Thursday, December 2, 2010

7 Hot app stores for your smartphone

7 Hot app stores for your smartphone


A few years ago, downloading applications on to your handset was mainly the preserve of the geeks and the smartphone-toting crowd. However, thanks (once again) to the intervention of a fruity sounding cupertino company, applications (or "apps," as they came to be known as in common parlance) became a rage and before you knew it, everyone from cellphone manufacturers to service providers was giving the user the option to download software to their handsets ranging from games to cellphone themes to office suites.

Today, it is rare to get a mid-segment handset that does not have at least one link to an application store — be it Apple's App Store that comes on the iPhones, the Android Market on Android devices, Ovi Store on Nokia phones, or Samsung Apps on Samsung devices. Most service providers from Airtel to Aircel and Reliance also have their own app stores, letting their subscribers download a variety of applications.

And that is not all. If you are not content with the app stores that come with your phone or those of your service provider, you can try out still others. They may not get the big apps as early as the major app stores do, but what they offer is variety and freedom from being tied down to just the official app stores.

We take a look at some third-party app stores that are worth a visit.




It calls itself the "world's leading independent App Store" and with good reason. GetJar was one of the first major websites to offer mobile software, well before the era of the iPhone, and its app store is one of the biggest in terms of variety.

You can get apps for just about every platform here, from BlackBerry to Symbian to Android, and even apps for regular Java handsets (a.k.a. feature phones). Small wonder it gets millions of downloads per month and is considered by many to be the biggest reservoir of mobile apps in the world.




PocketGear emerged as a major app destination when it acquired another app store, Handango, earlier this year. The result was an app store with more than 1,40,000 applications that were spread across all major smartphone platforms (apart from iPhone) and many that worked just fine on routine Java handsets too.

The collection is a lot more refined that the sheer wealth of apps seen on GetJar, making this the app destination for those who know what they are looking for, rather than aimless app surfers looking for a change.

Store address:


Open App Market


When it comes to apps, iPhone users have been pretty much restricted to the Apple App Store. Those willing to jailbreak (hack) their phones can also access the Cydia market, but what if you do not want to tamper with your (expensive!) iPhone and still want apps that go beyond what Apple offers?

Well, you could try out the Open App Market, which offers a number of Web apps which run off the browser rather than being installed on the phone. Do not sniff disdainfully, there are some wonderful apps here across a variety of categories (yes, games too!) including a YouTube app that seems to be better than the one that comes pre-loaded on the iPhone and iPod Touch!

Store address:




Mention "Symbian" and "apps" in the same sentence and it is a fair chance that most people will think that you are talking about the Ovi Store that comes preinstalled on many Nokia phones. However, the fact is that the official Symbian Foundation app store is one called Horizon, which was launched in 2009.

It may not look as snazzy as some of the other application shops on the Net, but is very rich in terms of apps, especially if you are using a Symbian phone. Be patient and browse — you will be rewarded.

Store address:




The Android Market may be seen as the app store by most Android users, but it is by no means the only source they have of downloading apps for their handsets.

A very worthy option is Androlib, another app store dedicated to Android handsets. Androlib offers not only a large number of applications that are also seen on the Android Market, but a lot more besides — at the last count, it had more than 1,70,000 applications. The design could have been slicker, but app shoppers will not be complaining.

Store address:




It was marketed as the "only legal alternative" to Appe's App Store and while it might not exactly have as many apps as the official App Store (the store claims to have "no tasteless low quality apps" and only a "boutique selection of solid and innovative apps), it scores heavily in terms of presentation and best of all, because it frees you from all the hassles of iTunes (no syncing issues!). Just do not expect hundreds of apps here. And definitely no free ones. Good apps cost money, we guess.

Store address:




It might not have as many applications as GetJar and PocketGear, but MobiHand still offers a very good collection of apps for users across all major smartphone platforms. It also regularly comes up with special offers that result in lower prices for some apps for a short time.

The design might seem a bit dated, but the apps are very much there for those wanting to browse around, although honestly, we would have liked more free apps.

Store address:




And those are just the tip of the App Mall iceberg. There are several smaller app stores too like SlideMe and AndAppStore, with the likes of AndSpot (a community-oriented app store with lots of social networking elements) waiting in the wings, even as the current players attempt to improve their offerings and the likes of Apple, Google and Microsoft add new dimensions to theirs.

Times were never better for mobile app shopaholics.