The modern smartphone app has existed for almost a dozen years now—ever since Apple launched the App Store back in 2008. In that time, apps have become a part of our daily lives, and some of them have even become essential for communication and work-related tasks. According to Variety, the average American checks their phone 52 times a day. App analytics and market data firm App Annie says that amounts to three hours a day of smartphone usage per person. And what’s taking up all the smartphone time? The apps, of course. Matter of fact, the average smartphone user uses 30 different apps a month and nine different apps a day.
And as we enter the third decade of the 21st century, apps are sure to become an ever-increasingly important part of our lives. Still, that means there are certain apps that you should probably cut out of your life for good—for the benefit of your finances, mental health, privacy, and time. As we kick off the 2020’s, here are the apps you should consider kicking off your smartphone.
Apps that depress you
If there’s any type of app you should delete from your phone, it’s those apps that depress you. Yes, I’m talking about social media apps. These are apps where people usually try to curate an image of their “perfect” life for their followers. They do this by choosing only the best pictures of themselves to share, humblebragging about their talents or good fortune, boasting about their idyllic travels, and romanticizing their relationships.
The problem with everyone curating an unrealistic, heavily manufactured, idealized version of their lives lies in the fact that we all start to believe other people’s lives are so much better than our own—and research has shown this can make us feel depressed and lonely. In truth, everyone you follow on social media has much the same problems that we all do, be it relationships worries, health concerns, unhappiness over their jobs, and anxieties over their future.
But judging from their heavily curated social media posts you’d never know that, so it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking your life is worse than those you follow. So, if you want to be less depressed in general, getting off Facebook, ditching Instagram and Snapchat, and deleting TikTok may be just the thing you need to have a happier 2020.
Apps that don’t protect your privacy
Privacy was perhaps the biggest topic in tech in all of 2019. Thankfully, there are some easy steps you can take to protect more of yours. More good news: many companies are coming around to building their users’ privacy into their business models. Still, there are a few major apps billions of people use every day that don’t protect their users’ privacy to an acceptable degree.
Facebook Messenger is one such app, since it doesn’t offer end-to-end encryption (as Facebook’s other messaging app, WhatsApp, does). Another is Google’s Chrome browser, which harvests a ton of data about your online activity. As a matter of fact, Chrome harvests so much of your data it led the Washington Post to label the browser as “spy software.”
Thankfully, there are many app alternatives that do protect your privacy, so don’t continue to use ones that do not.
Apps that are “free” but really aren’t
Look, we all love free apps, right? Free is great. But just keep in mind that “free” is a bit of a misnomer when talking about any no-cost app. No app is truly free—we all pay for it in some way. If we don’t pay for the app with, you know, cash, we pay for it with our data.
Matter of fact, our data is so valuable to some app makers that there’s no way they would consider charging money for their app instead. Our data is just worth more to them than cold hard cash is. That value derives from their ability to monetize our data—whether that means using it to directly target us with ads, or selling it to data brokerage houses, which then do whatever they want with our personal information. Others, like face-morphing apps, also derive value from our data by using it to train their AI systems.
At the end of the day, just understand that “free” apps aren’t really free. Apps to stay away from include any “free” VPN apps, menstruation apps, Bible apps, flashlight apps, and face-morphing apps like FaceApp and Ever.
Apps that compel you to spend money
Apps are really good at separating us from our cash. So, if you want to be more fiscally responsible in 2020, it’s time to ditch apps that make it easy to spend. Yes, store apps like Amazon, eBay, and Walmart are obvious examples of apps that drive us to spend money, but there are many more serious offenders—and these usually come in the form of “Free-to-Play” games.
The games themselves might be free to download and play, but they are laden with costly in-app purchases that range from $0.99 to $99.99 or more (per purchase!). The gameplay in these apps is designed to nudge you (or your child) into making multiple in-app purchases to advance more quickly through the game you’ve become addicted to. Some examples (but by no means all) are games like Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, Fortnight, Candy Crush Jelly Saga, Pokémon Go, Marvel Contest of Champions, and many, many, many more.
Apps that make you work 24/7
Finally, let’s talk about those work apps we have on our phones. These are apps like Slack, Microsoft Office, Google Docs, Google Sheets, AirTable, Trello, and Skype. Yes, these apps are powerful tools that can help us be more productive. However, they can also make it hard for us to shut off for the day when we leave the office, meaning many of us end up working even when we should be spending our free time relaxing, recharging, and hanging out with our family and friends.
But out of all the apps on this list, these apps, understandably, may not be practical for people to delete from their phones due to their livelihoods, in part, depending on them. So if you can’t delete these apps, at least consider setting their notifications to shut off after 6 p.m. Or better yet, download them on a separate mobile device dedicated to work, like another smartphone or tablet, that you won’t have at your side all evening and on weekends.