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In honour of Halloween I humbly present a recent tale of terror:

I've a neighbour who not only doesn't know how to use her Android phone, but actively (if unwittingly) does it harm. In her defence, she's never really used a computer; as such the whole desktop/homescreen metaphor is pretty much lost on her, as are the modern conventions of interacting with touch screens. I've received numerous panicked phone calls from her, to the effect of:

"Everything on my phone has suddenly changed!"

... Only to find out that she's unknowingly moved an app icon across several newly-created homescreens to a place where she understandably can't find it.

That's bad enough, but what I discovered a few weeks ago is even worse. She asked me for help downloading an app, but upon examining her phone (a mid-range Samsung, if that matters) I was shocked to discover that it had no app store!

The phone was purchased new at a carrier store, yet somehow a key component had been hacked away. I asked its owner if she recalled seeing anything by the name of "Play Store". Her response?

"Oh yeah, I deleted that. It kept bugging me to upgrade, it was really annoying."

I was ready to tell her what would be obvious to anyone reading this, that without an app store neither she nor I could download new apps, but then I realized that the browser version of Google Play had an active install button for the title she wanted. To my surprise and disbelief, the app downloaded and installed right from the browser.

The useful information here is that so long as your device has the necessary libraries and APIs from Google, you don't necessarily need the Play Store app. But the scary part for me is this poor phone, doomed to further torture by my neighbour for the rest of its days.

Image source: Flickr