12
Jun
personal

A new feature could be coming to CynaogenMod in the near future that strengthens personal privacy with a single checkbox. It's called Run in Incognito Mode, and it's being developed by Cyanogen himself, Steve Kondik. It's a simple feature that could change how comfortable you are with your apps.

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Run in Incognito Mode will essentially let users run apps with a restricted data set. When the option is toggled in the App Info panel, the system will return empty data lists to the incognito app. It will also hide your geographic location. Kondik detailed the features he's currently working on, and it sounds great:

  • Return empty lists for contacts, calendar, browser history, and messages.
  • GPS will appear to always be disabled to the running application.
  • When an app is running incognito, a quick panel item is displayed in order to turn it off easily.
  • No fine-grained permissions controls as you saw in CM7. It's a single option available under application details.

This is enabled on a per app basis, so you don't have to sacrifice the functionality of your device just for peace of mind. Kondik also points out Incognito Mode is not going to block ads or spoof IMEI numbers. It's only for keeping your personal data private. One caveat, an app running with root access can still do whatever it wants.

[Google+]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

  • Tony Sarju

    This sounds great!

  • Michael Pahl

    Awesome work.

  • Ken Masters

    I wholeheartedly approve.

  • Doan

    What's a real world use for this feature?

    • Pontus

      Blocking facebook and other apps from tracking your location, reading your SMS history, seeing your browser history and using your contacts to send out spam to your friends and a lot more.

      • Doan

        Most apps, including Facebook, allow you to disable geo services. What apps read SMS, browser history, and contacts to send spam? Excluding apps from shady/questionable developers people shouldn't be installing anyway.

        • Pontus

          A lot of people are saying that the Facebook app still uses your GPS even if you turn off all geo services in the app, and a lot of for example live wallpapers, games... has permissions to send/read your SMS history, call logs... (Angry Birds has permission to see who you call and can see your location, which are both pointless for a game like Angry Birds).

          • Doan

            Angry Birds requires the "Phone Calls" permission. Each Android permission is a bundle of permissions. "Phone Calls" includes call status, which allows the app to function properly if you receive a call while playing the game. This permission also provides the device ID, which is very useful to developers, especially when squishing bugs. Understand that when you see an app has access to "Phone Calls," it doesn't literally mean it is accessing your phone calls; it means it has access to the bundle of permissions called "Phone Calls," and it likely does not use them all. Geo location, for Angry Birds, is likely used for personalizing advertisements.

          • RvLeshrac

            What's your point? Do you actually trust any app developers to not use the permissions they're requiring? If they DO misuse permissions, do you expect them to tell you about it?

          • Doan

            Yes, and yes (in ToS, and if you agree to a contract without reading, you have no right to complain). No intelligent developer would opt out of the "Phone Calls" permission. This permission is how they determine which models of which devices are using their software.

            The only phone numbers the "Phone Calls" permission exposes are the number of the device, and the number of the phone calling the device. Do you actually think Rovio is recording these numbers and using them for malicious purposes?

          • kaisnowy

            Hahaha Doan, you are probably the most innocent person I've seen on this website, yeah developers always have our best interests at heart...hahahahahaha.

          • Doan

            I'm not paranoid that every developer is out to get me.

          • DAve

            Not true - I use Pdroid, and have notifications turned on for angry birds - it's constantly trying to find my location (which is blocked), even though I'm not registered with any social gaming nonsense. I presume it's trying to locate me for the ads, but that really doesn't need the GPS, it can use the cell lcation, surely?

          • https://plus.google.com/u/0/114994124650840583731 Phil D.

            I have you have the location blocked - it is blocked, from any source..

          • Doan

            The application obtains your location in the event that it needs it. This does not mean that your location is being used, and according to Rovio's public statement regarding geolocation, it does not use it in any way.

          • RTWright

            Doan, let me be the first to say that you are right and also terribly wrong as well. If you think that these Android Devs aren't trying to get as much information from you for use without your permission or consent, you're gravely mistaken. I do not trust ANY and I do mean ANY Company at all 100%. The day you do that is the day you've given up your right to complain or even talk about the subject at all.

            Games do not need Geo Locations unless they're one of those like Ingress where it is definitely needed because that is the design of the game and you should be fully aware of that before you ever install it. Over the past 3 years I've come across several Apps that have done things they should not be allowed to do. I also reported and removed those Apps the very instant I found out as well.

