Verizon (NYSE:VZ) has started rating Android apps based on security, battery consumption and data usage. The company claims such initiatives are part of its plan to enhance the customer experience and promote energy conservation. This new initiative counters logical reasoning where one would assume that a carrier would promote high data consumption apps to generate higher ARPU. This policy may affect small android app developers who may have to revisit their existing apps to improve ratings.
According to the company, the different criteria it uses to evaluate the applications are as follows.
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Apps are scanned to identify any potential threat to system or privacy and is rated on the scale of such threats.
Verizon Wireless App Rating Guide for Security
|5||No known security threat has been identified.|
|4||Minor security threat has been detected. Example: Non-sensitive user data captured from device without user notification.|
|Major security threat has been detected. Examples:
|Significant security threat has been detected. This includes:
|1||Critical security threat to user. Harmful impact to device performance and content.
App will cause irreparable damage to the device.
Rating Method for Security
The Android Application Package file (APK) is scanned for known malicious software including viruses, Trojan horses, boots and spyware. Potential risks are identified and classified.
The battery drain from the app is measured when the app is running in the background.
Verizon Wireless App Rating Guide for Battery Consumption
|Rating||Description||How much battery life will be lost when the app is running in the background?|
|5||Current drain less than or equal to 5mA||Up to 30 minutes|
|4||Current drain greater than 5mA and less than or equal to 10mA||30 minutes to 1 hour|
|3||Current drain greater than 10mA and but less than or equal to 15mA||1 hour to 1.5 hours|
|2||Current drain greater than 15mA and but less than or equal to 20mA||1.5 hour to 2 hours|
|1||Current Drain greater than 20mA||Greater than 2 hours|
Battery Consumption Measurement
The battery drain from the app is calculated when it’s not in use by comparing the battery drain on two devices over a period of time. One device has the app running, and the other does not. Both devices are allowed to fall into deep sleep mode, and then battery drain measurements are taken. The difference in drain between the two devices tells us how much the app uses when it’s running in the background. Battery drain measurements are taken using a digital power measurement system while a device is operating on the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Network.
This examines the data consumption when the app is idle and doesn’t factor actual data usage when a customer is actively using the app.
Verizon Wireless App Rating Guide for Data Usage
|Rating||Description||Percentage of 1GB plan the app consumes in background mode|
|5||Less than 10MB||Less than 1% of 1 GB plan|
|4||Between 10MB to 25MB||Between 1% to 2.5% of 1 GB plan|
|3||Between 25MB to 50MB||Between 2.5% to 5% of 1 GB plan|
|2||Between 50MB to 100MB||Between 5% to 10% of 1 GB plan|
|1||Greater than 100MB||10% or more of 1 GB plan|
Data Usage Measurement
The amount of data that the app sends and receives is measured when it’s running but not being used (i.e., when it and the device are in idle mode). The measurement is performed with a real time device data collection and diagnostic monitoring tool that logs data traffic during the test period.
What About Apple Apps?
While it is commendable that Verizon wants to generate awareness among customers of malicious apps and promote energy conservation, we will wait to see if this program will be expanded to cover Apple apps as well.
Considering Apple’s app store generates four times the sales of Google Play, Verizon should have rolled out this initiative with iPhone apps too. If the company doesn’t launch a similar program for Apple in the next couple of months, it could be viewed as being biased against android app developers. According to Trefis estimates, Apple’s app store has witnessed over 40 billion downloads while Google is lagging behind at nearly 25 billion downloads. Given Apple’s iron handed control of Apple app store, we are highly skeptical that Verizon would want to rate Apple apps for the fear of affecting its relationship with Apple.