Early last month, mobile app development hit a massive and impressive milestone. There are now well over one million applications available to the major mobile platforms, and that number continues to grow at breakneck pace – approximately 2,000 per diem. While this is is great for people who like to continually download new apps and games, it makes discovering new, worthwhile applications quite the chore.
When I get a new phone, I always have a set list of applications that I have to download to be able to use my phone comfortably. On the iPhone, there are roughly 30 applications I always download right away, and on Android, I generally download 40 or so from the start. I use most of these apps on a fairly regular basis – or enough to justify always having them on hand. But every so often, I get bored with all of the typical apps and games and I'll go app hunting, looking for the latest and greatest apps.
This usually ends with me growing tired after about five minutes, due to me not finding anything worth buying or downloading.
When you open App Store from an iOS device or Market from an Android device, you are instantly met with suggested apps, multiple top categories and usually something along the lines of "Editor's Picks." Obviously, this is where you will find the most popular and sometimes the best of the best mobile apps. I don't mean to knock these recommendations; they serve their purpose, but only so well. Often, you will see the same apps in these lists time and time again. Or it's as if the lists are never updated, and the same apps stay in the same position for days – or weeks – on end.
With over one million other applications out there available for download, it's easy to see how a large number of star-worthy apps can get buried in all of the muck and underneath thousands of rip-offs and duplicates. I always seem to come across a slew of duplicates in App Store and mountains of launcher themes and live wallpapers on Android. All of this together makes discovering new content a tad difficult.
The scenario that I talk about above is a rare one. I don't generally go looking for new apps. But on the off occasion that I get utterly bored with all of the apps on my phone and care enough to do something about it, I will use a couple different methods to find new apps. Or, like last night, where I finally converted my friend from BlackBerry to Android, he kept asking me what to download. This eventually set me on an adventure for some new apps.
With iOS, I use an app called App Shopper. In essence, it's an electronic sales paper for the App Store. It's just a front for the App Store that displays all of the recent and ongoing price changes. For example, Great Little War Game, which usually runs for $2.99, is currently free in the App Store. So for the time being, it's displayed on the third page of App Shopper's website. If you click the "Buy Now" button in App Shopper, it takes you straight to the corresponding page in the App Store. In addition to App Shopper, though, I've used AppMatrix and Yahoo! AppSpot. But I prefer to stick to App Shopper so I can catch the best apps when they're on sale.
As for Android, I typically just peruse Android Market. Yahoo! AppSpot is also on Android, and there is a third-party application store called AppBrain. If I'm bored and just looking for new apps, I will generally just look through the top suggestions on Android Market. But I use third-party stores like AppBrain and Amazon Appstore for additional recommendations. I have yet to find a decent application discovery method for awesome, lesser-known apps on Android, so I tend to stick with what I know.
When I'm looking for an application with a specific function, I generally ask on Twitter first, before taking to App Store and Android with my various, generic keyword searches.
Even through I don't need them or generally look for them myself, I can always use some more apps, and I'm always open to new ways of finding them. Tell me, all you app hoarders out there, how do you discover new and upcoming apps? Do you use similar methods to mine, or do you have more efficient ways of finding cool, new apps? Have any suggestions for me? Photography apps? Games? Shoot!