Get Smart With AppShopper for iPad

There are over 65,000 iPad apps in Apple’s Appstore, wouldn’t you like some help in deciding not just what’s awesome and worth your time, but good value for your money too? Wouldn’t it be good to see what other people are buying, what’s hot just now, and what applications have stood the test of time with consistently good reviews?

App prices fluctuate all the time, so how about being notified when an app you’d like comes down in price? What about seeing the complete history of all app price changes?

All of this information is available through the excellent website, AppShopper.com, but recently AppShopper have released an update to their dedicated iPad app. And just in case you’re already wondering how much all this excellent information is going to cost you, AppShopper for iPad is free..

AppShopper Online

As a stand-alone resource, the AppShopper web site is still second to none for integrated app price history, trends, reviews, and app choice advice. Its simple interface allows you to quickly find, for instance, the top 200 paid iPad apps.

Appshopper.com web interface

AppShopper.com web interface.

The idea and service has transferred well to the iPad, allowing quick navigation through the menu screens and options, rapidly displaying sorted results. Previous versions of this app have had complaints about speed, but considering the app uses the same source data as the web site, I found it to be much quicker than using the web-only version.

What’s Inside

AppShopper opens with a list of what’s popular highlighted in the top left app menu. 20 items are shown, but scrolling down auto-reveals the next 20, and so on. Depending on your connection speed, it can take a few moments for the app icons to populate:

Appshopper updating....

AppShopper updating...

If you want to see what’s new in the App Store, AppShopper summarises this for you much like the “New & Noteworthy” area of the App Store, but it’s perhaps more useful to have the summary text next to each icon to get a quick feel of what the app is all about.

Your Wish List

Whilst this app has many similarities to the App Store, the important value adding feature of AppShopper is its ability to notify you of price drops of your desired apps. This is done using a “Wish List”. When you find an app you’d like to buy, simply tick the “Want it” box, and AppShopper will add it to your “Wish List”:

Choosing Dead Space to watch for price changes...

Choosing Dead Space to watch for price changes.

When the price drops on the app, you will get a notification badge, with a “View” button to take you straight to the app in AppShopper, and if you so wish, you can use the direct quick “Buy” button to then go directly to the App Store and buy the app.

Notification of a price drop...

Notification of a price drop.

Setting up a few items in your wish list is probably the primary function of the app, and it takes the legwork out of constantly checking to see if apps that you want have recently been reduced in price.

Apps on your Wish List that have had price changes are also highlighted with a small blue star and a number in the AppShopper main menu.

AppShopper also includes a section for your own purchased apps, but the only way to get apps into this section at the moment is adding them manually, either individually on the iPad, or using the importer tools for Mac and Windows.

It would be much simpler if AppShopper were to identify what’s installed on your iPad automatically. Even then, why would I want to monitor the prices of apps I already own, except maybe to buy them for someone else?

Sort It Out

For all apps there are various ways you can sort through what’s available, highlighting popular, sorting by price, price fluctuations, ratings, or name. There are different relevant “Sort By” options for each main section of the AppShopper menu, so you are able to see, for instance, what app in the top 200 has had the biggest rise in popularity:

On the up - apps that have recently soared in popularity...

On the up; apps that have recently soared in popularity.

Perhaps, if you are price conscious, you can use AppShopper to quickly list all apps that have dropped to free, or very low prices. Of course, the system is open to abuse in that some app prices seem to fluctuate up and down just to keep on top of charts like these. Without an automatic way to spot these, you’ll have to pay attention to the price history to see what the app’s been up to.

History Lesson

One aspect of AppShopper that I frequently use is the price history. Each app purchase, I ask myself if this has been cheaper than it is now – if it has, and I’m in no hurry to buy, I simply add it to my wish list and wait out the next price drop. If not, then at least you know you are getting the best price so far.

App price history example

App price history example.

One of the best additions to this latest iPad release is the incorporation of reviews and ratings for all apps. Previously, you would had to have checked out the review section of the App Store or similar, and then searched for specific high-rated apps. Now it’s integrated into AppShopper. You also have the added benefit of ratings from TouchArcade.com and 148Apps.com for a more rounded view, including links to external reviews.

Other benefits of the app are:

  1. Category filter.
  2. iPad/iPhone/Universal device filter.
  3. The ability to hide non-western apps from Popular, What’s new, and Search.
  4. Localised currency option – see app prices in your country’s currency.
  5. Email and push notifications of app updates and price drops.

Final Words

What AppShopper offers above and beyond the App Store is the history of an app’s popularity, and its price. Even if you don’t have an immediate use for an app, there’s perhaps some merit in purchasing heavily discounted or free apps. You can always look at them later.

More importantly, if you are about to buy an app from the store, a quick check in AppShopper will tell you if it’s recently been offered at a lower price, or perhaps even for free. There’s a chance if you wait a while it may happen again.


Summary

A great app for tracking app pricing, that allows you to keep a Wish List of apps to watch and notifies you when they come down in price.

7