The Google Play store has an estimated 1.43 million apps published so far and choosing the real deal makes it even more tougher — here’s some tips on how to pick the right fish.

SOCIAL MEDIA APPS. Picture from Flickr

Google Play Store is an open market, anyone can publish an application, despite the fact that there is lack of certification of applications by Google itself, unlike its counterparts, that also there is a handful of quality applications that get published on the store, this has not stopped however the unfortunate reality that this has opened an opportunity for developers to publish apps that are of low quality and others are a rip off or lie about what they say they do. Here’s some tips to dodge the apps that seem hideous:

Naming standards of the app

Firstly, check that the name of the application has no syntax errors or grammatical errors such as punctuation, use of symbols etc. A proper noun for an application, as English says what a proper noun is, must start with a capital letter, contain no underscores, appear ‘neat’ and no other funny characters. Although some applications may have not used dictionary words as app names, even that too should make sense when you read it. If you are not sure about the naming standards applied on the app, do some background research on its brand or trademark and check if the same naming standards were applied on its app name.

Quality of the icon and display imaging

Evaluate the quality of the icon of the app including its banner images and the screenshots used. If the quality seems too low or the images appear too blurry, or perhaps the app has very little screenshots that make no sense (well for other apps like banking apps, it contextually makes sense to include maybe two or three screenshots for security purposes), then this is an app to run away from. Also remember to compare the icon of the app to the associated brand or trademark — if there is any association. Poor imagery proves a lot about the quality of the application already. Walk over the screenshots to check if the application is designed professionally and does not appear hideous and is appealing to you and seems user friendly.

Evaluate the description of the app

Apps should come with a highly comprehensive description of what the application is for and what features are there. A good written description, cleanly laid out and with no outstanding grammatical and spelling errors also proves that the application is possibly of good quality. Once you have downloaded the app, check for every feature they described to see that you were not ripped off.

ANDROID MADE OUT OF APPLE. Picture from Flickr

Developer information

If the developer did not include at least their website and their email address for support, then do not download it — as a standard, applications should have a website, it can either be a landing page describing the app, an alternative website version of the app or a website to link to the developer. Websites are cheap to have these days and an email address is free to obtain, there is no excuse not to have these.

Ratings and reviews of the app

How the application is generally rated by other users in the store also plays a crucial role in selecting a good application. Good applications have at least a rating of 3.5 out of 5.0 — but this is totally up to an individual. Walk through the user reviews, read what others say about it but remember also that apps have bugs and its an inevitable reality, but too many bugs is a sign of poor skills of application development and probably just an app to avoid. If you are downloading a free app, check that the users do not complain about intrusive in-app advertising, too many adverts inside an application is annoying. Also check the number of downloads against the date the application was first published, although there are some good quality apps with very little popularity due to poor marketing, to see if people do download the application and also that it does get updated frequently as required.

Never buy apps without trial

There are apps that require you to simply purchase the application without giving you a chance to try it out yourself first, so never buy an application without trying it out first. There are a lot of apps that are paid for but are simply counterfeit and getting a refund is a hustle you can never win anytime soon. Some applications offer a trial period (go for apps with at least 7 days trial period and never less) and you use all its features for free until the trial period ends. Whereas some offer two versions, one is free forever with limited functionality (and sometimes with some advertising) and the other is paid for, unlocking all the functionality. Always buy what you have had a chance to explore and if happy, know where your money went.

Source: Flickr

Always download from Google Play Store

With Android, you can download apps outside the store and at other places on the Internet — never do this unless you really do trust the source. Although Google may not have the certification process in place for apps that get published, all apps on the store however are automatically checked for vulnerabilities and potential threats to your device.

Just before you click, “I Agree”, read the legal agreement — word for word

Developers of applications have noticed and found a loop hole to get away with exploiting users off their private information and that is by writing a tiresome and long User Agreement (and Privacy Policy) that they know you will simply click “I Agree” to without reading a word. This is the reason why you may find that there are strangers out there you now have your information and flood you with calls and spam emails about marketing and phishing emails. Always read the agreements associated with the use of the application and the use of your private information on your device. If you do not like something, then do not download and use the app, it is just that simple.

If you have the privilege of an attorney, you may transfer the legal agreements for advise before using the app. The User Acceptance Agreement (or anything similar) is usually an agreement between you and the developer that you will not infringe copyrights and that you will use the application for what it was intended for, otherwise if harm arises, you may never attempt to put the blame on the developer. Then the privacy policy is an agreement between you and the developer (including its associative partners and third parties) that will explain what they will be using your private information for, and with whom they will share it to — including that if this information, somehow but not due to negligence, slips out of their hands, they are not to blame.

So happy shopping and be careful when you do.