There is a lot of free stuff available.
I mean A LOT!
Go into a supermarket on any given Saturday and people almost tackle you to give you free samples of meats, pizza, wine, soda, and all manner of pastries, cakes and other desserts. Auto service centers will give you a free 69 point service check and tire inspection. Hardware stores, excuse me, I meant to say “home maintenance stores,” offer free classes on everything from painting a room to installing a gazebo.
You can get free eye exams, free drugs for illnesses, free health screening, free blood sugar testers, and free hearing tests. You can also freely get your fortune told, your spine aligned, your hands massaged, your face painted, your aura viewed, and your profile drawn.
People will send you via snail mail free samples of yogurt, razor blades, potato chips, erectile dysfunction medication, condoms and birth control pills, bandages, depilatories, suppositories, and anti-inflammatories.
Heck, you can walk down some streets and people will thrust into your hands free drinks, free salsa, free chips, free dips, free hummus, free bags, belts, bottles, banners, and ball point pens.
IT’S ALL FREE!!!!
Every week iTunes will give you free music, free videos, free TV episodes, and you can always sample up to 90 seconds of any tune or video in the store for free. There are endless amounts of free podcasts, both audio and video in nearly every conceivable genre.
And there are free apps. Apple will happily remind you that for almost anything you do, say, for nearly every way you work or play, there is an app for that. What you may not realize is that there is usually a free app for almost every “that.”
The thing about free is that it very often isn’t. Somehow, some way, and at some time you’ll wind up paying real money for, or for something associated with, whatever you got for free.
Let’s take iTunes, for instance. Apple gives out free tunes not because they are a bunch of nice, rich folks living in Cupertino who love their jobs so much that they just want to give a little some-some back to those who have made them rich, right? Nuh-uh! They give you a tune because they believe that eventually you’ll see how convenient it is to buy music from iTunes and return at some point with cash in hand to make them richer. This is not a bad thing. Everyone wins. You get music purchased conveniently through a simple interface, Apple gets money from each purchase, and the music companies and, eventually, the artists get to make a living doing what they love.
Something must be working right, iTunes is the largest distributor of music in the world.
The App Store offers more examples of strategies to wring money from us using freebies. The most obvious of which are the ad supported free apps. If you can put up with product promotions then you get to play for free. It’s not a bad deal if the ads aren’t too obnoxious.
A new and rapidly growing method of relieving you of your cash with freebies is to offer in-app purchases. The app is free and you can use it up to a point, but there will be some service or feature that you’ll want or need that can only be turned on if you pay, and sometimes dearly, first.
For example, Adobe offers up Photoshop Express so that you can make the pix you take look even better, and they offer the app for free. Get into the app and you’ll find that in order the make your photos look REALLY good by reducing noise (speckles that show up in low light situations) you’ll have to pay a rather hefty US$4.99, which also includes a timer and auto review features.
For a free app, Photoshop Express isn’t bad. You can adjust exposure, contrast, color and more on any photo in your library, then easily share the results on a free site that Adobe provides, or via Facebook. The included Camera app in the current version of iOS does not offer a means to adjust your photos, so if you want some basic post processing features, PS Express is the way to go.
Just be mindful of the extra features you’ll have to pay for.
Games have taken the in-app purchase model of money making to a new high, or low, depending on your point of view. Smurf Village is a prime example.
The game is free. In it you get to create a village for Smurfs (hence the name). You can customize it to your hearts content. It’s SimCity or SimFarm with a Smurf theme. My daughter (who is an adult) loves it.
The game is aimed at kids, however, which isn’t a problem in and of itself. The problem is the in-app purchase of Smurfberries seeds, which you can pay upwards of US$100.00 for. One hundred dollars!!! For Smurfberries!! In a kid’s game!!! I don’t know about you but I find that a bit low handed.
Yes, you can turn off in-app purchases, but how many parents won’t learn about the potential bang to their credit card balance until it’s too late?
So, A WARNING TO PARENTS: SMURF VILLAGE CAN WIND UP COSTING YOU A LOT OF MONEY. If you let your kids play this game make sure you TURN OFF in-app purchases.
Smurf Village is currently listed as the top grossing app in the App Store. I’m not sure, but that has to be some kind of record; a free game listing as the top grossing app.
If you’re into sim-type games, and have fond memories of watching The Smurfs on TV, or you’re a rich kid with money to literally throw away, check out Smurf Village.
Another freebie app that may be of interest to students is Inkling, a textbook app that actually enhances dusty old textbooks and makes them something you don’t mind reading.
What’s nice about this is that you buy an entire textbook, or just the chapters you need, making education a bit more economical.
I don’t have a need to buy textbooks so I was happy to find that there is free content you can download. Once you have something in your library you can search it, highlight it, make notes, reference it, and more. Searches not only cover the chapters you’ve downloaded, but the entire book, so you’ll know if the info you want is there before you buy additional chapters.
I love the interface. It’s easy to use and gets out of your way so that you can concentrate on your studies. I can’t tell if the cost of the books in the store are a bargain, but they do show list prices, which are always substantially higher than the asking price for a text.
Inkling is free and so is some of the content, so it would behoove you to at least check it out and see if they have the books you need.
OK, that’s a wrap for this week.
More free apps below with direct links.