One of our readers recently opened the browser on his Android phone to check his Yahoo! email account when something strange happened. A pop-up appeared over his browser screen advising that his battery was losing charge too quickly, then directing him to “upgrade to keep the battery for twice as long”. This didn’t pass the smell test so he did a little digging around. This ‘upgrade’ comes in the form of an app called BatteryGuard.
Initially our source balked when he looked into the app and its laundry list of permissions. However after talking to our own Chuck Falzone, he was advised that a lot of task killer and battery management apps require a high number of permissions. Take for instance JuiceDefender and its 26 system permissions.
Moving along, BatteryGuard was, and is, nowhere to be found in the Android Market. The link in the pop-up does not return any results. OK, that happens. However AppBrain, Androlib and AndroidZoom still list details about the app and a bit about its history. So far, BatteryGuard has notched more than 250,000 installs in its first six days. An impressive number to be sure, and a figure many developers could only hope for. The strange part in all of this comes in the developer. Or developers.
AndroidZoom shows eight different instances of the same app, from three different developer names – Droid Genius, Droid007,and AndroidIntelligence. And coincidentally (or not), not one of them are in the Market anymore. Digging through a post on AndroidForums, one sees conversation around this app with malware and spyware allegations persistent throughout the thread.
Try as we might, we simply couldn’t find any version of the app with 123,334 ratings, let alone an average of five stars. By comparison, Lookout Mobile Security has a 4.5 average at 186,000+ ratings. So we’re to believe that an app comes from out of the blue and grabs tremendous number of downloads and ratings… in the span of a week. Going back to JuiceDefender, they have a shade over 38,000 ratings and they’ve been in the market for quite a while.
There are a few points to be made here. Either the ads are incredibly effective and other developers might want to look into the same advertising streams, or something else is afoot. Not being able to pin down the original developer in this situation doesn’t sit right. We’re also concerned by the more than 250,000 downloads. Advertising isn’t free and somewhere, someone will need to make a profit. Be it money, pesky ads, or (worse) your personal data, you’d be coughing up something with BatteryGuard.
We understand the developer’s desire to get people to download their app and even ‘get’ the reason for the verbiage used in the ad. We see stuff like this all the time on desktops, however it’s usually tied with bloatware, malware, or spyware. So for that reason, we aren’t fond of the tactic of presenting the app in the form up an update. A first-time Android user or soccer mom type might go blindly clicking the link and install a crappy application.
Until we tell you otherwise, stay away from BatteryGuard, regardless of which developer is behind it. There are simply too many things that don’t add up.