Anyone searching for the perfect app for, well, anything, can attest to
the fact that iTunes is not the first place you’re going to want to go
to find it.
iTunes App Store is fantastic, in that, as those ubiquitous commercials
say, no matter what you need, there’s an app for that, and you’ll find
it there. Thing is, if you’re not quite sure what you’re looking for,
it can be a bit hard to wade through the thousands and figure out if
you can go with a free app or need to pony up for a paid app.
there are several websites dedicated to sorting through iTunes for you,
and we’ve taken a look at five of them to help you weigh the pros and
cons. We considered including the Bing.com visual search in our list,
but you need to have Microsoft’s Silverlight installed. No one here
felt like downloading it, so you’re on your own with it, though we’ve
heard it’s quite nice.
See individual reviews after the fold.
The Review Grid
Full index + community reviews
In beta, the site is “currently tracking, 91,132 apps.”
searches, Apptism gives you several default searches: Recent Activity,
Most Activity, Popular Apps, Newest Apps, Updated Apps and an
alphabetical listing. You can search by Free apps, and by seven
different pricing categories for paid apps, in addition to category
But what takes Apptism to the next level are all the other community-driven aspects.
there are the reviews. The site allows you to search user reviews,
critics reviews or both, so you can determine before buying it whether
it really has what you want and if the interface is what you’re looking
for. Then, it also has hundreds of thousands of screenshots and
thousands of videos in the “Media” tab. The News tab has links to the
latest news about iPhone apps, so you can read up on the latest from
You can even build a custom Watch List, so
you can track apps you’re thinking about buying or apps you’ve built
and the App Store has released.
Full index + blog reviews feed + discovery engine
first thing you’ll notice about AppStore HQ is the big feed down the
middle of the home page – the latest blog posts about iPhone apps from
around the blogosphere. On a recent day, the feed was topped by posts
from The Unofficial Apple Weblog and Download Squad from just 10
minutes earlier. A few spots down, there was even a link to a
Spanish-language post from Esfera iPhone.
Like Apptism, you
can look through the apps based on pricing, category and the hottest
and newest. You can also search according to how many stars the
community has given an app and create custom searches. Perfect place to find and dicover iPhone apps
Full index + forums
The gimmick here is that you can always find out what the top 148 iPhone apps are.
home page is a compilation of the latest app reviews. Each review gives
the site’s star rating, as well as a one-word descriptor from the
reviewer, in addition to the beginning of the full review. The one-word
descriptions, however, aren’t just “good, poor, fair” – they include
“mediocre,” “complex” and “solo delight” – more telling, in fact, than
even the star-based reviews by the site. The nice thing about giving
both the site’s stars and the user review is that you can see both
sides of the story and decide if you need to do a little more research.
weekend, for example, the first app review on the site was for IMP:
Surf the Music – it showed 3 1/2 stars from 148Apps, but the user
review was “Mediocre.” In reading the user review further, it seemed
she didn’t have anything really bad to say about the app, just that she
couldn’t get hooked.
The site also has a full forum, blog, a
listing of the apps with price drops.
Full index +update tracker
App Shopper doesn’t have the forums and some of the other community
features the other sites have, but it has a variety of RSS feeds and
keeps track of all changes to apps.
The home page lists all the latest changes to apps, whether it’s an
update to the app, a price drop or something new. You can create wish
lists and keep track of all the apps you own on custom lists. It has
all the same sort of search capabilities of the other sites, as well as
a “price drop” search engine.
The site has its own blog, too, but it’s not updated every day and is not a listing of all the latest news about apps.
It does have a listing of the top 100 paid apps, which can be sorted by
price, rating, its peak position on the list, how long it’s been on the
list and, of course, its current position on the list. So you can get a
handle on what the iPhone community at large thinks are the best apps
to shell out the cash for.
Search engine + “unlimited trials”
Appulo.us bills itself as “The solution to a flawed App Store.”
In beta, the idea behind Appulo.us is to fix what it sees as the main
problem with the official App Store: Lots of crap applications getting
approval that users spend good money on and then don’t use. The site
allows users to gain free, unlimited trials to apps before purchasing (illegally, we may add).
The creators say they are not making any money off the site and it’s
simply to give both the quality developers and consumers a leg up.
Quality developers are more likely to sell their apps if people can try
them out first, and consumers won’t waste money on a Soduku game
“submitted by a 14-year-old writing his first program.”
In short, this is a repository of cracked and pirated apps. Not much improvement over itunes, unless you cannot pay a buck for the real app and wanna get it for free. Use this site to find iPhone apps, but make sure to support developers.
iTunes web mirror
Like the App Store just as it is, but don’t want to launch another
application? Search no more. AppSpot is a web-based mirror of the App
Store. It gives you everything the App Store does (or doesn’t) with the
benefit of being on the web instead of through iTunes.
That’s it. Nothing fancy, but some folks like original recipe. Even so,
if you want to purchase an app, you still have to launch iTunes. They have limited app finding ability
While each site has its own little tweaks that make it a little
different from the others, most of the sites listed above offer more or
less the same iPhone app finding options: The ability to search through apps based on
several different criteria. If we had to rank them, however, this is
what we’d say: AppStore HQ, 148Apps, Apptism, Appulo.us, App Shopper
and then, finally, AppSpot.
And while some of the sites allow you to find the apps that have
dropped their prices, perhaps the best way to keep track of this is,
actually, an app – AppSniper.
You can track which apps are on sale and even get notifications once an
app you’ve been watching has dipped down to a price you’re willing to
pay. This is best for those sales that are only for a few hours and
you’d miss if you check the other sites just once a day. And it’s only