Author Topic: Hard to use because of oversized multiple ads  (Read 2257 times)

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Offline VanguardLH

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Hard to use because of oversized multiple ads
« on: July 18, 2016, 04:13:25 PM »
Request #1

Make the ads less intrusive.  Show one add per screen, not two of them.  They are oversized and one by itself sucks up a lot of screen space.  Two of them is just offensive. 

Yes, I realize that ads are [too] often an intrinsic evil of freeware; however, the ads in this app make using it difficult.  When I click/tap on the white-on-black wifi icon at the lower right corner of the "Available Wi-Fi" screen, it does some checking of the current wifi hotspot to which I am connected.  This checkup screen also appears when I connect to a new/different wifi hotspot.  This checkup screen has the following sections:
  • An oversized ad at the top.
  • Add to Wi-Fi Finder (share the connected hotspot with other users probably through a database update).
  • Offline mode (a duplicate of the same-named entry under the hamburger menu icon).
  • Don't let anyone spy on you (an ad for Avast's own SecureVPN).  This is payware (announced on the app's page).  The "Activate" button is misleading.  Change its title to "Get the app" since, after, clicking the button opens a web browser to the app's page at Google Play.
  • There is sometimes a Feedback selection.  When selected, I get a slew of candidate apps to do the text entry.  Why are any external apps getting called?  This should be an internal function to either compose a message and send it to you or issue a URL to a web browser (the default one or the user makes a choice).  9 unrelated choices (Add to OneNote, Compose Text, Compose Mail, Email, Gmail, OneDrive, Outlook, Save to Drive, Skype, and sometimes Word) for composing feedback means the user won't do so.  Please don't require Google+, Facebook, or other social networks to report feedback.  You are the only one to where I want to send and have visibility of feedback.
  • Then there follows another oversized add.  What makes Avast look stupid is that often the bottom ad is a duplicate of the top ad.  Bad enough to get 1 ad, worse to get 2 ads, stupid when they're the same ad.
As if it weren't difficult enough to scan through the available real features offered, the user also has to scroll down or up to get past the ad noise.  Reduce this noise by showing only 1 ad (preferably at the bottom).  Most ads (maybe all of those you show) want to install an app so, when appropriate, don't show an Install button but a "Get the app" button so the user knows they're headed off to somewhere else.

In the same vein of making it clearer as to what happens when a user clicks/taps on a button, the SecureVPN and Web Shield entries under the hamburger menu icon should show "(Get the app)" appended to them.  Let the user know what happens before they click/tap the button rather than hoping they blindly go there.  Oh, what's that?  Yeah, click and then find out.

Request #2

Don't mislead your users.  In the above screen, sometimes I see a "test" option to check the security of the wifi hotspot.  The mix of candidate entries apparently changes (rotates to change up the selections).  If a button goes to an app page then the button should say "Get the app".  Anything else is not just confusing but just wrong!

You can argue that ads are a necessary evil in freeware but don't be offensive in flooding a screen with them to make getting at the real functions difficult to see or get at.

Request #3

The Offline mode is really just downloading a database of known wifi hotspots so you can find one when not connected to the Internet.  Okay, but why does this database have to suck up main memory?  I can move [most of] the app to the SD card but not the 44MB for the hotspot database.  There is no reason this database must reside in main memory since neither the user nor the app is querying it all the time.  I doubt it is integrated with the Easy Connect feature (to automatically connect to the nearest/strongest wifi hotspot it finds via scanning).  As this database grows, so does its consumption of main memory.  Move it to offline storage (SD card) when the user chooses to move the app to offline storage.

It is insulting to find out afterward, and especially after having configured this app to move to the SD card, that it is still sucking up main memory for an on-demand feature.

Request #4

More accurate signal strength indication.  I have a private home wifi setup (i.e., my ISP's wifi cable modem generates a home wifi network) along with Comcast's "xfinitywifi" home wifi hotspot (others can use without affecting my private bandwidth).  Invariably whichever wifi hotspot to which I want to connect is shown as having too weak a signal.  I'm sitting at my desk with the smartphone only 8 feet maximum away from the wifi cable modem with nothing but air between them.  Weak?  Seems to be a polling problem: when opening the "Available Wi-Fi" screen, I have to manually instigate a scan (drag my finger down from the top menu bar to see and release the animated refresh icon) or wait until the app gets around to doing another automatic scan.  Took me awhile to accidentally discover how to manually instigate a refresh.  There is lots of whitespace in this screen so add a Refresh or [Re]Scan button.

