[Update] Swype Says New Proposed CyanogenMod Feature Could Have Forced Them to End Their Beta Program

[Update]: Swype has contacted us to clarify the following:

Swype does not, and will not ever make money off of the data it collects from you. They do not sell ads. They do not sell information. The comment made on the CM review forum was a generalization about the larger Android app developer community, and in no way was intended to imply that Swype uses your data for ad revenue.

Take that into consideration before you folks start lighting torches and grabbing pitchforks.

Ruh-roh. Remember hearing about that update to CyanogenMod which would add the ability to spoof your device’s information? You know, a feature that paranoids would love to have considering how much of a concern privacy has become in recent months? Oh, you do? Good. Well you might be interested to know that it almost brought about the death of Swype’s beta program.

On CyanogenMod’s Google Code page, one Swype developer expressed his concerns to the team, citing analytics, metrics, revenue information and more as critical reasons why it’s important they have accurate information about users’ devices. We won’t get into why they’d need the information they need for what, but they were the one and only developer who cried out about it. Read their full quote here:

… [T]here is a fine line between WITHHOLDING information and providing FALSE information. Now you’re moving in the other direction: you’re going from protecting yourself from a perceived threat to actually actively damaging the statistics collection and security of the application developer…

…Many companies, ours included, rely on the statistics they gather. There are a number of things these stats can provide, from analytics that are used to improve user experience, to ad revenue, to metrics that are necessary for maintainingserver stability…

…[I]f spoofing becomes popular, and our statistics become useless, and our licensing becomes unreliable, the beta program could easily disappear.Without a way to justify to our OEM partners the fact that we give Swype away for free when they’re paying for it, we’d have to shut it down…

I should clarify that the folks at Swype think this would only be detrimental if the feature were to be widely-used. What’s considered widely-used, we can’t say.

Steve Kondik – master maintainer, as I like to call him – says he wished that change was never submitted because he would never consider making it a feature of CyanogenMod, saying it “will piss off developers, carriers, and probably Google.” If that’s not enough, he put out a stern message saying that the feature was never approved and it never will be:

There are no features in CM that allow you to spoof your IMEI, device id, whatever. We do not plan to add them. End of story.

Sweet! Sounded like sure rapture and despair for a minute, there. What do you guys think? Was that a fair stance by Swype or do you think they could have gone about their normal business without needing such information? [Android Police]

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  • @Knowscott

    Wait, what?

  • y0 mamma

    Rooted devices account for less than 2% of the total market. Even less than that are running CM. What are they worried about it?
    They are just pissed cause less than 2% of the market *might* be able to install a bootleg version of Swype that won’t run, will crash after a few minutes, or
    SlideIt is a better keyboard anyways.

    • http://twitter.com/ELPeterson Eric

      actually its more so of 5-7% of the market. Titanium Backup boasts 1.5 million users.

      Swype is better than SlideIt, IMO

      • carrrnuttt

        I disagree. When I used to have a Cliq, once I purchased SlideIT, I never touched my hardware keyboard again. I brought SlideIT over to my myTouch 4G and compared it to the pre-installed Swype, and I promptly went back to SlideIT. 

        I lost Swype a while back once I switched to CM7, and I don’t miss it one iota.

      • Binglut9

        Yea there’s 150 million android phones in use so 1%

        • Binglut9

          Meant100 mil

    • DrMacinyasha

      It doesn’t matter what Swype thinks. If this becomes popular even with just CM users, the OEM’s can decide to just dump Swype since anyone can get it.

      • The ATL Guy

        WOW

    • Brian Resnik

      Swype Community Rep here (the guy who made the comments on Google Code).

      Honestly, piracy is not our concern.  We know there are pirates out there.  Hell, if you look hard enough you can go find a pirate copy of Swype right now.  We send DMCA notices when we see these sites, because if we don’t we lose our patents, and it kinda hurts to have your hard work get stolen.  But all in all, the piracy thing isn’t our beef.

