Nearby Connections 2.0: fully offline, high bandwidth peer to peer device communication | Android Developers

Announcing Nearby Connections 2.0: fully offline, high bandwidth peer to peer device communication; Ritesh Nayak M; Android Developers; 2017-07-31.
Ritesh Nayak M, Product Manager, GoogleAlphabetGoogleAndroidThatTheyThem (Whatever it is they call themselves these days in the Android Division).


  • As foretoldpromised at Google I/O 2017.
  • Google Play Services 11.0 and up
  • Nearby Connections uses
    • WiFi
    • Bluetooth LE
    • Classic Bluetooth


  • Offline mode (no need to contact Google’s mothership
    <snide>I’ll believe it when I see it</snide>
  • Fully Peer-to-Peer.
  • Switches among radio devices when possible.


  • “Socket-like” connection semantics of ordered, guaranteed-delivered byte streams.
  • Topology
    •  Star: → 1:N topologies
    • Cluster → M:N topologies


Michael Flossman (Lookout) reports that more than 4,000 Android apps secretly record audio and steal logs | Ars Technica

Researchers report >4,000 apps that secretly record audio and steal logs; ; in Ars Technica; 2017-08-12.

tl;dr → Some pro bono work results in a bug report.  Google has already remediated.

Original Sources

Michael Flossman (Lookout); SonicSpy: Over a thousand spyware apps discovered, some in Google Play; In Their Blog; 2017-08-10.


  • SonicSpy
  • SpyNote, is similar


Covert Communication in Mobile Applications | Rubin, Gordon, Nguyen, Rinard

Julia Rubin, Michael I. Gordon, Nguyen Nguyen, Martin Rinard; Covert Communication in Mobile Applications; In Some Venue; 2015-11; 11 pages.

tl;dr → any communication, which when blocked, still allows the application to function is covert communication.


This paper studies communication patterns in mobile applications. Our analysis shows that 63% of the external communication made by top-popular free Android applications from Google Play has no effect on the user-observable application functionality. To detect such covert communication in an efficient manner, we propose a highly precise and scalable static analysis technique: it achieves 93% precision and 61% recall compared to the empirically determined “ground truth”, and runs in a matter of a few minutes. Furthermore, according to human evaluators, in 42 out of 47 cases, disabling connections deemed covert by our analysis leaves the delivered application experience either completely intact or with only insignificant interference. We conclude that our technique is effective for identifying and disabling covert communication. We then use it to investigate communication patterns in the 500 top-popular applications from Google Play.


  • Definitions
    • overt communications → if the app failed when this communication channel was blocked.
    • covert communications → if the app still worked when this channel was blocked
  • Advertising & Analytics (A&A)
  • Therefore this definition covers
    • advertising
    • analytics
    • crash reporting
    • tracking


  • Android battery drain woes? Covert app chatter could be to blame; ; In ZDNet; 2015-11-20.
    Teaser: It’s not clear why Android apps do so much covert chatting with remote servers, especially as there’s nothing in it for the smartphone’s owner.
  • What are your apps hiding?; Larry Hardesty; press release; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); 2015-11-19.
    Teaser: Half of the communication connections established by the top 500 Android apps have no effect on user experience.

Google’s iron grip on Android: Controlling open source by any means necessary | Ars Technica

; Google’s iron grip on Android: Controlling open source by any means necessary; In Ars Technica; 2013-10-21.