AppStart slow starter

Spoiler alert! AppStart is a decent app for brand new iPad users who feel like dummies, which is half the market for the iPad. It’s cheap enough to be a nice pacifier, but if you already know how to search for software and know your way around an interface you can skip this step even if you’re new to an iPad. I’d rate it three stars but the number of stars will increase the more you want help with your iPad and decrease the more you feel you know what you’re doing.

Whoopi Goldberg had an interesting week. Starbucks released a new pastry in her honor, the whoopie pie. If only they had looked her name up, however, they might have spelled it right. Then she came under fire from rescue groups around the country because she didn’t see anything wrong with pet stores.

Let’s be honest, however. Whoopi is paid extraordinary amounts of money to give marginally informed opinions on a talk show that is more about selling products than delivering news or opinion you should use for decision making. The View never pretends to be about real journalism, only to be a hip show for women who want gossip about everything from fashion to fallen pop stars and Muammar Gaddafi.

So when Whoopi decided to exonerate pet stores, she was as likely to affect the policies in the handful of states looking to regulate puppy mills as Elizabeth Hasselback is to influence the outcome of a Presidential election. And the issue is puppy mills (and kitten mills) more than pet stores. As a rescue person I would really like to see animals adopted and not sold. But what happens to the puppies the mills don’t sell?

If someone would develop an app to make irresponsible breeders disappear, no one would care what Whoopi thinks about pet stores. But for now we’re stuck with AppStart.

AppStart is a marketing tool to promote the AppAdvice app (which I will be reviewing Thursday). The basic idea is to help new iPad users who need their hands held while they learn their new toy. The irony of this is that AppStart is a series of articles, and people who want their hands don’t want to read.

AppStart is organized into easy to navigate articles to familiarize new users with their iPads. The articles are spread across four screens. Many of the articles, however, are little more than micro-reviews to promote apps.

That being said, AppStart certainly does a better job of pulling together introductory materials than Apple. You will have to sit down and sort through dozens of pages of material, but they’re much easier to navigate than poring through a dummies book. Articles include a basic explanation of file management, how to set up email, and when and how the iPad can be used to replace your laptop (and they’re pretty much on target).

You might want to look for more in-depth reviews before you buy apps. I’m not sure how some of the recommended apps became recommended.

Several of the articles I glanced through seemed useful. Other articles are little more than lists of apps with brief descriptions. This is where I would tread carefully as a new user. Look for more in-depth reviews because I’m not sure how some of the apps ended up being listed. AppStart lists quite a few note taking apps without ever reminding new users that the Notes app is already loaded and ready to synch with mobile me. The list of Office Apps promotes the $5o OmniGraffle with no mention of cheaper (and easier-to-use) brainstorming apps.

None of the games listed as games for non-gamers would be on my list (okay, maybe a couple)—even Plants v Zombies which remains one of my favorites. I’m just not sure it’s a game for non-gamers, nor is the recommended Harbor Master and Flight Control. It would have been nice to see games like Mondo Solitaire, Puzzle Planet or MahJong Artifacts which are the kinds of games non-gamers really gravitate to.

You should also beware that AppStart plugs more than one iPhone-only app without warning they were designed for iPhone. Since the AppStore spring loads from AppStart you may not notice either. This doesn’t mean they’re bad apps, just that they’re not designed for the iPad screen.

Nor do apps that deserve to be reviewed make it to the list. If you need to use an app in conjunction with your work or important passion, do the research yourself. The apps for musicians include a jumble of consumer-pro level apps and toys. A number of useful music apps never make it.

AppStart is free, so it can’t hurt to download and thumb through the articles that look useful. Short of having a son and daughter-in-law to call up in a panic when you forget to recharge your battery (mother), it’s as close to handholding as you may get.

Jenny Manytoes rates AppStart

Jenny Manytoes would take a nap next to AppStart. Your rating will go up or down depending on how comfortable you are launching new devices on your own.

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.

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


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
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