Home > advice, beginner > Choosing an App

Choosing an App

February 17th, 2011

One of the questions I’m asked most often is, “How do I know which word processing (or PDF annotating/organizing, or etc.) app to buy?” Unfortunately, the answer isn’t an easy one. I suggest that you consider the following:

1. VGA compatibility: Not all apps will project out through the projectors in the multimedia rooms on campus. You must find an app that is described in the app store or appshopper.com as having “support for VGA out adapter” or something similar. Is this language always easy to find in an app description? Nope.

2. Compatibility with your favorite apps: Dropbox and Evernote are both file storage and sharing apps (this is an over-simplification, Evernote has many other capabilities, which I won’t get into here). You will discover that some apps have direct links to other apps. For example, QuickOffice, the word processing program I use most often, has direct links to Dropbox, Google docs, and other external storage spaces. Pages, which has VGA support, does not have direct links to Dropbox or Google docs. It does have direct links to other external storage spaces, I just don’t use any of them. As I’m unlikely to need VGA compatibility for my word processing program, I don’t often use Pages.

3. App functionality: Know what you need from an app, then look for those qualities in the app description in the App Store (or on appshopper.com or the appshopper app) before you buy. DocsToGo, for example, another word processing app, seems to handle encrypted Excel files well.

4. Bugginess and interface: Look at the ratings for the apps in the App Store to find out whether an app is prone to crashing. And be sure that you’re looking at the ratings for the most recent version of the app. Also look at the pictures of the app interface at the bottom of the app description in the App Store. Given a set of comparable apps, interface will likely determine which you will buy.

5. Online and offline apps: If you have not enabled the 3G on your iPad, you’ll need to consider which apps require wi-fi and which do not. And some apps require wi-fi even if you have enabled the 3G (these tend to be data heavy apps, such as Netflix).

Let me know in the comments what other factors influence your purchase of apps.

–Rebecca Johnson

Categories: advice, beginner Tags:
  1. Steven Ramey
    March 23rd, 2011 at 05:28 | #1

    In terms of apps working well, has anyone tried Absolute Board. It is a free app that appears to have more features for drawing than some others. I hope to try to allow students to use it in class on Thursday.

    • jmmiller
      March 24th, 2011 at 23:31 | #2

      The app has a nice interface and easy to use options. After you mentioned the app I tried it and emailed the developer for more information about the future of the app. I was told that this app will not support vga out. However in the near future the app will allow for wifi sharing in the same sort of way airsketch works. I suggest that anyone looking for a free way to take notes or drawings look into this app. Especially since the app is currently free but that could change when it is given the wifi sharing capability.

Comments are closed.