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Apple testing 'Related' App Store search results to boost app discovery

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
According to reports late Monday, Apple may be planning on rolling out a new app discovery feature for the iOS App Store as users have spotted a new option that suggests terms related to a given search.

Related Search
Source: Olga Osadcha via Twitter


The new feature, first spotted by developer Olga Osadcha, appears while conducting a search in the App Store app. Currently, the "Related" suggestions appear to be limited to iPhones running iOS 7.1 or higher and is not showing up on the iPad or desktop versions of iTunes.

As seen in the example above, when a user enters a keyword like "password manager," the App Store recommends a number of related search terms in a row directly below the search box. Clicking on one of the suggestions open a new pane populated with apps corresponding to the selected search term. It looks as though results are commonly used phrases possibly pulled from popular keywords or phrases queried by other users.

Previously, App Store discovery was restricted to a Related subsection within an app's preview card. The section is usually filled with other apps from the same developer, popular titles within a given category and a "customers also purchased" list.

In 2012, Apple acquired app search engine Chomp. Shortly after the purchase, Apple brought Chomp-style "app cards" to iOS 6, but the company has yet to incorporate the erstwhile service's powerful recommendation and discovery features.

At the time of this writing, access to the "Related" menu bar is sporadic, suggesting Apple is testing the functionality ahead of a more formal rollout.
post #2 of 25
Apple bought Chomp, an app search engine, in Feb 2012, reportedly for $50MM. Looks like we're seeing more robust integration now.
post #3 of 25

HERE’S A RADICAL IDEA, APPLE.

 

WHY NOT HAVE SUBCATEGORIES IN YOUR STORE TO BOOST APP DISCOVERY.

 

BECAUSE IT SEEMS TO ME LIKE THAT’S SOMETHING YOU COULD DO.

 

SIX YEARS AGO.

 

:mad: 

 

I don’t have a clue how long it has been since I’ve even used the App Store. There is no app discovery. You’re digging for buried treasure and run into titanium at 3”.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #4 of 25

Looks cool.  Go Apple.

post #5 of 25

Apple really need to start stealing ideas from Amazon and Steam. There's so much more that they could do.

 

I also wish they would formalise a demo mechanism for apps akin to Xbox Live Arcade. I know it can be done via IAP but a lot of users get angry if they don't realise that they're only download a limited version of the app for free.

post #6 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

HERE’S A RADICAL IDEA, APPLE.
WHY NOT HAVE SUBCATEGORIES IN YOUR STORE TO BOOST APP DISCOVERY.
BECAUSE IT SEEMS TO ME LIKE THAT’S SOMETHING YOU COULD DO.
SIX YEARS AGO.
1mad.gif  

I don’t have a clue how long it has been since I’ve even used the App Store. There is no app discovery. You’re digging for buried treasure and run into titanium at 3”.

If you're unhappy with Apple they must be fecking it up.


But you are totally correct. Discovery is dire in the App Store. It's just search and charts. In the movies store they do better - but not much.
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post #7 of 25

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

HERE’S A RADICAL IDEA, APPLE.

 

WHY NOT HAVE SUBCATEGORIES IN YOUR STORE TO BOOST APP DISCOVERY.

 

BECAUSE IT SEEMS TO ME LIKE THAT’S SOMETHING YOU COULD DO.

 

SIX YEARS AGO.

 

:mad: 

 

 

This.

 

And also a real power search. As in, search on every field. If I want to see only

 

    games

    that are for 17+

    that have {mild|intense} {sex|violence|whatever} (and not because they're a web browser)

    that are rated above 3 stars average

    that have been updated in the past 2 years

    that don't include the word {slots|twerk|fart|whatever}

    sorted by {popularity|rating|newest|oldest}

 

then by golly I ought to be able to. With 1M+ apps, I'd say at least 80% of them are doomed to obscurity. Neither categories nor search are nearly granular enough.


Edited by nabziF - 3/25/14 at 6:38am
post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

HERE’S A RADICAL IDEA, APPLE.

 

WHY NOT HAVE SUBCATEGORIES IN YOUR STORE TO BOOST APP DISCOVERY.

 

BECAUSE IT SEEMS TO ME LIKE THAT’S SOMETHING YOU COULD DO.

 

SIX YEARS AGO.

