If you’ve tried using the official Android Market website, you’ve probably noticed that the experience is…well, less than ideal.
Enter app review websites. Many app review sites are supported by an open-source API (Application Programming Interface) that allows these sites to provide information that is congruent with the Android Market to its visitors. Some app review sites go so far as to allow visitors to contribute their own two cents to each application's individual review, such as user ratings and user generated comments. App review sites also provide screen shots, videos, and descriptions.
What Criteria Makes for a Great Application Review Site?
Each app review site is different, but there are some general criteria we as users can expect to see from a great one. When looking for a credible app review site we need to consider the following criteria:
Content is key when deciding if an app review is legitimate. Good content can make or break the decision to download, or even pay for an application. A great app review site will have more than just the basic description.
If we take a look at the Android Market's website you'll notice that there aren't very many applications listed, and the apps that you do see have hardly what would be considered a quality description. For example, the Qik application on the Android Market's website has a total of 3 sentences explaining what the application does, whereas on an app review site like AndroidTapp.com, their review of Qik does much more.
Their website provides you with a description of the app, pros & cons, a description of features, and AndroidTapp even provides a video showing how the application works. In comparison, we find that an app review site does a significantly better job presenting content defining the application than the Android Market website.
The Android Market via our handsets provides us with screen shots of nearly every application, however sometimes it's helpful to have a bit more, such as a video.
Application review sites like AndroidApps.com provide us with not only great content, but also video reviews of how the application functions - showing us key features, and how the application works overall. This can be handy for those applications that we have to pay for, but we're not sure if the value of the app is worth the cost.
Video reviews give us the "try before you buy" mentality - without actually having to pay for anything right away.
Money is a big deal, especially in times like these. When paid applications can range anywhere from $.99 to $20 or more, its definitely a wise idea to read reviews before you buy to see what people are saying about their experiences. A great review can draw excitement to a specific application, but when the reader gets excited and finds out that the writer failed to mention cost, going to the Android Market can leave one feeling empty and hesitant to purchase.
Several app review sites make sure to post whether or not an app is free, a few worth mentioning are AppBrain.com and Androlib.com - they actually allow visitors to browse apps via a free category or a paid category - to make life easier. On the topic of price, AppBrain also helps you find which apps have had a drop in price, making it easier to save a buck or two.
User ratings are the most important criteria to take note of when looking through an app review or even before downloading or purchasing any application. User ratings score an application on a scale of 1 to 5 stars: 1 being the worst, and 5 being the best.
Applications with ratings of 4 or 5 stars are usually great applications with a solid following. An app review site that allows users to contribute their rating is definitely a must. Why download an app that has a poor rating?
A low user rating can indicate issues that have not yet been resolved by the developer - and it may be best to wait on downloading or purchasing. It’s also great to contribute and rate app’s that you enjoy or may have had issues with.
Besides emailing the developer, user ratings are a great way for developers of an application to discover user related issues, and improve their creation.
A QR Code is short for a "Quick Response" code. It is a two-dimensional bar code that applications such as Barcode Scanner and ShopSavvy can capture and direct a user to the Android Market for easy download. These codes are usually available with every application's review on a great app review site. Usually the more "database-like" app review sites provide these code for their users.
Now that we have a set of criteria to work from, lets take a look at how the top Android App review sites stack up...
|App Review Site||Description||Content Type||Screen Shots/Video||Price Included||User Ratings||QR Scan Codes Provided|
|AppBrain||Catalog style database site, providing top lists, browse by category, and search||Brief content highlighting key features and functions||Screenshots||Yes||Yes||Yes (after clicking "More options")|
|AndroidTapp||Blog style database site, providing app blog, advice, browse by category and search||Long, detailed descriptions (including features, pros & cons)||Screenshots & video||Yes||Yes - public user ratings in addition to AndroidTapp ratings||Yes|
|AndroLib||Catalog style database, browse by category, and search||Brief content highlighting key features and functions||Screenshots||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|AndroidApps||Blog style database site, browse by category and search||Long, detailed descriptions||Video mostly / screenshots||No||No||No|
|AndroidZoom||Catalog style database site, browse by category and search||Brief content highlighting key features and functions||Screenshots provided for some applications||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|DoubleTwist||Catalog style database site, providing top lists, browse by category and search, Downloadable software for PC (mimics iTunes)||Brief content highlighting key features and functions||Screenshots||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Android App Review Source||Blog style database site, browse by category and search||Long, detailed descriptions||Screenshots||Yes - within content||No||No|
Finding the best apps from the ever growing Android Market is difficult, and App Review sites help make life easier for fellow Android users.
Did we miss any good ones? Which site is your favorite?