How to fix the real problem of the App Store

It's all about discoverings content 

Last year Apple redesigned their App Store app. The app is focused on curating featured apps and beautifully presenting them. Apple aimed to bring back the joy of finding new apps and build the new window display of the Apple app ecosystem. The new app looked gorgeous, and at the last WWDC Apple brought the redesign to the macOS. It is clear that Apple perceives the App Store as a success. However, there are still fundamental user needs that can be addressed, specifically relating to discovering apps that are services.

App that solves a task

Apps that provides a service

The app store works relatively well if you would like to discover an app that solves a task, such as a calculator app which used to be the majority of apps in the app store.

For instance, what you are interested in knowing about a calculator is a presentation that explains how the app works. On the other hand when you are looking for a service, then you are more interested in the outcome it provides. Initially, it’s more important how much it’s going to cost to travel to the airport (if you need to discover a ride-sharing app) than how it will work when you use it.

In the last five years, we are using more and more apps that provide services. As a result, this calls for an improvement on how apps are discovered.

How users actually discover most apps.

The most useful time to discover a new service app is when you are trying to use a specific service, and there is an app that can provide it for you.

For example, let’s say that I want to buy train tickets from London to Birmingham. What I need to know to find the perfect app is two things: Firstly, what types apps sell the tickets with the destination I need.
Secondly, what prices do each of these apps have for the same ticket? By using the App store, it is impossible to find this information.

As I can’t search for the content of the apps on the app store, I will need to search for this content online if it exists. In most cases, I would have discovered the app from a recommendation.

Search results at App Store

The app store doesn’t search for the content of the apps, as a result, its search is not really relevant

Search results at Google

Although Google provides more accurate results, it can’t still achieve the level of fidelity that could be provided by the app store. Additionally, no one wants to buy a ticket on a browser using their mobile phone

Apple should index the content of the apps like Google indexes websites

So how should the experience of the Appstore be: First apple should index apps in the same way that Google indexes websites. Imagine all the content hidden behind apps that are accessible only if you download them. Apple has already started doing that with Siri. However, the efficiency of it is limited to the applications that have been installed in your device. This will result in a much more natural discovery experience. Now rather than downloading each app to see its content, I can search in the app store for the tickets I’m after, as a consequence apple can show me the apps that can provide this type of utility/ function for me, including all the relevant information that I need. Additionally, Apple can show me apps with other relevant services like airplane tickets. Just imagine discovering all the hidden content from all the apps that you don’t own.The app store doesn’t search for the content of the apps, as a result, its search is not really relevant

Apple needs to provide a new API with a set of cards so that apps can start indexing their app content

For this to work as efficiently as possible apple needs to create an API for developers to begin indexing the content of their apps. Additionally, Apple should create a diverse variety of cards to showcase the most relevant information based on the category of the content. (When you are searching for airplane tickets the info you are after is airplane departure time, ticket price etc. which is different from when you are looking for navigation directions).

Apple needs to analyse all the content that the apps are providing to their users and from that create a set of cards that will be used to showcase the most relevant information for each category.

By using a diverse set of cards which showcase the varied offering of services provided in the app store. Each search result can accommodate multiple user needs. So, when I search for ‘Black panther’, I can find it’s trailer and with the use of my location discover th e closest cinema playing it and the reviews of the movie.

Search examples: London to Birmingham

When the user searched for a direction, he will be presented with all the different ways he can use apps to get him to the right direction. Train tickets, airplane tickets, map directions even hotels at the destination are examples of potential cards that will appear
Search examples: Black Panther

When the user searches for a movie, he will be presented with a variety of content on the app store related to this movie. The trailer, the cinema playing this movie and the movie reviews are examples of potential cards that will appear
Search examples: Ottelenghi (restaurant)

When the user searches for a restaurant, he will be presented with a variety of content on the app store related to this Restaurant. Booking a table, ordering their food, restaurant reviews and directions to the restaurant based on user location are examples of potential cards that will appear

Of course, for this to work apple needs to create a search engine that can show you the most relevant results. However, I believe that if Apple makes a selection of the right cards and curates the apps that have access to this API the result can be pretty accurate.

A new revenue from the App store

This, in turn, can generally be a useful service that Apple can provide to its users for other uses. It works well with their strategy to increase service revenue. It is also easy to identify the potential for an advertisement from services that have apps in the app store. For which Apple takes little income today but can become a massive growth in the future.

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