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What is Cartoon HD: Is Cartoon HD safe? Alternative streaming apps

If apps seem to good to be true, are they?

Cartoon HD apps Google Play store

Over the Christmas period an app called 'Cartoon HD' caused a stir but was pulled from Apple's App Store. Now a plethora of copycat apps have been launched but are they safe? We explain what Cartoon HD is and investigate 'is Cartoon HD safe'.

What is Cartoon HD?

Cartoon HD made waves by offering users free access to cartoon episodes and even full length feature films including new releases like Despicable Me 2. The app was available for free instead of a supposed price of around £20. Unsurprisingly Apple removed the app from the iOS App Store since it was providing illegal copyrighted content.

If you're gutted you missed out on getting the app and you're trying to find an alternative, read this before you download anything.

Whether Cartoon HD was doing anything malicious is unclear but it's likely that copycat apps will want to cash in on the hype. This means you should be very careful when downloading, installing and using apps.

Cartoon HD alternative copycats: Are they safe?

If you search the Google Play store for 'Cartoon HD' many Android apps appear in the results fighting for your attention. Descriptions will no doubt state that the app is legitimate and collecting content from YouTube and public domain websites – but a description isn't necessarily the truth. Is Cartoon HD and alternatives safe?

User reviews and ratings are also likely to make the app look appealing, however these are likely to be fake or from users who simply don't know what they're talking about.

Many of these apps will be cashing in by way of adverts, if you don't mind then that's fine and things could well be above board. They might also want in-app payments for content which again is ok if done properly. As a rule of thumb, don't enter any credit card or bank details into an app if requested. Only pay for in-app items via the Google Play store.

However, more mischievous developers might try to collect your personal data. They will want to sell this information on for profit – you might not think it but your information is very valuable. When you click 'Install' on an app, a box will appear showing you what permissions it requires before you then accept. Read these carefully before you take the plunge as they can be a giveaway as to what's really going on.

Cartoon HD app permission

Apps will typically need to have network access (to stream the content) and the ability to stop your screen turning off – that's normal and necessary. However, a video streaming app which asks to read your web bookmarks and history and to find accounts on your device is somewhat more suspicious.

Tony Anscombe, senior security evangelist at AVG said: "It's important that people read the permissions approval process before simply clicking 'Yes' and regularly check the settings and T&Cs of apps to see what data is being held or what can be accessed by the service provider. A little common sense goes a long way when approving these permissions – after all, does that flash light app really need access to your contacts?"

The bottom line is that if not sure about an app, then don't download it. If there's something which seems a bit fishy then the app is probably too good to be true.

Why did Cartoon HD get removed?

As mentioned earlier, Cartoon HD was removed from the App Store by Apple because it provided illegal copyrighted content. This took place in January but the app was soon available to download elsewhere such as gappcenter.com which is now offline. The maker Tweeted the following announcing the closure of the service but gave no reason.

Cartoon HD alternatives

If you're looking for alternatives to Cartoon HD then there are plenty out there. A new one which springs to mind is Popcorn Tim which you can read about on Tech Advisor: Why Popcorn Time is the Netflix of illegal downloading. Others included 'Free movies and TV shows', 'Flixanity' and 'Showbox' depending on what platform you're using.

If you're not looking for free and potentially dodgy apps then there are many decent and legitimate streaming services to choose from. You should consider Netflix, BlinkBox, Flixter, Wuaki TV and, of course, Google Play Movies & TV

Read: Netflix vs Amazon Prime Instant Video comparison review: What's the best streaming service?

Follow Chris Martin and @PCAdvisor on Twitter

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