The Importance of Reading the Fine Print When Downloading an App

There’s no doubt that smartphones, and the apps that power them, have made our lives more convenient. However, it’s still worth being careful when you install apps to your phone, as poorly-made apps can provide you with a bad experience, or worse, provide thieves with a gateway to your personal data. It only takes being a little care to save yourself from the hassles of a bad app.

Permissions Are the Keys to Your Phone

Whether you realize it or not, the apps you install on your phone require access to many parts of your device in order to function. For example, Snapchat temporarily takes over your camera when you open it up, and when WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger come magically preloaded with all your contacts, that’s a clear indication the app has access to your phone’s contacts.

When you download big-name apps like these, you can usually trust the service to keep your info private and secure, but you should be more critical when you’re installing an app that’s less popular. For example, why would a cheap flashlight app require access to your contacts and email? There are developers out there with bad intentions who are looking to steal your private info using these permissions. Thankfully, both iOS and Android allow you to easily view and limit the permissions you give each app.

Know What You’re Getting Into

Just like with anything you purchase, you should have a good understanding on what you’re buying before you drop money on it. While an app is usually going to run you only a few dollars, it can still be disappointing to lose money on something that doesn’t live up to your expectations or work the way you expected it to.

Before installing an app, you should read its description to make sure what’s there is in line with what you expect the app to do. It’s here that you can also learn if the app has in-app purchases or a subscription fee you’ll have to pay, as well as if the app is even compatible with your phone’s operating system. Be sure to check out user reviews, too, to see if people are happy with the app’s performance. Even if you don’t have to pay for the app, it’s nice to know you won’t be wasting your time on something that you won’t be happy with.

Is the App Maintained?

Apps that aren’t updated regularly indicate that the developer might not be putting much effort into keeping it working. As your phone receives updates to its operating system, an out-of-date app can run less efficiently than one that stays current and makes use of the new features each system update brings.

How well the developers support the app is especially important if you’re paying for the app you’re about to download. Seeing that an app hasn’t been updated for a while indicates that the developer isn’t likely to support any issues you might have with the product. Would you really want to spend money on something that might not work a few months down the line? Or one in which the developer might not help you when you run into an issue?

It only takes a few minutes of looking into an app before installing it to know whether or not you’re likely to be happy with it – as long as you know what to look for. The next time you open up your phone’s app store to get something new for you phone, run through this quick checklist to save yourself time, money, and frustration.

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