Towards a Better App Store?

I read an interesting post this morning at Monday Note, setting forth a hypothetical "Red Guide" to the Android Market. 

The general point is this: while the App Store has been a transformative, massive success, it's also very chaotic and difficult to use. New apps are just dumped in the index, competing with millions of others. 

At some level, human curation of apps may be the next "evolution". But what would a curated App Store look like?

A hint for my potential answer is to the right - and no, it's not an Apple Power Glove.... although that would be "so bad". 

The Monday Note post's author, Jean-Louis Gassée, suggests the following categories for their App Store Guide:
- “Hello, World”, a list of indispensable apps for the first time Android customer (or iPhone apostate), with tips, How-To guides, and FAQs.
- “Hot and Not”. Reviews of new apps and upgrades — and the occasional downgrade.
- “In Our Opinion”. This is the heart of the Guide, a catalogue of reviews written by a select group of Google Play staff who have hot line access to Google’s huge population of in-house subject matter experts.
Apple currently does some of that - there are "Featured" and "New and Notable" sections, "New to the App Store?" collections of "indispensable" apps and games, and so on. 

But each of these tend to be nothing more than lists of apps. I'd like to see Apple launch, essentially, an App Store website, which would offer up "official" reviews and walkthroughs of notable apps, while explaining what a particular app is intended to do for the user. 

Basically, a "Nintendo Power" for the App Store.  A first-party "voice in the wilderness", with the official approval of Apple itself. 

I'm certainly not suggesting a print magazine. I'm not even suggesting an eMagazine for the Newsstand. Not really, anyway. 

But a curated, "magazine-style" website/blog, directly from Apple, could augment what the App Store already does well (user reviews, search, direct downloads), while addressing the more troublesome areas. Of particular concern: 

1. The App Store Should Incorporate "Featured" Reviews. 

There is wisdom in crowds. And an app with a lot of 5-star reviews generally demonstrates that the app is pretty good. 

Unfortunately, there can be a lot of idiocy in crowds, too. A quick scroll through the reviews of almost any app will show a ton of 1-star reviews from individuals who misunderstood what the app was for or failed to use it correctly. 

In many cases, the review has nothing to do with the app at all - the reviewer just dislikes the company that made the app, and posts a review about how much they dislike Target / United / Starbucks and so on. 

Go the Rotten Tomatoes route and add "featured reviews" from top tech sites and from Apple. Then post both "star scores" - from users and from critics.  

2. The App Store Should Include First-Party Content from Apple.

This wouldn't be difficult. Apple is already providing curated lists of "Top Travel Apps" and so on. Just put some content around the app lists!

I want to know why a particular app made your list, and how the reviewer used that app.

A weekly "Upcoming" or "New and Notable" column would be helpful, too. We could be introsee ideas that were in development (I believe that developers would offer up some "sneak previews", as the massive exposure would outweigh the risk of attracting imitators).

2. The App Store Should be Severed from iTunes. Immediately.

This newly-designed App Store should work on mobile devices, but it should be better on a full monitor screen. And I don't know if that can happen within the iTunes application.

It's been a long time since it made any sense at all have the iOS App Store located inside the OSX iTunes Music Store. They aren't merged on our mobile devices. And the Mac App Store is a discrete application on OSX.

What we need - quickly - is some kind of "Mac iOS Central", from which we can browse and download apps from the iOS App Store, read the above-referenced first-party content, rearrange our iOS device content (including music and movies from iTunes), and sync our devices.

So, basically - get the App Store out of iTunes: it never belonged there anyway. And add a "human touch" to the App Store with some written content - it can't all be lists and search algorithms. Hey, maybe even incorporate some Game Center high scores -- it worked for Nintendo. 


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