Unused apps are resource hogs: they take up system memory, use up cellular data and eat up your battery life. Unused apps also present a security risk. Apps may be exporting data from your device without your knowledge, eating up your data and battery life in the process. Also, as apps age, vulnerabilities may be discovered that may expose the data on your device. Removing unused apps is a common maintenance task to ensure your device runs smoothly and reliably. 

Do you have a podcast app that you tried for the first day and never used since? What about that one game you downloaded but quickly got bored with? These are examples of the types of apps people may have in their devices that they do not use anymore. Even though you may not be “using” these apps, they may still be doing things in the background such as collecting data and sending it to the app developer. This may be completely harmless, but do you really want an app to drain your battery and use cellular data that you are paying for?

Just like having a monthly deep-clean of your home, it might be a good idea to have a regular “cleaning” of your mobile device. 

How to remove apps

For Apple devices

Apps are extremely easy to uninstall on Apple devices.

  1. Simply press and hold down on the app until a cross appears in the corner.
  2. Tap the cross to delete the app.
  3. Finally, press the Home button to return to normal functionality.

For Android devices

There are many different ways of uninstalling apps for Android devices depending on which manufacturer made the device. However, this is method is universal across all android devices:

  1. Open the device settings app.
  2. Tap Apps or Application Manager
  3. Tap the app you want to uninstall.
  4. Tap Uninstall

Monitor app permissions

App Permissions are all of the different functions and data on your device that the particular app can access. For instance, if an app has permissions for your contact list, it can read your entire contact list. It is important for users to understand what app permissions are seeking, and how they might use their data and device.

You can control what information an app has access to as well as what functions of the device the app can use by limiting permissions. This will improve your privacy as well as prevent any unintended or malicious activity from being generated by the app.

Limiting app permissions is important not only to prevent oversharing of information, but also to prevent unintended operation of a “rogue” app. Application developers often farm data from users and sell it to the highest bidder: this is especially common in shopping apps that track your location and can tell what stores you have recently visited to apply targeted marketing campaigns. Application developers may not all be the “good” guys. Some developers are designing apps that spy on users and steal information from them. Through limiting app permissions, you can get control of your information and get your device back.

Have you ever wondered why a certain photo-editing app would require permissions to access text messages and to track location? The app may have legitimate built-in functions to share edited photos through the phone’s text messaging app or to geo-tag photos. However, you must decide if those functions are absolutely necessary for the app to perform properly. These functions can be used against you by tracking location constantly in order to target you with ad campaigns. Likewise, the app can be reading texts sent and received from the device. Are you sure your apps aren’t spying on you?

Apple and Android-based devices have built-in capabilities to view and limit app permissions. You should only allow access to the apps you are certain you want to permit. 

Apple devices iOS 8 and later

Privacy settings can be found by going to Settings > Privacy. From there, you can select the type of data that you would like to control.

From this screen, you can limit what an app has access to by selecting a data type and controlling access for each app. If there is any question as to why a certain app would need to access certain data types, it is best to disable that access.

Android version 6.0 and later

When you install an app compatible with Android 6.0 and up, you can set permissions in the beginning of the install process. You can allow or deny all access groups of the app.

If you have already installed the app, you can still view and change permissions.

  1. Go into the Settings app
  2. Tap “Apps” or “Application Manager” (depending on device)
  3. Select the app for which you would like to change/view permissions. 
  4. Tap Permissions
  5. For the particular app, you can change permissions by tapping the switch next to the permission groups

Android does not have a “privacy” setting, but through configuration of the browser and location services, you can make the phone more secure than the default configuration.

Android versions through 5.9

You can only review app permissions with Android versions earlier than 6.0. However, by reviewing permissions, you can monitor what an app has access to. It is important to remember that you should only allow access to the apps you are certain you want to permit.