 

:mad: 

 

I don’t have a clue how long it has been since I’ve even used the App Store. There is no app discovery. You’re digging for buried treasure and run into titanium at 3”.

Agree

post #9 of 25
mmm. interesting. What appsfire app search was looking like before we removed it last year





https://www.evernote.com/shard/s1/sh/2a58d8fe-0300-4d1c-bfc0-b895b7be17a7/438ed7b600a65b32d95a45bd9d66686b
Edited by Ouriel Ohayon - 3/25/14 at 7:45am
post #10 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

HERE’S A RADICAL IDEA, APPLE.
WHY NOT HAVE SUBCATEGORIES IN YOUR STORE TO BOOST APP DISCOVERY.
BECAUSE IT SEEMS TO ME LIKE THAT’S SOMETHING YOU COULD DO.
SIX YEARS AGO.
1mad.gif  

I don’t have a clue how long it has been since I’ve even used the App Store. There is no app discovery. You’re digging for buried treasure and run into titanium at 3”.

Completely agree. Other than the desktop Finder, Apple's App Store search is not well implemented. I'd even want a tab where the users have created the categories and classified the apps. Crowdsourcing, anyone?

I usually end up going to Google to see if there is a review or mention of the type of app I'm looking for.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by nabziF View Post

Quote:

This.

And also a real power search. As in, search on every field. If I want to see only

    games
    that are for 17+
    that have {mild|intense} {sex|violence|whatever} (and not because they're a web browser)
    that are rated above 3 stars average
    that have been updated in the past 2 years
    that don't include the word {slots|twerk|fart|whatever}
    sorted by {popularity|rating|newest|oldest}

then by golly I ought to be able to. With 1M+ apps, I'd say at least 80% of them are doomed to obscurity. Neither categories nor search are nearly granular enough.

Yep. I wonder if there are patent licensing issues to contend with and that's why the App Store search is so limited.

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GOA

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post #12 of 25

This is a scalability challenge that is not unique to Apple. It's neither good nor bad. It is simply a challenge that needs to be addressed in a thoughtful way that also considers additional growth that goes way beyond what we're already seeing. Admonishing Apple or any other content curator at this point in the evolution of these systems is  a bit shortsighted and simpleminded. It's not a trivial problem to solve well. 

 

Traditional search is not the perfect answer. Search works well when you have a pretty good idea of what you're looking for. However, it's not so great for open ended discovery. If we really want to see creativity in the App Store and app marketplace then we want to have new categories of Apps that don't currently exist. Being the 1128th variation of an app that fits into an existing category is probably less than ideal, unless of course you're Google and you're getting paid by the app creator to bump the 1128th variation app to the top of your search results.

 

Think about how challenging it is to find one specific physical item in a decent sized grocery store today and there we're only talking about 50,000 or so unique items in a large store. The aisle signs do help a little but they only identify general categories. The shopper must still fill in the blanks through implicit and explicit associations, some of which are formed through experiences from previous shopping adventures in the store. Now scale that up to 1,000,000 and still growing unique items in the App Store. The grocery store model doesn't work unless your shopping excursions extend into several days or weeks at a time browsing up and down the aisles. The traditional search model doesn't help either if you are trying to discover totally new and groundbreaking apps that arrive on the scene. App creators face the same challenges on their side.

 

I think what is shown above for Apple makes sense for basic discovery but it's still not the ideal solution. Neither the grocery store model nor the library/catalog model really suffice at the scale, magnitude, and level of potential diversity of uniqueness that the App Store has unleashed. This is a huge opportunity for someone to come up with a better model that more closely fits the nature of problem rather than trying to force fit outdated paradigms designed for historical challenges into modern ones.

 

This is a very good thing in my mind and shows that we are moving in the right direction as a global society. I expect this will be a recurring pattern as more and more technology and systems like the App Store arrives and unleashes the vast and growing potential for human creativity. Anyone who argues that the iPhone and iPad are "consumption only" devices is only looking at half of the picture. I cannot think of too many technologies, other than perhaps the invention of pencil and paper, and musical instruments, that has unleashed such a great wave of creativity on such a global scale. How we manage it all, now that's a challenge still to be solved.

post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Yep. I wonder if there are patent licensing issues to contend with and that's why the App Store search is so limited.
That's what I've thought too. As previous posters mentioned the inability to search on the different fields (age restriction/category/subcategory) makes no sense. The lack of a more refined tagging system makes no sense. So many things about the App Store make no sense at all.

