09
Dec
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I sure love these Google Fridays - the Android team tends to release quite a few little updates to the web Market that make us feel warm on the inside, and it turns out this week is no exception.

You can now email developers with a question or a bug report right from the web Market - a feature previously available only in the device Market. For example:

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The email url is a simple mailto: link, which should pop up your favorite email client (Gmail in my case). This change should most definitely increase helpful feedback to developers as well as provide users with an ability to ask pre-sales questions.

I did want to point out a few things, however:

  1. The email addresses are public, even if you're signed out, and are therefore quite vulnerable to harvesting for spam purposes. I'm quite shocked Google actually went this way instead of providing a web contact form without exposing the emails themselves. Gmail's anti-spam features are great and all, but not everyone is using Gmail.
  2. No clever email obscuring is being done to trick at least the dumbest spiders.
  3. I wonder if the amount of email will become too much of a burden to some popular developers, who will now get suddenly overwhelmed with new support cases.

Still, we welcome change (I don't remember the last time the iTunes web front added any features), and this one is definitely something I've been looking forward to for a while now.

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.

  • David Ruddock

    Great idea, flawed implementation. I guess that's Google for you. I can't imagine they'll let it stay like this.

  • William D

    Anyone wanna spam email me?

  • http://www.chainfire.eu/ Chainfire

    "FFS". As a developer, that's all I can say about this.

  • Bill

    Guys, the Market app has done this for a long time. Developers that didn't realize their email addresses were public need to wake up.

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

      Yeah, but spidering the device Market for this information is quite hard, while harvesting emails off web pages is easy and exposes them to pretty much every harvester out there.

  • https://plus.google.com/103133177397090504113/about Tony Sidaway

    My email address, tonysidaway@gmail.com, is always available. Concerns about spam, I have found, are complete nonsense. Everybody *should* be contactable by email, that's what it's for. I speak as somebody who loathes spam. I seldom ever see it despite having always published my current email address as widely as possible. Modern spam filters are ridiculously effective.

    The feature in question is supposed to put users in contact with developers. I think I'd find it a little odd if a developer expected me to download and run his software without even being able to contact him by email.

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

      You are using Gmail which is extremely good at handling spam (I mentioned that). Other developers may not be using Gmail and for example outlook is awful at fighting spam.

      • https://plus.google.com/103133177397090504113/about Tony Sidaway

        Thanks very much for you reply, Artem. I suppose my point is essentially that software developers have no excuse for wanting to conceal their email addresses. If we put software into your phone, we should be contactable so we know when it goes wrong.

        Also I think we should probably be held to a higher standard of internet literacy than the average user. Fear of being spammed is not an encouraging sign in a software developer.

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

          I am just saying they should have used a quick web form, which is friendlier than email and doesn't expose it to spammers. As a Gmail user, I have no problem exposing our contact emails here at AP, but if I wasn't using it I wouldn't be as brave.

      • Bill

        LOL oh yeah, Outlook... I forgot that relic. Good point.

      • Jason

        There's always the ability to use outlook to pull a gmail address :P

    • http://www.chainfire.eu/ Chainfire

      Nobody is saying developer should not be able to be contacted by email. The point is that the email should not be on the website in plaintext and easily spiderable.
      That is the beginning and the end of the issue, everything else is just unrelated BS.

      I've just modified the email addresses on all my apps to something easy to throw away and replace. It's still a dick move by Google, though.

  • https://market.android.com/developer?pub=Acdroid#?t=W251bGwsbnVsbCxudWxsLDEsImFjLmdlc3R1cmVDYWxsIl0. Aracem

    The developers need answer to the people that put comment in our apps. Thats the improve we want!
    I want answer that guy put 1 star cos he dont know use my app, or send "Thank you" to that user that put 5 stars and a lovely words about my app.
    That is the developer want

  • bestandroid

    Android Police thank you very much to talk about this issue, I reported from the beginning of the web Android Market. Unfortunately all this time no response from google and especially no changes in the Market. Yet it was logical to set up a secure realization: either an encryption of the email or a form online. Meanwhile developers and users suffer from this flaw, as I confess I do not want to look at my mail, spam seen despite the filters in place, the sudden response times are extended to customers ....
    I hope AndroidPolice will be stronger than my email and it will change this ..

  • Zaatour36

    Finally!!!

    guys I agree with form based contact to lessen the spammers.

    But really!! there was no way to contact a dev without installing the app? Why?

    I found it really annoying, as some app requires non-sense permissions, and on the other hand some can't be installed because it's not compatible with the device!

    How can I reach a dev and ask him/her/they for supporting my device????? HOW????

  • Michael B

    Never compare the Android Market web store with iTunes web front, which does nothing unless you have iTunes installed on a Mac, PC, or iOS, AGAIN! Android Market does EVERYTHING on any computer!

    • https://plus.google.com/103133177397090504113/about Tony Sidaway

      I'm used to seeing tired excuses for concealing email addresses made by technologically illiterate. It's truly shocking to see them coming from software developers who must know that their arguments are hollow and false.

      We don't obfuscate email addresses *because we want people to contact us.* And not by some silly online form, just by sending an email. You say a spammer can spider my email address and send me spam? Actually my email address is practically everywhere and I don't see spam from one month end to the next.

      If you're using the spam excuse to not put your email address up, you're either fibbing or you're not as technologically adept as you think you are.

      • Anon

        You're argument only holds water if you have available to you (the developer) an effective mechanism for fighting spam.

        More to the point though, it's not terribly hard to setup up a Gmail account specifically for the Android Market/Apps and then forward all incoming email to your regularly used email account.

        So in the end, I definitely agree with what you're saying.

  • Anthony E.

    This is a non-issue. Developers support emails are public. Visit any company's website and the contact information should be clearly displayed for all to see. If the company is hiding their public contact information, then you might want to think twice before doing any serious business with them.

    "bob [at] example [dot] com" is not clever. Any one smart enough to write a bot that crawls the web looking for email addresses will be smart enough to get past that. On the other hand, anyone smart enough to click the support button in the market may not be smart enough to know that they need to replace [at] and [dot] with the correct characters.

  • http://Camsvirtualrealityreality.blogspot.com Vectrex

    that's... Very 90's. Just auto set up a google group, g+, qoura style questions and answers page, etcetcetc. So users can ask without special login and the most important, others can see already answered questions! The developer shouldn't have to answer the same question over and over again

  • http://www.stealthcopter.com/blog Mat

    Meh, there is already spam targetting the email addresses from the android based market...

  • https://plus.google.com/103133177397090504113/about Tony Sidaway

    "Meh, there is already spam targetting the email addresses from the android based market..."
    Every single email address is subject to spam. This is not a problem. It really does make me wonder what kind of nitwits we have here pretending to be software developers, who claim that they cannot do what my elderly, technologically illiterate relatives do without any help: avoid spam by having a spam filter.
    I refuse to believe that Android developers are all time-travelling recruits from the 1990s. You must all know how to deal with spam.