Got apps? Of course you do. The App Stores– for Mac, iPhone, and iPad– are a sweet proposition for Apple’s customers. More than 1-million apps are available to download with little more than a click or tap.
Apps come in many flavors and fill many categories but I view the available selection two ways. The first is obviously a growing trend that is beginning to bother me and my credit card. App subscriptions. Pay by the month or year. Forever.
Not every app developer can make a million dollars on the App Store. Some win, some lose. The second problem occurs when app developers abandon their apps. That’s called abandonware and it remains a scourge on both App Stores; macOS and iOS. Let me define abandonware. Any app that has not been updated in six months.
Over the past few years Apple has implemented various policies to persuade app developers to upgrade their wares to the latest requirements. Apple promotes popular and worthy applications. The search criteria will filter and sift the best and promote to the top the most popular applications in any given category. That’s all well and good but the App Store remains the wild west of application sales and downloads, constantly changing, and since not every app can make a fortune, some– far too many– wither and die.
Whip out your iPhone or iPad, open the App Store, select Search and enter a keyword to search for, well, anything. What you don’t get are search engine filters; criteria to narrow down the search. Many popular apps float to the top, as they should. Unfortunately, apps which have not been updated also get tossed into the search results mix.
Over the past few years I’ve developed a few rules for app selection.
Reviews – apps need to have a decent number of four and five star reviews (more than half of all reviews); not 12, as if an app developer’s family downloaded the app and gave it sparkling reviews, but hundreds and preferably thousands.
Version History – if an app that shows up on the search list has not been updated within the past six months I’ll pass and keep looking. Application development is a dynamic environment. No updates means the app is already perfect (none are). Or, the developer has moved on from the app development hobby). The Version History in the app’s description tells you when it was last updated.
Compatibility – choose wisely is a good mantra because many iPhone apps do not have an iPad counterpart, and one of my requirements these days is to buy and use apps that run on all of Apple’s gear; Mac, iPhone, and iPad, of course, but increasingly I’m looking for apps that run on Watch, too.
In-App Purchase – Apple hid this in the last App Store update so you have to search to find it. What you get with some apps is just not enough information to determine the value. Remove Ads for 99-cents is OK. A monthly or annual subscription price tag is sufficient but some In-App Purchase lists just don’t provide enough information. I avoid those.
In the end, search for apps, look for a large number of four and five star reviews, a version history where the last update is recent (and not more than six months ago; otherwise it’s considered abandonware even if it remains on the App Store), and be aware than In-App Purchase options also mean subscriptions and that’s a price tag that can add up.