Supporting your favorite apps

Hand-held devices such as smartphones and tablets – whether iPhone/iPad exclusively built by Apple based on their "iOS" operating system, or other makes/models where manufacturers like Samsung, Motorola, LG, and others license Google's "Android" operating system – all come with a set of basic apps pre-installed. I'll also use the term "ecosystem" to describe the services and functionalities built around the respective operating systems that add further value to these handheld devices beyond the pre-installed apps.

An example of a pre-installed app on the smartphone is the "Phone" or "Dialer," often represented by an icon of a telephone handset and enables you to make/receive telephone calls. Most tablets can only connect to the internet, aka the cloud, through Wi-Fi so they do not come pre-installed with the Phone app. Tip: Wi-Fi only tablets can still be made to make/receive phone calls using an app like Google Voice. For the curious, we'll cover Google Voice and other VoIP (Voice of Internet Protocol) apps in a future column.

Among the pre-installed apps, Apple's "App Store" on iPhone/iPads and Google's "Play Store" on Android-based handhelds are critical apps to empower your smartphone or tablet by giving you the ability to install apps to suit your needs. These stores are mutually exclusive for the ecosystems they're in so iPhone/iPad can't access Google's Play Store and vice versa. Other than that mutual exclusivity, many popular apps – like Facebook (social media), Spotify (music), Zoom (video conferencing), and many others – are available in both stores, providing same functionalities albeit some visual differences.

Although both have the word "Store" in their names, they offer paid and free apps. The latter are usually supported by showing advertisements, a type of business model called "freemium." A concatenation of the words "free" and "premium," freemium apps are basically saying "try first and then pay if you want to get rid of the [annoying] advertisements."

Maybe it's just me but ads taking up 1/7th of my smartphone's already small screen, or 1/10th of my tablet's screen, is just too distracting for me to enjoy the app. Hence if I end up liking a freemium app, I look in the app's settings menu to see if I can pay a small fee to get rid of the advertisements or to see if there is an ad-free version in the store that I can buy from the same author. For the latter, often the author of the app will have a "Pro" version sans advertisements (same app name plus the Pro suffix). I've done this for apps I like to use frequently, making the experience enjoyable.

Everyone, including authors of apps, have to make a living so what better way than to support them by upgrading to a version without ads in exchange for a small fee? Doing so is akin to donating to our beloved WBV Observer newspaper so we can keep on reading community news and more by volunteer writers.

Tak Sato

Strategist and technologist with over 30 years of experience in the private sector. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As Founder of the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors with digital literacy, Tak connects the dots to help people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives while using digital literacy as a tool for seniors to avoid loneliness and social isolation

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Volume 12, Issue 15, Posted 9:50 AM, 08.04.2020