Scrutiny of Gas booking Apps for Bharatgas Indane and HP

Does the official HP Gas App really need to have so much access to your smart phone?

Look at the following  images of the Official lpg cylinder booking App by HP (Hindustan Petroleum)

In this mobile security awareness series I will look at different categories of Android Apps and scrutinize the permissions an app seeks during installation on your smartphone. I hope this scrutiny will bring awareness among Android smartphone users to determine essential and non-essential permissions that an app may ask for in a particular App. I will also compare these permissions among most popular apps in that category.

Today we will look at a gas booking app. It has been a great relief for busy folks to book their gas cylinder instantly using the gas booking app on their smartphones. Gone are the days when one has to visit the gas agency just to request for a refill. Now we are in a smart age.

Technology along with convenience bring its share of risks. In case of your smartphone you will have to treat as your most valued asset. Not only physically but also from the prying eyes of somee creepy apps that may have access to spy on your phone's activities and the ability to collect your sensitive information.

This becomes serious when you innocuously download and install an app, and during installation the app extracts a long list of permissions which are not really needed for the functioning of the app itelf. Therefore we need to really scrutinize the kind of permissions that an app may ask for.

Today let use delve into Online gas booking apps. We will look at the permissions sought out by some of the most popular gas booking apps.

I will also give you a link to that apps page on google play store so that you an read the permissions yourself.

In Google's App store there are apps that cater to online booking of three major gas companies Bharat Gas, Indane and HP. There are apps that exclusively book for one company and there are apps that can book for all the three companies.

I have a HP gas connection in my house. Therefore the official app from HP was the choice of app for me. Here is a screenshot of the app's installation screen on my smartphone, and the list of permissions this app asks for. You have to agree that if you are an average smartphone user (I mean not a mobile security expert) then you would not even bother to read them. But for this article I want you to read the list carefully.

Now, lets us first look at the most downloaded apps that cater to all the three companies

Apps that book for all three Bharatgas, HP and Indane

Online LPG GAS Booking India by Bhaskars
The two images below show the installation screen of this App on Android phone and the Permissions popup at the beginning of installation. It clearly states that the app "does not require any special permissions"

Book My LPG Gas (Free, No Ads) by App Rockers 
This App too  "does not require any special permissions"

Apps for HP gas only

HP Gas Booking by MGovernance

Even this App too  "does not require any special permissions"

Gaswala Hp Gas by DNP Labs
As we can see below, this App too  "does not require any special permissions"

 Apps for Indane only

Let us look at Apps for Indane

Indane - This is the Official App for Indian Oil Corporation Limited

The special permission that this App asks is for the access to Photos/Media/Files. But the App developer does not explain the reason for the special permission on their App's page.

Indane GAS Online Booking by fastweb
This app too "does not require any special permissions"

GasWala Indane by DNP Labs

This app too "does not require any special permissions"

Apps for Bharat Gas only

Now let us look at some of the apps for Bharat Gas

Bharat GAS Online Booking by fastweb

GasWala Bharatgas by DNP Labs

The special permission this App asks for is ability to send and read SMSs from/on your phone. But the reason behind this permission is explained on their App's page. 
They use this capability if you choose to book your cylinder by sending an sms to Bharatgas number 57333.

Now if you compare the capabilities of the Apps with the HP's official App you won't see anything in the HP's Official App that warrant the kind of permissions this App seeks for. I have given a link to the App's page in Google Play store with each of the name above. 

As HP Hindustan Petroleum is an Indian Government owned company, so there could be valid reasons for the kind of Special Permissions their Official App seeks on your smartphone. But the reasons are not explained on their App's page. For comparison I would like you to see any of the Gaswala (DNP Labs) page and they have explained the reasons for each of the permission they seek in their Apps. 

In the forthcoming articles we will scrutinize other Apps from different categories.