How many apps do you have on your phone? How many of them do you actually use every day/week/month? Now might be a good time to go through that list and delete ones you don’t use often.
After the revelations I wrote about in my last column, that many apps were spying on your clipboard, several large companies have ordered their employees to uninstall TikTok. TikTok is a social media app made by a Chinese company. Most apps that look at your clipboard have a reason to and TikTok probably does, too. But companies that could be targets are not taking chances, if TikTok were to get ahold of your login credentials to your company's network they could also get in and use that access to steal secrets, something that has happened to many companies over the years.
Now is a good time to do a cleanup of any apps that you don’t use on your phone or tablet.
You may have noticed one or more of your apps crashed over and over recently. This happened to several popular apps like Spotify or Pinterest or thousands of others. It’s understandable to get upset with the app for crashing, but would you believe that it wasn’t the apps' fault this time?
Most apps that you need an account for let you sign up in a number of ways. You can make a new username and password for that specific app or you can login with a number of other accounts that you already have. Common options are to sign in with Google or Facebook. Signing in with another account is beneficial because you only need to remember your username and password for Google or Facebook and can log in to many different services. It’s detrimental because, if your Google or Facebook account gets compromised you might lose access to these other services you’ve signed in to using your that account. It’s also likely that Google and Facebook are gathering data on you when you use the app. There are always trade-offs for convenience and this is no exception.
Apps that allowed you to login with Facebook were crashing because of an update Facebook made to their software development kit or SDK. An SDK is something that is released by a company so others can integrate with their product. For example, a programmer at Pinterest would use the Facebook SDK to integrate their app so that a user could use their Facebook account to login to Pinterest.
It’s worth noting that apps using the Facebook SDK are often also using it to gather information regarding how you use the app; this information goes to both Facebook and the app developer. This information is useful to developers so they know if users are using certain parts of their app or if they need to redesign a screen to make it easier to use or what have you.
Recently Facebook changed its SDK that cause the apps using it to crash when the user opened the app. This can happen even if the app developer (Spotify, Pinterest, etc.) doesn’t update their app. The app sends a message to Facebook when you open it, the response from Facebook is what caused the app to crash. The error was fixed quickly but this is the second time this year that an update to the Facebook SDK has caused apps to crash.
One would think that Facebook programmers would test their changes before rolling them out, but everyone makes mistakes. Any apps that you noticed crashing were likely crashing because they use the Facebook SDK. If you don’t need them, it might be worth uninstalling them. You can usually get the same service by simply going to their website on your phone.
Jason Ogaard is a Red Wing High School graduate and a software engineer in the Denver area. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.