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As of June 2014, 75 billion apps have been downloaded from Apple’s app store. The Google Play store saw its total rise to 50 billion apps in July 2013. If you have a smartphone or tablet, you have access to applications created by some of the smartest Web developers in the world. Whether you want to download a recipe app, score-tracking app, or local news app, it’s all at your fingertips.

But there can be too much of a good thing. With millions of apps to choose from and more being released every day, searching for the right program can be like finding a needle in a haystack. For this reason, app discovery has become a prime focus for many developers who want to revolutionize the way users find apps.

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The easier it is to identify and download the right app, the quicker users can find hidden diamonds in the rough. You can open your favorite app store without feeling overwhelmed, and you don’t need to size up 5-star and 1-star ratings to make the right decision.

The Apple Effort

Google Play may have just passed Apple to become the world’s largest app store, but Apple is putting forth an effort to make app discovery easier for its users. On June 12, the company revealed a new App Store feature called “Browse by Category” to make it simpler to find specific items within its catalogue of 900,000.

Instead of picking apps from a dropdown list, users click on icons of categories to browse through apps. Although the dropdown menu for categories is still available, this new feature is designed to make app discovery a bit easier for iOS users.

Xyo Eyes Google Play

We’ve seen many unsuccessful app discovery programs, but Xyo is one developer trying to make a run at Google Play. This June, Xyo announced that it will be launching a rival to the Google Play store to make it easier to search for Android apps. One of the biggest differences between the Xyo app and the Google Play app is that there is no need to type. Instead, users scroll through images of apps until they find one to suit their needs.

The Xyo app includes 1,000 subcategories of apps to browse, which breaks down the options even further. Through recent beta testing, TechCrunch reports, Xyo has shown signs of being a quicker, more fluent option for searching applications.

On the Path to Discovery

App discovery has been a long-standing problem that neither Google nor Apple has solved, and the problem continues to get worse with every app that makes its way into the store. However, developers are catching onto solutions that may soon become long-term fixes. Subcategories are becoming a cornerstone in new app discovery programs, and image-based searches are growing in popularity.

As the focus shifts away from quantity, developers are leaning toward more innovative ways to push their apps to the front of every store. In many cases, this means using word-of-mouth and generating buzz through social outlets. While there’s no telling when the ultimate solution to app discovery will arrive, the red flags are up — it’s just a matter of time before a heroic developer rises to the occasion.

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