There are a lot of apps you can download on Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store. That’s obvious. What’s not so obvious is that even though both companies do a pretty good job of (mostly) catching malware apps, there are still plenty that sneak through because they just toe the line between scammy and barely helpful.
Each company’s app reviewing teams are good, but some app developers know the rules well enough to exploit unsuspecting users as much as they can. However, there is a lot you can do as a user as well. Here are some of them:
1) Think about the app’s purpose
Do you really need it on your phone? Is it doing something that you could probably do yourself, like deleting or organizing data?
2) Look at the app’s product page
Seeing lots of misspellings? Grammar doesn’t make sense? Something off-putting about the screenshots? Maybe it’s worth ignoring the app.
3) Don’t take an app’s promises at face value
It never hurts to run a quick web search to see if anyone else has reviewed, talked about, or used an app you’re considering downloading. Odds are good that the odd app you found is more likely to be unwanted than a diamond in the rough.
4) Read App Store reviews
Does an app have any? If not, get nervous. Does an app have a decent number of five-star reviews, and only five-star reviews, that are all phrased really strangely? Avoid. Let others help you figure out whether an app is legit or not—or trying to entice you into downloading it with fake reviews—before you download it.
5) Consider an app’s permissions
If it wants to access your camera and microphone, but it’s supposed to be helping you clear out your contact list, that should feel like a very strange request that warrants a little extra research.
6) Don’t download apps that don’t come recommended
When in doubt, this is a great way to avoid scammy apps: Don’t download things that haven’t already been vetted by other, more professional entities: online reviewers, your favorite tech websites, Apple itself, et cetera. Just because your friend thinks some weird app that puts dumb stuff on your face is worth a download doesn’t mean that you should run to the App Store and grab it immediately. A little due diligence can save you a lot of future stress – and help keep your data private and secure.