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Jean-Louis Gassée on App Store Curation

Jean-Louis Gassée, in his open letter to Tim Cook:

Instead of using algorithms to sort and promote the apps that you permit on your shelves, why not assign a small group of adepts to create and shepherd an App Store Guide, with sections such as Productivity, Photography, Education, and so on. Within each section, this team of respected but unnamed (and so “ungiftable”) critics will review the best-in-class apps. Moreover, they’ll offer seasoned opinions on must-have features, UI aesthetics, and tips and tricks. A weekly newsletter will identify notable new titles, respond to counter-opinions, perhaps present a developer profile, footnote the occasional errata and mea culpa…

Good points, and not the first time Gassée has used the Michelin guide as an example of the human curation that could improve the App Store’s recommendations.

Gassée doesn’t mention the upcoming Explore section of the iOS 8 App Store, and I believe that is going to provide an interesting mix of the classic category-based organization with curation through sub-categories and editorial picks for specific “app types”.

Unsurprisingly, Explore is going to replace Near Me in the middle tab of the App Store app for iOS 8: Near Me will be integrated into Explore, and it will likely extend as part of a new system to advertise apps relevant to your location on the Lock screen. Free of the limited scope of Near Me, Explore will enable the App Store team to offer a full-blown index of app categories that are easily accessible from a dedicated view.

It is my understanding that Explore will feature a mix of the curated app collections Apple has been building for the past couple of years and new filters for app types. Starting with the basic list of App Store categories, you’ll be able to drill down into more specific sub-categories with multiple levels of depth, such as “Music > DJs” or “Productivity > Task Management > GTD”.

While Apple may not be considering a full-blown, standalone App Store Guide as a regular publication, iOS 8’s Explore section is showing encouraging signs of new curation efforts that account for the incredible variety of the App Store’s catalogue, but it remains to be seen whether customers will take the time to explore the Explore section.