Remove Those Intruding Ads!

Illustration of Intrusive Ads
Being a long-time Android user, it's hard not to get familiar with ads. Yes, being Open Source, there are countless SDKs involving various advertising networks and platforms that developers can use to monetize their applications. I don't say it's bad, and I can't say it is because it's actually a win-win solution, for both developers and users.

Monetizing apps with ads actually helps everyone. It helps developers get money for their hard work, it helps advertisers doing their business, and it also helps companies market their products to a greater audience. Most importantly, ads in apps allow us users to get more free apps in the Play Store. See the picture?

However, despite that fact, there are also limits to which apps can be monetized. Earning money isn't wrong, but sometimes the way we use to get money isn't right. An example of this is when I was asked a few days ago by my father to fix his tablet. It's an Android tablet which is kind of hard to use for older people, so I thought that it might be a misconfiguration of some kind. However, I was shocked to find out that it's much worse than that.

Every time you unlock the tablet, the tablet would immediately open the browser and lead to a certain advertising network that offers "free apps". I thought it was caused by my father immediately locking the tablet without returning to the home screen, so I tried locking and unlocking again. Unfortunately, the same thing happened. I tried for about five times, until I was certain that something was wrong. To make matters worse, the tablet would show a full-screen ad in a certain time interval, pausing any task you're doing until you either click the ad, or the big cross button on one corner of the screen...

I knew that one of the apps must be the culprit, but which one?

I searched the Internet for solutions but most of them recommended me to buy Antivirus apps. Unfortunately, I'm a cheapskate. If it's not free, I'd rather avoid it. Heck, I even got free AV apps but they don't seem to help me. I've scanned and removed suspicious apps and/or files, but the problem was still there.

Fortunately, one forum recommended me to get a free app called Addons Detector. Yes, its UI isn't pretty, but at critical times, I think you'd rather get an ugly-but-functional app than a beautiful-but-useless app. Plus, it's very easy to use. Allow me to explain.

Initial Screen
First thing you have to do after installing and opening the app is press that red "Scan" button in the middle. This will make the app scan every app installed in your system. After the scan, you'll have more options available, although the "Livescan Monitor" appears to only be available as an in-app purchase. This means that every time you open this app, you'll need to scan manually.

Next, I'll explain each of the features this app has, starting with Notification Monitor. If you've been following Android long enough, I'm sure you're aware that there are ad platforms that use Notification Bar as the media for their advertising. This section tracks what items are residing in your notification bar and where it came from. With any luck, you might just find that annoying notification ad culprit.

Currently mine doesn't have any notification items. If there were, then it would be
shown here
If the Notification Monitor doesn't work, there's another option: Addons. This will allow you to see what add ons your applications have and use. There are lots of add ons, such as game engines, licensing modules, advertising, etc. However, based on my experience, most problems are caused by advertising add ons. So, you should give it the first try. If you know which platform is causing you trouble, seeking the culprit this way might be the right thing for you. Once you find the app(s) that uses the 'evil' ad platform, go ahead and uninstall it.

Not very convenient to sort each app one by one, but this might be the most
effective way to solve ad problems if you know which platform is causing your trouble.
Next is the shortcut manager. I don't really know what that is, but I suppose it detects all the shortcuts your apps create, such as links, etc. I heard that there are Android adwares that put shortcuts on your home screen, so I suppose this section detects such. Unfortunately, in order to activate it, you need to enable the Shortcut Monitor service. Otherwise, the app won't detect anything.

The Shortcut Monitor controls your... Well, shortcuts.
Additionally, for geeks or average Joes who know a little bit more about Android permissions, this next feature might just make your effort finding your trouble easier. Yes, the next feature is the Permission Explorer. This feature basically just lists installed applications based on Android's specific permissions. In case you don't know, one app might need more than one permission, so don't be surprised to see an app with the same name in two different permissions. 

Finding the troublemaker using this feature might be harder and more time-consuming for average users, but if you know a little bit or two about permissions, using this feature might be easier for you to find your culprits.

The Permission Explorer allows you to see what apps are using
which permissions
Next, and the final feature of this app is to sort your apps based on their installation dates. If you can't find out which app is causing you trouble, then remembering when it first occurred might just give you a way out. This feature helps you find which apps were installed when you first encountered your trouble.

If you don't know what's causing you trouble, remembering when it first
occurred might help give you a way out.
Well, I guess that's all about Addons Detector I could explain. It's a small program, but very useful for keeping your systems clean of intruding ads. Once again, I'm not saying that you should ban ad-powered apps from your phone. It's actually a win-win solution between users and developers. However, if you start feeling that your privacy is being intruded, maybe it's time to get rid of those ads.

Okay, that's all for now, Folks. I hope that you find this article useful, as this little app saves my dad's tablet life. He was so furious that he might just throw it onto the wall. Anyway, as usual, if you have any questions, just post them in the Comments section and I'll see what I can do to help. Finally, thanks for reading, have a nice day, and I'm looking forward to your next visit :)

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