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Apple suggests App Store redesign in the works

post #1 of 57
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Acknowledging that there is room for improvement in the current offering, Apple chief executive Tim Cook said Tuesday that Apple is looking for new ways to categorize software in the App Store on the iPhone and iPod touch.

With over 65,000 applications currently available in the App Store, it can be difficult for users to find new applications with the current categorization methods. Cook said during Tuesday's earnings report conference call that Apple has "some ideas" on how to improve the experience.

"As you know, today we do it by type of app and also have show popular apps and top-selling apps, et cetera," Cook said. "We realize theres opportunity there for further improvement and are working on that."

Cook's statement was in response to a question from analyst Charles Wolf of Needham & Co. Wolf also suggested, in his question to Cook, that there is currently a "race to the bottom" in terms of pricing of software.

Currently, many applications receive the most exposure by being one of the top 25 downloaded on the App Store. Typically, the top 25 is populated by software priced at $0.99.

"Ive noticed that there are an increasing number of $0.99 offerings," Wolf said to Cook. "Do you regard this as a concern and if so, are you taking any steps to enable consumers to separate quality apps from the garbage?"

In response, Cook gave no indication that Apple would interfere with developers' pricing structures. The executive said that each developer sets their own price, and they are going to do what makes the most business sense for them.

"I would think as the installed base grows more and more and more," Cook said, "it makes more and more sense to have a bit lower prices -- but thats totally up to the developers, and I am sure each of them may do that in a little different manner."

In his analysis of Apple's earnings report, Wolf highlighted what he believes is the difficulty the company has ahead of it in restructuring the App Store. He said developers are unsure how to price their applications, and customers need more to tell them whether software is worth their money.

The $0.99 popularity, he said, probably stems from users' expectations from the iTunes Music Store. But the low price point, Wolf said, has created a "wasteland of mediocre applications."

"In some respects, the App Store has taken its place alongside YouTube, where poor taste is the defining metric," Wolf wrote. "More ominously, it has led to a deterioration of the entire pricing structure for iPhone applications. The risk is that developers who hope to build quality applications that have a long shelf life may be discouraged from doing so because prospective development costs exceed the revenues they expect to earn on the applications. In short, this race to the bottom has the potential to degrade the overall equality of the applications sold at the App Store."

Apple's App Store recently turned 1 year old, and the company announced that it has had more than 1.5 billion downloads so far. Cook repeatedly acknowledged the success of the App Store during Tuesday's conference call.

"The App Store is a key strategic differentiator of the iPhone and iPod Touch experience," he said, "and we believe that outstanding software is the key ingredient for a great mobile experience."
post #2 of 57
Here's for hoping for a previewing of an App itself before purchasing.
post #3 of 57
They are going to improve things in the future. Full Story at 11.
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post #4 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

Here's for hoping for a previewing of an App itself before purchasing.

That's the main thing missing from the app store, in my opinion.

The best implementation that I've come across is Xbox Live Arcade. Once you've played a demo and decided that you like a a game, you can upgrade to the full version instantly. All of your saved games and settings remain intact. Microsoft doesn't allow games on XBLA without a demo so good games rise to the top.

Microsoft doesn't get much right but XBLA is a fantastic system.
post #5 of 57
Does the App store in it's current format have search capabilities? Like if I wanted to find all the apps that track mileage for business for your vehicle, can I input those parameters and have only those related apps show up.

It get boring of going through 27 pages of apps to try and view just a few apps geared to your current needs.

C'mon Search...

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post #6 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post

Does the App store in it's current format have search capabilities? Like if I wanted to find all the apps that track mileage for business for your vehicle, can I input those parameters and have only those related apps show up.

It get boring of going through 27 pages of apps to try and view just a few apps geared to your current needs.

C'mon Search...

Yes, the App Store does have search. Do you even have an iPhone or iPod touch?
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post #7 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post

Does the App store in it's current format have search capabilities? Like if I wanted to find all the apps that track mileage for business for your vehicle, can I input those parameters and have only those related apps show up.