      Our concern was over the reliability of our statistics.  It’s important for us to have a reliable baseline when we look at things like: how many users have downloaded the most recent version; how many users got a previous version but not the latest; how many users have had to reinstall multiple times; how many users have switched devices in the past 6 months; how many users have devices of each screen size.

      The key point there is that we need to have a reasonable assessment for how many users there actually are.  Not just how many registered accounts there are (since people frequently register multiple times when they have trouble with a download); not just how many total installations there have been (the same user reinstalling after a device reformat shouldn’t count as a new user). For that, we need a unique hardware identifier.

      As I was quoted as saying, HIDING that information is more or less okay: we just don’t get the info, it’s like you never installed it.  SPOOFING the information, however, is really really harmful to our data collection.  Even if only 5% of our users (and let me tell you this: CM users and ROMs based of CM source make up a SIGNIFICANT percentage of our beta users) were spoofing their ESN, it would completely trash our data analysis.  Bad data devalues all the other data in the set.
      THAT is why we brought this up in the first place.

      I also want to point out that we went out of our way to contact the CM devs prior to any of the public discussions on this matter.  I personally spoke with ciwrl this morning, who relayed our conversation to the rest of TeamDouche, and talked with him about our concerns, and ways in which we could all be happy. We want nothing more than to make sure that everyone involved gets the best experience possible.

      • The ATL Guy

        Brian you shouldnt have to justify shit to anyone. 
        These modders and rooters are friggin cry babies. 
        Expect everything to be free. They recently got all butt hurt because one of the companies tried to stop movies from being downloaded. 
        These are the ilk who will steal movies via bit torrent. 
        Sorry but I hate to generalize but these are the groups that have no problem stealing others peoples work. 

        • http://twitter.com/DrJeckyl DrJeckyl

          “Sorry but I hate to generalize…” Then don’t because you are wrong. 

        • YamiYaiba

          Ummm, what? The by and large majority of rooters don’t expect everything for free. Some things, like wireless tethering, sure. That’s a point for debate. I digress though. Rooting does not equal insta-piracy, as you seem to believe. The few things it does open for piracy (and honestly, none come to mind, but I’ll assume you know something I don’t) can be done as easy or easier on a PC. I don’t “steal movies” as you seem to think I would, but I would expect my device to play the movies it is supposed to, especially considering that I’ve unlocked its full potential (not in spite of it). Also, to correct you, the “butt hurt” feelings came from not being able to VIEW movies, not DOWNLOAD. Big difference.

          You seem to be putting smartphones in the same category as dumbphones (ie we should accept them purely as they come), when that simply isn’t accurate anymore. Smartphones are, at this point, just shy of being tiny laptops. Tablets even moreso. I expect the same control of my device that I have on my laptop. Full system access. Nothing less. 

          You can say that you hate to generalize all you want, but clearly you don’t mind that much. Nerd/techie/geek/hacker/modder/rooter does NOT equal pirate, and I’d appreciate if you didn’t associate the two unnecessarily. And before you say the majority of pirate are the  nerds/techies/geeks/hackers/modders/rooters, the majority of inmates are minorities, but that doesn’t make most minorities criminals, so don’t even go there.

        • NotRelevent

          Dead wrong. I count myself among those “modders and rooters” you just called “cry babies”, and trust me, I could not care less about the movie services being offered by Google and the link. If I wanted to watch a movie on my phone or tablet..I would do so on my own time and with a movie that is already mine instead of bothering with these stupid time restrictions the rental services put on their stuff.

          Plus if I were the type to steal movies (which its not really stealing as the original owner still has his/her stuff) that supposed block wouldn’t stop me from doing so.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cris-Tate/1820221201 Cris Tate

          This guy is just an ifanboi who likes to troll. His comments are all antagonistic and idiotic. Ignore him, he isn’t worth the time.

