back to article Lenovo pops up tips on its tablets. And by tips, Lenovo means: Unacceptable ads

Lenovo has come under fire for the Tips application on its tablets, which has been likened to indelible adware that forces folks to view ads. One customer took to the manufacturer's support forum late last month to say they were somewhat miffed to see an ad suddenly appear on screen to join Amazon Music on their Android- …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Scumware

    1. Blackjack Silver badge

      You could write a whole book with examples of Lenovo doing this in any of the things they sell.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You ain’t seen nothing yet

        Others too, like Android TV ads.

        Remember those claims that targeted Internet advertising might not be as effective as thought? I think they’re true. What is the logical conclusion then by the advertisers? Show more ads, of course!

        I believe you ain’t seen nothing yet.

        1. vtcodger Silver badge

          Re: You ain’t seen nothing yet

          "What is the logical conclusion then by the advertisers? Show more ads, of course!"

          Well, of course. If the ads aren't very effective, you need a lot of them, right?

          1. Flywheel

            Re: You ain’t seen nothing yet

            That "remedy" seems to be the case on TV channels too. Yes, I'm looking at you ITV3!!

            1. Wempy

              Re: You ain’t seen nothing yet

              currently ITV3 are highlighting the very sad case of a woman that insists on taking a bath every 15 minutes. The poor thing only gets about 3 seconds in the bath before she's magically fitted with a very large towel and ejects herself from the sit down unit.

              1. NXM Bronze badge

                Re: You ain’t seen nothing yet

                Tells you a lot about the viewers: nothing but ads for bladder problem solutions, mobility scooters, stairlifts, walk-in baths as you say, cook-chill meals, on and on and on.

                I'd hope it I ever get that old I'd want adverts for heavy metal, dope, and posh wine.

                1. jake Silver badge

                  Re: You ain’t seen nothing yet

                  I am that old, and I don't need or want any ads at all.

                  1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

                    Re: You ain’t seen nothing yet

                    I am that old

                    I'm almost that old and I too don't want to see any ads at all. If I want to buy something, I research what I want to buy, look for the best[1] prices and then buy it. I certainly don't buy stuff that some rules engine thinks I might like based of the almost-certainly-illegal scavenging of my viewing habits.

                    BTW - I have an Amazon Fire tablet and discovered that, by judicious use of adb[2], that the various intrusive bits can be disabled.. I also disable their shell - which leaves me free to use Nova shell instead.

                    In that state, it's a pretty nice tablet and ebook reader (fbreader - I heart you - especially when linked to Calibre on my Mac).

                    [1] Not always the cheapest - the sales backup and general principles of the company involved also matter

                    [2] adb shell pm disable-user [appname] does the trick.

                    1. jake Silver badge
                      Pint

                      Re: You ain’t seen nothing yet

                      Long time no see, you old fart. Welcome back :-)

                      Beer's self-serve, as always ...

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Linux

        you could still buy their hardware, WIPE THE HARD DRIVE, turn OFF "secure boot", and put Linux on it.

        But if this option is EVAR lost, I think their sales will have a significant dent...

    2. Sampler

      I'd been looking at buying on of their tablets too, I don't need anything too fancy and the price seemed good, ah well, definitely off the list.

  2. redpawn

    Burn it to the ground

    I don't purchase a computer unless I can wipe it and load from scratch. I was burned by Lenovo and SuperFish and only want a generic experience with computers as a result. Their hardware has been good enough without their extra loaded goodness so they are not forever shunned by me yet.

    1. xyz123 Bronze badge

      Re: Burn it to the ground

      You know Lenovo since they got sold to a chinese government controlled shell company ships their PCs with malware in the UEFI? so erasing windows doesn't get rid of it. The malware simply reinstalls certain background apps whenever windows is booted, if it detects them missing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Burn it to the ground

        Can you give examples?

        1. cornetman Silver badge

          Re: Burn it to the ground

          > Can you give examples?

          God, I do remember that reported a while back, but for the life of me I cannot remember the details. :(

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Burn it to the ground

            Thanks. I was planning on buying a new machine but I think Lenovo are now off the list.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Burn it to the ground

          Examples are here:

          "From October 2014 through June 2015, the UEFI firmware on certain Lenovo models had contained software known as "Lenovo Service Engine", which Lenovo says automatically sent non-identifiable system information to Lenovo the first time Windows is connected to the internet, and on laptops, automatically installs the Lenovo OneKey Optimizer program (software considered to be bloatware) as well. This process occurs even on clean installations of Windows. It was found that this program had been automatically installed using a new feature in Windows 8, Windows Platform Binary Table, which allows executable files to be stored within UEFI firmware for execution on startup, and is meant to "allow critical software to persist even when the operating system has changed or been reinstalled in a 'clean' configuration"; specifically, anti-theft security software."

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenovo#Lenovo_Service_Engine

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Burn it to the ground

            El Reg article on Lenovo's Service Engine: https://www.theregister.com/2015/08/12/lenovo_firmware_nasty/

            1. bombastic bob Silver badge
              Devil

              Re: Burn it to the ground

              You made me read that article.

              In reference to various security concerns, It DID say this: Two months later, in June, it pulled the whole thing: the LSE software is no longer included in new laptops.

              just thought I'd point that out. So unsurprisingly, Superfish AND this LSE thing suggest Lenovo has TRIED the potential backdoor thing before, got caught, and reversed their policies.

              So is there any proof they're doing it AGAIN, NOW?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Burn it to the ground

            One mans 'allow critical software to persist even when the operating system has changed or been reinstalled in a 'clean' configuration' is another mans advanced persistent threat.

        3. BillG
          IT Angle

          Can you give examples? Yep.

