If you love free iPhone apps and hate wading through the search results to find the best iPhone apps in the store, you’ll love the new direction Apple is going.
This morning Apple started testing a new search tool for the App Store that shows related searches for apps. Currently the iPhone and iPad App store only shows one result per screen and doesn’t help users find a better search term, but an update that is available to some users, including a Gotta Be Mobile writer, shows searches that can help deliver better apps to users.
With over 1 million apps in the Apple App Store finding the best apps, and especially the best free apps, is a tough job. With this new option, users can tap to see apps that might offer a better selection, finding new apps faster than scrolling through page after page of listings in the app store.
A recent report shows that iPhone users spend on average 19 cents per app, which essentially means iPhone user prefer free apps. A 2009 study showed that most users found new apps through search on the iOS app store. Even though this data is older, it shows a clear preference to search as a means of finding new apps.
The iPhone App Store search tool is not available to every user right now and it is possible that Apple is simply testing something that will not see the light of day in a public release, but it is more likely that Apple is testing real world feedback and usage of the new search tool.
The new iPhone App Store search results are showing up at random for users and can disappear just as quickly as they arrive. This is a good sign for users that want to see related searches to find the best free iPhone apps faster. Instead of waiting for the iOS 8 release to deliver new App Store search results it appears Apple can push new search methods out over the air as a small change to the display in the App Store, without users updating any software on the iPhone.
There is no way to get the related app stores search tool on your iPhone right now. Unless Apple selects one of your devices at random you will not see the new tool until Apple rolls it out to the public.