Monthly Archives: February 2015

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The mess that is the App Store

The process of developing an iOS App is mostly well-designed.  Xcode is a great tool, Interface Builder makes interface design ridiculously easy, and the process of testing and uploading is mostly seamless.  A new developer will enthusiastically go through this, designing eye-catching icons, writing a witty description, and putting forth a quality app.  Yet there app will likely never be noticed.  Sure, there are over a million apps on the App Store, but there are also many users.  The problem is that these users only see the 40 apps Apple chooses to set aside, generally by big developers.  So why does this happen?

Well first of all….

It’s a well-known fact that the search is garbage.  Unless you know the exact title of an app, you are unlikely to find anything helpful.  I have discovered the majority of my most-used apps through word-of-mouth, news articles, and Google searches.  Just to test it out, I searched a relatively generic search, and after the first few results, I came across a whole list of apps that cloned Flappy BirdDon’t touch the White Tile, and 2048.  Not really what I was looking for.

Wait a minute

Why are these apps even in the App Store in the first place.  It’s pretty obvious that they are clones, not original content.  What’s the point of the week-and-a-half long waiting period if Apple doesn’t even check apps for actual quality?  And yet it’s obvious they are checking some stuff—we’ve seen plenty of popular apps rejected for useful features (useful widgets, torrents, etc.  My guess would be that the reviewers have their priorities wrong.  Instead of rejecting/accepting apps so as to build up a quality app store, they focus on apps they feel will get a lot of clicks and make quick money.  But instead this is just discouraging people from searching for apps at all.

So how can this be fixed?

Well first of all, fix the search.  If Apple’s really working on that search engine, they would have a great opportunity to vastly improve the app discovery experience.  Second, make the Discover page actually useful—maybe put apps your friends have bought, or interesting personalized recommendations.  Finally, change the mindset of the review teams.  Strive to fill the App Store with only quality apps, and cut down on the flotsam.

Any input?  Other ideas on how Apple could improve their discovery experience?