Apple’s tagline for the Mac App Store is “Thousands of apps. One simple way to get them,” and for what it’s worth, Apple’s tagline is true. Since its introduction in early 2011, the Mac App Store made finding and purchasing spiffy new applications easier than ever. It also made it easy for indepedent developers to get the same access to customers as the big boys at Adobe, Microsoft, and Electronic Arts.
The problem with the Mac App Store isn’t that apps aren’t easy to get, or that the App Store is difficult to browse and search. The problem is that, every day, developers throughout the industry offer discounts on their apps to help increase their exposure, but the Mac App Store offers no simple way to find these deals. Enter AppyDays from Slappstick, which promises to do what the Mac App Store can’t: give you easy access to all the best discounts.
Let’s see if it lives up to its promise.
AppyDays is a straightforward app for searching the App Store for the latest discounted prices. And not just the Mac App Store, but the App Store for iOS as well (there’s an iOS version of AppyDays, but this review is limited to the one for the Mac). You can filter your searches by device, paid and free apps, customer ratings, genre, and popularity.
What’s important to remember is that AppyDays is not just another window onto the Mac App Store. It focuses exclusively on those apps that are being offered at a discount. If an app is being offered at full price, it won’t show up in AppyDays.
How it works
As soon as you open AppyDays, the app downloads the latest discounts from the Mac App Store. In my testing, it seemed to limit itself to only 250 apps; that might be just the number that was offered on the store, or it might be a maximum limit set by the app itself. Either way, I can’t imagine wanting to scan through more than 250 apps at a time, so even if it is a limit set by the app, it’s not something I would call a limitation.
Once the app downloads the latest index of discounts, you can search or filter through the results using the fields in the sidebar.
If you use the search option in the current version, a window pops up telling you that your search will be limited to the most recently downloaded list, but in future versions of AppyDays, your search will go back to the AppyDays servers and extend through their entire database of discounted apps.
The results section of the AppyDays window gives you a limited view into the apps that are on discount. You get the logo, the developer’s name, the app’s name, the genre, the customer rating, the discounted price (in green), the original price (struckthrough in black), a note about how much you’ll be saving (“You save 40%”), a Buy Now button, a weird little drop-down button (more on this in a moment), and then a bit of informtion about how recent the discount is (“Today,” “4 days ago,” “3 weeks ago”).
Now, for that weird little drop-down button.
AppyDays has a nice feature that allows you to mark your favorite apps so that you’ll never miss their discounts. Maybe getting a 10% discount on an app is not quite enough for you. Maybe the original price is just too much, and while you’d love to buy and use the app, you just can’t afford it, even with 10% off. Well, with AppyDays’ favorites feature, you can mark the app as a favorite, and then you’ll be able to easily check back again and again to see if the developer ever offers a 50% or even a 75% discount on that particular app.
As you can see in the image above, not only can you mark an app a favorite, you can also mark an app or its developer as something or someone you’d like to ignore. The weird little button also allows you to copy the link to the App Store page or tweet the link to all your Twitter followers.
Room for Improvement
I have two gripes with AppyDays. The first is that, besides the info in the list of search results, there’s no way to get more information about the app that interests you without opening up the offical App Store application on your Mac. That’s a small gripe, I know, but I tend to work with many applications already open on my computer, and knowing that AppyDays actually requires two applications to be of any use — itself and the official App Store app — well, that’s a bit annoying.
The second gripe is more of a copywriting mistake, and it’s focused on that “Buy Now” button. In the copywriting world, this bit of text is called “microcopy,” and you’d be surprised at how much microcopy can influence the way we engage with websites and apps.
Anyway, my gripe is that, the first time I launched AppyDays, I was searching around for a way to find out more information about one of the apps that interested me. I clicked on the app’s logo, the app’s name, that weird little drop-down button… but nothing worked. All that was left to click on was the “Buy Now” button. But I didn’t want to “Buy Now.” I just wanted to find out more about an app.
Knowing that I had to test it anyway, I held my breath and clicked the button. I’m not sure what I thought would happen, but there was a distant possibility that the official App Store would open, I’d see that app’s logo bound off the window and into my launchpad, and my credit card would get charged $1.99. Of course, that didn’t happen. All that happened was that the App Store opened to the app’s page, and I could do whatever I wanted from there.
But here’s the thing: because of a bad bit of microcopy, this AppyDays user experienced a flutter of anxiety while using the app. That’s not a good thing. Luckily, there’s a simple fix. All they have to do is change the wording on the “Buy Now” button to something more innocuous, like “Get Details” or “More Info” or whatever.
AppyDays does exactly what it says it will do: provide you with a filterable and searchable list of the discounted apps on the App Stores. While there’s a little room for improvement when it comes to the user interaction with the app, AppyDays runs solid enough to be worth its price.
It won’t replace your use of the official Mac App Store application (especially since it depends on it), but it will come in handy as the App Store’s more frugal little partner.