iOS 7 Apple App Store – Changes and A Missed Opportunity
The Apple App Store has undergone a few changes with the release of iOS 7. The new design is overhaul for the entire OS, but those hoping for changes to the App Store structure will be disappointed. Before we get into the discoverability issue that has long plagued developers in the Apple App store, let’s take a look at the changes.
First off, Apple replaced the “Genius” tab with the “Near Me” tab. Unfortunately, this new tab looks to be less useful than the tab it replaced. It is unlikely that anyone will want to download an app simply based off of what people are using near them. And if you aren’t near anyone the function is completely useless.
Another new feature is the “Wish List.” You now have the ability place paid apps that you can’t afford or that you want to take a closer look at later on your “Wish List” for easy organization. In general, I find it highly unlikely that this feature will be used very often. How often is that $0.99 price tag too much to afford if you actually want to install the app?
The “Top Charts” have reverted back to the standard vertical scrolling it had before iOS 6. The transition back makes sense. More applications are visible at a time and displaying the ratings and number of reviews gives people an easy way to gauge the quality of an app.
The most major change in the Apple App Store on iOS 7 is the ability to have automatic updates for your mobile apps. For consumers who hate red badges this update takes care of that, but from a company standpoint one of the only touch points with the entire mobile customer base has been taken away.
In general, the changes in the iOS 7 App Store are small and failed to address the discoverability dilemma that the majority of app developers and publishers face.
A redesign to the app store ecosystem could have solved many problems. To begin with, the “Top Chart”s lists should be done away with as they hurt both the consumer and developer alike. As John August said,
These lists — a sidebar in iTunes, a tab on the App Store — show what’s downloaded the most. But let’s not mistake downloads for popularity. These are apps that people may have downloaded, used once, then deleted. What you really want is a list that shows what apps that people like you are using and enjoying.
Once an app makes it on to one of these lists it is likely to stay there by virtue of just being there. Through different scams and gaming the system, subpar apps manage to get hundreds of thousands of downloads, get deleted, but stay on top of the list, while quality apps that people enjoy for extended periods of time may continually struggle to reach new audiences.
With the current app store lists the download metric is too heavily rewarded. This is driving a breed of apps where the download is more important than retention or long term engagement. As Marco Arment stated,
Developers will optimize for whatever factor is being rewarded. The “top” list simply rewards developers for getting as many people as possible to buy or download the app once. There’s no reason to optimize for longer-term satisfaction or higher engagement after purchase.
It’s time for new categories. I want to see games listed by the average length per session or utility apps categorized by the percentage of people still using them 6 months later. Nick Dalton has a couple of other great examples on possible categories such as “Longterm Relationships,” which is what we help enable at Apptentive.
There are multitudes of quality apps available, but only a few of them are ever seen or gain traction. The current lists keep the top on top and keep the revolving door spinning too fast for anyone else to get in. Perhaps a new organized App Store will be something to look forward to in iOS 8. A store that places an emphasis on quality, gets rid of the current business model, and allows more app developers to be successful in the marketplace.
What are your thoughts on the Apple App Store “Top Charts” and other features. Will Apple makes changes to better support app developers or is the current organization of the app store the way Apple wants it to be?