SOFTWARE DEVELOPER Google might further stretch its "Don't Be Evil" mantra to deliver advertising in its latest version of Gmail for Android.
The new version of Gmail for Android app attracted the most attention in a week that saw many of the stock Android apps updated, moving towards the card-based structure of Google Now.
Up to now, stock Android apps have been free from advertising, but with the latest update that Google began rolling out last week came some new code lurking in the background. According to an apk teardown by Android Police there will be a variety of options for advertising, including 'toasts', or one line pop-ups, and most worryingly of all dummy messages in the 'promotions' folder, suggesting that, just as in the web version, soon there will be spam mixed in with ham.
The code isn't active yet and there is no indication from Google that this is going to be happening, but developing the system suggests that, at the very least the idea is being floated for future rollout.
In many ways this is an inevitable move. After all, what firm wouldn't want to monetise one of its most popular apps, especially given that users have become used to advertising on the desktop version of Gmail from the beginning. However, this will come as a shock to Android's user base, which is used to a system free from advertising.
It remains to be seen if there will be a premium option to remove advertising like most third party apps offer, and whether this is the beginning of a strategy by Google of monetising Android apps.
Users will hope it won't be the latter, as it has been documented that banner advertising saps battery life, and regardless of the intrusions they might cause, if they are going to stop users' batteries from making it to bedtime the only people who will benefit are those that make portable chargers. µ
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