          When Lenovo was caught stuffing Superfish adware in the BIOS:

          SuperFish cram scandal: Lenovo must now ask nicely before stuffing new PCs with crapware

          Going back to 2014, the Chinese computer goliath was found to have been bundling new Windows PCs it sold in the US with an application called VisualDiscovery that was presented as a "search assistant" tool to help users find similar products to those shown in images. In reality, VisualDiscovery was just a modified version of SuperFish, a piece of adware that injected targeted marketing links into webpages whenever the user hovered over an image. In addition to being annoying and invasive, researchers found that SuperFish's use of self-signed certificates also introduced security holes to machines it was installed on.

          Because it was loaded from the BIOS the adware could be reloaded into a fresh install of Windows. I don't know if this also infected Linux as well.

      2. mickaroo

        Re: Burn it to the ground

        Easy fix...

        Blast Windoze, install Mint.

      3. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Burn it to the ground

        proof please. "sauce" please.

        If UEFI has spyware in it, prove it please. I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm saying that you need to prove things of this nature if you are going to make a claim like this, Because if the allegations ARE true, it has wide sweeping implications.

        not saying CCP does not WANT this. But other stories about China manufacturing and malware-on-board have been made before WITHOUT any conclusive substantiating evidence, right Bloomberg? Still waiting for the proof... (and their credibility has been damaged)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Burn it to the ground

      I've got a Lenovo tablet. Nice tab, unfortunately it came with the traditional, impossible to remove Lenovo spyware preinstalled, and they don't take "no" as an answer: The fact you already payed is irrelevant, the want more money. All the money!

      Lenovo has clearly showed again and again they consider customers to be suckers to exploit in every way possible. To be avoided at all cost till they learn their lesson (or hell freezes over, whatever comes first).

      1. Snake Silver badge

        Re: Lenovo spyware

        I don't understand why Lenovo is the only one being called out for spyware on their Android tablets. Amazon does it. Google does it, everywhere. Samsung does it, even on their TVs.

        It's everywhere and it's the people, continuously voting with their pockets, that enable these companies to want to continue their modus operandi. It's evil but it's We The People, plural, who allow them to continue.

        1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Lenovo spyware

          "I don't understand why Lenovo is the only one being called out for spyware on their Android tablets."

          They're not. Plenty of articles have been written in this very other about the privacy issues throughout the Google universe and Android. This article, however, being news, is about the new discovery that Lenovo, in particular, are spamming their customers inappropriately.

      2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Burn it to the ground

        (or hell freezes over, whatever comes first).

        FYI: Hell has already frozen over, the old Norse were right that hell is a cold place. And I am pretty sure Lenovo hasn't learned that lesson yet, so avoid if at all possible.

        1. Snake Silver badge

          Re: Lesson learned

          Or, on one of their PC's, wipe and do a fresh install. My point is if HP or any other major OEM, besides possibly Apple, isn't guilty of the same junkware installs?

  3. doublelayer Silver badge

    Technical attack, technical defense

    I wonder what the network traffic looks like for getting this "tip" information onto each victim, and particularly what happens when the part that needs to download the largest assets crashes most of the way through. I wonder how they would react to a bot pretending to be an unstable app which continually tries and fails to download their ad, especially if multiple devices started to have trouble with the downloads all day long.

    Preinstalled adware is entirely unacceptable on any hardware unless it is stated prominently at the time of purchase, and I wouldn't mind if that were banned too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Technical attack, technical defense

      'I wonder how they would react to a bot pretending to be an unstable app which continually tries and fails to download their ad, especially if multiple devices started to have trouble with the downloads all day long.'

      I like your thinking!

      A server would have to be very resilient to cope with such an unfortunate situation.

  4. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    A fast one

    By the looks of it, China is slowly phasing out their remnants of capitalism as you can read about numerous "crackdowns".

    Seems like more Chinese companies will be looking to make a quick buck before things are going to go fully red.

    1. xyz123 Bronze badge

      Re: A fast one

      Chinese Crackdowns are always 100% - didn't pay enough secret bribes to a particular government stooge.

      They have no honor nor honesty when cash is involved.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @xyz123 - Re: A fast one

        They learned from the best.

      2. Sub 20 Pilot

        Re: A fast one

        And you think any of the eqivalent US companies are any different ?

  5. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

    It's cheaper ordering a Lenovo tablet via Lenovo.com than Amazon, so I did - a sudden 33% discount sealed the deal... dispatch was supposed to be "Within 1 or 2 working days"... but I'm stll waiting 12 days later. Useless. I've opened a Paypal case for a refund, because their customer support people are polite but useless.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Lead times on all laptops and tablets are currently longer than usual, but 12 weeks instead of two days and no information from the customer support bods is taking the piss. Especially since Lenovo will have known about the long lead times before you even ordered it. I've seen lead times on some spares reported in the few to many months ranges, although do turn up quicker than that, usually, which indicates they are not only aware of the problem but also have little real idea of when stuff will become available. I image the production lines for their business grade kit has the highest priority for any parts that might be hard to get or or part of a more fragile supply chain.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        He said 12 days not weeks

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Thanks, you're right. I mis-read. That's not so bad then.

      2. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

        My Paypal case ends on Saturday. Maybe I should allow them time to mine the ore and melt the sand...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          hmm, looks like i better shutdown the old Len0vo.com scam and spool up lenov0.com for my next victims...

          1. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

            Tablets are a pointless purchase, and I resisted buying one for a very long time because they have a very limited shelf life and allow no administrative control to the user. I bought it from here:

            https://www.lenovo.com/gb/en/pc

            Customer comms are handled by Digital River, which is also the payment processor, and all they can do when nothing is dispatched, is open a support ticket at the distribution centre. They can tell you the ticket has been updated, but not what with.. and that's it. Does anyone have a useful contact at Lenovo?

            1. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

              Got it! Via next day DHL.. now how do I break the malware (no ads yet) or better still, install Linux?

              Aha!

              https://gitlab.com/ubports/community-ports/android9/lenovo-tab-m10-fhd-plus

  6. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    "System App" bollocks

    There is no special privileges an app like this would require. It's only a "system app" because they don't want people to uninstall it.

