Mobile apps have exploded. As of this writing, Google Play and the Apple App Store are estimated to have over 1 million apps each. Amazon just recently hit 200,000, and Windows has over 120,000 currently. Many of these apps are advertised or lauded as free, but in this capitalistic society of ours, is free REALLY free?
Like my high school science teacher extorted on a daily basis, “There is NO such thing as a free lunch.” And right he was, especially when it comes to mobile apps. Let’s be honest, you are going to pay for that app, maybe not in a DIRECT monetary “give me your money before you can download” fashion, but typically in one of the following ways:
1. In-app purchases. This includes unlocking things like additional content, functionality, or resources. Games are VERY successful at this tactic (to the tune of billions per year!). If you don’t want to accidentally fall victim to this one, then disable in-app purchases on your phone.
2. Personal data/information. The app sells or uses your personal data, such as location, sex, preferences. Before you install a free app, carefully review the services that it needs access to. If it seems odd that an app needs access to your location or data services, simply DO NOT install it.
3. Advertising. Pretty self-explanatory. Pretty annoying.
Now, don’t take this to mean that I believe that developers shouldn’t be paid for their work, because I do. If you want quality, then be prepared to pay for it…outright.