The first Barcode Scanner application is having overview-bombed with malware accusations

One of the initial Android applications — ZXing Team’s Barcode Scanner, an app that predates the very first official launch of Android alone — is presently acquiring evaluation-bombed on the Google Enjoy Shop. Hundreds of customers are leaving 1-star opinions claiming a new update spews unwanted advertisements, when approximately 200 additional have arrive to the app’s protection with 5-star critiques of their very own.

It is not really distinct what is going on listed here, but the prevailing idea is that the 100 million-down load sturdy application is receiving mistaken for an additional one with the very same precise identify — just one that may possibly have been a clone of ZXing’s app and 1 that did insert malware in a modern update, according to digital safety company MalwareBytes.

MalwareBytes appears to be aware of the confusion it up to date its article yesterday to be more crystal clear that the undesirable barcode scanner app was this a single, which arrived from a organization known as Lavabird. Google taken off that app from the Participate in Keep, so it would not be stunning if offended people searched for it and identified the completely wrong one particular.

The sudden focus shocked the app’s co-creator, Sean Owen, who tells The Verge that he’s not concerned about his name — simply simply because of how preposterous he thinks the promises are.

“[T]his is these kinds of an outdated effectively-acknowledged application that I feel any person informed would guess it simply cannot be this application: it’s open supply, for one. It hasn’t been updated in a long time. And there’s just no motive, to make an application for 13 many years just to adhere malware in at the stop is an implausibly very long match,” he suggests. The Google Perform Retail store displays the app was past up-to-date in February 2019.

But he also isn’t ruling out the risk that his code is being manipulated somehow, maybe by hijacking the intents system that Android employs to enable one particular app hand off tasks to another. “Many people today assert it’s ‘definitely’ this app in a way I hadn’t observed ahead of — and I have browse countless numbers of feedback in excess of the several years — so, who is aware of?”

Owen claims he and his co-creator Daniel Switken now regret their choice to make the application open resource back in the day since of all the moments it’s been cloned by corporations making an attempt to make a swift buck by incorporating adverts or skins. “For a time we pursued some of the greater kinds for OSS license / trademark complications, but, that was less than 10 out of the 100s I saw even many several years in the past,” Owen says.

This is not the very first time his application has been mistaken for a bad clone, he says. “At some stage a research paper claimed this application was phoning private information to a third celebration web-site, and that prompted a further wave [of bad reviews], but, in a natural way the authors observed they’d mixed up two very similar applications.”

I redownloaded the OG Barcode Scanner application nowadays for the first time in quite a few yrs. When I launched it, the app warned me that it “was created for an more mature version of Android and may well not function effectively,” and I observed it only performs in landscape orientation. But I observed no advertisements, it guaranteed scanned barcodes quick, and I haven’t noticed any pop-ups or browser hijacking yet.

Tests out the primary Barcode Scanner app on a contemporary Android cell phone.
Screenshot by Sean Hollister / The Verge

Proper now, ZXing Team’s Barcode Scanner application sits at a strong 4. stars with practically 640,000 assessments. Google did not reply to requests for remark about how it would deal with the unfavorable testimonials.