    Any preinstalled software should be installed as a "user app" only.

    I've been burnt with one of my android devices (Huawei) - it's actually a decent piece of hardware, let down by crappy software and artificial restrictions. I won't buy again from them, and won't buy another device that I can't root.

    Who'd buy a windows PC that doesn't give "admin" access?

    1. Diogenes

      Re: "System App" bollocks

      Agreed. Samsung anything is now banned in our household because we had otherwise usable tablets that could no longer be used because all the undeleteable and immoveable to sdcard software kept getting updated until it got to the point that apps wouldn't work because they were not the latest version and there was not enough storage to allow them to be updated.

      1. stiine Silver badge

        Re: "System App" bollocks

        I haven't had that problem with the 6 Galaxy Tab S2, and older, tablets I've owned. The surviving ones (i've accidentally destroyed 3...each an expensive mistake) still work fine although the battery life isn't what it used to be.

      2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: "System App" bollocks

        It's perfectly possible to "uninstall" most of these apps from the user profile. This does not require rooting the device and works really well to change an otherwise decent device from something that struggles under the burden of bloatware and Samsung's appalling versions of standard applications (e.g. mail, browser, etc). Once done you will have a device that feels like it operates twice as fast and the battery lasts all day with ease.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "System App" bollocks

          Care to elaborate?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "System App" bollocks

            Uninstalling Adups and other preinstalled malware via ADB command line tool

            https://forums.malwarebytes.com/topic/216616-removal-instructions-for-adups/

        2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: "System App" bollocks

          Yeah, but many can't be disabled (like the one mentioned in this article), and besides, they still use up space.

          There are many other advantages to root, manipulating storage (e.g. fighting against the dumb /sdcard /extcard fudges that have existed forever), also controlling backups, access to media files (especially after the latest android iphone-style lockup), killing rogue processes, accessing system stats (things that used to be available, but were blocked rather than put behind a specific permission), controlling adverts and "call-homes" etc.

          Each successive version of android has disabled more and more functionality, and I'm fed up of having to fight to access my own property!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Jamie Jones - Re: "System App" bollocks

      You will buy it. Soon. Microsoft will make you and there's nothing you can do about it.

    3. Sub 20 Pilot

      Re: "System App" bollocks

      I am not 100 % because I do not have a W10 system but is that not full of 'advertising' shite, candy crush and similar bollocks that can not be removed, admin rights or not ?

      That is my understanding - if you have a big enterprise with 100's of licenses you can over rule but any normal 'home' or 'professional' user can not.

      Would be great to know it can be done without too much hassle before I have to inevitably get a W10 pc.

      1. Boothy Silver badge

        Re: "System App" bollocks

        Got 10 Home at home as a gaming rig.

        Candy Crush etc can be removed, no issues. I've also never seen any ads within Win 10. But I've also only ever installed from the MS supplied image, never an OEM one.

        But a couple of tips...

        1. If doing a fresh install of 10 don't connect to the Internet. This forces Win 10 into using a local account, rather than a MS account. (Not sure if it works with latest releases, but certainly worked for me at my last rebuild about 12 months ago).

        2. Install O&O Shutup 10 and apply its defaults. I also use this to make sure things like Bing search, and Cortana are disabled.

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: "System App" bollocks

          I may be wrong but I think it's slightly subtler - that you can't install current Windows 10 to log in with a local account if you let the installer connect to the internet. A Microsoft (online) account is the only option offered, then and later.

          If you install offline, I think it still encourages you towards a Microsoft account, but you can resist.

          Windows 11 I think is Microsoft accounts only.

          A question: I gather that Windows 10 21H2 update is in development, but do we know I repeat, know - if it will actually be released and if you will be able to choose it instead of Windows 11?

          1. Adelio Silver badge

            Re: "System App" bollocks

            Any version of windows that insists on me creating a Microsoft Account is not one I will be installing.

            Never used at home a Microsoft account, all my data on my PC is backed up to a local NAS I control.

            I would not trust Microsoft to hold my Towel!

          2. Pedantic

            Re: "System App" bollocks

            Latest available Win 11 iso let me install with a local account in a VM

            1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

              Re: "System App" bollocks

              OK, I did a bit of checking, there's this from July: https://www.laptopmag.com/uk/news/windows-11-install-requires-a-microsoft-account-heres-how-to-avoid-it

              Despite what the URL says, the actual article quotes from "a source close to the company" that you CAN install Windows 11 Pro creating a "local" account.

              Other Windows 11 versions - no.

              And it says with Windows 11 Home "You will be able to move to a local account after you have completed installation", but since I got the firm impression that if you install Windows 10 with a Microsoft account then after that you can only use Microsoft accounts, I'm sceptical that that would be different for Windows 11.

      2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: "System App" bollocks

        I haven't actually used Windows routinely since W7, so don't actually know!

        Maybe I should have said "you expect admin/root on desktop computers"

        The problem is, mobile phones are strictly targeting the consumer market. And android (whilst initially dev-friendly) is going the same way. And this isn't to do with "security". - Things can be made more secure without sacrificing the things that have been sacrificed.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DeJa Vu

    I had an Alcatel phone that pushed a "security update" that modified several of the system apps with advertising SDK's that pushed all manner of of obnoxious ads and also added several dangerous permissions to harvest user data and send back to Chinese servers.

    The added surveilance was part of Hawk App Studios which has ties to CCP's intelligence agencies.

