Without question there are some Mac users who try, install, and use more apps than yours truly. Those are the power geek users. I tend to be more protective of my Mac, more careful with what apps get installed, and even more picky about which apps get to stay on my Mac to be used.
There are many ways to shop for an app, but there are few lists of what to avoid, or how not to buy an app for your Mac (rules which apply to iPhone and iPad apps, too).
As I browse through the Mac App Store, MacUpdate, Download.com, and other sites which list and promote various applications, I look for a few telltale hints for which apps to avoid. For example, a quick sign is how recent the latest version was updated. If the last update was August of 2012, I’ll avoid even downloading the app.
Yes, the app might be perfectly good, useful, and fill a need– even if it hasn’t been updated at all in two or three years. The key word in that analysis is might. Nothing improves without change, so an app that hasn’t been updated must be perfect already. Or, nearly abandoned.
Another thing to consider is the app’s price, and whether or not the developer provides a trial version. Some developers with apps on the Mac App Store are guilty of pricing apps well above the throwaway money threshold (about $3.00 for me) without the option of a trial version. Five star reviews need to number in the dozens before I’ll plunk down $10 for an app without a trial version.
Also, before trying a new app I’ll check to see whether or not the Mac app developer has a real website. You’d be surprised at how many app developers use Twitter or Facebook for promotion and support (especially true among App Store developers). Caveat emptor applies here, too. Screenshots are important, too. If there’s no trial version available, there needs to be a bunch of screenshots so a customer can see how the app looks and feels. A video of how the app works is even better. It shows that the developer is proud of his or her work, and willing to show off a little. That’s OK.
Finally, app reviews. As I see it, there are two kinds of review methods. Website reviews, as you’d find on my site, Mac360, and others which specialize in reviewing usable, recommendable Mac apps. And App Store reviews. Any Mac app that has six five-star reviews, all placed on the same day, by customers who’ve never reviewed other apps, are suspect. Apps which receive 200 four and five star reviews, and even a few one and two star reviews, are probably good apps to consider, as the good reviews far outweigh the bad.
Mac, iPhone, and iPad users have more app choices than ever. Apple has a real problem with their App Stores because the search options favor developers and not users. With a few hundred thousand apps from which to choose, caveat emptor applies. Competition is intense, but using an app for awhile remains the best way to determine whether it’s worthwhile to use on your device.