The other thing I LOATHE is not having an option for list view and then being able to get back to your last place after looking through your search options. It's why I never go to the App Store. It just isn't the best tool for App discovery. And that's a pretty big problem from a couple of perspectives (developers/users/staying competitive).
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post #14 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by DewMe View Post

Think about how challenging it is to find one specific physical item in a decent sized grocery store today and there we're only talking about 50,000 or so unique items in a large store. The aisle signs do help a little but they only identify general categories. The shopper must still fill in the blanks through implicit and explicit associations, some of which are formed through experiences from previous shopping adventures in the store. Now scale that up to 1,000,000 and still growing unique items in the App Store. The grocery store model doesn't work unless your shopping excursions extend into several days or weeks at a time browsing up and down the aisles. The traditional search model doesn't help either if you are trying to discover totally new and groundbreaking apps that arrive on the scene. App creators face the same challenges on their side.

I think what is shown above for Apple makes sense for basic discovery but it's still not the ideal solution. Neither the grocery store model nor the library/catalog model really suffice at the scale, magnitude, and level of potential diversity of uniqueness that the App Store has unleashed. This is a huge opportunity for someone to come up with a better model that more closely fits the nature of problem rather than trying to force fit outdated paradigms designed for historical challenges into modern ones.

This is a very good thing in my mind and shows that we are moving in the right direction as a global society. I expect this will be a recurring pattern as more and more technology and systems like the App Store arrives and unleashes the vast and growing potential for human creativity. Anyone who argues that the iPhone and iPad are "consumption only" devices is only looking at half of the picture. I cannot think of too many technologies, other than perhaps the invention of pencil and paper, and musical instruments, that has unleashed such a great wave of creativity on such a global scale. How we manage it all, now that's a challenge still to be solved.

IKEA does this exact thing very well. My girl sent me a list of items she needed. I searched for where those items were at my local store, specifically. I was in and out in 10 minutes. And their uniqueness in items is pretty grand.
Edited by alcstarheel - 3/25/14 at 11:48am
You can't spell appeal without Apple.
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post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by DewMe View Post

Traditional search is not the perfect answer. Search works well when you have a pretty good idea of what you're looking for. However, it's not so great for open ended discovery. If we really want to see creativity in the App Store and app marketplace then we want to have new categories of Apps that don't currently exist.

I don't think adding categories is going to help much because categories are intended to be a way of associating a singular definition with a group of items that a user already recognises. Adding new ones requires that users learn the new representations. It's also not always the case that users know what kind of app or category to look at, the motivation in discovery is just to find something appealing. Take a popular game like Limbo. You can add as many category labels like game > platformer > stylish but the more levels people have to drill down, the harder they get to find again and the user might just be looking for a cool game regardless of subcategory.

I think exclusion is the way forward rather than sorting. Sorting will never prevent you from seeing apps you've already seen or even own and have decided you aren't interested in seeing again.

If an app has 2 stars or less from a lot of reviewers, you should be able to exclude them. If there are apps designed specifically for children, you should be able to exclude them.

I loved how they added the little 'i' icon so you can open a popup for an app and it's much faster for browsing the store but why not put a cross and a "not interested" button inside the popup. Clicking the cross will make the app icon disappear and it will go into a personal list of exclusions so you can easily get it back again.

They seem to like their global charts but I'd rather they hid those out of the way. Once a user has excluded enough items, the App Store will get a better idea of what they like and every time you visit the store you will see new items.

There's efficiency to consider with a store this size and showing lots of people the same items and using fixed lists is easier to cache but it shouldn't be too taxing to do a few items at a time.

There are over 1m apps. A user can skip through 100 apps per day and exclude the ones they don't want. After about 1000 items, the store will know which apps closely resemble the excluded ones and prioritize apps that aren't like those. Not only this but the massive volume of exclusions will let Apple see which apps are really bad and use this in their rankings.

