I think everyone would pretty much agree that discoverability is the number one problem in the App Store, especially with Apple's just-announced number of 1.2 million apps being currently available. There are other problems for sure, but right now as an app developer you pretty much have to cross your fingers that you'll get some sort of feature position by Apple or that your app/game will do well enough to rise up the various iTunes charts so as to be more visible to the average iOS user. When your dedicating significant time and/or money into a project, its success depending on one of those factors makes creating an app a pretty big risk. There are plenty of great apps and games that fail simply because not enough people know that they exist.

1overview

Apple seems to be aware of this problem, and today at the WWDC keynote presentation they unveiled several changes to how the App Store works in iOS 8 which should hopefully go a long ways towards addressing discoverability.

The first of these new features is something called the "Explore" tab, which sits in the bar at the bottom of the App Store app and appears to replace the "Near Me" tab that showed what apps other people were downloading in your area (seriously, did anybody even use that feature?). The Explore tab is basically a streamlined look at the different categories and subcategories of apps, which currently can only be accessed by choosing the Categories option at the top of the Featured tab. The Explore tab should put all the App Store's different categories and all the top apps within them more front and center to anyone looking to browse for cool new stuff to download.

explore

Another change in iOS 8 is an improvement to the Search tab that shows you what all the current trending searches are. I imagine this will be an interesting thing to check in on, much like looking at what's trending on Twitter to see what people are talking about.

One new feature that I'm personally quite excited about is the new continuous scrolling search results. With iOS 7, I actually think Apple made search results more difficult to navigate as you were required to swipe sideways through each app result that showed up, with each app getting an entire page dedicated to it in the results. Needless to say, that could be a lot of swiping. It just felt oddly more clunky than the old way the results were shown, which was basically just a big list of app name and icons. With this latest change it's sort of the best of both worlds. A downward scrolling list like the old days but with a bit more information and app screen shots mixed in. It looks really nice.

scrollingresults

Related to that change in how search works is… uh, related searches. On the search results screen you'll now find a bunch of different search terms that are related to the one you tried, just in case your search term didn't return what you were looking for. In addition, there's a new tiny Editor's Choice icon next to any app's icon that has been chosen to be an Apple Editor's Choice before. This way, you know that those particular apps were good enough that Apple themselves highlighted them. Pretty cool.

related editorschoice

Finally, there are two pretty major new features that maybe aren't necessarily related to App Store discoverability, but they should improve the overall buying experience for customers. First is the new ability to create App Bundles which feature a number of different apps and/or games sold within a single bundle for a discounted price. Bundles are huge on desktop computers and the Android platform, so it's nice to see them coming to iOS. My one question is whether or not different developers can go in together to offer a bundle, or if it's restricted to a single developer's library of apps. Either way it's a nice step.

appbundles

The second of these new features is something that's been long-requested by developers and customers alike for years: video previews right from within the App Store listing. You might remember that Apple added a similar video functionality to the huge feature of Clumsy Ninja last November, so it's not surprising to see them added in as a regular option. What is surprising is that it took so darn long for Apple to do this, but hey, I'm just happy they finally did.

apppreviews

So, those are all the major changes coming to the App Store in iOS 8, which is available in beta form to developers as of today and is set for a public release sometime in the fall. I'm very happy about all of these changes, and I'm anxious to see just how much they impact the discoverability problem developers have been facing for the past several years. If they can nip that in the bud, then we can move onto more of the App Store's problems. In my eyes the next most pressing problem is the amount of poor quality apps being released, which includes a startling number of cheap knockoffs of more successful apps. So, what do you say Apple, any ideas on how to solve that one?

  • Gamer1st

    Fixing cheap knockoff apps?
    Trademarks would fix 'em!
    Oh wait....

  • Jake7905

    Agreed, shameless cloning (a.k.a. crap apps) is a huge problem on the App Store, and in the non-internet world it's known as copyright infringement. Apple has direct control over this problem, as they review and approve all apps, so the blame falls solely on them.

    • LKR

      You're a lawyer, aren't you? Oh, no, wait... you have no idea what you're talking about.

      • Cookies

        You can say that, but he's actually right. Apple are allowing exactly the kind of thing that they themselves would go to the ends of the earth to sue for.

  • Shifaan

    Or Apple can make a tab which displays hot games right now. You know? Games that are being downloaded the most right now, daily or maybe even weekly. That'll be good if it comes out with iOS 8.

    • rewind

      Lol that's called the top charts, which already exists. It's just that what people are downloading may not be the most deserving apps.

    • Gucciipad

      App shopper is still in the App Store

  • dibdib

    Appshopper solved that problem years ago. That's why Apple ripped off most of their feature set then booted them from the store.

