Hotspot Shield VPN
Software to protect your identity when browsing online
Hotspot Shield VPN is an app from AnchorFree that uses their VPN service to shield your connection from monitoring.
Hotspot Shield is arguably the oldest free VPN service that's still in business. Their free app promises anonymity without cost. There is only one country option, and the speeds are noticeably much slower than the paid version. It does form an effective VPN, but especially at peak times, the network can become almost unusable. This can be remedied by paying for their VPN, but it can be a major issue for people who just want to use it temporarily.
Hotspot Shield VPN has a nice interface and is relatively straightforward. Once you're actually connected, the VPN is usually fairly stable. Their advertising model on desktop PCs is to show ads on websites visited. Oddly, the same company whose business is to stop tracking uses targeted advertising based on tracking. This model doesn't quite work on mobile devices, so they instead chose to show advertising on connection and disconnection. This can interrupt the experience, and there are some malicious ads that open up the App Store automatically.
Overall, if you're willing to put up with some delays and annoyances, the free version is alright. If you're planning to stream videos, be prepared to fork over some money or find a different VPN service. In the case of Hotspot Shield VPN, you're putting up with these barriers to get a well-known service for free.
- Very well-known VPN service
- App itself is fairly robust
- Lots of advertising that can get in the way of the service
- Conflict of interest with business model and advertising model
- Very limited free options
If experiencing connection issues:
* Android 5.0: Reboot your device. If that doesn't work, clear data for the app.
* Android 4 & earlier: Clear data for the app.
* If you still can’t connect, please contact [email protected] with device name and OS version.
Potentially dangerous permissions
- GET_ACCOUNTS: Allows access to the list of accounts in the Accounts Service.
- READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE: Allows an application to read from external storage.
- READ_PHONE_STATE: Allows read only access to phone state, including the phone number of the device, current cellular network information, the status of any ongoing calls, and a list of any PhoneAccounts registered on the device.
- WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE: Allows an application to write to external storage.
- ACCESS_NETWORK_STATE: Allows applications to access information about networks.
- ACCESS_WIFI_STATE: Allows applications to access information about Wi-Fi networks.
- CHANGE_WIFI_STATE: Allows applications to change Wi-Fi connectivity state.
- GET_TASKS: This constant was deprecated in API level 21. No longer enforced.
- INTERNET: Allows applications to open network sockets.
- PACKAGE_USAGE_STATS: Allows an application to collect component usage statistics
- RECEIVE_BOOT_COMPLETED: Allows an application to receive the ACTION_BOOT_COMPLETED that is broadcast after the system finishes booting. If you don't request this permission, you will not receive the broadcast at that time. Though holding this permission does not have any security implications, it can have a negative impact on the user experience by increasing the amount of time it takes the system to start and allowing applications to have themselves running without the user being aware of them. As such, you must explicitly declare your use of this facility to make that visible to the user.
- SYSTEM_ALERT_WINDOW: Allows an app to create windows using the type TYPE_SYSTEM_ALERT, shown on top of all other apps. Very few apps should use this permission; these windows are intended for system-level interaction with the user.
- WRITE_SETTINGS: Allows an application to read or write the system settings.