Walt Mossberg

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Safe Apps for Android and iPad Security


I just got my first smartphone, an Android model, and have taken a look at the free apps at Android Marketplace. Is there any way to “know” which apps are safe to download, given the reports about malware/spyware now getting into phones?


Partly because Google doesn’t prescreen apps the way Apple does, there’s less certainty on Android. However, I personally don’t think that most or even very many Android apps, by percentage, are malware. And you can always check them out in the reviews, or by doing searches to see if others have noticed any problems with them. Finally, if you’re really concerned, there’s a security app called Lookout that can supposedly spot malicious apps and protect your phone in other ways.


My husband loves his iPad. He is going into the hospital soon for surgery and would like to have it with him to keep occupied. I worry that someone may steal it. Is there an app for that?


I don’t know of anything usable outside of a store that will actually secure it physically so it can’t be stolen (though I invite readers who do to let me know). But Apple does have a free app that can locate a lost or stolen iPad or iPhone, cause it to sound an alarm or display a message, lock it, or even wipe its contents.

Info is at: http://www.apple.com/ipad/features/find-my-ipad.html.


I just purchased a Toshiba Satellite laptop to replace my Dell desktop. I’ve been keeping the power cord plugged in all the time. Is this OK or should I let the battery run down on occasion?


There is contradictory advice about this, but most experts I’ve spoken to say it’s generally a good idea to unplug it at least once a month or so and use it all the way, or almost all the way, and then recharge it. This is partly to keep the computer’s battery gauge accurate.

You can find Mossberg’s Mailbox, and my other columns at the new All Things Digital website, http://walt.allthingsd.com. Email mossberg@wsj.com.

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