appstream, a free tool that I mistakenly thought might help me with the problem of iPad app discoverability.
As I write this post I see there are now more than 18,000 iPad apps in the App Store. Wonderful. Now how do I find the truly great ones? The same problem exists for iPhone apps, only it's ten times worse because there are a lot more of those apps out there than iPad ones.
I was looking for some help uncovering some of the better ones when I recently stumbled upon appstream. What you see on that screen shot is pretty much what you get though. It's a largely unfiltered look at what's currently available in the App Store. What I need is something that offers me a filtered look at all those apps, not a raw feed of them.
How about settings that let me see only those apps with at least an average of 4-star reviews? Or how about only those apps with 4-star reviews in the utility category? How about 4-star reviews, in the business category and released in the past week?
If these guys would go back and add this sort of functionality to appstream they could convert it from a free app that serves almost no purpose to one I'd pay five dollars for. That's right. Five bucks, which means it would join an exclusive club on my iPad. I've only paid that much for Wired (initial issue only; no way I'll pay that much for newer ones...not $3.99 either, especially when I can get an entire year in print for $10!), The Elements (worth every bit of $13.99) and MLB's AtBat 2010 (an app that I'm unlikely to buy next year, although I'll continue buying the iPhone edition).
Discoverability is the largest issue plaguing the app ecosystem. It affects both buyers and sellers. Sure, Apple lets you filter apps in a few different ways and the Genius feature is nice on the iPhone (but where is it for iPad apps?). Those are still minor attempted solutions at a major problem. Something like appstream could be a better alternative, but not in its current state.