As of early September 2010, Apple reported that there were more than 250,000 third-party apps available for the iPhone, with more than 200,000 apps fully compatible with the iPad (and thousands designed exclusively for the iPad).
All apps for the iPhone and iPad are available exclusively from Apple's online-based App Store, which can be accessed via iTunes on your computer, or by tapping on the App Store icon found on your iPhone or iPad's Home screen.
Third-party apps allow users to fully customize their iPhone or iPad by adding functionality and features in the form of stand-alone programs that can be run on these devices.
For many iPhone and iPad users, pinpointing and downloading the best apps to meet their specific needs can be like finding a needle in a haystack. After all, out of the 250,000+ apps available, many offer redundant functionality, a few offer little or no added value (although Apple has been blocking many of these), and some lack a professional quality that makes them not so user-friendly, well-designed, or highly functional.
You're about to discover a few proven strategies for finding the very best business-related apps for your iPhone or iPad. It all starts with understanding how to browse efficiently when visiting the App Store.
Welcome to the App Store…Don't Get Lost
When you visit the App Store from iTunes on your computer, you'll discover that the main screen is divided into a handful of windowsall promoting the latest and greatest apps. Toward the top-center of the App Store screen (when accessing it through iTunes), choose which device you're looking to find apps forthe iPhone or iPad. Click the appropriate icon (as shown in Figure 1).
As your eyes travel down the center of the screen, you'll discover that it's divided into sections, with headlines like "New and Noteworthy," "What's Hot," and "Staff Favorites." These sections are great resources for discovering new types of apps for your device, particularly if you're not looking for anything in particular. The apps promoted within these sections change frequently.
Under each heading, you'll see a collection of colorful App icons, under each of which is the app's name and category. Some of the popular categories are "Business," "Productivity", "Travel," "Lifestyle," "Reference," "Photography," "Games," "News," and "Sports" (see Figure 2).
By clicking on the heading itself or the "See All" link next to it, you can view a handful of apps that are available. Or, you can simply click on any app icon to learn more about it.
Also scattered throughout the App Store are many larger banner ads promoting dozens of different individual apps.
When visiting the App Store via iTunes, on the right side of the screen you'll see additional boxes with headlines like "App Store Quick Links," "Top Charts: Paid Apps," "Top Charts: Free Apps" and "Top Charts: Top Grossing" (as shown in Figure 3). These windows provide lists and links, again for browsing through popular apps, allowing you to discover a small fraction of what's available.
Even if you invest a few minutes to browse through all of the apps under each heading, what you'll see is only a small sampling of the apps available. For example, if you look under the "New and Noteworthy" section, you'll see some of Apple's picks for the best new apps that have been added to the App Store within the past week or so.