This is actually how Google search works. It's about links that pass rank onto other pages. Downloads and ratings are considered recommendations but downloads are not recommendations. If thousands of people are tricked into clicking a spam link, that isn't a recommendation. It's only a recommendation if someone maintains an active link to the page. Ratings are explicit recommendations but are fixed in time and can be abused. Exclusions would act like a downrank, install status could perhaps act as an uprank but I'd say it should be launch count. How many times an app is opened should count towards its popularity but they have to be careful about tracking user activity too closely.
post #16 of 25

keep it simple

i would like a simple way to know the top 25 by download, review, in paid and free apps

-------and just because in a description in includes the word "vpn"    DOESN'T HELP

i tried to look for a vpn    i want to know most downloaded and highest review  i had to go to several sites then i fell into "surf easy"

little help from apple....TOO TIME CONSUMING

I agree that more categories won't help

 

i'm sure apple employees know the top 20 in each category each week, by free, paid and reviews

 tell you what .............hire amazon to work out your filters

netflix same problem  tried to filter for children's series,      guess what??    had to go to a parent site to find stuff

 

maybe the dewey system

 

but have you ever tried to find anything pertinent in youtube, another maze of nothingness and kiddy giggle vids

 

maybe hire a ups director  its logistics anyway

 

you get lost and frustrated very very easily

I APPLE THEREFORE I AM
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post #17 of 25
All of iTunes needs better metadata and searching. There should not be things like mixing up books by two artists with similar names. Especially when one does grade school art how to books and the other is erotica

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 #18 of 25
I have found myself entering in random words just to see what shows up. I've found a few great apps that way. Everyone is right. There has to be a better way.
post #19 of 25

Honestly, I'd say 90% of the apps I look into and maybe eventually d/l I hear about somewhere else first.  It's pretty rare that I go to the App Store without an idea of what I'm looking for beforehand.

 

But that's just me.

post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by DewMe View Post
 

This is a scalability challenge that is not unique to Apple. It's neither good nor bad. It is simply a challenge that needs to be addressed in a thoughtful way that also considers additional growth that goes way beyond what we're already seeing. Admonishing Apple or any other content curator at this point in the evolution of these systems is  a bit shortsighted and simpleminded. It's not a trivial problem to solve well. 

 

Traditional search is not the perfect answer. Search works well when you have a pretty good idea of what you're looking for. However, it's not so great for open ended discovery. If we really want to see creativity in the App Store and app marketplace then we want to have new categories of Apps that don't currently exist. Being the 1128th variation of an app that fits into an existing category is probably less than ideal, unless of course you're Google and you're getting paid by the app creator to bump the 1128th variation app to the top of your search results.

 

Think about how challenging it is to find one specific physical item in a decent sized grocery store today and there we're only talking about 50,000 or so unique items in a large store. The aisle signs do help a little but they only identify general categories. The shopper must still fill in the blanks through implicit and explicit associations, some of which are formed through experiences from previous shopping adventures in the store. Now scale that up to 1,000,000 and still growing unique items in the App Store. The grocery store model doesn't work unless your shopping excursions extend into several days or weeks at a time browsing up and down the aisles. The traditional search model doesn't help either if you are trying to discover totally new and groundbreaking apps that arrive on the scene. App creators face the same challenges on their side.

 

I think what is shown above for Apple makes sense for basic discovery but it's still not the ideal solution. Neither the grocery store model nor the library/catalog model really suffice at the scale, magnitude, and level of potential diversity of uniqueness that the App Store has unleashed. This is a huge opportunity for someone to come up with a better model that more closely fits the nature of problem rather than trying to force fit outdated paradigms designed for historical challenges into modern ones.

 

This is a very good thing in my mind and shows that we are moving in the right direction as a global society. I expect this will be a recurring pattern as more and more technology and systems like the App Store arrives and unleashes the vast and growing potential for human creativity. Anyone who argues that the iPhone and iPad are "consumption only" devices is only looking at half of the picture. I cannot think of too many technologies, other than perhaps the invention of pencil and paper, and musical instruments, that has unleashed such a great wave of creativity on such a global scale. How we manage it all, now that's a challenge still to be solved.

Wam bam. If you're not already working for Apple, please go apply!

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post #21 of 25
Here's another way App Store search could be improved: Enable "affinity groups" to help narrow a searcher's areas of interest. For example, say you are a 35 year old mother who lives in Minneapolis who is interested in apps to keep the kids busy, but she's also interested in hockey and flight simulators. She should have some way of manually setting these interests by keyword, or by associating herself with special interest groups either in iTunes, or via something akin to the Facebook "like". Why can't there be the equivalent of an Apple 'thumbs up' everywhere on the web?

