Forum Review: App Sniper for the iPhone

App Sniper Forum Review by cjvitek For more Forum Reviews, see the TiPb iPhone App Store Forum!

Okay, I have never used a sniping service on Ebay, but I hear they are very popular. So when I saw this AppSniper program, I thought I would give it a look see.

And my first impression was...interesting.

The AppSniper program is designed to track prices of applications that you are interested in, but that cost too much. You get to input a "desired" price, and if/when the app reaches that price, you are notified.

First things first, this does NOT run in the background, so you will not received a notification that the app has reached the snipe price unless you run the program and allow it to sync with the servers. Repeat, you won't be notified while going about your normal iPhone activities.

That is a serious limitation, but it is not unique to AppSniper. No programs are allowed to run in the background, so there is no point in crying over spilled milk.

When you start the app sniper program, it syncrhonizes any updates (on apps or prices) with your iPhone from it's servers. That way you are guaranteed to have the most recent prices and apps listed.

The AppSniper program has 4 screens - an "on sale" screen", a "new programs" screen, your appsnipe list, and the configuration screen. You select a screen by tapping an icon at the bottom of the screen. The icons at the bottom of the screen also display a notification of how many apps are either newly on sale, new, or meet your snipe criteria.

The on-sale screen let's you see the various apps that have gone down in price over the last 2 days (divided up by 24 hours, 1 day ago, and 2 days ago). When you see an app of interest on the list, you can click on it to read the app summary. You can choose to purchase the app right away, or you can choose to add it to your app snipe list (more on the list later).

The second screen is a "new apps" screen - or apps that have appeared within the last 24 hours. Just like the sale apps, you can choose to purchase the new apps right away, or add them to your snipe list.

The third screen is the snipe list, and this is where it gets interesting. When a program is added to the snipe list, you can set a price at which you would purchase the program - the snipe price. It can be any incremental value all the way down to free. If an app meets your target price on the snipe list, the price and "buy" button is highlighted green. If the current price is still to high, it is red.

When you click on the "buy" button, it takes you to the appstore page with that program. You can then choose to purchase or not. To add an app directly to the snipe list, you simply click the "+" button, then start typing the app name. This will go through the entire app list linking any apps that match the name you are typing. Once you find the app, you can select it, add it to the list (selecting your snipe price).

The last screen is options/configuration screen. It allows you to turn on/off the use of 3G/Edge (the default is off, so it only uses wifi). You can also turn off the icons in the app lists (faster loading), change your currency, and filter through the various genre of apps (for example, turning off books if you never want to download an ebook).

This program is great, however there are some problems with it (both big and small). The first problem is that you can only have 32 apps on your snipe list. Maybe 32 is plenty for most people, but there are many more apps that I am interested in purchasing. If there is some sort of system limit of 32 apps, it would be nice to be able just to create a "list of interest" (not actual sniping list) that includes apps you might be interested in purchasing at some future date - maybe with an indication as to the most recent price change (down or up). Some sort of log of the apps purchased and downloaded would also be great.

The second issue is that if you click on the buy button within the snipe list, the app is not removed from your snipe list. After you purchase the app, you still have to go back and manually delete it from your list! Some sort of automatic deletion (or at least asking you the next time you start the app if you want to remove app XXXX) would be beneficial.

The third issue I have with this app is that there is no ability to manually sync with the server. This is a minor issue, since the chance are that syncing when you start the program is sufficient, but it would be nice to have the option of syncing manually.

The biggest problem I had, however, was the method of searching for apps. It is great that the apps with reduced prices and any new apps are listed separately, but there is no further way to refine searches. It would be great to include the top ten downloads or the top ten apps in each category. The filters to exclude apps does not work when searching the app store. I turned on various filters, and still had apps within those categories listed. I even went so far as to turn on ALL the filters (excluding all apps)...but my search list still included all apps in the app store. The filters DID exclude various apps from the "on sale" and "new app" lists, but that was it. Without a better way to refine or organize searches for apps, this program is not as beneficial as I would have hoped. I would love to be able to simply browse the various categories without looking for a specific app, in case I see something that interests me (and thus want to purchase it or add it to my snipe list). Right now, that is not an option.

