Shopping the App Store

The App Store from Apple Inc., which recently celebrated its first anniversary, remains the largest smart phone applications store in the world, with more than 65,000 apps to choose from. Roughly 1.5 billion apps have been downloaded by iPhone and iPod touch users since the online store launched in July 2008.

Access to the store is provided directly through Apple’s iTunes desktop software or The App Store app on the iPhone and iPod touch. This restriction applies not only to the ability to purchase apps, but also the ability to find them, as Apple’s Web site doesn’t include the ability to search and browse through the app catalogue. Minor frustrations related to the lack of access from a Web browser include the inability to print an app review or bookmark a link to an app you found that you might want to revisit later. While the option to e-mail a link to the app description within iTunes is provided, a quick-tagging feature isn’t.

But once you’ve chosen an app, the purchase, download and install process is very straightforward and takes less than a minute if you are using The App Store app directly from the iPhone. The App Store interface within iTunes takes on the same user-friendly appearance and functionality as iTunes stores for music and movies, with apps sorted into various categories and popularity lists.


Quickoffice Mobile Office Suite

Developer: Quickoffice Inc.

Price: $19.99 (on sale for $12.99)

Quickoffice allows you to create and edit Word documents and Excel spreadsheets on the iPhone. To transfer files back and forth between your PC or Mac and iPhone, you can drag and drop via Wi-Fi by mounting your device as a wireless network drive. You can also e-mail files out as attachments directly from within the app, but the ability to import attachments from e-mails received in the iPhone’s native Mail app isn’t yet supported. The app also allows you to view PDFs and images in various formats, as well as listen to MP3s and watch video files.

Note2Self Audio Recorder

Developer: Web Information Solutions Inc.

Price: $1.99

Note2Self acts as a digital post-it note by allowing you to record voice notes and e-mail the audio files to your destination of choice. What’s nice about this voice recorder is that you can set a default send from e-mail address and up to three default send-to’s, which means you don’t have to fiddle with the text pad and type in a lengthy e-mail address every time you want to send a file. The app also allows you to select three different quality levels for recording and captures your location when you record a note with a link to Google Maps.


Developer: Things Made Out of Other Things

Price: $9.99

Eucalyptus turns your iPhone into an eBook reader with access to 20,000 downloadable books from Project Gutenberg. Search the collection by author or title, download the titles you want and read them whenever and wherever you please. A Web connection is not necessary once a book is downloaded. The public domain titles are already freely available online and also accessible through the free Stanza app, but Eucalyptus’s clean design and user-friendly interface provides a pleasant reading experience. Eucalyptus acts as a gateway to Project Gutenberg alone, whereas Stanza provides access to multiple eBook sources. The app is rated 17+ due to the content of some of the books.



Developer: Area/Code Entertainment LLC

Price: $2.99

Drop7 is an addictive way to kill time that will bring back memories of those Tetris days. Instead of bars, you get numbered circles that stack and disappear when the numbers line up horizontally or vertically. The app includes a few variations on the game. In “hardcore” mode, you can take all the time you want before deciding where to drop the next circle from the top of the screen, but as you progress through the game, a new row of circles appear at the bottom, which push all the other ones up. When a circle reaches the top of the screen, it’s game over. A great app for anyone who enjoys puzzles, numbers and strategy.

Waste of Time

Hold On!

Developer: IMAK Creations

Price: $0.99

What can you say about an app that does nothing other than test your patience and/or intelligence by timing how long you are willing to hold your finger on a big red button? Hold On! has amassed more than 2,000 customer reviews on The App Store. The app itself might be useless, but reading the reviews is quite entertaining. Apple categorizes Hold On! as a productivity app and the developers are now charging a dollar for it, which only gives reviewers more material to work with.

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