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iOS 6 Breaks the App Store

Eugene Kaneko — September 19, 2012

Just as app discovery is getting harder than ever with the sheer number of apps on the store, Apple’s new App Store layout on iOS 6 makes it worse. Developers everywhere should be up in arms about this. Here’s why.

Although Apple doesn’t make these numbers public, I bet most people search instead of browse through the App Store categories to find the apps they’re looking for. In iOS 5, if you do a search, you’ll see five apps and you can scroll down effortlessly to see the first 25. I timed it – it takes one swipe and less than one second to get all the way down the list. Most importantly, people can see the price, stars, and number of ratings, which in my opinion are key factors for purchasing an app, for a bunch of apps very quickly.

iOS 5 App Store Search

Here’s the new layout for iOS 6.

Web Albums

It shows you one app at a time, in the order that Apple determines. It takes a lot of swipes and over 11 seconds to see the first 25 since the transition animation has to complete before you can swipe again. Now this wouldn’t be such a big deal if the search results are good and the best apps for whatever you’re looking for shows up first… but they don’t. Quite frankly, recently the App Store search results have been horrible. No offense to the makers of “Picasa HD Lite”, which ranks #1 in a search for “picasa,” but Web Albums’ 5-star average from 483 ratings should be ranked higher than a 2.5-star average from 30 ratings. Yet, Web Albums ranks #3 in the search.

Some may argue that the screenshots in the new layout are important for shoppers. But I don’t think one representative screenshot says much about any app, especially utility apps like ours.

With this new layout, people will be less likely to try out apps that aren’t at the top of the results. Some great apps will get buried and people just won’t have the time or the patience to get to them. App users won’t get the best apps and end up with a subpar experience on their Apple devices, while good developers won’t get paid and will stop developing for iOS. Is this what you want, Apple?

(The topic for this post came up while I was talking with Steve Troppoli from East Coast Pixels, the makers of the excellent photo editing app, Photo Toaster.)