An HTC smartphone bug caused ads to appear in its stock keyboard

HTC has confirmed that ads automatically being presented within the keyboard app on certain smartphones is indeed an error.

As spotted over the weekend by Reddit user Azirack on his HTC 10, banner ads were automatically appearing within an updated TouchPal keyboard on phones like the HTC 10. HTC’s newest phones are sold with TouchPal preinstalled and the free version of TouchPal for other devices typically shows ads, but a statement recently issued from HTC says this was not supposed to happen on the company’s proprietary devices. TouchPal developers also responded to several comments on the Google Play Store that complained about the automatic ads, saying, “For the ads issue, it is fixed from the server side.”

HTC has since delivered the following statement to Engadget:

"Due to an error, some HTC customers have reported seeing ads on their phone's keyboard. This is absolutely not the experience we intended, and we're working to immediately fix the error and remove the ads as quickly as possible."

This is certainly not the first alternative way smartphones have delivered ads: Amazon recently brought the Nokia 6 to the US, which has a few price points, including a subsidized version that allows lock screen ads and offers. There is, however, a big difference between opting in and being served random ads within basic functionalities on your device without warning or agreement.

HTC ad error.
Image: Azirack / Reddit


Touchpal is hot garbage.

A similar thing started happening on my AT&T S6 Active. The Peel Smart Remote app started placing full-screen adds after an AT&T software update when I plugged in to charge at night, and also when I would unlock to use the phone in the morning. Really pissed me off because I didn’t know what app was doing it and I hadn’t installed anything recently. I happened to push the menu key which brings up all the active apps, and I could see the ad was being served by Peel Smart Remote. Here’s the kicker, it’s a pre-installed app from AT&T, so I can’t even uninstall it. I just uninstalled the updates, force stopped it, and disabled it, and the ads stopped.

Open always wins – haha

I don’t know much about programming but I think it’s hard to believe they wrote all the code required to perform this kind of function as a mistake.

Doesn’t iOS also support 3rd party keyboards? Boo "open"!

The code is there for the free version. Enabling it can be as simple as a true/false.

actually 3rd party keyboards have several layers of sandboxing, to avoid keylogging- requiring the user to authorize each separately, and even then they have extremely limited access outside of their sandbox – e.g. they can’t access iOS’ autocomplete, or iOS voice recognition database, a slight annoyance but a security strength.

yeah totally, seems beyond intentional

Sadly, this doesn’t surprise me at all. HTC seems to be taking shortcuts more & more and caring less & less about the end-user experience. Although these are ‘death by a thousand cuts’ events, it’s enough to convince me to NOT buy an HTC for my next phone (using one now). I’ve seen it over and over again:

-HTC develops fancy new phone with feature X (ie: your phone has this fancy new chip that will work as a Fitbit!)
-HTC stops caring about feature X a year or two later (they have bigger/fancier things to worry about)
-Feature X stops working and either gets subbed in with some crappy 3rd party alternative (anybody remember the HTC I/R remote control?) or it just stops working
….rinse, wash, repeat.

This has happened to me personally for at least three functions of my current One M8. Yes, it’s a 2014 phone, but, I didn’t buy it until 2015 and am still within my 2 or 3 year carrier cycle. I’m sure this happens with other phone manufacturers too, but, HTC seems to be the most user-hostile of the bunch recently.

A pity – I liked HTC.

Sure… a "bug".

More like, you pushed it too far and people started to call you on your bullshit.

Here’s a thought, HTC; Make good phones, like you used to, and people will buy them. Then you won’t need to resort to shitty advertising tactics to claw back revenue.

THIS is why it’s stock Android or no Android.

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