Android gives free Apps a bad name

German independent firm AV-Test recently stated that the free antivirus scanners made available for Android devices are ineffective, with the company’s CEO even describing the products as “useless”.

The firm’s research revealed that out of the seven applications that were tested on the brand’s mobile devices only one, Zoner Antivirus Free, was able to detect eight out of ten malicious programs, while all other applications only managed to detect one.

In stark contrast, two paid antivirus apps (F-Secure Mobile Security and Kaspersky Mobile Security) were tested as well and managed to detect at least 50% of all the malware samples.

The results of AV-Test’s analysis have not only led people to question Android’s service standards, but also raised some important issues regarding the overall quality of free applications.

I’m a firm believer that just because a product is free of charge doesn’t mean that its quality should be below standard. Just look at the Mozilla foundation’s products including Firefox. Free products don’t need to be of inferior quality.

Furthermore, it is this kind of unreliability that can damage Android’s image in the eyes of the customer. For instance, users were recently left frustrated with Apple’s faulty iOS 5 mobile operating system, while Blackberry’s connectivity problems have lost an estimated 1.8 million customers.

With more cases of faulty mobile devices appearing in the news, reliable software and protection are increasingly becoming a priority in an age where people heavily rely on the quality of their smartphones.

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Martin Mudge is the Director of BugFinders, a crowd-based on-demand software testing delivery company based in Cheltenham. He has worked in financial, manufacturing, security, government, Web-based and telecoms sectors and is passionate about risk-based testing, risk-driven testing and model-based testing. He has developed automation strategies, as well as advised many large organisations on recruitment strategies, but is currently dedicated to crowd-sourced testing services at BugFinders.