Problems with blocking devices on Android

Sometimes my protections is not working properly, why?

In the past we were facing many situations the users reported non-working protection on some phone devices – sometimes the unwanted call (according to the community database or the user’s settings) was not blocked. Actually there are a few main reasons why some application may not work properly – the reasons for this could vary depending on mobile device (and its brand), applications installed on the device itself and version of the operating systems. Let’s check all pre-requisites which should be corrected to have the protection running all the time (also you can check the previously posted articles “How to keep the protection against unwanted calls active“, “Why call blocking does not work on all phones?” and “Should I Answer on Huawei devices” ).

AOS inside

Operating system and smart phones

  • This part is one big pain for all Android developers – the operating system consists of many different resources and open-source parts, which should be used in the same time by all applications installed. To make it all work in the same time, Android OS (Operating System) has set a system of application privileges assigned to each application. The Should I Answer application needs some of them to work properly (for the security applications like Should I Answer we are talking about application which should have higher privileges to protect you all the time) – must be able to catch the incoming and outgoing calls (to be able to block them if needed), needs to read your phone Contacts (to find out which number should be positive for you), must be able to draw a window on the screen etc. For this please always read the installation instructions and the set of privileges we ask for during the installation – and confirm them if you agree. The permissions (system privileges) can be checked for each installed application – just go to the system Settings -> Applications -> select and click the desired application and scroll down to Permissions part (this approach WILL BE DIFFERENT depending on OS version and mobile brand, but the basic is like this). For Android 5.x you will see just the list of privileges there (if you click any of them explanation will raise), for Android 6.x you can manage (revoke / grant) the privileges there. So, if our application raises a message some system privilege or permission is missing, please check this. If there is no chance to change the privileges on your OS, uninstall and install the application again and confirm the set of privileges during the installation. Android forum published the idea of privileges here: “System Permissions” and the list of all is located here: “Manifest.permission
  • The second thing which we must respect for smartphones with OS is that this is not a PHONE – the device is fully working genuine COMPUTER, which has got a microphone and speaker for the calling purposes, but is capable of MUCH MORE different operations where calling is just one SMALL portion. You can install many different applications (and please notice that when you buy your new phone, it comes with a lot of applications pre-installed already) and all of them should run on the same device, using the same (limited) memory and the same (limited) computing capacity of the CPU (computing processor) and GPU (graphic processing unit). Sometimes, when the basic main function (which receiving phone calls and providing outgoing calls is) must be maintained, some of the pre-installed applications try to kill all unnecessary other running applications just to provide system resources for the call itself. Sometimes other applications can cause one application to crash because of some collision on system resources… So, if our application was not able to maintain some call, this can be one of the reasons – try to clear your phone device (restart of your phone once per time is recommended as with every computers) and close all other unnecessary applications which can fight for the same resources. See more below.

Device brand and built-in apps

  • As written above, your smart phone comes with some pre-installed applications by default from the phone manufacturer. Be aware that in most cases there is not a pure Android installed on your device, but many different OS enhancements directly lying on the top of the OS among with other applications from your device brand manufacturer. Mostly the phones from HUAWEI (with EMUI), SAMSUNG, XIAOMI (with MyUI) and others come with its own graphical enhancement and many pre-installed applications which can cause a malfunction of other applications. More to it, most of those brands have a memory managers running in the background and when there is a need for more system resources (e.g. in the time a call is being conducted) these managers suspend or kill any other applications to free the memory and/or CPU. This was reported by many of our users, but there are possibilities how to overcome this problem:
  • Check your phone settings : you should find a system Whitelist (list of protected applications) where you can add any application you don’t want to be touched by the system cleaning. Add the Should I Answer application there. Mostly it can be found under a) Settings (grey gear button) -> Security -> Applications; b) Settings -> Protected Apps; c) Phone Manager -> Settings -> Protected Apps (depends on your OS and mobile brand). THIS ACTION IS CRITICAL for every security application you would like to serve you well on mobiles with OS enhancement.

