Wow, it looks like we really touched a nerve with the last post.
Respectable games media sites like Pocket Gamer and Develop have picked up on my thoughts about the iOS 6 App Store updates and turned it into a story. Bloggers are sharing similar opinions and people are actually discussing it, which shows that this is an issue that concerns users as well as developers. We’ve spread tangentially into Windows Phone blogs, and been translated into Italian and Chinese.
Then there’s the tweets and retweets… wow, what a lot of retweets!
Today, I have interesting news. There is evidence that Apple are indeed making tweaks to the App Store. One of them has even been to include a list of new releases for a category!
Unfortunately, it appeared only briefly, and now it seems to be gone again. I suspect they’re testing a number of layouts to see what users are tapping on so I’m glad I took a screenshot when I had the chance. On the left is what I captured yesterday for the Word Games category and on the right is the much more sparse view I see right now.
Looks like the “New” section is what I’ve been complaining had gone missing, right?
It’s not. The first game in the list is about a week old. The second was released on August 22nd – over a month ago. This is what used to be labelled “New and Noteworthy”, a curated category. Whether the apps are collected by Apple staff or a complex algorithm, we’ll never know, but the key point is that apps that appear in this section are not necessarily new, and they likely get featured here because they’ve already gained some popularity.
However, the “Free” and “Paid” sections in the first screenshot actually did seem to contain the newest releases in Word Games, with the most recent first! I noticed this because Word Tag is a nice little game I’d grabbed from New Releases in iTunes on my Mac earlier in the day (it’s a turn-based game of Taboo) and here it looked – to me at least – like it was top of the charts already!
Comparing the Free and Paid apps shown on the iPad to the New Releases on an iOS 5 device they were very similar, although there were still a few missing on the iPad version. So it’s not quite complete, very poorly labelled and placed below a New category that’s not actually new. But, for a moment, I could browse the new releases in a category.
In other, more positive news, searching for “word puzzle” no longer suggests “bird puzzle” and searching for “Lightwood Games” finds our catalogue again, instead of suggesting another developer. Before I flatter myself that Apple fixed these specific terms I’d mentioned, I can’t actually seem to get a “did you mean?” suggestion at all at the moment so it looks like they’ve just removed that feature. I’ve also figured out how to fix my App Store links so they bring up our portfolio on any device and iOS version.
So there’s stuff going on and changes being made. I’ll be keeping fingers crossed for more fluid navigation of search results and that new releases reappear in a slightly less confusing way. Hopefully it will all get ironed out in the end.