I would also like a continuous scan mode so I can see wifi hotspots as they come and go.  The auto-scan should terminate the moment a user navigates away from the "Available Wi-Fi" screen so as not to continuously suck up CPU cycles and bandwidth.  If I'm moving around, especially if there are several wifi hotspots available in a small area, I'd like to see them show up or disappear as I walked around finding them.

Also the 3-bar wifi icon used to represent signal strength really isn't professional looking.  Some users are used to seeing bars for signal strength.  You do show text, like "weak signal".  How about appending the signal's dBm signal strength measurement to that text?  The user could then make an educated choice when wifi hotspots are nearly equal in strength since one physical location may be preferred over another (e.g., standing outside a cafe because you don't want to buy anything versus sitting inside a library with only slightly weaker signal).

After all, to decide on how many bars to show or or add "very strong", "strong", or "weak" for qualifiers means you must have some thresholds of signal strength for each bar or qualifier text.  Add that info either in the "Available Wi-Fi" screen or when clicking/tapping on a wifi hotspot to get more info.

Request #5

Tell us users what you are measuring or checking when testing for the security of a wifi hotspot.  The test takes a long time and users would like some progress meter to indicate when it will end and perhaps some detailed info on each step of the process.  A log of the tests (a user configurable option) would be appreciated.  To be blunt, this "security check" looks to be merely a lure to get your users to buy into your SecureVPN product.  Users can't tell what other tests passed or failed.  I only see 2 results but very likely the long time to test was more than just 2 tests.

I saw no option to re-test a connection regarding its security; i.e., no way to recheck an existing wifi hotspot.  They can change their configuration.  What was secure yesterday might not be today.

Request #6

Add a notification option for Easy Connect.  I might want automatic switching to the nearest strongest wifi hotspot as I'm moving around but I still want to know when a switch occurs.   There is a Proximity Alert option for notification but its description leads me to believe that it just tells me when ANY (one or several) wifi hotspots are within range.  If Easy Connect had its own alert, I'd probably turn off the Proximity Alert notification and just get the Easy Connect notification about its switch to another hotspot.

There are also no options for when I want Easy Connect to change to another network.  There could be criteria upon which I want a switch to be based.  For example, I might not want to auto-switch to wifi hotspots that require a login.  Maybe I want to auto-switch only between wifi hotspots that I've added to this app's known hotspots (whitelist) and omit any of the unknown or untested ones.  I might want to auto-switch only to a wifi hotspot in your database, if downloaded.  I might want to switch only if the security check on the switched-to hotspot meets 1, or more, of the security checks (might want only some security checks to pass to allow switch to a different hotspot or maybe all the checks to pass).  I would love an option to change to a new set of free tires every 10K miles but not if they were retreads or salvaged parts with unknown history of [ab]use.

I'll quit for now.  I compiled this RFE (Request for Enhancement) list in just the first 2 hours after installing and using this app.  Good thing I didn't wait to compile a wishlist after a week of use.

Offline VanguardLH

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Re: Hard to use because of oversized multiple ads
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2016, 11:00:33 PM »
I decided to hunt around for another wifi finder app.  What I found bodes ill for the fate of Avast's wifi finder app.

