Third Party Keyboards: Are They Worth It?

In this article I will be talking about the security of third-party keyboard apps, what you should know and the information they collect when using their app. In the past I have installed a third-party app, but I just didn’t like the feel of it, so I uninstalled it. I decided to pay a little more attention to why I felt that way.

I’m always looking to improve my writing skills, so I thought by installing a third-party keyboard app that it would be the answer to help me get along better. That’s what most of us are looking for when we look for the hunt. They tell you there will be mistake-free writing in all your apps with grammar checkers, spelling checkers and more. Some apps will help you improve your skills by pointing out your mistakes so that you can avoid them in the future. This special keyboard notifies you when your spelling has been auto-corrected and helps you to spot incorrect auto-corrections before you hit send. What could sound any better than that if that’s exactly what you were looking for?!

While I waited for the app to install, I decided to look through the long pages with numerous links, Privacy Policy and the Terms of Service. Briefly skimming over them, I decided I wasn’t going to read the full terms and just go with it like I always do. Once the app installed, I went to my settings and was about to add the keyboard when an interesting piece of agreement popped up.

It said “When using one of these keyboards, the keyboard can access all the data you type” — WEIRD! Right?

I decided to take a quick look at the reviews in the app store. I saw some good, some bad. A lot were about the app being terrible and a lot were concerned for their privacy as the app will have access to everything you type and that should be concerning to anyone. The app will have your full details – your name, address, credit card information + well, everything like it says.

It’s too bad – there has to be a better way out there than needing your full details stored. But right now, there is simply no other way around it. When it comes to these third-party apps you have to decide if they are worth it and you have to trust the developer, or new owner that they will keep our information we type safe and won’t even think about misusing it. Keeping in mind any third-party app can turn out to not be so trusty – but hope for the best.

That was my concern: having access to all the data I type. And to mention another thing I didn’t like was the accuracy of the app itself. It does a good job, but not a great job. It did make a few mistakes and errors that I’ll never ever forget. Most of these apps are all ready for ages 4+. That’s really nice they want to consider helping at a young age but in my opinion these apps are not always accurate, and they make quite a few mistakes. I’ve read a few bad reviews that agree it’s not accurate. So that’s not really setting a good example for children, and for that matter it’s not teaching children to learn properly. Learning is a serious thing, and third-party apps should be worrying about improving and always trying to reach their best, especially a Third-Party Keyboard App.

I hate the fact it’s the user’s job to research a developer before making sure it’s safe to download their software when they are holding our very important PI. After all the money we pay, it’s our job? Trusted companies should be able to set some limits on what information is being sent to the developer’s servers. I would really like to see that in the next serious upcoming update.

All in all – all this just to have an app do my thinking for me? No thanks. I’m better off learning out of an old-school book. I also think it’s a bit silly to give full access to my information when a developer shows no improvements or fixes to make the app better. Once you fix errors and I see more positive than negative in the App Store then maybe I’ll consider just a tiny bit more of giving you my information.

Thank you for reading!

Connecting To The Internet – The Unseen Terms: Location Services and the Terms and Conditions Agreements – Should we be worrying about the possibility of the risks if we decide to overlook them?

When was the last time you read or at least took a quick look through the T&Cs agreement? If you are like me, you may not be interested in reading the full lengthy agreement, skipping, scrolling and searching for the “yes, I agree with the terms” to continue. Which, no doubt, is clearly a lie. This topic got me thinking – why am I ignoring these thousands of words? And am I making a mistake by doing this?

We are presented with these agreements all the time – when purchasing new software/hardware, on devices new or used, sometimes popping up every so often on our digital screens, asking if you agree with the T&C’s to continue to keep using their services. By now, I’ve realized if I want to continue to use services there will be an Agreement that comes along with it, and I have no choice than to say “yes I agree” or I’m clearly not getting any – no questions asked.

It doesn’t hurt to want to know more, be aware and understand what could be coming along with the agreement you are saying yes to. I mean, unless we read the terms and conditions, we really don’t know what the heck is going on – we can’t even try to pretend to know what is written in the agreement unless you fully read the T&Cs, which research shows not many do. It’s out there – did you know companies have done some pretty nasty things to some of their users and misused their data information? And some companies are still interested in sticking to their unbelievable T&Cs.

This is a problem, but there is not much we can do about it. The product we want is being dangled under our nose, under pressure – we are left with only two choices, and little time to read the lengthy agreement. And in some cases, agreements can change without any notice given. If you are saying yes to the unseen terms, users could be agreeing to things like losing the rights to data, while also agreeing with the unknown consequences (whatever they may be) in exchange for the use of these services. And you’re not alone – most of us aren’t inclined when it comes to reading legal documents, making it harder to understand what is being said in the agreement in the end.

Companies are required to be more transparent when it comes to their agreements, but with small changes to the conditions these agreements haven’t really gotten any easier to read and are quite difficult to understand. Companies know that the average person is unlikely to read their complex language and have gone as far as admitting that most of the T&Cs agreements are out there to discourage their users from reading them anyways. It’s definitely wrong, but not wrong enough to stop using services we depend on.

However, if you do decide to read the T&Cs it won’t be much of a help, even disappointing, and that’s because Terms and Conditions are too long! Due to the length of most agreements, they will require you to set some time aside just to use some basic services. But do the T&Cs language need to be so confusing, complicated, and long? I’m looking for a clearer and cleaner agreement – one we can all understand.

In other words, don’t worry about reading the bizarre T&Cs, because it’s pretty much pointless. I believe we all have different perspectives on this matter and I think that is because no one knows what to do. But one thing we may agree on is that these agreements really are something else and they are completely unreasonable. But, oh well, let’s hope when we are clicking and accepting the terms without reading them in the future, we can get out of unfair terms later if it happens to you.  Terms and conditions are important to have in this digital age for business and for individuals but I hope this system catches up with the digital age and one day it will be easier to fully comprehend terms and conditions of services for everyone.

Thank you for reading!