Use These Tools to Stop Apps Stealing Your Data!

If I glanced through your smartphone or tablet, I bet most of the apps you installed are free. We all love free apps.

Often, free apps have a privacy cost. When you install an app, you probably never read the app's terms and conditions. You merely click "Agree." In the terms and conditions, the app developer typically reveals what data you are voluntarily handing over to them such as your online activities, location, contact list, text messages, and more.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University recently analyzed the Google Play store's top 100 apps operations, terms and conditions. They found the following 10 requested the most access to your smartphone or tablet's hardware: Backgrounds HD Wallpaper, Brightest Flashlight,, Google Maps, Horoscope, Mouse Trap, Pandora, Shazam, Talking Tom Virtual Pet.

It makes sense that Google Maps needs your location and song-identifying Shazam needs access to your microphone, but why does a virtual pet, dictionary or wallpaper app need anything like that? Both iOS and Android have built-in flashlights, so you don't even need an app.

While the researchers looked at Android apps, almost all of these apps have iOS versions. iOS lets you set permissions on a case-by-case basis. Go to Settings>>Privacy and choose the permission, such as camera or GPS. Slide the slider to "Off" to deny a permission.

Unlike iOS, Android doesn't have per-app permission controls. Google had it as a hidden feature in Android 4.4.2, but removed it. No one knows when or if it will be back.

Before you install any Android app, check the app's page in the Google Play store. Google requires that developers reveal permissions that the app requires.

On an app page, scroll down to the "Additional Information" section and under "Permissions" click "View details." Google users can turn off GPS and location services. Go to Settings>>Personal>>Location Services and uncheck any checked boxes.

As for apps that collect your contact data, make sure the app needs it for a legitimate reason. For example, communication apps Skype or Google Voice require it.

Many people were concerned because Facebook's Messenger app wanted access to features such as the camera, audio recording, phone number calling and more. Facebook detailed a list of reasons why each was required for Messenger to work correctly.

Here are some of my favorite apps that have reasonable permissions or are up front about why they need them.

CamScanner - Scan documents with your phone's camera

Evernote - A powerful note-taking and organization app

Google Translate - Translate 50+ languages

Instapaper - Save anything online to read later

JiWire - Find free Wi-Fi hotspots near you

Kindle - Browse and read Amazon e-books on your smartphone or tablet

Lumosity - Games to train your brain

Magnificent Magnifier HD - Get a close-up view of anything

OfferUp - A better way to buy and sell online than Craigslist

SleepBot - Figure out how to sleep better

If you're wondering about other apps, visit PrivacyGrade. Here, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University examine what permissions an app should need, what it actually requires, and then assign it a grade.

Every week, I publish a special free newsletter that covers apps, privacy, security and more for smartphones and tablets. Android users can sign up here. And for the Apple version of the newsletter, click here. It's an easy way to stay up-to-date.

(source USAToday)

Apple Watch store to open in Selfridges London on 10 April

Apple will be selling the Watch at the Selfridges department store on Oxford Street, west London, in an all-new, purpose-built boutique. The company already has several stores in London to sell the Watch, including on Regent Street and in Covent Garden, but the Selfridges shop will sell nothing but Apple's new wearable.

The store opens at 9am on 10 April to coincide with the Watch opening for pre-order; this is also the first day potential customers will be able to try on the watch, before it goes on sale two weeks later. Apart from its first day, the Selfridges Apple store will have regular hours of 9:30am to 9pm from Monday to Saturday, and is open from 11:30am to 6:15pm on Sundays - the same as Selfridges as a whole, which also means 11:30 until midday on Sunday is for browsing time only, due to UK retail laws.

When it announced pricing and a release date for the Watch, Apple said it would be selling the gold Edition model in limited numbers and only at select retailers. Given Selfridges is a luxury department store, it is safe to assume the gold version, which costs between £8,000 and £13,500, will be on sale there. Apple Watch store Selfridges Apple Watch will be sold from a store-within-a-store in Selfridges, London(Apple) Due to high demand, customers are encouraged to book a 15-minute time-slot to try out Apple Watch before deciding which model they want to buy. They can then return on 24 April to make the purchase.

Stock is expected to be very limited, with reports claiming there will be very few watches available on the 24 April launch date for anyone who hasn't made a reservation in advance. Prices for the entry-level Watch Sport start at £299, while the regular Watch costs from £479 to £949 depending on the size of the case and style of strap. Apple Watch will also be available to preview or try on at Galeries Lafayette in Paris, Isetan in Tokyo and Selfridges in London on April 10. Apple Watch will be for sale on April 24 at these select department store shop-in-shops, and at boutiques in major cities across the world including colette in Paris, Dover Street Market in London and Tokyo, Maxfield in Los Angeles and The Corner in Berlin.

By selling a gold watch for more than £10,000 in a luxury department store like Selfridges, Apple is clearly trying to enter the luxury goods market. But some members of the Swiss watch industry think this is a mistake. Mike France, co-founder of watchmaker Christopher Ward, told IBTimes UK he thinks Apple "is pretending to be luxury".

Ward added: "I actually think, seriously, it will rebound against [Apple]. I think by trying to pretend that this is luxury, they are forgetting what they are about and [Apple is] in danger of [ridicule]. These are not relative begs questions about what luxury is, and how stupid you have to be to spend £8,000 on a piece of technology that is pretending to be luxury. I personally don't get it. I think they are making a huge mistake. I think it's funny."

(source IB Times)