Monday, February 1, 2010

Finding the right iPhone apps

If you have an iPhone or Google Android phone, do you find yourself overwhelmed by the number and kind of applications that are out there? According to a New York Times article by Katie Harper last weekend,
"The average iPhone or iPod Touch owner uses 5 to 10 apps regularly, according to Flurry, a research firm that studies mobile trends."

There are more than 100,000 iPhone apps available for download. How do you find the ones that interest you?

"A survey of iPhones, iPod Touch and Android users conducted in July 2009 by AdMob, an advertising network that helps people promote their applications on smartphones, found that people discover apps most often by browsing app stores. And even though the iTunes store is bloated with offerings, people tend to gravitate to the most popular."

If you are counting on the iTunes App Store to look for valuable apps, then you will be relying on a popularity contest.

  • Here are the top most popular free apps as of this blog posting:
  • And the top paid apps:
  • And the highest grossing apps:

Most of these are not of any interest to boomers who aren't also gamers. But a few might be. But how do you know? Your odds of finding something you never knew you wanted are not good.

“For all the tens of thousands of apps out there, the odds of being exposed to more than a thousand are very small,” said Stewart Putney, the founder and chief executive of Moblyng, a company in Redwood City, Calif., that develops applications for mobile devices."

I've been frustrated at the sheer number of applications out there for a while. How do I determine which ones are worth my while and which ones I should recommend to you? 

Unlike most people, I tend to get recommendations from friends. I ask them a simple question: What's on your iPOD? If they answer that they've downloaded an app that I haven't heard about, I ask more questions and ask them to demonstrate it to me. When I find one I'm interested in, I download it myself. That's how I got the great Dragon Dictation app I wrote about last week. And that's how I got to know about the Flashlight function.

Out on the web, there are many sites that give a list of the iPhone apps of the week, or the most effective apps for a particular purpose. has an article article about 700 iPhone Apps, by category. Still, 700 is too many for me to sort through at once.

Sometimes articles on the web are very narrow in scope. For example, if you like to golf, you might be interested in this article, about the best iPhone Golf GPS apps. If you are a woodworker, perhaps you'd like the apps reviewed in Stu's Shed, a woodworking blog. Quilters, knitters and other hobbyests have their own apps. 

Time magazine puts together lists of iPhone apps it likes. In this list labeled Top iPhone Applications, Time recommends three music apps I think boomers will like or at least want to try. I'll be looking at them in the future and may write about them in this blog.

No comments: