On Becoming an Appophile
Apple’s iPhone has already established itself as one of the most significant and important inventions in the first decade of the 21st century (to say nothing of the new millennium). Although the iPhone works quite nicely as a telephone, a camera, a music player, and a GPS device, we have lots of other telephones, cameras, music players, and GPS devices to choose among. We also have converged devices that, like the iPhone, sport all of those features to one level or another.
We even have phones coming out with touch screens to mimic the iPhone interface.
Apple’s App store, however, and the offerings it contains, makes the iPhone package stand out far ahead of the pack. Even now, as some of the competitors work to develop apps and make them available, the inability of those efforts to compare favorably with the vastness and diversity of the App Store makes the iPhone package that much better. The popularity of the App Store is clear from the number of downloads from the App Store. Apple is already counting the billions. Although a billion may not seem so impressive given our economic situation and the bailout billions, it still represents an incredibly large number of downloads. By comparison, McDonalds, which displayed the number of hamburgers sold on big signs at their stores, went for several years before getting to a billion.
If you have not recently visited the App Store, pull out your computer (or, for that matter, your iPhone) and travel to the App Store from the comfort of your living room chair or from your desk at work. If you use your computer, the easiest way to get to the App Store is to open iTunes while you are connected to the Internet and then select the App Store inside of the iTunes Store. If you use your iPhone or Internet-connected iPod Touch, just select the App Store App on your home screen. You will find a collection of apps: 35,000 strong and growing. You will find apps that do all kinds of things for you, ranging from keeping your calendar and contact information close at hand to entertaining games, to travel information, to medical information, and on and on and on.Apple’s App Store as seen from my iTunes browser.
Courtesy of Apple Computer, Inc.
Apple has organized the apps in its App Store into a number of categories, which it lists on the left side of the screen, under the heading “Categories.” You will find categories for: books, business, education, entertainment, finance, games, healthcare & fitness, lifestyle, medical, music, navigation, news, photography, productivity, reference, social networking, sports, travel, utilities, and weather. You will also find in the center of the page a listing of new apps, highly popular apps, and Apple’s staff favorite picks of apps.
The apps in the store range from free up to at least $40 (I have not seen any more expensive than that yet). On the right-hand side of the screen, you will find a listing of the most popular paid apps and the most popular free apps. If you don’t see what you want at first, you can type a key word into the Search iTunes Store button on the top of the iTunes browser page (not shown in image above) and search the iTunes store for things related to that term. The search feature does not limit itself to apps, and it will also return music, video, and podcasts relating to the topic. For example, I will travel to Chicago next week. If I want to see what apps might benefit me while there, I type “Chicago” into the search field. I get a display showing a few of the videos, music albums, Apps, etc. relating to “Chicago.”
Apple iTunes Store search as seen on my computer.
Each of the media selections allows me to choose to see all of the choices found in the search. By clicking on that option, my computer takes me to the first of several pages displaying apps that relate to my inquiry about Chicago. I can browse through those apps until I find one I want and then click on it to go to a screen telling me about the app, its features, who wrote it, whether it costs anything, and, if so, how much. It also affords me the opportunity of downloading it to my iTunes App collection for synching to my iPhone and or iPod Touch.
One of the choices tells me about the iTrans CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) and its routes. If I select that app, iTunes takes me to its page and provides me with access to the information about that app, which, incidentally, costs $1.99. It also tells me what others who have bought the app have reported about it and directs me to selections that others who purchased the app made respecting other apps available in the store. If I choose to purchase the app, I simply click the “Buy App” button, and Apple charges my iTunes account and downloads the app into my iTunes Mobile App collection for me.
Partial first page of response to “See All” selection from apps shown in iTunes search for “Chicago” as seen on my computer.
iTrans CTA App Store App page as seen on my computer.
The world of an appophile is not always easy. Although downloading apps involves little effort, the process of choosing which ones to download can take some time. Besides, downloading the app only starts the process. An appophile has to learn to use the app (not much point in just downloading them and collecting them, although I do know some app collectors who do just that).
Which apps you choose will reflect your needs and interests. One of the truly nice things about collecting apps is the ability to tailor the collection to your particular needs and interests. With more than 35,000 apps to choose from, you should find at least a few that you like.
