If you recently acquired a new smartphone or tablet, but find yourself a bit lost as to which apps would be best to download, you aren't alone. "I love my new iPhone, but there are so many app choices that I didn't even know where to start at first," says Jen Conner, an iPhone owner from Indianapolis.
According to Apple, in 2012 nearly 20 billion apps were downloaded by their customers. "The revolutionary App Store offers more than 775,000 apps to iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users in 155 countries around the world, with more than 300,000 native iPad apps available."
With so many different apps available, if you've never used a tablet before, then you may be unsure of which apps would be best to download. Since some apps cost money, and all apps take up space on your device, you don't want to just start downloading hundreds of apps without knowing which ones are best for beginners.
What is an app anyway?
The best place to start is by understanding what an app is. The word is often thrown out by news media and in casual conversation. Maybe you've never before owned a smart mobile device. Maybe you didn't even ask for the tablet you just received as a gift. When people talk about an "app," you may scratch your head and wonder exactly what they are talking about.
In its simplest terms, an app (short for application) is software developed by a third party. If you use word processing software or play solitaire on your computer, then you've used apps. Mobile apps add functionality--and fun--to your device, such as games, battery monitors, calorie trackers, and even flashlights, and are optimized for smaller screens and touch interfaces.
Learning how to use mobile apps
There are many ways you can learn to use apps on your new smartphone or tablet.
Apps for beginners
When it comes to deciding which apps are best, there are as many answers as there are iPad users. Candy Fox, a Jeffersonville Indiana business analyst and part-time business owner, loves the Over 40 app. It's a magnifier and flashlight in one. Fox said, "I am a beginner even though I have had my iPad for a year! I love the Over 40 app, because it magnifies and lights up menus in dark restaurants...folks tease me but still ask to borrow my phone!"
Other users, like stay-at-home mom Mary McDowell of Abilene, Texas, and Becky McGraw, a published author in Indianapolis, Indiana, swear by the Kindle reader app, which allows users to download e-books from Amazon and read them on a mobile device. The Kindle app even syncs across devices so you can start a book your smartphone and continue reading where you left off, on your Kindle eReader or tablet.
Frequently recommended apps
With such a plethora of apps available, you'll need to decide which ones match your interests most closely. Stick to free apps until you get your bearings. That way, if one isn't meeting your needs, you can just delete it and download another.