How to Tell If an Android App Is Trustworthy

When you see an app you want, you may rush to install it without checking to see if it’s safe to do so. You may think that just because it made it to Google Play, there couldn’t possibly be anything wrong with the app, right?

Even if the app is on Google Play, there are still apps that may not have a virus in them, but that ask for permissions that have nothing to do with what the app does. Keep reading to see what warning signs to look out for and avoid downloading an app that is only going to be a headache.

Check Out Other Apps from the Same Developer

Tell me what apps you’ve published and I’ll tell you the kind of person you are. A developer may have one decent app but have various others that are on the shady side. When deciding if an app is trustworthy or not, this isn’t the main thing to look at. Maybe the developer hasn’t had time to improve his/her other apps, but if this adds up with other warning signs: heads up!

Look at All the Results Before Selecting

app-search

When you type the name an app in the search bar, you should get a maximum of two results. One will be the app, and if the app has a pro version, that will result in number two.

Look at the name of each app carefully and see if you spot anything odd about it. The fake app will also try and mimic the original app’s icon, so keep that in mind as well. The mimic can be as subtle as moving an icon either to the left or to the right.

Look at the App’s Description

app-description

To spot a fake app, it’s essential that you read the description. If it has bad grammar and words are misspelled, that’s a red flag that the app is not worth the risk. Even a trustworthy app could have an error or two, but if even a five-year-old could write a better description, then it’s best not to download it.

A trustworthy app should have a description that shouldn’t be too short since a description with a decent length shows that the developer wants to convince the user that the app is worth using. If the description is written in poor English, that’s another red flag that goes into the do not download bucket.

Study the Screenshots

app-screenshots

To save time, the developers of these fake apps will steal the screenshots or featured image from other genuine apps. Other fake apps will have screenshots of poor quality that may even be pixelated.

Don’t forget to also look at the text in the screenshots. If they have any phrases that don’t make any sense to you, then you might want to steer clear of that app. A genuine app will show you screenshots of the app’s interface to show you what it looks like. A perfect example of the screenshots to look out for are the WhatsApp ones above.

Investigate the Developer

app-investigate

If you want to get to know that unknown developer and you see that he/she has a website, look into it. But, instead of clicking on the link in the description, type the address out yourself. See if the site you’re taken to has HTTPS or not.

If the developer is trustworthy, they will try to inform you as much as possible about them to gain your trust. So, why not Google them and see what you get. Also, take a look at the developer’s name, if it sounds ridiculous, then the app probably is too.

Also, take a look at the name of the company that created the app. Are there extra spaces or extra character before or after the developer’s name?

Apps That Ask for Too Many Permissions

If a photo editing app asked for permission to your device’s gallery, you wouldn’t think twice about allowing it. But, what of that photo editing app asked for permission to your contacts, location and other personal information?

When an app asks for permission to things that you don’t think it needs to access, it’s best to think twice about installing it. Sure, you can deny that permission, but it kind of makes you doubt if by installing it could be monitoring you in ways it hasn’t told you about.

Conclusion

With time, fake apps may get harder to spot, but with the previously mentioned tips, you’ll at least reduce the probabilities of you installing one. What other tips you do practice to detect fake apps?

2 comments

  1. Checking the reviews is also a good way to determine a genuine app – if there aren’t many be wary.

  2. You really can’t. Recently Google purged thousands of apps from its Apps Store. If Google can’t tell which apps are trustworthy, how can the users? Unless Google is not vetting apps in the Store as diligently as we expect.

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