Best App Discovery Tools for Google Play and Windows Phone Store – With tens of thousands of apps in each official store, the happy owners of smartphones have lots of choices. Maybe too many, actually. Research firm Adeven recently claimed that more than half the apps in the Apple Store have never been downloaded and used. Many of these surely just get lost in the overwhelming shuffle.

Meanwhile, users of those platforms hardly realize all we are missing. We can find well-known apps and others we hear of, or that friends recommend; and we can search on keywords in the app stores. But the sheer volume of possibilities makes this an inefficient process.

Fortunately, app makers have come to the rescue, with app discovery tools to help you find apps you would otherwise overlook. Call these apps radar for finding under-the-radar apps.

App Discovery in the Apps Stores

The Google Play store offers lists of bestselling apps by category, including games, free apps, trending apps, and editor’s choices. As a bonus, the Android market has a separate gigantic source in Amazon, whose Apps for Android store lists, as of this writing number 59,750 items. These are organized into two dozen categories, plus the standard Amazon sorting filters by price, by customer reviews, and “New and Popular.”

The Windows Phone store likewise has apps organized by bestsellers paid or free, trending (upwards, presumably), highest rated, and starter collections, as well as topical categories, and a separate tab just for games.

Clearly, there is enough slicing and dicing to keep you busy—if you’re satisfied with what Apple, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft recommend.

Coming at this massive problem from other angles are the so-called App Discovery tools.

There are dozens of these apps on the various platforms; they seem to fall into three broad groupings:

  • Some come up with different, hopefully richer, ways to categorize the endless supply of apps, including maps that create spider webs of related apps.
  • Others rely on social networks, with users recommending their favs.
  • And a third category focuses on alerting you to paid apps that are newly discounted or even free. Many of the app discovery tools offer features from more than one of these categories. Let’s take a look at a few.

Apps for Execs has a simple premise, expressed by its name. Its categories include World News, Financial, Books, Productivity, Travel and Navigation, Leisure Time (some games but also ESPN ScoreCenter), and Social Networking (the obvious ones such as LinkedIn and Google+ but also some Twitter add-ons like TweetDeck and HootSuite). I found this one useful to me because it narrowed but deepened the focus to topics of interest to me as a businessperson.

At the opposite end of the pole is Windows Phone’s App Discovery by Windows Phone Parent, with which a parent of two kids with an education background recommends apps for children by age group and by categories, as well as apps for parents including parenting tools and, of course, parent stress relievers (!). The parent recommendations include stage of parenting: expecting, new parent, even “geeky parent,” among others.

Apps that Discover via Social Networks

Almost all the app discovery tools include some social networking, at least letting you recommend apps via your Facebook or Twitter accounts to share with friends.

Appreciate (Android) is primarily driven by social networking – it matches you with people who have similar tastes, via Facebook, email, or the Appreciate network. The expectation is that the recommendations are more likely to fit into your interests.

Other discovery tools that share your favorites with your friends include Hubbl, AppGroove (see how others voted), ShareApps (iOS and Android), and AppDeals (iOS and Android).

Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Mac McCarthy is founding publisher of He’s the founding editor of IDG Books, creator of the Dummies series of books, among other publishing accomplishments. Email Mac with questions, comments, queries and fine wine recommendations at [email protected]

Based in Silicon Valley, Mac works at a mobile company and serves as its publisher and columnist. Email Mac at [email protected]
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