Free applications are quickly becoming the bane of my existenceAnna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
Deciding to make the switch from iOS back to Android was a lot harder of a decision than I was willing to admit. Although I was ready for something different, iOS had proven to be the most stable mobile OS I had ever used at that point. Admittedly, I wasn't exactly happy about the design change I knew was coming in iOS 7 and decided that it was time to take a break from the iPhone and move on. After initially switching back to Android I was impressed with the changes that had been made to the OS since I had last used it, but what really started to grind on my gears didn't really make itself noticeable until about a month in.
Something that has made Android so popular at this point was that it often pushes its free applications on people. Android has more free applications than any other platform, so in that aspect I was pretty excited to be returning to Android. I remember looking up almost any application I wanted and most of the time it would end up being free, which made me happy because I'm fairly fond of not spending any money. I did end up spending quite a bit of money on iOS applications, and although I spent some money on Android applications it wasn't anywhere near the amount I spent on iOS. It was bittersweet leaving all that I had purchased behind, but I was happy because I remembered about all the awesome free applications that Android had to offer.
Unfortunately, my memory must have been fogged because after going through and downloading a number of applications (productivity, games, messaging, etc.) I soon remembered that free applications were free for good reason - you get bombarded with advertisements. Although I knew advertisements were part of the package, I never remembered them being as invasive as they are now. They always seem to sneak up on me and catch me off guard at the last minute.
I was used to advertisement bars being placed on the screen in one area or another. That's not that big of a deal. A small advertisement banner at the top of the app or at the bottom didn't really phase me. The ones that get me are the full page ones that pop up out of nowhere and are like "SURPRISE!", because they'll pop up just as you're about to hit the screen for something else. So instead of being able to move on to the next level of Candy Crush Saga like you wanted, you're now at the Pizza Hut landing page, ready to order a pizza.
On the one hand, it's pretty ingenious marketing. I'm sure a lot of people are thinking, "Oh, you know what? It is kind of late, maybe I should just order a pizza tonight." But then there are people like me who accidentally click so many advertisements that I'm about to just take my phone to the local pizza joint and throw it in the oven. Or, in a less passive aggressive manner, I would probably just purchase the paid application to get rid of advertisements because everybody knows violence never solves anything. I guess either way they win.
I don't particularly mind paying for applications in order to get rid of those pesky advertisements, I just wish that I wouldn't have to pay for some applications twice. If I pay for, say, Angry Birds once on iOS I would also like to have it available on Android. But I realize that's not how business works, and will likely never change. Still, it would be nice if some free applications didn't exploit the whole advertisement thing to an unreasonable level. In a lot of cases it's almost as if the application is unusable because there are so many advertisements popping in and out of the screen when you least expect it.
I think my days of downloading free applications are limited. Every once in a while I'll come across one that's worth using, but other than that, the quickest way to make an application uninstall on my phone is by bombarding me with advertisements upon advertisements.
Readers, what have your experiences been with free applications and advertisements? Do you have any issues, or do you find they're fairly easy to avoid? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!