When Apple announced back in February that they had acquired Chomp, the app discovery platform, it was great news. An app discovery feature integrated right to the App Store, maybe added to the Genius, would help me find out about great apps I’d never know about otherwise. It would be an excellent way to improve the App Store experience.
When the new App Store was unveiled, with the new app-by-app, chart-based search results, I loved it. Charts were a clever way to bring screenshots and ratings right to the search result in a clear and direct way. The information provided when I tapped a chart was everything I needed to know: more screenshots, details, reviews and related apps. Everything right there.
However, when I finally played with iOS 6, within the first 5 minutes messing with the new App Store, I came across a problem that until today I can’t believe they didn’t solve beforehand: Lists.
Yep, lists. If you know what you’re looking for, the revamped App Store is excellent. But what if you’re not exactly sure and feel like exploring the search results for say.. Zombies?
A search for Zombies today returns 3.712 results. If you’re on the iPad, this means 619 search results pages. If you’re on the iPhone, you might have to go through 3.712 result pages to find what you’re looking for. If you’re just looking for a zombie fix until The Walking Dead doesn’t return, you’ll have to go through the results one by one, until you find the app you think might satisfy your walker-killing needs.
And what If you’re a developer and your app is just getting started? Forget about that lucky break with a chance of your app showing up within the first 25 or 50 results. While all it took was a finger swipe and a button press to get you through the top 50 result list, today to go through the same 50 results is an exercise in patience. I have to say that not once have I been past the 10th result or so.
The first time I interacted with the revamped App Store, when presented with the results, my first instinct was to turn the iPhone to Landscape mode. Since there wasnt a clear option to see the results list, maybe they had come up with some sort of odd, non-intuitive way to present it. Maybe in Cover Flow mode..? Anything, really. But no.
The horizontally scrolling listing adopted across the other App Store areas (and across iTunes) works, but I find it rather ugly and rudimentary. I don’t see why they would try to ‘solve’ any issues with the vertical list, when there were no issues to begin with. It didn’t make exploring hard. On the contrary, actually.
I’ve searched the web to see if I could find any indication as to why they’d do this, but all I could find were people as bothered by this as I am.
Honestly, I hope that iOS 7 brings a better solution for it. This has to be one more item on Jony Ive’s list of iOS territories that needs attention. The app chart works, but they just can’t be the only way to present the search results.
Updates, for instance, bring a very effective way of presenting the information. I see the list, and if I want to see more, I tap the “What’s new” button. There. Mission accomplished.
This just feels like such a cleaner way to present multiple results.
The benefits of the U$50 million invested by Apple with Chomp’s acquisition are yet to be seen. Unless you know exactly what you’re looking for, don’t expect the App Store to help you with that. Quite the opposite of what we all expected.