Trimming the [iOS] App Store

I hope it’s common knowledge by now that anything out of the top 400 for its category has literally 0 downloads. While there are probably some good ideas regarding how to fix the “tailing off” problem of self fulfilling ratings, I’m going to focus this post on the idea that maybe if the app store were small enough to browse entirely through people might actually do so.

I’m proposing making the following changes to REDUCE the number of apps in the App Store.

Make Games a whole Separate App
I don’t think this requires any elaboration. Games are just too much of the App Store. That’s great. iOS is a great gaming platform. Acknowledge it already and move the games into a much improved Game Center store.

Reject anything that would better be represented in an iBooks file
News Stand and the entire “Books” category need to go away. Even the apps that DO do something novel (Al Gore’s ‘Our Choice’) can be done in iBooks author. Like games above, these categories should now be purchased from different apps.

Reject “iPhone Only” apps
The SpeedTest.net app works great in 2X mode on the iPad, but why do I have to do this to myself? It looks stupid. Apple wants to push quality. There are no “Phone only” features that developers have access to that can’t be checked against with the .plist device requirements. One of two-good things will come of this. Either SpeedTest.net and every bank ever will update their apps, or I’ll find a network speed test app that IS universal.

Reject “XL/HD” apps
While impractical to ban iPad Only apps (some ideas just can’t be minimized well) this is kind of the other half to banning iPhone only apps. If they are required to be universal, then there will be no “HD versions” of them now will there?

Reject non-retina Apps
They’re kind of doing this by requiring retina screenshots in iTunes Connect but you can trick it by just giving it any 960×640 image file.

Remove non-updated apps
This one is a little hard in the details, but I propose something like the day iOS 6 comes out, any apps that were built against iOS 4 (this does not mean apps that support iOS 4) will be removed and their status changed to “Rejected” until the developer provides an update built with iOS 6. I don’t know if this would affect a significant number of apps, but since enforcing this could be automated I don’t see why not to do it. It’s not like you’ll want to try running something built against iOS 4 on iOS 6.

Automate and Curate the “featured” lists
Create a much longer list of “featured” apps in each category, only displaying 20 or whatever at a time, and once any of those apps reaches to top 10 in its category remove it from the featured list and slide in the next app in line. Perhaps change the reviewer options on the backend to a simple Up Vote / No Vote / Down Vote if the app should get featured. Down Vote means it will not be added to the queue. No Vote will place it at the bottom of the queue. Up Vote will place it at the top of the queue (immediately below those already visible). If you are already in the queue and you submit an update, Up Vote will will move it higher in the queue. Down Vote will remove it from the queue if it was already there. No Vote will not bring it back down to the bottom of the queue.

Answering “No, it never deserves to be featured” will require and explanation on the reviewers part, and really, any explanation (your UI is slow, I know you don’t own those Pok√©mon sprites, etc) is probably grounds for rejection if Apple really wants to brag about having high quality apps.

Speaking of bragging, I do support Apple blacklisting cross platform apps from any featured sections (not rankings of course). Sorry Marco.