The iOS 11 App Store redesign story

Three years ago I wrote that Apple should end the App Store top 200 lists, learning from Beats Music how to double down on curation:

I wrote about Beats Music earlier, how it underscored to me that Apple needs to find the next product category to fall in love with, just like they used to feel about music. Of course we know that Apple already loves apps. Show that by doubling down on featured apps, staff picks, and app playlists.

And:

Apple shouldn’t wait until Thursday to feature a few great apps. Feature apps all the time. They’re on the right track with some of the “best of” sections in the store, and with the “Near Me” feature. Go a little further and it will make all the difference to bubble up great apps, and let the junk in the App Store fade away.

I think they’ve done it for iOS 11. While the top charts aren’t completely gone, they no longer dominate the App Store user experience. Featured apps are center stage.

Product manager Pedraum Pardehpoosh at WWDC even used the same phrase “double down” when describing Apple’s new focus on editorial content. During session 301, he said:

We thought this was a perfect time to double down on the editorial curation that’s distinguished the App Store since its conception.

Joe Cieplinski addresses the information density in the new App Store, pointing out that apps will be featured every day:

That’s a big change from the weekly update schedule Apple has maintained since the beginning of the App Store. You can’t name something “Today” and then not update it every day. So instead of a few new items getting featured once a week, something new will be featured every single day.

The “Today” tab is effectively a blog: reverse-chronological posts about what’s noteworthy in the store. It’s a much better default UI for content that is actively curated.

The old App Store was designed like a database. Databases are good at showing grids and lists from an algorithm. But the App Store should tell a story about new apps. A blog-like format is the best way to do that.

This plays to Apple’s strengths in design and taste. Where Google might hire more engineers to improve their store, Apple should hire more writers.

So far I’ve only used the new App Store on my iPad, and only for a few days. After we’ve all lived with it for a few months, it will be easier to judge whether it works for developers. But it’s almost exactly what I was hoping for a few years ago. This redesign for iOS 11 is one of my favorite things to come out of WWDC.