Angry Birds Lightweight Coming; ‘Bonus Level’ Trojan Detailed
Angry Birds publisher Rovio is working on a lightweight version of the game meant for less powerful Android devices: either legacy hardware or newer, but lower-range, handsets. Furthermore, the company released a list of phones not supported by the current title —
including a few surprises like the T-Mobile G2 — while also declining to support handsets running custom ROMs or official builds lower than 1.6 Donut. According to the blog post, “older and lower performance Android devices are experiencing severe performance issues;” CNET’s Stephen Shankland reports that game animation is extremely jittery on the LG Optimus One, whose three inexpensive carrier variants will be all over the place this holiday season.
This announcement will no doubt provide ammunition to critics of the platform’s so-called fragmentation, as it could be seen as evidence of growing hardware and software versioning disparities among handsets. If we need multiple, performance-tiered versions of software titles, they say, it discourages developers from creating top-notch, cutting-edge programs. The truth of the matter, however, is that any successful operating system or vertically-integrated ecosystem (think: Apple) will inevitably end up with some degree of fragmentation, as people both hold onto their devices longer and create demand for products covering a wide range of price brackets. Developers seem to have decided that the huge base of potential customers is worth the extra effort of tailoring their releases to multiple types of devices.
In other Birds news — and can there ever really be enough? — security researcher Jon Overheide, CTO of Scio Security, recently released a proof-of-concept trojan into the Android Market disguised as an app claiming to offer extra levels for the popular game. Instead of delivering the promised fun, “Angry Birds Bonus Levels” gained permission (without user approval) to download other apps from the Market, including Fake Contact Stealer, Fake Location Tracker, and Fake Toll Fraud — also uploaded by Overheide. “In the past, we’ve focused on the issue of users not paying attention to what permissions they’re approving for their apps. But in cases like this, the attacker can bypass those permissions and it’s very difficult for users to protect themselves at all,” he said. Overheide was responsible for releasing another trojan back in June which caused Google to invoke the platform’s so-called kill-switch in order to remotely remove the program from every single device.
Angry Birds Bonus Levels lasted about six hours in the Market before getting yanked by Google, although it seems as though it was allowed to remain on handsets.
Update: Thanks to My Site (click to edit) for pointing out that Rovio is actually referring to the HTC Hero when it listed the T-Mobile G2 as unsupported. Apparently G2 was the European branding for the Hero; Rovio has updated the list on its blog post. (via: Twitter)