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

Posted:
in iPhone edited March 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    Apple bought Chomp, an app search engine, in Feb 2012, reportedly for $50MM. Looks like we're seeing more robust integration now.
  • Reply 2 of 24
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member

    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”.

  • Reply 3 of 24
    aaronjaaronj Posts: 1,595member

    Looks cool.  Go Apple.

  • Reply 4 of 24
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member

    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.

  • Reply 5 of 24
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,670member
    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”.

    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.
  • Reply 6 of 24
    nabzifnabzif Posts: 16member

    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.

  • Reply 7 of 24
    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

  • Reply 9 of 24
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    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”.

    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.
  • Reply 10 of 24
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    nabzif wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 24
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,833member

    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.

  • Reply 12 of 24
    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).
  • Reply 13 of 24
    dewme wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 24
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,549moderator
    dewme wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 24
    nofeernofeer Posts: 2,422member

    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

  • Reply 16 of 24
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,217member
    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
  • Reply 17 of 24
    zoso4zoso4 Posts: 11member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 24
    aaronjaaronj Posts: 1,595member

    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.

  • Reply 19 of 24
    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!

  • Reply 20 of 24
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    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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