I challenge you to find the one app here that doesn’t completely blow…

1. Ratings Are Based on Personal Bias

When a customer reviews an app or game, they’re doing so based on their personal experience, which could’ve been 10,000 hours of use or they may have never opened it. As a game and app reviewer, it’s not uncommon for me to install and use hundreds of apps during any given month.

I write about many of them in blogs, and when I’m especially impressed or disturbed by something, I’ll review it everywhere I can find. I’m especially brutal with game reviews, as I’ve been a dedicated gamer for a large portion of my life and the freemium business model opened the flood gates for a slew of awful games that are nothing more than glitchy and unplayable advertisements with no entertainment value. Keep personal tastes in mind when reading anything.

2. Reviews Aren’t Comprehensive

Don’t just look at the stars – read the entire review. It’s not uncommon to see reviews like “This game sucks” or “I still can’t use flash with this app” in the app stores. While I appreciate the often colorful scenes people paint, they’re not really giving much information. Ok, Evernote doesn’t sync with the 3rd party calendar you use; that’s not a feature I care about, so the review isn’t worthwhile to me. More often than not, the review you’re reading is from someone who barely spent an hour with the app.

3. The Customer Isn’t Always Right

Anyone who works at a help desk can tell you people are generally not very smart with technology. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone talk about some “great new app” they found that changed their lives. I work in the tech industry, and I get dozens of emails a day from developers selling me the same Kool-Aid. Most of the great features discussed in these apps aren’t new, and they’re not very intuitive; just because an app does something doesn’t mean it’s the only app or even the best app doing it. Do more research.

4. Developers Pay PR Companies for Positive Reviews

I’ve worked with marketing, PR, and other consulting companies – it’s not uncommon for companies to pay people for Wikipedia articles, guest blogs, social media reach, and product reviews. You can find these gigs listed everywhere from Fiverr to Craigslist to eLance, and there’s no shortage of people willing to take them. Software developers are no different; they’re trying to take your money like everyone else, and they pay for good reviews. Keep this in mind while browsing app store reviews.

5. Competition Is Brutal

Not only do developers routinely pay for positive reviews, they also try to undercut the competition by posting negative reviews about competing products. That’s right – those negative experiences you read about may be part of an elaborate marketing scheme meant to deliberately sway your decision.

With so many shenanigans going on, it’s hard to know what to believe anymore. You can never be sure of whether or not an app or game is right for you unless you try it, but there could be a virus or other malware attached, and it could also just be a ploy to harvest your personal information for marketing purposes. Stay vigilant by checking reviews at a variety of trusted outlets, including Gizmodo, here at Lifehack, Tom’s Hardware Guide, CNet, etc. Once you’re sure you want something, download away.

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