Downloading an app comes as second nature to many of us
There are apps for everything but are they safe to use? And how much research do you do before clicking the ‘install’ button?
What is an app?
Did you know there is an average of 60 to 90 apps on the average smartphone?
Apps are computer programs, changing large packets of data into user-friendly chunks. They make a large website usable on a smaller screen.
What is fleeceware?
You’ve heard of malware, adware and spyware, but what about fleeceware?
Fleeceware are apps that come with hefty subscription fees.
They are legal and they contain no malicious code.
They often have 5 star reviews and thousands of downloads. But all might not be as it seems.
Not intimidated by the subscription costs?
What you want to pay for an app is down to you and the value you think you are getting from your purchase.
Fleeceware companies use tactics to ensure they can keep taking the money from your account.
They won’t remind you when a free trial is due to end, they won’t make it easy to cancel your subscription and they won’t be clear in their pricing.
Many of these services offer weekly or monthly subscription fees to keep the perceived cost relatively small so you won’t even notice it.
How do I view my subscriptions?
Trying to remember every service or product you’ve ever subscribed to is impossible. But that’s ok, you can check your current (and not current) subscriptions fairly easily.
View your Google Play subscriptions by clicking on the hamburger menu (top left) in the Play Store and clicking on ‘subscriptions’. Here you will find all of your active and inactive app subscriptions.
If you’ve taken a bite out of an apple device search for ‘see or cancel your subscriptions’. This provides instructions of how to see all of your subscriptions whether it’s an iPod, iPhone, iPad, Mac etc.
Avoid falling victim to fleeceware
The good news is that things are changing.
Google, Apple and Amazon want the app-store user experience to be a positive one, they don’t want you to feel cheated or fleeced.
There are new guidelines on app transparency. These ensure app-developers make subscription details, free trials and introductory offers clearer. They want you to feel fully-informed before making an app-purchase.
On the downside, did you know Apple and Google receive 30% of an app’s revenue in the first year? The more the fleeceware developers earn, the more Google and Apple gain.
Our tips to help you avoid fleeceware
- Look at what apps your phone already has, it may already have an app that can do what you want
- Download apps from well-known businesses/companies you know of
- Check for apps made by your phone’s manufacturer, simply search ‘Samsung’ for example
- Checks all reviews, good, bad and the ugly
- Scroll down to ‘Similar apps’ to see if there are any free alternatives
- Read ‘About this app’ so you are fully informed of what it is, what is does, who made it, how much in-app purchases are and even app permissions.