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These days, there literally is an app for everything. Whether you want to spend hours playing games, watch a person on the other side of the world stream a local sports game, or organize every aspect of your life down to the minutiae.

The downside to this incredible level of choice is that some apps out there disguise themselves as your friend, when in fact they just want to harm you. Google’s Play Store has frequently received criticism How Dead Apps Are Drowning the Windows Store How Dead Apps Are Drowning the Windows Store Dead apps are everywhere in the Windows Store. Why are apps abandoned, how does it affect users, and how could Microsoft solve this dilemma? We analyze the sad state of the Windows Store. Read More for its less-than-robust approach to filtering unsafe content, and if you’re not careful, you could find yourself being tracked, hacked, or conned.

With that in mind, we take a look at ten seemingly-innocent popular apps you shouldn’t install under any circumstances:

1. QuickPic

What it is: QuickPic used to be a friendly and easy-to-use photo gallery. It was never flashy, but clear communications and frequent updates saw it steadily grow a well-sized user base.

Why it’s bad: It was bought by Cheetah Mobile last year. The company immediately started uploading users’ data to their own servers, as evidenced by one Google Plus user who found a raft of new DNS requests that were attributable to the app.

quick-pic-dns

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What you should use instead: There are lots of gallery apps for Android 4 Great Free Alternative Gallery Apps For Android 4 Great Free Alternative Gallery Apps For Android Don't like the default gallery app on your Android device? Here are some fantastic free alternatives. Read More . One alternative that’s been gathering pace recently is Piktures. It claims to be the first gesture-based gallery app and is completely ad-free.

2. ES File Explorer

What it is: Amazingly, it’s probably the most popular file explorer app out there. That’s because it used to be really, really good – five years ago.

Why it’s bad: The free version has been pumped full of bloatware and ad-ware, and it endlessly nags you to download additional apps via non-disable-able notification bar pop-ups.

What you should use instead: There are loads to choose from The 7 Best Free File Explorers for Android The 7 Best Free File Explorers for Android There are a bunch of file management and file exploring apps out there for Android, but these are the best. Read More . If you want an open-source offering turn to OI File Manager; if you’re more concerned with design try out FX File Explorer; or if customization is your thing, you can look to Total Commander.

3. UC Browser

What it is: The most popular Android web browser in China and India. It claims to have a “fast mode” that’ll save you MBs of data usage thanks to compression.

Why it’s bad: Tracking. Users’ search queries are sent without encryption to Yahoo India and Google, a user’s IMSI number, IMEI number, Android ID, and Wi-Fi MAC address are sent without encryption to Umeng (an Alibaba analytics tool), and users’ geolocation data (including longitude/latitude and street name) is transmitted without encryption to AMAP (an Alibaba mapping tool).

What you should use instead: Where to start? Chrome and Firefox are the obvious choices What Is The Fastest Android Browser? What Is The Fastest Android Browser? Browsers on Android can have different rendering engines, so some browsers can be faster than others. Read More , but some people have worries about privacy concerns there too. A solid all-around privacy protector is Lightning.

4. CLEAN it

What it is: A “junk file cleaner” that’s been installed 10 million times and has 85 percent four- or five-star reviews.

clean-it

Why it’s bad: Most of what it advertises is detrimental to your phone. For example, clearing the cache will ultimately slow your phone down when it needs to be rebuilt, clearing your RAM only leads to more battery usage, and killing running apps does not save your battery Why RAM Boosters And Task Killers Are Bad For Your Android Why RAM Boosters And Task Killers Are Bad For Your Android At first glance, RAM boosters and task killers sound incredibly useful, but a closer look shows that they could actually be harming your phone instead. Read More as claimed.

What you should use instead: Greenify is a much better option for reducing apps’ battery drain 5 Advanced Ways to Improve Battery Life on Android 5 Advanced Ways to Improve Battery Life on Android If you've got a rooted Android device (or you're willing to root it), and you want better battery life, we can help you out. Read More , and SD Maid is a more useful junk filter for ad files and logs, etc.

