With more than 800,000 applications in the App Store, Apple does not offer many facilities to discover the best applications in the store. Today at Gigaom we can read some tips to find applications that you may like. One of the hardest things to do on any iOS device is to find a good app. Not because there aren’t. On the contrary, there are thousands of good applications, which can be a problem.
As we said, with more than 800,000 applications in the App Store, finding what you are looking for is still a challenge. While there is no single way to know whether or not an app suits your needs before purchasing, we are going to try to shed some light on how to identify the apps you might like and try to offer some tips on how to find them.
The problem of searching the App Store
IOS applications in the App Store can be searched by application name, company name, or keywords. Most applications try to limit their names to what can be seen on the screen (about 12 characters depending on the letter used) , and the name of the company that creates the application does not necessarily represent the functionality of the application. Developers are also limited to a total of 100 characters in the keyword list, which can be challenging for developers to get their applications discovered by customers. While the description is 4000 words long, which may be enough to explain the functionality of the application, the description is not used in the search.
What doesn’t make searching the App Store much easier is that there are three different search interfaces. If you search for apps on the iPhone, for example, you won’t see iPad-only apps in the results. This can be frustrating if you are looking for an app that will work on both the iPhone and iPad but the developer deemed better to create a different app for the iPad and iPhone, rather than a universal app. Searching iTunes from a Mac will initially return results for all content that matches the keywords, including songs, movies, books, and podcasts. You can filter the results to show only the iPhone or iPad apps, but it’s frustrating every time you have to refine your search.
The problem with all three is that the search results are presented in such a way that initially you can only see a handful of search results, you have to click, drag, rotate or scroll to see the rest of the results.
Fortunately, Apple is not the only place where we can look for applications available in the App Store. Apple has what it calls the “Enterprise Partner Feed” available to third parties. It is a data source for every piece of metadata in iTunes and the App Store. This allows third parties such as AppShopper.com, AppAdvice.com, and 148apps.com to organize, view, and query all of the metadata information from the App Store. If you are constantly frustrated by searching for Apple in its app store, try one of these websites. Note that in each site you will see the search results differently.
Wish lists and apps
A good way to search for applications is the wish lists and applications that AppShopper has. Once you open a free account in AppShopper, you will have the ability to create and manage your wish list of the applications that interest you. With this list, you will be able to control the applications that interest you and create email alerts every time the application is updated or the price drops. It’s a great way to stay up-to-date on applications that caught your attention but that you weren’t willing to buy because a feature you’re looking for fails or because the price was too high.
AppAdvice, however, has a different view of lists: instead of having a list of applications that interest us, they create lists of interesting applications based on the topic, called AppLists. For example, we have an “Apps for Volunteering” list, a collection of apps designed for people interested in donating their time and resources in their communities. There are also lists for foodies, comic geeks, poets, and coffee lovers. These AppLists are a great way to discover apps organized by broader categories and topics than Apple has.
Every now and then Apple posts a list of best apps on some topic that is very similar to the AppLists that AppAdvice uses. While the typical Apple categories are a great way to discover new applications that are closely related to each other, there is nowhere to see applications based on specific topics. We will only see a select number of these lists published on the iTunes home page or App Store features page, but not all of them. The best way to access these lists is to subscribe to the iTunes newsletter.