The latest Angry Birds update v1.5.1 that hit the Market yesterday introduced a whole bunch of levels, support for lower-end devices, and... a new SMS permission requirement. This not only prevented the update from being installed automatically, but also created quite a bit of user confusion, or even panic, around the reasons why the game would ever need to send or read our text messages.

Rovio's own Twitter account, probably manned by one of those evil pigs, insisted it was a mistake that would be fixed Monday, which calmed some of us down, but the truth ended up lying elsewhere. In fact, it turned out we knew about it all along, but most of us forgot in the 2 months that followed.

In today's blog post, the company provided the real reason for requiring the oddball SMS permission - Bad Piggy Bank, which is Rovio's own attempt at in-app purchases. If you wanted to buy something, like the Mighty Eagle or new levels, the Bad Piggy Bank would simply send out an SMS message to Rovio, and your carrier would in turn bill you for it later.


The system is currently only available in Finland, though Rovio promises to add more countries in the future. The main point is - the Bad Piggy Bank is the only reason the SMS permission was added, and it's quite likely that it won't affect you at all.

I suppose someone should let Rovio in on that native in-app purchase support that is coming to Android this quarter.

SMS payment coming to Android devices

We are bringing Angry Birds players on Android the option of purchasing the Mighty Eagle and other cool new content in the future using our brand new payment system, Bad Piggy Bank!

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.

Right now, the system will be available only in Finland for Elisa customers, with more countries and carriers following later. We are working globally with operators on bringing Bad Piggy Bank to all of our users worldwide - ask your mobile carrier or operator for more details!

Source: Rovio Mobile's blog via AC

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • http://www.deadboltpasswordgenerator.com/ BittenByTailfly

    I know that developers need to make a bit of cash from their apps and that's difficult these days, but I never like installing apps that 'can' at some point bill me, just because I installed it and blindly accepted.

    It's for that reason Angry Birds no longer has a home on my Nexus. Maybe I'm just paranoid though ...

  • ZZ

    Their twitter account has since further rectified. The Market version won't have SMS based purchases and instead will use Market in-app purchases when it's launched. The Non-Market version will have the SMS permission and the Bad Piggy bank bundled with it.

    So yeah, it was a mistake.

  • Brian

    If the Market version wont have SMS based purchases, only NON market versions, why does the Market version *STILL* have SMS permissions ?

    Another Lie ?

    I can smell the sewerage talk coming from Rovio all the way over in Australia.

    1) It was an error, we will fix
    2) We intended it as a purchase system for levels (contradicting #1)
    3) Market will not have SMS purchasing, non market will (Contradicts #3).

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Supposedly, it was a mistake that will be fixed Monday, considering it's weekend.

  • Chrisso Merry

    It humours me how much negative press this SMS feature's getting. If they wanted to commit fraud, perhaps you might want to check your credit card details or whatever you used to get the game (legally), before you even worry about SMS deductions. Thus why I believe it's a non-issue, and as a non-credit card owner I would find it more convenient to purchase via SMS.

    Some fellows seem to be forgetting that this is also Rovio (an in-the-spotlight business who has to work around both Apple and Google who are bound by law to keep unlawful practices out of their services), not some shady "business" that placed late-night ads for numerology quotes way back on SDTV with the terms and conditions so small they couldn't be read on the CRT screen, and that needs to be taken into consideration.

    But my stance with microtransactions has always been to be careful and vigilant no matter how it's charging you anyway.

    • baley

      Chrisso What credit card? The Game is free!

      • Chrisso Merry

        Your kidding me? On the iPhone appstore I swore it costs $1.19 AUD, so I guess only iPhone users are getting the crummy end of the deal then! I apologise, I had assumed the android pricing would be identical, but it seems that it was released free at some point! Silly me!