08
Jul
tbt

If you use the stock browser on the Sprint Samsung Galaxy S4, you may notice the strange button in the corner. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the Lumen Toolbar. It shipped on the S4, but Sprint is just now detailing it as part of the carrier's Pinsight Media+ mobile advertising program. You know those obnoxious toolbars that programs are always trying to cram on your PC? This is the same thing, but your carrier is doing it to you.

Just a quick tap, and the Lumen Toolbar provides "rich, unparalleled opportunities for brand advertisers to engage Sprint customers." Emphasis added. The toolbar contains various shortcuts for sharing and searches – basically the kind of stuff your phone already does quite well without some toolbar taking up space. Don't be fooled by the carefully crafted PR-speak – these buttons are ads (and why one of them is an old Android Market icon, I cannot say). The video introduction points out advertisers can pay to get premium placement in the toolbar, or in the added services list, or even buy a banner ad in the toolbar.

ltb

tb ba

This thing seems like a totally shameless money grab, and Sprint customers should be upset. As if this wasn't enough, the Lumen Toolbar is coming to more Android devices throughout 2013. Note that Sprint isn't making the toolbar, it just partners with Pinsight Media, which does make it.

Sprint's positive attitude about this addition might be the most annoying part. I rolled my eyes so hard while watching the video I thought they were going to fall out. There were already plenty of reasons to use a different browser, and this is just one more. Full (smarmy) PR below.

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), July 08, 2013 - Sprint today announced the launch of the Lumen Toolbar, which allows Sprint customers to intuitively and easily share content, find deals and discover new apps to download. The robust mobile browser extension platform offers high-profile exposure for developers to promote their apps and rich, unparalleled opportunities for brand advertisers to engage with Sprint customers. The Lumen Toolbar is currently available on Samsung Galaxy S 4 and is scheduled to arrive on numerous Android™-powered smartphones throughout 2013.

The Lumen Toolbar is a linchpin of Sprint’s Pinsight Media+ mobile advertising program, giving brand managers a number of advertising options. Advertisers can sponsor a time-defined button on the toolbar, enabling users with one-click access into the sponsor’s content. Brands can also add their own button in the toolbar’s extensive catalog and allow users to place their button on their own personalized versions of the toolbar. Finally, there is also traditional static banner and rich media advertising inventory available within the Lumen Toolbar, enabling ads to be displayed directly above each user’s toolbar. A video demonstration of the Lumen Toolbar is available online.

“The Lumen Toolbar is intuitive to use and customize, so customers naturally adopt it as part of their routines,” said Kevin McGinnis, vice president of Product Platforms and Services at Sprint. “For developers and service providers seeking distribution opportunities, the Lumen Toolbar provides tremendous visibility and contextually relevant discoverability directly from the browser. The browser extension framework makes it easy for developers to integrate their apps, website or APIs.”

The Lumen Toolbar is powered by Skyfire’s Horizon browser extension platform, which adds value and ease-of-use to the mobile Internet for users and creates key opportunities for incremental revenue for mobile operators. It rides on top of the native browser on Sprint smartphones and recommends new apps to download. It also finds deals and content that are contextually recommended to Sprint customers based on the page they’re currently browsing. Sprint customers can disable the toolbar or elect not to permit analytics to be collected through the toolbar at their discretion.

“Sprint has been aggressive and first to market with numerous mobility innovations over the years,” said Skyfire CEO Jeff Glueck. “We’re delighted that the Pinsight Media+ team has chosen to partner with Skyfire to promote radically improved browsing for their customers, while unlocking new opportunities for brand advertisers to reach them in a targeted, personalized, non-intrusive manner.”

[Sprint Newsroom]

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.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

    First they came with pre-loaded apps that could not be uninstalled, and I said nothing, because I did not use the pre-loaded apps.

    Then, they came with the pre-loaded apps that give you notifications once every few weeks suggesting you try them, and I said nothing, because I am lazy and forgetful.

    And then they came with the toolbars, and I said "fuck this" and bought my own god damn unlocked GSM phone.

    • mesmorino

      GSM is the only way Americans are going to defeat all this carrier bullshit, honestly. I cannot imagine half of these nonsensical schemes ever seeing the light of day in the UK, and we already have our own nonsensical schemes you know?

