Have you ever seen an advertisement in Android’s notification area? Some apps abuse their notification permissions to display advertisements when you aren’t even using them. The good news is that you can determine which apps are showing the annoying ads and block them from appearing.
Google is starting to crack down on apps that abuse notifications, but many apps still use them. The apps use Airpush or similar advertising frameworks to push ads to your device, making the app developers money with spammy ads while constantly distracting you.
Determine Which App Is Showing Notifications
It may not always be obvious which app is showing notifications. The icon next to the notification may help – for example, in the screenshot below, the icon is the same as the icon for the MySettings app installed on my device, so it’s clear that MySettings is the culprit.
However, the icon may not always clue you in. If you need help determining which app is behaving badly, there are a number of apps you can try:
- AirPush Detector: Detects apps that use known notification ad systems, including Airpush and similar ad networks..
- Lookout Ad Network Detector: Scans your phone for common ad networks and categorizes them – for example, you can see which apps can display ads in the notification bar.
These two apps may not detect every advertising network out there. If you still can’t pin down the offending application, try the following app instead:
- Addons Detector: Enable the Notification Monitor in this app and it will monitor the notifications that appear on your device, telling you which app displayed them.
Google added a feature that allows you to block notifications from any app in Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). Once you know which app is abusing its notification permissions, you can change the app’s permissions from the app’s info screen.
To do so, open Android’s Settings screen, tap Apps to view a list of installed apps, and then tap the name of the app that’s showing notification ads. Uncheck the Show notifications checkbox next to the Uninstall button and the app won’t be able to display ads anymore.
Android 4.0 or Older
If you’re using Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or an older version of Android, you can’t block an app from displaying notifications out-of-the-box.
However, you do have some options. Many push-advertising networks have an opt-out feature, although they don’t make it easy to find. For example, if the app that’s displaying ads is using Airpush, you can use the Airpush opt-out page to download an opt-out app or manually opt out. Note that Airpush isn’t the only push-advertising network, so the app displaying ads may be using another network – if you can determine the name of the network, you may be able to find an opt-out page for it.
Of course, you can also uninstall the badly behaving app and find a better app – check out our list of the best Android applications for some great alternatives.
If you’ve rooted your smartphone or tablet, you can change an app’s permissions – Airblocker is an app that will block Airpush ads, but it only works on rooted devices. While we generally don’t encourage blocking ads, we have to draw a line somewhere – blocking Airpush ads is no different than using a pop-up blocker. Both Airpush notification area ads and pop-ups are abusive and should not be rewarded.
Have you ever had to deal with notification area ads on Android? Is there a particularly bad app you’ve come across? Leave a comment and share your experience!