What is an App Store?

Mary McMahon

An app store is an online store where people can purchase applications for mobile devices. The original app store was the App Store run by Apple to provide applications for its iPhone® and iPod Touch® users, and other companies picked up the concept so that they could create and sell applications to their users as well. Applications in an app store can vary in cost, from free downloads to quite costly ones, depending on who developed the application and its purpose. Most paid downloads are relatively low priced.

The App Store run by Apple allows users to download applications to their iPhone®.
The App Store run by Apple allows users to download applications to their iPhone®.

Many manufacturers design apps themselves as they respond to user feedback from members of the public using their devices. The app store can also include apps from other developers, with the manufacturer reviewing the applications to confirm that they are functional, safe, and work as intended. Staffers may also rate applications to address concerns about young children accessing mature content, and to help people who are concerned about offensive content avoid apps which may upset them.

Many apps that are sold in the Apple App Store have been designed specifically for the iPad.
Many apps that are sold in the Apple App Store have been designed specifically for the iPad.

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Apps are designed to expand the functionality of a mobile device. They can include things like personal planners, games, joke programs, and a wide variety of other types of applications. In order to be included in an app store run by a manufacturer, applications must generally be coded so that they conform with a very specific standard; many manufacturers release their standards and specs so that programmers can design apps for their devices. App stores which are run privately may not have such strict standards.

Apps can be downloaded to the iPod Touch.
Apps can be downloaded to the iPod Touch.

Users can typically access an app store from their mobile device, with some manufacturers providing a hot key which users can use to go straight to the store. Once there, users can search for an application by name, or browse by type. Often, many competing applications serve more or less the same function, with users choosing by price, design, reputation, or style.

When people download at an app store, they may be prompted for a username and password which is linked to financial information stored by the store itself, or they may be asked for a credit card number. People should be careful about downloading, confirming that their information is stored securely and used responsibly and that they are downloading the applications they intend to download. They should also be aware that the offerings in a third party store may not be vetted for safety, which means that they could potentially download something harmful, such as an application with an embedded virus or an application which collects personal information.

Apple developed the original App Store as a marketplace for applications for its iPhone.
Apple developed the original App Store as a marketplace for applications for its iPhone.

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Discussion Comments


I haven't always had the best of luck downloading free apps. Too many times I have had problems with bugs or annoying ads when I download a free app. Some of them may only give you partial features and you really need to upgrade if you want to get all of the features.

Because of this, almost all the apps I download from the store anymore are ones that I pay for. Most of them only cost a dollar or two, so it really isn't a big deal.


@SarahSon-- There are a lot of great free apps out there that are safe and can make your life a whole lot simpler. I have probably downloaded too many apps, and need to go through and delete the ones I don't use anymore.

I could also spend hours just looking around the app store. The same apps that I have downloaded on my iPhone, I have on my iPad as well. This makes it nice so whichever device I am using already has the app I am looking for on it.


How do you know you can trust the apps you download to your phone? Sometimes I am hesitant about downloading a lot of apps because I am afraid I am going to somehow be giving away personal information.

I have a smartphone, but have only downloaded a few apps from the store. These are ones from a source that I feel like I can trust and I have never had any problems doing it this way.

I just bought my first iPad, and the app store is one of the icons that comes right up on the screen, so you don't have to search for it.

When I am bored or am sitting and waiting for someone I love to browse through the app store just to see what I might be interested in downloading.

I know they keep adding new apps all the time and it is impossible to go through all of them. There are many that I am not that interested in, but some of them are pretty cool and I download them right away.

If there is an app that I am interested in, I usually look to see if there a free one before I pay for one.

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