5. Music Player

What it is: As implied, it’s an app that lets you play audio files saved on your device.

Why it’s bad: It has lots of ads, but more worryingly from a user standpoint, it eats through data plans and destroys your battery. People who’ve commented on its Google Play listing report gigabytes of data being consumed, as well as massive battery drain.

music-player

What you should use instead: There are lots of What Is the Best Way to Stream Music for Free on Android? What Is the Best Way to Stream Music for Free on Android? There are a ton of free music-streaming apps for Android, but how are they different and which is your best option? Read More w What Is the Best Way to Stream Music for Free on Android? What Is the Best Way to Stream Music for Free on Android? There are a ton of free music-streaming apps for Android, but how are they different and which is your best option? Read More ays to stream music What Is the Best Way to Stream Music for Free on Android? What Is the Best Way to Stream Music for Free on Android? There are a ton of free music-streaming apps for Android, but how are they different and which is your best option? Read More  on Android, while Google Play Music and Phonograph are both good ways to manage audio 6 Gorgeous Material Design-Inspired Music Players for Android 6 Gorgeous Material Design-Inspired Music Players for Android Looking for a music player that's been updated with Material Design in mind? Look no further! Read More that’s already on your device.

6. DU Battery Saver & Fast Charge

What it is: Another “battery-saving” app with an insane number of downloads. It has 7.6 million five-star reviews. Well, sorry, but all of those 7.6 million people are wrong.

Why it’s bad: Fast Charge? An app does not have the ability to change how fast your device charges. This is also the king of adverts – it sponsors almost every ad that you see in any other app and manifests its own ads on your lock screen and notifications bar. Also, all those fancy speed graphs and cool animations? Totally fake.

What you should use instead: If you’re genuinely interested in your phone’s battery stats Find Out Which Apps Are Killing Your Android Battery Find Out Which Apps Are Killing Your Android Battery If you're getting poor battery life on your device, you likely have an app abusing your battery in the background. Find out how to identify those apps and solve your battery problems. Read More , you should use GSM Battery Monitor. For proper battery saving, try the aforementioned Greenify.

7. Dolphin Web Browser

What it is: An ad-free, Flash-supporting, HTML 5 video-enabled browser. It’s got 150 million downloads and counting.

Why it’s bad: Like UC Browser, this is a tracking nightmare. Worst of all, it saves your incognito mode website visits in a file on your phone – go and check. Don’t believe the hype; delete it now.

What you should use instead: As mentioned earlier, Chrome, Firefox, and Lightning are your three best options.

8. Photo Collage

What it is: A collage creator that boasts 120 different frames, addable text, and fun backgrounds.

photo-collage

Why it’s bad: Lots and lots of ads, the most annoying of which is the DU Quick Charge ad on the lock screen.

What you should use instead: Once again, there are plenty of photo editors out there 6 Best Photo Editors for Android 6 Best Photo Editors for Android Edit photos quickly and easily on your Android phone or tablet with these apps. Read More . Photoshop is great for heavy-duty work, or you could also try Google’s increasingly-impressive Snapseed.

9. Clean Master

What it is: Another insanely popular “speed booster, battery saver, and phone optimizer”. It has 600 million users and 26 million five-star reviews.

Why it’s bad: Firstly, it’s made by Cheetah Mobile. We referred to them earlier – the company is renowned for packing ads, bloatware, and nag screens into their apps. Secondly, it doesn’t do anything useful; RAM-saving apps were valuable once upon a time, but the Android system has developed so much that they are merely a hindrance Why RAM Boosters And Task Killers Are Bad For Your Android Why RAM Boosters And Task Killers Are Bad For Your Android At first glance, RAM boosters and task killers sound incredibly useful, but a closer look shows that they could actually be harming your phone instead. Read More . Android now has its own native handler for assigning RAM and ensuring it’s all being used in the most optimal way – in many cases, it even deliberately keeps RAM loaded to help performance.

What you should use instead: Honestly, nothing. If you really insist, SD Maid is your friend.

