How I prevented myself side-loading Android apps
June 03, 2019
I wanted to stop wasting time on the internet watching tv shows. I needed a website blocker like SelfControl that I use on my mac but there is no equivalent on Android. Therefore I turned to Android app blockers.
Stay Focused is a really good app blocker because the premium version has strict mode that prevents me from uninstalling the app or changing the settings until the next day. I can block browsers to prevent visiting time wasting websites. I can block the play store to prevent installling new browsers. Stay Focused also has a screen time feature, enabling me to set limits on my phone usage.
However, I could always install browser apps by downloading the apk and install them using ADB. I needed a way to prevent this. I looked for Android apps that disabled ADB on the phone but I couldn’t find any. I decided to create my own. For an Android app to turn ADB off it needs to be a system app and that requires a custom rom.
Custom roms was a painful experience for me. A lot of the roms off the internet for my phone had issues and me going on holiday had complicated things. I used a broken rom on my 2 weeks holiday that would restart if I picked up a call. Had to make excuses to a lot of relatives. After the holiday, I managed to get a stable rom and that was Resurrection Remix.
Building the app was straightforward as it was a matter of toggling a boolean. A service turns off adb every 3 seconds to counteract any user action. When the service is turned off, adb is turned on again. I decided to write it in Kotlin as that is much nicer to use for Android developent than Java. I named the app ADBToggle and used it to disable ADB and Stay Focused blocks ADBToggle.
You can find the complete code for this post in the following Github repository.
Personal blog by Zakariya Moallin.