Angry Birds Seasons

Angry Birds Seasons just got a new holiday update. But along with the new levels in "Wreck the Halls" came a few new permissions, including phone state and SMS permission, that furrowed a few brows. We caught up with Rovio for a big of explantion. Here 'tis:

On Android, the Angry Birds game itself asks only for the permission to use the Internet. Versions of the game that include advertisements, support for in-app purchases, or both, require additional permissions. The ones that might concern our customers the most are coarse location, phone state and SMS related permission.

Coarse Location:
Coarse location is used to target advertisements geographically, for example to avoid showing Chinese advertisements in the USA and vice-versa. Android also allows finer location discovery, but we have decided not to enable it for advertisement purposes.

Phone State Permissions:
The phone state permission is used to identify devices in order to implement advertisement frequency capping and targeting. Basically the aim is to avoid a situation where our customer has to view the same advertisement too many times on the device in question.

SMS related permissions:
SMS related permissions allow in-app purchases, where available. For example the Mighty Eagle, to be securely billed on the device owner’s phone bill.

Rovio does take privacy issues very seriously. The Android permissions that our games require are constantly reviewed and we strive to provide the best possible user experience while respecting our customers’ privacy.

Hope that clears things up for ya.

 
There are 24 comments

frmorrison says:

That is good PR.

Sweet, I agree

vebix says:

SMS permissions aren't required for IAP. Some further clarification on this would be good.

mck says:

They briefly explain in the article. While SMS isn't necessary for IAP for general use it is required for some Carriers to purchase the app for payment on your monthly bill.

vebix says:

There is no mention of this requirement in the developer docs, and I've never heard of it elsewhere. I found an old article that clarifies a bit:

http://www.androidpolice.com/2011/02/06/rovio-explains-why-the-sms-permi...

But if that's the case, doesn't it violate the Android Market's terms of service?

djfoo000 says:

Hint: Mighty Eagle coming to Angry Birds Android.

El Jefe says:

Mighty Eagle = cheating.

I'm just saying.

annac01 says:

Depends on how you use it. If you use it on a level you've already beaten, it's not cheating but another goal for the level. You try for Total Destruction and get a feather on levels where you've achieved that. If used on a new level, then that would be cheating. :)

Gelst says:

Thanks Rovio for taking the time to explain to your customers what the new permissions are needed for. Great customer service on your part and I will continue to support your games, now I'm off to download the Christmas Angry Birds! Thanks !

If a company that offers great games like angry birds for free can take the time to not only explain what permissions they need for their app to run but also provide us with examples of said permissions, why can't developers who charge for their games do the same when asked? Great job going above and beyond Rovio. They just proved to me in my book of how to do things the right way. A lot of other developers need to take notice and follow suite. What a responsible, outstanding company. Congratulations and thanks again for showing the developer community what good PR is all about.

dmcman73 says:

I hate programs that require SMS permissions for in App billing. What happens if the program goes hay wire or locks up and starts spewing SMS messages? You won't know until the shock of opening your next phone bill then having to fight with your Carrier in trying to figure out WHICH app caused the problem and then trying to get a refund from your phone carrier or the app developer.

DemonI81 says:

That's funny, they told me via Twitter these permissions were for some service you could sign up for to track/compare stats with friends.
Now the story is completely different and some of the reasons, SMS for IAP, are BS.
Read my phone state (calls, etc..) so I don't have to see the same ad too many times? I also call BS on this.
I've now seen two completely different explanations straight from Rovio in the past few weeks for this (when I asked it was about the same permissions being added to the original game). Rovio needs to be monitored, as they are obviously not being truthful.

icebike says:

Two different explanations maybe, but only the above information is straight from Rovio. Something some hired tech support flak told you doesn't count.

Most of of those first line phone or email people are sitting in their pajamas somewhere and thieir only qualification for the job is speaking English and having a pulse. The former is somewhat optional, and any actual knowledge of company policy and how the software works is forbidden.

DemonI81 says:

I should've been more clear, but I'm at work and don't have much time.

The original explanation I received over Twitter from Rovio was a link to the Rovio website FAQ.
They have since removed that entry, I was trying to find it to provide the link, but it's gone.

So in short, the first explanation WAS straight from Rovio.

Jon T says:

Is it just me or does Android really need to clean up its permission names? Phone state required to do advertisements the way the developer wants to? SMS permissions required to make in-app purchases work the way the developer wants to? There are other weird ones too, but I can't think of them at the moment. The whole purpose of the permissions is so users can know what an app is going to do and why. Not so users freak out when they see the permissions and then the developers have to justify why their app needs those permissions.

crxssi says:

I totally agree.
There are always "valid" explanations as to why stuff seems to be needed. But it all sounds shockingly scary. And it might actually be scary, since we really don't know EXACTLY what each permission really means.

And the location tracking is always creepy- there is no good reason to need that. How "coarse" is "coarse"? 10 feet? 100 feet? 1/2 mile? Mile? 5 miles? There should be a built-in system call in Android that will return a random location within a 5,000+ square mile area. THAT is what *I* would call "coarse" and it should be all that is ever needed for stupid ads.

Danrarbc says:

It helps when you want to run an ad for the 7-11 in your city.

sremick says:

My understanding has been that "course" = tower based, while "fine" = GPS.

And "tower-based" means not triangulation or anything, but just based upon what tower you're connecting to. Good enough for weather, regional ads, etc.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong...

olorin says:

There is the possibility that the first person you spoke to didn't know what they were talking about...

Mikey47 says:

Seems like developers would be much better served to provide this type of information proactively when changing permissions rather than waiting for backlash from users.

Now just let people log on to in so they don't loose their progress when switching between devices. At least make it an option. Simple enough.

richardfoc says:

+1

mikeinpa says:

I am new to Android. I have Seasons already on my phone but I can't get the new updates. I know I need to change my permissions but I can not figure out how. Can someone help me out? Thanks

The game now also doesnt need to restart when you get a phone call :-) Madden nfl 12 also has similar phone permissions...