Not all apps are created equal. Some are Pages, and some are, well:
Yes, they are.
How to know the difference?
Let’s take something quite obvious, like Microsoft Word 2012. Here’s an app that was so egregious, as pointed out by App Advice, Apple was forced to pull it from their store. It was nothing more than instructions on how to use MS Word, and some lousy instructions at that–all for the low, low price of $9.99.
It’s not the only sketchy MS-based app in the Apple store. There are several high-priced apps still left, but they spell their intention out a bit better–if you read down far enough–that they are merely instruction manuals of some sort. DON’T BUY ANY MICROSOFT APP AT THIS TIME. Microsoft will be launching their own apps this November.
That brings me to the first four things to check when looking to buy an app:
- Ask your friends. They’ve likely tried a few, and have their favorites.
- Read blogs like App Advice, and of course, INK AND ANGST, my tumblr and pinterest board.
- Read the description of the product. All. The way. Through.
- Look at the name of the developer. Microsoft is not licensing its product to Super Racing Real Games.
Oh, those app developers can be so, so tricky. Look at this:
Pretty close, right?
Why do you suppose that is?
You guessed it. iA Writer is the winning app, and writing wanted to cash in on its popularity. Again, App Advice blew the whistle, and if you look up the writing app today, the blue bar is gone. Guessing Apple had a little talk with them. So if you heard about iA Writer and you glanced at the icon and zipped off to the Apple Store on your iPhone, there’s a chance you could accidentally download the inferior product–for more money. How do you keep from making that mistake? How do you pick a good app, in general?
Follow the four steps above and also:
- Check how many stars the app gets in the ratings, and how many times it has been rated. The more the better. A new app may not have had time to get a lot of ratings, but an older app without its fair share means nobody cares. Bad sign.
- Look at the reviews. Not just one, but a lot. Some people are just cranks, believe it or not, and some are ringers for the developer. So keep an eye out for the well-thought-out, logical opinions.
Some apps are a fair chunk ‘o change, most won’t break you, but I don’t want to support anybody who’s piggybacking off someone else’s hard work.