Apple brings human curation to seven more App Store categories in Europe

Editorial team will be recommending iOS apps in productivity, photo & video, sport, music, lifestyle, health and travel

Apple has introduced human curation for seven more categories on its App Store in Europe, as it tries to make it easier for people to find new iOS apps.

iPhone and iPad owners visiting the productivity, photo & video, sport, music, lifestyle, health and travel categories will now see recommendations and themed collections of apps from Apple's editorial teams.

Until today, only five App Store categories – games, kids, education, food and Newsstand – were curated. Homepages for other categories simply displayed lists of new and popular apps chosen by an algorithm.

Alongside today's changes, Apple is launching a new "landing page" on the App Store to point visitors in the direction of the curated categories. The changes will be seen on PCs and Macs, as well as iOS devices.

The move brings App Stores across Europe closer to those in the US and Canada, where every app category has human curators.

Here are before and after shots of the changes to the travel category on the App Store’s desktop version:

The UK App Store's travel category homepage.
The UK App Store's travel category homepage. Photograph: PR

And here are before and after shots of the changes on iPad:

The iPad version of the App Store's travel category homepage.
The iPad version of the App Store's travel category homepage. Photograph: PR

The changes are the latest move by Apple to grapple with the problem – one also faced by Google with its Google Play store for Android devices – of helping people navigate through the clutter of a million-strong catalogue of apps.

The App Store now has 1.2m apps, and attracts 300m visitors a week, having generated more than 75bn app downloads since its launch in 2008.

Browsing the uncurated App Store categories has been something of a lottery until now: it's not uncommon to see Chinese-language apps cluttering up the category homepages in the UK App Store, for example.

By expanding its editorial teams, Apple hopes that the apps people see first when browsing the newly-curated categories will be more culturally and locally relevant.

Themed collections are likely to play a major role, too. Games shows the model in action: Apple's editorial staff have created collections including Popular Puzzlers, The Best Games You've Never Played, It Came From Japan and Indie Game Showcase.

iOS developers in the seven newly-curated categories will welcome the changes, which provide more slots on the App Store for Apple to promote their apps.

Previously, they had to hope the company would spotlight them on the store's overall homepage, while relying on the often-eccentric App Store algorithm to show their apps on the category homepages.

At its recent WWDC developer conference, the company revealed more changes on the way for its store as part of the company's iOS 8 software, which will be released in the autumn.

They include better search features, video previews of apps, and the ability for developers to sell multiple apps in discounted bundles.

Google is holding its developer conference, I/O, on 25-26 June, where it may well unveil its own improvements to Android's Google Play store.

WWDC 2014: five key points from Apple's address


Stuart Dredge

The GuardianTramp

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