    According to the New York Times, Facebook had allowed TCL/Alcatel low-level access to users social media data as a "trusted partner" and the phone came with a custom made Facebook app preinstalled which allowed the manufacturer to access the users data.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/05/technology/facebook-device-partnerships-china.html

    https://beebom.com/alcatel-installing-unwanted-apps-adware/

    https://www.zdnet.com/article/malware-found-preinstalled-on-some-alcatel-smartphones/

    1. xyz123 Bronze badge

      Re: DeJa Vu

      Few years back, Alcatel planned to offer cheaper phone systems to businesses which would force you to LISTEN to adverts via the speaker every now and again.....they fortunately backed down!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Alldocube iPlay40, or Chuwi Hipad Plus

    Buy the middle Chinese brand tablets, they don't have the Samsung or Microsoft crapware bundle, they don't have their own (like Lenovo) bundle, you still have to put up with Google's bundle, but they're competitive enough to make good hardware, and small enough not to have their own crapware bundle.

    Alldocube iPlay 40 for a fast clean 10 inch tablet:

    (Currently seems to have been upgraded to a "Pro" model, with

    Alldocube iPlay40 Pro Dual 4G LTE Tablet 8GB RAM 256GB ROM Unisoc Tiger T618 Octa Core 2000x1200 FHD+ 10.4 inch Screen OGS Android11 GPS WiFi 2.4/5GHz 256GB Flash), £177.

    Chuwi Hi Pad Plus for a nice big 4:3 screen tablet (seems to have a keyboard case now, I'd get that too), about £222 including the keyboard. <<< This is the one I currently buy in bulk. The big 4:3 screen is more important than the faster processor.

    1. xyz123 Bronze badge

      Re: Alldocube iPlay40, or Chuwi Hipad Plus

      But they will have government mandated spyware and malware preinstalled that hides itself

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Alldocube iPlay40, or Chuwi Hipad Plus

        Perhaps they have that magic 'signal-coupler' chip, the size of a pencil point that can rewrite the operating code to send data back to Bejing. Like the Supermicro motherboards from a few years ago DEFINITELY HAD.

        I think its also made by slave labor and or child labor. Which is why they're so cheap, such high quality workmanship, and work so well. It's the little kids, they can fit the tiny spy chips in so easily with their little fingers poking through their cages.

        If you're going to buy a Chinese spyware microchip laden tablet from Lenovo made by child forced labor, better to buy the cheaper model they sell in China:

        Lenovo XiaoXin Pad Pro

        https://techtablets.com/2021/03/deal-alert-lenovo-xiaoxin-pad-pro-p11-pro-41-euros-50-usd-off-coupon/

        IMHO, even that's overpriced.

        Teclast quality is crap, the tablets flex and the screen is not properly glued to the glass, the spy chips get too hot while spying.

        If you want something super cheap, £99 equivalent price Alldocube iPlay20S, 8 core fast Android 11 HD 4GB Ram, 64GB flash, 10.1 inch tablet. It's so fast it can run heavy software and do screen captures for Bejing, all the while listeing to your private conversations for signs of anti-communist sentiment.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Alldocube iPlay40, or Chuwi Hipad Plus

          And while you're at it, instead of Bose Quiet Comfort 45 noise cancelling headphones, why not MPow H19s noise cancelling headphones for barely 15% of the Bose price?

          They work just aswell, perhaps better, and they manage that price while fitting in the Chinese brain scanning chiplet that can scan your thoughts as you type.

          The reason Bose are so much more expensive, despite also manufacturing in China, is because they have an entire department of people desoldering the Chinese brain chip before selling it to you! You know how tiny those spy chips are? No wonder they're so difficult to find and desolder!

          Plus what happens when you open up your MPow box and find a toddler finger in it, severed from the big machines they slave over 20 hours a day? Bose have a quality process that checks and removes the toddlers fingers BEFORE shipping it to you.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Alldocube iPlay40, or Chuwi Hipad Plus

            Tinfoil!

            Get your tinfoil here!

            Tinfoil!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Alldocube iPlay40, or Chuwi Hipad Plus

              My last roll of tinfoil had ads printed on on side and QR codes on the other!

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Alldocube iPlay40, or Chuwi Hipad Plus

            Have the downvoters had a sarcasm bypass?

            1. Woodnag

              sarcasm

              Sometimes it's difficult to tell...

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: sarcasm

                I just had to downvote you! - to make an unequivocal statement about your statement.

        2. Sub 20 Pilot

          Re: Alldocube iPlay40, or Chuwi Hipad Plus

          And this is different from the proud US 'manufacturers' that get all their stuff made in the exact same Chinese factories but charge fuckload more ? ( Assuming you are of US origin because of your spelling.)

          Stop spouting Sinophobic rubbish.

  9. Piro Silver badge

    This happened to me

    I've got AdGuard Home running on my network now, which should hopefully kill ads.

    But fact is, for my purposes, after much research, the Lenovo Tab P11 was the only tablet on the market that met my needs.

    I wanted a relatively inexpensive tablet that had:

    A charging dock

    A real pressure sensitive stylus

    I was replacing an HP TouchPad with the wireless charger. I'd never buy a tablet without a charging dock of some kind, it fits the way we use it.

    I also appreciate that the Lenovo tablet has a battery preservation mode, which means it's always between 40% and 60% charge, not just ramming 100% forever as it's almost always on charge.

    It's fast, lighter than my old tablet, I like the magnetic attachment of the cover (although I wish it would dock with the cover on, like the HP TouchPad did) and I paid very little for it new on Lenovo's site (found a discount code that actually worked!). I can honestly recommend it..

    1. Piro Silver badge

      Re: This happened to me

      I'd like to add a little to this: yes, there are suspicious data slurping options that you need to vigilantly disable; for example, the "Lenovo user experience program".

      Still a nice piece of kit.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This happened to me

        Sounds like Lenovo has gotten bigger than their customers (like Apple Samsung.....) if they're putting "User Experience" apps on it. Yuck, imagine all the metrics its sending, each app you run, how many FPS, did it crash, how much memory was it using, how hot the processor gets.... yuck no, do not want.

