So you just bought your smartphone and wonder what it can really do. You know that you can browse the web, send an SMS (Short Messenger Service), otherwise known as a text message, and can send pictures using MMS (Multimedia Messenger Service), or a fancy way of saying picture message. It has all the things a feature phone, or a non-smart phone has, including a camera, calculator, and so forth.
So what makes a smartphone “special” or well, SMART. Most people would agree that smart phones are different because they are basically mini-computers. Not only can you do everything that any other basic feature phone does, they have voice activation features, and these wonderful things called apps (applications). Maybe you’ve heard of them, maybe you haven’t. Remember those wonderful iPhone commercials, “there’s an app for that“!
An app is a fancy word that means the same thing as a program like the ones you have on your computer. They can help you keep organized, stay healthy, keep you entertained, and pretty much do anything you need, or don’t need.
The other day I was talking with my father about how he can download the app for Facebook so he no longer has to go to his web browser to log in each time. He was simply clicking a link from his previous email notifications from Facebook to get to his account. With the Facebook app, you don’t have to log in anymore, it becomes easier to navigate, and it allows you to sync information about your friends to the the Phone Contacts already in your phone.
Yes apps can do almost anything. For example, creating special features for your phone, inform you about the world, help you with school, or boldly keep track of your sex life.
If you don’t like the app, or want to try two apps that do similar things, why not download both and choose the one you like best based on your personal preference. All you have to do is uninstall the one you don’t want. Apps cater to your personality., interests, personal needs, and can keep you distracted for hours at a time. No they don’t ask you to take a personality test, unless you download an app for that.
Simply put, they are there to have quick access to literally anything you can most likely think of. Where do you get these amazing things? Depending on the Operating System you use (Apple, Android, or Windows), you just need to go to their app store and search for the app name or look under the categories and browse for things that peak your interest. Even Amazon has joined in the mix to create their own unique phone running on the Android OS, and have made their own app store. If you use a Blackberry, they have an App Store called Blackberry World. There are two main types of Apps that you can download on your phone, the kind that cost money (Premium Apps), and the kind that are free (Freemium or Free-To-Play or Use).
Premium vs Freemium Apps
The Premium App is defined as an app that you pay outright for, which gives you full access to the app or an add-free version of the app. Often times you can make an in-app purchase to gain access to more options for the App. In-App purchases, are purchases you make directly within the App. These In-App purchases will allow you access to exclusive content that the free version of the App does not have. For instance, a game you download may have the option for in-app purchases including things such as power-ups, access to restricted levels, special characters, virtual money, and so forth.
This become more prominent in 2009-2011 with Apple starting the trend of in-app purchases within the Apple App Store with the updated iOS 3.0 of October 2009.Blackberry followed suit by adding support for in-app purchases in September 2010 through the Blackberry App World, and was last to follow in March of 2011 Google added their version of in-app purchases called in-app billing for Android users.
Some people didn’t realize they were actually using real money. Other times, children would have access to our phones and make unknown purchases. Because of this, there is now a feature on in-app purchases where a user is required to type in a passcode to complete purchases.
Apple added an update in their iOS 4.3 which made users have to enter their password in order to continue with an in-app purchase. App developers are creating more apps that are a hybrid of a Free App and a Paid App called a “Freemium” App. These apps are free to download and have options to make in-app purchases. Premium apps can be bought outright to have access to an ad-free or full version of an app. These are not as popular as the freemium apps.
Freemium vs Paymium Apps
Distimo App Analytics noted that freemium apps have a higher gross earnings in both the Apple iTunes App Store and Google Play Store. Back in October 2014, nine of the top 10 apps in the iTunes App Store within the US were freemium games, including Game of War: Fire Age, Candy Crush Saga, following Pandora Radio. Minecraft was ranked all the way down at 27 top apps. The freemium app games took the top most popular on the Google Play Store with minecraft being the first paid app in the ranking all the way down on the 47th spot. It seems like the Premium App is slowly going away, just not altogether. After all, who wants to buy something they can’t try out first?
Free-To-Play Apps are the most popular form of freemium apps. Amongst the most downloaded freemium apps are the games. Because they are free to use, users can initially play without cost to them. This form of freemium app allows you to purchase things to enhance your gaming experience using micropayments, while other popular games such as Game of War: Fire Age have items such as “gold” in packs, varying in price all the way to $90.00! This app is promoted in the App Store with a large red banner exclaiming “Addictive!” in capital letters. If you don’t want to pay for in-app features, there is no worry. App developers are focusing more on balancing out the free to play experience with the extra paid features. As an article published in the Harvard Business Review in May 2014 indicates, the importance of non-paying players is just as important, bringing in new players who may be willing to play.
Another form of freemium app are those which a user needs a subscription to use, where you pay a monthlly or yearly recurring amount to access premium content during a certain time. Most of these apps are video or music apps (Vevo, Spotify, Netflix), online media (New York Times, Time Magazine), and other social/communication social networks (LinkedIn, and WhatsApp). In-App purchases can apply to premium apps as well as free apps. These are a new form of app called paymium apps which is a paid app that also charges for extra features through in-app purchases. An example of paymium apps are some variant versions of Angry Birds, Kingdom Rush Origins HD, and Capcom’s Mega Man X, which are among the top sellers in several countries for both Android and iPhone platforms.
App Stores & Marketplaces
As aforementioned, the best place to get apps are through the various App Stores or Marketplaces. No matter what brand of smart phone you have, there will always be an app store or marketplace to download apps. For instance, an iPhone has it’s App Store, any phone running an Android OS will likely use the Google Play Store, and Windows Phones use the Microsoft Store.
You can download any type of app you wish from these marketplaces. Other Android devices such as the Amazon Fire Phone, and Blackberries, have separate app stores from the Google Play Store as mentioned previously. You can still download the Google Play Store on those phones and add apps that way as well.
HTC phones also have their own app store, whereas LG Phones app marketplace is the LG Smart World, and Samsung’s popular flagship Galaxy Phones have their own unique app store simply entitled Samsung Galaxy Apps. Even some cellular service providers such as AT&T (AT&T AppCenter) and Verizon (Verizon App Store) tried creating their own app stores, but eventually put their apps in the three major app stores for iPhones, Windows, and Androids or pre-loading them onto their devices.
As a smart phone user, you can even backup your apps on your phones cloud service which will backup your apps and allow you to reinstall them on a newer phone! If you are switching the type of phone you are using (e.g., iPhone to Android), you may want to save the apps on your computer as a data file. Depending on what type of phone you may have, there are different types of files for the apps you may want.
iPhones use IPA files which you can load onto your iPhone using iTunes, where as Window Phones use XAP files and can be loaded onto your Windows Phone, and an APK file can be loaded directly to your Android Device. The great thing about APK files is that you can even load Premium Paid apps for FREE to your Android. My next blog will show you how you can get FREE PAID APPS loaded onto your phone no matter what Operating System you may have.