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iOS App Store is the most mature, Google Play fails in discoverability but wins in search

Posted: , by Michael H.

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iOS App Store is the most mature, Google Play fails in discoverability but wins in search
App stores are one of, if not the most important part of the current mobile experience. You can prefer one platform to another for aesthetics, integration, customization, and plenty of other factors, but in the end the app stores tend to be the great equalizer because many of us live in apps and not on the homescreen. So, Pfeiffer Report has decided to do a study of three major mobile app stores - the iOS App Store, Google Play, and Amazon Appstore - to determine which is the most mature.

The end result is likely unsurprising in that the oldest (the iOS App Store) is the most mature and the youngest (Amazon) is the least mature. But, what we really love about this report is that Pfeiffer didn't grade on a curve and compare to whichever app store was the best at something, Pfeiffer designed the characteristics of the perfect app store and graded against that. So really, in the end all of the app stores came up lacking with the iOS App Store scoring just 53.1 out of 100, Google Play was at 40.9, and the Amazon Appstore scored just 34.1 out of 100. 

The scores were generated based on a number of factors including: Search, Discovery Assistance and Curation, the Evaluation Grid which covers 8 general items, and User Experience Friction (UXF) which covers annoyances that you don't want to see. Certain items were problems for all of the app stores studied, for example none of the app stores offer natural language search, or advanced search options (ie. limiting a search to a specific time, type of app, category etc). All of the stores received low marks on editorial content and recommendations, and were penalized for calling user opinions "reviews", which Pfeiffer says is misleading. In a perfect app store, all of these options would exist and there would be a separation between user opinions and independent reviews so you don't have a thoughtful review right next to an opinion stating "Best app EVAR!!!" We can get behind that sort of thinking.

As you might expect, Google won in terms of search because it was by far the best at getting you to the right app even if you misspelled something or had a typo, and Google Play has the best support for Boolean terms (+, -, AND, OR). iOS came in second because of its options for refining search results. Where Apple really pulled ahead while Google fell on its face was in discoverability. The iOS App Store simply offered far more category options, and more apps in specialty selections. Google once again slipped in the Evaluation Grid mostly on its discoverability issues, while Apple excelled. But, Google was the best in terms of UXF, which were small problems that didn't affect long-term usage, like wish list presentation, search history, etc. 

In the end, all of the app stores still have a long way to go. No word from Pfeiffer as to why the Windows Phone store was left out. We've contacted them for comment. 


26 Comments
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posted on 18 Nov 2013, 13:20 11

1. buccob (Posts: 1504; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)


I personally love Play Store's layout, gesture simplicity and features such as Wish List since I do use it.

I love how it shows the recently updated apps so I can read about the changes later without remembering what did I just updated... and I barely try to discover something new through the Store itself, so it fits my need very well and in the past I have become frustrated by Apple Store (though I admit I havent use it since iOS 6)

posted on 19 Nov 2013, 01:07 1

24. Ashoaib (Posts: 2337; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)


Here I will praise ios, itunes is really better then andriod app store

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 13:24

2. blazee (Posts: 286; Member since: 02 Jan 2012)


Professional reviews on apps is a pretty good idea

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 13:40 6

3. Sauce (unregistered)


How would one give a professional review? What would determine his status to review in such manor? The consumers, the everyday average Joe, are the ones who are using the apps and therefore have the best credibility to give such reviews. I think I am missing something here, would love some light shed on me as I think it is an interesting subject.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 14:24 8

7. Finalflash (Posts: 1826; