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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Identifying Devices on Anroid

Identifying Devices on Android

Suppose you feel that for the needs of your application, you need an actual hardware device identifier. This turns out to be a tricky problem.

In the past, when every Android device was a phone, things were simpler: TelephonyManager.getDeviceId() is required to return (depending on the network technology) the IMEI, MEID, or ESN of the phone, which is unique to that piece of hardware.

However, there are problems with this approach:

Non-phones: Wifi-only devices or music players that don’t have telephony hardware just don’t have this kind of unique identifier.
Persistence: On devices which do have this, it persists across device data wipes and factory resets. It’s not clear at all if, in this situation, your app should regard this as the same device.
Privilege:It requires READ_PHONE_STATE permission, which is irritating if you don’t otherwise use or need telephony.
Bugs: We have seen a few instances of production phones for which the implementation is buggy and returns garbage, for example zeros or asterisks.


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