GetJar Bans Opera for Bundling Opera Mobile Store

OperaYesterday, we reported that Opera Software had launched its own app store called Opera Mobile Store. It appears that within a day of its launch, Opera has managed to ruffle some feathers. Earlier today, Opera Mini was kicked out of GetJar one of the largest multi-platform mobile application repositories. The reason is quite obvious. Updated versions of Opera Mini and Opera Mobile include a speed dial entry to Opera Mobile Store, thus effectively bundling the app store with the browser.

While it’s true that Opera Mini violated GetJar’s ToS (Terms of Service), I find it hard to be entirely supportive of GetJar’s decision. It’s something I would have anticipated from Apple, but not from GetJar. Nevertheless, at least, GetJar isn’t trying hiding behind false pretenses. Patrick Mork, Chief Marketing Officer of GetJar admitted that competition is the reason Opera Mini was pulled.

The simple problem is that Opera mini decided to include a competing app store in its browser. Although we don’t have any issue with this in principle, in practice it means that consumers might start using this app store instead of visiting GetJar to get their favourite apps. This robs GetJar of traffic and therefore of the advertising necessary to keep our service free for the more than 25 million consumers that use GetJar. It also jeopardizes an ecosystem that has generated over 1.6 billion downloads for tens of thousands of developers who depend on us to make money from their apps. Don’t get me wrong: we’re happy to go head-to-head with any other app store and are certain that once you’ve tried the Opera App store you’ll find the depth of content, discovery and download from GetJar more compelling than ever. But it’s an another thing entirely to help competitors grow their business at our expense or that of our community.

Before being banned, Opera Mini was one of the most popular apps in GetJar, with a total of more than 30 million downloads. Apparently, GetJar and Opera has been in discussions for the past several months. The discussions are still going on, and Opera Software has indicated that it is interested in working with GetJar to find a reasonable solution. So, don’t rule out a comeback yet.

SMSAssassin: Crowd Sourced SMS Spam Filter Developed by Students in India

Email spam might be dropping, but that doesn’t mean that spam is about to go away. It’s just that the spammers have found new, and possibly more fruitful, vehicles for spreading junk. This includes search engines, twitter, and of course, SMS. In spite of the establishment of the NDNC (National Do Not Call) registry, SMS spam is rapidly increasing in India. I personally consider SMS spam to be much more of a nuisance than email spam, simply because, although there are sophisticated spam filters available to tackle email spam, when it comes to SMS spam we are mostly helpless. Manual blacklisting of repeat offenders is the best most of us can do.

For separating spam from ham, most email filters utilize two techniques:

Heuristic Approach: The software learns to distinguish spam from experience by learning from the content of already processed messages.
Bayesian Approach: It’s a statistical approach that employs a probabilistic model to determine if a message is spam, based on pre-defined classifiers.

Unfortunately, these methods alone are not very effective when it comes to tackling SMS spam. The short length of messages, coupled with the use of abbreviations and vernacular languages make it very tough for machine learning algorithms to work with acceptable accuracy.

Now, a team of students at the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology (Delhi) are trying to tackle this problem by employing the intelligence of the crowd. The team lead by Dr. Ponnurangam Kumaraguru, includes Vinayak Naik, Kuldeep Yadav, Atul Goyal, Ashish Gupta, Dipesh Kumar Singh, and Rushil Khurana.

For developing the initial proof-of-concept, the team ran an incentivized crowd-sourcing scheme in the IIIT-D campus (organized through Facebook) to collect sample spam messages. Pictured below is the tag cloud of the initial database of 4,318 messages, out of which nearly half were spam.

Tag Cloud for SPAM (left) and HAM (right)

Some of the interesting observations made by the team from the initial training set are:

  • Almost all messages including an URL are spam.
  • Certain special characters like /’ are frequently present in spam messages.
  • Typically word count of spam messages is higher. Also the average word length in legitimate messages is shorter due to the presence of abbreviations.

SMSAssassin Architecture

For spam filtering, two techniques were explored by the research group Bayesian and SVM (Support vector machine). SVM is a supervised machine learning technique commonly used for classification. With SpamAssassin, Bayesian approach yielded lower than desired accuracy with spam classification; however, SVM was too computationally heavy for low and mid-range mobile devices, and it had a lower success rate with classification of hams. Dr. Ponnurangam’s team is currently working on an online module that will run a pre-trained SVM based classifier on the server and pass on the results to the app.

