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Apple adds keywords to App Store additions for easier search

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
Soon after Apple admitted that improvements were needed in helping users locate App Store software, developers have been asked to add a list of keywords for their submitted applications to improve discovery.

In a change revealed to AppleInsider, developers are now asked to enter up to 255 characters worth of keywords, separated by commas, which will be used for search in the App Store on the iPhone and iPod touch.

The addition has been made to iTunes Connect, the service where developers and artists submit their content to the App Store and iTunes.

"It is important to enter keywords for all applications as soon as possible so your application can continue to be successfully located on the App Store," the update from Apple reads. "Keywords can be updated with the submission of a new binary."

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. During last week's second-quarter earnings report, Apple chief executive Tim Cook said the company is looking for new ways to categorize software in the App Store.

"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 there’s opportunity there for further improvement and are working on that."

Analyst Charlie Wolf of Needham & Co. was highly critical of the App Store search last week. He said he still has reservations about the destination due to poor search capabilities and a plethora of $0.99 software flooding the marketplace.

"If the App Store is going to drive iPhone sales, the applications on the web site have to be unique and valuable to shoppers in ways that can’t be matched on competing smartphone stores," he wrote. "In short, they should populate the 'killer app' category, which has been a key driver of hardware sales. To accomplish this will require that the most engaging applications are written for and can be easily discovered on the iPhone App Store."

Behind the scenes, Apple has quietly fixed some problems with the App Store search. Weeks ago, a search for "EA," the brand for Electronic Arts, returned results with 15 games from a company called Digital Chocolate. The reason: In the games' descriptions, the word "each" was abbreviated to "ea."

But now, the first 18 results in a search for "EA" are Electronic Arts games.
post #2 of 30
A good start. It still needs more structure, but this will go a long way to finding appropriate apps.

This of course depends on the number of tags and which ones the developers use. Some developers are obviously going to load as many tags as possible to get you to their apps.

But, like I said, it's a good start.
post #3 of 30
Meta-tags all over again.
Gamed on day 1.
Guaranteed.

If Apple maintained the list of tags, it might work.
But free-form? Disaster.
post #4 of 30
A case of TMI. I predicted search is going to be a problem as the number of offerings in the app store increases. They also need to do some paid sidebar ads a la google so developers who think their apps are really great can put their money where their mouths are. Apple just needs to put some restrictions to prevent the sidebar ads from turning into a permanent iTunes encampent for some developer.
post #5 of 30
Wouldn't mind some change on the itunes side. How about a normal list view instead of icon-only view. I'd like to know when I bought something or hob big it is at a glance - maybe even be able to give them my own stars...

And fix one big annoyance - it would be nice to be able to click on an app (or such) and go to it's itunes store page
post #6 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Soon after Apple admitted that improvements were needed in helping users locate App Store software, developers have been asked to add a list of keywords for their submitted applications to improve discovery. ...

Good move, but still not really much without someone policing it.

Anyone who's ever been involved in online commerce knows that keywords quickly become a game just as the title of the app does. 255 characters is a lot. There's nothing to stop unscrupulous (i.e. - most) developers from including keywords that have nothing to do with their app but everything to do with making it come out at the top of a search. The key is in examining the keywords as they are submitted and either denying/allowing or "correcting" them.

It seems unlikely to me that Apple will go to that level given the hassle they get already about being over-controlling.
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post #7 of 30
So, how many developers do we think will submit 'fart' or 'torch' as a keyword for their app?
post #8 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichyS View Post

So, how many developers do we think will submit 'fart' or 'torch' as a keyword for their app?

Their submission process, I hope, includes checking the keywords for relevance.

I wish they'd make changes to the ratings process too. I ignore the ratings since any jerk can rate down an app, and I'd like to ignore reviews that most users found not helpful.
post #9 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichyS View Post

So, how many developers do we think will submit 'fart' or 'torch' as a keyword for their app?

or "tits" and "ass" lol
post #10 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Soon after Apple admitted that improvements were needed in helping users locate App Store software, developers have been asked to add a list of keywords for their submitted applications to improve discovery.

In a change revealed to AppleInsider, developers are now asked to enter up to 255 characters worth of keywords, separated by commas, which will be used for search in the App Store on the iPhone and iPod touch.

The addition has been made to iTunes Connect, the service where developers and artists submit their content to the App Store and iTunes.

"It is important to enter keywords for all applications as soon as possible so your application can continue to be successfully located on the App Store," the update from Apple reads. "Keywords can be updated with the submission of a new binary."

