Understanding Third-Party Libraries in Mobile App Analysis

Author(s): Haoyu Wang, Yao Guo
Venue: Proceedings of the 39th International Conference on Software Engineering Companion Pages 515-516
Date: 5/20/2017

Type of Experiement: Controlled Experiment
Sample Size: 1000000
Class/Experience Level: Professional
Data Collection Method: Observation


This paper aims to analyze the detrimental effects of third-party libraries in mobile applications when conducting different forms of app analysis tasks including permission gap analysis, mobile app clone detection, and app behavior analysis. The paper claims to have analyzed over 1 million Android applications and reports that on average, third-party libraries account for more than 60% of the code in Android applications.

One of the main reasons why third-party libraries introduce so much noise when analyzing mobile applications is because of their permission use. The paper explains that some libraries exploit the privileges of their host apps, track users in order to provide targeted ads, and collect user data. The paper talks a lot about the security and privacy concerns with third-party libraries.

This paper is very surface level and outlines the importance of third-party libraries for researchers, students, and mobile application developers.