Android Apps

Android Apps evolve to keep up with technology: new versions of the Android OS, new features (e.g. Chromecast)

I used PocketCasts happily to search for and download podcasts. It was acquired by some podcast content providers in 2018, and “upgraded” to version 7 in March 2019. I noticed bugs – the phone got hot and showed high battery use (this was noted in a Reddit thread); playback froze when I used the cast function to play it over my home audio. Also, the app nagged and nudged users to create an account and log in to a Web service. The bugs may have been tied to using the service without registering. Others complained that some features disappeared.

There are podcast/media player apps with more features and less bugs.

I found Player FM as a replacement for PocketCasts. It did not nudge to create an account – it would not start without creating an account and logging in with a third party service.

Many new Apps require a login with Google or Facebook. A user id is a good data key but is based on personally identifiable information. This is essential data to make surveillance economics work.

I have an Android streaming box. The home page is an Android TV App launcher skin. It came preloaded with “home screen channels” presenting rows of “Play Next” links – suggestions – from Netflix, Amazon Prime and Google Play. These channels can be turned off. These channels extend the services onto the device home page, even when the Apps themselves are not otherwise active.

For about 3-4 weeks, a Google App Store “App Spotlight” channel would show up every time I turned the box on, even after I switched it off on the previous session. There was a Reddit – people suggested turning off Google Play services updates to kill the zombie channel. Others thought that Google would patch it.

These services want my attention, even when I have other ideas of how to spend my time and what to watch. I used to think when I bought a device I owned it and could control it. But somebody thinks I owe a company my time to take pitches for new content and services.

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