      • Me

        I know plenty of people who would pay for Swype if it was available for sale.  No idea why you are keeping it on OEM and beta only trials.  Man up and put it out for sale.

      • leaponover

        I’m not going to criticize Swype’s business model.  That’s not really any of my business.  The only thing I will comment on is my user experience.  Fortunately that has been nothing but stellar with my Mytouch 4g.  Swype has been revolutionary and actually helps me type better due to a problem I have with familial tremors.  Accuracy in hitting letters is not as necessary as it is with a normal tapping keyboard. 
         I am a rooter/modder and I also agree that there are a significant amount of whiners and cry babies but they are still a minority.  Most of them have that open source love for technology and  wanting to improve everything they come across.  It makes perfect sense that spoofing the info would surely corrupt any data Swype was gathering and truly damage their long term goals.  I can definitely understand Brian’s concerns and what many modders/rooters tend to forget is that the more negative experiences a developer has (like Swype) the less revolutionary products that will be developed.  That’s why I am happy to pay for apps and reward developers for their hard work.  I also do a lot of donating for apps I can get for free.

    • The ATL Guy

      Ya CRAAAAAAAZY and silly that a company would try and PROECT their product. 
      Hey can I come over to your house and steal your food?

      • Revtime

        No, but you can download a copy of my food. 

  • xmichaelx

    “one Swype developer expressed his concerns to the team, citing
    analytics, metrics, revenue information and more as critical reasons why
    it’s important they have accurate information about users’ devices.”

    This is why it’s not possible to spoof various analytics in your desktop browser. Oh, wait…

    • http://profiles.google.com/seanjferguson87 Sean Ferguson

      More importantly – in the browser on your phone.

  • http://twitter.com/JBowdacious Jbowdacious

    Actual comments between CM devs regarding this change, its not happening.
    http://review.cyanogenmod.com/#change,5677

  • DrMacinyasha

    If you read my comment earlier in the thread, you’d see WHY Swype needs the MEID:
    https://code.google.com/p/cyanogenmod/issues/detail?id=2814#c35

  • Pumamea

    Please listen to me. This is a bull shit by Swype.  You guys should have come out of beta long time ago and sell your keyboard you idiots. Swype = The biggest Idiots in History.  I bought SlideIT because it’s better and it was available to buy. Don’t blame anyone else for this shit heads losers. Come out with the keyboard and stop crying. 

    PS: I don’t think anyone even cares about you guys anyways. Eat Shit

    • Keoni

      But what do you really think? lol.

      • Pumamea

        Swype = The Best product and the biggest failure.

        They should have charged people and release the darn thing and do updates later to it. They would have had millions. It’s not my fault they are stupid.

        • Brian Resnik

          We sell to OEMs and make millions instead :)

          People don’t seem to realize that the beta isn’t our only product.  It’s a tack-on that we do for a) data collection and b) giving people a way to get swype without buying a whole new phone

          Swype comes pre-installed on over most of the new smartphones that are released in the US, and many devices that are released internationally.  The OEMs pay us for that so you don’t have to :)

          • mindctrl

            How do you monetize the “data collection”?

          • Brian Resnik

            We don’t directly monetize the data collection.

            It’s indirectly monetized through real-world usage analysis that leads to decisions regarding feature improvements and changes to the software, and as a potential selling point when holding discussions with OEMs (e.g. “hey, look how many users of phone type x already love swype”).

          • mindctrl

            Thanks for the reply. I read the privacy policy but had a question. Does the software transmit any of the data that is typed/swyped into the software to Swype Inc and/or any third party companies?

          • Brian Resnik

            Replying here, since i can’t reply to your other comment (chain too long apparently).

            Swype never, under ANY circumstances, returns information about what words you have typed.  EVER.

            It is conceivable that we might start collecting that data in the future, HOWEVER, if we do, we will make it VERY clear what information is being sent, what we intend to do with it, and provide a method for using Swype without sending that data.