Another problem with the snipe list - if a program is on your snipe list at a certain price, you don't have the option of buying it even if it goes does in price (but doesn't reach your snipe). In fact, you can't even see if it has decreased from the original price offering at all!

Lastly, it would be nice to have a notification number on the App icon on the iPhone home screen. True, it isn't going to change since the program doesn't run in the background, but it would be nice to be reminded that I have 3 (or 4, 5, or however many) apps that currently meet my snipe criteria.

Pros:

  • Good idea,
  • nice interface to monitor app prices

Cons:

  • Search methods need lots of work,
  • only can list 32 apps,
  • many minor tweaks to the application needed

Conclusion

All in all, I think this is a great idea for a program, and as it currently stands, it certainly has its strong points. As the app points out, it could easily save you the purchase price if you are able to purchase one or two apps cheaper than they are currently priced. Given the limitation of the iPhone (no background services) which is no fault of the app, this app does it's job reasonably well. However, it is lacking in some areas which prevent it from getting a very high rating. The search mechanism is limiting, and there is no automatical removal of apps when you purchase them. At $1.99, the app is certainly not overpriced, and I think it could be useful to many people. But the flaws it has (some of which are rather major, IMO) prevent it from getting a very high rating.

Forum Review Rating

TiPb Forums Review: 3.5 Star App

[Pocket Tunes Radio is available from the iTunes App Store.]

Update

Some of my issues have been addressed in an update to the app (like the limit of 32 apps on the snipe list, and the inability to purcahse apps even if they don't meet your snipe price).

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Reader comments

Forum Review: App Sniper for the iPhone

6 Comments

I think if it were matter of saving tens or even hundreds of dollars, then I could see the purpose in this. But we're talking about the App Store here. To bother with this, and to wait and go without an app until I can save a buck or two, seems beyond ridiculous to me.
Write all of your wish list apps in Notes, then check their prices periodically. There, I just saved you $1.99 :roll:

Hi Steve,
The general idea is that developers are changing their prices all the time, often for a very short period of time. You could check your list of X apps periodically, but how much time will you spend doing it, and what percentage will escape your notice because either you didn't identify the sale or you didn't check often enough?
AppSniper is only 99c. Is a dollar worth you saving 10-15 minutes of your time and energy every day? The larger the list of apps you're interested in, the more time this will save. Since it's automated, you can even put in apps that you're only casually interested in "if the price is right" because it takes no additional effort to monitor it.
Finding out what's new on the App Store is also a hassle because app updates get jumbled together with new releases, so it's hard to find out what's really new vs an update. AppSniper makes this simple by presenting a list of "New" apps that are truly new.
There's other features as well which can help you make an informed decision when deciding on a purchase, which would be difficult otherwise. For example, the price history graph will show you the apps price movements over the past 90 days. This gives you a good idea if the current "sale" is actually a worthwhile sale, or whether it's the developer just flip-flopping prices making it seem like a sale.
The new upcoming version offers additional features to simplify app monitoring, including the ability to watch for version updates, review top 100 lists for each category and subcategory etc.
If you look at the testimonials on iTunes, many users have saved tens of dollars using this so there are definitely people who are finding it worthwhile.

Well unlike so many other apps in the App Store, it at least serves a purpose, I'll give it that.
I guess I just don't buy enough apps myself, and didn't consider people having very large lists. There's currently only three I'm considering...LOL! ... so, I guess if I was interested in 10 or 20, you no doubt have made your point.

Yes, agreed. If you only need to monitor 2 or 3 apps that you're interested in, it's not as useful. Our first version started with the ability to monitor 32 apps and we were quickly told that was too few (including in the review above). We've since increased that to 60, but we're still getting feedback that it's too little so we're going to be increasing it to 100 in this next release!