Which Apps Do You Start With?

I was surprised to find out how little I knew abut the iPad app market when I got my first iPad a couple of weeks ago. I spend a lot of time writing about Mac apps and searching for cool new iPhone apps, but once I got my iPad I just didn’t know exactly what I should do with it first; a feeling that is shared by many people who I’ve talked with.

The number of apps out there can be overwhelming; and if we are being honest, not every app that is out there on the App Store is going to be cool or worth your money, especially if it’s expensive. And so we come to the crux, how would you go about gathering new cool apps when you get a new device? How do you find those little app gems that “make” a device for some people? Let’s see how I did it.

The Search Begins

iPad App Store

iPad App Store.

I knew what I mainly wanted to do with my iPad was read articles and maybe even books and magazines. That’s why the first app that I looked up was Reeder, as I use it on my Mac and it is just a pleasure to read articles on. My process of finding new apps to fill my iPad with after that consisted basically of looking up my favorite apps on my iPod Touch and Mac, and searching through the “Featured” and “Top Charts” of the iPad App Store.

Through this process I picked up some cool apps that I didn’t know existed, like Flipboard, Bamboo Paper, and a few games. I also got the iPad version of a few of my favorite apps on my other devices, like Evernote, Twitter and Wunderlist. But I still felt a little lost, like I was still missing out on a lot of apps that I’d heard about before but had now forgotten. You know, that feeling you get when you think you aren’t taking full advantage of the capabilities of your device.

Contributing Factors

Starter Kit

The Starter Kit.

The thing is, there isn’t really a “Newcomers App Guide” that suggests apps that you may find interesting or “must-haves” on the App Store. Yes, Apple occasionally has features on “Starter Kits” and things like that, but when I’ve seen those features in the iOS and Mac App Stores, I’ve always felt like the apps being showcased there aren’t always as good, popular, or affordable as other apps I know. They somehow always feel a bit biased.

I also find it inconvenient to browse for new apps on the App Store as I usually end up making decisions on which apps to check out based on their icons, which don’t always do the apps justice.

There’s also the price factor. Reviews are a great way of finding an honest opinion on an app that you are about to purchase; but it is a bit inconvenient having to wage comments on a handful of different apps when you are comparing them. Also, while a general consensus of reviews should be a good indicator; I don’t always trust all reviews under an app to be as accurate or informed about other similar apps.

“Free” or “Lite” versions of paid apps are a good way of finding which apps you really would get your money’s worth out of, yet the downside of them is that they aren’t always available, and they aren’t as convenient to keep up with (I’m still waiting for the day Apple fixes the “Lite” and “Pro” app mess by grouping them under one single upgradeable app).

What About You?

The iPad is a fantastic machine, but without cool apps to play and work around with, you can’t make the most of it. The Appstorm sites, and other sites like them are always very helpful for constantly finding and comparing the best apps for each platform, but there isn’t exactly a quick go-to guide when you just want to find suggestions on “must-have” apps.

While looking through the reviews on AppStorm is always a good way to find new apps, as we rarely review bad apps – even if some aren’t to your taste. If you’re keen on finding out the apps that “make” the editor’s, and writer’s, iPads then look out for an upcoming piece that mirrors this post on Mac.AppStorm.

In addition to that it’s definitely worth checking out our most recent massive roundup that was dangerously titled: The Top 100 iPad Apps. If you’re a newcomer to the iPad, or your friends or family are, there’s no better place to start than there!

I guess my point here is to get some debate going: as readers of this site and hopefully the other Appstorm sites, which would be your preferred way of finding “staff recommendations” or “must-have” apps on a website like iPad.Appstorm? What grabs your attention when you are browsing the homepages of our sites or the various App Stores?

How do you decide which apps to check out and which ones to pass on? How do you usually go about finding interesting new apps when you switch platforms? Let your voice be heard!


  • http://solubility.tumblr.com Nathan Bartholomew

    I usually check out applications by the design of their icon, but like you said, that’s not always the best way to go about it. Outside of that, I go to a developer’s website to check out the application and get more of a a feel for it, especially if I’m spending some of my scarce college dough.

    Also, I find using the app store on the iPad to be quite silly. I wish there was more ways to narrow the search of apps besides ‘Release Date’ and ‘Popularity’.

  • http://giacomoballi.com/apps Giacomo Balli

    When I have no idea of what I want to get I first check out the charts…

  • http://soundcloud.com/butyourecooltoo Tom Howe

    I use sites like this. and google. I know what I want to do, I search it.
    and icon design is actually a very good indicator of the quality of these things- if they took the time to make the icon look good, it’s good. That’s lead me to some cool things, for instance Circuit Synth I only looked at because of it’s cool minimal icon. Filterstorm, the supreme photo editor, I never would have looke at (I don’t like “filter” apps much- filterstorm is so much more though) had I not been interested by it’s icon. Freaking Kometen! I love the art style, and I got it hoping that it would be like the icon, which it obviously is. WasHere, a cool front/rear camera interlacer app, I got it because of the design, and the icon was the first thing I saw. So yeah, to a point it’s cool to judge things by the cover. I wait for sales.

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