A Serious Warning on "Virtual Button" Apps and "Accessibility Services"
This is going to seem three reviews in one. It's not. To be able to write a review a dot com (or other dot) must be used. As you can see from the 4 stars I don't have anything against Android developers. Except they teach ppl to build apps to use a service (built into all Android phones and computers) that holds a HUGE POTENTIAL FOR CRIMINAL USE. They plainly state the "rules," but since there is virtually nothing besides a slap on the hand back of the little enforcement there is, and none whatsoever outside of the "first world," this leaves misuse wide open.
This is a very dangerous situation, so take heed.
I'm talking about apps that offer "Substitute Buttons."
Their original use is to give handicapped ppl better access to attributes of phones and computers they can't use otherwise. To do this these apps BIND THE ACCESSIBILITY SERVICES to their app. This does Not mean a phone is now "accessible" to the user, it means Every Keystroke you make, Every Button you touch, Every Word you speak, is now running through the app! "Binding" means accessible to Them! Via the app.
In an honest situation this is not taken advantage of;
Site you visit, every form you fill out, every transaction you make, including your Bank Account(s), your Credit Cards, and all the pin numbers that go with them, are now accessible to the producers of the app.
Many of these apps have bad English versions of, "This app Safe. Not collect terminal information." Of Course a criminal would say that, but your info does not have to be "collected," only sent!
There are a slew of these apps on the internet, and two of special interest I picked out as an example from google store. Google has recently had an "episode" involving serious criminal activity such as that above. They are claiming to be dealing with it by, "Releasing an alternative to using Accessibility Services," but by word around the net this is stop-gap, unable to fulfill the need, and meanwhile (if ever) the only punishment for this is still what it always has been: being banned from google store. Big Deal! These ppl go to Android Developer, learn how to make these apps, take in a couple million stolen dollars in a month or two, and are Banned? I'm sure they laughed all the way to the bank.
There is a common problem, especially with older phones, that causes the Return, Home, and
Buttons to slowly fade into inoperable, that is the reason ppl go to these apps. Short of physical damage this is fixable, and I'll tell you at the end what I did to avoid these sketchy apps.
I'm not saying these two apps I've picked out are backed by criminals, but they do show good examples of what is very suspicious, and what you as a potential user should watch for if you're in the market for "virtual" buttons:
Back Button & Navigation Bar for Android are the two.
Tho I'm pretty sure these ppl have put out other apps as well, I'm also pretty sure Back Button No Root is not one of them. Just to avoid any mistakes. But I'm not real happy with Their stats either.
Looking over these two apps, I downloaded them, and the discovery of so many suspicious things is what drove me to do the in-depth research you see here. First, tho they try to make them look different, these are the same app. The name on BB is proviyon proguard, and insignia app on NBfA, But, both claim one million downloads, both are at gmail with No further address or info. Not even a country of origin, both use the same rocket logo, both are version 1. 0. 2, and released 6/26/17 and 6/29/27 two days apart. These are the same people faking two different apps. BB says it needs only 1 permission, NBfA says it needs No additional permissions. These Are Both Lies! There are actually 4.
First they suck you in, Then you find out. Oops, there Are more permissions "needed," but one at a time!
Even then it didn't seem so bad (but wait till we get to the last one!), being "kill background processes" and I quote: "stop unuseful app services & save RAM memory." Well OK... until you think about it. I went, "Hmm... what apps?" What does the bad English word "unuseful" mean? Then I realized that whatever apps they chose to "kill" would stop working, at least until I reset my phone, at which time the app would only kill it again. What if I want those apps? Is that something you want? Depends on how hard up you are for this app I suppose. But whatever, I went on knowing I can always delete the sucker and start over if I have to.
