So, you finally crossed over to the dark side and bought an iPhone. Welcome to the future. Now, it’s all about the apps. But, there’s a problem. Over 1.2 million apps are available to download right now. And the closest thing you have to curation is top charts and new and noteworthy.
The top charts can be easily gamed if you are a developer with connections. The new and noteworthy section gives devs about a day on it before they disappear into the crowd. Remember the flappy bird craze? How about the dozens of copies that emerged onto the store trying to capture the same magic.
Even former Apple employees recognize the problem. Jean-Louis Gassese wrote a lengthy post about the need to drop app algorithms in favor of people power. He makes a good point. Apple commercials always ask what you are going to do with the device, is it too much to ask adept employees to curate the best from the not-so-great.
Instead of using algorithms to sort and promote the apps that you permit on your shelves, why not assign a small group of adepts to create and shepherd an App Store Guide, with sections such as Productivity, Photography, Education, and so on. Within each section, this team of respected but unnamed (and so “ungiftable”) critics will review the best-in-class apps. Moreover, they’ll offer seasoned opinions on must-have features, UI aesthetics, and tips and tricks. A weekly newsletter will identify notable new titles, respond to counter-opinions, perhaps present a developer profile, footnote the occasional errata and mea culpa…
The result will be a more intelligible App Store that makes iOS users happier.
Immediate knee jerk reaction is going to be collusion. You happen to know the guy on the board of app reviews. So, you get an in. Is that possible? Absolutely. A possible fix? Rotate people through the system.
Another fix is to offer up third-party RSS curation feeds. Let news organizations into the app stores with their reviews. Sure, some will try to game it, but the cream will rise to the top in this scenario.
Apple could certainly use better search. Start walling off sections and then go freemium and paid apps for that section. Make it easier for the user to know what they are getting.