...ET still phones home

We had posted one article recently that discussed the can of worms that surrounds Ansca regarding their "SPYWARE" product called the Launchpad/Dashboard. This to some seemed quite trivial and some agreed with it being a pain. Many of the users had absolutely no idea of how this impacts or would impact as they were just test drivers and the rest that develop for the iOS are *not* as yet affected with this issue.

What is the Issue?

The issue very plainly put is that Ansca have a spyware component called the Dashboard that calls back to the ansca servers at stats.anscamobile.com on port 80 which I guess is the IP address which translates to the DNS name nb-96-126-119-15.dallas.nodebalancer.linode.com

I have not yet got around to see what packets/data it sends back. This forced imposition from Ansca that they have now imposed even when you start the Corona Simulator to connect to the blog.anscamobile.com which is at that has a DNS name of ekiaiomics.c06.mtsvc.net and denying this request only means that you cannot build, it will cause errors, to the extent that it will only start to work when you approve of it again on start up.

Now these might seem like small trivial issues, after all how do half the test users or others really care, Ansca has already been manipulating their events served with a javascript at the rate of 96 events served per second.

OK, so what?

The real issue that is now biting the users, the paid ones, not the test drivers is when they are developing their apps for the Amazon market. Surprisingly Amazon has become more Draconian than Apple and for some strange reason are ... (for the lack of appropriate words)

So if a developer is all excited about building for the Kindle and does create the app and uploads it to Amazon, despite all that crapware and malware that it holds, it adds the required permissions for complete INTERNET ACCESS and NETWORK related accesses. Even if you had no reason to have them in your app. If anyone is still wondering why that is the case..... it is the Launchpad!! The spyware from Ansca that calls back home.

Amazon have identified it as an issue and are rejecting the apps based on these, Android Market does not care on what you do, but I would not be surprised if Barnes & Noble follow suit on unwarranted Internet Access. Apple does not have similar permissions on Internet Access hence it could be a different story with them.

One of the reasons that Ansca has never wanted to give the users any freedom in terms of a desktop compiler or plug-ins is that they want to control the whole process. At first they had the entire 8MB or more bundle of OpenFeint bundled with every app even if you did not require that. A lot of developer made some noise on that increasing the size of their apps, it was removed, then there was a *sweet* deal with SuperRewards, and that crap is still bundled with every app irrespective of whether you use it or not. Now the new deal with inneractive AD's and then the Launchpad/Dashboard. It is seeming that Ansca Mobile is capturing all of this information using these unwarranted, options that I as an user have not authorised, forcing me and the users that buy software made with Corona from the app store against the wishes. OpenFeint at least has this big popup that says "Do you want these awesome features" and the user has the option to dismiss it by not wanting these awesome features. With AnscaMobile, as a developer you are forced by their policies, as a user of the apps made with corona, you are forced with their policies.

Amazon shall keep rejecting after the 3/4 weeks of time they take after approving the app for Android but not Kindle and then they just reject it for these permissions. Do a bit of searching, it just suggests that these permissions be removed from the resulting .apk file in a very tedious complicated manner with a tool that *might* work only on Windows, etc, etc. I think the easiest way to address this solution is that developers all *demand* that Ansca stop this Crapware & Spyware business and make the compiling transparent . Why add all the stuff that is not required. Thy might have a deal with their partners that they shall inject their code/crapware into the build apps and make money off them, but I do not think that the developers signed up as Indie or Pro developers to help accept this crap that delays their projects acceptance into the marketplace just for choseing the framework that was supposed to help speed up their development.

In conclusion

There is some good news, LaunchPad was announced or *injected* around August 2011, so any build, daily or release prior to August 2011 is an acceptable build one that does not have all this spyware compiled into it.

It is so unfortunate that CoronaSDK which is supposed to be as a concept the best thing since sliced bread. It is Adobe's loss and W&C's gain or rather the VC's gain. However since the past year there was not much that was introduced into Corona that worked well, be it the widgets that cause errors, or the storyboard, an attempt to dominate and undermine the efforts of Roberto, the developer that made the Director class (after all many know Director as the core of Corona than Corona itself). Recently they have introduced new facebook functionality, the one that does not work if you have the facebook app installed on your device. So if your user has a facebook account and wants to use facebook functionality from the app, they have to *uninstall* the facebook app before the functionality will work through a CoronaSDK app (this is only with the recent builds, not prior to #7xx)

Custom URL's are added to CoronaSDK finally after over a year of asking them for this functionality, as in the true Ansca manner, they have integrated that but not provided the users with the canOpenURL function that let's the user know if there is an app that can handle a particular URI or not.

It is sad, where everyone is accepting CoronaSDK into their lives, be it kids or older devs alike, this spyware-gate as Ansca wants to put a gate on everything or is it the American way, either ways, it is sad that Ansca Mobile have been introducing crapware and spyware into our compiled apps and have not provided an option to opt out, this I believe is a major breach of privacy, the apps do not inform the user that their usage and actions will be logged and here is a way to disable this logging or a way to opt out of it.

Other closing matters - Frameworks, Hardware and Software

It was about last year around February when I was interviewed by IndieGamePod and one of the discussions that I had with him was about Microsoft Windows Phone, I did mention that it might actually overtake Android, from a developer perspective, it is still not a very friendly phone, i.e. developers cannot develop using C++ and hence it closes the doors for many other options. So Microsoft needs to open that up if they want to survive, Nokia will push WP7 in a big way.

Amazon Kindles are upon the Americans, if they open up the same for the rest of the world, it is a pretty nice tablet for under $200. However Amazon needs to relax and speed up their processes if they want the world to use this device.