So I got to the Third permission they were not going to ask for, "Ads from Google Admob." Again I had to go, 'Hmm." Why in blue blazes would That need a permission? Ads were admitted to from the start! Then I realized it's a cozen. Keep in mind these are layered. You can't even see the next till you've gone thru the first ones, and they get worse as you go, but at each layer they hope you stay stupid and go ahead and click Accept before you look any farther. Which is always Right there waiting. The cozen is this... ads don't need any "further" permissions, but to make it seem they are being nice about it they ask permission for This one. But why not just let it go? Because turning Google Admob loose on you Should need a permission, and maybe I'm wrong about it being unnecessary. Here's why: Google is bad enough, but Admob is a telling word; two parts, ad and mob. The ads we sign up for with free apps, but mob" is a whole 'nuther thing... just as it sounds, the entire Mob, (meaning "unruly crowd") of of advertising companies associated with google. Those of the "Cloud," will now get a shot at you. Or two, or a dozen, or... if you > Accept. There are not just thousands of them, there are millions. But whatever, that's just ads, so I went on again, but...
Uh Oh! Hold on here. There appeared a forth permission, (next page under) this time in Red! My phone is set to give me warnings of things "wrong" such as bad certificates and that... and now they want to, "Bind Access Services." To paraphrase the pop-up, this means that they, and Only they, via their app, can control All access to. And From. Your phone (or computer) from the Outside! Everything is very carefully worded to make you think this app is a stand-alone thing."app safe. Does not collect terminal data," when exactly the opposite is true. (This does not, however, cut out the phone's manufacturer or Google. Can you even imagine google giving up That?).
Now get ready for the last bit: When you > Accept it sends you to Settings, Accessibility... and there's this app! No other apps are there. It wasn't there before, but it is now, and they want You to turn it On (from Off). This means manually. But why? Why doesn't this app just do it? All other apps do. You've already clicked Accept, so why must You take that final step? Because IT'S A CRIMINAL ACT if they do it for you.
Remember this was a flag my phone threw up, warning me that if I > that final button all the above about bank numbers might create your worst nightmare, and You Are On Your Own if it does. You clicked the button. You gave them permission, and
THESE APPS ARE SPYWARE!
Whether or not the people behind them are honest or criminals.
That said, here's how I fixed my phone when my bottom buttons started to falter: Aside from physical damage the problem is invariably lack of space. Lack of space also means that your RAM is also taken up by dealing with all that junk, and this is why the buttons go wonky before they fail entirely. The answer is to make space, and researching this I found out you don't have to off complete apps to do this, you can delete their data instead. I'm not sure why this is not commonly known, except it's against the best interests of google, and what you get with the flag "can't download, not enough space" is, "Here, off this app!" invariably choosing the last one you would pick; basically telling you that's all you can do.
So here's the thing... the cache is unimportant, safe to delete, but seldom has enough mb to matter. The data is collected bits mostly to help Them (google), and a tiny part that's your game scores and that. Deleting it does nothing at all to the app. It resets it to exactly as it was when brand new. Depending on the app then, the only thing(s) you May have to do is re-enter your settings, name and la la, maybe a password or two. Mostly you don't even have to do that.
Now, where Google is concerned, they are the biggest offenders, and where you gain the most. Don't worry, this is Google, rapacious to say the least, and their warnings that you'll be sorry if you mess with them are bs. They are not about to let You, their dim witted customer, go and lose Their data. So what happens when you delete some 150mb or a gig of data from google play service is nothing. All your account data is still there. Your gmail, et al, because They have it. The stuff on your phone is just like cookies, guides for them about you. The proof of this is that you'll have to do it again in a fraction of the time it took to get there the first time. Every update adds it's own, etc. Why/How? Because they Want it there to use, and will immediately start to replace it. What do you gain then? Well first you get the immediate megabytes. Then as those fade and you kill it again there's less to put back. The stuff before the last update being relatively useless to them. So by the second day you'll have, say, 140mb left out of the 200 you gained, but two days after the second kill you'll still have maybe 175 and gaining, because the return is slowing, and redundancy is left out. They don't give a hoot about redundancy when it's on You.;-)
So what I learned here is deleting google's giant pile of data fixed my phone buttons, and
Never even consider using one of the alternate button apps unless you're forced to.