        This one was probably a better choice, clean stock roms and all:

        https://techtablets.com/2021/08/chuwi-hipad-pro-on-sale-today-for-low-as-150-euros/

        There's no point in paying more for a top end Chinese brand and expecting a better product, than the mid price ones, after a while you're just paying for the brand, even with Chinese ones.

        Lenovo, Xiaomi, Huawei (at least their tablet division) being examples that spring to mind.

  10. xyz123 Bronze badge

    First point: Always remember Lenovo is owned by the chinese government and controlled with an iron fist.

    This "tips" app may be doing a lot more shady crap than just pushing adverts.

    Secondly, you need to report this to the ASA to start with. Pushing adverts WITHOUT clearing marking them as such is a major violation of UK advertising law.

    Lenovo despite "not doing any harm" will have violated these laws many many tens or hundreds of thousands of times. And each advert carries large fines.

    Lets make "tips" so unprofitable that Lenovo gives it up.

    Also remember to post this stuff to Reddit, anywhere that sells lenovo equipment etc. If not, this practice 100% will expand to their range of PCs (which come already equipped with enough malware to download whatever they want).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @xyz123 - I read your post twice

      and I still don't see your point with the Chinese government. The rest is reasonable stuff.

  11. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Holmes

    "looking for the best balance between information and experience"

    Here is the best balance : information comes before the purchase, experience comes after the purchase.

    It's not up to you, Lenovo, to "inform" your customers when they have made the purchase. Your customers know how to use a browser, they can inform themselves.

  12. ThatOne Silver badge
    WTF?

    Wishful Thinking?

    > That suggests to us the plug has been pulled on the Tip ads

    Sorry, where in that blurb do you read that? The "at present have no plans to add any further push notifications" means to me that that given day, Lenovo had no immediate plans to add yet another ad spewing app to its kit, that's all.

  13. heyrick Silver badge

    to maximize end user enjoyment

    Dear Lenovo,

    Simple question. Did you give your tablet away, or did the customer pay for it?

    If the hardware was given away, I don't think people can complain that much about an acceptable level of advertising - you need to recoup costs, after all. Even cheap lame-ass tablets carry a price tag.

    However, if the user paid for the hardware, the person responsible for adding in advertising to a paid product can go sit on the sharp end of a broken bargepole and rotate rapidly. Your intended "user enjoyment" in this case will amount to "why the fuck are you tosspots interfering with my work by stupid unwanted adverts?" That's your example user enjoyment right there. Advertising gets in the way. Advertising interferes. Advertising breaks concentration.

    We tolerate a degree of advertising because we understand that it's a way of funding things - websites we enjoy, commercial television and radio, etc etc. In many cases, advertising is just a sort of white noise that can be paid attention to or ignored, depending on the desires of the person. However modern digital advertising is a different and rather insidious beast. In apps, on tablets, I wouldn't object to a subtle advert at the bottom of the screen, but these days you'll find apps that do extremely unfriendly things like "when the autosave kicks in, switch to a full screen video advert with a five second timeout". There is nothing more guaranteed to screw up concentration than something like that. Such a thing is evil.

    So, thank you Lenovo. I'm considering options for a tablet that is a little more powerful than my current one (that takes several seconds to switch app), thank you for making yourselves not a contender. I will not accept advertising on a device that I paid money for, unless you made the intent clear and offered an acceptable reduction, like Amazon do with their Kindles (I don't think €10 less is worth it, but they're up front about it and you have a choice).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @heyrick - Re: to maximize end user enjoyment

      Dear <vendor>,

      Simple question. Did you give your <product> away, or did the customer pay for it?

      There, I fixed it for you.

    2. Sub 20 Pilot

      Re: to maximize end user enjoyment

      Very well put Sir.

    3. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: to maximize end user enjoyment

      Too right.

      Advertising is a funding mechanism, not a "user experience". Any time anyone craps on about "relevant advertising" they are spouting faeces. Contextual advertising is a real thing, has potential for funding otherwise free stuff, and is entirely avoidable if you don't like it.

      Stuffing ads in to products that people have already paid for is, apparently, also a real thing, and completely unacceptable. If that's what you got in return for your hard-earned then send it back with extreme prejudice.

      As it happens, I've got a cheapo Lenovo tablet which doesn't do any of that, and it is, for the price, absolutely great. (Apart from the usual Android gripes.) Your mileage might vary.

      -A.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: to maximize end user enjoyment

      "However modern digital advertising is a different and rather insidious beast."

      Spot on!

      All it takes is for one bad advert to slip through that exploits a browser vulnerability and it's game over.

      "the group buys ads on legitimate services but injects malicious code inside the adverts so their exploits break out of the ad's secure iframe container and perform malicious actions inside users' browsers, untethered."

      https://www.zdnet.com/article/malvertiser-exploited-two-browser-bugs-to-show-over-one-billion-malicious-ads/

    5. Trigonoceps occipitalis

      Re: to maximize end user enjoyment

      A spokes-droid said "Lenovo Tips is a system app which allows users to discover features that we believe are useful & meaningful and is designed to be as obtrusive as possible to maximise our profit."

    6. Adelio Silver badge

      Re: to maximize end user enjoyment

      I have got to the point where i hate adds so much that I hardly ever watch them.

      Almost everything i watch is either pre-recorded, so has no adds or on a channel that has no adds (BBC Thank you) or sports channels where the adds are few.

      F1: At the start/finish of a race, Football: At the start finish and half time, Cricket: When a wicket is taken etc..

      If i switch to a program with adverts i just find it too annoying most of the time and change channels.

      I have uBlockOrigin on my PC so see few Ads. And as For social media, well I do not use facebook or Twitter and watsapp gets used a couple of times a month.

      I have seen what advertising Americans have to put up with, I honestly do not understand why they put up with it. "America football" an hours game that takes four or more hours to play because of all the ad breaks!!!!!, really...... Especially where there is probably only about 20 minutes of actual play....