WiFi Finder
by JiWire
at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.jiwire.android.finder&hl=en
Claims 550,000 free and paid locations in 144 countries
Total size: 5.98 MB (4.12 MB of app movable to SD card) before database download
            5.98 MB (4.12 MB of app movable to SD card) after database download
Change:       96 KB for data - in main memory

Xfinity WiFi Finder
by Comcast (only finds "xfinitiwifi" hotspots)
at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.comcast.hsf&hl=en
No claim to number of hotspots
Total size: 21.44 MB (app and data not movable to SD card)

WiFi Finder
by Avast
at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.avast.android.wfinder&hl=en
Claims 247,132 wifi networks using 19.84 MB
Total size: 21.4 MB before database download (13.25 MB of app movable to SD card)
            65.36 MB after database download (13.25 MB of app movable to SD card)
Change:     43.95 MB for data - all in *main memory* (not the claimed 19.84 MB)


WiFi Finder is by far the smallest wifi finder app.  Starts at 5.98 MB and only increases 95 KB (not MB) to add a >500K hotspots database - twice as many as Avast's database but at 462 times a smaller size than Avast's database.

Before download the database for each wifi finder, WiFi Finder's app is 3.6 times smaller than Avast's app.  Both can have the app moved to the SD card; however, after that move, WiFi Finder's main memory footprint is 4.4 times smaller than Avast's.

Both will do scheduled scanning.  WiFi Finder can have the schedule set to Never (manual), 5, 10, 20, 30, 45, and 60 seconds with no manual refresh (so Never really means never).  Avast has an unknown scan interval (maybe 5 seconds) and a manual refresh.

Both can show maps of the hotspots; however, WiFi finder has the additional feature that you can click/tap on a hotspot to get more information about it as a popup as well as a List button that shows a list of the nearby hotspots with even more details, like node name, physical address, and distance from your current geolocation.  Clicking/tapping on any item in the list brings up even more information, like phone number, network provider, the node's SSID, with links to call the hotspot, get directions to it, add to a favorites list, or share it.  There is also an option to report the hotspot as gone/closed to let users help keep their database up to date.  All you get with Avast is the node name and its signal strength (WiFi finder will show nodes within scanning range but only mention which one is strongest).

I did find one feature broke in JiWire: their "Search Wi-Fi Directory" never finds anything.  The map, list, and detailed descriptions showing the hotspots in my area work just fine and better than what Avast offers.  I did notice that there was little overlap in what nodes were listed by JiWire and Avast.  Mostly libraries and some companies were mentioned in each list; however, JiWire shows a lot more wifi hotspots than Avast.  Don't know where Avast is getting their list of hotspots but it is definitely much smaller while gobbling up lots more memory.

Both apps let me quickly select which hotspot to use.  Both JiWire and Avast have an automatic connect feature.  Avast has more notifications, like when wifi hotspots come into proximity.  Avast has a speed test feature; however, anyone can use Speetest.net, bandwidthplace.org, testinternetspeed.org, or other speed test site.

JiWire's wifi finder is puny compared to Avast's yet it has so much more information in an extremely smaller database.  Is Avast's slow security check really worth a 3.6 to 4.4 bigger memory footprint than JiWire?  And JiWire has a severely smaller main memory footprint than Avast.  I have to suspect that Avast's code is severely bloated or they are using too high level a language and pulling in bloated libs or APKs.  Seems Avast should acquire JiWire (rebranded 2 years ago to NinthDecimal) to learn how to make a much smaller app along with a much better method of storing records in a database. 

So it comes down to "Is Avast's security check really worth the severely greater memory bloat?"  Maybe; however, on low-end smartphones with limited main memory, they more quickly feel the pinch of apps that are memory hogs.  I thought an 8 GB smartphone would have plenty of space.  Then to find out that half was sucked up by the OS and pre-installed apps.  Bloated apps tend not to stay too long when the user discovers smaller and more robust (regarding main functionality) are available.  Avast is a much younger app (announced 9-Feb-2016) but it definitely needs trimming of its code to reduce app size and a complete change in how it huge database is built.  The first major recoding should be moving the huge database to offline storage (SD card) which is far larger than main memory, and perhaps only caching a portion of it into main memory, like for a 1, 2, or 4 mile range (selectable by the user) from their current geolocation.  When I noticed that monster bloat was when I went "Whoa!  WTF?" and started hunting around for far more memory efficient wifi finder apps.

For now, I will discard Avast's 46 MB hotspot database and just use it to find those within scanning range so I can use its security check on them - although details are lacking as to just what security checks are getting performed during the l-o-n-g test.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2016, 11:05:28 PM by VanguardLH »