Mobile Applications Things to know

In today’s work place mobile connections are becoming more and more important. That is why for many mobile contractors a smart phone is a requirement and necessity not a luxury.

But what applications are ones that can help you in your business and which ones may not or may even be dangerous for you to have on your phone?

Do you really understand what each application is doing for you and what you are allowing it to do that you may not want it to be able to do?

Any time you add an application to your phone to are giving that program granted permissions and in fact you are giving up certain rights you may not want too without realizing it.

When you first look at an application someone has told you about or that you have found on line the first thing to look for is who (or what company) has created it. Is it a name you trust? Next read and understand the permissions this application program will be giving and ask yourself if this permission is really necessary for the program to work? And are you able to limit or turn off some of the permissions when you get it or will you have to uninstall it to do so. And even scarier are you sure the application will stop having access even if you uninstall it?
Many programs will be constantly working in the background even when you are not using them which can significantly drain your battery life. So if you notice that your battery is draining down faster than it use to, it may not be normal battery wear but application programs instead. Application programs can also cost you money you may not know you are spending until it is too late.

Here are a few normal permissions you will see and what they mean:

Network Communication: Full internet access.
Allows the app to connect to and disconnect from Wi-Fi access points and to make changes to device configuration for Wi-Fi networks.
This can cost you money if you do not have any unlimited plan or will deduct minutes from your service plan while it is connected.
Allows the app to communicate with Near Field Communication (NFC) tags, cards, and readers.
Allows the program to do things like “tap to pay”, read QR codes, UPC readers.
Allows the app to create network sockets and use custom network protocols. The browser and other applications provide means to send data to the internet, so this permission is not required to send data to the internet.
This means when ever the program wants to go out and find information or send information you want to transfer it does not have to ask you each time it will just do it. Programs like Instagram, Facebook, and file transfer programs all need this to work.

Your Location
Allows the app to get your approximate location. This location is derived by location services using network location sources such as cell towers and Wi-Fi. These location services must be turned on and available to your device for the app to use them. Apps may use this to determine approximately where you are.
This is how programs like Foursquare work and can also cost you money if you do not have an unlimited plan and will also eat up your battery life.
Allows the app to get your precise location using the Global Positioning System (GPS) or network location sources such as cell towers and Wi-Fi. These location services must be turned on and available to your device for the app to use them. Apps may use this to determine where you are, and may consume additional battery power.
All phone security programs like “Find my Phone” use this type.

Phone Calls
Allows the app to call phone numbers without your intervention. This may result in unexpected charges or calls. Note that this doesn’t allow the app to call emergency numbers. Malicious apps may cost you money by making calls without your confirmation.
Allows the app to access the phone features of the device. This permission allows the app to determine the phone number and device IDs, whether a call is active, and the remote number connected by a call.

And these are just a few of the 22 permissions such as your accounts, personal information, messages, storage, system tools, Bluetooth, camera, microphone, social information, application information, sync settings, hardware controls, how it affects your battery like controlling the vibrator and not allowing your phone to sleep, ex: Movie programs need to keep your screen awake while you are viewing and not touching the screen.

Now many times the helpfulness of an application to you and your business out weighs the scariness of this big brother control but that is for you to decide.

There are ways to keep yourself and your phone as safe as possible:
Where did you find this application? If it came from one of the big app stores like Google Play store or the iphone app store it is a safer then some but it could still be questionable so let an app be used for a while before downloading it. Apple is the safest because they vet (check out) every app added to their offerings.
As I mentioned use only applications created by well known and trusted companies. Not full proof but you would not be alone if fooled. Plus big companies do not want bad publicity. Try to be wary of foreign generated apps and apps with names that are close to what they really should be. For instance a game app “Bad Pigs” was a fake for the popular “Bad Pigges” with a carbon copy of the legitimate games icon but the developer was listed as Dan Stokes not the real game creator Rovio. This app asked for a large number of unneeded permissions and used push ads or installed links to ads onto unsuspecting down loaders devices.

Use apps that have a very high download count. Again not full proof but the more an app has been used the higher the chance any misuse will be found out. The above mentioned “Bad Pigs” had 10,000 downloads before it was discovered!
Use an application like Bitdefender’s Clueful to tell you what applications are really doing on your phone and when it may be harmful. Clueful uses only what it needs to work and nothing more, unlike others. It was actually booted from the Apple app store for being too revealing (Apple did not want something’s known about some of its own programs) Clueful is now available for Android.
PC magazine’s SecurityWatch is another great place to find out about harmful apps, just subscribe to it for it to be e-mailed to you at
Use a highly rated security and antivirus application on your phone. The best ones must be paid for but most have a free trial or limited function application as well. When I checked the Google Play Store; “Antivirus Security” from AVG was the highest downloaded application at over 549,000 downloads with “Lookout Security & Antivirus” at 432,000 down loads.

The last line of defense is you. With many applications, when you start to download they go through the list of permissions and you should be able to deny access to the permissions you do not feel is needed, like a game asking for access to all your contacts. Most times you will have to reboot your phone after each denied permission and sometimes the application may tell you it will not be able to function without the access or may just crash when you try to use it. At that point you can be the judge if granting access and using the app is worth it. To get the app working again you will have to restore the permission to “active”, possibly reboot again or at the worst uninstall and reinstall the app.

I hope all of you use your smart phones to the best of their ability and that you get the most value of what you are paying your monthly phone access charges for.

If you have an application you could just not live with out on your phone, please share it here for others to view and check out for themselves.