      • Cory Wilson

        Yeah gsm all the way, you can't even get an unlocked phone for sprint or Verizon, they even tainted their nexus devices to some extent, disabling wallet, delaying updates, adding some bloat, etc

    • Alan Shearer

      Or root and custom rom. :) More reason to get your own unlocked phone, freedom from crap like this as well as freedom to choose your own carrier, plans, and control your updates :)

      The more you know......

      • Ryan O’Neill

        ...the more you Kohl's.

    • S. Ali

      So go buy an iPhone or Windows Phone. You want to use a customizable OS and then complain when carriers decide to exercise their right to customize it. What is wrong with you people? This is besides the fact that AP post "deals" to Verizon/Sprint phones weekly suckering more people into contracts.

      • Cory Wilson

        PC manufacturers have been doing this for years but it's not that big of a deal. Why? Because on a pc I can easily whipe all the bloatware and windows tweaks and have pure windows! I don't care if oems do this but why can't we delete it?

        • Wesley Modderkolk

          You could also flash it with a "pure" Android, but then your warranty will be void.

          • Cory Wilson

            You don't even have to do that, just achieve root access, use a file explorer of your choice and navigate to system/apps and start deleting. Of course depending on the phone, acheiving root could take anywhere from 5 minutes to several hours of reading detailed instructions.

          • Wesley Modderkolk

            Correct, but the problem with such things is that in doing so your warranty will be void, not 100% sure with rooting though

          • Cory Wilson

            It's not an ideal solution, I agree with that. It doesn't necessarily void your warranty, the way I see it, it's only void if they can tell you modified it. Some phones like my former Captivate, you can just flash a factory image on it, and you're good to go for warranty. Other phones however, have detection methods like my vivid that would say "relocked" if you relocked the bootloader. Still not ideal, they need to just put their crap in the user apps folder so anyone can just uninstall them

        • Matthew Fry

          The whole system/app protection scheme is stupid. It gives too much control to abusers. Google should make a protected area for truly system apps and disallow oems from muscling in.

      • varun

        Actually, most of this is an incoherent and incomprehensible rant, but AP guys: why not consider the suggestion to avoid posting Sprint deals until they stop with this sort of BS? Or would that basically leave only the MVNOs and T-Mobile?

      • marcusmaximus04

        GOD FORBID WE CRITICIZE CERTAIN ASPECTS OF THINGS WE OTHERWISE LIKE.

  • http://planetmew.com/blog/ Christopher Glass

    I don't mind things that intend to make phones better, and you can't really fault them for trying to add a new nifty quick shortcut, but as soon as it gets to the "Or you can sponsor a banner ad" that's when it gets to the FUCK YOU GO AWAY territory.

  • daniel sutton

    pinsight is a concatenation of the words pinhead and insight apparently

    • mesmorino

      Worse, it is an *illegal* concatenation. They have gone TOO FAR.

      • Ryan

        Curious, define how this is illegal. The oem builds the phone and software, the carrier dictates what the software is and what apps are pre-installed, including those that make their own software.

  • MasterMuffin

    Babylon or Ask, anyone?

  • Miles

    This just makes me love Cyanogen more and more!

  • Michael Pinson

    That was the first thing I disabled on my new phone.

  • Richie

    Can this tool bar be disabled in the stock browser?

    • Kelly

      "Sprint customers can disable the toolbar or elect not to permit analytics to be collected through the toolbar at their discretion." I still hate it, and hate that it is enabled by default, and that it cannot be uninstalled. At least it can be disabled.

  • Cory Wilson

    This is exactly why I'm a nexus 4 owner and never plan on signing a contract to get the latest smartphone ever again! 6 months in and I haven't even rooted yet and may never, I couldn't make it a month on my at&t phones!

  • Mastermind26

    Nice! We get bigger screens for more room....for adds to take up that room.
    Just what we all wanted!

  • DavidHuggs

    Oh, nice. They are (of course) moderating the comments on the YouTube video page. Probably that's why there are no comments.
    At least they cannot censor our thumbs. So... LET'S SHOVE THUMBS DOWN INTO THEIR VIDEO!!!

  • TylerChappell

    I hope I am not the only one who watched the video solely for the beautiful man in it.

    • STLM83

      Wasn't sure what I thought about him at first but watched it just because of your comment

      • TylerChappell

        :D It was the best part of the whole video!

