App is short for application, meaning software program, and the App Store is a single, centralized catalog of every authorized iPhone add-on program in the world. In fact, it’s the only place where you can get new programs (at least without hacking your phone).
You hear people talking about downsides to this approach: Apple’s stifling the competition; Apple’s taking a 30 percent cut of every program sold; Apple’s maintaining veto power over programs it doesn’t like.
But there are some enormous benefits, too. First, there’s one central place to look for apps. Second, Apple checks out every program to make sure it’s decent and runs decently. Third, the store is beautifully integrated with the iPhone itself.
There’s an incredible wealth of software in the App Store. These programs can turn the iPhone into an instant-message tool, a pocket Internet radio, a medical reference, a musical keyboard, a time and expense tracker, a TV remote control, a photo editor, a recipe box, a tip calculator, a restaurant finder, a teleprompter, and so on. And games—thousands of dazzling handheld games, some with smooth 3-D graphics and tilt control.
It’s so much stuff—1.4 million apps, 50 billion downloads—that the challenge now is just finding your way through it. Thank goodness for those Most Popular lists.
You can get to the App Store in two ways: from the phone itself, or from your computer’s copy of the iTunes software.
Using iTunes offers a much easier ...