If you use an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, you have access to more than 600,000 apps (at the time of this writing) and growing. Great news right? Yes and no. If you don’t practice a little search narrowing , then finding a good app can be a frustrating and time consuming experience.
In this tip, I give you a step-by-step outline on how to quickly and accurately separate the good apps from the mediocre or poor apps. Give it a try and let me know what you think by leaving a comment below and/or give your tips for finding the best and most useful apps.
This may look like an overwhelming tip, but I promise you that once you get the technique down, it takes just seconds to perform and the benefits to you are less disappointing app installs and less time and money wasted over the life of your device.
Click on any of the screen shots below to expand them.
1. Tap on the App Store icon on your iPad
2. Click into the search box in the upper right corner of the screen and type what you are looking for and then tap the Search button on your keyboard.
3. Ignore all the search results and instead focus first on the filters Apple provides you at the top of the screen. Let’s start with Rating filter. Many Apple product users provide user reviews of the apps (and you should too if you have time to do so). Both good and bad reviews are shown. I typically will not download an app that has less than 100 user reviews and averages a 4/5 or better. Choose the rating you are comfortable with from the drop down option and only those apps with that rating or higher will be shown
4. Again, do NOT look at the results yet!
5. Let’s use the next filter over and decide on whether you want to look for Free apps only, Paid apps only, or both. I usually do both unless it is a utility like conversions, to do list, etc. that have dozens of free apps.
6. DO NOT LOOK AT THE SEARCH RESULTS YET!!
7. Let’s now move over to the Device filter. If you are an iPad user, any iPhone app will run on your iPad, but not fill up the entire screen, so I typically choose iPad only unless I don’t find what I’m looking for in an iPad only app. iPhone and iPod touch users should tap the iPhone choice. (Note that filters aren’t available on the iPhone or iPod Touch, but you can use this method on your iPad or friends iPad before downloading apps on your device OR see the end of this article for how to search similarly from within iTunes)
8. Now you can look at the results.
9. I first look at the apps with the most reviews. When you find one that looks interesting, tap on its app icon.
10. Let’s use the app’s description page to quickly assess whether we want to consider the app. The first item I look at is when the app was last updated. Recently updated apps (within last 6 months or so) indicate active developers who continue to refine, develop, and enhance the app. This date will be right below the price.
11. The next thing I recommend doing is tapping the small but important More link off to the right of the screen. This will reveal a more detailed description and list of features for the app.
12. Scroll underneath the description and then swipe sideways to see any screenshots that the developer has provided. This gives you a great overview of how the app will look once installed.
13. Scroll a little further down (if you are still liking what you see in the app) and read some of the user reviews and look at the ratings chart. This is often the most helpful and enlightening part of this entire process.
14. If you like the app and want to install it, scroll back to the top of the app’s description page and tap on the word Free or the price of the app.
15. Tap Install
16. You will then be asked for your iTunes password (whether or not it is free).
17. If you want to look at other app descriptions before deciding, just tap the Back button at the top left of the screen to return to your filtered results.
The best app finding experience is definitely on the iPad because you can’t filter on the iPhone or iPad, but you can use my information above to sift through the app’s description pages…that works the same.
If you open iTunes on your computer and search for apps, then use the Power Search option, some narrowing of your results can be had as well. And again, using the information above will help you learn how to confidently evaluate an app’s description page.
Good luck finding and enjoying new apps!