10. Almost Every Anti-Virus App

What it is: There are loads to choose from; most of the well-known desktop anti-viruses now have a smartphone offering.

Why it’s bad: They aren’t bad per se, but they are largely unnecessary – that’s why the biggest names in the industry now market their apps’ anti-virus capabilities as part of a larger security package. There are a couple of caveats, however; if you install software from third-party sources How to Sideload Any File onto Your Android Phone or Tablet How to Sideload Any File onto Your Android Phone or Tablet You may have come across the term "sideloading" before, but what does it mean? And how can you go about sideloading apps or files? Read More (i.e., not the Google Play Store), or if you have a rooted device What Is Rooting? What Are Custom ROMs? Learn Android Lingo What Is Rooting? What Are Custom ROMs? Learn Android Lingo Ever had a question about your Android device, but the answer had a bunch of words in it that you didn't understand? Let us break down the confusing Android lingo for you. Read More . Both these situations can open you up to malware that Google has no control over.

What you should use instead: In this case, it’s not so much what you should install instead, but rather that you need to make sure you’re installing a full-fledged security package from a recognized provider 6 Android Security Apps You Should Install Today 6 Android Security Apps You Should Install Today Android security apps - capable of blocking malware and phishing attempts - are necessary if you wish to run a safe and secure smartphone. Let's look at some of the best Android security apps currently... Read More . The apps from companies like Avast and Avira tend to offer additional features such as password-locked apps, remote device wiping, and call blockers.

What Would You Add to This List?

This list of ten apps only scratches the surface. We don’t have exact figures, but we’d hazard a guess that the large majority of apps in the store are in some way “bad news”.

They’re easy to avoid if you’re smart – do your research What Are Android Permissions and Why Should You Care? What Are Android Permissions and Why Should You Care? Do you ever install Android apps without a second thought? Here's all you need to know on Android app permissions, how they've changed, and how it affects you. Read More and only install content from well-known and well-trusted developers. And of course, if you see any suspicious activity after installing an app, delete it and its residual cache immediately.

What apps have you found to be problematic? Are there any particular developers you always avoid? As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.

  1. Taiga
    November 8, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    I think Opera is the best browser for Android and a real alternative to apps you mention as bad. I'm a little sad that you ommited it. It's certainly better than Chrome. Is there a reason for not mentioning it?

  2. Mike E.
    November 6, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    Facebook and Messenger are two insanely popular apps that kill your device's battery, RAM, and storage. I recommend Disa and Facebook.com (through the internet browser).

  3. Lino
    October 4, 2016 at 11:37 pm

    Great list, I still use ES File Explorer, but I deleted the newer version and downloaded an old version, 3.2.4.1; and turned off automatic updates.
    I have done this with TuneInn also, they always come up with some bs excuse claims for the updates, but they never say it's for the new adds.
    The other app I use has no adds at all, is Pandora, these are my apps that will never get updated.

  4. WNantes
    October 2, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Very good article. Tks for this.
    The solution for me was to use old versions oft fhese apps. For instanoe, I can't live without Es File Explorer and Uc Browser but, Inotice that new updated versions of these two arenot so safe. So, I download and install old versions and never uptade it. Obviously that this is not a good idea because, use old versions of any app it's not safe at all too. And here is where your article helps me, because you showed me pretty good alternatives and I'll give a try on those apps.

  5. John Vincent Pedregoza
    October 2, 2016 at 1:17 am

    Thanks MUO! I hope this will somehow convince my friends to stop using those AVs, "cleaner" and battery savers.

  6. GodSponge (EB)
    August 13, 2016 at 9:00 pm

    Solid Explorer is awesome, and the best one I've ever used. Well worth the price.

    • kiddy
      November 6, 2016 at 6:14 am

      i 2nd that. can't agree more :)

  7. Errol
    August 13, 2016 at 7:03 pm

    I don't know why you include ES explorer in this list. I have been using it for years and have never had any problem with ads or bloatware. I don't know of any other file explorer that handles network drives do easily. (and I've tried the ealternative you suggest)

    • Myst
      October 1, 2016 at 9:50 pm

      uhh... are you on the latest version? It's FILLED with bloatware and advertises many other apps.

