Opinion: Why the App Store Needs Tags

The iPhone (and iPad) App Store currently offers two means of navigation: categories and search. This setup, however, is limited, as the former means is much too broad and the latter much to narrow. Listing all the thousands of apps in each category contains so many items as to be unusable. Searching for an app only helps if you know the app’s name beforehand. There has to be a better way.

App Store Tags

There is. Many similar galleries, stores, and collections can be browsed by tags. A tag in the App Store would be something like a category, but many tags could be assigned to a single app (it might be wise to have a limit, like twenty tags per app). Apple could provide a hundred or so standard tags, and developers could add their own. When browsing the App Store on a computer, iPhone, or iPad, a button would appear allowing you to see other apps with the same tag. This would make finding similar apps or apps in a narrow category much easier.

That’s the basics; I would be satisfied if Apple only implemented those capabilities. However, I can think of some extra features that would make the icing on the cake. Apple’s Genius feature, which never really caught on for applications, could be much improved by selecting apps with a large number of shared tags. When creating a home screen folder, it could be named, instead of after the category of the apps, after the most important tag they share. And finally, the best goodie would be allowing users to submit tags for apps; if enough users submit a tag, or the developer approves it, it is added to the list.

I hope Apple introduces this feature soon. With almost 250,000 apps in the Store, navigation has become perhaps the store’s largest issue. That issue would be largely fixed if Apple added this simple capability, already available on so many websites—including this one.

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