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View Full Version : New Populele is great but the phone app permissions are insane



Chordless
07-20-2017, 08:19 PM
The long awaited Populele is finally shipping! Got mine today and it looks great, good packaging, nicely made, quality sound comparable to a $100 concert uke from a music store. Plus it's got 72 led lights that can teach you new chords and songs or tell you what that weird chord you just played is called, all very cool.

So I plug this thing in to charge and go to download the app. It only has 100 downloads and 6 reviews, OK fine, this thing is super new. But when I click it and the permissions page comes up it has about a dozen things it wants access to on my phone. I would expect access to blue tooth and the mic so it can hear the uke, permission to keep the screen on etc. But it's asking for... everything.

All my contacts
Ability to change my network settings, read all my text messages, send and delete texts, see all files, see all account information for google etc., see all my pictures and videos, and my exact location??? The list goes on. This is supposed to be a fun uke app, why do I feel like China is trying to hack my phone?

I messaged the company on facebook, I will post back here when they explain what's going on, I am hoping it was a programming oversight and they will fix it, in the mean time I am not putting this on my phone!

Here is a link to the app details, check out the section on permissions it is asking for:
https://www.allfreeapk.com/populele-international,13479172/



Here is the list of what it wants access to on my phone:
Populele International APK's Permissiom From Google Play:

Change/intercept network settings and traffic:

Allows the app to change network settings and to intercept and inspect all network traffic, for example to change the proxy and port of any APN. Malicious apps may monitor, redirect, or modify network packets without your knowledge.

Find accounts on the device:

Allows the app to get the list of accounts known by the device. This may include any accounts created by applications you have installed.

Modify or delete the contents of your USB storage:

Allows the app to write to the USB storage.

Precise location (GPS and network-based):

Allows the app to get your precise location using the Global Positioning System (GPS) or network location sources such as cell towers and Wi-Fi. These location services must be turned on and available to your device for the app to use them. Apps may use this to determine where you are, and may consume additional battery power.

Read phone status and identity:

Allows the app to access the phone features of the device. This permission allows the app to determine the phone number and device IDs, whether a call is active, and the remote number connected by a call.

Read sensitive log data:

Allows the app to read from the system's various log files. This allows it to discover general information about what you are doing with the device, potentially including personal or private information.

Read the contents of your USB storage:

Allows the app to read the contents of your USB storage.

Read your contacts:

Allows the app to read data about your contacts stored on your device, including the frequency with which you've called, emailed, or communicated in other ways with specific individuals. This permission allows apps to save your contact data, and malicious apps may share contact data without your knowledge.

Read your text messages (SMS or MMS):

Allows the app to read SMS messages stored on your device or SIM card. This allows the app to read all SMS messages, regardless of content or confidentiality.

Receive text messages (SMS):

Allows the app to receive and process SMS messages. This means the app could monitor or delete messages sent to your device without showing them to you.

Record audio:

Allows the app to record audio with the microphone. This permission allows the app to record audio at any time without your confirmation.

Retrieve running apps:

Allows the app to retrieve information about currently and recently running tasks. This may allow the app to discover information about which applications are used on the device.

View Wi-Fi connections:

Allows the app to view information about Wi-Fi networking, such as whether Wi-Fi is enabled and name of connected Wi-Fi devices.


Populele International APK's Permissiom From APK File:

Populele International APK


PHONE

Allows read only access to phone state, including the phone number of the device, current cellular network information, the status of any ongoing calls, and a list of any PhoneAccounts registered on the device.

Allows read only access to phone state, including the phone number of the device, current cellular network information, the status of any ongoing calls, and a list of any PhoneAccounts registered on the device.


OTHER

Allows access to the vibrator.

Allows an application to read or write the system settings.

Allows an application to receive the ACTION_BOOT_COMPLETED that is broadcast after the system finishes booting.

Allows using PowerManager WakeLocks to keep processor from sleeping or screen from dimming.

Allows applications to open network sockets.

Allows applications to change network connectivity state.

Allows applications to change Wi-Fi connectivity state.

Allows applications to access information about networks.

Allows applications to access information about Wi-Fi networks.

Allows an application to modify global audio settings.

Allows applications to discover and pair bluetooth devices.

Allows applications to connect to paired bluetooth devices.

Allows applications to write the apn settings.

This constant was deprecated in API level 21. No longer enforced.

Allows applications to access information about networks.

Allows applications to access information about Wi-Fi networks.

Allows an application to read the low-level system log files.

Allows applications to open network sockets.


MICROPHONE

Allows an application to record audio.


STORAGE

Allows an application to write to external storage.

Allows an application to read from external storage.


SMS

Allows an application to receive SMS messages.

Allows an application to read SMS messages.


CONTACTS

Allows an application to read the user's contacts data.

Allows access to the list of accounts in the Accounts Service.


