Why Apple's app store needs an overhaul

With over 200,000 apps the App Store really needs a complete overhaul in order to be functional.

Apple has rolled out some tweaks to fine tune the App Store shopping experience. The effort is commendable, but is woefully inadequate. Try Before You Buy and a Genius feature are both great ideas, but what both Apple's App Store and Google's Android Market really need is a fundamental overhaul.

Imagine trying to shop at a store that sells more than 200,000 items, but has no rhyme or reason to its layout, or any semblance of organization. Just 200,000 items scattered randomly in a warehouse for you to sift through looking for the proverbial "needle in a haystack".

The App Store isn't quite that bad. Apple has at least segregated the chaos into smaller piles of semi-related apps. Apple provides a variety of categories to shop through. Current categories include New and Noteworthy, What's Hot, Bank On It, and Staff Favorites. There are also links on the side for Apps for Kids, Free on the App Store, Summertime, New Home, Zombies!, and more.

It might seem like there is enough variety in Apple's classification of apps to suit most user's needs, but the kitschy categories are still quite limited and don't provide any intelligent means of sorting and searching through the vast library of apps when trying to fill a specific need.

There comes a point where having more apps is more a curse than a blessing. Finding decent apps in the Apple and Google app stores is an absurdly cumbersome process that doesn't benefit users, doesn't help developers effectively market and sell the apps they have created, and doesn't reflect well on the respective smartphone platforms as a whole.

The Apple App Store should be redesigned to make shopping simple and intuitive. If Apple needs a model to follow--try a site that is built to maximize the shopping experience, like Amazon.com. Amazon provides a logical organization of categories, and clicking on those categories reveals an extended list of equally logical sub-categories. I can surf to Electronics, then Cell Phones & Accessories, then drill down by various categories, or by brand. I can sort the results to show me best selling items, or order the items from low price to high, or high price to low, or list them based on customer review ratings.

The App Store does have a search capability, so I can narrow the field of options by typing "task lists" for example rather than surfing aimlessly through all business-related apps. However, the search results yield an array of choices which may or may not include all "task list" oriented apps, and which require me to click on each one individually to see how other App Store customers rate the app.

So, Apple--thanks for Try Before You Buy, and thanks for Genius recommendations, but if you could hire some Amazon talent and build a better App Store from the ground up you would be doing your customers, and the developers that support the iPhone and iPad platforms a huge favor. It would be a win-win-win for all.

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Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
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