Memory managers and other installed applications

  • Your mobile is a genuine computer. On any of them more applications are running in the same time, some of them installed by you, some installed by your mobile device manufacturer (such applications will have more system permissions also with a right to postpone or kill other applications). To prevent this actions (which will cause that our application will not be able to provide its functionality properly) a few things can be done:
  • For less aggressive memory managers, we have included a possibility of switching the SIA application to run as a foreground service – such service is not (mostly, but not 100% – depending on the system settings which user can not change) postponed by other applications. If you were facing problems our app was not active to check some calls, please go to the SIA Settings (read the actual Manual ) and set the application as a Foreground service (also check the other advanced settings according to the Manual). Always check this if our app didn’t block any call depending on your app settings – this can be the cause : clash with other application and / or bad settings of our application and/or the system.
  • Other installed security applications such as memory boosters, memory managers, antivirus applications and other security apps can have a privilege to kill or postpone other apps causing their malfunction in a critical time. Most of them have something similar to a system Whitelist. I you are using such applications (most Huawei and Samsung phones have built-in apps of such functionality, you can find them with a broom icon mostly) please check their settings and try to find a Whitelist / List of protected apps and add our application there. Here below is a list of most common applications belonging to this group and a path where to find their Whitelist:
Application Whitelist location
360 Security Settings -> Boost Safe List -> Add
360 Security Lite Settings -> Boost Safe List -> Add”
Clean Master Phone Boost Me -> Settings -> Ignore List -> Task -> Add “+”
CM Security Lite – Antivirus Settings -> Ignore List
Clean Master Lite (Boost) Settings -> Ignore List -> Task -> Add “+” -> Add
CM Security AppLock Antivirus Sandwich -> Settings -> Ignore List
Avast Cleanup & Boost Cleaning -> Memory boost -> select app to protect -> Boost now
DU Speed Booster & Cleaner Phone Boost -> Long hold on App / Click on App -> Add to ignore list
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Scanner -> Whitelist (next to Scanner Settings)
    Please be aware this list is not complete and the path where to find a Whitelist can vary from version to version.
  • Some users also may have other blocking applications installed and running consequently on the same device. Please be aware that if more blocking applications try to catch the same system events this can cause hardware or memory conflicts – always check if your multiple applications can really work together to your full satisfaction, not stress. Of course we would like to recommend you to use our application solely but for sure the other apps can offer different knowledge database, other functionality etc. Before reporting a problem with our application please try to check if the problem is not a clash with other app fighting for the same resources.

Well, long reading, but be sure the Android developers will add other wonderful (more or less) features to the basic system in the future. With each new version new problems can occur.

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Version 2016.7 is here!

Database is growing faster and faster..

This version contains new community database storage engine. Our database is growing fast, but thanks to this update the database size will have little impact to phone resources usage.  Main part of the database is stored in application resources in highly optimised form. Updates are downloaded in form of incremental updates. To achieve best results we will release new app build containing fresh main database part once per month. That’s why we are changing app versioning to YEAR.Month.Build. Please keep your application updated to keep resource usage as low as possible.

It’s not easy to keep app running

New version contains notification about calls which were not tested by our app. Most often it’s because some manufacturer or 3rd party tool stopped our app. Please if you are using any Memory Manager/Optimiser or antivirus with integrated optimiser, don’t forget to whitelist our app to keep your protection running.

Import/Export reinvented

Next feature is brand new Import/Export system. We removed sending data via email, because it was too problematic for part of the users which does not use gmail client. New Import/Export feature temporarily stores data on our server, so transfering rules should be much easier now.

That’s enough…for now…

If you will have any questions or bug reports feel free to contact our support.

Thank you for using our software!

Your SIA Dev Team

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Should I Answer on Huawei devices

This article address issues with running ShouldIAnswer app on Huawei devices. Huawei devices contains many Android modifications and own user interface called EMUI.

