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Input Devices Privacy

Some Users Find Swype Keyboard App Makes 4000+ Location Requests Per Day 191

New submitter postglock (917809) writes "Swype is a popular third-party keyboard for Android phones (and also available for Windows phones and other platforms). It's currently the second-most-popular paid keyboard in Google Play (behind SwiftKey), and the 17th highest of all paid apps. Recently, users have discovered that it's been accessing location data extremely frequently, making almost 4000 requests per day, or 2.5 requests per minute. The developers claim that this is to facilitate implementation of 'regional dialects,' but cannot explain why such frequent polling is required, or why this still occurs if the regional function is disabled. Some custom ROMs such as Cyanogenmod can block this tracking, but most users would be unaware that such tracking is even occurring." Readers in the linked thread don't all seem to see the same thing; if you are a Swype user, do you see thousands of location requests, none, or something in between?
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Some Users Find Swype Keyboard App Makes 4000+ Location Requests Per Day

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  • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @07:52AM (#46912199)

    If anytime, they should only do that when I launch it the first time. And otherwise, it should look at the setings my phone is using and ONLy as a way to sufets what you want, not to set it.

    Mind you, they are not the only ones who think language and location are related. Among others, Google does this too. It does not look at my browser settings (which are in English) but instead guesses from my IP what language I should prefer. I live in Belgium aand guessing the language by location is wrong a LOT of the times.

    There is a reason why my browser setting is in English. That is because I WANT it in English. And just because I visit my parents in Spain or my sister in Germany or friends in the USofA does not mean there is any change in preferece in my language.

    To me it is broken by design.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 04, 2014 @07:56AM (#46912203)

    Each time an App wanted to update in the last 6 months, it was to increase its access to areas of my Samsung phone that I thought were completely un-necessary for it to work properly. Makes you wonder who in the Google Store is rubber stamping the ok on such Apps! When will privacy groups wake up and start lawsuits against App makers and/or Google? Maybe it will fist require a popular tech website to run a Top-10 Worst Privacy Infringing Apps in Google store.

    When will privacy groups come to aide your suffering of gross stupidity? Don't hold your breath.

    No one is twisting your arm to download, install, or use these apps. YOU are doing that every time you agree to install or update the dame thing.

    And I'm sorry, but this should be of no surprise to anyone that any "free" app installed on damn near anything these days wants to track you in some way, shape, or form that has little or nothing to do with the app itself.

    How the hell do you think Google became a household name. They sure as shit didn't do it selling lollipops.

  • by robmv ( 855035 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @08:01AM (#46912217)

    download files without notification: dictionary updates
    read contacts: suggestions
    modify or delete contents of USB storage: I don't know why it needs this one, store dictionary outside private app directory?
    view accounts on the device: suggest your email address

  • MultiLing (Score:5, Informative)

    by B2382F29 ( 742174 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @08:36AM (#46912293)
    I am using multiling keyboard which allows swype input and doesn't even need network permission nor anything else than the user dictionary. []
  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @08:43AM (#46912331)
    If you're rooted, you can install XPrivacy []. It doesn't try to block these apps, it just spoofs the data. So if I haven't given Swype permission to access location data, it will just get fed random locations all over the world every time it thinks it's getting my location.
  • by nogginthenog ( 582552 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @08:53AM (#46912383)
    Android can already do this. The Amazon App store and F-Droid (FOSS) are 2 options.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 04, 2014 @09:17AM (#46912463)

    In the early 00's the requirement for having a firewall and an antivirus on your average Windows desktop PC went from 'good practice' to 'mandatory' as the number of malware types and exploits on the web exploded.
    With Android, it is swiftly thus becoming 'mandatory' to root your phone and install XPrivacy (or similar). Most people just have not realised yet quite how badly they need it.

  • by quetwo ( 1203948 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @09:38AM (#46912529) Homepage

    Hate to break it to you -- there is no human intervention required to publish to the Google Play Store, unlike the Apple App Store. The time from the last compile to the app being live in the store is about 15 minutes. So, to answer your wonder -- there is a lonely robot rubber stamping the ok on all those apps...

    Downloader beware!

  • Re:MultiLing (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 04, 2014 @09:39AM (#46912531)

    I am using multiling keyboard which allows swype input and doesn't even need network permission nor anything else than the user dictionary. []

    I'll second this suggestion. When I found out the keyboard that came with my tablet (FlexT9) was no longer in development because Nuance bought Swype, I went looking for alternatives since I was stuck on a software dead-end otherwise, and MultiLing was the one I ended up liking the most.

    Decent defaults but extremely configurable. In addition to swipe, it has a split keyboard mode for thumb typing, options can differ in portrait and landscape, and it can be resized on-the-fly to use more or less screen space while in use. Plus multiple dictionaries (including a "linux dictionary" with completion for shell commands and more), many keyboard layouts (4- and 5-row qwerty, number only, dvorak, colemak, etc.), easy access to extra keys (function, sysrq, ins/break/del, arrows, esc, tab, math symbols, etc.), and some other things I can't think of or don't use. You can change the colours, key sizes, spacing between keys, even the roundedness of the key corners.

    All this and it's a <1mb download (+700kb with the English dictionary). Plus the dev updates it often with bug fixes and features, so it's constantly improving.

    it's not perfect, but easily one of the best keyboards I've used while still being fast and lean.

  • Re:Regional dialects (Score:5, Informative)

    by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @12:12PM (#46913197)

    You need to understand that this application is trying to anticipate what you're trying to type before you type it. If you're at a stop&go and you start to type "I'm getting..." your next word might be Gas, Beer or robbed but it's probably not going to be "ready for work" that would be more likely if you were at home.

    That's quite a fairy tale you've constructed there to excuse a spyware app on your favoured phone platform.

"Nuclear war can ruin your whole compile." -- Karl Lehenbauer