The Apple iPhone is much more than a smart phone – it’s a cultural icon. Making guest appearances on TV and on the big screen, the iPhone represents everything that’s now and modern. With all the applications available to iPhone users, it has become America’s most common personal assistant. However, in order to optimize it’s powers, organization is key.
The following tips will help you quickly find new applications (that aren’t complete garbage) in the extremely cluttered app store, and show you several techniques to keep your iPhone organized and efficient.
Getting Through The App Store
1. Don’t Rely On The “Top 25”
Relying on Apple’s “Top 25” paid and free applications is the same as only listening to songs on the Billboard Top 10. You must realize that the top 25 list is populated by daily unit sales. In other words, you’re not getting the best quality app, but the best marketed app. As we know, best marketed is very different from best (think “Love Guru” with Mike Meyers.) For example, “What’s Your Sex Appeal” is currently the #1 free application, and it’s obviously not there because it’s a great app.
Really? Number one? Really???
2. Ratings and Reviews
The rating and review system in the App Store is a very poor judge of quality. Sometimes the average review of an application is spot on, but most times…no. For example, Pandora Radio has 3.5 stars. How is that possible? Pandora is one of the best applications for the iPhone. Facebook, which is an extremely polished iPhone application, has 4 stars. These ratings can not be taken to seriously.
To understand this phenomenon, simply read some reviews.
Example: “This app is great!!!” – 1 Star
Example: “Eww I was listening to the Chris Daughtry station on Pandora and a song by Pink Floyd came on.” – 1 Star
Keep in mind that the developers, eager to make a profit, leave positive comments on their own applications. They also get all their family and friends to leave positive comments, so be cautious of 5 star reviews on many applications.
Also, many times the number of reviews is more important than the review itself.
3. Finding the Right App
First of all, it all depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking to find an app to help you study Microbiology for your next exam, there aren’t too many choices. If you are trying to find something more common, like a tip calculator, translator, fitness app, to-do list app, or photography application, you gotta put in a bit of work.
Browse The Web. Our site (and others too) review, categorize, and summarize applications in an honest, unbiased way. Don’t let such resources go to waste!
YouTube. There are tons of sample videos on YouTube of iPhone appliations in action. Just search for the app, and you’ll be able to actually see the app in action.
Versions. A lot of times when looking at the App Store in iTunes, you’ll see a description of the application written by the developers. However, if you continue to scroll down, there will be a little paragraph about what’s in the updated version. Many times the stuff from the updates changes the app completely, so don’t skip it.
Price. It’s tough to dish out money for iPhone apps sometimes. That’s why all developers agree that the best price from a business standpoint is $0.99 (and that’s why there’s so many $0.99 apps). Nobody feels “guilty” about spending a dollar. However, just like in any other marketplace, you pay for what you get. Sometimes it’ll cost a little more than a dollar for quality. Instead of buying a bunch of $1-2 dollar apps just because you’re bored, seek out the good ones…the ones that were professionally developed…and pay the $3-10. It’ll be worth it.
Organizing Your iPhone
Although the organization of your iPhone is up to your personal preference, there are several tips that we, as extremely avid iPhone users, can offer. Keeping your apps organized takes work.
As everyone knows, when downloading a new application, your iPhone automatically places it in the first open space. It’s quite a pain when it comes to keeping your pages organized. It would be great if Apple would allow you to designate what page an app should automatically go to.
1. Organize by Category
A common way of keeping things organized are by what category the app falls under. Some designate their own categorie
s (such as “fun”, “work”, “for my kids”, “reference”, etc…), while others simply use the category that the app belongs to in the App Store. I prefer the first, because it’s not the App Store’s iPhone, it’s your iPhone. The problem with this style of organization is unfilled pages. Many people don’t like the “look” of their phone when a page is half empty.
2. Organize by Usage
My iPhone is currently organized in this fashion. All applications are organized by frequency of use. On my first page, you would find apps like Facebook, Pandora, Google, New York Times, iTalk, and The Weather Channel. While it’s hard to individually categorize applications by usage, I rank each page by usage. In other words, my last page is a “junk” page.
3. The Junk Page
As you know, all new applications go to the first open spot. Keeping a page with unused applications as your last page automatically throws all new applications into your “junk” page. This way, you try the app, and if you decide it’s nothing special (which often happens), but not crappy enough to warrant an instant delete, it just stays right on your junk page.
4. “Categories” for Jailbroken iPhones
There are many reasons to jailbreak your iPhone. “Categories” is an application developed by Big Boss that allows you to create folders on your iPhone, and then drag applications into the folders. This reduces the number of pages and the amount of clutter on your iPhone. Of course, it counters the intuitive, simplistic design of the iPhone. But if you’re an app junkie, Categories is a must. Go here for more information.
How To Use Categories:
After jailbreaking your iPhone and downloading Categories from Big Boss, you will be presented with a blank screen where you can create a folder for each category.
Tap on “Add” on the top right corner and enter the category title. Do not use the name of an app as a category title. Assign an icon to the category from the ones provided.
Once the category folders have been created, tap on a category and tap “add” to add file applications under it.
This application is very efficient for organization, and extremely simple to use. You’ll be done organizing in minutes.
5. “Web Apps” by AlifSoft
There’s nothing magic about this application, but it gets the job done. Instead of having a bunch of individual icons for your web apps, simply store them as favorites in this application.
Aside from allowing you to store and categorize various web apps, this app shows you a collection of all the web apps out there, allowing you to browse through them by category, popularity, or keyword.
It costs $0.99.
Updating or reformatting your iPhone reverts your app organization to a “standard”, cluttered state. While 3.0 may put an end to this mess, there’s an easy work around to remember how you had things set up. Simply take a screenshot of each page, and email it to yourself. When reorganizing your phone, just follow the pictures. It’ll save you a bunch of time. Go here to learn how to take a screenshot.
While the way you keep your iPhone is your decision entirely, remember these tips next time you notice how messy your phone is. Until Apple realizes it has made some minor design flaws, it’s up to you to keep things organized.