Issue: Protection is not running

Included phone optimisations tools are very agressive and terminates almost all processes. ShouldIAnswer app is also killed..no matter if running as Foreground Service or not! If the ShouldIAnswer is killed  by this way, system will not start it again and app can’t protect you against unwanted calls.

Solution:

To keep protection running you must add ShouldIAnswer app into Protected Apps.. List of protected apps can be accessed in Settings>Protected Apps or Phone Manager>Settings>Protected Apps. You can also find many useful information in our general article How to keep protection agains unwanted calls active.

Issue: All outgoing calls are blocked

Some huawei devices contains strange error which terminates all outgoing calls when any application has registered broadcast receiver for NEW_OUTGOING_CALL

Solution:

Open ShouldIAnswert Settings tab and disable “Use Outgoing Call Receiver”

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How to keep the protection against unwanted calls active

1796467_sShoudIAnswer provides a great way how to protect you against unwanted calls. If somebody calls you, the application checks the number and reacts according your settings. Unfortunately there are situations when the reaction is not fast enough. Why and how you can improve it?

Android Memory Manager

Phone devices can run very complex applications with high requirements to the phone memory. If the application requires more memory than  actually free, Android Memory Manager kills as much background processes as needed to free sufficient space. So basically any application which is in background (user is not interacting with) can be killed anytime without any warning. No difference for us – ShouldIAnswer application can be killed too.

What happens if ShouldIAnswer app is not running and incoming call is coming?

ShouldIAnswer is registered in the system to receive information about calls. If incoming call happens and the app is not running, the system starts it and sends information about the call. In some situation this can be very slow…for example…

  1. Incoming call occurs
  2. System must start the “Phone Ringing” application. To provide required memory, it kills some background apps first
  3. System must start all registered receivers….To provide required memory, it kills some background apps again
  4. ShouldIAnswer app must start, initialize and check number in the community database and display alert or block the call

If you have some older phone, low free resources or many active background applications, it can take even seconds to display the alert. E.g. our tests on old and overloaded Samsung S3 mini showed the Alert after 8s.

Solution? Welcome the Foreground Service!

Android system provides a way how to keep the application running. If you are listening music, the player will not be killed in the middle of the song. It’s thanks to the system feature called Foreground Service. Android system tries to keep foreground services running as much as possible..So enable it in the app settings and the reaction times will be much better!

Wait a moment! Why is the app icon in the task bar with visible sticky notification “Protection is active”? Remove it!

If you want to enjoy the benefits of the Foreground Service, you must accept the presence of app icon in task bar and sticky notification. This is a part of how the Foreground Services work. It’s done by the Android system and application can’t change this behavior. Notice that the earlier mentioned music player has taskbar icon and sticky notification too.

Application is set as Foreground Service, but it’s being killed anyway! Why?

There are many 3rd party memory cleaners in the app store. This cleaners use different formulas for deciding what process to kill or not to kill. If you have some memory cleaner installed, please add our app to it’s white list (list of allowed processes).

Any Issues?

We are here for solving issues and provide you with the best protection against unwanted calls! Feel free to contact us to support@shouldianswer.net.

Thank you!
ShouldIAnswer Team

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Should I Answer 8.0 is HERE!

ic_launcherShould I Answer 8.0 is slowly rolling out to our users. What’s new? Almost everything!

Once Upon A Time
App development started in dark times. That time all Android devices had white text on black background as a default theme. That’s why the dark theme for our app was chosen. Everyone was happy…until the day which changed everything…new Android version has come and switched to light theme and we knew we must prepare the light theme too. Version 8 brings Light & Dark themes, easily switchable in the settings.

Beware! Snowball is rolling down!
During the development we were listening carefully to our users’ feedback and implemented many new features. We added the first, next one, another one which resulted in very complex user interface. Version 8 brings brand new interface with configuration divided into 4 sections: Ratings, Alerts, Blocking and Settings.