      • Errol
        October 8, 2016 at 5:15 pm

        uhh YES. (There is no need for sarcasm). The latest version has less advertising than most apps. I will keep using ES explorer, as I said before "I don't know of any other file explorer that handles network drives do easily" - Tell me one that does. How about MakeUseOf stop spamming so much, especially VPNs. Get your own house in order.

  8. SamuelMw
    July 26, 2016 at 6:14 am

    Thanks For the advice, Dan Price. Now I have a list of legit apps I can use on my new smartphone.

  9. Ahmd
    July 25, 2016 at 7:48 am

    Focus is a good picture manager too.

  10. K.A. Verghese
    July 25, 2016 at 3:35 am

    You've listed 'Clean Master' from Cheetah Mobiles as an undesirable app to have on your phone, yet when you click on one of the links in the 'What you should use instead' part under 'CLEAN it' the first recommended app, in the article that opens up, is Clean Master !
    So, are you guys reliable, or are you putting out 'paid bee's ?!

    • K.A. Verghese
      July 25, 2016 at 3:37 am

      That ought to have been 'paid news' !

    • AmonApophis
      July 25, 2016 at 1:08 pm

      My thought exactly. This was awkward. I guess the times of the two articles count too, because the one recommending Clean Master is from January 2015 and this one form June 2016. Still, it's unclear to me why they reference that article since it's a contradiction to this one.

  11. naeem ullah
    July 10, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    Thanks Dude for share such an informative article

  12. D ns
    June 16, 2016 at 11:45 am

    How to monitor dns request ? What is the name of the app?

  13. Laura
    June 13, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    Why do you say not to use Clean Master in this article, yet #4 on this list, CLEAN it has a link to clean-up aps you have tested, and in that article you can't say enough good things about Clean Master? What's the deal?

    • ChrisP
      June 23, 2016 at 1:39 pm

      He's not the one who praised Clean Master in that linked article. He linked to another author's article without reading through it is my guess.

  14. AFelon
    June 11, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    I would add Shareit, after the last update it became insanely inhabited by ads inside the app to the extant it gives you a timeline of them!

  15. Norton
    June 10, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    In #9, you say not to install Clean Master, but in #4, you put a link to your "5 Apps That Really Clean Up Your Android Device" article and the first one in the list is Clean Master. So should we install it or not? If you are going to link to another of your articles, perhaps you should re-read the other article first.

    • ChrisP
      June 23, 2016 at 1:39 pm

      He’s not the one who praised Clean Master in that linked article. He linked to another author’s article without reading through it is my guess.

  16. David Batty
    June 6, 2016 at 12:54 am

    People need learn a boat these apps. Most people use android and think they don't have to be smart about it.

    Quick pic is one of the worst available. And most people still using it are using older resigned versions before it was bought out by CM.

    • Steffen
      June 10, 2016 at 3:10 pm

      Thats exactly the thing I did after reading about the tracking stuff.

  17. Finger SnakeTM
    June 5, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    I really hope dolphin browser gets banned or something!

  18. Patrick Saunders
    June 5, 2016 at 9:18 am

    facebook. Chews data, chews battery and heats up my phone.

    • Stevles
      June 5, 2016 at 12:31 pm

      Agreed. Alternatives are Metal, Swipe Pro, Facebook lite (found on APK mirror) or simply using your browser to access it.

  19. Asad Khattak
    June 5, 2016 at 6:32 am

    You want to say that millions of people whom downloaded these apps are wrong and you only you is right?

    • Huszár
      June 5, 2016 at 3:18 pm

      yes

    • Demola Oladipo
      June 6, 2016 at 5:51 am

      yes

    • Perry F. Bruns
      June 7, 2016 at 2:00 pm

      Considering the apps' effects on people's mobile devices, that seems to be a logical conclusion. Millions of people eat at McDonald's, but that doesn't make it gourmet cuisine.