SMSAssassin Accuracy

A Symbian app, which will offer full featured spam protection on mobile phones with or without data connection, is currently in the final stages of development. The choice of Symbian as the launch platform might surprise some; however, the decision was likely inspired by the ground situation in India. Nokia still has a significant presence in India, and it dominates the mid-range segment. In terms of volume, I suspect Android is still quite far behind Symbian. That being said, an Android app is planned, and will possibly be released later in the summer. In the meanwhile you can check out the research paper for getting a better understanding of the underlying technology.

Opera Launches Platform Independent Opera Mobile Store in More Than 200 Countries

Opera Software has tied up with Appia to launch Opera Mobile Store, an app store for mobile devices that supports pretty much every popular mobile platform under the sun, except iPhone and Windows Phone 7. Of course, supporting those two platforms is more than a little tricky for third party application repositories due to their locked down nature.

Opera Mobile Store will be integrated with Opera Mini and Opera Mobile in the form of a speed dial entry. This means that Opera will have direct access to approximately hundred million users around the globe. During its trial phase in February, the Opera Mobile Store attracted more than 15 million users, from 200 countries, amassing more than 700,000 downloads per day.


Opera Mobile Store is available at and features both free and paid apps. The app catalog is automatically user tailored based on his operating system, device resolution, country, currency and language. Platforms currently supported are Android, Java, Windows Mobile, Symbian, BlackBerry, and Palm.

The launch of the Opera Mobile Store supports Opera’s core belief in an open, cross-platform mobile Internet experience by providing Opera users with an integrated storefront of mobile applications,said Mahi de Silva, Exec. Vice President, Consumer Mobile, Opera Software. Our partnership with Appia delivers to all Opera Mobile and Opera Mini users easy access to a wide variety of great content, on any device, all over the world.

Opera Software has also launched the Opera Publisher Portal, which allows developers to submit their applications. Developers will get 70% of the net revenue generated by them, while Opera Software will keep the rest. Unlike the Android Market, Opera Mobile Store is moderated, and every app is manually approved. In the past Apple has received a lot of flak for their policy on adult apps. Opera has taken a similar approach with Mobile Store by banning all erotic content. However, unlike the iOS App Store, Opera Mobile Store doesn’t charge any subscription fee, and is completely free.

Google Uses Kill-Switch to Remotely Uninstall Android Malware, Pushes Update to Undo Changes

Earlier in the week, a Redditor uncovered a large network of malwares masquerading as popular apps in the Android Market, when he stumbled upon one of the apps and noticed its incorrect publisher info. Android Police has a lowdown on the incident, which once again demonstrated how easy it is to infiltrate the Android Market. The fake apps, once downloaded, proceeded to root the phone using the famous “rageagainstthecage” exploit, and called home. It also had the potential to download additional payloads.

Android-Malware-AttackFor its part, Google reacted swiftly, and pulled the apps minutes after being notified by Android Police. However, according to information provided by “lompolo”, the Redditor who uncovered this entire mess, some of the app developers were already aware of this for as long as a week, but their complaints fell on deaf ears. The apps injected with malware, which were dubbed as DroidDream by Lookout, only affected handsets running versions older than Android 2.2.2. Google found DroidDream in 58 applications, which were downloaded onto 260,000 devices.

Google believes that the apps only uploaded device information (IMEI/IMSI, unique codes which are used to identify mobile devices, and the version of Android running on your device), and not user-data. After pulling the apps, and performing its initial investigation, Google is now moving to rectify the damage caused. It is in the process of removing the apps from all handsets by employing the remote kill-switch built into Android. It is also pushing through a new update called “Android Market Security Tool March 2011″ to affected devices. This update will undo the changes made by DroidDream. If you were among the affected users, expect an email from Google soon.

This entire saga raises several questions. Obviously, as Android’s popularity continues to surge, more and more hackers and malware writers will target it. Unfortunately, it’s clear that Google is simply in no position to mitigate these attacks before they occur. The “openness” of the Market is becoming Android’s biggest security weakness. Although most Android users have nothing but disdain for any app review system, I would welcome a change in the Market policy, whereby all submitted apps are screened for signs of malicious or fraudulent activities. Google might also need to give a serious thought to how it deploys security updates. Apple and Microsoft have full control over deploying critical system updates, unlike Google, which is at the mercy of handset manufacturers and carriers. Although the bug that was exploited by DroidDream was fixed in Android 2.2.2, hundreds of thousands of handsets were successfully compromised because Android 2.2.2 isn’t yet available for a substantial number of handsets. Unless Google can reign in the fragmentation problem, it might have to start deploying hotfixes for different versions of Android to patch critical security vulnerabilities, i.e. employ a Windows like model of distributing patches to different OS versions. What is your take on this issue? Chime in by dropping a comment here or in our Facebook page.

