I spend a lot of time downloading apps to try out, but for personal use and – more frequently – to find something to write about on the site. A lot of these apps cost money, and while it’s normally not a lot at a time, it adds up. The worst thing is that so many of these apps end up being uninstalled fairly quickly. Take note taking apps for iPad; it’s an app type that I rely heavily on and want to have the best option available for, but that means trying out everything. I normally know immediately if it will work, but by then it’s too late. Apple does have some sort of refund system, but it’s so convoluted that no one ever bothers. As a result, a lot of apps get bought that turn out to be garbage.
You can therefore imagine my surprise when I played around with clock widgets on my new Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus. I bought a clock widget editor to try to make one better suited for the Tab than what I found in the Market, but the app was awkward to use and not optimized for the screen resolution and physical size at all. I uninstalled it and went on with my business. When I checked my email a few minutes later, I was surprised to see an order cancellation email from Google. I thought something had gone wrong with the payment (again) and opened it to find that since I had uninstalled the app so fast, I wouldn’t be charged.
I went to Google’s support pages and found the full description of the system. While it doesn’t mention the automated feature that’s part of uninstalling an app, I assume the same 15 minute rules applies as for manual cancellations. 15 minutes is quite a nice amount of time to be able to test out an app and it really makes a difference when you come across apps that promise more than they can keep or have too vague descriptions. I truly wish that Apple, and anyone else who doesn’t have it for that matter, would look at Google’s example and learn from it. Mobile apps are so cheap that the lack of a demo is a lot less of an issue than for computer software, so people are less likely to “just give it a go” even if they haven’t tried the app. Having such a feature in place minimizes the number of “wrongful” purchases and maybe even limits the negative feedback an app gets when there’s nothing wrong with it, it just doesn’t fit a specific user.