App searching just got smarter

A few weeks back we wrote about the miserable state of App Stores and discovery. There are now so many apps that it is hard for individual app developers to stand out, and at the same time there are clear signs of users getting fatigued with the apps they are finding. Beyond the sheer size of the ecosystem, the real problem is that the two major channels for app distribution – Apple’s iTunes App Store and Google Play – are both flawed in their own way. We have detailed the shortcomings of Google Play many times over the years, it just does not seem to be a priority for Google. And let’s just say that Apple’s Suggestion and recommendation process are pretty far from the cutting edge of the ‘big data’  technological frontier.

This all changed for the better today. Berlin-based Xyo released a major update to its app search engine. There are a number of third party app stores (for Android) and App catalog/review sites out there, but we know of none that comes even close to matching Xyo’s. They have a modern web-site, largely free from the clutter that most of the sites put in front of users. Digging deeper, they have also put some real intelligence behind their recommendation technology. Their search engine appears to use modern search algorithms and not the literal search that Apple used for so long. They have also put a lot of work into building out a taxonomy for sub-categories of apps. This goes way beyond “Games” and “Entertainment”. Today, they also launched a beta version of a Facebook connection, which scans your Facebook graph for clues to apps you may like.

This is not simple technology. Xyo seems to have some strong analytics under the hood. Not surprising, as the company (under the prior incarnation of Xyologic) has a track record of uncovering the true state of app data, and company founder  Matthäus Krzykowski is one of the most knowledgeable people we know in the mobile industry.

Speaking from personal experience, we have seen our own app downloads decrease markedly in recent months. It has just gotten too hard to find interesting apps. Having grown wary of all the ‘free’ social game apps out there, it has been six months since we last downloaded a game. This is the first service we have seen that might actually encourage us to use Facebook Likes , in the hope of getting better app discovery. Across all platforms, our impression is that the lowest common denominator has been surfacing across the app store landscape. Xyo is a solid antidote to that.

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