It has search capabilities, but not hugely sophisticated.

Type "Chess" and you'll get many, many chess apps. But try "mileage tracker" and you'll have a harder time - as they may use other names like "car logbook" etc.
post #8 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post

Does the App store in it's current format have search capabilities? Like if I wanted to find all the apps that track mileage for business for your vehicle, can I input those parameters and have only those related apps show up.

It get boring of going through 27 pages of apps to try and view just a few apps geared to your current needs.

C'mon Search...

1) Yes, you can search: http://www.portablehole.com/images/app_store_search.jpg

2) I just googled "iphone track mileage for business" and found a few apps with 5 seconds of effort: http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&q=...meta=&aq=f&oq=
post #9 of 57
Quote:
"In some respects, the App Store has taken its place alongside YouTube, where poor taste is the defining metric," Wolf wrote.

I keep hearing this (especially from Pre and BB addicts though) and I just can't see it. I went through the top 50 free and top 50 paid apps on the German iTunes store, and there is maybe one example for poor taste (and even that is debatable) among 100 apps. Not each of these apps is useful for everyone, but I have not been to any store in which I liked absolutely everything ever. There are also several 3, 5 and 10 USD apps among the top 50 and even four which are more expensive. I do not think there is anything unusual about this. If they could make search results a bit more telling (just an icon, the developer name and the rating don't even tell me what an app does in most cases), and maybe split the store into a business/productivity and a fun/games section, each having their own top 50s, then it should be OK.
post #10 of 57
Solid apps are worth the price. For example, you can get plenty of so-so games for free, but I'm willing to pay $7 for Tiger Woods from EA Sports because I know I'm going to get quality, and will most likely be updated if there are problems.

Same goes with IM clients...I tried out fring and Palringo, but they just didn't cut it for me with gchat. So I look into BeejiveIM- it gets great reviews, it's in the top sellers list, and I throw down $10. It's the best app I've paid for, push works great, and works with all popular IM clients. They also have the responsibility of keeping up the app to their paying customers.

Regarding demoing apps...I imagine this would be fairly easy to implement...add a demo button to the app's page...it downloads the full app as usual, however it has a timer of a week. After a week, you get a pop up dialog box on your phone asking if you want to purchase it or not...you say yes, it prompts you for your itunes password, and the app is now yours. If you say no, you rate it and it gets deleted.
post #11 of 57
I just wish I could arrange 6 pages of application icons in iTunes. wtf already. yeah, i can search, but I want to arrange....and why limit 4 icons on the bottom on the iPhone? time to hack.
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post #12 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by PatsFan83 View Post

Solid apps are worth the price. For example, you can get plenty of so-so games for free, but I'm willing to pay $7 for Tiger Woods from EA Sports because I know I'm going to get quality, and will most likely be updated if there are problems.

Same goes with IM clients...I tried out fring and Palringo, but they just didn't cut it for me with gchat. So I look into BeejiveIM- it gets great reviews, it's in the top sellers list, and I throw down $10. It's the best app I've paid for, push works great, and works with all popular IM clients. They also have the responsibility of keeping up the app to their paying customers.

Regarding demoing apps...I imagine this would be fairly easy to implement...add a demo button to the app's page...it downloads the full app as usual, however it has a timer of a week. After a week, you get a pop up dialog box on your phone asking if you want to purchase it or not...you say yes, it prompts you for your itunes password, and the app is now yours. If you say no, you rate it and it gets deleted.

The whole process could be simplified with a preview rather than a guessing game whether or not you'll like the App.
post #13 of 57
THE APP store redesign is for the new tablet and also fOr all its devices will now have there own app versions .

And it will also be twitter proof
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post #14 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post

Does the App store in it's current format have search capabilities? Like if I wanted to find all the apps that track mileage for business for your vehicle, can I input those parameters and have only those related apps show up.

