By seaempty. Friday, October 28, 2011 7:08:19 PM
I heard about a new game today called Elemental. It looks great - a puzzle game that's right up my street (and looks a little bit like Professor Layton...).
I went to download it, and then noticed this amongst its permissions:
SEND SMS MESSAGES
Allows application to send SMS messages.
So I start asking myself, why would a game need to send an SMS? It's not normal behaviour, and with almost weekly posts about Android malware, it doesn't hurt to be cautious, right?
But the game looks legit - I found out about the game through an official press release, and it's had between 1,000 and 5,000 downloads, and an average rating of 4.8. None of the reviews mention any hint of it being malicious.
And yet I still have doubts about installing it. And I'm probably not the only one. I can't help thinking that my fears and worries could be eased by a little effort from the developer. The Android Market gives them the ability to give a fairly lenghty description of the app, so why not use this to explain to people why various (or at least unusual) permissions are required.
Take Elemental, for example. In its description, the devs state that
Each tip contains a famous quote that you can tweet and share with your friends
Now, I imagine this could be a possible use for the SMS permission - you can text your friends info about your progress - but would it hurt just to include a list to explain them all?
I've seen other developers do this (although typically, I can't remember any of the apps right now...), and it's really useful. It sets your mind at ease, and makes you more likely to give their app a try.
Maybe it's something that Google should make mandatory for all listings in the Market - is that unreasonable? What are you thoughts? Have you ever had such permission concerns?
You may have noticed that I've linked to the game, and I'm not saying for one moment that it's malicious. I'm sure the permissions are valid, and I don't want to dissuade you from downloading the game. I'm merely highlighting the fact that some people are cautious about permissions, and it's good practice to be so. Developers could do more to make the Market a place where users can download in confidence.