Most people have a smartphone these days. It’s not just a luxury item anymore, it offers many features that can make your life simple and more convenient, and it’s one of the best investments you could make into optimizing your daily life if you don’t have one yet. At the heart of each smartphone’s ecosystem are all the apps we use on a daily basis. And while the great variety of free solutions in the app store can seem very enticing, it also comes with some strings attached that people rarely stop to consider.
The truth is that apps are not really your “friends”. They’re not made by people with your best interests in mind in most cases, even apps that are explicitly marketed as such (like self-improvement apps – in fact, they can be major offenders). If that sounds weird to you, read on – there is a darker side of the app market that you might be completely unaware of.
Your Data Is Not as Safe as You Might Think
Many apps are primarily about collecting data. Sure, they advertise themselves as various things – social media platforms, video editors, to-do lists and reminder tools, even games aimed at kids. But the primary business model of many of those companies revolves around collecting, analyzing, and selling your data. And the worst part is that you usually explicitly agree to that by installing those apps and running them once. You often have no legal recourse if you feel like your privacy is being invaded once you realize what’s going on, and the only option is to just not use the app at all.
You might think that the apps you’re using don’t collect anything sensitive, simply because they don’t ask you to enter any such data. But you’re often wrong about that too – more on that below. And even when they don’t go out of their way to harvest additional data from your phone outside of the app’s own realm, they can still collect things like your input patterns, usage frequency, analyze how your behavior is impacted by different, inconspicuous small changes – and all of that data is quite valuable to developers and publishers. Using a solution like Smartproxy is one way to resolve the issue.
Short Lifespans Are Not Due to a Lack of Planning
A common annoyance with mobile apps is that they come and go. But that’s not because of any “lack of luck” on the developers’ part, or whatever story they might try to spin about the situation. Often, it’s a calculated move meant to refresh the whole experience and start collecting new data in an even more aggressive manner, using everything the developers have learned from the last app. And in other cases, it’s simply meant to get you to keep paying. After all, you wouldn’t want to see that poor developer starve on the street, right? They might often throw in an emotional picture to illustrate that concept even better, playing with your emotions in hopes that you’ll subscribe to their service and help them with their upkeep. But by subscribing, you’ve just added even more of your data to the already large pile.
Do You Really Know What All Those Permissions Are Needed for?
We touched on this above, but it deserves its own section. When you’re installing an app, you usually have to agree to certain terms and conditions laid out by the developer, as well as give the app various permissions to your device. And sure, they will often have legitimate-sounding explanations for why they need those permissions. An app for taking notes might want to use your camera to take pictures as attachments for those notes, or your microphone to record voice notes. But you would be surprised just how many of those apps outright lie about why exactly they need those permissions, and what they do with your device afterward.
More and more reports have been coming out about people using certain popular global social media platforms and running into creepy encounters as a result. Your phone is just sitting idly on your desk while you’re discussing a recent pregnancy scare with your girlfriend. You open your favorite social media a few hours later, and you notice ads about pregnancy tests, baby products, and other things that have nothing to do with anything you’ve recently searched on the phone. How do they know? Because that microphone picks up more than you would be comfortable knowing, and it does that all the time.
That’s not to say that you should just give up on using apps and your smartphone in general. But it can pay to think twice about the kinds of apps you’re installing, and whether the small convenience they bring to the table is worth granting them so many intrusive permissions. Many people have started to give up on social media completely, and as more of these findings keep coming out, we might see that becoming a popular movement in the coming years.