Dream on! The App Store search function can't even find an app by name half the time. A drastically improved search function is definitely one of the things sorely needed at the App Store.
post #15 of 57
I'm glad to see that they're thinking about this issue at Apple. From where I sit, it looks like el cheapo disposable apps are threatening to overwhelm the App Store and trivialize one of the most remarkable devices in existence.
post #16 of 57
What they need is more subcategories. For example under Sports app's they could have a subcategory for each sport or under books have a subcategory for each genre.

It would make casually looking through for something a lot easier.
post #17 of 57
I used to go into the App Store every day to see what was new, but, that New page updates very infrequently so you see the same apps there day after day. As a result, I may look now once a week, or less. I don't know where all these new apps that are added everyday appear. Apple buries them too deep for anyone to bother looking.
post #18 of 57
Seems to me a simple solution for demoing an app would be for Apple to offer an iPhone/touch "emulator" either running under iTunes (so it can be used by both PC and Mac platforms) or to offer a free emulator program specifically for the PC platform ...... similar to the emulator included in the SDK which only runs on the Mac.
post #19 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post

Does the App store in it's current format have search capabilities? Like if I wanted to find all the apps that track mileage for business for your vehicle, can I input those parameters and have only those related apps show up.

It get boring of going through 27 pages of apps to try and view just a few apps geared to your current needs.

The App Store does have a so-called "Advanced Search" search feature, but it's extremely weak.

You can't select multiple app categories or App ratings or release date, like VersionTracker or MacUpdate's advanced search have.

The other thing that drives me nuts is the way things are grouped and how apps are categorized. I do searches for business apps and have to weed through a slew of games, hot Thai chick and religious apps. Religious apps alone can fall into several categories: Lifestyle, Reference, Education and Books. Sorry, but aside from books, those categories simply do not apply.

Religious apps should have their own Religion and Spirituality category. I really don't care what religion it is Western, Eastern, Wicca, Astrology, Tarot, whatever, but they should be separate and not clumped into legitimate categories like reference and education.

Apple should also add a 17+ Section, so that adults can download whatever apps they want without the prudes, church ladies and nanny patrols scolding. It also will help those who are against such apps to avoid them.
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post #20 of 57
IMHO, the app store needs work. In fact, the whole iTunes store is cumbersome to use.

For example, if I'm in the app store and enter a key word in the seach box, why do I get a huge listing of songs, videos...oh, and apps of course...with that key word in them?

If I took the time to naviagate to the app store, I only want to see the app results. If I wanted to see everything with the key word in it, I'd go to the main iTunes home page.
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post #21 of 57
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Originally Posted by jeffharris View Post

Apple should also add a 17+ Section, so that adults can download whatever apps they want without the prudes, church ladies and nanny patrols scolding. It also will help those who are against such apps to avoid them.

Unfortunately, that won't stop the prudes from complaining. They typically want to inflict their own morals on everyone else.
post #22 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichL View Post

That's the main thing missing from the app store, in my opinion.

The best implementation that I've come across is Xbox Live Arcade. Once you've played a demo and decided that you like a a game, you can upgrade to the full version instantly. All of your saved games and settings remain intact. Microsoft doesn't allow games on XBLA without a demo so good games rise to the top.

Microsoft doesn't get much right but XBLA is a fantastic system.


the demos need to be separately coded like studios have to spend time making movie trailers. i remember back around 2000 the number of demos for games started to drop off and one of the reasons was that devs didn't have time to code a demo and then support it.

a lot of games from big name publishers have it
post #23 of 57
The App Store definitely needs improvements in the way one looks for apps. Better search capabilities (with some sort of keywording, perhaps, although, some sort of 'spam' filtering there like search engines do, or a limit to the number of keywords, to stop developers from over-keywording their apps (and their app names, for that matter) would be desirable), better categorization and subcategorization, and the ability to sort in order of ratings, not just popularity (and maybe by price) would be a good start. A time or otherwise limited preview feature from inside iTunes would be nice (there is an emulator already, after all): especially for the more expensive apps, I think this would result in increased sales since users are reluctant to drop money on apps when they are uncertain if they really meet their needs.

