Searching For Improved App Discovery


For a company that's built its online empire on search, you'd think Google would've set the standard for app discovery through its Android Market. That hasn't been the case, but Google is lately taking steps to make it easier to find titles through its app storefront now that it's crossed the 100,000 mark in apps.

The Android-focused blog Androinica reported Friday that Google is quietly adding a new "Similar" tab in the Android Market to recommended similar titles based on their content and a user's browsing and downloading habits. The "Similar" button for the IMDB Movies & TV app, for instance, showed other equivalent apps like "CineTrailer," "Movie Finder" and "Movie Helper," along with price information and user ratings.



Think of it as Google's answer to the Genius feature in iTunes that allows iPhone, iPod and iPad users to get recommendations based on apps they and other consumers have downloaded. Suggested titles are both a way to help people find similar titles they might like, as well as help Google and Apple to promote or upsell more inventory.

Earlier this month, Google added the option for developers to include YouTube-hosted promotional videos for apps in the Android Market as well as improved graphics for app pages. The company has also made it easier for Android developers to alert customers about app updates through the Recent Changes feature, and has instituted an age-based rating system for Android apps.

With an ever-growing universe of apps, it's incumbent on Google, Apple and other companies opening app storefronts to keep refining the discovery process. While both the Android Market and iTunes App Store highlight top downloads and featured apps, for instance, both could do better in focusing on app categories and subcategories to help users better navigate the sea of titles.

Independent app store GetJar seems to do a better job of this by featuring categories prominently on the homescreen -- a simple but useful step. With their enormous resources, there's no excuse for Google and Apple not to give users better tools to find apps they'll find useful or entertaining.

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