AppShopper and the associated website appshopper.com are easily my favorite combination of tools for finding new apps to try. Apple's iTunes App Store (Staff Favorites, New and Noteworthy) is a distant second. I've also tried other apps like AppMiner, app4today, FreeAppADay but I always come back to AppShopper. I probably use the app too much – as of today I see approximately 1336 apps in my inventory, most of which I found through app shopper. Yes, I said one thousand apps – it shocked the AT&T guy when I was buying the 4S last Saturday.
Compared to other, similar apps
To be fair, I took a look at some of the other contenders in this space and added some quick commentary on my feelings.
AppMiner is not graphically appealing to me but the actual functionality is acceptable – I think the use of gray and dark gray are just too dark for me. AppShopper, on the far left is brighter and even though there is not as much room on the screen, it feels right.
app4today has limited selection and some the menu choices are in French. I'd prefer to have them in English which seems like an easy fix their developers could quickly handle. I don't actually mind the look of the app but I'm turned off by the lack of English menus and limited choices.
FreeAppADay looks ok but on my 3GS it took way too long to load. They seemed to go overboard on the graphics and frankly app felt a little awkward to use. Look at the screen shot – everything said ‘Chat' today. What's up with that?
AppShopper allows you to select from a set of menu choices that include Popular, What's New, Wish List, My Apps, Top 200, and ‘search' -within each of those you have various filter criteria that you can apply to narrow down your results.
For example, under Popular, I often look for “Price Drops” for all devices (iPad and iPhone) for both Paid and Free apps. – I can choose to look at just the free items or just paid if I like. Either that or I can look for New or Updated items with a combination of those other filters.
I can also search for apps and look at their price change history – some apps that I'm interested in purchasing often go on sale for $.99 or are dropped down to Free. If that is the case I can add them to AppShopper's wishlist, after creation of an appshopper id, and be notified of price drops when they come. The notifications come in the shape of push notifications so if you have a lot of apps on your wish list, you could be getting a lot of notifications every day. On the flip side – if an app never changes price, I can be pretty sure that it won't change in the future so I can just make the purchase right then.
What's New tells me new apps that are detected by AppShopper but I typically don't use this function often. The My Apps menu choice lets you select the apps you actually own and allows you to get push notifications when there is an update or price drop on apps you already own. I started to use this but found that with the number of apps I own i was seeing too many notifications. I only have a handful of apps listed here now due to the volume.
The app also includes search capabilities and a top 200 list. Search seems to allow for text searches. The search function seems to prioritize the app titles, they appear first in the list, but also hits the descriptive text which appear later in the results. The Top 200 can be filtered by biggest grossing, free, paid apps – and sorted by their app store rank, ones with the biggest rise or drop, peak rating, rating and price. Again, there are a lot of options. I've only used this function a little bit since by the time I started using the app, I had most of the top apps in my inventory. If you want to base your purchases on what others are buying, this may be an option for you.
If all this seems like too much, just pick the defaults, it's pretty easy. After you get used to it, play around, you won't break it.
One of my favorite features is the ability to see your account, with your wishlist items and the price drops right on the web site. If you're in front of your computer and have iTunes fired up, you can make some selections download them and sync to your devices. No rocket science here but I like the ease of use and the integration with what I have on the iPad and iPhone.
It “Just works” which is great thing to achieve.
The app is free but displays ads – you can disable on the iPhone for $0.99 and another $0.99 on the iPad.
On a 4 out of 5 scale –
Business Value/productivity value – 4
Ease of use – 4
Likelihood of usage – 5
Graphics and Sound – 3*
Overall – 4+
* Sounds don't really matter on this one
How do you find new apps? I'm interested to see in the comments.