mApp Confusion! or “Mobile App Overload” (Solution)

Everyone makes Mistakes. It is inevitable. If you never make a mistake you are either unrealistic with yourself, you never try anything new (which is a mistake unto itself), or you are an alien whether you realize it or not. My mistake in relation to this article was not keeping up with all the apps flooding out of the iTunes Music Store.

So, when it came time to actually look for apps, I had almost no clue what was out there. Nor did I know how much trouble it would be narrowing down the multitude of choices when it comes to singling out one of potentially hundreds of apps that perform the same basic function. Just type in any common task or remotely popular thing into a search in the store and often you will have to click “Show 25 More” more times than you’re willing to in order to see all the choices. Just to test this, as I was writing I typed “job search” into the AppStore search: I had to click “Show 25 More” 10 times before I ran out of apps. On top of that, how does one narrow down your search especially in light of scams on any store that allows buyer reviews? I eventually found salvation that came from an unexpected source…

If you read my blog, you’ll also notice I touched on the fact that there are a good number of developers that are not above bumping up their ratings by posting fake positive reviews, making it even harder to separate the wheat from the chaff. Not being made of money, I had to very carefully read the reviews, especially the negative ones in order to avoid purchasing a bad app that I could never return, nor erase from my history: both of these problems should be addressed by Apple. Without going off on a “try before you buy” holding pen of demo, non-synced apps tangent, I’ll just say this slowed my app buying and downloading to a crawl.

Every time I wanted a new app it was a chore to find one, even if it was free that I wanted to bog down my purchase history. I had to read all the reviews and check out the developer’s site in order to see if they were a legitimate developer and not a fly-by-night company out to make a quick buck. Some apps look good in theory, but no app maker I have ever seen will ever tell you what their app limitations are unless their app relies on an other piece of software or hardware to run. Also, many of the free apps are simply “bait” to get you to buy the full version, which throws another pall on app buying.

Not only that, but without knowing much about the developer, how was I to be certain someone hadn’t been able to slip malware into the store that would steal the info on my phone: my contacts, texts, email, etcetera? I only held onto that as a remote possibility until reports of a security hole in the iTMS came to light recently, allowing a proof of concept malware app to make it through the  approval process. So, my fears were not unfounded.

Literally months went by and an iPhone upgrade came and went with little uptick in app purchases. This went on until one day I was browsing twitter and saw that one of the app site’s twitter feed mentioned an app that was free until the end of the day called AppAdvice. I read the reviews on my laptop (thanks to the iPhone’s App Store being even more deficient than the iTunes app store interface) and decided to download it while it was free.

About 15 minutes into the app I realized this was better than any other app site because it had done a lot of the hard work for me by offering AppGuides: an indispensable feature that categorizes app and then goes a step further by breaking them down into levels of quality “Essential,” “Notable,” “Decent,” and “Beyond.” Then each app has a quick paragraph about why it is so great or lacking. If there is a review for it that AppAdvice did, it is linked there and is able to be pulled up without leaving the app. Over that last month and a half that I have ha the app my app count has gone from the 70s to over 180:  over 100 apps in one month, most of them free and never regretted. What was also interesting is that a good number of apps that were in the top “Essential” spot, I already had. Of those that weren’t in the top levels, I was able to quickly track down better apps. Now there’s room for improvement in the app, and I’ve already gave my feedback for those added features, but the features it does have are great and its app advice is excellent.

As usual, I am not being paid or compensated in any way aside from getting this app free when I saw a twitter announcement open to all. So, hopefully they’ll make AppAdvice free again — currently I think it is for “Festivus.” If you miss this opportunity to get it free, AppAdvice.com also offers another app focusing only on free apps, called logically enough “AppsGoneFree.”

The next problem will be finding an app organizer and a way to “hack” my notifications without jail-breaking to quickly access favorite apps or perhaps a hand gesture app that will allow my to make the devil horns when I want to listen to music or something…

(BTW, is anyone in the market for coming out with an iOS accessory device + iOS app that might sell to 10% of the installed iDevice base initially?)

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