If you love your smartphone or other mobile device, you can probably thank an app or two for that love. I know in our house, with the various Apple and Androids we all have, it’s hard to find us engaged in any activity without a device sitting nearby. My youngest always watches TV shows while playing a free game app on her iPod touch or (grr) my iPad. Sometimes I only get my devices back when the battery is nearly dead. You can thank all the various fun and free apps she uses for her devotion to the form.
What’s going on with free and low cost apps? The numbers of what’s available can be pretty staggering. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article:
The average smartphone user will download 37 apps this year
36 billion apps will be downloaded world-wide this year
The average US person spends 94 minutes per day on mobile apps, compared to 72 minutes of Web browsing
24 of those 94 minutes are just for social networking apps
There are more than 650,000 apps in the Apple app store and more than 600,000 apps in Google Play
Ok, so demand and supply are through the roof! You might feel like there’s always something new and cool to try out. Most new apps have some free trial, maybe even an ad-laden free version, to get you hooked and willing to spend on the full version. But not all apps are created equally. Norton researchers track known malicious apps which are on the rise. And mobile vulnerabilities, which demonstrate the potential for a hacker to exploit some previously unknown hole in the operating system software, were up 93% in 2011.
Another issue you’ve got to consider is “permissions”. This refers to the rights you allow for each app to access and share your private data. Sometimes an app needs to know your gender and age. Other times, the app can access your location and report it back to the app company. Did you know that some apps do far more? They can access and transmit your contact list, address book, name, age, gender and location? Too often, we download and install new apps without noting what information we’re just giving away. At the terrific site, www.mobilesecurity.com, you can actually research the permissions for many popular apps. They actually have a cool “widget”to compare mobile app permissions (see the image below).
A child’s game recently was evaluated and found that it was transmitting location information back to the app maker. Now that sounds bad, but may in fact be meaningless. Nevertheless, I want all consumers to get more informed about their privacy and what they may or may not be sharing with their app love.
BREAKING NEWS! Norton introduces Norton Spot (BETA) to help you defeat spammy and aggressive in-app advertising! Check it out in Google Play today!