Downloading a free app from your mobile platform’s app marketplace may seem like a walk in the park. All you have to do is search for the app you need, browse through the results, select and download the one that tickled your fancy, and install it on your device. You only need a few taps and swipes on your touchscreen to start enjoying the app of your choice.
However, since app markets tend to be very open, there’s a good chance that the one you downloaded onto your smartphone isn’t safe at all. There are a lot of apps that, while available in official app stores, aren’t official – and can thus trick a user into installing it on his or her device by using a brand name closely similar to the more popular app. Add that to the fact that there are also a number of alternative or unofficial app stores that allow users to download “unsigned” or “banned” apps on their devices.
No matter how fun or useful an app is, you need to be careful in trudging any app marketplace designated for your device. Below are some tips to keep your mobile phone safe from the apps you’ve installed or want to install.
Download apps from your device’s official store
As a rule of thumb, it’s best to download apps from the official market for your platform. If you’re an iPhone user, download apps straight from the iTunes App Store. If you’re running Google Android, get your apps from the Google Play Store (formerly called the Android Market). If you have a BlackBerry phone, download applications from the BlackBerry App World. If you’re a Windows Mobile owner, look for apps on the Windows Phone App Marketplace.
Read each app’s description carefully
An app developer is required to provide a description for a creation he or she intends to market. Apps are often described in a way that makes them easier to find and interesting to download. Usually, they provide the following:
- Basic or brief info about the app (i.e., Manage your RingCentral phone system directly from your Android phone)
- Latest upgrades on the app (i.e., Google Docs is now a part of Google Drive!)
- Bulleted summary of features (i.e., Box for iPhone lets you access, view, edit, share, and manage files directly on your Android phone or tablet)
Report apps that violate policies
If you find an application with inappropriate or objectionable content, like those that infringe trademarks or intellectual properties, report it right away to the support page of your platform’s app market. You will be asked to supply your name and a contact number, plus the subject’s name, developer, and the link where you found it. You will also be asked to provide a reason or a brief explanation why you flagged it. After doing so, the app will be subject to review.
You see, apps and app markets are also prone to abuse. As a user, it is your responsibility to be discerning of whatever apps you put on your mobile phone.