Google Play Store hosts the world’s biggest library of apps and games for Android devices. With the ever-increasing volume of applications on the platform, it is becoming difficult to differentiate between real and fake apps. To make it easier for you to identify fake apps on the play store, I am going to outline five methods which you can use to spot fake Android apps. To protect your device from potential harmful threats that could pass on through fake apps, it is important to know whether you’re downloading from a reliable source. Failure to verify Android app status before installing can expose your device’s data to security risks.
Discussion around Android security highlights the importance of trusting only those apps that are available on the Google Play Store because experts believe them to be more secure. Try to avoid using third-party app store or websites as they contain apps and games from unverified sources, including the ones rejected by Google for its Play Store due to various security reasons.
However, keeping track of millions of apps is never easy. Moreover, determined actors do manage to find a way around even the best security protocols to get their apps approved and placed on the Play Store. Every now and then, some fake apps land on the official app store. Malicious developers use copycats of famous apps such as WhatsApp to cash in on their popularity for the purpose of earning money or collecting user data. Therefore, from the point of view of security, you should be aware of how to spot fake apps on the Google Play Store.
Fake Android Apps
Fake apps assault you with ads while collecting your data in the background. Giving apps permission to access your device’s features opens the door for them to exploit your privacy. It may not seem threatening at first but that’s the whole point; perform data collection and monitoring tasks under the garb of pleasant interface and appealing features without you realizing it.
Taking this into account, Google has improved Play Store security. That said, the possibility of negligence is ever present, thereby allowing dodgy apps an opening to gain entry to your device. Never compromise your digital security.
Identifying Fake Android Apps on Play Store
Here are some precautions that can take to ensure that the app is genuine, free from forgery and trickery. Follow these measures to spot fake apps on the Google Play Store.
Make Sure App Developer Is Authentic
The first sign of a reliable app is the credibility of its developer. Applications from reliable source don’t undertake nefarious activities impinging upon the user trust. There are thousands of popular applications that have numerous alternatives carrying the same name which makes it harder to tell them apart from each other. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and similar other highly rated apps have plenty of alternatives offering similar services. Whether they can be trusted is an entirely different story.
Google’s SwiftKey keyboard is one of the most downloaded apps on the Play Store, it is officially named Swift Keyboard. Now, if you search its name, the result will bring up a list showing the original app along with plenty of similar apps. One can easily pick the fake app over the original version.
See App Reviews
Reviews can help effectively gauge the app’s authenticity. High bad rating coupled with a low 5-star rating count in the review section means that the app is a fake or doesn’t perform as claimed by its developer.
What’s The Install Count
This check is fairly straightforward. Popular apps usually have a large download count. WhatsApp has been downloaded over 1 billion times on all Android smartphones across the globe. But if you see a similar app with an install count under 10,000, you may want to avoid it.
Facebook Messenger is another app which has many fake alternatives you should stay away from. In short, install count is a reasonable clue as to the app’s credibility. It is extremely unlikely that an app with high download count turns out to be a fake.
Carefully Verify The Search Result
If your Google Play Store search result for a particular app returns a long list of apps, you know there is an increasing likelihood of fake apps hiding in the mix and waiting for you to unknowingly download them so that they can wreak havoc on your device. It is better to ensure that you’re downloading the right app from an approved developer.
Go Through The App Description
This is another easy way to ascertain the reliability of an Android app. The broken or bot-like English indicates that the app is not to be trusted and its developers mainly deploy it as a tool to flood you with ads.
It is a given that established names in the app industry put in an effort to describe their product in a professional style.
How To Report A Fake App
If you come across a fake app, you should immediately report it to Google. At the bottom of every app page, there is a Report section where you can tap “Flag as inappropriate”. Next, choose your reason for flagging the app. For reporting a fake app, select Copycat or impersonation. Tap submit to inform Google about it.
Google has ramped up its efforts to protect the Play Store with enhanced security measures. It has already taken down close to a million fake apps. In the future, as algorithms improve, the search engine giant will be much better placed to quickly identify fake apps. Until then, follow the instructions above to protect your device from harmful applications.