    • CioCio

      Dayyyyumm, I didn't realize AppShopper was gone. That's some cold stuff right there, brah. I use that app daily.

      • chank

        I also use AppShopper everyday. I had no idea it was kicked from the App Store. That shit ain't right.

      • Writersareliars

        It's still available on the AppStore...

      • Deixa

        The old one is not anymore and that one was a bit better than this "new and improved" version because there was an ALL tab and you could browse ALL updated, new and price drop games and apps for that day or week.

        If you had or still have the old one then you know what I'm talking about.

        This new one only shows chart crap or things that are popular for a while.

      • cookiesEater

        Appsfire is better than appshopper in my opinion and its still have the same features from the old versions of appshopper^^ available in the AppStore

  • the fish

    How about some kind of "App Store roots"? If there are lots of game rip offs, the App Store could highlight the origin of the idea. I think it would support the devs who create something new. Don't know how easy or hard it would be to do something like that...

    • http://buzzabit.com/aaron/ Aaron Sullivan

      I like that idea, but seems tough to implement... maybe crowdsourced with a benign way to simply say that this game reminds me of this other game and it always goes backwards towards the first one added to the store. Not perfect, but could be a start.

    • christopherrocs

      This would be nearly impossible and create tons of buyesty calls, quite possibly resulting in many lawsuits.

  • rewind

    I was in agreement with you until the last part. If a knock-off is more successful than the original game, it must been for a reason. 2048 was more successful than Threes! Because it was free, and because it happened to be more addicting for many people. Also, as long as Android and Windows allow knock-offs, Apple will allow these same apps. It would be a terrible move to reject 2048 when their competitors are offering it. So none of the three powerhouses are gong to make that move first. And finally, if the knock-off is more popular, it will make Apple more money. And Apple wants money. So basically, it's not happening.

    • Jake7905

      So basically, a knock-off (rip-off) is ok because they're popular and make lots of money. So basically, if something is clearly illegal and immoral, but will make lots of money, it should be sold freely. Love that twisted logic.

      • Poo

        That's how YouTube works. They allow theft of intellectual property and copyrighted works if the thief makes them money and the victim is not popular. They do this by making the unpopular person get a lawyer and sue the popular person which most of the time is unlikely.

    • Edwin Ramirez

      2048 happens to be "more addicting" for many people just because it's free not because it's better than the original.

    • Cookies

      Ultimately, it's never going to be fixed retroactively. Apple (and potentially Google and Microsoft) simply have to make the decision to either ban copied apps or allow them. The question of which one they take comes down to the monetary aspect. They could very well argue that the take they get from advertising on 2048 is worth so much that they aren't going to stop apps with a similar approach from entering the store, and if they did, it would call into question the legitimacy of their beloved freemium model (which they aren't likely to do any time soon).

      Sadly, whilst most of us here don't want to see a truck load of crappy rip-offs (although 2048 isn't a lot worse than Threes!, so it's a bad example for that), as long as they continue to make Apple the second biggest company in the world, they'll probably stick around.

      • Marek

        You don't understand anything about a) software b) law. There is case law on this, which means you cannot patent an idea. Most of the games you think as original are "clones" or variants, such as Clash of Clans, Angry Birds, 2048, basically all of them. If you think some app is crap dont download it. Who are you (or anyone else) to judge for everyone what should be in the store and what should not be? Freedom is the whole idea behind App Store and the reason it is so wildly popular.

      • Cookies

        Okay, so you start a comment by insulting someone and then demonstrate that you actually have no grasp of the two things you are saying others don't. You get no points for that, especially as you didn't in any way explain how you came to that conclusion. Anyway, 1) Copyright law is copyright law, the quality of a product is irrelevant if it's blatantly taken from someone else. In any other scenario (hell, the same scenario 2 years ago) there would be lawyers pouncing all over 2048 for being exactly the same thing. There's all sorts of precedent backing the creators of Threes here, so it's rather puzzling that they haven't taken any (public) actions against the creators of 2048. 2) The answer to your, frankly very simple and blind, question is this: Apple. Apple have the right to judge every single damn app that gets anywhere near the app store, and they have excercised that right on many thousands of occassions. Also, I honestly laughed at "Freedom is the whole idea behind App Store and the reason it is so wildly popular." because it shows essentially no understanding of the app store, basic economics, human nature or Apple. It was created for profit, and is so significant a driving force behind the decisions made about the app store that it might as well be the only one (there's a tiny fragment of legality in there too, but it's mostly about money). Anyway, Apple can and do have the right to decide what goes into their app store, and the point being made here by those of us with more than two brain cells to rub together is that they are essentially acting as a gateway to blatant mass plagiarism. Also, since you brought it up, there are actually also laws about what apps can be put on the app store, which should actually block the more blatant rip-offs.

