I like to think I have supported enough app developers in my time by purchasing the fruits of their labour, and most if not all of the paid apps I have reviewed for MakeUseOf were bought out of my own pocket. If I pay money and am satisfied, then I feel it’s only fair to pass the recommendation on.
That said, I don’t object to freebies either and app sales and giveaways take up a fair chunk of my monthly bandwidth. One particular app that can help out any avid shopper is AppShopper, a cataloging that keeps track of price changes, updates and new additions to the iOS App Store.
It’s compatible with both the iPhone and iPad, and has been featured on our Best iPhone Apps page for a while now – and it’s time to take a closer look at why.
Sales, Freebies & Grabbing A Bargain
Despite Apple’s recent App Store redesign, not a lot has changed regarding the way we browse, download and purchase apps since the iPhone was first released. The App Store does its job, but it’s not the be-all and end-all when it comes to deciding on purchases. Big name apps like Twitter and the new YouTube app always occupy slots in the free charts, and with no real way of filtering potential downloads, you might miss something you really like.
That’s where AppShopper comes in. It offers a similar browsing system to the official App Store, allowing the perusal of apps by popularity and freshness. It also adds some brilliant filters, which you can tweak to show you current offers, updates and latest releases. On either of the app’s first two tabs, Popular and What’s New, you can simultaneously filter by three criteria – category (genre), price and a point of interest.
The point of interest is the wildcard, allowing you to choose from apps that have been updated, apps that are new and price drops.
Paid apps often have their prices slashed in order to get more users, more reviews and spread the word. The best way to find completely free apps that are usually paid is by choosing “Free” and “Price Drops” in the latter two drop-down boxes. You will in fact only be shown apps that are free for a limited time because apps that are already free can’t have price drops.
Similarly, choosing “Paid” and “Price Drops” yields apps that have been reduced to promotion prices, but not free apps. This works for both new and popular apps, and if you’re the sort of person who browses the App Store wishing you could cut straight to the giveaways, then this is exactly what you’ve been looking for.
Let AppShopper Do The Work
The other way of making good use of this money saving app is by setting it up to tell you when an app of your choosing drops in price. To do this you will need to register, either in-app via the Settings menu in the top-left or online at AppShopper.com. Registration is free, and once registered you can login from both the app and web interface to micro-manage your shopping list.
There are two lists to maintain, each appearing as separate tabs – the Wish List and My Apps. Now personally I don’t really see much point in the My Apps list because the App Store already keeps track of every download you make (yes, paid and free) from the Updates > Purchased option from within the App Store on your iDevice.
The only use I can actually think of is if you were to uninstall an app and wanted to know if the app gets anything in the way of updates (though this to me seems like a nightmare, I already have enough notifications as it is).
The Wish List is where the action is at though, and provided you’ve enabled AppShopper access to notifications (under your iPhone’s Settings > Notifications > AppShopper menu) then under AppShopper’s Settings > Push Notifications menu you can enable notifications for updates and price drops, as you can see in the screenshot below. I have mine set to just buzz me when a price drops, as that’s all I really care about.
Now it’s time to add some apps to your wishlist, or better yet think of those oh-so-expensive apps you’ve often looked at and thought were too expensive to warrant a stab in the dark. Easily add them to your wishlist by searching (under the More tab) then tapping Want it under individual app view. Tapping Own it will add the app your My Apps list.
Once set up with a few apps and push notifications, AppShopper will notify you when the price drops. You can also set up notifications for email, though if you’re like me you get enough email as it is so this isn’t a particularly attractive option.
If you’re lucky you might catch a free promotion, but bear in mind that reductions for very expensive apps (GPS navigation, high-end music apps and translator packages for instance) are rarely this good. If you’re patient, shopping frugally with AppShopper can net you some bargains and save you a lot of money.
If you’re interested, scroll to the bottom of the page while viewing an app and tap App Activity to see the price history, updates and past promotions of each particular app.
AppShopper shouldn’t get in the way of your usual download habits. On the contrary, the two main functions highlighted here – spotting sales and monitoring for price drops – are certainly no replacement for blowing hard earned money on decent software you enjoy. Instead, it’s an added bonus to discover and try out things you might otherwise have missed, oh and it’s a completely free app so I can’t really think of a reason not to try it out.
Have you netted any bargains with AppShopper? Do you use this, or similar price drop notification apps? Add your own app shopping techniques in the comments below.