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Xyo re-imagines app search

Read time 2min 40sec

In app stores, the top 10% of apps get 90% of all downloads, leaving lesser-known apps to languish, and failing to link users with suitable apps.

This is according to Xyo, a company that started releasing app search services in 2012 in an attempt to connect apps with users. Although app stores are very much the main vehicles for app content delivery, most users only see the apps that are on the top shelf, and not the 'long tail' of apps towards the bottom of the list, says Xyo. This assertion is supported by market research. According to a report from Surikate and GfK, a meagre 19% of app store visitors look further than the first 50 apps in search results.

According to Xyo, using better search algorithms will not only help users find the apps they want, but can also help app developers who are unable to get the kick-start they need in an already flooded market. In app stores in their present form, apps are ranked purely by rating, meaning the top-rated apps are downloaded over and over again. Although this may sound like a sensible set-up, ensuring the highest-quality apps are the easiest to find, new apps without a high number of ratings struggle to get the exposure they need to work their way up the list - even if they are of high quality.

In addition to the faulty rankings, search results may not perfectly capture the needs of the user, since many users look for apps without knowing exactly what they want, reports TechCrunch. Instead of installing the apps that show up in their search results, says Xyo, they will browse through the similar apps listed at the bottom of the page, or look through apps that "other people like".

Xyo's 'Apps for Me' service attempts to solve the problem for both sides of the equation, by using social media data to improve app search results. The service uses Facebook Connect to grab data from both the users' profiles and their friends' profiles, aggregating data from liked pages and listed interests in order to recommend applications of interest. 'Apps for Me' currently works for Android, iPhone, iPad and Windows Phone.

The service can also be used without accessing Facebook data - xyo.net groups apps around lists of interests, such as 'Phone Diallers', 'Business Management' or 'Gun Games'. These interests serve to group apps into more defined categories than in an app store, for those who don't have a clear idea of what they are looking for, and to give exposure to the lesser-known apps that will not make an appearance on app store searches.

Although the company is still a relatively new player, it has received funding from big names in the app industry, including from Signia Venture Partners and Klaas Kersting, CEO of flaregames.

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