Selecting an App

Every time I find myself spending too much time, or taking too many steps, to accomplish one thing, I think to myself, “there must be an app for that.”  And then I pick one that looks good.  Too often I’m seduced by the miracles promised, only to be sorely disappointed later with another useless app hogging up data and containing my information, some of which may be personal or sensitive.  

I’ve learned a few things over the years and refined my approach, as described below.

    1. I identify my needs.
    2. Then I search to see which apps match my requirements.
    3. After narrowing down the options, I read reviews and check ratings.
    4. Then I try it out.

For example, I’d been using Trello, a task management system, to manage my grocery lists.  It wasn’t ideal, but I made it work.  However, I couldn’t get Trello to alphabetize, or categorize, the items automatically.  It was time consuming to alphabetize my lists manually.  I shopped around for a new app with alphabetizing and categorizing my list (e.g. produce, dairy, meats, etc.) as a top requirement.  Now I’m using Out of Milk.

Here are some things to think about when selecting an app:

  1. What do you want the app to do? Will it be able to accomplish this?
  2. How much time and effort is involved to set up the app?
  3. Does the app and/or the company have a good reputation? Has it been around a long time? What are the risks of the company failing, or getting bought out, and then not supporting the app in the future?
  4. What kind of security does the app have?  How will private and personal information be protected?
  5. What are the deletion policies? Will you be able to leave the app and remove your information? (Check
  6. What features are free and which ones cost money?
  7. Where will the data be stored (e.g.the US, Canada, another country)?  Will the app sell or give away my information to a 3rd-party?

Unfortunately, the answer to many of these questions will be buried in lengthy service agreements in language that is challenging to understand.  Additionally, many apps will also require access to data stored on your device (e.g. contact lists, photo galleries, etc.).  Read more here.  And here’s a useful website called “Terms of Service: Didn’t Read.

Apps are an investment.  I recommend learning about an app before installing it.

4 comments for “Selecting an App

  1. Donald
    6 June 2017 at 08:21

    My wife and I love using Out of Milk because it allows us to share lists so either one of us can update the grocery list.

    The one type of app I have really struggled with are “To Do List” apps. I have tried about a dozen of them. Currently, I have found Google Keep to work the best for my needs.

    • The Deletist
      8 June 2017 at 13:31

      Yes! The task management apps. *sigh* I used to manage it all on Excel, but the updates were a bit tedious. It was also hard to structure the data for good reporting and it was hard to use across devices.
      Please share some of the ones you’ve used and your experiences. I’d love to compare notes. As well if you have any good tips for Out of Milk. I started using the pantry list too!

  2. James
    6 June 2017 at 11:59

    Your approach is pretty good. Getting your requirements is key. Most of these apps are not really good with the personal data. For highly sensitive personal data I recommend 1Password. all other apps that are not personal data holder apps with serious security built into the app should be avoided. Especially if you know the security was added on and not built in.
    Also a lot of task apps aren’t good with shopping lists. But let me add an app. key Ring. Is an appy for both Apple and Android phones and holds your point cards well. But I would suggest that you look for an app from the store your shopping in. Like shopRite or wegmans, which have there own app. In the app you can add your address name and telephone. But the cool thing is they, making a shopping list easy. you can find coupons easy also. You can even order from the app for a home delivery.
    I hate to say it but some times you have to get more then one app to do all that you want. The best way to get an app that does what you want, how you want it done, is to make that app yourself. Developing is being made easier and easier to do. So think about developing the app you want and need.

    good luck.


    • The Deletist
      8 June 2017 at 13:50

      Hi James! Thanks for the suggestions. I’m going to check out keyring. I currently use Google Keep for my points cards.
      Re: having more than one app. Agreed. Yes, I’ve done shopping with a specific store app before and you’re right, it definitely makes the shopping list easy!!
      Great idea for a blog posting.

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