And, as has been mentioned over and over again, a better way to organize the devices app pages would be very nice, although, it would be even better if they completely reworked that interface in a future iPhone OS release.
post #24 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun, UK View Post

What they need is more subcategories. For example under Sports app's they could have a subcategory for each sport or under books have a subcategory for each genre.

It would make casually looking through for something a lot easier.

Yeah, like a going into a barnes & noble or something... a REAL bookstore!
What a concept!
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post #25 of 57
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Originally Posted by alansky View Post

I'm glad to see that they're thinking about this issue at Apple. From where I sit, it looks like el cheapo disposable apps are threatening to overwhelm the App Store and trivialize one of the most remarkable devices in existence.

There are some really shitty apps in the App Store, that's for sure. I've bought a bunch of real clunkers. I'd really like Apple to do some front-end quality control app rejections rather than intrusive content-based rejections.

We Mac users are so used to attractive, well designed applications that it's a real shocker when we see such an array of badly designed apps in the App Store.

I'm assuming that developers from the Windows side, who because of the huge Windows monopoly are able to write poor programs, sell to only a small percentage of Windows users and still be able to make a living. Under those conditions some got REALLY LAZY.

On the Mac side of things, if you write a shitty, ugly, poorly designed application, word gets around and it'll generally die a fairly quick death. Does anyone remember the Mac version of AutoCAD? It was pure garbage and AutoDesk just didn't get it when Mac users rejected it like the plague.

On the other hand, if you have the vision and ability to write a great application, you'll earn an extremely loyal following who will evangelize your app to everyone they know who might need it.

Apple could dump 10 to 15% of the Apps from the App Store and still come out way ahead. The danger is that it would piss off a lot of developers, but maybe a lot of the dead wood would give up or learn their craft and polish their skills!

So, yeah, it's a shame that the lowest-common-denominator attitude that's pervasive on the Windows side is polluting our end of the pool.
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post #26 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Yes, the App Store does have search. Do you even have an iPhone or iPod touch?

Sadly, no... This economy has reduced my income some 15K and the iPhone and ATT data plan are discretionary items...

Unlike government, I can't pay with IOU's and I can't arbitrarily go to boss and raise income as easily as the government can with people's taxes.

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post #27 of 57
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Originally Posted by Trajectory View Post

Unfortunately, that won't stop the prudes from complaining. They typically want to inflict their own morals on everyone else.

Yeah, just see how well it works out for all those right-wing loons looking to force their "morals" on everyone but themselves!

Kid diddlers, men's room lurkers, wife-dumpers, "hikers" and all.
Gotta love our American Taliban!
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post #28 of 57
How about a genius feature like they do for music? They could scan your account on their server and review what your past purchases have been. Based on that history, they can recommend the other apps from all categories that they think I might like. Most people just don't have the time to search through thousands of apps to find ones that could add value to their life. It doesn't have to be absolutely perfect. But at least give me a general idea of what is available that I might like. They could base it on the stars given an app or it's ranking in its category or it's length of time as a top seller or all of the above. That would be the tricky part. What to based the recommendations on?

I second the comments for a preview feature for anything you might buy. Seems like it would be a simple program. Apple could keep track of when you downloaded the app. They would record a date and time when to trigger the response to ask you to buy or delete the app. They could record on the server when you had your preview to prevent you from re-downloading the same app for another test period. They could show the same question if you attempted to download the app again. A person could download free apps as many times as they wanted to use the app. Seems reasonable to me.
post #29 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by MeCourious View Post

How about a genius feature like they do for music?

I second the comments for a preview feature for anything you might buy.

