Apple appears to be testing a new search feature in the App Store with a few randomly selected iPhone users running iOS 7.1. People have reported seeing a new scrollable bar with suggested search terms that help them narrow search results and identify specific, useful apps. The improvement is long overdue, considering the sheer number of apps available in the store.
According to screenshots and descriptions at Macstories.net and Appleinsider.com, the new search bar displays suggestions such as “business news” and “finance news” when searching for news, or “action games” when searching for games. Further search suggestions are displayed within these searches, helping users fine-tune their results. These subcategories could help users find apps that suit their specific needs, rather than the commonly known ones that tend to rise to the top of search results.
While a handful of apps have become famous overnight and earned their developers millions of dollars, there are over a million apps waiting to be discovered. Apple also lists apps by category and by popularity, but further segmentation is missing, and it is impossible to scroll through the entire list.
Apple offers collections of potentially unknown apps on the App Store’s home page, and a Genius feature that can help users identify apps they might like based on their Store history, but the search tool has always been underpowered. Two years ago, Apple acquired Chomp, an app discovery service with its own search engine. It was rumoured at the time that Chomp’s engine would replace or augment Apple’s own search efforts, but nothing has been heard on this front since.