Monday, April 18th, 2016

My first Android app

My first submission into the Google Play store isn't Python related, but demonstrates what sort of apps I release into the store. My applications will be licensed under the GPL2 license, but also charge an affordable price within the Play Store. I am opting to have my apps open source in the efforts to show potential privacy conscious consumers that my apps are going to be some of the safest to use within the Play Store.

I recently got this idea from the abundance of Call Blocking/Screening apps in the play store. I was actually too scared to download these apps due to the requested permissions. They required Internet, the ability to dial phone numbers, and modifying my phone state. The last two are the only ones required for call blocking/screen to function. The Internet permission was being used for serving up ads, or so I would like to believe. I personally had no way to determine if the Internet permission was going something else to the information the app collected. I was also clueless on how it performed said blocking and screening functions... In the end, I never downloaded the app, instead I did some research and built my own.

Feeling that other consumers might be in the same boat when it comes to installing various apps on their personal devices. I thought this would be an excellent market to enter. In a single sitting this evening, I opened a developer account, and created a full Android application. All of the source code is fully available as well, and marked clearly in the application, and metadata in the Play Store. I am charging a small fee of only $0.99 in the Play Store for the app, this is so that consumers can clearly support my motives, and allow me to spend more time further developing apps in the same spirit. Not all the apps I plan to release into the Play Store will charge, I only decided on this one as I wanted to see how well a privacy minded open source application would monetize in the play store.

The app currently doesn't support separate white or black lists. In fact, the app is so simple and easy to use, that the whitelist is compromised of just your Contacts. I am also able to do this without actually requesting access to read your contacts. It also has the ability to blacklist all calls from North American toll-free numbers, in-case you have been receiving an excess of telemarketers or other spam from toll-free numbers. The settings screen itself is clear and easy to turn each feature either on or off.

You can view the source for this project on my BitBucket project page. As it can be very informative to learn how this sort of application works on Android.

The actual process of submitting an application was mostly easy, except for the need to draw graphics assets for the Google Play page... I'm not the best artist, so my icon and banner look rather awful. Perhaps if this app makes some money, I will hire an artist and have better assets drawn. Once the app is live, you can see it on the Play Store. If you have need for such an app, do purchase and download it. I'd be glad to take suggestions for other Android apps I may work on in the future. One idea is to convert over some of my SL4A Python tools into native Android, as my YouTube channel showing these tools got a fair amount of hits.

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