How to detect ad-supported apps on Android

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These applications are those that are responsible for sending announcements anywhere on the terminal, even when we are quietly on the desktop. This causes the user experience to decline notably, since it constantly interrupts us, being indifferent what we are doing. We are going to see the causes that originate this infection and how to detect those applications that are causing it.

What is an adware?

This is all about a variant of malware, known as adware. According to its technical definition, an adware class program is any program that automatically displays or offers unwanted or misleading advertising, either embedded in a web page through graphics, posters, floating windows, or, in this case, during the installation of an application on the user’s Android terminal, in order to generate profit for its authors.

Adware ends up on mobile phones in two different ways: through the browser and through downloaded applications. Browser infection refers to a known exploit, caused by the way most browsers handle the redirect executed by JavaScript code. It is a weak point that can cause pop-up ads to appear. Meanwhile, downloaded app infection is a type of infection with persistent ads.

What happens on your mobile when it has ads

You turn on the phone and see an ad on the lock screen. You unlock the phone, try to open WhatsApp and another ad jumps out that takes up your entire phone and prevents you from doing anything but waiting for it to finish. Advertising in the notifications, in the settings … There is no doubt, the mobile has an app installed with the sole intention of benefiting from advertising. It is even possible that you have been infected with adware, this software that floods your devices with advertising.

If you didn’t get them before, and suddenly your phone is flooded with ads, it can only be due to one cause: you installed an app that is abusing your trust. It is not always easy to locate since developers often slow down the bombardment of ads so that the user do not associate it with a newly installed app. Fortunately, there are several ways to locate the culprit.

In general, the ads that appear without you entering a specific application are usually of two types: notification or popup. The first appear in the notification area as if they were one more notice. They can be static or appear in a specific way. And they are identified as follows:

  • Display the notification area and locate the ad that is bothering you.
  • Press and hold on the notification until the mute options appear.
  • You will see that Android shows you which app has sent the notification.

Knowing the application that is causing the ads to jump, you can easily uninstall it to get rid of them. This is also true for lock screen ads, they are usually notifications: unlock the phone, find out what app it is and delete it.

If you don’t see ads, check manually

In the event that advertising windows appear without coming to mind, it is most likely that an application with permission to overlap the others is taking advantage of fulminate you to popups. To find out:

  • Go to your Android settings and enter the applications section.
  • Enter the options and look for the ‘menuSpecial access‘.
  • Find the overlay permission. It can have different names, everything will depend on the brand: ‘Show on top’, ‘Show on other applications’ …
  • Inspect the apps that are allowed to show on other apps: surely you see some that should not be there.
  • Remove the overlay permission from it and see if app popups keep popping up. If they no longer appear, you already know which application you should uninstall.
  • What keep coming out? Keep disabling the strange apps permission until you find the culprit.

Another good tip is uninstall all applications that you do not consider essential; always starting with antivirus, battery optimizers, junk cleaners and apps that promise to speed up your phone: most of them are a cluster of ads (in addition to being hardly useful, with few exceptions). Most likely, after mass uninstallation, excess ads will evaporate.

AppWatch, an app to detect advertising on Android

As is often the case, ‘there is an app for that’. You don’t want to complicate your life as an application detective? Well, leave the dirty work in the hands of an app. For example, AppWatch. Use the Android activity log to locate abusive apps. Of course, it is not automatic since you must manually start the scanYou must also go to the activity log to discover the source of the ads. What App Watch does is make the process much easier for you so that abusive advertising disappears from your mobile. Once App Watch is installed, carry out the following process:

  • Open AppWatch and authorize the permission to access the use of the applications.
  • Go back to AppWatch and click on the ‘buttonStart tracking‘. From that moment on, the application will record the activity of the applications, showing you a permanent notification.
  • Use your mobile in the normal way until an ad that is not for the application in use pops up.

appwatch detect advertising

  • Immediately open AppWatch (from the persistent notification) and look at the last app on the list. That will be the culprit of the publicity.
  • The time between when the ad skips and you access the AppWatch activity log should be minimal since an innocent application could be activated giving a false positive.
  • Uninstall the app in question and you’re done.

It may be the case that you have several applications installed that are sending invasive advertising. If that’s what happens to you you will have to repeat the steps of AppWatch until you completely clean the mobile. Remember that the application does not remove the ads, it only offers you information so that you can detect the culprits. And once you finish you can deactivate AppWatch and remove it from the phone.

AppWatch: Detect Pop-Up Ads Source
AppWatch: Detect Pop-Up Ads Source