May, 26 2011

[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]