AppShopper extends App Store functionality


Spoiler alert! AppShopper doesn’t run circles around the App Store app that ships with your iPad, but it does offer a few wrinkles to make the download worthwhile.


So Saturday night Carol was telling me about this Congresswoman from Arizona who was shot because Sarah Palin put a target on her district on her web page. I smiled because I thought this was an urban legend from the 2010 elections, or a real shooting I missed hearing about because I’m not one to follow bloodletting on cable news with the same passion as some of my friends.

It makes a good urban legend, right? I nodded knowingly with her because I was typing my next blog for the Hidden Grimoire1 at the time, and I was listening with one ear rather than giving her the full attention she deserves.

On Sunday I tuned into the news and found out she was actually talking about a real shooting that happened Saturday. The investigator at the press conference then referenced Tombstone as America’s cemetery (the exact metaphor eludes me now) because of its history as a town filled with gun violence.

I took his point to be that gun rights advocates stopped the gun control that might have prevented this kind of shooting.

Is he nuts?

If the bleeding-heart Democrats had only embraced their gun rights and carried their own concealed weapons to the rally, they could have shot it out with that gunman and put him down. The body count would have been a lot higher, but at least they would have taken him down in defense of the second amendment.

There’s a clear lesson here. If liberals don’t embrace their gun rights, only gun rights advocates will have guns. This will put them at a serious disadvantage when some loose cannon decides to loose his cannon in a crowd. Only liberals and innocent bystanders will die because the tea party members will be armed to the teeth to defend themselves.

I’ll go a step further. If liberals armed themselves, maybe all the gun rights advocates would stop to consider the irony of their position. But I doubt it.

When the blowback targeted Sarah Palin and the tea party for the crosshair icons on Democratic candidates, the tea party people began to whine about being picked on by the press. Give me a break. Get some thicker skins guys. If you intend to embrace your freedom of speech rights and lob loud volleys at liberals and Democrats, then you better expect some blowback. Especially when you hand them the ammunition.

Which has absolutely nothing to do with today’s app, AppShopper, except that I probably wouldn’t have connected the shootings to this blog had I not discovered all the gun lovers’ apps while I trying it out. I found, without intending to, gun magazine special issues, gun apps and apps where gun lovers off innocent imaginary deer.

Imagine that. Guns and iPads. Who would have thought? The iPad is now positioned to move into the mainstream. Now militia members can add the iPad to their substantial arsenals. The hallowed trinity of Mom, the flag and apple pie has become a….

Well never mind. I’m assuming the word is tetriny, if there is such a word, but I’m really straying off the track here. Besides, the flag was supposed to be on that list, so I have to ditch the trinity metaphor.

I can now rest assured, however, that when the tea party sends the militias to plant a mandatory American flag in my front, side and rear lawns we will have something in common to talk about. The militia guy can load AppShopper and show me all the cool gun apps, and I can promise to review them that week.

App Shopper extends the App Store

You might wonder why you would need a parallel app to order products from the App Store, especially one that actually launches the App Store app to initiate the download. My best answer would be that you don’t, but the App Store is limited and it’s clear updating it is a low priority for Apple.

In an earlier review of a different, I gushed about AppShopper as one of the best apps available and promised to review it. In the time since, my opinion has waned slightly. I wouldn’t rate it a best-buy by any means, but I would rate is as a must-have, not because it’s absolutely fabulous (it’s far from fabulous), but because it provides a few features that I consider essential to app shopping.

Easy browsing

Probably the biggest advantage of AppShopper is the browsing mode. In landscape mode, AppShopper opens two panels, a search options panel and a list of apps for that search category.

The categories panel lets you switch back and forth between the App Store’s basic windows without actually changing windows. The apps list scrolls downward, and can show as many apps as you want. This is far easier than thumbing through the App Store’s windows that display, at most, a couple dozen apps.

The landscape interface allows you to switch between search windows and view all all items as a list. This makes searching for the perfect app quicker and easier.

Click image to see full size

Wish list tracking

My biggest frustration with the App Store app is the lack of a wish list feature. In the past, if I saw an app I thought looked worthwhile (or worth reviewing) I had to find a way to remember it (which usually meant taking a screen shot), or drag my MacBook Pro out to log into iTunes to access the App Store wish list.

Both options were a pain, when the simple addition of a wish list couldn’t have been that difficult. The AppShopper has a built in wish list, and that’s the main reason I use it so much.

AppShopper doesn’t remove apps when you order them from the wish list, which I think it should. Hopefully they will add that feature in time.

Same limited search

Unfortunately, the search engine in AppShopper is limited to name only searches just like the App Store itself. This may be a problem with the way Apple indexes apps, and we may have to wait until Apple decides to enter additional fields in the store database.

I say this because I noticed that developers are making their app names longer to include more possible search terms. But I hope AppShopper will find a way around this and fix it in a future upgrade.

No clear demarcation between iPad and iPhone apps

Unlike the App Store, AppShopper doesn’t sort apps into iPad and iPhone panels, making it difficult to determine whether the app you want to download is iPad or iPhone. You can jump to the developer’s page from the App Store to actually find out, but that adds an extra step to the process.

Theoretically, you can change AppShopper’s settings to show only iPad apps so that you don’t download iPhone apps by accident (you can also limit the search to universal and iPhone apps). But in my experience the settings don’t always filter iPhone only apps out.

I’m sure they’ll work the bugs out, but for now you might want to double check the app before you download.

Having noted the limitations, I also should add that I’m more confident AppShopper will upgrade features before Apple will tweak the App Store app. So even though it’s not perfect, I still recommend you download and move it right next to the App Store on your iPad.

The App Store may be free, and it may be Apple, but that doesn’t make it the better choice for app shopping.

Jenny Manytoes rates AppShopper

Jenny Manytoes would purr next to AppShopper. It still needs work, but it still provides a lot of functionality you won’t find in the App Store for iPad.

The Jenny Manytoes Rating System


Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.

1Dear tea party and fundamentalist readers. The name Hidden Grimoire is a joke about a game. The game is called We Rule in which players build a magical kingdom with dragons and an occasional wizard because Farmville wasn’t available on the iPad when the game was released. I borrowed the name from the Hidden Bible books about computers. And before you go ranting about liberal computer writers who appropriate a sacred book name for their manuals, the word “bible” is also a common term for any set of guidelines and procedures. The writers never intended to appropriate the holy scriptures for secular programming purposes.back


Contact me at Email iPad Envy, or
Email The Hidden Grimoire.

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About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
This entry was posted in 4 Stars - Purr, Utilities and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to AppShopper extends App Store functionality

  1. g’day mate! You have a great site!!

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