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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.