  20. abqnm
    June 5, 2016 at 4:18 am

    Hypocrite much? Denouncing (admittedly) terrible apps and then simultaneously recommending them on a different article you linked as "alternatives" aside, Music Player? Can you be any more generic?

    At least with the other apps you're denouncing, the name of the app is either unique so it can't be mistaken for something else, or has a picture of the play store listing to identify it. With "Music Player" there is no identifying information. No photo of the Play Store listing or link to the app. Just "Music Player" and a pic of some reviews that could be for any app.

    Seriously? There are AT LEAST 20 apps in the Play Store titled "Music Player." Without identifying which one you're denouncing, you're potentially damaging the reputation of dozens of developers of identically named apps that have nothing to do with the agenda you're pushing.

    So I agree with the rest of the apps on the list? Yes. Is it good to get the word out? Absolutely. But do some fact checking and proof reading and don't publish incomplete and potentially damaging information. And don't push users to install "alternatives" in another article on your site that includes the same apps you're denouncing and more of similar function, most of which are probably paid endorsements anyway, given your loose "affiliate disclaimer."

    • Asad Khattak
      June 7, 2016 at 2:04 pm

      That's not because McDonald's food contains virus, rather its their pocket

    • Dan Price
      June 28, 2016 at 8:16 pm

      The app is called Music Player. Check the link.

      • Freealta
        June 29, 2016 at 6:16 pm

        There are lots of apps named specifically "Music Player" in the Playstore. None of the links takes you to a specific Music Player.

  21. Apatt Seriniyom
    June 5, 2016 at 1:27 am

    Good article but you warn us not to use QuickPic but then link to your "gallery apps for Android" page where QuickPic is the #1 recommendation!
    Similarly, you advise against installing CLEAN it and Clean Master but then you wrote "You can also try these clean-up apps that we’ve tested" which included a link to your "Apps That Really Clean Up Your Android Device" page where Clean Master is highly recommended!

    • Stevles
      June 5, 2016 at 12:34 pm

      LOL.. I wonder if he was smoking crack while typing this up?

  22. Lex
    June 5, 2016 at 1:08 am

    You say Clean Master is bad (I agree) but you include it among the suggested cleaning apps in the linked article "5 Apps That Really Clean Up Your Android Device".

  23. maniel
    June 4, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    where's facebook app? also messenger

  24. John P
    June 4, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    So one person thinks maybe some extra connections might be coming from QuicPic and all of a sudden its bad? Seriously terrible assumption. I've used QuickPic for years and, aside from the cloud feature mention above (turned off obviously) I havent seen any untoward issues, connections or actions from QuickPic.
    At least make the effort to try and do some independent research yourself.

    • CmonMan
      June 5, 2016 at 1:03 am

      u wot m8?

      It was bought by Cheetah Mobile, known spyware makers and was infected almost immediately. Unless you are locked to an older pre buyout version, uninstall now.

      • John P
        June 5, 2016 at 3:47 am

        Nope. ver 4.69.1.1468. Unless you've got proof (not innuendo, supposition or he said/she said) to the contrary, I call BS. M8ie.

        I scan regularly with AppBugs, Clueful and other tools. Of course they could ALL be wrong. So please, lay it out for us.

        • David Batty
          June 6, 2016 at 12:56 am

          If you don't understand then something like this is over your head. Also all those apps you use use to scan are just as much BS. Any real threat in android can't be picked up by apps like that.

        • John P
          June 6, 2016 at 2:45 am

          Right, because you're the only smart guy in the room. Since you know nothing about me or what I may or may not know, any subsequent assessment is a waste of breath.

          So, once again, Unless you’ve got proof (not innuendo, supposition or he said/she said) to the contrary, I call BS.

        • David Batty
          June 6, 2016 at 2:57 am

          Never said I was. Your statement says everything. The proof is all around. Want some yourself. Run a logcat (find the info) over night and just watch.

