Exodus is a free privacy application for Google’s Android operating system that reveals the use of trackers of installed Android applications and their permissions.
We reviewed Exodify, browser extensions by the Exodus project, back in 2018 and covered the web service Exodus as well back then. Users may use the browser extensions to display permission requests and tracker uses of any app on Google Play, or run searches for applications on the Exodus website.
Exodus was mentioned in Günter Born’s article on LastPass’ extensive use of trackers in the service’s Android application.
The Exodus application is available on Google Play. Its main advantage over the browser extensions or web service is that it will scan all installed applications on an Android device to return each application’s use of trackers and its requested permissions.
Usage is pretty simple: download the app from Google Play and run it after installation. It will scan the installed applications automatically, lists them, and displays the number of trackers and permissions for each.
The app uses colors to make it easier for users to distinguish between apps that use little or no trackers or permissions, and apps that use them heavily. Green background colors mean that the app does not use any trackers or has not requested extra permissions, yellow that some are used or have been requested, and red that a lot of trackers are used or a lot of permissions have been requested.
You may tap on any application to display a profile page. The page lists the installed version and test version, all trackers and all requested permissions with a short explanation. A tap on a permission or tracker opens even more details, e.g. when you select a tracker you get a list of other installed applications that use it as well.
You may also activate a link to open the application’s profile page on the Exodus website to get additional information such as purposes of trackers if known.
The results depend on the applications that you have installed, but most users will probably notice that the majority of installed applications do use one or more trackers. Use of trackers or lots of permissions is not always a sign that something bad or fishy is going on, but it can be an indicator.
Exodus offers some interesting options, such as:
- Checking all installed browsers for trackers.
- Making sure that important applications don’t use trackers.
- Spotting apps or games that go over the board with trackers or permissions to drop them.
It is necessary to check the list of requested permissions and/or trackers. Some application types, web browsers for instance, require more permissions than apps that have a narrower focus.
Exodus offers an interesting service. It needs to be noted that the app requires Internet connectivity as it uses a central database and not real-time scanning for its analysis; this means, that it is possible that some applications have not been scanned by Exodus or that earlier versions have been scanned only.
Still, if you want to quickly check permissions and trackers of all installed Android apps on a device, it is a good way of doing that.
Now You: Do you check trackers or permissions before installing apps on your mobile devices?