A Change The Apple App Store Needs ASAP

Update: Someone on Twitter objected to this post. He missed the point. People who don’t have iPads would do this search, which is the entire point. For the longest time, Android apps could be searched for only on an Android phone or tablet. Google got smart and allowed web access, all of Google Play is now on the Net. You can also search for iOS apps and books via the Net now too. This post is valid (why else does iTunes still allow search?) and your shortsighted objection is why you fail — and also why the App Store is a mess.

Today I decided to play a little game.

It’s called Let’s Pretend I Finally Decided To Buy An iPad.

So I went to the App Store to look up one of the functions I need to carry out on any tablet: Photo Editing.

To show you this was not a trivial effort, here’s a screensnap of all the listings I went through. The punchline is at the end — and worth it, trust me.


Those aren’t all the search results. I gave up there.

Why did I give up? It wasn’t the quantity.

But it was the quantity.

In the first few screens, I noticed this app:


And a hell of lot of screens later, I noticed this app:


Which shows I really wasn’t paying much attention, because at the top of the list there was this:


Yes, right next to each other, just like that.

This is bad.

Apple is making customers claw through duplicate listings of apps.

Stop. Don’t tell me these are legitimate demo versions. That doesn’t matter. It’s still two listings.

And iTunes doesn’t have any filters.

There should be three filters:

1) Free apps (which are free, full apps)
2) Demo apps (which are lite, free version of paid)
3) Paid apps

Or, if Apple insists on being a pack of cruel amateurs when it comes to information arrangement, they could at least do this shortcut (warning crap graphic editing skills ahead):


I am trying to mimic Apple’s convention of app icons that provide some sort of notification.

Anyway: BAM! Done. Just one listing for that app with the circle-D informing people there’s a free demo version of that app too.

Why do it that way?

1) Each app gets just one listing.
2) People know the price of the app upfront, instead of later

I’d really like to know how many of these duplicate app listings bloat the count of apps that Apple likes to toss around.

But that’s beside the point.

Customers shouldn’t have to wade through duplicates like that. It’s a waste of time and it also prevents developers from getting needed visibility.

Think about it.

If I’m given a list of say, one hundred apps, that’s a lot. But if each of these apps also has a demo version, that list is cut in half to fifty.

The list is shortened but the information density is actually increased.

Apps stand out more.

Customers have less of their time wasted and their patience isn’t tried as much.

Apple, do this.

Or do something.

It’s a mess as it is now.



Filed under Apple: The Company, Marketing, Minimalism

4 responses to “A Change The Apple App Store Needs ASAP

  1. Bette Forester

    I use apps on my iPhone. I like having icons next to each other, but with the info corner (as per your example) clearly designating the differences… that way I can know there is more than 1 version before I wade in. AND I want the software guys to provide a comparison chart. sometimes the descriptions are exactly the same for both free and paid versions.

  2. When I search the App Store on my iPhone, I get 1,694 hits on “photo editing.” Even if you divide by 3 it’s too many.

    By the way, your first snap doesn’t display in WordPress browser or mobile Safari. It shows up as the little blue box with a question mark. When I tapped, it loaded just fine. Not sure why it does that. Maybe the image is too big?

    • mikecane

      It’s about 6MBs in size, so that might be it.

      EDIT to add: So many results because not all of them belong there. Some are novelty apps, like the one that does decorative corners or the one(s) that morph your face to make you “old and ugly.” If Apple had librarians sorting things — as they properly should — there’d be a distinction between productivity and novelty apps and the total number of hits would decrease, then half again if they did what I suggest.

  3. I don’t even think about search. Usually I will ask on a site related to what I want to do for recommendations on an app. This way I hope to get a user verified quality app. Then I can sort through a small list and chose what I feel is best for the use I need. My iPhone is loaded with apps using this method.

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