Some of us simply don’t like to store their private or personal data on „sombody else’s computer“1. So if I have a password store on my mobile device, it should have no „phone home“ functionalities, and thus needs no network (or other communication) permissions: it should store its data safely and encrypted on my device. If I want that data to be synchronized to some other device (e.g. my home computer), that’s a task for another tool which needs those communication permissions – but should have no access to my contacts, bookmarks, calendars, or call lists.
The idea is clear: put each thing in its own sandbox, giving it exactly what’s needed for the purpose intended. Just the search for such an app can prove tedious, as there are other requirements we’ve got towards our app: we want a certain functionality, it should have a good rating, and so on. While during a market search, results can be ordered by criteria like popularity, ratings, or price, I’m not aware of any market giving the user an interface to filter by permission.
Regular visitors to this site might know this can be done here by the app search at IzzyOnDroid. But that search is only applied to the (currently approx. 10,000) hand selected apps this site features. Though that has the advantage of „crap” being quasi non-existent, that number doesn’t represent more than 1% of all apps available e.g. at Google Play and, more specifically, this site doesn’t cover all topics (e.g. no games). A while ago, there was an app named APEFS (pronounced: „ape FS”), but that became unavailable when the Playstore was restructured in Summer 2013, and never returned. Luckily, today I can present you with an replacement:
StripSearch is a pretty young app, just hatched from its egg a few days ago (middle of September, 2014) – so please bear with the dev for any slight inconveniences. It is far from being completed – but Galen, the dev, has proven very responsive and quick to fix any issues presented with. And putting the remaining „first things first”: Despite it being not mature, it already does a good job – as you can see in the screenshot to the right: Here they are, my password safes requiring no communication permissions. Hopefully – as I didn’t check each result (to be honest: I’m far from being through checking all combinations of possible parameters, and this is no lab test but rather an introduction )
So referencing the screenshots below, let’s take a small walk-through what this app has to offer.
With some luck, the app works „out-of-the-box“ – so let’s first pretend it does, and look on possible traps later. Once the app is launched, you’re taken to the start page (screenshot ①) – which already holds a small collection of „promotional apps” (other apps available at the Playstore and written by Galen). It has a drop-down box to select a permission filter from, and (at the very top) a search bar to put your search term into. A couple of useful "filter groups" already come pre-defined, so you can simply pick one (or not), enter your search term, and start the search.
Which will lead to the result list (as already shown for my „password safes“). This list is of course scrollable, and will dynamically be extended with more entries once you reach its end (if there are more). This way, first results are presented fast, and you don’t have to wait ages for the search to return. If you tap an entry, you get the usual Android prompt as shown in screenshot ⑥, asking you what to complete the action with. Depending on what apps you’ve installed, your option list might be longer than mine
Oh, forgot to say: that only applies if you tap the name or icon of the app. If you instead tap the little green guy to the right of the app entry, it shows you what permissions the corresponding app requests.
As indicated, the app comes with a useful set of filters already preconfigured in groups. You can re-arrange their order ② or remove filters you don’t need, to have those you require more often in easy reach and are not bothered with those you’d never use. It’s also possible to ③ investigate their setup, adjust the combinations, or define your own „filter groups“ (the „Add New Filter“ item is at the end of the list, not visible in the screenshot).
Finally, there are a few things you can configure, as screenshots ④ and ⑤ show: there’s a light and a dark color scheme, you can tell the app how to sort results (popular, newest, or featured apps first – or no sorting at all), set a price limit, define how to deal with multiple requirements, and finally define login credentials to use for the Playstore. By default, for the latter „anonymous access” is pre-set. Unfortunately, this showed to not always work reliably – so if on executing a search you get a toast telling you problems with the login, specify your own credentials here. These do not necessarily have to be the ones of your primary (or secondary) account(s) configured with that device, it’s not even required to be yours – but they must belong to an existing and active Google account.
After my short test of the app, there are a few things I can tell you about it:
- it’s definitely worth trying
- for the early stage the app is in, it’s already very useful
- there might still be some bugs here and there – but if you report them to the dev (instead of simply giving the app a low rating), they’re usually fixed quickly
- there might be features you’re missing. Again, Galen is open to suggestions.
The app comes free of …
- spying stuff
- unnecessary permissions (count them: Internet to retrieve the data from, GServices to get the
android_idrequired to access Google services – full stop for now. A future version might add Get_Accounts and Use_Credentials to save you from disclosing your credentials to the app when entering them manually, instead requesting a token from the account manager (note that Android will ask your confirmation when the app tries to access your account the first time).
My final words on it for now: Go, get it, make up your own opinion
„sombody else’s computer“: a storage more popularly known as „the clowd“ ↩︎