Smartphone Software Review


So, a while ago I saw an ad, on the top of the webcomic “Questionable Content.” It’s one of my favorite webcomics, and it usually doesn’t support itself with ads for crappy stuff, so I thought the ad was worth a try– even though it made the dubious claim that the advertised product allowed you to earn money with your smartphone.

Turned out the ad was for an app called “tTap,” downloadable at The idea is: 

-The app makes an advertisement show up on your screen before you unlock your phone. 

-A company is paying to put the ad there. Some of the money from that goes to the makers of the app, and some goes to you.

-You get the money by saving up “points” that you get when you unlock the phone. When you have enough points, you can exchange them for money that is deposited in your PayPal account.

The app had pretty good reviews, and I didn’t have anything better to do at the moment, so I downloaded it. First it had me set up an account on their website, and give them the email address connected to my PayPal account. 

After a few weeks of using it, these are my observations:


The app runs pretty smoothly now. During the first week I was using it, it was still pretty buggy, and crashed a few times– I had to reinstall it at one point. But because my account is on their site, I didn’t lose any points when reinstalling. And now they seem to have fixed most of the bugs.


The ads are not that bad. They don’t play sound, and they aren’t videos, they’re just a picture and words (sometimes with a little bit of animation) that you see before you unlock the phone. You get it to go away by putting your finger in the lower right corner and moving the circle across the screen to the left. As you move it, a number will appear, showing you how many points you will get for that ad. 

Once you’ve done this, it takes you to your usual screen where you enter your PIN to unlock the phone, and then it opens up a website linked from the ad. Based on the interests I entered when I signed up for it, I generally get ads for apps, games, photographers and other artists. It doesn’t fit perfectly with what I thought I expressed in my choice of interests, but it’s not totally obnoxious.

You can close the website right after it opens, or even as it’s loading. For me, the whole process only takes a few seconds longer than unlocking my phone normally. 


It really does pay you money. If you have a Paypal account and you have at least 1500 points to cash in, you can receive an actual Paypal payment. I’ve received three payouts so far– totalling $3.

Which brings us to the one catch:


Unsurprisingly,  it doesn’t pay very much money. 

On a typical ad, unlocking your phone gets you 10 points. Every once in a while you get an ad for a free app that gives you 150 points if you download the app– because certain apps are supported with ads from tTap’s sponsors– but those are rare; I’ve only gotten 2 so far.

It takes 1500 points to equal one dollar, so 10 points is less than a cent. To earn a dollar (the minimum amount for getting a Paypal payout) you have to gain points from unlocking your phone 150 times.

Of course, if you sat around all day constantly unlocking your phone, you could game the system, so there are some restrictions. Unlocking your phone doesn’t get you points if it’s been less than 20 minutes since the last time you earned points. So in addition to taking 150 unlocks to earn a dollar, it also takes about ten days, if you unlock your phone an average of 15 times a day. Even if you unlocked it every 20 minutes, like clockwork, for ten hours a day, it would still take five days to make a dollar.

So is it worth it? Suppose unlocking your phone this way takes about 5 seconds longer than unlocking your phone without the ads. Every 150 unlocks (or every 750 seconds of your time) earns you a dollar, so you’re working for about $4.80 an hour. Not a great wage by any stretch of the imagination.

But on the other hand, I figure my time is only worth money if I might otherwise be using it to earn money, or do something else valuable. I use my smartphone just to keep myself from dying of boredom while waiting for various things, and I have an unlimited data plan. If I weren’t spending those five extra seconds seeing an ad, those would just be five more seconds I’d be blankly staring at some website to kill time, so I might as well make three-quarters of a cent off it.

Full disclosure: The company that made tTap didn’t offer me anything in exchange for writing this review. However, if you download this app and enter “earthtoerika” (my tTap username) when it asks how you found out about it, I get 500 points, so I can’t claim this review has no motive to be biased.

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