purpose — to force ads on you — and you can’t get rid of it.

Consider this: Over the past few years, several malicious advertising networks have been discovered that are capable of injecting viruses, malware, and ransomware onto a device. Now, imagine one of those nefarious advertising networks manages to gain access to Glance’s platform and pushes malicious ads onto every device that makes use of its lock screen. All of a sudden, you have a system capable of infecting hundreds of millions of mobile devices.

Before you get too worked up, Glance has yet to announce plans to make this happen in the US. Also, if Glance does follow through with their promise of no ads, this could be a non-issue. But I’m not one to blindly hand out my trust when it comes to mobile devices. We all keep sensitive information on those devices, and it has become far too easy for bad actors to access that data. And given how prevalent (and dangerous) online mobile advertising can be on the Android platform, it should have you concerned about the possibility that this could happen.

When it comes to mobile advertisement, the Android ecosystem is already somewhat fragile and prone to abuse. This is one of the main reasons I always tell Android users to only install applications from the Google Play Store and only those you absolutely must-have. The idea of being handed a device that includes a third-party lock screen that pushes third-party content to users makes me shudder. I’m all for personalizing the content you see on your mobile device. And if Glance follows through with its promise of only delivering useful content (and zero ads), then the platform could have benefits. But the second a single advertisement is pushed to the Android lock screen, Glance’s platform becomes a breeding ground for malware and ransomware.

 

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