LOCATION

Allows an app to access precise location

Croaky Keith
07-20-2017, 08:51 PM
That sure is SPYWARE - you won't have any privacy at all.:stop:

Booli
07-20-2017, 09:24 PM
That sure is SPYWARE - you won't have any privacy at all.:stop:

I agree - EXTREME spyware.

Cool as the Populele may be, if the app wants to do such a proctology exam on my phone, I'd send a very angry message to the app makers, and likely return the Populele for a refund, while posting the info about their reckless disregard for privacy as far and wide as my free time would allow.

BlueTooth (or WiFi), Mic, and maybe Music Library are all the permissions such an app SHOULD need, everything else is due to either negligence or malice.

CAVEAT EMPTOR! (buyer beware)

Ukecaster
07-21-2017, 03:52 PM
I agree - EXTREME spyware.

Cool as the Populele may be, if the app wants to do such a proctology exam on my phone, I'd send a very angry message to the app makers, and likely return the Populele for a refund, while posting the info about their reckless disregard for privacy as far and wide as my free time would allow.

BlueTooth (or WiFi), Mic, and maybe Music Library are all the permissions such an app SHOULD need, everything else is due to either negligence or malice.

CAVEAT EMPTOR! (buyer beware)

Proctolele?? ;)

Booli
07-21-2017, 04:45 PM
Proctolele?? ;)

um, some folks might LIKE that, sort of a two-fer dealie
:smileybounce:

Choirguy
07-21-2017, 05:29 PM
I just downloaded the app on my iPad...it did have me create an account, so I did (e-mail) and then I played around in the app for a while (I do not own a Populele, but will watch for ones to go on sale...this is up my alley. I also love my UkeSB). I did not have any weird permissions...perhaps this is an Android issue?

Inksplosive AL
07-21-2017, 07:43 PM
http://www.androidauthority.com/app-ops-need-know-324850/

IOS and Android work a bit differently.

Johnzalez
07-29-2017, 07:04 AM
This is my first post. Signed up because I got a Populele for my son and was having problems with it. I was hoping to get help here. Turns out I got a defective one and they're sending me a replacement. Their customer service has been awesome, BTW.

As for the app issues, they said it was a "bug" that has been worked out. All those insane permissions are no longer there on the latest version. I haven't verified this, as I uninstalled the app after I realized the uke was defective. I'm going to wait until I have the replacement uke before installing the new one.

Booli
07-29-2017, 07:07 AM
This is my first post. Signed up because I got a Populele for my son and was having problems with it. I was hoping to get help here. Turns out I got a defective one and they're sending me a replacement. Their customer service has been awesome, BTW.

As for the app issues, they said it was a "bug" that has been worked out. All those insane permissions are no longer there on the latest version. I haven't verified this, as I uninstalled the app after I realized the uke was defective. I'm going to wait until I have the replacement uke before installing the new one.

Thanks for sharing your info here. Please report back after you get the replacement and let us know how it goes.

Choirguy
07-29-2017, 06:22 PM
And down the road, when people tire, of the novelty, please DM me if you choose to sell yours at a used market price! :)

Johnzalez
07-31-2017, 01:17 PM
Thanks for sharing your info here. Please report back after you get the replacement and let us know how it goes.

Will do!


And down the road, when people tire, of the novelty, please DM me if you choose to sell yours at a used market price! :)

Will do! :D

For what it's worth, this "smart uke" is for my son. He's been taking piano lessons for a couple years and is doing very well with it. He wants to learn another instrument but his time is limited, as he already puts a lot time practicing the keys and, with chores and schoolwork, I figured this would be helpful in getting him started on the uke. Seems like knowing exactly where to put his fingers for the chords everything might make it a bit easier and fun. We'll see.

I used to mess around with the ukulele years ago. Never got very good but I have a warm spot in my heart for them. I'm sure I'll be messing around with the boy's Populele too. :)

Johnzalez
08-09-2017, 01:47 PM
Okay, here's an update. Populele sent me a return label and I dropped it off at FedEx the next day. It took 2 days to get back to them in Texas and they had a new one out to me the next day. I just got the new Populele in and went to install the new app on my (Android) phone. Although it looks like they got rid of some of the ridiculous permissions needed, it still wants access to:

Device & app history
Cellular Data Settings
Identity
Location
Photos/Media Files
Microphone (I get that)
Wi-Fi connection info
Bluetooth connection info

Am I crazy or does it still look like spyware? Identity? Cell data settings? Location? Device & app history?

Ugh, I'm not sure what to do. My son can't wait to start messing with this thing but I am loathe to put this app on my phone. Thoughts? (thanks in advance)

powerpoff
08-09-2017, 02:19 PM
Okay, here's an update. Populele sent me a return label and I dropped it off at FedEx the next day. It took 2 days to get back to them in Texas and they had a new one out to me the next day. I just got the new Populele in and went to install the new app on my (Android) phone. Although it looks like they got rid of some of the ridiculous permissions needed, it still wants access to:

Device & app history
Cellular Data Settings
Identity
Location
Photos/Media Files
Microphone (I get that)
Wi-Fi connection info
Bluetooth connection info

Am I crazy or does it still look like spyware? Identity? Cell data settings? Location? Device & app history?

