Columbia, SC - September 1, 2011 – Those who have a tablet, smart phone or mobile device have probably used an app at least once or twice. Businesses and individuals have developed apps to play games, get directions and access news, weather and other information. In 2010, consumers downloaded approximately 11 billion apps.
While apps are a great way to enjoy a mobile device or tablet, consumers should understand that not all apps are created equal and costs aren’t always apparent.
“Mobile apps give consumers the ability to do almost anything on their smart phones,” said Jim Camp, President and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Central SC and Charleston. “However, some consumers download apps without realizing the cost associated with the app, what information can be accessed by the app or who could be accessing their information because of the app.”
BBB offers the following questions and answers to help consumers understand apps:
· How do I pay for an app? It depends on where and how you download the app. Phone plans may contain monthly data charges or you may pay per download. Also, app stores often require credit card information to create an account for purchases.
· Why are some apps free? While you may pay for some apps, others are offered free and make money in different ways.
- Companies may sell advertising space in the app to other businesses.
- Companies may offer a basic version of the app for free, but require you to pay for the full version.
- Some apps allow users to buy more features within the app. Usually, you are billed for these purchases through the app store account.
- Some free apps are designed to build interest in the company’s other products.
· What types of information can apps access? It depends on the app itself. Some apps can access phone and email contacts, call logs and device location. Some access only the information they require to function, while others access data unrelated to their purpose.
· Why do some apps ask for location? Apps use specific location data for maps, nearby coupons and information on who you might know nearby. Other apps provide this information to ad networks that build a profile and target marketing toward your specific interests.
· Should I update my apps? It is a good idea to update your apps. Updates may have security upgrades that protect your information from the latest hacks.
· Could an app infect my phone? While most apps are pre-approved before being added to an app store, hackers have created apps that can infect smartphones and tablets. Be cautious when downloading apps and be sure to use a reputable app store or website to download from. If your phone begins performing functions on its own, that may be a sign of malware.
To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit bbb.org.About Better Business Bureau: