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Finding Apps for an iOS Device

Finding Something[This is a guest post by Doug Ward, an associate professor of journalism and the Budig Professor of Writing at the University of Kansas. You can find him online at www.kuediting.com and www.journalismtech.com, and follow him on Twitter @kuediting. Doug's previous posts have looked at iPads in the classroom (one, two, at using music to engage students, and at responding to a Twitter hack.--@jbj]

I’m always looking for ways to make my iPad more useful. That means I’m always looking for new apps.

That can be a challenge. Developers submit new apps for the iPad daily, and the volume of apps – 140,000 and climbing – in the App Store can be overwhelming. The iPad’s Genius function offers suggestions based on the apps you own, but I’ve found those suggestions more random than useful. Recommendations from ProfHacker help, of course, as do those from sites like Lifehacker, MakeUseOf and Mashable.

They touch on only a handful of new apps, though, and may not highlight those for your specialty area. Besides, app makers frequently offer specials on their apps in hopes of attracting more users, generating good recommendations and rising above the clutter.

How do you home in on those specials, though?

Enter app finders.

The best app finders act as a sort of clearinghouse, highlighting discounts and organizing discounted apps and new apps in an easy-to-find format. I’ve tried many of those app finders with both my iPad and my iPod Touch. Each has a different style and format, and all have utility, depending on how you use them. Here are four that I think are worth a look:

AppMiner (Free)

This is by far my favorite by app finder. It’s a free download, and it’s free of advertising and other clutter (except for a featured app that appears at the top of each category, much like an ad on a Google search). It allows you to focus on new or discounted apps and to narrow your search by category. It also provides lists of top-rated and featured apps. I find using this app much easier than wading through the App Store or the Genius recommendations. One of the best features of AppMiner, though, is its watch list. Once you display information about a particular app, you can click on a “watch” button. That puts the app in a list that AppMiner checks each day for discounts. If any app on your list goes on sale, AppMiner displays an alert. That feature has saved me quite a bit of money and has allowed me to try apps I might not otherwise have tried. For iOS only, though it does have a search site on the web.

Discovr Apps ($1.99)

This app uses a graphical interface that reminds me of a mind map. You enter the name of an app you like and the program generates a series of connected bubbles with similar apps. Clicking on one of those bubbles creates even more connected bubbles with more apps. This is an excellent tool when you want to check out apps similar to those you already have or like, or you want to find something new. It’s also interesting just to see what responses you get. In addition to an app finder, Discovr sells separate apps for finding music and movies. For iOS and Mac.

Quixey (Free)

This is different from the others in that it’s a website, not an app itself. Go to the site and use the search form to type in what you are interested in finding, whether it be a task you want to complete or a specific app you want to find. Its strong suit is that it searches for apps across all platforms, not just iOS. Yes, you can eventually limit the search to a specific operating system. One weakness, at least for me, is that it doesn’t have a browse-by-category function.

AppStart ($0.99)

This app finder, which received a strong endorsement from ReadWriteWeb, seems aimed mostly at new iPad owners. It offers recommendations on top apps and provides how-to information on the workings of the iPad. It has a well-designed graphical interface and provides considerable information about each app it highlights. For iOS only.

App finders, like apps themselves, are generally a matter of personal preference. Which have you found to be the most useful?

Photo “Finding Something” by me.

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