Community Database is growing fast!
As our community grows the database of unwanted numbers is growing faster and faster. This is great news for users, because application will provide even better protection. On the other hand, a bigger database needs more phone resources…so how to solve this situation?  Version 8 introduces its own engine for storing and searching the database.  If needed, just a small slices of the database are loaded into the phone memory on demand thus the new version has much lower memory and phone storage usage. Also searching in the database is much faster and uses less processor time.

Give me more details!
Best way how to find  how new version looks and works is to read our app user manual.  Please feel free to send us any comments, ideas and bug reports to support@shouldianswer.net.

We hope you will enjoy it and benefit from it. Thank you!
Should I Answer Dev Team

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Blocking of unwanted SMS and MMS

Android OS has build-in security feature which allows to delete SMS/MMS messages only to single app registered in the system as default SMS manager. Thanks to cooperation with QKLabs we made blocking of unwanted messages possible.

How to enable SMS/MMS blocking:

  1. Install ShouldIAnswer application 
  2. Open settings and check  “Use block rules to block SMS & MMS”
  3. If you don’t have installed QKSMS manager, you will be redirected to QKSMS on Google Play
  4. Set QKSMS as default SMS manager
  5. Enjoy blocking of unwanted messages!

SMS/MMS blocking uses same rules as calls…You can add any custom rule to Block Rules section.

If you have any questions feel free to contact us!

Your ShouldIAnswer Team!

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Why call blocking does not work on all phones?

The answer is very simple. It’s because Android OS doesn’t support call blocking. It’s not possible to implement this functionality using public API. So to make it work, the private API is used instead with little hacking. Unfortunately as with most non-system (read “fully supported”) solutions this does not work for all phones. It can also work with some limitations or inconvenience like short ring before the call is blocked – it depends on your mobile phone hardware and software configuration. Shortly it’s something that we (as developers) really can’t change, don’t blame us.

Due to such blocking issues we do sometimes receive 1-star or 2-star rating on Google Play, or angry feedback by email from users. We are really sorry for any issue appearing, but this specific kind of issue is mission impossible for us as the app developers. Only Google as Android OS developer has power sufficient to change the system behavior of this functionality on the level of the operating system Android itself.

From our experience there are some problems related to specific phone models which affect in fact just a very low number of users. If you are the unlucky one, there is still no need to uninstall our application. It will be still useful without the blocking function! The application can display all kind of alerts for any incoming call so you will be able to decide if you should answer by yourself ;-).

Our app has one of the highest app rating in its category…4.8! It’s achieved thanks to our hard work, great users’ feedbacks and big app community building one of the best protection against all kinds of phone spam. Thank you all!
Should I Answer Team

 

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Should I Answer 7.4

Version 7.4 is released with support for SMS blocking! Android OS allows block SMS to default SMS manager only. So implementation of the SMS blocking means implementation of complete SMS manager. Building SMS manager from scratch, evolving and bugfixing would take endless hours. We tried to solve it diferently…we searched the Google Play and found best free opensource SMS manager and sent proposal for cooperation. QKLabs today released QKSMS manager version 2.4.0. This version supports filtering of SMS via ShouldIAnswer app. ShouldIAnswer 7.3 users should see the option for SMS filtering in the app settings soon. (after db update).

Version 7.3 also contains better customization of filters and blocking of outgoing calls. Dosen bugs have been smashed.

We hope you will find changes useful…Let us know to support@shouldianswer.net

ShouldIAnswer Team

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Should I Answer 7.1

New version of our Android App has been released.  New features are based on feedback from users. Thank you all for great feedback and support.

Changes in version 7.1:

  • Added context menu to Logs provides access to Phone Number Details, Call Number, Copy Number To Clipboard and Search info about number on web.
  • Added optional password protection of rules and settings
  • Added experimental blocking of unwanted call via Pick & Hang Up method. This method should prevent caller access to your voice mail.
  • Added optional status bar icon
  • Improved background tasks to use minimum of phone resources
  • Updated initial database
  • Bugfixes and minor improvements

 

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