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.
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.
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.
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.