Sync or Swim

This post is about how I have manage to avoid paying full price for most of the iPhone apps I have installed.

Sure, there are some which I have paid full price for and they have been worth every cent (Camera+ -currently unavailable- springs immediately to mind, as does eWallet and SprintGPS) but some apps are good value at $1.19, and even better value at $0 (most aren’t even worth $0 but that’s the topic of another post entirely).

The thing is that quite often iPhone app developers will drop their price for a special promotion, or set the price to FREE for a random 24 hours period to create some buzz, sometimes because they have another app coming out soon and want to raise awareness and sometimes just because they’re batshit insane and like living on two minute noodles and expired beer.

Anyway, it’s not rocket surgery but what I do avoid paying developers for their hard work isn’t completely obvious either, so here’s the deal:

The easy way

As the name would suggest FADD offer one paid app for free every day, most of the apps are only free for one day but some persist for several days and the FAAD app keeps track of them for you.

See, I told you it wasn’t rock science. I used to use an app called AppSniper but it became increasingly unstable and unreliable so I removed it and now prefer to use the method below.

The slightly less easy way

  • Sign up for a Google Reader account
  • Use google reader to subscribe to the appshopper.com rss feed at http://appshopper.com/feed/?mode=featured
  • Check the feed on your iphone using the google app or via your browser on the dekstop, as per the image to the right it clearly shows apps which have dropped in price and even notifies you of new ones as they are released.

The other great feature of Appshopper is that when you view the app page in their site it shows you a price history of the app so you can see when the sneaky developer increased the price from FREE to $5.99 then to FREE again within the space of two days. These are the ones you usually know to avoid because they’re permanently free for a reason (not all free apps are shit, but it’s a generalisation I stand by).

You’ll be drowning in free apps before you have time to say “Chris, you’re a certified genius!”

One Caveat: I have noticed a disturbing trend of once paid apps going free but integrating either micro-transactions or iAds in to their normal flow.Tower Madness is one example. This once $2.99 tower defence app has gone free but now seems to offer upgrades to weapons or new maps, for a price. While I understand the developers need to feed their families I much prefer they do so by offering a product which people will actually want to pay for without using dirty tricks.

So there you have it, enjoy your free apps and remember if you like an app you happen to get for free make sure you support the developer in the future, the good ones deserve your money and encouragement  and who knows, maybe one day the signal to noise ratio in the app store will favour the apps worth paying for rather than 698 fart apps.

yes, 698 fart apps