Bad Piggy Bank

More than a few of us (and us) noticed that when you got the latest update to Angry Birds, the app stated that it needed permissions to your SMS messages. At the time, Rovio told us it likely was a mistake, and that they'd look at it on Monday. However, it turns out it has a purpose and is part of an in-app payment system, called Big Bad Piggy Bank, which can be used to purchase the Mighty Eagle and other content. From Rovio's blog:

Bad Piggy Bank purchases will be paid through operator billing. No credit card is required, you simply select the content you want to purchase in the game, and select the Bad Piggy Bank icon. You confirm your purchase, the payment is made via SMS, and you will be charged in your phone bill.

The Android version of Angry Birds asks for SMS permission because this mobile payment capability has been added in version 1.5.1.

Angry Birds does not use the SMS functionality of the device for any other purpose than Bad Piggy Bank payments.

If the Bad Piggy Bank is not available for your operator, no purchases can be made, and you cannot be charged for anything.

All that said, it's only available in Finland at the moment. And note that this is separate from the in-app billing that Google just announced with Honeycomb.

So the good news is that there's nothing malicious (not that we ever thought there was) in the update. The bad news is it gives the app a permission that so far a very large number of users can't actually use. [Rovio] Thanks, Justin!


Reader comments

Rovio explains why Angry Birds update needs SMS permission


Sure, there are tons of other awesome games, but angry birds is still fun to play around with every once in a while.

How can you move on when they keep releasing new levels? Plus I still haven't gotten three stars on all levels of the originals. I cannot move on until all is perfect!!!!!

I don't like the fact that you don't need a credit card for purchases. Won't that just lead to a bunch of young teens purchasing a bunch of content and charging it to their parents bill? Or would if someones friend grabbed it?

I don't like this carrier billing. They better still give us the option of credit card billing when in-app purchases go live.

If it uses SMS, doesn't that mean that you'll get charged by the message if you don't have a texting plan? Doesn't sound like a good idea to me.

Not necessarily. I know VZW has a system in place that can send you text when you bill is available or has been paid and comes as a free text. Since they have to work with the carriers to get the billing to work, they likely could get it worked out so that this applies for a free text.

I'm really not a huge fan of carrier billing. To me, it seems like a money grab in more than one way. Way too many unanswered questions.

What happens if I switch carriers? Do I have to buy everything again? What if I keep the same phone but uninstall/reinstall the app?

Having content tied to a carrier account is not a good think for the customer in my book. Having them tied to a universal account (such as Google) is much more appealing to me.

Personally, I doubt I'll buy anything if its tied to my carrier account. I may not use the same carrier in 2 years and not have access to that content. I'll always be able to log into me G account.

i have three teens with android phones and realize that its ultimatly mine and there responsability to not charge to carrier if that becomes available, which it will because carriers know there is money to be made by teens in this. as long as i have the ability to disable or block it im fine with more options. options are always good as long as they stay just options.
im kind of sick of any purchase that is in euros and converted to dollars being denied. ive tried to buy three apps in the last two weeks that will not go through with a perfectly fine card.

If they are going to open up carrier billing then the permissions come into view. Sprint used to require a password to allow carrier billing. I hope that all carriers still do. Otherwise, the gate is open and the horses are gone...

Agreed. This is a horrible "solution" to a problem that none of us have or want.

If they want to develop this type of system, it has to have a separate permission level and designation. Otherwise, all kinds of apps will be asking (demanding) SMS permission and we will never know why or how to control it.

Giving a casual game access to read/send sms messages is too large of a security risk. There's other payment systems the developer can implement. Good bye Angry Birds, you're simply not worth it.

That explanation is of little consequence. They have no legitimate reason to need to READ SMS and MMS messages. All the application needed initially was to have Internet access for the ads...bad enough...but full Internet access, read and write SMS and MMS, phone state and identity, send SMS...too much going on there. Maybe they can offer the free version without any eagle cheats and a paid version with it. That way there is no need for in-app purchases nor do they need this excuse for accessing information.

I will still not install this on my MyTouch 4g even though I bought the iPad version. I wonder what kind of information they are grabbing off of this thing while I type here.

Glad I didn't update before this explanation. Now I'll never have to update again. Carrier billing is a no go for me.

FYI everyone!

Rovio just released the update which removed the SMS requirement, so everyone can update again! The new update is on the Android Market right now but not on Getjar yet...