April 2021
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Last year Apple redesigned their App Store app. The app is focused on curating featured apps and beautifully presenting them. Apple aimed to bring back the joy of finding new apps and build the new window display of the apple app ecosystem. The new app looked gorgeous, and at the last WWDC Apple brought the redesign to the macOs. It is clear that apple perceive the App Store a success. Yet, there are still fundamental user needs that can be addressed, specifically relating to discovering apps that are services.

The app store works relatively well if you would like to discover an app that solves a task, such as a calculator app which used to be the majority of apps in the app store.

For instance, what you are interested in knowing about a calculator is a presentation that explains how the app works. On the other hand when you are looking for a service then you are more interested in the outcome it provides. Initially it’s more important how much it’s going to cost to travel to the airport (if you need to discover a ride sharing app) than how it will work when you will use it.

In the last 5 years we are using more and more apps that provide services. As a result, this calls for an improvement on how apps are discovered.

How users actually discover most apps.

The most useful time to discover a new service app is when you are trying to use a specific service and there is an app that can provide it for you.

For example let’s say that I want to buy train tickets from London to Birmingham. What I need to know in order to find the perfect app is two things: Firstly, what types apps sell the tickets with the destination I need. Secondly, what prices do each of these apps have for the same ticket. By using the App store it is impossible to find this information.

As I can’t search for the content of the apps on the app store, I will need to search for this content online if it exists. In most cases I would have discovered the app from a reccomendation.

Apple should index the content of the apps like google indexes websites

So how should the experience of the Appstore be: First apple should index apps in the same way that google indexes websites. Imagine all the content hidden behind apps that are accesible only if you download them. Apple has already started doing that with Siri. However, the efficiency of it is limited to the applications that have been installed in your device. This will result in a much more natural discovery experience. Now rather than downloading each app to see its content, I can search in app store for the tickets I’m after and apple can show me the apps that can provide this type of utility/ function for me, including all the relevant information that I need. Additionally apple can show me apps with other relevant services like airplane tickets. Just imagine discovering all the hidden content from all the apps that you don’t own.

Apple needs to provide a new API with a set of cards so that apps can start indexing their app content

For this to work as efficiantly as possible apple needs to create an API for developers to start indexing the content of their apps. Additionally apple should create a diverse variety of cards to showcase the most relevant informaiton based on the category of the content. (When you are searching for airplane tickets the information you are after is airplane departure time, ticket price etc. which is different from when you are looking for navigation directions).

Apple needs to analyse all the content that the apps are providing to their users and from that create a set of cards that will be used to showcase the most relevant information to each category.

By using a diverse set of cards which showcase the multiple offering of services provided in the appstore. Each search result can accommodate for multiple user needs. So, when I search for ‘Βlack panther’ I can find it’s trailer and with the use of my location discover the closest cinema playing it and the reviews of the movie.

Search examples: London to Birmingham

When the user searched for a direction he will be presented with all the different ways he can use apps to get him to the right direction. Train tickets, airplane tickets, map directions even hotels at the destination are examples of potential cards that will appear

Search examples: Black Panther

When the user searches for a movie he will be presented with a variety of content on the app store related to this movie. The trailer, the cinema playing this movie and the movie reviews are examples of potential cards that will appear

Search examples: Ottelenghi (reastaurant)

When the user searches for a restaurant he will be presented with a variety of content on the app store related to this Restaurant. Booking a table, ordering their food, restaurant reviews and directions to the restaurant based on user location are examples of potential cards that will appear

Of course, for this to work apple needs to create a search engine that can actually show you the most relevant results. However, I believe that if apple makes a selection of the right cards and curates the apps that have access to this API the result can be pretty accurate.

A new multi billion revenue from the App store

This in turn can be generally a useful service that apple can provide to it’s users for other uses. This works well with their strategy to increase service revenue. It is also easy to identify the potential for advertisement from services that have apps in the app store. For which apple takes little revenue today but can become a huge growth in the future.

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