Every week, I browse through the Apple iTunes Store for new iPhone and iPad apps. I’ll also browse through the Mac App Store for new software. Some apps, like OmniFocus, become a permanent part of my daily app collection. But usually, apps that I install on my devices are deleted within the first few weeks, some on the same day. So I return to browsing for that one app that I find myself wondering how I got by without.
And there lies the issue, browsing is less user friendly with each iOS update. Say you’re searching for hotel apps, for example. Typing “hotels” in the iTunes search bar on iOS 6 will bring up results one at a time. Although you can scan through the result list by swiping from right to left, the list of top apps for your search term are not presented on one screen, as it was with iOS 5. I liked being able to quickly scan several apps, along with their respective price and rating, at once.
This is the reason I like browsing apps on my MacBook instead. Along with a browser, comparing many apps at once is a piece of cake.
Note: I’d like to add that I’m using OS X Mountain Lion; I’m unsure if the following hint will work on previous OS X versions.
Continuing with the same example, searching for hotels using iTunes on Mac brings up over 100 results. Sure, you could compare a few apps by selecting one at a time and returning to the result screen, but here’s an easier way.
Drag an app icon to your browser of choice. For this example, I’ll be using Chrome, but any browser will do. The screen will populate with the app’s details directly from the iTunes Store. You accomplish the same thing by dragging apps from the Mac App Store.
If you would like to compare a few at a time, drag each app to the browser icon on your dock and the app details will appear on individual tabs.
Using a browser will allow you to switch between each app and make the selection process easier. You can select the appropriate “View in iTunes” button for the app you decide to go with.
It’s also possible to browse or search for apps on your Mac without opening up iTunes. Using Google, type in the following search term: “keywords site:itunes.apple.com“.
It would also help to add the country code to your search term to limit results to apps available to you. So if you’re looking for jogging apps and you live in the US, you’d type in: “jogging site:itunes.apple.com/us“.
If you use Mac search applications such as the Alfred or LaunchBar, you can add a custom search for the iTunes store by using the following term:
These hints are not for everyone – there’s nothing wrong with browsing through apps one at a time and searching using the iTunes interface. But if you’d like more flexibility when comparing apps you’re interested in, do it with a browser.