Let’s start off this week’s AppBoard Tuesday (ABT) with a rather remarkable statistic. Last year, on average, 1 out of every 5 downloaded mobile apps were opened only once within the first six months by users. Feel that this is a pretty damning evidence in favor of the fact that most apps are viewed as ‘unsatisfactory’ or ‘useless’ by people? Well, the ‘once-used’ figure stood at 27% in 2011 – so things have, in fact, improved ever so slightly. Even so, there are complaints galore about the usability of many iPhone/Android apps – with a large number of applications being downloaded but never used (nopes, not even once) by smartphone-owners. While there is no denying that a large number of these apps do have bugs and/or other issues, wrong usage of apps by users can also lead to problems. In today’s ABT, we make you aware of common mistakes while using mobile applications. Avoid them and get optimal app (and device) performance:
- Downloading ALL new apps – You might be in love with your iPhone and be eager to try out every available app on it – but that won’t be a smart idea. For even the busiest of executives or the most prolific mobile gamers, only a handful of apps are necessary on a regular basis – while the rest simply reside on the phone, taking up memory space and being a general nuisance. On Android phones, this is even more of an issue – since a large portion of the available DDR RAM is taken up by system files. Search for and download only the apps that you are likely to use regularly. Your phone is not a storehouse for dumping ‘never-to-be-used’ software.
- Not checking the battery consumption of each app – iOS 8 comes with a Battery Usage Monitor, the battery juice used up by each app can be tracked on the latest Android Lollipop-powered devices – and it would be a mistake to not use these features. Once every couple of days, check how much of your phone’s battery juice is being ‘sucked up’ by each of the installed applications. If you find any of the apps is causing serious battery drain, get rid of it immediately (you might consider reinstalling it, in case you use it regularly). If the battery performance of your handset has gone down all on a sudden, a rogue app is probably the reason for that.
- Letting apps run in the background – This is yet another mistake many smartphone-users make. Experts on mobile software and app development state that it is advisable to close every app, when it is not being used. Simply letting it run in the background (and this can happen without the user even knowing it) would be a folly, and would lead to unnecessary battery usage. Check the Task Manager of your device to find which apps are currently active, and close the ones that are not being used. Too much of mobile multitasking can be a bad thing!
- Not checking reviews before downloading apps – Exchanging fake 5* reviews have become a common mobile app marketing strategy for many companies (there are plenty of Facebook and Google Plus communities for the purpose). Even so, you should always check the store reviews and ratings of an app, before actually downloading it. Pay particular attention to the unfavorable (if any) reviews. These are the ones that will give you an idea about the problems that an app might give rise to.
- Ignoring problems in your device – A new iOS application is not working properly on your device, so it HAS to be a problem with the app, right? No, wrong! If you are using an older flagship smartphone (say, the iPhone 4S), it is entirely possible that your device is not performing optimally – and hence, it is not being able to support the apps you have recently downloaded. Getting your smart device serviced at least once a year would be a good idea. Glitches in a device can lead to unsatisfactory performance of apps too.
- Not checking for device compatibility – Most mobile app companies try to make their applications compatible with as many devices and version models as possible. That does not, however, mean that your phone would necessarily support a particular app. In particular, an Android application might work fine on one device, and show up problems in another (this occurs mainly due to the tweaks that the different vendors do to the ‘plain vanilla’ version of the Android OS). Older flagship iPhones might also be not supported by newly released applications (most new iPhone apps are optimized for iPhone 5, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus). Randomly downloading any app without checking its specs would be too naive.
- Glossing over privacy and security concerns – This is one mistake you definitely do not want to do. A couple of weeks back, there was considerable controversy over the usage of certain mobile wallet apps – on the grounds of their security (or the lack of it!) features. With mobile payment software like Apple Pay and, to a lesser extent, Google Wallet (Samsung Pay has also debuted on the Galaxy S6) gaining in popularity – it is of essence that you stay away from third-party, untrusted wallet applications. According to leading mobile app entrepreneurs, only such wallet apps should be used whose security features can be tested and found okay. Otherwise, unauthorized access of personal data remains a risk.
- Not upgrading the apps – App upgrades are not something teens generally miss out on. However, smartphone-users from a slightly older age-bracket might not keep track of the new versions and upgrades of apps released by the app development companies. These upgrades are free, they fix the bugs present (if any) in the previous versions, and bring along several new features. Not moving to the latest version of a mobile app would mean staying stuck with the outdated (and probably buggy) version. If you want top-class app performance, that’s certainly not what you want to do.
- Being unaware of the bandwidth requirements of new apps – Okay, this IS a problem of the app – but the onus lies on you to remove the applications that hog excessive amounts of mobile bandwidth. If your device slows down significantly after installing an app/set of apps, that is a telltale sign of a problematic app having been downloaded. Do not just let the app ‘live’ in your phone. You won’t be using it (read: can’t use it, for it’s too ‘heavy’), so what’s the point of keeping it?
- Not using parental control features in children’s apps – The best Android and iPhone apps for kids have built-in parental control features. Unfortunately though, many parents are not aware of this and/or do not know how to activate the parental permissions. As a result, children (bless their innocent souls!) have a free reign while chatting with shady strangers, downloading stuff via in-app purchases (for which the parent has to pay later), or surfing web pages that are…well…inappropriate for them. When you download a mobile app for kids, you should be the first person to learn how the thing works. This goes for general educational apps too. Do not have half-baked information, and then complain about not having control over how your kids are using smartphones and tablets.
- Be wary of device overheating – If you are an intense mobile gamer, you have probably faced this problem more than once. After an hour or so of playing games, if you find that the device has become fairly warn, stop playing, exit from the app – and give the smartphone/tablet some time to cool down (literally and figuratively!). Using apps continuously for extended periods won’t do much good for your mobile battery either. It is not the fault of a perfectly good gaming app if you overuse it!
- Using third-party Apple Watch apps – There isn’t much you can do about it. Close to 4000 WatchKit apps have already been created by developers – but only a few of them are of a decent quality standard. If you are one of the early adopters of Apple Watch, all that you have to do is wait for a few months. More, and importantly, better apps for Watch would soon be available at the store.
Do not get into any in-app purchase transactions that you do not need (no matter how lucrative an offer might sound). You should preferably download apps submitted by indie developers/mobile app companies which have a fairly large portfolio. Be careful about GPS-based location-sharing apps. If you use an Apple smart device, upgrade to the iOS 8 platform, since most new apps are optimized for the new platform (the adoption rate of the latest Android platform, Lollipop, is still pitifully low though). Use mobile apps the smart way – the way that they are meant to be used – and you will find that there are a lot less reasons for complaint. Mind you, you can always come across an app that is indeed buggy!
Okay then, that wraps up AppBoard Tuesday for this week. Do you know why we chose this topic for discussion today? Well, it can take upto $120000-$130000 to create enterprise apps, and it would be a shame if they were not used the right way. The costs for making general consumer apps is not insignificant either.
AppBoard Tuesday will return next week with another fresh mobile app-related topic for discussion. Till then, stay well, use apps wisely…and of course, love thy apps!
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