Rumor has it that Apple is trying to improve their app store in time for the arrival of the Apple Watch. Most recently, sources have stated that Apple has acquired a start-up called Ottocat, which has made a system to organize apps on the app store. This system now powers the “explore” tab in the App Store.
Organizing and surfacing relevant content among the millions of apps in the App Store can often pose quite a challenge for Apple. Apps need to please both users who want engaging apps and developers who want to get their apps on as many devices as possible. Ottocat developed a way to organize and surface apps that let users discover apps more easily through increasingly specific sub-categories.
Ottocat’s technology was intended to eliminate keywords and take out the guesswork and inaccuracy of keywords altogether. For example, rather than searching for “encyclopedia” or scrolling through a section of book apps that the term might bring up, you can look at specific subcategories to find a selection of apps that you might want to download. If you have ever used the “explore” feature on the App Store, then you are already familiar with how this all works. Ottocat also implemented details such as average star ratings, how popular an app has been, and when it was last updated.
Although this partnership was never announced by either side, TechCrunch has revealed that the acquisition took place as long ago as 2013, when Ottocat’s site went dark. It is not clear if Ottocat CEO’s Edwin and Michelle Cooper are still with Apple, but it would be interesting to see what similar features Apple is working on for Safari, mobile, and desktop operating systems.