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. During last week's second-quarter earnings report, Apple chief executive Tim Cook said the company is looking for new ways to categorize software in the App Store.

"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."

Analyst Charlie Wolf of Needham & Co. was highly critical of the App Store search last week. He said he still has reservations about the destination due to poor search capabilities and a plethora of $0.99 software flooding the marketplace.

"If the App Store is going to drive iPhone sales, the applications on the web site have to be unique and valuable to shoppers in ways that cant be matched on competing smartphone stores," he wrote. "In short, they should populate the 'killer app' category, which has been a key driver of hardware sales. To accomplish this will require that the most engaging applications are written for and can be easily discovered on the iPhone App Store."

Behind the scenes, Apple has quietly fixed some problems with the App Store search. Weeks ago, a search for "EA," the brand for Electronic Arts, returned results with 15 games from a company called Digital Chocolate. The reason: In the games' descriptions, the word "each" was abbreviated to "ea."

But now, the first 18 results in a search for "EA" are Electronic Arts games.

This may somehow result in confused and unclear searches which will affect the user experience. Apple should improve on this.
post #11 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Analyst Charlie Wolf of Needham & Co. was highly critical of the App Store search last week. He said he still has reservations about the destination due to poor search capabilities and a plethora of $0.99 software flooding the marketplace.

"If the App Store is going to drive iPhone sales, the applications on the web site have to be unique and valuable to shoppers in ways that cant be matched on competing smartphone stores," he wrote. "In short, they should populate the 'killer app' category, which has been a key driver of hardware sales. To accomplish this will require that the most engaging applications are written for and can be easily discovered on the iPhone App Store."

Charlie sounds like a normal person. However, the killer apps he speaks of have all been pulled from the App Store or rejected. Starting with GV Mobile. Apple is going to have to grow some balls. I love my iPhone for many reasons, the first and largest being it is compatible with my Mac. The second was for great app's.
Hard-Core.
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Hard-Core.
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post #12 of 30
Apple continues to revolutionize and innovate
post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by chronster View Post

Apple continues to revolutionize and innovate

+1! Find me a device in the laptop / phone / music player category that can truly beat Apple.
post #14 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichyS View Post

So, how many developers do we think will submit 'fart' or 'torch' as a keyword for their app?

In all honestly IMO, 2/10 . Better apps have been developed for the iPhone/iPod Touch recently.
post #15 of 30
The best way to improve the App Store is to improve the apps. IMO, $.99 apps are killing the app store. There should never be anything on the App Store home page except exceptional apps. Crap apps should be consigned to the app ghetto. Apple needs to use better editorial judgement about what they choose to display in their storefront.
Apple has no competition. Every commercial product which competes directly with an Apple product gives the distinct impression that, Where it is original, it is not good, and where it is good, it...
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Apple has no competition. Every commercial product which competes directly with an Apple product gives the distinct impression that, Where it is original, it is not good, and where it is good, it...
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post #16 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac Voyer View Post

The best way to improve the App Store is to improve the apps. IMO, $.99 apps are killing the app store. There should never be anything on the App Store home page except exceptional apps. Crap apps should be consigned to the app ghetto. Apple needs to use better editorial judgement about what they choose to display in their storefront.

Apple should carefully check the apps through vigorous tries to see if it is useful for the consumer, and ban unwanted apps that crash and spoil the iPhone's user experience.
post #17 of 30
I wouldn't mind being able to order searched apps by rating rather than download, with larger numbers of people rating giving more weight to the ratings. I keep looking for the best free games, and its like searching for a needle in a haystack to find them.

Why doesn't Apple take a page from its own itunes and make multiple ordering strings you can use to sort the apps?
post #18 of 30
It's actually limited to 100 characters, not 255 as currently reported.
post #19 of 30
The number of Apps are staggering, and has continued unabated. Unless something better than keywords is done, it will be impossible to introduce a new App or find an old one.