          • mindctrl

            Good to know and thanks for the clarification!

    • The ATL Guy

      I would say many phone manufactures and MILLIONS of users would disagree with you. 
      You sound like a disgruntled nobody blaming corporations for your failures and short comings. 
      Time to grow the fuck up. 

      • Jason

        And what percentage of these “millions of users” can even tell you what Swype is?  They’re just using whatever keyboard comes set as the default.  And as far as the manufacturers, you don’t know what sort of BS goes on behind the scenes.  Software-wise, SlideIT would be an excellent keyboard for them to bundle instead.  I’d be curious to know why they don’t – or if they have even considered it.

    • ScottColbert

      Must work for shitit, err slideit. Hard to tell the difference.

  • mindctrl

    One of Swype’s stated reasons for not being a normal market app was that it’s against market policy to be an app whose only function is to download another app. How about coding your app like every other decent app on the market. Ever noticed how competing keyboards get themselves in the market? Yeah, that’s right.  The market app/download *is* the final product, not some lame downloader that then downloads the final product.

    In other computing markets, applications that unnecessarily read contact data, system files, and other personally identifiable and otherwise private information have a name: spyware. For some reason there’s a push to make spyware acceptable in the mobile market.
    Google and Apple both have purposely built the infrastructure for widespread spyware deployment. The reasons are obvious, and unfortunately the people are largely unaware it’s happening right under their noses.

    • The ATL Guy

      Paranoid much?

      • mindctrl

        So, by your logic, if a person states a fact that makes them paranoid? I see.

        What part of this do you disagree with? “In other computing markets, applications that unnecessarily read contact data, system files, and other personally identifiable and otherwise private information have a name: spyware.”

    • Brian Resnik

      The simple answer to that question is that the software isn’t designed that way.  We’re designed from the ground up to be pre-installed on a phone by the OEM, so even getting it to install and run properly as a 3rd-party installation is somewhat of a hack-job.

      Yes, we could redesign our app to work as a single download from the market, but we’ve spoken at length in other places about why we don’t do that  (at least not right now).  You can find a simplified version of the answer in our FAQ at http://beta.swype.com/android/faq

      • mindctrl

        Thank you, Brian. I appreciate your reply.

      • Toto

        “even getting it to install and run properly as a 3rd-party installation is somewhat of a hack-job.”

        Bad programming. I would be fired with such an attitude.

        • Brian Resnik

          That’s like taking a mouse-trap, using it as a tie-clip, and then saying “man, that’s one ugly tie clip. You’re terrible at fashion.” Sure, it’s a poorly designed tie-clip, but it gets the job done while having never been intended for use a tie-clip in the first place.

  • http://twitter.com/timmyjoe42 tim bennett

    They could just turn it into a paid app.

  • Jason

    Frankly, I don’t give a crap whether Swype offers a beta or not.  I’m a happy SlideIT user, which I was able to BUY ON THE MARKET.

    • ScottColbert

      And it’s sucks and overpriced.

  • gad

    my swype beta is no longer working on my HTC Desire HD with Gingerbread.Anyone have a clue?

    • AceCurry

      That is weird. Mine is working fine (Android 2.2.2)

  • TalkingMoose

    Depending on how and when that feature would spoof device information, it wouldn’t only piss off developers, but the FCC.  Spoofing the IMEI or MEID is a no-no.

  • me

    Fuck Swype. SlideIT or FlexT9 are better. Told Swype before that I will never buy a phone that they come on.  Instead of selling it on Android Market directly to all consumers, they are greedy and only sell it to carriers, which then FORCE us to have yet more junk software pre-installed… which only drives more users to root their device to remove that crapware.  Now they are crying about something that *might* be happening and would only account for maybe .5% of Android users (since they claim only about 2% root and of that not even half use CM).   

