Ideas for A Better App Store

Mar 19, 2015

Listening through Inquisitive #31 - Behind the App #5: App Review with Myke Hurley, I had some ideas about how to make the App Store much better, more sustainable for developers and less cluttered with crapware as it is today.

It's clear that the App Store as it is right now has a couple of fundamental problems, just to name a few:

  • App Review takes 7 days or more
  • App Review makes questionable decisions
  • App Store is filled up with crap software
  • App prices are not sustainable
  • App discovery is really hard

To address all these problems, it's clear that some mild adjustments are not good enough anymore. The App Store needs a fundamental change. The old Downloads section on Apple's website for Mac apps was in fact working much better for developers and was helping consumers to find great apps, because Apple tightly curated this section and only allowed higher quality apps.

It should be said that you can't really reject all the apps in the App Store, since the App Store is the only mechanism to distribute software on iOS. You need to have a basic mechanism for consumers to install any app as long as the app does not violate the law or contains serious security issues. But you also want to curate the App Store much better and hide all the crap. I am proposing a 2-level system to improve all that.

The 1st level would be, that you submit your app to the App Store and you get an immediate download link (like the direct iTunes link). You can start to distribute this link to your customers by means of your website, newsletter or whatever. Every app is approved initially and goes through a legal and security check within the next couple of days after which it could be taken down upon having issues, if the developer did not comply within a certain period of time. When installing using the direct link, the system would bring up a warning that the app has not be verified by App Store editorial, similar to what Gatekeeper tells you when you download a Mac app from the web.

The 2nd level would be to apply with your app for an addition to the App Store store front. This application could be treated much more thoroughly than it is today, because Apple wouldn't be under anti-trust pressure if they did not allow your app into the store front, since you can always distribute your app using the direct link. The effect would be that the App Store would not be littered with all kinds of crapware. It also would increase customer confidence installing apps from the App Store and I imagine that it would also raise prices of those app that would make it into the store front.

I think this 2-level system of App Store review would be much better than what we're facing today, both for the consumer and for the developer. And Apple would also benefit, since it increases the quality of the App Store product. This system would also increase the incentives for developers to make better apps, since they want to be added to the store front for maximum customer attention.

There are a lot of similar ideas out there, but at this point I have no hope of change anymore. The only thing we can do is keep talking about it.