Palm has open-sourced WebOS which is good news, but I think that the sources are yet not available on GitHub or any other place. If someone can use this well, this is a very powerful platform as of all the tablets available today, unfortunately these are not common despite a lot of $99 and $149 devices sold.

Gideros has just released plug-ins which make it a very lucrative option to extend and add the features that one wants for the platform. This shall definitely see a lot of developers move towards this platform for reasons well know, namely frustration & waiting from AnscaMobile

MoaiSDK has been the true multi-platform that can compile for Mobile and Desktops, the lesser known fact is that it was modeled on a personal project by the developers that was inspired or build around the way Maya worked. So the absolutely correct way to use it will be in a true OO manner as compared to the flat sphagetti Corona method, plus this seems to look a lot like C++ despite using Lua, however there are a few that are writing a wrapper that will allow development using a framework that is similar to Corona.

Codea (previously known as iCodify) is another wonder app that is becoming a favourite among the developers community for creating quick prototypes on the device itself. A lot of devs are pushing the limits of this young software and generating prototypes that can match the features of many other frameworks even after 2/3 years of development. Plus they have/had a sale and were offering Codea for $0.99 which is a steal given that the features in the future will be mind blowing.

GameMaker is a bit off the mobile path as they see the future in HTML5 based applications, while that will offer a wider range of platforms, mobile and desktops, I still feel it might not be such a good idea.

PhoneGap has a new updated version that they are quite excited about

Unity has compile to Flash functionality, this is strange as Adobe has just killed Flash, Microsoft has also announced that Silverlight might cease to exist. So it is strange to see the efforts put in by Unity

There are many other frameworks and hardware/software manufacturers that are at work, it is now becoming a tough competitive world, one where the market shall determine the winner, However nothing remains constant forever, so what is no#1 will fall and what is not at #1 can rise. The smart are the ones that work at getting it and then retaining it.

There are a lot of things that each of these frameworks, vendors offer and a lot of things that they lack in, Hope that in the coming year they can fix these and be the rightful favourite. Irrespective of who the no#1 will be, hope that Ansca Mobile stop compiling Crapware and Spyware into the final executables and ensure that their APIs work, it is a race to announce We've done it first, but that does not mean at the expense of the developer community. You fool them often, you shall lose them soon.

After all, "If you do not take care of your customers, someone else *definitely* will"


  1. Hi,

    how does Gideros compare to Corona Sdk in your opinion?
    What would be the *one* thing you would be missing from Corona if you had to develop an app for a client in Gideros?

    I like the instant testing in Gideros.
    On the other hand, I am still wondering if the product is not still young?
    And Corona probably has some features still unmatched (a matter of time?).

    I'm open to try several frameworks while I'm still learning (I bought Codea, I love it - For once I am happy that I paid full price instead of .99cts).

    I have nothing against Corona (except what you describe that makes me worrying) and I just want to find the right tool for the job to be done.

  2. Mr Mells,
    There would be quite a few differences between Corona and Gideros, I would not say that it is at a stage that everything that is possible with Corona can be with Gideros. However it depends on what you want to do, you have Physics which is more accurate and better in Gideros, you have sprites and groups that are handled better in Gideros, there is support for bitmap font inbuilt. For the advanced developers, they have just announced plug-ins support, I have not yet played with that, but my understanding is that via plug-ins you can pretty much add in most of the functionality that you might feel is missing or required (the only catch is that the plug-ins use C++ as the language for development)

    Yes in short the product is young in comparison to Corona, but it has quite a few features required for development.

    If you want something that is really powerful and really multi-platform Moai is a very strong contender, it has desktop and mobile support and is quite feature rich and can be extended using Objective-C, C++.

    I have nothing against Corona too, it is these small things that are present from Ansca that gets me worried too.

    The selling point of CoronaSDK was the small footprint of 300K, this is now nowhere to be seen, the footprint that corona apps now have is about 4-8 MB this is because of all the extra stuff that Ansca want not what the developers want, Each developer wants a lean mean gaming machine.

  3. I believe Gideros lets you right plugins in a few different languages depending on your targeted device. See this link http://www.giderosmobile.com/blog/2011/12/15/introducing-gideros-plugins/

  4. Thank you for the explanations, that was helpful.

  5. I don't think the term "spyware" is quite a fair term to use in regards to Ansca's Launchpad/Dashboard service.

    If you type "define spyware" into Google, here's the definition that comes up (which articulates what I and most people would consider "spyware"):

    "Software that self-installs on a computer, enabling information to be gathered covertly about a person's Internet use, passwords, etc."

    There's plenty of analytic services that gather information legally and with no issues, so the real issue with spyware is the "self-installs" part, which clearly is not something that Ansca's Launchpad/Dashboard does.

    "Launchpad Services" is clearly described in section 16 of the Terms and Conditions of Use, a document that every Corona developer *agrees* to before installing Corona on their machine. Once again, the user must install the software on their own, so therefore nothing is being self-installed, and the developer agrees to the terms before allowing installation. Additionally, the software does no harm to their computer, and they can opt-out at anytime by un-checking the box in the Preferences panel... so obviously nothing malicious is going on here.

    If you don't want your bundled apps, you can disable Launchpad by adding a simple one-liner to your config.lua file. More information here:

    Anyway, I respect your opinion and personal choice of SDK, but I just thought I'd clarify the spyware bit for the readers, as unfairly tagging Corona SDK as having bundled spyware is a little misleading to say the least.

    Also: The added Facebook functionality works perfectly fine if the Facebook app is installed. The following blog posts explains how to fix the problem if you're having this issue:


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