  • ak12

    The NOT MOVING MY FINGER FROM THE KEYBOARD REVOLUTION as I like to call it.
    Download HTC_IME. First off, chances are if your only able to text with one hand, you shouldn’t be texting in the first place.
    Second, don’t make mountains out of mole hills. Your sitting here arguing over keyboards, implying that Swype is the answer to life and it’s problems. Spoiler alert: It’s not. Is it a good solid keyboard? of course, just like any other keyboard that someone learns to use.
    Swype has no duty to cater to your every whim. What are you gonna do if they don’t release it to the market? Sue them? Na imma gonna right an opinionated email on why I hate them but want their product.
    Seriously. SlideIT is a fantastic alternative to Swype and something I liked. Is it overpriced? You can decide. But I don’t see anyone throwing away their Android phones because they don’t have a fantastic typing experience. So clearly if you have a problem, it’s not Swype or not having Swype, it’s your own stupidity. Go fix it.

  • carlos

    @cyanogen via twitter said they don’t plan on adding the ability to spoof your device.

    • carlos

      @phandroid:twitter
      Here is the exact text…
      “There are no features in CM that allow you to spoof your IMEI, device id, whatever. We do not plan to add them. End of story.”

  • Wesley

    It would be nice if manufacturer installed Swype could somehow receive updates…how about it?

  • Philip Dorr

    Swype is a joke.  Many people do not use it on devices that have it pre-installed.  I have seen multiple people use it like the normal on-screen keyboard (tap, tap, tap).

  • Philip Dorr

    Swype is a joke.  Many people do not use it on devices that have it pre-installed.  I have seen multiple people use it like the normal on-screen keyboard (tap, tap, tap).

  • Keyboard

    Does anyone here know of a keyboard that lets you switch languages on the go?
    I hate when auto-correction modifies my Dutch text messages because it assumes I am writing english. But for the times that I do write english, I would love to have it correct me and do those auto-suggestions.

    So anyone?

  • Wetworx

    I used to use Swype on my DX when I first got it.  After so many headaches from errors and the inability to create a custom dictionary, I finally switched to SwiftKey and haven’t looked back.  I think Swype had potential to be a great product, but by only dealing directly with OEM’s, the end-user has no way of obtaining updates for the program until the OEM decides to release an OTA update.  We all know just how often that takes place…I believe that Swype’s business model of only selling directly to OEM’s seriously hinders their sales as well as customer satisfaction.  Unless there is a radical change in how Swype decides to distribute its product, I’ll be using other keyboard products.

    • dawankler

      You have a poor understanding of business if you think that Swype is making a mistake by concentrating on the OEM market.

      Assuming (incorrectly) that they can only choose between marketing exclusively to OEMs or exclusively directly to users does it make more sense to sell 1 million copies for every Samsung phone before they go out the door or to hope that the 1 million new Samsung phone users will purchase their product from the market?

      I’d take the OEM deal every day, especially when you consider the market penetration that Swype has. 

      • Wetworx

        It’s a one-shot deal, then…they sell their product to OEM’s, but once the end-users have a number of complaints about the product, they aren’t likely going to be seeking the product out in the future…and the OEM’s will likely listen to the demands of their customers.

  • Keychain

    i want to say Thank You to the swype people for caring enough to come and post here. I get it some people get too mad over stupid shtuff. If you dont like what they do/say then dont use there products. I for one do not care. I used swype before and i thought it wss cool but chose to go back to the old fashion way. Anyways im sure apple will be suing someone over this so sit back and let the lawyers battle it out.

  • Zubaz

    My Legal copy of Swype Beta has been installed numerous times.  I have to reinstall it because it doesn’t work on my phone, it just blinks after reboot.  It did this on my Hero too.  I have reported it and even participated in the swype forum because that is what bata is about, glad to help, glad to test. So if you are going to use statistics to fix your beta keyboard, then I agree, tell us what else you need so you can fix it.  Otherwise I am just going to use slideit and be done with it.