Apple Raises the App Store Bar Higher with New Tweaks

Apple has already defined the gold standard for app stores, but that doesn't mean it is sitting idly by. Apple has raised the bar for app stores even higher with new changes that make it easier for developers to market their apps, and for customers to learn about them.

The brushed metal silver background has been replaced with a simple white that brightens the app store screen up a bit. The most noticeable changes, though, are the increased size of the app icon, located at the upper left, and the inclusion of multiple screenshots, in exchange for shortened or truncated text. The redesign of the App Store pages exhibit the philosophy that a picture tells a thousand words.

Although Apple has nearly ten times the number of apps of any competing app store, and the revenue generated from the Apple App Store is in a whole different ballpark from competitors, the revamp of the App Store shows that Apple is continuing to make adjustments to improve it and widen that gap even farther.

For customers, the App Store redesign offers two key improvements. First, it provides key information at-a-glance, making it easier to determine whether the app deserves a closer look . Second, the customer reviews can be viewed either for the current version, or for all versions, making it simpler to view the feedback that is most relevant for the version that is available now.

Developers benefit most from the redesign, though. The new layout includes a section on the left side under the Customer Ratings which points to other apps from the same developer. Of course, that only benefits developers of good apps since the proximity of the Customer Ratings will make users less likely to want to see more apps from that developer if the customer ratings are poor.

The larger app icon at the upper left, with a larger price and Buy button underneath benefit developers as well. It may not help outrageously priced apps like the TomTom U.S.A. navigation app, but clearly displaying the price along with the word "buy" prominently exhibited makes it easier for customers to make purchases.

Some developers may not appreciate having less space available for the description text. The shorter description will force developers to be more succinct in explaining what the app does. There is a "more" button to expand the text and view a longer description, but the text that appears on screen initially is the first impression and has to be compelling enough to provide incentive for the user to click more.

Google Android Market is the most significant competition for the Apple App Store, just as Android-based devices, like the Motorola Droid, are shaping up to be the biggest threat to the iPhone itself. Developers have complained about aspects of Android Market, though, that they believe adversely impact the success and profitability of their apps.

Apple has raised the bar higher and given Google, and other app stores, a new model to strive to emulate.

Tony Bradley tweets as @PCSecurityNews, and can be contacted at his Facebook page .

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