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6 Important Changes Coming to the App Store

The app store is usually the subject of much wailing and gnashing of teeth. It hasn’t changed much since it’s first release and as the app store has grown to contain over 1,000,000 apps the old infrastructure and system has started to fail under the strain. However, in recent months there have been some promising signs and WWDC announced some upcoming features that should make the app store a much better place.

with obvious benefits to everyone involved (apart from shady developers) as it will lead to people discovering better apps which ultimately means good developers and Apple are rewarded with downloads (and money) and users are rewarded with good apps. Win win win except for rip off developers who just make cheap freemium rip offs suffer. But what exactly are these great new features.

Better searching!

This has to be one of the core features for any app store on the internet. A good search function will help you find what you want. In the past, the app store has failed to meet the basic requirement of search (you type the name and a rip off appears first) but the advances announced at WWDC suggest an greatly advanced search function which will show thematic results (search health and fitness and run tracking apps will appear etc).

This is a great step forward for the app store.

App preview

Recently, developers have taken to using the app store preview photos to explain the functionality of their apps rather than simply show screenshots. This has been useful for developers and users but has highlighted the weaknesses in the app store up to now. Fortunately developers are going to gain the ability to place a video within the preview section of the app. A great enhancement.

Explore tabs

The explore tab is going to replace the little used or loved “Near me” tab. This will bring a way to quickly explore categories and subcategories of different types of apps (including a section for “near me” apps. It’s great to see Apple make better use of this real estate in the app.

App Bundles

A radically new feature coming is App bundles. These will be groups of App which you can purchase at a discount. There is some speculation that this could even be used to offer upgrade prices to app owners. It will be interesting to see how this develops.

Developer tools

Behind the scenes developers are getting some new powerful tools to help them create better applications including.

  • beta testing via “test flight”
  • in build analytics on App pages (to show who is referring people to their app)

I’m sure app developers will welcome the opportunity to easily get feedback on apps as they create them and to understand their users better. These two factors can help them to create better apps.

Curation

Perhaps the stand out feature that we’ve noticed over the last few months has been the growth in curation within the app store. This has been a real help where previously it was relegated to occasional special events and weekly editors choice awards. Now there are groups of recommended apps on different areas, helping to promote the high cost and high power app that can so often be neglected by “top free”, “top paid” and “top grossing” charts.

All signs point to this increasing, especially in light of Tim Cook’s comments regarding Beats music and the value of curation there. This would also help the Apple app store stand out further from the Google app store where algorithmic suggestions and google plus information is the top measure to recommend applications.

Although there are strengths to Google’s model, there is a reason expert curation has a high value and why people still tune into certain radio programs or read certain magazines (or even a humble blog site).

How would you improve the app store?

[Photo Credit: a repelling spider via Compfight cc]

About Chris Wilson

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