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How to download apps

Apps, or applications, are a type of program that you download for your tablet or mobile phone. There are thousands of apps available, many for free, which allow you to do lots of different things, from keeping in contact with friends and family, reading the news, playing games and puzzles, and banking or shopping online.


How do I download apps on an Android phone or tablet?

Phones and tablets from lots of different brands fall into the bracket of Android devices. Android is the name of the software that the device uses to function. These brands include Alcatel, Google, HTC, LG, Moto, Samsung and Sony.

You can download apps from the Play Store. This is an official, pre-installed program on Android devices, which gives you access to apps.

  1. Open the Play Store in your phone or tablet's menu by tapping on the Play Store icon.
  2. You'll need to either set up a Google account or log in to your Google account – this is the account you use to access other Google services like Gmail.
  3. Search for the app you want to download – either by typing in the search bar at the top, or browsing through the apps on the screen.
  4. Tap on the name of the app.
  5. Tap install (if the app is free).
  6. If the app isn't free, tap on the price. You can then add a payment method to your Google account and pay for the app.
  7. The app will download then automatically be added to your menu and your home screen. If you have a lot of apps on your home screen, you can run out of room for new icons and you'll need to 'swipe' across the page to see the new icon.

You might also click on a link on a trusted organisation's webpage to download an app, and this will take you directly to the Play Store.

Remember: make sure you are connected to a wireless internet network (Wi-Fi) before downloading any apps, otherwise you might use a lot of data which could result in additional charges from your mobile phone network.

 

Is your device Android or Apple?

If your device is an iPhone or iPad, then it is an Apple device and will have the Apple logo on the back. All other phones and tablet brands are more than likely to be Android devices. If you aren't sure, then here's some things ways to find out:

  • Check the handbook that came with the device.
  • Search for the brand of your device online.
  • Go to your phone menu > tap settings > tap system > tap about phone – the Android version will be listed.

How do I download apps on an iPhone or iPad?

If you have an iPhone or iPad, then you can download apps from the App Store. This is an official, pre-installed program on Apple devices, which gives you access to apps. 

  1. Open the App Store in your iPhone or iPad's menu by tapping on the App Store icon.
  2. You'll first need to either set up an Apple ID or log to your Apple ID account – this is the account you use to access Apple services.
  3. Search for the app you want to download – either by typing in the search bar at the top, or browsing through the apps on the screen.
  4. Tap on the name of the app.
  5. Tap get (if the app is free).
  6. If the app isn't free, tap on the price. You can then add a payment method to your Apple ID and pay for the app.
  7. The app will download then automatically be added to your menu. If you have a lot of apps in your menu, you can run out of room for new icons and you'll need to 'swipe' across the page to see the new icon.

You might also click on a link on a trusted organisation's webpage to download an app, and this will take you directly to the App Store.

Remember: make sure you are connected to a wireless internet network (Wi-Fi) before downloading any apps, otherwise you might use a lot of data which could result in additional charges from your mobile phone network.


How do I update my apps?

Once you've downloaded an app, you’ll need to make sure that it stays updated – this means that you will be able to access the latest features, and importantly, the latest security features.

Updating apps on an Android device

You can set up your phone so that apps are automatically updated, as and when the updates are available in:

  1. Open the Play Store.
  2. Tap menu, then settings.
  3. Choose either 'Update over Wi-Fi only' or 'Update over any network'. It’s best to choose Wi-Fi only, to avoid additional charges from your mobile phone network.

You can also update your apps manually in the Play Store menu, by tapping my apps and games. Apps will be labelled with 'update' if there is one available, and you just need to tap on update.

Updating Apple apps

Apps downloaded from the App Store are updated automatically by default. But you can also update apps manually if you want to:

  1. Open the App Store.
  2. Tap updates.
  3. To update a specific app, tap update next to that app, or tap update all.

You can make sure that your apps only update when you're connected to Wi-Fi: Go to settings > scroll to iTunes & App Store >  scroll to use mobile data and switch off this option.


How do I know which apps are safe?

Most apps on the Play Store or App Store will be safe to download, and the stores aim to remove any unsafe apps. But unfortunately, some do slip through the net, and these can carry computer viruses or try to access your personal or financial information.

There are also fake apps designed to look exactly like popular apps such as WhatsApp. This tricks people into downloading them, then the app bombards the phone with adverts or computer viruses.

Follow our tips below to know what to look for to keep your phone and information safe:

  1. Check how many people have downloaded the app. Next to the app in the Play Store or App Store, you can see how many people have downloaded it. If an app has been downloaded millions or billions of times, then it's likely to be safe. Be wary of apps with only a few hundred or thousand downloads – they may not be genuine.
  2. Read the reviews and check the ratings. Each app has a user rating and reviews that you can read. Be cautious about downloading apps with negative reviews.
  3. Read the description. Look out for spelling mistakes or anything which doesn't seem quite right. If something doesn't feel genuine, it probably isn't.
  4. Double check the source. Only download apps from reputable sources (the company that made the app). Underneath the name of the app, you can tap on the source, check which other apps they provide, and view their ratings too.

How do I avoid additional costs?

You may have to pay for some apps, though you can make the most of many apps for free. Be aware of in-app purchases. Once you have added a payment method to your Google account or Apple ID, it's possible to purchase apps or buy things from within an app without adding any additional information, and it's easy to lose track of your spending. Find out how to stop this on Android devices and on Apple devices.


What happens if I run out of storage on my device?

Apps take up storage space, and some phones and tablets have limited amounts of storage space. This is measured in megabytes (MB) and gigabytes (GB). If you run out of storage space on your phone, you won't be able to download any new apps or update existing apps.

Here are some tips for freeing up storage space:

  • Delete apps that you don't use regularly. You can do this by going to the app in the Play Store or App Store and tapping uninstall.
  • It's not just apps that take up space. Old photos, videos and messages take up space, so you can delete what you don't need anymore.
  • You can back up photos and videos to a 'Cloud' service, like Google Photos. This means they are stored in an online folder so you can delete them from your phone without losing them.

Looking for a computer training class?

The majority of our local Age UKs provide computer training, making getting online simple and enjoyable.

For more information call the Age UK Advice Line on 0800 678 1602.
We’re open 8am to 7pm, every day of the year.

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Last updated: Nov 02 2020

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