This is getting ridiculous. According to my calculations there’s been over 400 new apps released in the App Store just TODAY!
Now, I’m the target audience for this stuff – a gadget freak Mac fan-boy with disposable income who has bought (or at least downloaded) over 300 apps – and even I just don’t have the time or inclination to look at that much new stuff every day.
So how can a casual user stay on top of what’s new? Apple chooses to feature a tiny proportion of the new releases in it’s New and Noteworthy, What’s Hot and Staff Picks sections but there’s debate as to whether any real thought goes into this or if someone’s pet monkey just plucks them out of a hat.
I don’t know if there’s an answer or not – perhaps there isn’t. A real world parallel might be that I walk into my local record shop each week and look at the new releases section, I’m only seeing a tiny fraction of the new music that’s been released worldwide that week. I’m only seeing what the record store buyers have chosen to show me – is that really any different? Substitute book shop for record shop and you’ll get the same story (no pun intended).
Do Apple care? Probably not – they’ve sold over a billion apps and are making out like bandits. Should Apple care? I would argue ‘yes’ because the quality of the software that people run on their phones has a direct impact on how they and others see the phone itself. If you can’t find the diamonds among the fart and bikini apps you’ll just assume they’re not there…
Here’s a few simple ideas that might improve the App Store experience.
1. Feature more than 8 new apps a week. Pretty obvious this one. The music store highlights far more than 8 new tunes a week. The New Albums panel has six sub tabs and each of the musical genres has it’s own selection. I’d like to go to the Productivity section of the App Store and see This Week’s Picks rather than just the Top downloads and new releases (neither of which are any indicator of quality).
2. Email recommendations. I buy music from the iTunes store and I can choose to have Apple alert me to new release by artists I’m interested in or whose material I have bought. Every week I get my alerts email from iTunes and it very often results in a purchase. Surely it wouldn’t be too hard to extend the same system to apps? They could take it further and only email you info about new releases from developers whose apps you’ve highly rated… Everyone would benefit – developers would get more exposure and Apple would make more from increased sales.
3. New Premium App Store. I’d like to see a two App Stores – the existing one and a new premium store that filters out all the ‘crApps’. This would be a sort of personal recommendation service for those users too busy to search through hundreds of thousands of apps. It shouldn’t necessarily be sales based – sales figures are no indication of quality – just look at the music and movie charts for the evidence of that. Developers could perhaps pay a premium to have their apps considered for this store but with no guarantee that they would be featured (otherwise anybody could buy their way in). Buyers could choose to browse the premium store knowing there would be less to wade through and more chance that the App they actually buy has some sort of quality assurance.
So which of these ideas do you think would be most workable? Vote in our poll below and/or add your own suggestions.