How to download apps – Smartphones and tablet advice for older people | ϲֱ쿪

ϲֱ쿪

Skip to content
Please donate

How to download apps

Apps, or applications, are a type of program that you download to your smartphone, tablet or computer. There are thousands of free apps available for lots of different things – including keeping in contact with friends and family, reading the news, playing games and puzzles, and banking or shopping online.


How do I download apps on an Android phone or tablet?

'Android' is the name of the software that many different devices use to function. This means that phones and tablets from lots of different brands fall into the bracket of Android devices brands, including Alcatel, Google, HTC, LG, Moto, Samsung and Sony.

If you have an Android device, you can download apps from the Play Store. This is an official, pre-installed program on Android devices. To download an app, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Play Store in your phone or tablet's menu by tapping on the Play Store icon.
  2. You'll need to either set up a Google account or log in to your Google account – this is the account you use to access other Google services like Gmail.
  3. Search for the app you want to download – either by typing the name of the app into the search bar at the top of the screen, or by browsing through the apps on the screen.
  4. Click on the name of the app and click 'install' (if the app is free). 
  5. The app will download and automatically be added to your menu and your home screen. If you have a lot of apps on your home screen, you might not have enough room for new apps to be displayed there anymore. In this case, you'll need to 'swipe' across the page to see any new apps.

If you're on a trusted organisation's webpage, and they have a link to download their app, you can click on this and it will take you directly to the Play Store.

Make sure you're connected to a wireless internet network (Wi-Fi) before downloading any apps, otherwise you might use a lot of data which could result in additional charges from your mobile phone network.


How do I download apps on an iPhone or iPad?

If you have an iPhone or iPad, then you can download apps from the App Store. This is an official, pre-installed program on Apple devices. To download an app, follow these steps:

  1. Open the App Store in your iPhone or iPad's menu by tapping on the App Store icon.
  2. First, you'll need to either set up an Apple ID or log in to your Apple ID account – this is the account you use to access Apple services.
  3. Search for the app you want to download – either by typing in the search bar at the top, or browsing through the apps on the screen.
  4. Tap on the name of the app and tap 'get' (if the app is free).
  5. If the app isn't free but you want to download it, tap on the price. You can then add a payment method to your Apple ID and pay for the app.
  6. The app will download and automatically be added to your menu or your homescreen. If you have a lot of apps on your home screen, you might not have enough room for new apps to be displayed there anymore. In this case, you'll need to 'swipe' across the page to see any new apps.

If you're on a trusted organisation's webpage, and they have a link to download their app, you can click on this and it will take you directly to the App Store.

Make sure you're connected to a wireless internet network (Wi-Fi) before downloading any apps, otherwise you might use a lot of data which could result in additional charges from your mobile phone network.

How can I tell if my device is Android or Apple?

If your device is an iPhone or iPad, then it's an Apple device and will have the Apple logo on the back. All other phones and tablet brands are likely to be Android devices. If you aren't sure, then there are a few ways to find out:

  • check the handbook that came with the device
  • search for the brand of your device online
  • go to your phone menu > tap 'settings' > tap 'system' > tap 'about phone' – the Android version will be listed.

How do I update my apps?

Once you've downloaded an app, you’ll need to make sure that it stays updated –having the most up-to-date version of an app makes sure that it runs smoothly and means that you'll be able to access the latest features, including the latest security features.

Updating apps on an Android device

You can set up your phone so that apps are automatically updated as and when the updates are available. To do this, follow these steps: 

  1. Open the Play Store.
  2. Tap 'menu', then 'settings'.
  3. Choose either 'Update over Wi-Fi only' or 'Update over any network'. It’s best to choose Wi-Fi only, to avoid additional charges from your mobile phone network.

You can also update your apps manually in the Play Store menu, by tapping 'my apps and games'. Apps will be labelled with 'update' if there's one available, and you just need to tap on this to update them.

Updating Apple apps

Apps downloaded from the App Store are updated automatically by default. But you can also update apps manually if you want to, by following these steps:

  1. Open the App Store and tap 'updates'.
  2. To update a specific app, tap 'update' next to that app, or tap 'update all'.

If you want to make sure that your apps only update when you're connected to Wi-Fi, go to 'settings' > scroll to 'iTunes & App Store' >  scroll to 'use mobile data' and switch off this option.

Looking for a computer training class?

Many of our local ϲֱ쿪s provide computer and IT training, to make getting online straightforward and enjoyable.


How do I know which apps are safe?

Most apps on the Play Store or App Store will be safe to download because the stores aim to remove any unsafe apps. But unfortunately some do slip through the net, and these can carry computer viruses or try to access your personal or financial information.

There are also fake apps designed to look exactly like popular apps such as WhatsApp. This tricks people into downloading them, and then the app bombards their device with adverts or computer viruses.

We've brought together some tips so that you can know what to look for to keep your device and information as safe as possible:

  • Check how many people have downloaded the app. Next to the app in the Play Store or App Store, you can see how many people have downloaded it. If an app has been downloaded millions or billions of times, then it's likely to be safe. Be wary of apps with only a few hundred or thousand downloads – they may not be genuine.
  • Read the reviews and check the ratings. Each app has a user rating and reviews that you can read. Be cautious about downloading apps with negative reviews.
  • Read the description. Look out for spelling mistakes or anything which doesn't seem quite right. If something doesn't feel genuine, it probably isn't.
  • Double check the source. Only download apps from reputable sources, such as the company that made the app. Underneath the name of the app, you can tap on the source, check which other apps they provide, and view their ratings too.

How do I avoid additional costs?

Although you can make the most of many apps for free, you may have to pay for some apps. If you want to avoid additional costs, keep these things in mind:

  • Be aware of in-app purchases. Some apps that are free to download have services that sit behind a paywall.
  • Try to keep track of your spending. Once you've added a payment method to your Google account or Apple ID, it's possible to purchase apps or buy things from within an app without adding any additional information, and this makes it easy to lose track of your spending. 


What happens if I run out of storage on my device?

Apps take up storage space, and some phones and tablets have limited amounts of storage space. Storage is measured in megabytes (MB) and gigabytes (GB). If you run out of storage space on your phone, you won't be able to download any new apps or update existing apps.

We've brought together some tips for freeing up storage space on your device:

  • Delete apps that you don't use regularly. You can do this by going to the app in the Play Store or App Store and tapping uninstall.
  • Delete old photos, videos and messages that you don't need anymoreIt's not just apps that take up space take up space.
  • Back up photos and videos to a 'Cloud' service, like Google Photos or iCloud. This means they're stored in an online folder so you can delete them from your phone without losing them.

Phone icon We're here to help

We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 120 local ϲֱ쿪s.

Share this page

Last updated: Jul 10 2023

You might also be interested in...

Is online banking safe?

Online banking allows you to keep control of your finances from home or whilst you're out and about on your bank's...

Using social media

Social media and social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are great ways to stay connected – by...

Email essentials

Email is electronic mail. It's a free and easy way to stay in touch with family and friends. You'll need an email...

Become part of our story

Sign up today

Back to top