Charge your Android phone using a 'Solar Charger' app? Well, no...

People just don't read the app descriptions, and user reviews for apps are, on the whole, useless.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Can you charge an Android phone by using an app to convert the screen into an efficient solar panel? Of course you can't, but the user reviews for this app make interesting reading and give us an insight into why user reviews are useless.

Note: Sorry if you were fooled by the title! However, you might want to read on because there's a serious side to this post.

Take the Solar Charger app by Szlab, which promises to '[c]harge your phone with the power of the sun! Start this application, put your phone in a well lit place and watch your battery charge using the solar panel.'

Only further down in the description does the developer admit that the app is a fake.

While some users figured out that this app was a fake, there are plenty of examples of people who seemed to have believed the claims made on face value, and who vented their frustrations with the app in the reviews.

It's also fun to see how other people play along with the fun.

There are a couple of serious takeaways based on the user reviews here. First is that a lot of people just down read the app descriptions. If they did, they'd all know that this app was a fake. At most it seems the majority of people read a few lines before deciding to install or not. Both Google's Android Market and Apple's App Store encourage this sort of behavior by only displaying a few lines of the description (the remainder of the description is a click away ... too far for most). This encourages developers to put the highlights 'above the fold' and bury the rest of the information out of sight.

The other takeaway from this is that user reviews for apps are, on the whole, useless. This app might be an extreme example, but it does highlight how many 'reviews' are either highly misinformed or users trolling other users. Since this is a free app, there's no bickering about price; bickering seems to be the norm nowadays for any app costing more than $0.

Now that Google and Apple have between them have over 1 million apps on offer, users need a way to be able to sift through the digital chaff to find the wheat. Unfortunately, user reviews aren't much help. Finding quality apps (especially paid-for ones where there isn't a free trial or demo on offer) is getting harder by the day.

Image credits: Szlab | Google


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