App Stores Finally Take Note, & Improve App Search & Discovery

POSTED BY Analyst Team
Last September, I wrote a blog post about changes which Apple made to its app search and discovery algorithm, where it not only incorporated the number of downloads into its rankings but also the rating of an app. Apple’s change last September was small, and app search/discovery remains a key challenge for developers and users alike. This was highlighted in a recent report by Pfeiffer Consulting, which emphasised that the lack of support for natural language search, a lack of advanced search options, and poor search results when a typo was included in the search terms, was leading to a negative search experience for app store users. Of the 3 major storefronts, Google Play was ranked top, but still only scored 33/100 – the Apple App Store and Amazon Appstore scored 25 and 14 respectively. Including relevant results after an app search query is entered will remain a difficult obstacle for Apple, Google and Amazon to overcome, given that apps and websites are completely different; apps cannot be crawled and indexed in the same way that a website is (although Google is working on indexing apps and deep-link to an app’s content in a Google search results page). Yet just as the mobile advertising industry is overcoming the ‘cookie’ issue (cookies do not function in the same way on mobile as they do on desktop), the mobile search industry must overcome this issue. Facebook’s app install ads are performing remarkably well, showing the potential of a well-targeted app discovery solution. Apple has quietly rolled out a ‘related search’ feature to US App Store users this week, which suggests similar apps when a user inputs a search query (for instance, a search for ‘calendar’ would also offer suggestions such as ‘calendar planner’ or ‘daily planner’). Given that there are now over a million iOS applications available, this solution has been a long time coming. It does still need some tweaking – MacStories pointed out that a search for ‘twitter’ points users towards ‘traffic apps’, and a search for ‘food recipes’ offers no suggestions. However with app search engines such as Quixey gaining traction, is it all too little too late? Watch this space for more…