Apps Store December 19, 2011 BONUS: App Searching Tips & Tricks

Do a little shopping while on break this holiday season and use these tips at the apps store to shop effectively.

If you’ll be getting an iOS device as a gift this holiday season or if your school has just implemented iPads, you may find yourself at the App Store searching for educational apps. It’s easy to get sucked into the app ‘twilight zone’ just as I did. The first time I visited the app store on my iPad, several hours flew by and all I had was a list of a few app titles to download later. The next time I returned to the app store, I typed in the titles of the apps I wrote down earlier and discovered that I should have written down more than just the title. I was practically back to square one. I don’t want you to waste time searching for educational apps so I have put together tips and tricks that will enable you to search the App Store  more effectively.
Note: the images in this article are from the Apple Store App. If you search for apps through iTunes, on your MAC or PC, the majority of tips & tricks provided will work. There will be differences in screens and navigating through the App Store.
Tip #1: Use the keyword search field and be cautious of suggestions. If it’s your first time searching for an app, you will find a word search box at the top right corner. Start typing in your word and suggestions will appear that may help. Be careful, the suggestions may also lead you off on a tangent. Choosing one of those suggestions may increase your searching time. What I do to control the impulse to go for those suggestions is this: If the word(s) I’m looking for don’t provide adequate results, I re-enter the word and THEN use the suggestions.

Watch your spelling. The App will provide suggestions based on spelling. To accept the suggestion, simply tap the replacement word(s) next to “Did you mean…?”

Tip #2: If you’re looking for only Free apps, then limit your search by Price. At the top of the screen look for the Price field and change the setting from All to Free.  There are several other fields so play around with the combination that works for you.

Tip #3: Write down the name of the developer. If you plan to suggest this app to someone else, the title isn’t always enough. For example. I could tell you to look for ‘flashcards’. I guarantee you will find that title for several apps but you won’t know which one is right unless I also tell you the name of the developer.
Tip #4: Read More. When the developer writes up the description, it may not fit in the preview window. Click the More to read the rest of the description. This is where you can find out the difference between the free version and the paid version or whether advertisements will be in the free version.

Tip #5: Check Ratings. When an app is new, or has a recent update, there won’t be many reviews about it yet. Apps that have been out a while will have ratings worth noting. Read a few of the reviews and see what others have to say. If there was a recent update, then click to see reviews for “all versions” of the app. If the ratings are bad because of inappropriate ads, like I’ve seen with Doodle Buddy, consider this… If the iPad is used solely at school then the school’s web filter will protect students from inappropriate ads. This may allow you to give an app a second chance despite the reviews.
Watch what version of iOS the app has been designed for. If you haven’t been keeping your iPad updated then you may not be able to download new apps. It’s a double edge sword so be careful when updating that your apps will still work with the new iOS.

I’m sure I have more tips, but I rather not burden you with too many when you are just getting started. I have just two tricks to share which are listed below.

Trick #1: Consider iPhone apps for your iPad. The iPhone and iPod have been around a lot longer than the iPad; therefore, the list of available apps is much larger. Don’t discount them, they will run on your iPad. The iPad will display a 2x button on screen so you can stretch the app to fill the screen. Keep in mind, that the quality may appear a little grainy.
Trick #2: Take a screen shot of the app for future reference.  I indicated that you should note the developer when sharing apps with others, why not make your life easier and e-mail a screen shot to yourself, or to your peers? To take a screen shot, hold in the power button then press the home button on the face of the iPad.  
I’d like to close with what one see’s at the bottom of the App Store window. If you aren’t signed in you’ll have to do that in order to download apps. If you’re signed in and your account doesn’t have a credit card associated with it, then you will use the Redeem button to enter iTunes card or volume purchasing licenses.  The bottom of the screen offers several other options such as Featured Apps, Top Charts and Categories. The Education category has a lot to offer but you may be surprised to find useful apps in other categories such as: Books, Health & fitness, News, Productivity and Reference. There are 21 categories to choose from. If you have purchased apps you can review your purchases through the App Store and if you have multiple iOS devices, using the same Apple ID, you can download those purchases again and again through the ‘Purchased’ button. This is helpful for those who manage iPad carts at school. To close, you aren’t forced to download updates of your apps, instead you can click the ‘Updates’ button and review what has been changed and download updates one by one, or all at once.
I hope these tips and tricks will help you save time. Sorry for the late posting of this ‘App of the Week’. I will be leaving this post up during the holiday break, so visit back January 5th for my next article.
If you have any apps which you would like to share with me, and have featured online, please e-mail