Ad code found in KitKat’s Dialer raises eyebrows but there’s no reason for alarm

Android kitkat 4.4 call id

It was one of the coolest new features of the new Android 4.4 KitKat update: Google’s brand new dialer app. While that may not sound very exciting at first, it’s the new dialer features that have our undies in a bunch.

Leveraging the power of Google Maps, the dialer not only pulls up contacts saved to your Google account, but phone numbers from local businesses in your area as well. So insanely useful, it was like combining the Yellow Pages and dialer into a single cohesive experience.

Android 4.4 KitKat Dialer

Last night, Google made the “stock ROM” for the Nexus 5 available, along with all the new apps therein. We were able to extract a handful of the new Android 4.4 KitKat apps, some of which we were even able to get up and running on our non-Nexus 5 devices. “Haxxors” and generally nosey Android fans began diving into some of these new apps, KitKat’s latest Dialer being one of them.

What was discovered was a line of code found inside the Dialer app that began raising some eyebrows. Here’s what was discovered:

<string name=”enable_disable_advertisements”>Advertisements</string>
<string name=”advertisements_enable”>Advertisements enabled</string>
<string name=”advertisements_disable”>Advertisements disabled</string>

From the looks of it, it’s easy to assume that some kind of advertisements would be making their way into the dialer, especially given the Dialer’s new Maps business listings search. This even lead to ArsTechnica’s Ron Amadeo to sate, “Google will show Ads in the KitKat Dialer” but they can be turned off (see enable/disable string).

After handing the app over our developer, he looked over it and found that this line of code wasn’t even new to KitKat. After searching for the code in past AOSP repos, he found that that it’s almost as old as Android itself, dating all the way back to Android 1.6. Yes, folks, Donut.

So while we suppose it’s possible for Google to add ads to the dialer in the future, this was simply some leftover code from Android’s past that failed to get cleaned up. There should be absolutely no reason for concern, ads are definitely not coming to your Dialer anytime soon.

UPDATE: Ah, looks like Amadeo updated his original post on Google+. Nice work.

Steve Albright contributed to this post.

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  • http://www.geordienorman.com/ George Byers

    I’m starting to believe that this is just standard procedure to put some default code into every app made by Google no matter if it’s used or not.

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      One day, they’ll all have ads. Lol :P

      • http://www.geordienorman.com/ George Byers

        Think about it, if the ad code is already implemented, all they need to do is flick a switch. No app update required ;-)

        • Terry

          Why not just add it to the OS to force ads on anything they want?

        • http://stevealbright.com Steve Albright

          Code for advertising is not anywhere to be found.. only attributes you would use to define the adSize and adUnitId.

      • Roaduardo

        And the dev community will continue to find useful ways to block all those ads! ;)

  • Subzer0

    I’m starting to believe that this is just standard procedure to put some
    default code into every app made by Google no matter if it’s used or
    not.

  • CoreyShaughnessy

    I’m starting to believe that this is just standard procedure to put some default code into every app made by Google no matter if it’s used or not.

  • Tom Sly

    @chrischaves you have the best writing style out of the lot of you. Whenever I start reading an article I read and guess at who wrote it. With your articles I’m never wrong lol. Good stuff dude. Just ordered a black N5 for myself and a white one for the wife.

    • AdrianP513

      I thought I was the only one who guessed at the writers. Lol. I know when it’s Chris or quentyn but then I know when it’s not them.

  • Lou_Sasshole

    I’m starting to believe that this is just standard procedure to put some default code into every app made by Google no matter if it’s used or not.

    • hane

      why did three people say this exact same thing?

  • Tyler

    Anyone else find it odd that so many people have posted the exact same comment word for word?

    • Coolio

      Yes, Lol

    • Christopher Woodruff

      Whew, for a second, I thought I might have actually lost my mind.

      • http://stevealbright.com Steve Albright

        Same. I need sleep.

    • http://www.techmantis.net/ Minja Miketa

      I thought I was going crazy.

    • scoter man1

      I vote for the banhammer

    • AdrianP513

      I thought I had sleep in my eyes and couldn’t read straight. Lol

  • Gideon Waxfarb

    I’m not sure what the big deal is about the new dialer. In times past, if I wanted to find the nearest pizza joint (or whatever), I could just ask Google Now to find it for me. What exactly is new here?

    • Big_EZ

      What’s new is when that pizza joint calls you back because you didn’t pick up your pizza, it will show their info and not just their number. I’m sure if you see just their number you wouldn’t know who it was, now you will. It just adds more caller ID info for incoming calls.

      • Gideon Waxfarb

        Will it show a caller ID when my coworkers call from India (where it currently says ‘unknown caller’), or does that only work for local businesses?

        • Big_EZ

          All the descriptions I’ve seen say local businesses.

        • Raveesh Bhalla

          I don’t think they’re building a TrueCaller-like dialer, just businesses

  • ChristianMcC

    A little unrelated, but is no one excited for the “up to 60 hours of music playback” that the N5 is capable of?

  • Christian Tolentino

    apk please..