Apple Tweaks Design Of App Store Category Pages

In its weekly App Store refresh, it appears Apple has today tweaked the design of App Store categories to include the same design of the App Store's home page. By heading to a category like Productivity or Utilities, both from an iOS device or Mac, you can see how Apple is featuring more apps with large banners across the top of a category page, smaller banners in the middle, and the usual "New and Noteworthy" and "Essential" collections that are updated on a weekly basis.

Previously, App Store categories didn't share the same design of the Home page. By featuring different apps in category pages and the main Home page, Apple is giving more exposure to third-party developers.

As I argued in my look at four years of App Store, "human curation" would be an important aspect to consider for the growth of the App Store. In just a few months, in fact, Apple has revamped the weekly features of the App Store with Editor's Choice, App Collections, and subtle design tweaks applied every week. Today's visual refresh stands out for the use of animated promotional banners that can easily catch a user's attention, directing him towards an app recommended by App Store editors.

There are some other interesting tweaks to consider this week. App Collections, which we've previously reported on, is now still available as a link in the Categories menu for iPhone, but we can't find it in the same menu on the iPad; on the iPad, App Collections is available as a link in the footer. More importantly, the iPad App Store's home page now features a collection of apps called "New to iPad? Start Here" that aggregates apps suggested by Apple to new users. These include popular apps like Flipboard, Letterpress, Facebook, and iPhoto -- both free and paid apps.

The collection is only featured in the iPad's App Store Home page, and it is likely related to the recent release of the iPad mini.

I asked about today's changes to App Cubby's David Barnard, developer of iOS apps like Launch Center Pro and Timer. Barnard told me he's "excited to see Apple doing even more curation in the App Store" as "that’s great for everyone — users, developers, and Apple".

Barnard was more cautious, however, on the visibility granted by category pages. "I don’t think the categories will get anywhere near the traffic the main featured list gets", Barnard told me, "so getting featured there won’t have quite the same impact on a developer’s bottom line. It’ll be interesting to see how often Apple rotates the category featured spots. If they rotate them less, the long-term increase in downloads might make up for the smaller burst of downloads".