The App Store is spoiling me.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983


iPad has 37,180 apps, with 1,000 more each day

Nov. 14, 2010

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2010, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2010, The Post-Standard

   Apple didn't just invent the iPad. It came up with an entirely new ecosystem -- a new way to use an Internet-connected electronic tablet and a new way to fill it with programs.
   The foundation of that ecosystem is the App Store. If you have an iPhone, you already know about the App Store. iPad owners are new to the App Store, following the iPad's introduction early this year. There's even a Mac app store on the way, and Microsoft has hinted at a Windows app store, too.
   An "app" is a program, from the fancier term, "application." Apple started calling small programs for the iPhone "apps" many years ago, and it's now being used for the iPad's programs. The term has become one of the most popular words in current tech jargon and is the generic name for any small program for a smartphone or pad-like device.
   You get apps at the App Store, an online browsing and shopping extravaganza run by Apple. Your iPad goes there automatically when you touch the App Store icon.
   Apps are organized by release date or customer ratings into categories such as finance, entertainment and games -- there are 20 categories in all -- and have descriptions of what they do along with ratings by App Store customers. Ratings show up in listings, shown as stars from one to five. Comments are shown below the official description of each app. I found the comments extremely helpful.
   Apps usually don't cost much. Most seem to be $1.99, with many at $.99, some at $10 to $12, and about 20 percent of them free. Adding an app to your iPad is simple and involves no download techniques; you simply press on the price (or on the word "Free") next to the app and press again for confirmation, and the app is yours. It shows up on the iPad's desktop within a few seconds. To delete an app from your iPod, you touch and hold the app's icon, then touch the "X" button that appears.
   Apple gets a 30 percent cut of every app sold, with the app's developer getting the rest. Apps must meet strict Apple guidelines or they won't be approved and won't show up on the store. Pornography is banned, for example.
   As of late October, there were 37,180 iPad apps in the App Store, and the total is increasing by an incredible 1,000 a day. Books and games make up the largest categories. ("Books" in the App Store aren't the same as books in the iBook Store, which is accessible through its own app.)
   Because there are so many apps, finding ones you want can be frustrating. The App Store has a search function, but it often shows too many results to be helpful. Apps that can help you find other apps are essential. I've been using AppAdvice and AppShopper, both free.
   My longtime experience with personal computers left me unprepared for the simplicity and ease of adding software through the App Store. I'm used to hunting for downloadable files and then downloading and installing them. I'm also used to the agony of trying to get rid of programs I no longer wanted on my personal computers -- especially on Windows, which sometimes requires an extra utility program to clean out all traces of an uninstalled program.
   The App Store is spoiling me. I can only hope that App Stores for Mac and Windows programs will make finding and installing software on personal computers just as easy, and just as much fun.