The folks over at Lookout Labs have released a new Android app today, and it's one that I think a whole lot of folks are going to love. Dubbed Ad Network Detector, it's an app that detects which advertisement networks are running in the other apps you've downloaded and installed, tells you what apps are using them, and lets you know a bit about what type of information they can be tracking about you.
Lets get to the meat of the issue -- ads are not bad or evil. I've been known to wear a tinfoil hat on occasion, but even I recognize that advertisements are a great way for developers to offer apps for free, and make them accessible to everyone -- not just those with a credit card, who are willing to pay (or able to pay in their country) for them from the Market. Developers deserve to make money, I get it. But we also deserve to know what info these ad networks are collecting. Let's be honest, most folks don't bother to read the permissions screen when they install an app. None of these ad networks are going to do anything illegal or inherently evil, so there's no harm in knowing more about them, right? Here's an easy way to know all of that.
Just install the app, run it and let it scan the applications you've installed on your phone. You get a handy list of things ad networks can do (including the horrible trick of putting ads in your notification bar), and how many of each you might have installed. A quick tap opens the tree, and you see the names of the
culprits ad networks that are using each type of ad. Another tap and you get more information about how it all works and the apps that are using this type of placement or collection. From there, you can decide what to do. I love it when power is put back in the hands of the user, and knowing is the most important part. This is one I'll recommend to everyone with an Android phone.
We've got the download link, and a few screen caps to see how it all goes down, after the break.