Apple Owners Rejoice! Free Apps Are on the Way

Since spearheading the Android App Market and launching the Kindle Fire, Amazon has seemingly been on a mission to promote themselves as the kinder, gentler Apple alternative. While stopping shy of ever viciously calling out their rival, the message is clear that they believe themselves to be more of a service “of the people” than their counterpart. One of the ways they have done this is by offering a Free App of the Day service that allows its users to snag a free download of an app selected by Amazon. Ranging from games to useful services, it’s a must have feature that, until now, has provided Android owners with another feature to rub in the face of the iMasses.

I say “until now” because it looks like the empire has caught on to the rebel plans.

Yes, its happy days again Apple owners. Apple is now offering its own free app service, only this one will be a free app of the week and not of the day. The good news is that the first app of this service is the brilliant and addictive “Cut The Rope: Experiments” game, which went from “should be essential” to “no conceivable reason not to download” courtesy of the new promotion. Not content to just borrow from one rival, though, Apple has also introduced an “Editor’s Choice” feature (seemingly a replacement for their staff picks and game of the week features) that highlights the newest and best apps for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The initial showcases are Facebook Camera, “Extreme Skater,” “Air Mail” and Sketchbook Ink.

Of course, all jokes about theft are actually jokes. Developers have been running their own free app promotions since the start of the market, and independent sites have been offering the same, as well as highlighting the best new apps for the same period of time. In truth it is refreshing to see Apple offer these services on their own, and considering that the Apple app market is richer and fuller than that of its rivals, even an app a week instead of one a day is an astoundingly good deal that should produce something of must have quality each outing.

Although it should be noted that the “App of the Week” feature hasn’t officially been confirmed as a permanent addition. However since they’ve launched a new Twitter tag for it, not to mention those large banners for the service on their site, things look good. It’s going to be interesting to see if Apple looks at the success of this initial offering to judge if it will continue in the future. It’ll be interesting because we can’t know if Apple will look at giving away lots of free merchandise as a positive marketing ploy, or the root of all known evil.

Again, joking.


Exploding App Store could be developers’ worst enemy

Apps for Everything.The App Store is growing at alarming rates, something you might assume to be a great thing for developers. It could turn out the other way, though. As more apps come pouring in the store becomes harder and harder to organize, leaving great apps to fall through the cracks for no reason other than that they’re hard to find.

Apple’s attempts to remedy the situation have been half-assed so far. There was the “revamp” featured with iTunes 9.0, which was nothing more than a reorganization of utter chaos. Apple also implemented Genius features for apps to help you locate new apps based on the ones you already have. For me, the service has been terrible. I’ve not found anything through App Genius that I wouldn’t have found otherwise.

Cupertino is launching a new app discovery service called “Apps For Everything,” a website that highlights apps in categories like cooking and music. It’s a decent idea, but the fact that the site is run by Apple almost certainly dooms it for failure. Apple usually showcases apps that do a good job of showing off the iPhone or have that special quality only Apple can see. In my experience, those apps aren’t things I use daily. Typically they’re flash-in-the-pan style apps that work on a young platform but will diminish in use as the App Store continues to grow.

For the App Store to continue to be a success, Apple needs to dramatically improve organization or turn that organization over to the consumers. Give us access to a database of all the apps including ratings. Let a couple enterprising web developers put together a community to encourage exposure. And for god’s sake, give iTunes the complete overhaul it needs.