I do recommend that you pick up a few of the photo apps. They can help you crop, remove noise, change lighting, and otherwise improve some of your pictures. If you like games, you should find some entertaining apps. I particularly like some of the old arcade style games, Scrabble, and some of the card games. They also have contemporary arcade games, adventure games, pinball apps, pool apps, and so forth. You will probably want at least one of the database apps that will let you store and retrieve information in convenient ways.
You can find any number of reference apps for the iPhone. I have an app that contains the California Evidence Code, another that provides the Federal Rules of Evidence, and a third that gives me the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. I also have apps that contain the U.S. Constitution and a variety of other historic documents.
You can find several readers apps. Some let you read PDF files, and others read proprietary file formats. You can also find apps that come with a good-sized library of books for your enjoyment. Recently, Amazon decided to get into the app game, releasing a Kindle App available at the App Store at no charge. The Kindle App allows you to acquire books from the Kindle Store and download them to your iPhone/iPod Touch. If you already have a Kindle and have bought books for it from the Kindle Store, it also allows you to redownload the books to your iPhone/iPod Touch.
The iPhone and the iPod Touch each allow you access to the same number of apps: nine pages of 16 app icons, or 144 apps. Although you can synch more than 144 apps to your iPhone or iPod Touch, you will only see the first 144. Others will reside in memory, unavailable to you until they appear on the App Menu pages. A hidden app will appear only after you delete enough apps ahead of it to get it within the first 144 apps and then cycle your device off and back on again.
While 144 apps may sound like a lot to you, if it does, that means you have not yet morphed into an appophile. A true appophile will eventually acquire many more than 144. When that happens, you enter into the realm of app management. A true appophile must learn to manage apps to maximize the appophile’s benefit and the utility of the collection. For example, my personal app collection numbers 341 as of today (I am sure that it will grow larger before you read this column). Of that 344, maybe 100 reside on my iPhone on a continuous basis. I sub others in and out freely depending on my planned activities or needs. For example, if I am traveling, I may switch out a dozen or so apps. I have a number of apps that I will always take when I travel (such as those that tell me about airport delays, Zagat, and a couple of other restaurant-rating apps, and a taxi locator app). I also have a number of destination-specific apps that will change when I travel to various locations. These apps contain information about local transit routes and schedules, local sites to see, and other travel information about the area. If I travel out of the country, I will also take a phrase translator along in case I need to communicate in more languages than I can on my own. The more you travel, the more destination-specific travel apps you will likely want to download.
I do have one issue with app management for which I have not yet found a satisfactory solution. I would like to keep my apps organized by categories or groups so that I know about where to look for any particular app. The current operating system lets you move apps around on a page and even from page to page, but you have no control over the full consequences of a move. For example, if I move an app from one page to another page that already has 16, the OS will kick one of the 16 apps off of the page and move it to another page. I have no ability to control which app gets relocated or the page to which it moves. Apple has announced the impending release of a new operating system for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The new system should come out in June. We can only hope that it corrects this design oversight.
The true appophile will pay attention to memory usage. Apps take up memory. Some apps take up more memory than others as they accumulate information and grow. The Kindle App, for example, will store your downloads as part of the app. Accordingly, as you download more books the app grows in size. You will need to pay attention to the memory allocation when you synch your device. I have already had to remove some of my music to allow for the storage of other things (not just apps: I actually removed a few gigabytes of music when I wanted to add a movie to the iPhone for travel. Although Apple has not yet announced new hardware in the iPhone/iPod touch category, you can count on the fact that Apple will have new models for us in the not too distant future. I would happily bet on the proposition that new models will have significantly expanded memory capacities to accommodate music, photographs, videos, and, of course, apps and their related data.
Jeffrey Allen is the principal in the law firm of Graves & Allen with a general practice that, since 1973, has emphasized negotiation, structuring, and documentation of real estate acquisitions, loans and other business transactions, receiverships, related litigation, and bankruptcy. Graves & Allen is a small firm in Oakland, California. Mr. Allen also works extensively as an arbitrator and a mediator. He serves as the editor of the Technology eReport and the Technology & Practice Guide issues of GP Solo Magazine . He regularly presents at substantive law and technology-oriented programs for attorneys and writes for several legal trade magazines. In addition to being licensed as an attorney in California, Jeffrey has been admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. He holds faculty positions at California State University of the East Bay and the University of Phoenix. You can contact Jeffrey via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow his technology blog at www.jallenlawtekblog.com.
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