ThinkBoxly is the personal developer blog of Lucas Chasteen, author, programmer, artist, and always learning. Read more

Monday, August 06, 2012

FreeMyApps – Turn Taps into Cash…on the go!

Many of you will remember that back in June I ran a post on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk program, which allows users to complete simple tasks given by various requesters and earn anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars a pop. However, the vast majority of Mechanical Turk HITs can only be completed on a laptop or desktop computer. What about when you’re on the go or just don’t feel like pulling out a full computer? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could rack up a few bucks on your iPhone or iPad while riding the bus to work?

Well, with FreeMyApps, a website (not an app, mind you) by Fiksu Inc, you can, and with less effort…but is it as favorable an option as Mechanical Turk?

The Premise

Like Mechanical Turk, FreeMyApps involves three parties: first, developers pay to have their app(s) put on FreeMyApps, then the user downloads these sponsored apps, and Fiksu pays users a small amount of their profits for the download via a points and rewards system.

It sounds almost too good to be true, but FreeMyApps is no scam, and the points given and reward costs are actually quite reasonable. Individual paid apps can be downloaded free of charge once enough points have been earned, or alternatively gift certificates to places like iTunes and Amazon can be redeemed with points instead. Even better, all of this works through other company services, so you don’t have to worry about legitimacy or legality. Paid apps are given via iTunes gift codes, Amazon certificate codes come straight from, and so forth. FreeMyApps itself doesn’t even require any sort of sign-up; just visit the website on your iDevice, install a profile to keep track of your points via your device’s built-in ID number, and you’re good to go. (You might want to add a shortcut to your home screen for easier, app-like access, though!)

The Good

FreeMyApps makes a compelling offer that benefits everyone involved in some way. Developers get their apps noticed, Fiksu gets money from developers, and end users get a small part of the profit in exchange and as incentive for participation. It’s not enough to make you rich by any means, but it’s not a bad way to foot the bill for the cost of entertainment so that your main income can focus on more important matters. Besides, it’s not like you have to put in a lot of effort–most apps give an average of 100 points, and a file size of 20MB or so. To get points, you just have to run the app for 30 seconds and check back at the website to see the FreeMyApps profile on your iDevice credit the points to your account. Considering just 1500 points translates into $5.00 in the gift card of your choice, and it can take as few as five minutes to go through a single sponsored app, you basically have the chance to earn just under $5 an hour testing out apps that you might even find useful enough to keep. Not too shabby!

The Bad

As you may expect, while all that sounds great, life doesn’t always work out so perfectly. No, FreeMyApps isn’t a scam, nor will your private info be stolen, but there is indeed a sense in which everyone loses in using the website.

You have to realize that by participating in FreeMyApps, developers are essentially gaming the system to get more iTunes downloads regardless of app quality. A higher mark on the downloads list means even more exposure than what they paid Fiksu for. As a consumer, the idea of paying people off to constitute false stats should be somewhat disconcerting. However, this negative is somewhat cancelled out by the next negative, which is…

The supply of sponsored apps is far from endless. Some days will find you more apps than other days, but by and large I have found myself often running out of apps to try. This being the case, I also can’t reliably hit that $5 an hour mark, although it’s definitely possible.

There are also the minor downsides of having your download history get filled with junk apps and wearing on your hard drive with frequent installs and removals, but these are not big enough issues to be deal breakers.

The Verdict

Though not as good an option for making money online as Mechanical Turk, FreeMyApps does work, and though there are some cons to be aware of, the pros successfully outweigh them. Overall I would definitely say that FreeMyApps comes as recommended, but exercise caution at the same time.