        As for why the app store is successful, that's quite a big question, but ultimately comes down to accessability (not freedom) and Apple's legendary marketing and presentation. Plus it hadn't really been done before in such an easy and people friendly way.

        But whatever, you can attempt to feebly insult me (I'm a law and commerce student by the way, so I actually do understand some measure of the law, but feel free to tell yourself I don't) and continue your utopian crap, but that isn't how the world works and it certainly isn't how the app store works or ever has.

      • Marek

        Ok mr. law student, back to your books. Start by googling "can I patent my game idea"?

      • ChicagoRolls

        Tell us how users of Apple products, which in turn means they must get all of their applications from the iTunes App Store whch has a policy, "All Sales Are Final", (this includes sales of apps that do not work AT ALL), can hope to have an App Store experience every time where they don't get ripped off nor have the misfortune of purchasing a bad app that the App Store won't refund?

        They warn that "All Sales Are Final" and that the NEXT time, they MAY not be able to refund your money? What is up with THAT? T/hievery is what it is!

  • monetarydread

    I would like to see Apple implement more categories in their game section, or implement a tagging system. I would like to search for, "grinding," games, or "tower defense," and be able to get results for titles that fit that category.

    • michaelseanhansen

      Developers can add tags, they just aren't displayed in the App Store listings.

  • Cookies

    It would certainly help if they stopped allowing blatant rip-offs. I mean, Hodappy Bird would have been screwed, but at least there'd be about a thousand fewer "flappy" and "bird" apps to wade through if you want to find cool stuff.

    I also feel like the search function in the appstore (and iTunes) is pretty easy to abuse. If you type in the name of just about any good app you're pretty much guaranteed to get a whole lot of largely irrelevant results that have somehow linked themselves with that app (Apple's lack of transparency on how the search function actually works would suggest that developers can include whatever key words they want, or that it simply adds any "other people bought this as well" apps to the search). In itself, that's not really that much of a problem, but when you want to find an but can't remember the name, or it's not popular any more, it can be that much harder to find in all the crap.

  • Mike Castillo

    Selling UDID activations for $5! Email your UDID to me at mierd@live.com OR iMessage me at the same email!

    GET IOS 8 BETA 1 NOW!
    FAST ACTIVATION LESS THAN 15 MINUTES!!!
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    • dancj

      Anyone can already have the beta now without paying. Just google it.

      • vai_levar_no_cu

        im sure he knows, and he tries to sell free stuff

      • dancj

        I wasn't saying it for his benefit.

  • https://www.youtube.com/HansKaosu HansKaosu

    Lots of good changes

    • ChicagoRolls

      How so? The one change that ABSOLUTEY needs to be made is for Apple to stop allowing crooked developers to sell apps that don't work. The App Store policy, "All Sales Are Final", means that one can buy a bad app and never get refunded. How is that the purchaser's fault? Especially considering that the App Store also allows the devs to manipulate the comments and ratings of their apps for sale.

  • TheCalm1

    Ever since ol' boy Jobs kicked the bucket the App Store next-day immediately went to being just like the Android Store/Google Play. A generic laden, knockoff heavy mess.

    • Cookies

      Well, except there's the whole thing of him having quite a long term plan even when he died. So many people have been saying for years that apple went to shit purely because Jobs died, but they were in an unstable position when he was alive (they were never going to be the market cap for long) and most of what they have done since then, up until recently, was still his idea. Him dying had virtually no visible short term effects on our experiences of Apple products.

  • jeffyg3

    Just saw the presentation. Loving the new OSX system features and looks...can't wait for it. And the new AppStore search is awesome. I'm pretty disappointed though that my iPhone 4 will no longer be supported :( I modded it with a lights in the back panel and transparent casings with Autobot symbols so I didn't want to upgrade to a new phone. Oh well, looks like it's time to Jailbreak it after the last iOS 7 update and when it finally gets jailbroken...I'll never support piracy though, those that do on the iPhone I have no respect for.

    • Frederik Strindberg

      Why do you mean that the search function in appstore is that great? For me - the search field is just gone in Beta1 and Beta2 of IOS8. I have the magnifier glass button, but on that page - just possible to browse categories and such. No search field. Am I being just dumb or what...?

  • ChicagoRolls

    The biggest problem with the App Store isn't iOS 8, it's Apple's "All Sales Are Final" policy, which allows customers to be ripped off with no recourse.