App discoverability – whereby an app that is targeted toward a specific user is able to be found by that user - is one of the biggest obstacles facing developers today. There are millions of apps out there, but app stores limit their discoverability to categories, curated top ten lists, the most basic of keyword searches, and overly simplified content directories. What if you want to find an app based on something you want to do – like organize your shopping list, create a storyboard, or run a budget projection? Right now, the only way you can find an app that would actually do any of these things is to simply download a selection of apps and try them out, one by one. This is a laborious process that is not only a huge waste of time but can also eliminate apps that would actually be quite useful for the task you would like them to perform.
There are a few emerging app discovery search engines that aim to solve the issue of discoverability by placing more search parameters in the field, rather than less. While the technology behind these search engines is less sophisticated (for the most part) than what you’re going to find in a standard Web search tool, it’s a good start towards solving the nagging issue of app discoverability, and could make the currently onerous task of getting an app in front of the people who would most benefit from it less of a lucky strike and more in the realm of a calculated risk.
The following selection of app discovery services offer a varied selection of the most current advancements in app discovery: these include community-curated search, hash tag discovery, app discovery that is socially connected in nature and develop-focused programs that put the creator of the app in a more intuitive relationship with the end user.
Quixey bills itself as providing “functional search” for apps. Their search platform doesn’t work like the traditional web search engine does, sending software spiders across the Web to index data; instead, they mine content from across the Web that might be relevant to making an informed app download choice (social signals, blogs, review sites, and more). Their index is also powered by data supplied by leading mobile manufacturers, app stores, mobile carriers, and other search engines. You can use Quixey to search for apps by what they actually do rather by name or description, which is how most people search for apps anyway, not by name unless the app is exceptionally well known. Users don’t necessarily have to know an app by name in order to find something that might work for them, which makes Quixey exceptionally useful.
Quixey also recently partnered with Ask.com to make app discovery as part of their regular search results, just like with Images, News, or Maps. According to Compete.com’s latest stats reports on Ask for October, there were over 150 million unique visitors to the search portal formerly known as Ask Jeeves, so obviously adding an app vertical as part of that suddenly makes app discovery very interesting. Quixey makes apps searchable by title, description, and everything that might possibly be mentioned about them online – reviews, social media updates, blogs, and more. Right now, Quixey indexes Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Blackberry apps, with more platforms planned. Apps are included both in Ask’s primary search results, but searchers have the option of restricting their searches to apps only.
Yahoo App Search
Yahoo App Search gives users another way to find an app that might suit them. You can search by name, what an app actually does, or keyword. Categories range from games to education to productivity to catalogs. Once you’ve started a search query, you can then filter it by relevance, highest rated, platform (currently only offering iPhone and Android), price, or category.
Much like Quixey, Yahoo’s App Search helps users find apps that they wouldn’t have otherwise using most internal app store search functions. Top apps are featured in each category, but as you search, your recommendations become more personalized with a daily app suggestion based on past app searches, results that show related keywords, and more apps that you might enjoy based on previous searches.
The main app search page includes a trending apps list that is not just based on sheer number of downloads, but total searches and social mentions – another intuitive way to find apps that might not have been discovered otherwise.
Mimvi offers app search, app discovery, and app recommendations over several different app platforms. It works similarly to Quixey and Yahoo’s App Search with one notable exception: users can type in the name of an app on one platform and use Mimvi to find the same app on another (competing!) platform, a nice feature for those of us who have several different devices from which to choose from. Cross-platform functionality is a factor for developers who want to grab more market share and harness increasing app visibility, so it’s nice to see app discovery services jumping on this.
Mobilewalla is a search engine platform that enables users to find apps, with a real time rating and ranking system for every category of mobile app across multiple platforms. They also offer an intriguing ratings system for developers behind the apps, making them less of the wizard behind the curtain and more of a fully involved participant in the app discovery process.
Users can sort search results by relevance, popularity, release date, price, platform, and category. Curated lists based on searches show you Hot Apps (self-explanatory!) in a specific category or subcategory or Fast Movers (apps that are quickly picking up in popularity). One interesting feature is App Intelligence, which tells you how the big players in the app ecosystem are doing relative to each other as far as total app count, 30 day app growth, and app count by category.
Hapoose is an app discovery tool based on social recommendations and other usable/pertinent information indexed across the Web. It indexes apps from multiple sources for better visibility and more in-depth search results, including app stores, blogs, review sites, and word of mouth, aka social networks.
Hapoose gives you interesting insights into what your friends are currently downloading and playing with using social network recommendations, and enables users to share what they are really enjoying straight from their device to another. It’s personalized daily based on search and download history, but the most innovative feature at Hapoose has to be one of the most overlooked: you can use it to find potential connections within a friend’s app download list.
Hubbl, as you might have guessed from the play on words here, is based and designed around the idea of the Hubble Telescope. It offers different “lenses” to find the app that you’re looking for using the Skyview feature, which finds both apps that are currently popular as well as apps that your friends are using.
The best feature of Hubbl is the ability to use hash tags to find apps. All users have the opportunity to assign hash tags (labels) to an app, crowdsourcing app discovery for greater, more intuitive discoverability. This partners users directly with developers to make sure those apps are described the way that people are actually looking for them.
Just getting started in app discovery
We are in very early days as far as app discovery is concerned, and because app discoverability is a crucial issue for developers who are trying to be noticed in an incredibly crowded and competitive market, it’s something to pay attention to. These services and others like them are of vital interest to developers – why? Because their user base is using these services to find apps that they haven’t tried out yet. It’s where the customers are focusing their interest, their time, and their efforts, which make these app discovery services well worth investing in. What’s been your experience with app discovery platforms, tools, and search services such as these? Are there ones that you’ve used that you would recommend (or not recommend)? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below.