As Android takes a firm hold in the shifting smartphone market, the Intel Developer Blog looks at the ways to keep those devices secure.
According to a recent IDC report, Google held a 52.5 per cent share of smartphone subscribers in the US in the third quarter. The same report shows that, in the third quarter, Android sales represented a staggering 75 per cent of the smartphone market. Those are some outstanding growth statistics.
With such momentum, a lot of people are switching to their first Android device now. Entire groups of people, as well as individuals, have begun to make the switch. Apparently, the walls of Facebook HQ are decorated with ‘switch today’ posters, and the company is offering its employees Android smartphones for business use - quite a change of tune from its early days.
With estimates that Android will be running on 63.8 per cent of handsets worldwide by 2016, the step-up from its biggest competitors may not quite hit the spot in a market that seems to be embracing the industry shift. And, as more devices hit the market, I’ll bet this statistic is only going to become more likely.
I’ll admit it; I’m an Android fan. But as people switch to a new operating system, they face new security risks they might not be aware of. Developers should share the responsibility to educate people about these risks, so that they can use the platform, and the apps for it, with confidence.
A few simple tips can go a long way. One easy way to reduce the risk of infecting your device is to only download apps from trustworthy distributors, so developers should encourage customers to download their apps through mainstream channels, rather than their relatively unknown company websites.
Developers should also take care with the permissions they request. Alarm bells will be ringing if users notice their new torch app needs access to all of their contacts, and developers should encourage users to be cautious if they want to build trust in the platform. Users should be in control of what data is used, and how it is used, and building granular privacy controls into your apps will help to win trust.
Reviews will be important for determining which apps are trustworthy, so developers should encourage users to leave reviews. The reviews don’t have to talk about security, but their very existence will demonstrate that the app is proven by other users and nobody has reported adverse effects. People won’t want to be the first to try an unknown app.
When building an app yourself, make sure you’re taking every opportunity to make it as inaccessible to malware attacks as possible. After all, the aforementioned protective pointers won’t make a difference to consumers if we, as developers, are not taking the necessary steps to ensure full security from the word go.
While security is always important, we should keep it in perspective. The risk of malware on Android devices isn’t as high as the risk your desktop computer faces. And while the apps in the Google Play store don’t need official approval before they can be downloaded, the Android community actively keeps an eye on the store in an effort to remove apps that may be harmful to your device.
As Android wins ever more market share, it might come under stronger attack from malware developers, but developers can help to protect their users, and their own revenue base, by educating the market now.
Which security tips work for you? Leave me a comment below, or discuss with others on Intel’s Android developer community forum.
This blog post is written by Softtalkblog, and is sponsored by the Intel Developer Zone, which helps you to develop, market and sell software and apps for prominent platforms and emerging technologies powered by Intel Architecture.