Fresh off of a new $50 million round of funding, the mobile app search engine Quixey is releasing its first app for consumers.
Quixey has made a name for itself with its “functional search,” which enables you search for mobile apps based on what they actually do. It’s been licensing that technology to partners to partners for the past few years, but now for the first time, Quixey is bringing its search smarts to Android users with a free mobile app.
“The first problem users are facing in the search world is finding the right problem or finding the right apps,” said Quixey’s executive vice president of product and marketing, Guru Gowrappan, in an interview with VentureBeat. “I think the biggest problem happening today is users spending too much time searching to find the right thing today.”
The new Quixey Android app furthers the company’s original mission: To give people a simple way to find apps using natural language without relying on App Store rankings. The company’s technology can search across pretty much every app platform — including iOS, Android, and Windows Phone — but the Android app being released today is entirely focused on the Android ecosystem (not surprisingly).
“It’s not about apps, its beyond apps, its about functions,” Gowrappan said. “Apps have a lot of functions within them, or job is to engage with the functions they have.”
When I asked how useful would Quixey would be for smartphone owners who only use a few apps in the first place (a 2011 Pew study from noted that many consumers only use a handful of apps), Gowrappan noted that we’re now seeing users actually exploring other apps more. In a few years, something like Quixey could be essential as more mainstream users seek out apps.
In my brief time with the Quixey Android app, I found that it performed just as well as the app search on Quixey’s website. For example, searching for an app to “track my running routes” brought up RunKeeper and several alternatives. The app also highlights trending Android apps, and it has a slick-looking wheel interface to let you browse different app categories.
Though this Android app is Quixey’s first consumer offering, it also serves as a testbed for partners to scope out Quixey’s app search for their own apps. “From our view, search is going to become a platform. … Whatever we’re launching now is not an app, it’s a gateway,” Gowrappan said.
Don’t be surprised if you end up seeing Quixey’s technology with some built-in search apps from carriers and equipment manufacturers. As Gowrappan tells it, Quixey can have the app reskinned and rebranded “overnight” for its partners.
Mountain View, Calif.-based Quixey was founded in 2009 and has raised more than $74 million so far. Investors include Alibaba, GGV Capital, Innovation Endeavors, TransLink Capital, and others.