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To Download or Not to Download
[ Issue 159 Page 15 ] Thursday, December 28, 2017, 00:45:38 Kun-Woo Song Staff Reporter kwsong0725@kaist.ac.kr

It isn’t easy finding just the right app to use. A single keyword in the search bar leads to a multitude of results, all with varying designs and formats. You may choose the one with most downloads and the best reviews. However, what the general public approves of and what you want may not always align. So how do you find that app? How do I, as an app reviewer, choose one? To facilitate your quest to find the right app, here are the three categories I frequently consider when evaluating apps: complexity, effectiveness, and communication.

As a personal philosophy, I believe that apps exist to simplify life. If someone wants to be entertained, they do so easily through a game app on a phone. If they have to edit a document, they can do so easily through a word processing app on a phone. However, developers often get too greedy and add too many features. The paradox of choice dictates that a surplus of choices can cause anxiety. The same applies to apps; having more choices or options may seem better for organization, but all the greater number of choices does is make it harder for users to familiarize themselves with the apps and to integrate them into their lives. Complicated apps make life harder, going against the essence of apps. So simple apps are better, but which of the simple apps will serve you the best? The answer lies in the effectiveness of an app.

Even among applications of the same category, there are a plethora of styles that can either be a waste of or be worth your time, depending on your needs. Because of this, when looking for an app, you should have a clear goal in mind: what you want from the app, what you expect to gain from an app, and what you can do with the app. It does not matter if it is for gaming, for photos, or for work — you should have answers to those questions to find the best app for your purpose. The first question helps you narrow down the subcategory from the larger, general categories most app stores have organized for you. The second question starts to look into the features of the app. By having an exact idea of what you want to gain from the app, you can keep in mind certain features that help you achieve that goal and look for them when reading the app’s description. The last one is aimed to help you find the simplest app. With these three answers, finding the right app will be a lot easier, but that does not always mean that the app will be the right one.

Many times, people are annoyed with the pop-ups of some apps that ask users for reviews. However, users should realize that these pop-ups can be a great indicator of how much a developer cares. Although there are some apps that straight out ask for a five-star review, there are other humbler apps that ask for a genuine review. These pop-ups can be of vital help for an app to stay relevant longer. If the app developer replies to reviews (found on the app’s download page), it is safe to assume that complaints will be considered and bugs will be fixed in future versions. Even if the developers don’t directly reply to reviews, as long as there are frequent updates that improve the app, the app is worthwhile and won’t go obsolete during your use. So maybe next time, don’t disregard the seemingly annoying pop-up.

In the end, the points I have mentioned in evaluating apps can be summed up as the degree of sincerity that app developers have — developers without a clear goal or purpose tend to add unnecessary content, making the app too complex, and developers that do not care about the app tend to ignore comments and reviews by users. But to know all of this, you’ll have to experience the app firsthand, so start downloading!

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