    7. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: to maximize end user enjoyment

      "...Simple question. Did you give your tablet away, or did the customer pay for it?"

      With Android, it's somewhere in the middle. You pay for the hardware, but it's subsidised to a degree by user data being monetised. This is why most Android handsets are cheaper than handsets from other brands which don't monetise in the same way.

      So while I agree this is absolutely scummy behaviour, the real question is did the user agree to it in exchange for a cheap(er) device. If yes, they don't really have a leg to stand on, although they can vote with their wallet and never buy from these pricks again; whereas if it contravenes the T&Cs as agreed to by the user at purchase, or if those T&Cs are unenforceable, then the user may have some stronger measures they can use to fight back, up to and including legal action.

  14. Daedalus

    Radio days

    In ancient times, the new digital car radios featured "traffic notifications", which would interrupt your listening to give you urgently needed information. So I turned this on while somewhere north of Tunbridge Wells, listening to the Opium of the Intellectuals, aka Radio 4.

    Sure enough, I was treated to an urgent notification of problems on the M25 somewhere west of Chiswick. Followed by a commercial.

    Won't get fooled that way again.

    Same as it ever was. Someday opening a window will be seen as an invitation to have an advert thrown through it. This was where Harry Potter books got it wrong. Those things coming in through the chimney would be ads for Wazzocks Wizarding Wonders, not letters from Hogwarts.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Radio days

      I have RDS/Traffic Announcements on all the time because I drive a lot. It's not that unusual for the announcement to not be properly timed to match the signal broadcast to tell your radio to tune to it. From experience, I'd say it's purely cock-ups and timing errors on the part of the studio. The BBC went through a phase a few years ago where the Travel Announcements always seemed to start before the RDS TA signal was sent and then run on for a minute or two afterwards so you often missed the first part of the TA which would be the major roads. Nowadays, they seem to get it mainly right, but not all the time.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Radio days

        Back in the days when I knew about such things... if I recall correctly, the intended procedure in the UK was:

        - studio presenter pushes the button to start the process

        - signal is sent to a computer somewhere in Broadcasting House which adds the TA flag to the audio bitstream appropriate to the local area of the transmitter

        - transmitter transmits that signal (on everything it transmits)

        - receiver at the radio studio turns on an indicator when it receives the traffic flag

        - (mobile radio switches from the network it is currently receiving to the indicated local radio station)

        - presenter starts talking, secure in the knowledge that all who have the TA service switched on can now hear them

        - presenter stops talking at the end of the traffic news, and pushes the button again (or the system does an automatic timeout)

        - TA flag now dropped by the transmitter

        - mobile radio switches back to its previous channel

        This was in the days of FM radio and RDS - the last time I had to work with it was at least twenty years ago. The biggest two issues were training the announcers to wait until the little light turned on, and remembering to push the button again at the end of the announcement.

        On the BBC, there should never be a commercial; it's just the local radio being inserted over the network radio, both of which are commercial free (though if the announcer is slow by accident or design, you may get a trailer for another BBC local program.

        Note: I believe that Radio 2 traffic flashes do not generate RDS TA flags, and are therefore only available on Radio 2.

        I don't know how it works in the UK commercial stations. As far as I recall there's only Classic FM which is a nationwide commercial station, though the majority of the commercial stations all come from the same company, in which case it would be logical to put the same system on top of Classic FM and use the nearest/loudest station to carry the traffic flash. An obvious place to stuff a commercial...

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Radio days

          Thanks for that.

          "As far as I recall there's only Classic FM which is a nationwide commercial station,"

          My SatNav has a Radio attachment that picks up traffic info. AFAIK, that signal is carried by Classic FM.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Radio days

            Don't get RDS Traffic Announcement (TA) - ie. the feature that interrupts whatever you are listening to give you traffic news on another station, with TMC (Traffic Management Channel) which is a datastream embedded within spare capacity the RDS and can give visual updates on a sat nav for instance.

            TMC is carried by Classic Fm and some of the bigger "local" commercial stations.

            BBC TA will switch you from a national BBC, or local BBC station, to another local BBC station to give you "local" traffic news. "Local" as in whatever area the station/transmitter nominally covers.

            BBC TA will not switch you from a local station to a national station, such as Radio 2 traffic news, as it is highly unlikely that traffic news on a national station will be of relevance and would be a very annoying feature.

            Commercial stations with TA will only interrupt tape/CD playback or increase the volume, etc. Generally (and I am happy to be corrected) no commercial station wants another commercial station to take its listeners, no matter for how short a time, so they do no implement it. Even if they are now all owned by the same corporate borg.

            Previous comments on timing, etc. still seem to be relevant - ie. you can miss the first 20 seconds of the announcements, and get 20 seconds of over-run at the end (normally used by all stations to plug/advertise another programme, or sometimes, usefully, for weather info)

        2. Trigonoceps occipitalis

          Re: Radio days

          "On the BBC, there should never be a commercial"

          So pushing BBC programmes and podcasts etc is not advertising?

          1. Falmari Silver badge

            Re: Radio days

            @Trigonoceps occipitalis "So pushing BBC programmes and podcasts etc is not advertising?"

            It is not commercial advertising, Daedalus said commercial. Informing the public of up coming programs and podcasts could be classed as adverts, but not commercial.

            In much the same way as short public information films could be classed as adverts.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We take yadayadayada very seriously

    The post is required, and must contain letters.

  16. jake Silver badge

    At this point ...

    ... why would anyone trust these idiots?

    Step over the "trust" line once, maybe you made a mistake ... Keep stepping over the line, you are untrustworthy. See Sanford Wallace. Or any given long-term politician.

  17. jason_derp

    That is all

    "Our goal is clear: to become the leader in providing cleaner, safer PCs."

    "Lenovo Tips is a system app which allows users to discover features that we believe are useful & meaningful and is designed to be unobtrusive."

