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Using the Newly Designed iTunes App Store to Find, Purchase, and Download Apps on Your iOS Mobile Device

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With more than 700,000 third-party apps available for iOS mobile devices, there's no shortage of innovative ways to enhance what your Apple iPhone, iPad, iPad mini, or iPod touch is capable of. Jason R. Rich explains how to quickly find the best-quality and most-suitable apps to meet your needs by offering strategies for exploring the App Store from your iOS mobile device.

As an Apple iOS mobile device user, you probably know by now that your iPhone, iPad, iPad mini, or iPod touch comes with the iOS operating system and a handful of apps preinstalled. These core apps allow you to handle a wide range of popular tasks, ranging from managing your contacts and schedule, email accounts, to-do lists, and web surfing.

If you want to expand the capabilities of what your iOS mobile device can do, you'll need to download and install additional apps, which are available exclusively from Apple's online-based App Store. The easiest way to access the App Store is to turn on 3G/4G (LTE) or Wi-Fi Internet connectivity on your iOS mobile device, and then launch the App Store app, which is among the apps that come preinstalled on your device.

From the Home Screen, tap the App Store app's icon to launch the App Store app and access Apple's App Store via the Internet. Then, if you know the name of the app you want to download and install, or if you know the type of app you're looking for, use the app's Search feature.

Use the App Store's Search Option to Quickly Find Apps

On the iPhone or iPod touch, tap the Search button that's displayed near the bottom of the App Store screen and then type what you're looking for into the empty Search field that's displayed. On the iPad or iPad mini, the Search field is continuously displayed near the upper-right corner of the screen.

Once you enter an app name or the type of app you're looking for (such as PDF reader, word processor, time manager, flashlight, or Sudoku game) into the Search field, and then tap the Search key, your customized Search results are displayed in the main area of the screen in the form of app previews. Tap an app preview to access each listed app's detailed Description window or screen; or tap the app's price icon to immediately purchase, download, and install that app.

The App Store Offers App Preview and Detailed Description Screens

An app preview screen (iPhone/iPod touch) or window (iPad/iPad mini) displays an app's logo, title, publisher, category, average star-based rating, total number of ratings, and a single screen shot from the actual app. When you tap the app's icon or title, the Description screen that's displayed offers considerably more information about that app.

Near the top of an app's Description screen/window, you'll see three tabs: Details, Ratings and Reviews, and Related. When you tap Details, you'll see several actual screen shots from the app, a text-based Description of the app, information about What's New in the latest version of the app, and an Information section. Here, you can see at-a-glance details about the app's Seller, Category, when it was last updated, its latest version number, the app's file size (which helps to determine how much internal storage space it'll require when installed on your device), its age-appropriateness rating, and its system requirements.

Below the Information section on the Description screen, tap the Developer Info option to see other apps created by that developer or tap the Version History option to see details about various versions of the app that have been released.

More and more apps require in-app purchases to fully utilize them. If this is the case, as you're looking at an app's Description screen, below the Information section you'll see an option labeled Top In-App Purchases. When you tap this, you will see a list of the most popular in-app purchases available for that app, as well as how much the app add-ons cost. In some cases, this will be a one-time fee—to unlock app features or functions. In other situations, the in-app purchases may be recurring, if what you're paying for is continuously updated content, for example.

Keep in mind that if the price button for an app says Free, it means there is no initial charge for the app. You can simply download and install it onto your device from the App Store. However, in-app purchases may be required to fully utilize that free app. If there's a price associated with the app (typically between $0.99 and $9.99), when you tap the price button and then confirm your purchase decision, the credit card you have associated with your Apple ID account will be billed immediately for the purchase of the app, which will then be downloaded and installed onto the device it was purchased using. An app needs to be purchased only once. Instead of using a credit card or debit card to pay for app purchases (or in-app purchases), it's possible to purchase and redeem iTunes Gift Cards (http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/giftcards), which are available online or wherever gift cards are sold.

As you're viewing an app's Description screen, tap the Ratings and Reviews tab to view a chart that displays its star-based ratings, as well as to read more detailed text-based reviews written by other App Store customers. This information is very useful when it comes to determining the quality and usefulness of an app.

If you tap the Related tab within an app's Description screen, you'll see listings for other apps that are similar to the one you're currently looking at. As you'll discover, for almost every app available from the App Store, there are at least several that are available from other developers that offer similar functionality, but a different user interface, and/or a slightly different selection of features.

Once you acquire any app, whether it's a free or purchased app, in addition to being downloaded and installed onto the device it was purchased on, it also gets stored within your free iCloud account. Thus, you can reinstall it on the same device later (if you delete it from that device), or you can install that same app onto another compatible device that's linked to the same Apple ID/iCloud account.