          Apps like this make tons off of people just like you. They target the less savy users. Nothing wrong with it but don't try to defend something against others that have been doing this for far longer then you have even known what a smart device was. Most of CM apps contain malware that has been blocked by many government agencies. Think that is for no good reason?

        • John P
          June 6, 2016 at 3:14 am

          Every one of your responses says just that...look at me, I can logcat. Your assumptions are unfounded since you know nothing about the people you cast thinly veiled aspersion toward. Look at me, I can say logcat and say people like you (assuming you know anything about me).

          Anyone worth their stones would happily provide real data or links to investigations that prove/support their theory. Wankers that want to make themselves sound smart and cool say things like "Run a logcat (find the info)" and "They target the less savy users." attempting to insinuate that you know more than the people below you.

          I'm not trying to defend anyone. I am calling BS based on unsupported statements. Same as I do people that say herbs can cure cancer (maybe they can but there is no factual/scientific data to support it). You even state "Most of CM apps.. " so where's the proof that QuickPic is one of them?

          Again, source? Please provide a factual list of Government agencies that are blocking Quickpic.

          So, put up or shutup. No long term data/reporting, you've got nothing more than chest thumping puffery. Look at me! I am smart. I can say logcat!

        • StevetotheH
          June 25, 2016 at 9:05 am

          You are a moron! Run the logcat, that is the proof you half-wit! You sound like a developer defending your garbage. Prove you're not.

  25. Graham
    June 4, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    Facebook App. It is huuuge.

    • Jean-Michel Aubin
      June 4, 2016 at 8:39 pm

      I've uninstall facebook and messenger, gained 20% sot...

  26. Denny Weinberg
    June 4, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    Please use Levipic instead of QuickPic! This app is much better and supports Geo locations and so on. From an independent developer!

  27. Cat
    June 4, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    Ah, thank you - I have Clean Master.
    In 5 minutes that's going to be 'I had'
    Appreciate it!
    xxXxx

  28. Daniel Borsos
    June 4, 2016 at 10:38 am

    QuickPic is clean, if you disable the cloud upload thingy, which is like the first question it asks. It is the fastest picture viewer on Android hands down. ES File Explorer has useful and useless features. You know what else has them? Everything else! non-disable-able notification bar pop-ups? Do you even Android, bro? Every notification can be blocked since 4.0, also there are NO notification bar popups from that application...

  29. armakuni
    June 4, 2016 at 5:04 am

    nice article to think about. nevertheless you should update your linked articles too. In the gallery article QuickPic is mentioned on top as recommendation.

    • armakuni
      June 4, 2016 at 7:58 am

      Another question: There is a ES File Explorer Pro app. Does your article apply to this version too? Can you recommend the Pro version?

      I'm asking because of the FTP Server functionality in ES which I am using to sync my devices at home with my backup machine.

      • Kirk
        June 4, 2016 at 11:57 pm

        ES File Explorer Pro is fine. Everyone is so shocked when a developer tries to monetize their app. If you don't want ads pay for the app. People are too cheap.

        • Kelsey Tidwell
          June 5, 2016 at 12:29 am

          +1 million upvotes on the cheap people comment. It's not like these apps are outrageously expensive! "I'll throw $60 at a video game, but I'm not paying this independent dev .99 because it's a ripoff...."

          Geesh.

    • David Batty
      June 6, 2016 at 12:59 am

      No one with common sense pays attention to the recommendations. Ever since it was found that reviews were faked and companies were buying reviews and stars. Only noobs pay attention to the reviews.

  30. David C Cardillo
    June 4, 2016 at 1:38 am

    OK, what kind of FUD is this? You say we should not install Clean Master. You post a link to your review of system clean up apps. First item on the list? Clean Master.

    Yeah, Dolphin has ads. You know what Dolphin also has? Plug ins, like LastPass Evernote, Pocket, and a host of others. I lament the loss in functionality each time I use chrome.

  31. Anon
    June 3, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    I concur re. ES File Explorer: it used to be a great, simple app. Then they started adding crap to it, progressively making it more difficult to use. I switched to Total Commander: not as simple as ES was, but does what you need it to do without the crap.

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