Both your points make perfect sense.

Hopefully an App Genius would be smarter than the village idiot of the music "genius". The results I was getting from the so-called genius were laughable at best. Although, with far fewer apps than songs, it might have better luck.

Trial periods for Apps would be great! Make it just like shareware applications: time limits or limit the number of launches.
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post #30 of 57
The whole iTunes experience does need to be re-worked, for sure, it's cluttertown, but I doubt that is going to happen right now. But they could quickly and vastly improve the Apps store experience by simply making good on functionality that is supposed to be there already:

1) Quality control of apps. Whatever happened to Apple's promise to review and approve apps? I assume they would claim they still do, but how many apps have reviews which say "doesn't work", "crashes the iPhone", "crashes and then freezes", "completely lame, doesn't do what it claims", etc., etc., etc.? NONE of those apps should be on the site, period. Even if some people like an app, unless it works pretty much universally and has some real value, as determined by Apple, it shouldn't have the Apple seal of approval and shouldn't be on the site.

2) Search. Someone earlier said often search results don't even return apps with the actual name that was typed in. Search is King in a commoditized e-commerce site. The search engine's accuracy is as important as the products themselves, because if you can't find the products, there's no point in trying to sell them at all. I'm sure that Apple relies mostly on the apps' authors to define the apps and label them for searchability - they should take that back from the authors, and apply standardized and accurate labels onto each app for its search purposes - aka METADATA INTEGRITY.
post #31 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

Here's for hoping for a previewing of an App itself before purchasing.

Agreed.
Tim Cook didn't get it. He apparently does NOT understand why there is a race to the bottom in iPhone app prices. In my view, its because there is no way to try an app before purchasing and one of the very few ways to show up on a top sales list is for it to be free or close to it.
If they add a try before you buy and better ways to find apps, it may halt the slide to zero.

As it is, the business models that work for developers are free apps that are ad supported or which upsell based on a fee website, desktop application or service.
post #32 of 57
65,000 apps is no longer a selling point with me. Its a slog. The fact that the number of apps has doubled in the last six months means things are going to get more congested. I really don't enjoy browsing the app store anymore.
post #33 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffharris View Post

Yeah, just see how well it works out for all those right-wing loons looking to force their "morals" on everyone but themselves!

Kid diddlers, men's room lurkers, wife-dumpers, "hikers" and all.
Gotta love our American Taliban!

Unfortunately censorship is far more then just a right wing left wing problem. People have a natural tendency to avoid things they don't like or ideas that challenge their belief system. Some people go further and try to impose those views on other people and suppress information that clashes with their beliefs . This has nothing to with political ideology per se but has more to do with ones over confidence in self and a belief that "I" know what is best for you.

I find your comment above to be amusing, but on the other hand you just called about half of the american people "Taliban" which many would consider insulting. Ridiculing hypocrisy is good and usually bitingly funny, but then including such a broad and generalizing statement like right wing loons undercuts the effectiveness of your point. Not all right wingers are bible thumping, censorship promoting, war loving and (insert favorite stereotype here).
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post #34 of 57
I definitely believe they need to improve the search feature on the app-store. I no longer check the store regularly to see what is new because there are just to many apps to go through. I now only go on when looking for a specific app that I have learned about from a review or word of mouth. This is definitely not good for developers because I buy far fewer apps this way.
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post #35 of 57
I was reading this and thought our white paper might add something to this discussion: http://bit.ly/PRJCP

In brief, the App Store needs to refocus itself on providing QUALITY applications rather than selling QUANTITY.
post #36 of 57
A few thoughts...

1. Get rid of the section on the app page that tells what other who bought this app also bought. Replace it with "Similar apps." When I am searching for a navigation app, I want to know about other navigation apps, not some stupid game.

2. Add video preview of the app rather than screenshots. Before purchasing an app, I look for it on YouTube. Let people see the app in action for a realistic idea of whether it is a good purchase. That would be more valuable than a free trial.

