September 4, 2012 at 2:40 pm

How To Get the Best Deals on Apps

Recently, my editor downloaded a cycling app called Ride the City, which maps urban cycling routes for you based upon road safety. As an early adopter, he was able to get this (reportedly excellent) app for free. When a recent update featuring a slew of new capabilities bumped the price of Ride the City up to $2, Eliot was grandfathered in to the new version, receiving all of the app’s new features without paying an extra dime.

It started us thinking. App prices fluctuate all the time. How might one take advantage of that to score the best deals on the app stores?

The first thing to understand: Time is your friend on this bargain hunt. Keep an eye out for recently-released apps. Developers will often release an app at a lower-than-usual price with hopes of getting it to chart in the “most popular” sections of the various app stores, only to jack up the price once they’ve got enough eyeballs on the product.

When synthesizer giant Moog released its full-featured Animoog iPad synthesizer, it cost only $1. A month later, that price skyrocketed to $30. (A less dramatic price jump happened with the iPhone, which went from $1 to $10 after its initial release). Another example: Music ID app SoundHound began as a single, free version before a series of price increases over a two-year period landed it at its current $7 asking price. (A separate free version was spun off a year after the first price increase.)

iMaschine was $2 and is now $5; Filtatron was $5, now $8; Shazam Encore was $3, now $6; I Am T-Pain was $1, now $3; and LaDiDa was $1, now $3. The list goes on.

At this point, you might ask yourself, “Wow! This is great news. I can get all the coolest music apps for cheap, so long as I get to them soon enough. But I don’t have enough time to be constantly scouring the app stores for new product. What do I do?”

We would say this, but a good place for music fans to start is here at Our This Week In Music Apps feature seeks to bring you the best in new and relatively unnoticed music apps, while our reviews offer even more in-depth coverage about whether a given app is worth your time and money — and in both cases, we’re typically on the scene before the developer has had a chance to raise the price.  For the most up-to-the-minute music app releases, check out our still-somewhat-nascent @evolverfm_apps Twitter account, curated by Aarti Kelapure, where we bring you news about the most notable new music apps as they’re released.

Too many other resources to list here exist for finding new apps, and they’re easy enough to track down, starting with Apple iTunes and Google Play. Wherever you are, if you’re looking for bargains, check the New Releases section first.

Sometimes, developers put their apps on sale even when they’re not new, looking for another spike in popularity. We try to post some of these price drops here (like we did when these big guns were available at a discounted price). However, bargain hunters would also be advised to check out AppShopper (and its Twitter account); Apple Sliced (and its iOS app, AppsFire); and 148Apps and its @148Apps_nowfree Twitter account, which specifically alerts you when formerly-paid apps become free. Each of these services offers updates whenever a notable app drops in price.

The moral of the story: You don’t always need to pay full price for your music or any other apps, so long as you can A) Find them early, or B) Bide your time, until the price dips. Deals abound, so long as you have a keen eye and the right sources. Now, go forth and save.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr/401(k) 2012)

  • Anonymous

    AppShopper also has an iOS app. What’s nice is that you can create an account and put together a wish list of apps to monitor for price drops? And it syncs between iOS and the website, so you can always add new apps no matter where you are.