Budget ’11: Mobile Phones To Cost More

The Union Budget which was presented yesterday by the Finance Minister of India received mixed responses from everyone. The budget had it’s impact stated on the telecom sector too. According to the Indian Cellular Association, from now on all the Mobile Phone handsets that are directly imported into India will be expensive by about 5 per cent of their existing market prices.

Also, the mobile phone handsets which are manufactured in India will have their retail price tags raised by about one per cent. However there won’t be any change in the pricing of basic mobile phone accessories due to the Budget. According to Mr Pankaj Mohindroo, President, Indian Cellular Association – the increase in the price of Mobile handsets would pose a further concern for the mobile industry which is already facing a challenge from the unbranded and sub-standard Chinese mobile phones.

Mr Arshit Pathak, Managing Director of Kingtech Electronics which owns the G’Five brand phones has said that this increase in the mobile phone prices won’t affect the customer end price of their handsets and the company would absorb the price increase to benefit their customers.

via Hindu Business Line

Official Minecraft on the iPhone and iPad, Android Coming Soon

Indie gaming’s underdog story of one man’s simple game taking the entire world by storm has just turned to a new chapter the mobile gaming chapter. Swedish developer Markus Persson (aka Notch) and his company Mojang Specification’s Minecraft will eventually be coming to the Apple iOS devices officially (because, yes there are a few non-official ports of the game for the devices already).


Gamasutra’s exclusive report was further expanded upon by the creator of Minecraft himself. Before the Android public could start their outcry on the injustice, Daniel Kaplan (Kappische) tweeted:

Android is coming too of course! :)#Minecraft

On Reddit, Notch said that the mobile version of the game will not be a port it will be a fully rewritten piece of software being worked upon by the ninth (and newest) member of the Mojang family:-

Since we can’t use Java on the iOS, and we want both the mobile versions to use the same codebase, the Android version won’t be written in Java. Besides, we want the game to be made for the new devices, not just a simple port, so a rewrite is good anyway.

We hired a new guy for that, he’ll be starting on Saturday (the same day the entire office goes to GDC.

The mobile version of Minecraft is being developed by Aron Neiminen, the aforementioned new guy, and we should expect it later this year.

P.S. It also seems like the Minecraft website is down. Expectant users? New version? Who knows?

Twitter Restores Banned Ubermedia Applications

Twitter has a lot of problems with third party apps using the name Twitterin their app name. That or UberMedia fought a long and hard battle over the weekend to resolve the banning issue with the micro blogging giant.


On the 18th of this month, Twitter announced that the then Ubertwitter and Twidroyd had been suspended for violatingTwitter’s policies. The announcement also had a plug for Twitter’s own applications on the Blackberry and Android systems. Their reasons for suspension were shortly made known to the public:-

“Today we suspended several applications, including UberTwitter, twidroyd and UberCurrent, which have violated Twitter policies and trademarks in a variety of ways. These violations include, but aren’t limited to, a privacy issue with private Direct Messages longer than 140 characters, trademark infringement, and changing the content of users’ Tweets in order to make money.”

Today, Twitter updated their original post. They lifted the ban on the two applications, stating that the applications had started taking steps to remedy the policy violations. A new update for both the applications is available on the respective markets and only a re-sign in is needed for the apps to start working as they used to.

However, amidst this chaotic weekend, the truereason as to why Twitter suspended the apps without any prior warning crept up to the surface. Bill Gross, CEO of UberMedia, the creator of UberTwitter UberSocial responded on Quora as to why the apps had been suspended. However, the best comment on the entire issue came from a user who asked the vital question without making it seem like a question:-

Yes, and it’s total coincidence that on the day they were suspended Twitter ran the promoted Tweet #TwitterMobile and that UberTwitter was never suspended before being bought by Bill Gross & raising $17.5m.

This sort of shoddy and offensive behavior on Twitter Inc.’s part is not going to win it any brownie points later. However, being confined to its bounds (being the largest microblogging platform) we see monopoly mechanics emerging from its depths, although the entire affair has dulled our opinion of Twitter as a whole.