3. Allow professional reviewers to post links to their full review of the apps.

4. Make the text browsable so that the text can be enlarged, copied, or read by screen readers. Having no control over the extremely small font makes the store practically unusable for a lot of people.

5. Find a way to stop cluttering the store with crap apps. The only apps that should make it to the front page are those well reviewed apps that make Apple look good. Everything else should be available for search, but otherwise out of sight.
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post #37 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by CIYP View Post

I was reading this and thought our white paper might add something to this discussion: http://bit.ly/PRJCP

In brief, the App Store needs to refocus itself on providing QUALITY applications rather than selling QUANTITY.

There are some valid points in your whitepaper, but I would offer two comments (or maybe it's one comment in two parts):

First, I don't think the App Store needs to focus on "quality" apps. What it needs to do is focus on making it easier for people to find the quality apps, and you and others point out several ways it could do this. Apple should give users the means to identify quality apps, but I don't think they should get into the business of defining what these are. (Or at least to do so in a as neutral a way as possible.) If for no other reason than that it's already problematic to have Apple rejecting apps based on content, and for them to be the arbiter of quality would, in my opinion, likely be equally problematic, if not more so.


I also don't think there is anything wrong with there being downward price pressure in the App Store. Obviously, developers would like to be able to charge higher prices and make more money per sale. Users, naturally, would prefer that everything be free. (Well, no, they don't think about the fact that most developers need to make money to be able to continue creating apps.) But, I also think most users understand that they mostly get what they pay for (or, at least not more than they pay for) when buying apps. So, given a way to differentiate apps by quality, many users would be (and are) willing to pay more for higher quality apps.

However, depending on the importance of the "task", the quality vs. price equation will lead to different solutions for different users. So, I think it's a good thing that there be a range of quality and prices in apps and developers are free to choose the app that fits their needs at the price that makes the most sense to them.

So, in a sense, it's a good thing that there are a certain number of crappy apps in the App Store that are cheap or free. This keeps the developers of the quality apps from gouging users, because they can, because there's no mediocre or crappy alternative. (You know, like Adobe does with its CS products.) And I think it's in everyone's interest to keep apps relatively cheap with each iPhone owner 'buying' lots of them.

There's still plenty of money to be made by producing quality apps, and, except for perhaps a handful of developers, I don't think most developers of quality apps would really make significantly more money if they had less pressure to keep prices low; many might actually make less if they felt less price pressure; I think many could make significantly more, though, if users didn't have to browse through, say, 284 pages of apps in some category.


But, clearly, the consensus, here at least, and probably more generally, is that the current structure of the app store makes it difficult for users to find what they are looking for, and is off-putting to many. The catalog has just gotten way too large and unwieldy. And everyone, developers and users would be happier if Apple addressed this problem as soon as possible.
post #38 of 57
The idea that keeps recurring when I speak to friends is that people want a way of being able to share apps. Even if that means a way of sending a link from one iPhone to another. Rather than just trying to spell out app names and then they have to go to the app store and do a search for themselves...
post #39 of 57
One way Apple could improve the App Store experience is to highlight the top apps for each category. For instance, what are the top games in a specific game category, or the top travel apps.

Top picks could be based on certain quality and performance criteria that the experts at Apple could decide on.

If the top picks are limited to a specific number, say 10 or 20 for each narrow category, and being awarded this designation carries benefits for the developers (increased sales or bragging rights), I believe those developers who are serious about providing us with quality stuff will scramble to unseat those on the list, thus driving further improvements for the users.

Many people focus on ratings when picking movies, buying cars, choosing restaurants. Why not let Apple put together its own (unbiased, hopefully) Top Picks list? I think the user would win on this one.

What do you think?
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post #40 of 57
Ban anyone who spells "that" as "dat" or "with" as "wit" or "da" for "the" or "these" as "des", when reviewing an app.
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