Ugh, I'm not sure what to do. My son can't wait to start messing with this thing but I am loathe to put this app on my phone. Thoughts? (thanks in advance)

I agree. I just got my new one today as well because my first one was defective and the permissions are terrible. plus you aren't missing much. The app is terrible as well. It drained my phone battery, made me do awful video tutorials, and I still never got to game play. I have sent a help email as well.

Booli
08-09-2017, 02:34 PM
Okay, here's an update. Populele sent me a return label and I dropped it off at FedEx the next day. It took 2 days to get back to them in Texas and they had a new one out to me the next day. I just got the new Populele in and went to install the new app on my (Android) phone. Although it looks like they got rid of some of the ridiculous permissions needed, it still wants access to:

Device & app history
Cellular Data Settings
Identity
Location
Photos/Media Files
Microphone (I get that)
Wi-Fi connection info
Bluetooth connection info

Am I crazy or does it still look like spyware? Identity? Cell data settings? Location? Device & app history?

Ugh, I'm not sure what to do. My son can't wait to start messing with this thing but I am loathe to put this app on my phone. Thoughts? (thanks in advance)

I would do 2 things:

1. Familiarize yourself with the Android API levels, which are the specs that an app is written to based upon which version of Android, KitKat, Lollipop, etc... and therein is a progression of allowing the developer to specify more granular permissions requests, with each higher level of API number. What this means is that higher API level, can request something like ONLY the last 4 items in your list above, without requiring the rest...I dont have a link, but have found this info on the front page of google search results by searching for 'Android permissions' or 'Android API level' and while some of the content of the results pages you click on to read, may be too dense with programming jargon for a non-programmer, if you persist and sift through it, or do a search from your browser via CTRL-F for 'permissions' can find the info pretty quickly...

2. Once you can see the API levels and have some idea of what level might be less offensive and less like spyware, I would then contact the Populele people, and tell them again that thier app is too invasive, and then pointedly ask them WHICH API level they have written the app against for their baseline, and then kindly request (or even file an official bug report on their web site or forum) for them to make the app less invasive. This is a small task for an app developer that is careful and paying attention, but unfortunately many Android apps are still being written against OLDER API levels in order to maintain compatibility with the giant glut of older, carrier-locked devices that can and will never be upgraded past Android 4.4 or 5.0.

From what I've seen so far, in the past month Android 7.x is current and the granularity of app permissions is on par with Apple's iOS app permissions.

Having said the above, if Populele is unresponsive, or unwilling, there are OTHER apps that do not require a wired-up ukulele with blinky lights, that can do pitch recognition in real-time while teaching to play, and for that you can use ANY ukulele that makes a decent sound.

For a purchase like that, and as has been said many times here on UU, buying a uke from Guitar Center or Amazon is going to be more likely an exercise in disappointment, because those ukes are NOT set up well out of the box, have high action, sharp fret edges and poor intonation, all of which are painful to handle, especially for a beginner.

You would do well to contact Hawaii Music Supply, Mim's Ukes, or Uke Republic, all of which sell nice ukes for $100 or less that will INCLUDE a full inspection and setup before they are shipped, and then you can spend the extra money saved on 1-2 apps that do not want to rape your Android/iOS device with such aggressive/invasive permissions...

I hope you can find a solution, and I am wishing for the best. Please report back what happens...

Johnzalez
08-10-2017, 11:34 AM
Booli, thank you for the very helpful response. I'm not very knowledgeable about this sort of thing but I will see if I can try out some of your suggestions.

I should point out that Populele support has been awesome with responding to my messages, often in minutes. This graphic that they sent addresses my concerns about permissions required with the app...

102171

I installed the app and spent about 10 minutes messing with the thing. The good news is that the app seems to be working well and connects with the uke without issue, mostly. There was a moment when Bluetooth seemed to not be connected-- I restarted the app and all was good.

The only thing I've done so far is use the tuner and chord finder (it IS pretty neat that the frets light up telling you where to put your fingers but they need a bigger chord library). I also played the first "game" which simply is playing the chords along with the app. Tells you if you are getting them right or wrong (it's difficult to get them wrong with the light-up frets). My son will be practicing tonight. I'll post the results afterwards.

Thanks again for the feedback!

Ukelala79
12-02-2017, 01:11 PM
Sadly the app is still asking for way too much access to personal files :(

LarryS
12-03-2017, 12:32 AM
The thing is though the permissions can be turned off in your phone's settings later, at least you can on my phone running Android 7.