    Get f*cked. It's like somebody trying to convince me the secret GHB they might be slipping in my drink is actually a good thing, if you think about it. Just do it if you're going to do it. Don't feed me your corporate falsespeak.

  18. Franco Silver badge

    Scummy software is on my M8 tablet as well, and whilst I haven't seen any ads from it I can confirm it can't be uninstalled or disabled, nor can notifications be disabled.

    This is not the first time I've seen ridiculous behaviour from Lenovo either. They are (or were) number 3 OEM behind HP and Dell for corporate kit, but someone has decided that the BIOS config scripts that are used to configure settings during imaging are a security risk and they've stopped allowing it to run unattended, meaning a manual BIOS config before imaging cos the factory settings aren't secure enough.

    Suffice to say I will not be buying any more of their products or recommending them to any of my clients next time I'm working on a refresh project.

  19. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Do we suppose it likely

    that suppliers of anything will ever convince us that pervasive, unwanted, and unavoidable advertising is a Good Thing[tm]?

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: Do we suppose it likely

      > will ever convince us

      That's not their goal at all. They just claim ads is what we all secretly crave for, to justify doing it.

      It's akin to the old wife beater excuse: "I don't know why I'm hitting her, but she surely does", i.e., I have to punish her, poor me...

  20. 080

    My Lenovo laptop doesn't seem to suffer from any of this, mind a HD reformat and Linux Mint backed by a PiHole does help.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Yeah well, you could also encase it in concrete and throw it in the sea - You'd be sure to have no ads served by that computer ever again.

      My point is that when you buy a computer (or tablet, phone, whatever), you expect it to work without having to jump through hoops.

      The "You might have paid (often through the nose), but we'll nevertheless keep making money out of you any way we can" unrestrained greed has to be eradicated. Once and for all. Because there is no limit to it: What's next? "You bought a gadget from us, so we'll prostitute your underage daughter for some additional money"? Sounds preposterous, doesn't it - Until some "disrupting" marketing goon decides he'll take the plunge and all his colleagues rush to copy him. Unrestrained greed and lack of respect is an explosive mixture.

    2. Franco Silver badge

      See if you can work out why a reformatted laptop doesn't have the same app on it as an Android tablet.

  21. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    I would retrurn it

    If I had a preloaded crap app popping up ads?

    I'd complain.

    Non-skippable?

    I'd complain vehemently.

    They disabled the "disable" function for the app?

    That is going back for a full refund.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: I would retrurn it

      Problem is, they make sure you'll only discover the spy/adware a couple weeks/months after buying the thing, so you can't return it easily. You would need to go legal, and the vast majority of people don't have the courage, time or money to do so.

      As for complaining, they have a whole army of "We take our customers' satisfaction very seriously" spewing automatons. Could as well complain to your wall, at least you'd be sure it's listening...

      Have an upvote nevertheless, for the principle.

  22. msobkow Silver badge

    I have much the same issue with some Samsung apps that won't shut up and go away on my Android 11 powered A51 (3 months old, already had to replace a defective screen - so much for the former days of Samsung "quality".)

    I also have a Google weather notification that I can't shut up.

    My phone is a tool. Unless it is a text from someone I know or a phone call or an alarm that *I* set, I expect it to be absolutely SILENT unless *I* am ready to interact with it.

    If I wanted a Tamagochi, I'd have bought one on eBay.

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Samsung are scum. My $3.500 TV has started punting ads at me from the smart hub, and it gives these ads focus so when you want to switch source, more often than not you'll select the ad by mistake. See my previous posts for the saga on this.

      1. Ace2 Bronze badge

        I’m in the market for a new TV… and have been for a few years. No way in hell I’m putting a smart TV in my home though, and now it seems I’m out of options - it’s all they make!

        1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

          OpenDNS is your friend here. Set up an OpenDNS account, configure it to block the ad servers for <your_tv_brand> e.g. ads.samsung.com, then set your TV to use the OpenDNS service for DNS. It will be able to connect to the internet but won't be able to serve you ads, at least until they change the ad server name. Set up OpenDNS before you setup your TV - some TVs cache ads once they've connected to the server, meaning if they're disconnected or can't reach the ad server they'll just cycle through the ads they already have cached; which defeats the purpose.

          Certain services might stop working if you block the ad service; Samsung are sneaky f*ckers in that they've tied their 'app' services to their 'ad' services - so if it can't reach the ad server, it won't let Netflix or YouTube load either. Illegal, immoral and unjustifiable, but there you go.

          tl:dr> Samsung are scum, don't ever buy from them. Find their legal people on LinkedIn instead (search for Samsung in house counsel) and send them a short note telling them that, and inviting them to put their ad services in an appropriate orifice.

  23. big_D Silver badge

    ThinkPad Vantage Software

    The Vantage software on ThinkPads has started spamming users with message stating that the network connection is insecure (internal company Ethernet connection) and that we should switch on Vantage Wi-Fi Security!

    This has unsettled some of our users and it is annoying me (every reboot and twice already this morning on my laptop). Given that we don't use Wi-Fi at work, the message is spurious anyway!

    Luckily there are only a handfull of ThinkPads still active. It is a shame, I always though of them as great computers, but the software side has gone steadily downhill over the last few years.

  24. RetiredLike

    Remove the core problem - Windows

    Hard drives are cheap. Buy a new one and install this thing called Linux on it. Presto, full control. Updates take about a minute or two, not hours. Put the old drive in a junk drawer. Put Lenovo and Microsoft on your "never again' list.

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: Remove the core problem - Windows

      From the article: "...on their Android-powered Lenovo Tab P11."

      Good luck stuffing a hard drive into that.

      1. Antonius_Prime
        Devil

        Re: Remove the core problem - Windows

        "Good luck stuffing a hard drive into that."

        With a good enough hammer, and a strong enough will, anything is possible!

