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Apple pledges to restore order to its oversized App Store

Philip Michaels | June 4, 2014
Every time Tim Cook stands before an audience, the Apple CEO has a battalion of numbers at the ready to illustrate the breadth and depth of the App Store. Monday's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote was no exception: Cook told WWDC attendees that the App Store hosts more than 1.2 million apps, with total downloads now topping 75 billion.

In short, you have a situation where it's increasingly hard to track down apps through anything other than trial and (mostly) error. And Apple has apparently decided enough's enough. "What we want to do is make the App Store even better," Cook said during Monday's WWDC keynote.

So how does Apple go about doing that? It starts with adding an Explore tab to the App Store, which Cook says will help users find what they're looking for. Cook didn't delve into specifics, but it looks like subcategories will figure prominently into any app discovery improvements. Perhaps in the App Store of the future, the Productivity section, say, makes it even easier to differentiate between note-taking apps, task managers, calendar tools, and whatever other mobile offerings out there promise to help you manage your life more efficiently. Apple also vows to add trending search features, which would theoretically work a lot like trending topics in Twitter, and a continuous scrolling feature to make the search process run more smoothly.

A welcome addition for bargain hunters will be app bundles. Developers will be able to combine multiple apps for a discounted price, which you and I will be able to buy with just one tap. (Again, Apple is stingy with the details, but a truly knock-out implementation of bundling would let multiple developers team up to offer complementary apps for a single download price.)

Apple is also promising more in the way of Try Before You Buy features. First, developers will be able to add video previews to their App Store entries, so you can get a quick look at an app in action. "Users can make certain that it's an app they want," Cook said. Apple also plans to incorporate the TestFlight beta service which will let app makers invite users to test out apps.

We've got some time before we find out what Apple promises and what the company actually delivers. Many of the iOS 8 changes Apple plans on implementing won't take effect until the fall. But if nothing else, this year's WWDC keynote seemed to suggest that while it's good to have an oversized app store, delivering some degree of order to the chaos is just as valuable a feature.

 

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