LinkBuster

A couple weeks back I delicately expressed my concern about clicking shortened URLs on our Android phones. If you weren't paying attention, there's a nasty bug in some Samsung phones that can delete all user data if you click a malicious link -- one that's easily hidden behind a URL shortener like bit.ly or goo.gl. I promised to make someone famous if they would create a great solution for all of us on Android.

Quite a few folks sent apps in, and while all of them worked as intended, I have to give the hat tip to JP2014 for the LinkBuster app. It does two things I'm crazy about -- uses Android intents, and incorporates the Web of Trust service.

Using it is really easy. Install it from Google Play using the link above, and any time you click a URL you get the choice to open it in LinkBuster. If it's a link you trust, just choose your browser. But if it's a link that looks sketchy, or is shortened and you have no idea where it will take you, choose LinkBuster from the menu provided. 

One the LinkBuster app is opened, you get the full version of the URL as well as the Web of Trust rating for it. The Web of Trust is crowd sourced data from folks like you and me, and it's usually spot-on about the safety and validity of links. Cory turned me on to it last year, and I think it's a great tool. Having it incorporated this way is perfect -- you use it when you have reason to question a link, and the rest of the time it's out of the way.

The web is a nasty place. Plenty of folks want to make things miserable for others, and we have to be on guard against it. Tools like LinkBuster can help. It's free, so give it a try!

Linkbuster Linkbuster

 

Reader comments

Use LinkBuster to parse short URLs (Android app review)

10 Comments

Great idea but I'd only like to be only see LinkBuster when the URL is from a known link shortener. I don't want to be held up for every link and if it's a dodgy looking link (eg. from a domain I don't recognize), I'm not going to click it anyway. I guess because of the way Intents work, this would involve setting LinkBuster as the default action but it does a silent passthrough for non-shortened links.

I have a Nexus 7, no Samsung device, so it shouldn't be vulnerable. But should I download this just to be safe?

Much rather have this as an option when I "long" press on a link (like opening it in a new tab).

I just don't go around clicking on shady looking links enough to justify having to dismiss a choice box every time I click on a link.

-Suntan

Thanks for the review Jerry! Any feedback is appreciated and will be considered for future versions.

Thanks for the review Jerry! Any feedback is appreciated and will be considered for future versions.

A very cool concept, but essentially worthless because almost nobody is going to be willing to deal with a popup every single time they click on any link. If it worked with the long-press/Share link function, then it would be a great app because it would be out of the way normally, but you could use it on any suspicious link. If it worked that way, it would be amazing.

If it could be written so that it had the long-press functionality, and additionally would intercept every link that doesn't come from a browser (links from email clients and non-browser apps), then I would immediately install it on 6 different accounts and happily pay $0.99 each.

Thanks for the feedback. As far as I know, it isn't possible for an app to launch via long presses in other apps. I didn't make the app handle share intents because I generally think of using an app's share feature to show the content to other people, not to open it in another app. However, I will gather some more feedback from users and add this in there if it is something that people want. Again, thanks for the feedback!

You can set up your intent filters to more narrowly catch the URLs, perhaps with specific servers. Using intent filters like you're doing is definitely the right way to do this - touche! Just probably nicer to focus the filter a bit more, and maybe set them up programmatically based on user configuration, though you'd probably need to define a service to perform the filter registration.

You're correct about the long-press interception - that would only be possible if the other apps cooperated, launching an intent on the long press.

Keep up the good work... great to see a dev that "gets" the platform.
-- Scott