The number of fake apps making their way to Google and Apple app stores is on the rise and the trend doesn't seem to see the end of the day. Recently, Google removed a fake app with 50,000+ downloads from the Play Store and another fake app made the headlines when it crawled up the Apple App Store charts.
Disguised as an official setup companion for Amazon Alexa, the fake app not only made it past Apple's stringent review process but also ranked 60 in general "top free" apps section and number 6 under the "Utilities" section of the App Store. The app, listed as "Setup for Amazon Alexa," claims it teaches users how to set up the device and give essential commands.
The app doesn't do much, nor does it prompt you to sign-in, which means your credentials are safe. But 9to5Mac reported that it asks users to share the IP address along with the serial number of the device and a name, which labels it a scam app.
Amazon Echo speakers are popular gift choices in the U.S. and the fact that people wanted to set up their new smart speaker gave the fake Alexa app a popularity boost. First time Echo users could have easily fallen for the "Setup for Amazon Alexa", which made the app trend in the U.S.
But users realized the app's true nature and shared their reviews. While there were many 5 star ratings, some strong-worded reviews actually served as a warning to those who wanted to install the app. Despite the initial backlash and some Reddit users reporting the app, neither Apple nor Amazon took any action against it.
On Friday, Amazon confirmed that the app is no longer available on App Store. But users don't have to wait for the app to be removed to realize it is fake. Below is a checklist you must always follow before downloading an app – be it from App Store or Play Store.
Publisher: Always check for the publisher of the app and download from trusted developers only.
Reviews: User reviews always help in identifying whether an app does what it promises.
Official app: Almost every brand/service have an official app, you can visit their website and get redirected to the app from there.
Permissions: There have been several controversies surrounding app permissions and it is important to see why any app would require certain privileges on your phone and whether it is justified.
Necessity: It's not always that you need an app, so if there's even a doubt that you don't need an app, simply don't download it.