Keywords search is a good start, but I think Google Police need to be called for help. After all, they are the kings of search. Make the call Steve!
post #20 of 30
How about 'Sort by Rating' in the search results? Kind of useless without that.
post #21 of 30
i hope this doesn't end up as bad as Ebay where some sellers have a long list of tags in their auctions just to come up in more searches
post #22 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post

i hope this doesn't end up as bad as Ebay where some sellers have a long list of tags in their auctions just to come up in more searches

This would be my concern too - especially developers using misleading keywords to attract people to apps that aren't commonly associated with those keywords. I hope Apple has a scheme for insuring a certain level of integrity. But do they really need this extra headache for the app approval process?
post #23 of 30
Apple should look into some social networking style features. For example, being able to follow a certain publisher, friends, or reviewers. It of course wouldn't solve all the problems but it would be another tool to use. Their best bet is to just offer lots of different ways to explore the catalog. Maybe an "Upcoming" tab that shows apps that are rising in popularity quickly would help too.
post #24 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by iCarbon View Post

I wouldn't mind being able to order searched apps by rating rather than download, with larger numbers of people rating giving more weight to the ratings. I keep looking for the best free games, and its like searching for a needle in a haystack to find them.

Why doesn't Apple take a page from its own itunes and make multiple ordering strings you can use to sort the apps?

Agreed, number of downloads is a meaningless factor by itself. What really matters are the ratings, and the number of ratings the overall rating is based on.
post #25 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac Voyer View Post

The best way to improve the App Store is to improve the apps. IMO, $.99 apps are killing the app store. There should never be anything on the App Store home page except exceptional apps. Crap apps should be consigned to the app ghetto. Apple needs to use better editorial judgement about what they choose to display in their storefront.

$0.99 apps are not killing the app store. There are many fine $0.99 apps in the app store. In fact, nothing is "killing" the app store. But keywords and ordering results by rating (and displaying ratings on listing pages) will go a long way to make it better. Expert reviews might be useful, but there is the danger that apps without expert reviews will be perceived as inferior, which makes the playing field less level.
post #26 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

$0.99 apps are not killing the app store. There are many fine $0.99 apps in the app store. In fact, nothing is "killing" the app store. But keywords and ordering results by rating (and displaying ratings on listing pages) will go a long way to make it better. Expert reviews might be useful, but there is the danger that apps without expert reviews will be perceived as inferior, which makes the playing field less level.

A lot of the really obvious things that could be done to fix the categorisation and searching of apps though are things that are unpopular and so will never be implemented.

For example the "free" category currently includes "free with advertising" even though it's arguable that this is not "free" at all. It's most often closer to a baited hook than it is to an application made by an altruist and given for free to the world because they aren't interested in commercialism or don't see a need to charge for it. Removing these apps into a separate category would clear out enormous amounts of junk, possibly even the majority of the "bad apps" that clutter up the store.

A second example is that user reviews could (and should) be completely discounted against the apps rating if the user is not willing to write at least a paragraph of explanation as to why the app is supposed to be good or bad. This will almost certainly never be implemented because of some misguided idea that "everyone's input is as valid as anyone else's" (which is BS objectively speaking), but it would go a long long way towards making the ratings more accurate and giving the prospective buyer actual good information about the app. It's an excellent, easy way to improve things overnight but it will never happen.

A third example is to allow people to filter the store. If I as a consumer am never, ever interested in stupid sports apps (I'm not), or any other category of app, I should by all rights be allowed to filter them out. Born-agains could filter out adult content, Capitalists could filter out free stuff etc. I know for a fact that I could easily reduce the thousands and thousands of apps in the store to just a few hundred if I was allowed to only see what I *want* to see, but this would be "against business" or some such in their eyes and will likely never happen in a million years.

These are just the first three off the top of my head suggestions, but there are innumerable other ways in which the customer experience and the utility of the store could be improved, that will simply never be implemented due to the commercial nature of the store itself, the mercantile interests of both Apple and the "developers," and the expectations of the average consumer.
In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
Reply
In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
Reply
post #27 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by OC4Theo View Post

The number of Apps are staggering, and has continued unabated. Unless something better than keywords is done, it will be impossible to introduce a new App or find an old one.

Keywords search is a good start, but I think Google Police need to be called for help. After all, they are the kings of search. Make the call Steve!

lol yeah call google to help develop search techniques for an app store than banned the google voice app :P
post #28 of 30
First, its actually 100 characters not 255.

Also, unlike the application description it cant be adjusted between binary application updates. This means it will be manually reviewed by Apple during approvals. This also means the end of keyword spamming, which is really what the change is all about.
post #29 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

Good move, but still not really much without someone policing it.

i suspect there is, or will be shortly, a clause in the developer agreement that all keywords must be relevant and any padding will result in having your app pulled.

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #30 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

i suspect there is, or will be shortly, a clause in the developer agreement that all keywords must be relevant and any padding will result in having your app pulled.

+1. It's gonna be a matter of time before everything gets pulled off the App Store.
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