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5 Myths of Using Mobile SDKs that Mobile Developers Must Know

April 19, 2017 2:11 PM

You know how some things were created to make our lives easier? The same has happened in the mobile development industry with SDKs. The growing use of SDKs has certainly made developers’ lives easier. They don’t need to spend time writing code and developing back-end stability for functionalities unrelated to the core of their apps.

According to our latest SDK trends report, a single app implements 17.6 SDKs on average, which means that mobile SDKs are popular today more than ever. But do we know all there is to know about the mobile SDK industry? Do we understand the potential and correctly estimate the risks?

While talking with many of our clients, prospects, and industry professionals, I noticed some major misconceptions regarding the use of SDKs.

Unfortunately having these misconceptions is a recipe for disaster – if you don’t know what some of your app’s code does, you could be subject to collateral damage. Therefore, I thought it was necessary to write this post and break some of these myths.

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10 Mobile App Development Trends to Look Out for in 2017

March 23, 2017 1:58 PM

Gladly, our mobile app industry is continuing to grow at a fast pace.

In fact, App Annie’s projection is that by 2020, mobile app store revenue will exceed $100 billion globally. The latest annual Mobility Report from Ericsson reveals that there will be 6.1 billion Smartphone users globally by 2020 and as for 2017, Gartner’s prediction is that by the end of the year “mobile apps will be downloaded more than 268 billion times, generating revenue of more than $77 billion and making apps one of the most popular computing tools for users across the globe.”

I remember, way back in 2008 (or maybe even a bit earlier than that…), I had to do some reading in order to understand the concept behind a device that is ‘all apps’. This was less than 10 years ago. It makes me wonder, what will we experience 10 years from now?

Mobile App Forecast by AppAnnie | SafeDK Blog
App Annie’s report projects a growth of $100B by 2020

Mobile App Store Revenue Worldwide by Gartner | SafeDK
Gartner predict 2017 will be see an even bigger growth in Mobile Apps revenue

Obviously, the mobile app development world is growing and changing rapidly, catering to the growth with some exciting trends. I’ve chosen to share a few of them with you today (yes, there are more. Talk to me if you think I should add others in as well).
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What’s New with the New ‘Google Play Developer Policy’?

April 27, 2016 2:25 PM

Google have recently done an Extreme Makeover Edition of their Play Store developer policy, completely redesigning the policy website. If you hadn’t taken a look, you should. Starting March 1st, policies and regulations have been made much clearer, and the Google Play experience has been almost completely revamped to become much more developer friendly.

While it may be the facelift that draws you in (the new site is definitely an upgrade to the long list of bullet points it was in the past), it’s the context that should catch your eye. When you look deep down beneath the surface, you’ll see the change to policies themselves is relatively minor. It’s the overall attitude that changed.

If I have to summarize the new policy website in just one word, it would definitely be – transparency.

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SafeDK: Giving Control Back to App Developers in an SDK-Fueled World

November 24, 2015 2:05 PM

Originally published in Medium on behalf of AWS.

SafeDK offers an In-App Protection solution and SDK Marketplace, putting mobile app security and quality back in the hands of app developers. How do we do that?

We’ve all heard of mobile Software Development Kits (SDKs). App developers integrate these off-the-shelf mobile services into their app for many purposes: advertising and payment, analytics and social, and many more. No doubt these SDKs are a great help in the development process, but they might cause various issues ranging from app slowdown and crashes to excessive battery consumption and malicious behavior.

SafeDK monitors the real-time behavior of mobile SDKs and reports privacy, performance, and stability issues. SafeDK also provides developers with remote control over the SDKs. With a simple click of a button, app developers can turn off an entire SDK or a specific SDK permission in real time, preventing a security breach or crucial bug, with no need to release a new version or wait for users to update.

In this post, I’ll share the story about how SafeDK came to be, discuss lessons learned, and explain how AWS has helped to make it all possible.

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Do You Know What your SDKs did Last Summer?

October 26, 2015 1:27 PM

Mobile SDKs, these 3rd party tools used in mobile apps, seem to be all over the news lately. And not in a good way. First, 250 apps were banned from the App Store due to an SDK they used that stole private user data. Then, 18,000 Android apps were found to be integrated with an SDK that stole users’ text messages (SMS).

This makes one thing crystal clear: use 3rd party SDKs with great caution and safety measures.

At SafeDK we constantly hear mobile app developers express their concerns about using SDKs on one hand, but we see that SDK usage continues to rise on the other. The same developers that share their unfortunate experiences and cautionary tales then turn around and use a few more without any safety measurements.

Don’t get us wrong, SDKs are a necessity, a fact of modern life. Love them or hate them, mobile app developers just can’t live without them. And the swiftness with which they make apps much more versatile is probably the reason for that.

But still, as an app developer you must constantly be on alert. The wrong SDK might be the end of your app and all your hard work and effort. Don’t think it can happen to you? Well, neither did the 250 iOS apps and the 18,000 Android apps that found themselves breached this past week!

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Mobile SDKs: Use with Caution

July 22, 2015 11:19 AM

We’ve all heard of mobile SDKs. These off-the-shelf mobile services, which app developers integrate in your app for many purposes: advertising and payment, analytics and social, and many many more. No doubt these SDKs are a great help in your development process. They often offer unique functionalities, simplify your coding and save you precious time and money. It’s not a surprise that the 1,000 most popular apps contain on average 15 SDKs.

But SDKs are not really your code. It is actually someone else’s code interleaved with your own, yet you are liable for it. You are responsible for it in the eyes of Apple, Google and most importantly – your users. Why is this a problem? Well, in this post, I’ll explain two major domains of risk when using SDKs, and spice it up with a few real-life stories.

1. Security, Privacy and Compliance

The dark side of app permissions

Once hosted in the application, the SDK is part of the application code and can access any user data that the application was granted access to. If the app can access users’ location, contacts or private files, so does each and every SDK in the app.

We often see Android SDKs containing code similar to this:

if (context.checkCallingOrSelfPermission(“android.permission.ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION”)
              == PackageManager.PERMISSION_GRANTED) {
     Location userLocalLocation =
                localLocationManager.getLastKnownLocation("gps");
}

The SDK simply checks if the app was granted a permission to access the user’s location, and if so it takes advantage of it and accesses the GPS as well. We can often see that SDKs send this information to external servers.

Let this be a cautionary tale to all you folks integrating SDKs: what the SDK doesn’t tell you may hurt you. In the case above, the SDK could simply not declare using the Location permission and only exploit it should your app have it. All might be done behind the scenes, and worse – behind your back and on your watch.

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