The Genuine Article: How to Spot Fake Apps in the Google Play Store

The explosion in the popularity of smartphones over the past few years has, among other things, seen demand grow for apps. Today, on the Google Play store, where apps can be downloaded for free or a small fee for Android smartphones and tablets, there are over one million to choose from enabling you to get the latest news, communicate with friends, shop or play games.

Apps have helped to change the way in which we go online when on the move, but can Android users feel genuinely safe whenever they choose to download an app they like the look of? While there are thousands of apps from genuine developers or companies who have done their best to make them secure, the same can’t be said of counterfeits which could have many hidden dangers.

google store download apps caution of fake apps review

Not the real thing

A notable example of how fake apps are becoming more commonplace in the Google Play store is the BBM app service for Androids. The instant messaging app has one genuine version, but there were around 30 fake versions in the Google Play store way ahead of the Original BBM’s launch, leading many users wanting the app prone to download the fake versions.

As it happens, BBM wasn’t the only application copied. There were reports of fake apps flooding Google play store as late as New Year’s Eve 2013 for apps including but not limited to Slideshare, Wolfram Alpha, and MySpace. A lot of these apps were released to the Play Store because they do not monitor each app uploaded as for Android devices. This makes it imperative for anyone with an Android device to keep an eye out for any apps that appear to be anything but genuine, but what can they do?

a screenshot showing the fake version of android app netflix from google's store

Staying vigilant

To see whether or not an Android app is for real, you should consider the following tips to help unsuspecting downloaders:

  • Check the logo first to see if it matches up – if not, then avoid
  • Take a minute or two to read the app description. This is often where you can distinguish between a real and fake app.
  • Check the details of the app developer. This is the most tell-tale sign of whether an app is real or fake. If it’s from a trusted developer such as the company behind the app, then the chances are that it’s ok to download. If not, avoid.
  • Read the terms and conditions, plus the reviews. This will help to give you a clearer idea of whether or not an app is sound.
  • Check how many times the app has been downloaded. This is a good sign of how genuine an app for something like a social media site is – if in the hundreds of thousands or even the millions, then it should be ok.

As a way of trying to get round the problem of rogue apps from malicious developers, Google launched their Bouncer service back in 2012, which helps to patrol the Google Play store and remove such apps. While it has removed some buggy apps, some still remain, which makes it imperative that you remain cautious when looking in the store for an app that suits your mobile browsing needs.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.6/10 (5 votes cast)
The Genuine Article: How to Spot Fake Apps in the Google Play Store, 8.6 out of 10 based on 5 ratings

4 Responses to “The Genuine Article: How to Spot Fake Apps in the Google Play Store”

  1. Waheed Mughal

    Jan 16. 2014

    Apple has similar problem problems with keywords. Search for Skype and you’ll get all kinds of apps that have nothing to do with Skype. Their review process is supposed to catch this stuff but those app marketers are quite the savvy individuals.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
    Reply to this comment
    • Kay

      Jan 22. 2014

      Not only apple, every brand is facing such problems. There are many sites today that promote fake apps.

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: -1 (from 1 vote)
      Reply to this comment
  2. Ralph

    Jan 29. 2014

    That’s a modern cat and mouse between the companies (Apple, Google, Samsung and co.) and the consumer/B2B side for marketing purposes

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: -1 (from 1 vote)
    Reply to this comment
  3. Jenn Farmer

    Jan 30. 2014

    Great post! I love my Android phone, but these fake apps in google play store kinda worry me
    Jenn Farmer

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
    Reply to this comment

Leave a Reply