How To Find the Best Apps

One of the reasons we love our smartphones and tablets so much is the ability to download apps – those tiny custom programs that allow us to check the weather, play games, watch a movie, and even pay for our morning coffee. But with hundreds of thousands of apps to choose from, how do we find the apps that really stand out? And if they cost money to download, how do we know if they are worth the price?

Fortunately, many smartphones now come pre-loaded with “essential” apps like Facebook, Maps and Amazon Kindle but that still leaves us looking for the best of the rest. Happily, there are plenty of resources to help us. Here are just a few:

The app stores

The best place to start a search for apps is the main app stores themselves – that’s the App Store for iOS devices, Google Play for Android, BlackBerry App World, and the Windows Store for Windows Phones. All the stores publish constantly updated lists of the most popular apps, as well as their own recommendations. For example, Google Play publishes top charts for paid and free apps, staff picks, a list of trending apps, and the best-selling games.

If the top charts are too general, you can get more specific by drilling down to the most popular paid and free apps by category. There are over 25 different app classifications, ranging from business and finance to shopping and sports and everything in between.

If you pull up the details on an individual app, the app stores will give you the app developer’s description of the app, together with an overall rating for the app based on customer reviews. Most of the app stores will also give you a list of other apps from the same developer, along with similar apps based on other customer searches.

If you are a Verizon customer, then don’t forget to check out the Verizon Media Store, where you can find a variety of ringtones, games, apps and more. Verizon also has a Top 20 “Must-Have” list of apps by operating platform, which is a great place to start if you are just venturing into the smartphone world for the first time.

App review sites

As well as looking at the apps that are recommended by the stores, you can also visit one of the many independent app review web sites. Sites such as AppAdvice (iOS) and Life of Android are constantly updated for new and trending apps, and offer news, reviews, how-to’s, best app lists, and more.

In addition to the general app review sites, there are specialty sites for app games (like App Spy) and apps for kids (like Famigo).

Talk to friends

Despite all the professional help, some of the best sources for information on good apps are friends and family. As smartphone and tablet ownership grows, more people are sharing their experiences with “killer” apps. Decide what you need – a good movie review app, a flashlight app, food apps – and ask a friend. You can also use Facebook and Twitter to “crowdsource” opinion. You will find out that mobile device owners are only too happy to offer their opinions!

Do your own research

Regardless of where you hear out about an app, make sure you do your own research before you download it. Read the entire description of the app to see if it will do what you expect it to do. Look at the screen shots of the app and be sure to check out when the app was last updated and who the developer is. Many apps are abandoned, so that last update information is important. Paying attention to the developer name will help you notice the ones that produce consistently good apps and the ones to avoid.

Finally, read the customer reviews. If there are many, then the overall rating (stars) might be helpful. If there are few, then it might be because it’s a new or niche app. You will always find a few reviews that say the app is a bust but without giving any details. Don’t waste your time on those. Read the more in-depth reviews that give you the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The above article first appeared on Verizon Insider. The Online Mom receives a fee for participating in certain promotional programs for Verizon Wireless.

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