In July of 2008, Apple introduced the App Store for third-party developers to produce and sell apps for the iPhone and iPod touch. Steve Jobs and company lit the fuse and stepped back. In the first four months, over 10,000 apps were written and uploaded to the App Store which resulted in more than 300 million downloads before the end of that year. Clearly, the apps and the App Store are a raging success.

You might be saying to yourself,  Okay, I ve got my shiny, new iPhone. Now what?  First off, you may want to read  What Is A Mobile App and Why Do I Want One? , then step right up to the virtual counter and let s go shopping.

Getting Started
There are two ways to purchase an app: on your computer through iTunes or directly on the iPhone or iPod touch both methods access the App Store on iTunes. To begin with, you ll need to set up an account in iTunes. This is most easily done on your computer. If you ve got a Mac, iTunes is already installed on your hard drive. If you ve got a PC, Apple has a version of iTunes you can download. Once the program has been downloaded and installed, start up iTunes and choose the iTunes Store on the left side of the screen. You will find yourself on the main page of iTunes. On the upper right side of the screen you should see a small text box that says  Sign In . Click on that and it brings up a dialog box that allows you to either sign into an existing account OR create a new account. Apple does a good job of walking you through setting up an account. Once that s done, you re ready to start downloading apps!

Purchasing Apps Through iTunes On Your Computer
Once you re signed into your account, select the App Store on the left side of the iTunes  main screen. This takes you to the home screen of the App Store. The apps are organized into 20 categories:

  • Books
  • Business
  • Education
  • Entertainment
  • Finance
  • Games
  • Healthcare & Fitness
  • Lifestyle
  • Medical
  • Music
  • Navigation
  • News
  • Photography
  • Productivity
  • Reference
  • Social Networking
  • Sports
  • Travel
  • Utilities
  • Weather

Browse through the categories and choose an app and click on the icon. This will take you to that app s page where you can see the developer s description, see screenshots and read customer reviews. This page also supplies important information like the developer s web address, file size, price and rating.

If you decide to download an app, there is a button at the top of the app s page that says  BUY APP . Simply click that button and the app downloads to your computer s hard drive. If you re buying a free app, obviously there s no charge but if you re downloading a paid app, the purchase price will be billed to the credit card you specified when you set your account up. You will receive an invoice via email.

To get the app onto your iPhone or iPod touch from your computer, simply connect the device to the computer with the cable that came with the iPhone or touch; iTunes will sync your apps onto your phone/touch. Once that s done, simply eject your device from iTunes, unplug it and you re ready to use your new app.

Be sure to check out part 2 in this series:  How To Purchase An iPhone App Over the iPhone . For more shopping information you may want to read  Hit the Mobile Malls: Apps Shopping Centers  to help you understand more about the different application vendors. If you re still trying to decide between an iPhone and an iPod touch, we ve got the reviews to help make that decision easier. Once you ve chosen your preferred device, check out our iPhone App Reviews to help you fill out your library and maximize your iPhone experience.

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