  25. js6898

    uninstalling

    I am no expert so correct me is i am wrong but downloading psexec from sysinternals gives you system level priviliges and thus running psexec with control panel parameter will allow you to add/remove even system apps.

    I have had success using psexec mmc to run services.msc as a system user and stop system services such as windows update medic.

  26. js6898

    Uninstalling system level programs

    Have done some experimenting and it seems to work. Microsoft's PSexec with the -s switch allows you to run as a system user, and thus uninstall system applications.

    Download psexec.from the Microsoft Sysinternals site and copy psexec.exe into the c:\windows\system32 folder

    Now create a .cmd file (eg test.cmd) containing the following line:

    rundll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL appwiz.cpl

    and copy test.cmd into the c:\windows\system32 folder

    Now open an elevated command prompt, and navigate to c:\windows\system32

    Type

    psexec -s -i test.cmd

    and press 'enter'. Add/remove programs will then open with system level privileges.

    1. js6898

      Re: Uninstalling system level programs

      Edit: you could, of course, simple put an 'erase' command in test.cmd above to erase the application executable or .dll

  27. hoola Silver badge

    Slightly off topic but relavent...

    My Son came home yesterday saying that where he works the PCs were have a "Windows 11 is ready for download" notification.

    This takes us full circle, I just don't think any of these companies care one jot about the customer/user because they keep coming back.

    They never learn because once the outrage of some stupidity has passed it is quickly forgotten. A year in tech is a long time, well not just tech, pretty much everything now with short life cycles, the consumer conditioned to having the latest gadget every couple of years and most not giving a stuff about security.

    This is mostly because they don't understand, don't want to understand & if they did understand, will ignore it because it will be an inconvenience:

    Higher price (probably number 1)

    Reduced convenience (logins etc)

    Nothing bad has happened to them (yet) so this is all hype.

  28. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    Android. You're the product.

  29. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    Samsung, take note. Pissed off customers leads to drops in revenue, not increases. Scumware pure and simple, peddled by scum companies.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "I didn't spend £170 on a tablet to be pumped with ads"

    I suspect if you spent the actual cost of the tablet to not be pumped with ads, it would have been more expensive...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Don't worry, they don't lose money even if they don't stuff their products full of crapware. It's just they've seen a potential additional profit opportunity and couldn't resist.

  31. adam payne

    Our design and UX teams are continuously looking for the best balance between information and experience to maximize end user enjoyment. Lenovo Tips is a system app which allows users to discover features that we believe are useful & meaningful and is designed to be unobtrusive. We take feedback very seriously and at present have no plans to add any further push notifications.

    So in other words you mean:

    "we are continuously looking for other ways to make yet more money out of people and testing what we can get away with.

    Lenovo Tips is a system app that was designed so we can send out ads for companies that have paid us to do so. It has no useful reason for being a system app except for making us money.

    We are sorry we got caught and people complained about it. We are going to say that we take feedback very seriously in the hopes it will all blow over. We will of course try again later hoping no one will notice"

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Want to find the person responsible? Track down the Product Manager.

    Whenever I hear these stories my first thought is - Yet Another Idiot Product Manager. Because that is who signed off on the really stupid idea. Based on a "deal" organized by Marketing. Good PM's say no to these idiotic "deals".

    And I have found in the past that if I had to track down someone to yell at, generally due to crappy software shipped with a product, Tech Support are usually glad to give you the telephone extension of the right person to yell at. Once they realize that you are in the business, know how it works, and are not just another very irate customer who wants to yell at them. That you know who is really at fault for the mess and its not the poor guys on Tech Support.

    Last time it happened I immediately got through to the local PM who explained that the crappy software was from HQ overseas and they knew about all the problems but had little luck getting HQ to take it seriously. So I supplied them with enough technical details of just how and where the software was crap to force HQ to hand it off the the local guys to fix. Which it was. I even offered to the local PM to shout at the PM in HQ if he wanted me to but as the HQ guy's English was not good no point. But memos were sent which meant that they got attached to his HR file.

    Other times its usually a very polite bollocking of the PM, done it enough times in my day job. If the PM gets bolshie I just tell them I will talk to the VP of Engineering. That gets complete cooperation.

    The reason I do this because I know how to do it and the idiot PM's, who are a small minority, are usually completely insulated from the consequences of the misery they cause. Its the poor sods in Tech Support who get the grief. Saying that, on the whole the Product Managers and Project Managers tend to be a pretty good bunch of people. In fact the quickest way of telling whether a product will ship is a quick talk with the Project Manager. If they have their act together it will ship, if they dont have their act together it probably wont. The tech skills of the dev team is very much a secondary consideration.

  33. TonyJewell

    Tips app is now disabled on my P11 but don't get me started on "Productivity Mode"

    I am the original poster of the Tips app complaint on the Lenovo forum. I have now managed to disable the Tips app through adb thanks to user linuxct's hints. See https://forums.lenovo.com/topic/findpost/1088/5094365/5422293

    Lenovo have a lot to learn about customer experience. The hardware is fantastic but the firmware leaves a lot to be desired. My biggest grief with the P11 Android tablet is the so called "Productivity Mode". It would have been a while stopper if is known what I know how about it.

    See https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/Lenovo-Android-based-Tablets-and-Phablets/Productivity-Mode-feedback/m-p/5068560?page=1

    It attempts to overlay a window manager on the basic Android experience and originally would automatically default to enabled when the keyboard was connected. Trouble is the implementation is flakey as hell and is only "implemented" for a select few apps. Any other apps that Lenovo had not hacked (so that would be most of them) would appear in a tiny portrait phone like window on your shiny new tablet 11inch goodness.

    They later implemented a switch to turn off auto-enable but if course that was flakey and it would still come on if you attached the screen while the tablet was locked.

    I finally disabled with Automate. But, like the Tips fix, you need to be technically savvy to make this work.

    I'm so glad I didn't splash out on the P11 Pro.

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