Motorola Atrix 4G Gets Superuser Root, Custom ROMs Still a Distant Possibility

Motorola Atrix 4G, which was undoubtedly one of the biggest stars of CES 2011, is yet to be officially released, but the devs have already begun tinkering with it. BriefMobile is confirming that designgears from XDA-Developers has succeeded in gaining root (super user) access.

Root access will allow users to install essential apps like Titanium Backup and SetCPU, which require superuser privileges, besides enabling sideloading of apps (installation of apps from sources other than the official Android Market) that AT&T notoriously disables.


The one click root tool works on both Windows and Linux, but requires the installation of .NET Runtime (Mono for Linux). The rooting tool as well as in-depth tutorial is available here. Although the procedure is idiot-proof, the standard disclaimer regarding rooting still applies.

Like other Android handsets from Motorola’s stable, the bootloader of Atrix also is encrypted. So, custom ROMs are still not possible. However, the devs are already on the task, and hopefully, someone will soon find a way to bypass the protections put in place by Motorola.

The Atrix, which Motorola claims to be the world’s most powerful smartphone and the future of mobile computing, sports a 4-inch qHD display, and is powered by the meaty nVidia Tegra 2 chip. The handset will launch with FroYo (Android 2.2), but is scheduled to receive Gingerbread (Android 2.3) later in the year. It will be available across the US from AT&T Feb 22 onwards.

Firefox 4 Beta 4 For Android And Maemo Released; Is ‘Faster Than Ever’

It was more than a month ago that Mozilla had released the last update for Firefox 4 for mobile for both Android and Maemo. Until the last beta, Firefox 4 for Android more of a bloat ware than a decent third party browser.

The Mozilla Firefox team listened to all the feedbacks they got from the previous beta release and today, they released a new Beta of the app. The Beta 4 of Firefox for Android is now much, much better than the previous beta versions. The application boot up time has been heavily reduced and so has the page-load times. The Mozilla teams says that their benchmarks shows that this new beta of Firefox Mobile is faster than the stock Android browser in all the benchmarks they concluded.

On my Desire Z running on CM6.1.1 and OC’ed to 900MHz, Firefox Mobile did not seem to load pages faster than the stock Android browser. It was slower than the stock Android browser but not by a huge margin. Firefox Mobile was also not able to render some sites properly unlike the stock Android browser.

snap20110202_135940 snap20110202_140053


Performance wise, the stock Android browser is still way faster and smoother than Firefox 4. For me, the UI response and the overall speed of the Firefox 4 needs some improvements before it can replace the stock Android browser.

The APK of Firefox 4 is a whopping 13.5MB and after installation the app footprint increases to 30MB! This won’t go down well with people who are using Android phones with low internal memory. Thankfully, the app can be moved to SD card. One big advantage of Firefox 4 over the stock Android browser is the support for plug-ins. Right now, the Mobile Add-ons gallery for Firefox 4 features more than 100 useful plug-ins.

Hopefully, with the next beta of Firefox for Mobile most of these issues would be solved. Looks like we Android users will soon have a decent alternative to the stock Android browser.

Android owners can download Firefox 4 for Mobile from the Android Market.

Android Overtakes Symbian, Becomes the Highest Selling Mobile OS

Canalys, an independent analytics firm, has disclosed that Android is now the highest selling mobile operating system in the world. According to its analysis, the total shipment of Android handsets jumped from 20.3 million units in Q3 to 32.9 million in Q4 2010. Contrary to what you might expect, Symbian, the previous leader in the smartphone segment, also saw an increase in the number of units shipped, and climbed from 29.9 million units to 31 million units. However, considering the rapid growth experienced by the entire smartphone industry, Nokia has little to brag about.


Besides Nokia, other players who have reason for disappointment are Research in Motion (RIM) and Microsoft. Windows Phone 7 arrived too late in the quarter to make its presence felt. On the other hand, RIM continued to struggle to compete against the accelerating onslaught of Android devices. Although mid-range devices like Curve helped RIM to overtake Nokia in Latin America, it ended up shipping less than 15 million handsets.

Apple ended up in the third spot with 16.2 million shipments, and posted healthy growth rates. The availability of iPhone on Verizon is expected to help Apple in closing the gap with Symbian. However, for the moment, Android simply looks insurmountable.