Some Apps Are iPhone or iPad-Specific; Others Are Hybrid Apps

If you acquire an iPhone app, that same app can be downloaded and installed, at no additional charge, on your iPad, iPad mini, or iPad touch. Keep in mind that almost all iPhone-specific apps will run on all iPhone and iPod touch models. Some iPhone-specific apps, however, have been enhanced specifically for the iPhone 5's larger display. Most iPhone apps will also run on the iPad or iPad mini, although if they're iPhone-specific apps, they will not utilize the full size of the tablet's screen.

As you're browsing for apps within the App Store, if the price icon for an app displays a plus sign icon within it, this means the app is a hybrid app, and that it will automatically adjust to the screen size of whichever iOS mobile device it's running on. So, if you have an iPhone and an iPad, for example, purchasing hybrid apps, when available, makes the most sense because these apps will run on both of your devices.

Also available from the App Store are iPad-specific apps. The majority of these apps will run on any model iPad or iPad mini, but they will not run on an iPhone or iPod touch. Some iPad-specific apps are enhanced to work with the Retina display of the most recently released iPad models.

If you're shopping for apps from the App Store app on the iPhone or iPod touch, only iPhone-specific and hybrid apps will be displayed. However, if you're using the App Store app on the iPad or iPad mini, you'll often be given the choice between viewing iPhone or hybrid/iPad-specific apps. When viewing app search results, for example, look for the iPad Apps and iPhone Apps tabs that are displayed near the top-center of the screen.

Beyond using the App Store's Search feature to quickly find an app based on its title, for example by tapping the Features, Top Charts or Genius buttons that are displayed along the bottom of the App Store screen, you can browse for apps in a variety of other ways.

Browsing Through the Featured Apps within the App Store

Tap the Featured button (displayed near the bottom-left corner of the App Store's screen) to view listings for new and featured apps. To narrow down your search, select a specific app category. To do this on the iPhone, tap the Categories button that's displayed near the top-left corner of the screen, and then choose a category from the listing, such as Business, Entertainment, Finance, Food & Drink, Games, Health & Fitness or News.

On the iPad/iPad mini, choose an app category from the tabs displayed along the top-center of the screen once you tap the Featured button. Tap any app listing to view its more detailed Description screen (and/or to purchase, download, and install the app).

View Listings for Bestselling or Popular Apps

To see which apps are currently the most popular within the App Store, or to see popular Free, Paid or Top Grossing apps in a specific app category, tap the Top Charts button that's displayed near the button-center of the screen. To view popular apps within a specific category, after tapping the Top Charts button, tap the Categories button (iPhone/iPod touch) or All Categories button (iPad/iPad mini) to view a listing of all categories within the App Store and to select one.

As you're viewing a Top Charts screen, three separate lists—Paid, Free, and Top Grossing—are displayed. Use your finger to scroll through the list in order to view up to 300 apps in order of their popularity from each list. On the iPhone/iPod Touch, tap the See All option that's displayed to the right of the Paid, Free, or Top Grossing heading to view all the apps within that list. On the iPad/iPad mini, simply scroll downward as you're viewing each list.

Other Ways to Explore the App Store

If you tap the Genius button that's displayed near the bottom of the App Store screen, all your past purchases will be automatically analyzed, and the App Store app will recommend other apps you might be interested in. This is an easy way to discover new and useful apps that are relevant to you and your interests.

There are several ways to download and install apps you've already purchased from the App Store. One way is to revisit the listing for the app. Instead of a Price button, you'll see an Install button. Tap this button to install (or reinstall) the already purchased app onto the compatible device you're using.

Another option is to tap the Purchased option. On an iPhone/iPod touch, tap the Updates button and then tap the Purchased option. On the iPad/iPad mini, tap the Purchased button that's displayed near the bottom of the screen. You'll then be able to view either all the apps you've purchased to date; or by tapping the Not On This iPhone/iPad button, you'll be able to view only apps you own but that are not currently installed on the device you're using. To download any of the listed (and compatible) apps onto the device you're using, tap the iCloud icon that's displayed in conjunction with an app's listing.

Once you've installed optional apps onto your iOS mobile device, it will be necessary to periodically update them as new versions are released by their respective developers. Updating your apps is always free. To do this, tap the Updates button that's displayed near the bottom of the App Store screen. If one or more app updates are available, either tap the Update button that's associated with each app listed or tap the Update All button, as long as your iOS mobile device has Internet access.

In general, most apps can be downloaded, installed and/or updated using a 3G/4G (LTE) or Wi-Fi Internet connection. However, if the app has a large file size associated with it, you may be required to purchase or update it directly from the App Store using only a Wi-Fi Internet connection. You can always purchase or update any app using the iTunes software on your primary computer, and then use the iTunes Sync process to transfer it to your mobile device.

Final Thoughts

The App Store offers optional apps that can handle a wide range of popular tasks as well as apps that offer very specialized or vertical market functionality. If you have a task in mind that you think, "Gee, it would be great if my iPhone or iPad did that," chances are there's already an optional app available that offers that functionality. You just need to find, purchase, download, and install it from the App Store.

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