Linked by David Adams on Thu 31st Mar 2011 16:41 UTC
Privacy, Security, Encryption If you download and use what appears to be a version of the commercial "Walk and Text" Android app from a file sharing site, you're in for a surprise. When you run it, it shows you that it's being "cracked" but it's really gathering information from your device, in preparation for an e-smackdown. It sends a bunch of personal information (name, phone number, IMEI) off to a server, and, just for lulz, text messages everyone on your contact list:
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RE[3]: Nice !
by clhodapp on Sun 3rd Apr 2011 05:15 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Nice !"
clhodapp
Member since:
2009-12-04

1) Being an Android developer does not make you more qualified than any other person familiar with the Android ecosystem to say whether a 15 minute window is "fair" for users, except for maybe when referencing your own apps or those you have personally used (and then, only on an app-by-app basis). I do suppose that you being a developer does help bring some balance, though: comment sections on tech sites seem to be excessively pro-consumer sometimes..

2) You are mixing two things without making a case for why they should be mixed; There is no reason that increasing the length of an app's trial period should result in an increase in piracy. In fact, so far as I can reason, it can only decrease the chance that that app is pirated because a user may decide that the app is so crappy that it's not worth pirating. Also, if a user goes through the effort of downloading the app from the market (a precondition enjoying an app's trial period), then they are unlikely to pirate it, since it takes less effort to simply pirate an app as compared to the sequence of buy->return->pirate.

3) Clearly a 15 minute trial period is too short in a great number of cases. As has been stated, some apps are designed to do tasks at occasional intervals, etc. Also, what if you are downloading the app over 3g? It is possible that you will spend a great deal of your trial period simply acquiring the app. Also, I have had it take a couple minutes for the app to register as returned due to the market being buggy (I know, this is Google's fault, not the developer's). As such, it is quite possible for a user to get significantly less than 15 minutes to try out an app.

4) At risk of putting words in your mouth, it would seem to me that your reasoning in thinking that 15 minutes is "plenty" of time is that you personally think that users should get no trial time at all because that would result in developers getting more money, especially if their apps were crappy. This argument seems to come directly from the RIAA/MPAA school of thought. All I can say is that a user is way more likely to pirate rather than pay for an app if they are worried about that app's quality, so I would expect that trial periods probably help curb piracy of high-quality apps. (Note that I am perfectly willing to retract this argument and substitute it for a simple "no way" if you legitimately believe that all apps can be fairly evaluated in 15 minutes).

5) I agree that 24 hours can easily be WAY too long for a particular app. For example, the app could be a creative work, such as an interactive comic book, designed to be consumed in a couple of hours at maximum. For this reason, I really wish that the app's developer could specify a trial period, with options ranging between ~30 minutes at the extreme short end to ~1 week at the extreme long end. I also wish that there was an API for the app to be able to lock down some functionality when it had not been paid for (this way, something like tax document preparation software could allow the user several days to complete their taxes, but not allow the user to actually submit the tax documents without paying.). The only risk is that I could see stupid users marking the app down in reviews as a result (literally, I can see them writing "Could not submit taxes during trial period. 1 star. SSGS" or some such. Why do people feel the need to put the number of stars they are assigning in the text of their reviews and to list the make/model of their phone when it isn't relevant? Oh? Am I ranting? Ok I'll stop).

Edited 2011-04-03 05:18 UTC

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