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How Apple could improve the App Store by ditching the ‘most downloaded’ chart

Published Jun 6th, 2013 11:45PM EDT
Apple App Store Criticism
Image: Apple Inc.

Although Apple will likely at least refresh its user interface for its mobile devices with iOS 7 at WWDC next week, at least one app developer is hoping the company will seriously rethink some core features of its App Store. John August, a screenwriter who also works on mobile apps through his company Quote-Unquote Apps, writes that the format of Apple’s “most downloaded” apps chart hurts smaller app developers and also limits users’ exposure to different types of apps.

“These lists — a sidebar in iTunes, a tab on the App Store — show what’s downloaded the most,” August explains. “But let’s not mistake downloads for popularity. These are apps that people may have downloaded, used once, then deleted.”

Instead, August would like to see Apple ditch the charts for most downloaded apps and replace them with a series of Amazon-like recommendations that take a look at what you’ve downloaded in the past and tell you what similar users have downloaded.

“What you really want is a list that shows what apps that people like you are using and enjoying,” he says. “That’s the kind of information that companies like Amazon and Netflix are terrific at leveraging. Apple makes some attempt at this in their Genius tab, which tries to find correlations based on what other apps you have installed, but I’ve never found it useful.”

While it’s unlikely that Apple would really get rid of the top apps list, it’s true that the App Store could use a rethink for how it delivers recommendations to users. After all, the iOS versions of WhatsApp and Google Maps probably don’t need that much more publicity.

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.