  • Kiamat

    Annnnnd this is yet another reason why I switched to buying unlocked GSM phones.

  • fzammetti

    You could always just, you know, disable it. Or use any of the 3 dozen other browsers available that won't be impacted. Choices, and whatnot.

  • Trotter

    Yet another reason to root and ROM...

    • sssgadget

      Every mom and dad don't know how to :/ but valid point or better yet vote with our wallets and go unlocked.

      • Trotter

        Honestly... who willingly goes with Sprint now anyways? My work phone is on Sprint and the coverage blows.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=708741524 Robb Nunya

      Or at least load a different effin' browser.

  • cabbiebot

    Meet Nick, archetypal consumer whore.

  • Ryan Stewart

    Yay. You get a terrible CDMA networks, barely any LTE coverage and now adware.

  • Jachym Kokesh Lukes

    Bonzibuddy!!!!!!!!!!!!! Spent few hours removing that f'n monkey from customer's PC. Next day the lady informed me, that she was missing that cute blue monkey, but she found it and installed it again. Memories...

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=708741524 Robb Nunya

      I hated that little bastard.

      • Jachym Kokesh Lukes

        I remember when I saw it on the first PC, I had no idea what it was... after I got 10th offer I understood what it was and declared war to this crap. It was quite wide spread at the time, mostly with women in administrative positions. I had few big companies as customers and at least few of those blue(or purple?) bastards lived in each one of them.

    • Cerberus_tm

      That, Sir, is the funniest story I have heard in a long time. You make my day! Next time, install an interactive Clippy wallpaper for her. Like this:

  • Cory Wilson

    Honestly I dunno why people use sprint anyway, there network is a joke. Unlimited data but the catch is you can never use it because your signal sucks everywhere. In 2010, anxious to get my first android phone and get unlimited data, I planned to switch to sprint for an Epic 4G, but got to anxious and upgraded to the Samsung Captivate on At&t instead. Seeing the luck other people have had with sprints network, I'm really glad my impatience got the best of me, not to mention I really hate cdma, and my current phone, nexus 4, wouldn't even work on sprint!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=708741524 Robb Nunya

      My signal is fine. Maybe you should move somewhere that doesn't suck.

      • Cory Wilson

        Not in Indianapolis, everyone I know with sprint has issues. And really who honestly wants some dated cdma crap? Sprint and Verizon are living in the 90s with that crap. At least Verizon nearly is full lte now so cdma will be coming to an end their soon, sprint screwed themselves gambling on some wii max technology that failed now they gave to rebuild their 4G network from scrap

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=708741524 Robb Nunya

    I consider this a stupidity tax. If you aren't smart enough to root your own phone, you get what's coming to you.

  • Matthew Fry

    I hope this was a stupid Sprint move and Softbank gets rid of it.

  • MADDIE

    HOW TO DISABLE THIS CRAP!! PLEASE HELP

  • Alex Edwards

    As both a Customer and Share holder I can honestly say this is appalling. Lumen is nothing more than poor marketing bloatware trying to get revenue in the most annoying ways. Even if it's good this puts it automatically in negative lighting for most of us as we didn't ask for it or install it ourselves. First of all, most people only install Toolbars on their laptops/desktops because they get stealth installed in and don't customize installations of software. Adobe Reader being a good example of it by installing either the Ask or Google toolbar with it. As a helpdesk tech i've seen it dozens of times in one building with updates that didn't come from the local IT update push. Usually, again, from Adobe product updates not installed by IT techs. Except this is a new level of stealth, you never even install it as it comes from the sprint store with it pre-installed and enabled. I've turned it off on my particular smart phone but I can't uninstall it all together and it's updates are done the same way and reenable it on top of running a process needlessly in the background that keeps popping back up. I mean really, most people don't like desktop toolbars so why on god's green earth would people want a toolbar on a less powerful mobile device? Sprint, for all things sacred give us the uninstall option for this Bloatware.

  • gloebodia

    Glad for this article. I haven't used the lumen tb and will be deleting it. There were more apps pre installed on my s4 than I would like. I do enjoy finding what are my favorites and using them as needed. Robbing me of this and taking up space is offensive and annoying. That's how Sprint treat their loyal customers. $$$$!