Monday, 17 September 2012

Good apps gone bad: GO SMS Pro and Easy Photo Editor

When advertising goes too far

Web browsers used to be plagued by popup ads, until each and every web browser came with a popup blocker out of the box. As the ads got more intrusive, the AdBlock plugin for Firefox and Chrome became more popular. This plugin blocks the annoying ads, but it also kills the small unobtrusive non-moving silent ads that keep webmasters alive.

Android apps used to come with a small ad banner that you could choose to click or ignore. But then the ads got bigger and more intrusive, and companies with questionable business ethics like Airpush and LeadBolt made ad blocking software a must-have.

Are Android app developers making the same mistake as website builders?

Easy Photo Editor snapped

There was a time when every free Android photo editor screwed up your exif tags. It didn't save them at all, or it changed the "date picture taken" tag.

But not anymore. Easy Photo Editor was the first to keep your exif data untouched. It had an ad banner, and that was it.

But then Aviary released an update that kept your exif tags intact. And Easy Photo Editor released an update that added LeadBolt popup ads. Easy Photo Editor still lets you choose your own picture output folder, but that's not enough to put up with the junk from LeadBolt. So I clean up my pictures with Aviary.

GO SMS Pro gone to the dogs

GO SMS Pro has too many customisation options to count, and if you SMS across time zones GO SMS keeps your messages in the right order, which competing SMS apps Handcent, Pansi SMS, and chompSMS fail to do.

But GO SMS Pro got too greedy.

They made money from selling themes. So far so good. But then they started charging for things that were free. In old versions you could backup your SMSs on your microSD card. Later versions insisted on backing up your messages to GOs own cloud storage service, which no one should trust. You can still save your messages to your memory card, but only if you sign up for a GO account and hand over your money.

And that was not enough. When I updated to newer versions I started to receive unsollicited SMSs to advertise paid GO SMS themes.

And that's still not enough. The theme store in GO SMS Pro shows some free themes, but they're not free at all. They come with an in-app payment system. You know that old scam where they say that their app is FREE to download, but once its on your device it demands money? GO SMS Pro has sunken to the same depth. Advertising may be a necessary evil for a "free" app, but deceptive advertising is unnecessarily evil.

Too bad that the competition still mixes up my trans time zone messages. The "sort by order of messages sent/received" checkbox in "Settings/Advanced/Important Tips/Sort type of conversation messages" is why GO SMS Pro stays on my phone for the time being. Yes, they added all sorts of bloat (who needs yet another chat network?), but as long as I can switch the extras off I don't need to revert to the stock SMS app that came with my phone.

GO SMS Pro tries to phone home whenever launch the app or boot my phone, so I keep GO SMS offline with DroidWall.

GO SMS Pro 4.51 (last version with free local backups)
GO SMS Pro 4.50 (last version with free local backups and message filtering)

Before you update your apps, back 'em up first. You never know when you need the old version back, and the Google Play Store won't help you out. If you download old versions outside the app stores of Google, Amazon, or GetJar, it may be a good idea to scan your downloads with an antivirus app.

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