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post #22 of 25
Personally I think there is too much positive feedback in the App Store. The popular marketed stuff is downloaded, rises to the top of the charts, and that's reinforced by apples recommendations or charts. It might be worth apples time showing the less popular stuff in any category, maybe even randomly some of the least popular in a More To Try. That would change every day as the subsequent downloads would exclude those apps from the least popular but would keep the long tail churning.
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post #23 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

say you are a 35 year old mother who lives in Minneapolis who is interested in apps to keep the kids busy, but she's also interested in hockey and flight simulators. She should have some way of manually setting these interests by keyword

Keywords would be a good idea. I think they'd have to be linked though. So for example, someone could choose tags 'baking', 'cooking', 'flying'. However, flying on its own might bring up flight checkers so it would have to be linked to games so they'd need linked tags 'games'-'flying' and inverse tags for exclusion so 'games'-!'flying' (it would be inverted colors or something) would mean no flying games. If you didn't want to see kids games, you'd set 'games'-!'children' and the system interpreting tags would know similar terms like kids/children etc.

These tags would be found by Apple using a search of app categories, titles and descriptions for frequency and excluding any offensive terms and then present them to the user in iTunes as building blocks. This could be a split view with a tag cloud up top that had a list of tags on the left in a long list that narrowed down by typing terms. You'd then drag the tags over into the tag cloud and could link them together, maybe even like the way iOS does folders so you can have one tag alone as a rounded square but drag two together and it make a folder of tags. Hovering over each tag would show an invert icon. Invert tag groups that exclude a lot of apps can have a small warning bubble, like if you accidentally inverted the whole games category.

You would even be able to add favorite developers as tags. There would then be a page dedicated solely to presenting the best apps that match your tag cloud and excluding apps adds an exclusion tag, which can be removed later. Individual exclusions could be grouped in a single tag folder.

The bottom part of the split view (on iPad and Mac) would then be your personal recommendation section showing apps. The tag cloud can also be helped automatically with Genius filters based on past purchases and apps you've rated. The tag cloud on the iPhone might be tricky to manage but they can split the tag view and tag list and then show the apps on a separate page.
post #24 of 25
I think Marvin and others who mentioned tagging and metadata are thinking along the right path for much better search models. You could point these ideas into the realm of faceted classification systems and come up with a pretty decent system. This strategy is actually quite old and dates back to Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan, an Indian master of library science. Faceted classification is computationally expensive but delivers a much more focused experience. A good example of this model is the Kayak travel site. You can also visualize it if you've seen those used car commercials where there is a huge matrix of candidates and as the customer provides more conditions, or facets, if what he or she is interested in the number of candidates is reduced.

I think a faceted classification system with some sort of Apple Genuis inspired adaptive learning influence would move this along quite well. Use the mass computational power of the internet of things, big data, search, and adaptive learning about what kinds of things the searcher "likes" and you get a more productive and personalized user experience focused on discovering apps or other content that you might like.

What makes this computationally intensive is having to provide indexing not only for every facet but for relationships between each facet. It's a big data problem. If I had to guess about who has the wherewithal to conceptualize the scale of the problem and bring the required processing model to bear I'd say Google and IBM and Amazon before I'd say Apple. This is not a knock on Apple, it's just the companies like Google and IBM are knee deep in this sort of thing as infrastructure providers as a primary focus while Apple is a product focused company with very large infrastructure needs due to their enormous success in product innovation.

You could say that had Google and Apple teamed up around this problem we as customers would be served unlike we've ever been served. Unfortunately egos, jealousy, and shareholders sometimes get in the way of solving real world problems. If Apple is going to do this on their own they'll have to learn and acquire some knowledge that's traditionally been outside of their core domain expertise. You can also flip this around and say that Google's foray in the product domain has been a distraction from solving the really big problems that they are well positioned to solve.
post #25 of 25
Apple may also want to think along the lines of curated app lists. I'd like to see extensive app lists from people like Oprah, Leo Laporte and other personalities or tech luminaries with large followings...possibly even a "New York Times Top Apps List" of sorts.

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