            Facebook is one of the WORST out there as well. Which is why I wouldn't use their stupid Facebook Home ( At least one of the many reasons I wouldn't ). When it comes down to it, more security on a wireless device is a plus, it's not something to just sit here and mock. There are people out there trying to gain information from you on these devices on a daily basis. Problem is? We have no way to tell them from the person standing next to us to the one across the room. It could be anyone. Security additions like this actually help us NOT to be so paranoid and be able to more comfortable with our wireless world.

          • Doan

            Personalized advertisement is reason enough for any ad-supported application to require geolocation permissions.

            What apps have you reported for doing what they shouldn't, and what did they do?

            I have not complained about this new CM feature, if that is what you are implying.

  • sssgadget

    Isn't this like disabling the Contacts/GPS/FINE/COARSE location permissions ? but just a convenient way. I believe some apps refuse to work if you disable FINE/COARSE location

    • dalingrin

      It doesn't disable the permissions. Many apps do not handle permission exceptions which caused many problems with CyanogenMod's older selective permissions.

    • Jon

      Expanding on dalingrin comment: If you disabled the permission, the application got the access to the permission denied, and whenever that exception wasn't handled properly (very often), the app completely crashed.
      Some apps like LBE (and now Cyanogenmod) are trying a different trick: The permission is granted, but then the app reaches an empty list of SMS/Contacts/Calls/Accounts, or a disabled GPS, etc. It's making the app think it got the access to your stuff.
      Yesterday I wished I had something like this. In an airport in China to get Wifi, they forced you to either have a local number (I didn't), or download an android app that would log you in with no problem. Checked the permissions of the apk: Access to fine GPS, contacts, accounts SMS (including sending), and call logs (including making calls). Nope.

    • Sqube

      There's a difference between telling someone "you can't go there" versus "you can go there... but there's nothing there to see."

      This does the second, which is a lot better for applications that might not otherwise play nicely.

  • Alan Shearer

    First Halo in Paranoid, now this in cyanogemod, you developers are innovating much more than the hardware manufacturers, Keep up the good work!!

  • charlie

    anyone knows which cm theme is this?

    • Chuck Winters

      It's flow. It uses transparency and looks really nice. The problem in my opinion is that it uses touchwiz icons

  • cy_n_ic

    Kinda like permissions management that is already integrated in some roms?

    • RvLeshrac

      No, this is not at all like "permissions management," "Permissions management" is punching the app in the face when it asks for data. This is giving it an empty or fake dataset.

      • cy_n_ic

        Your personal vendetta against me is atrocious. I would put that in the same category as "kind of like" since they both achieve the same gooooooooooooooal!

        Now grab ur rubber ducky and go wash the stank of hate off ya.

        • RTWright

          You seem to be the only one with hate going on here. He made a valid point. Just because the goal may be the same, the way it is done is completely different. CM's way is better as you said, because mainly it makes the snooper feel like it's working when it's not. They still get nothing yes, but in certain cases this could be a much better way to handle it.

          • cy_n_ic

            Your oblivious to this situation. Maybe you want to follow all my posts and make snide comments as well?

          • RTWright

            Wow, don't need to man, look at your responses to this. No I don't waste time with folks like you. Just another Nazarian to me. But you are the one getting bent, so go on....

            @rvleshrac:disqus - I'm not discussing which way is better, just saying it's always good to have more options in this area because it does NOT hurt a thing for it being there. You also have to take into account there are people that don't dig into the permissions of every single app they come across ( Even though they should ). This is just another way of handling things is all. Nothing wrong with it.

          • RvLeshrac

            Really, this is always the better way to handle it; "Permissions Management" is likely to return a type not expected by the caller, while "Privacy" will always return the expected, albeit mocked, type.

  • Dan Caseley

    I'm still looking for the "real" sandboxing. There are apps I can't use because they detect root. I won't unroot for them, but I'd love to see a capability to run inside a "fake" environment that'd spoof answers for all external calls.

    • RvLeshrac

      Apps that "detect root" are shat on by the majority of reviewers until they remove that ridiculous bullshit. Square did it really goddamned quick with Dimensions.

      • http://www.twitter.com/ninjustin ninjustin

        The problem with Square is that they do that then they fix it because users complain. But then the next app they do the same damn thing.

      • Dan Caseley

        In my case, it's my bank's app (Barclays). Can't see them getting collecting feedback, let alone bending to pressure - they'll not see the value.

  • milksop held

    So awesome!

  • Mikel Ardanaz

    S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2 S2

    • http://www.twitter.com/ninjustin ninjustin

      You missed a space. It's ruined

      • Mikel Ardanaz

        CHANGED

  • Jonny

    Love you!!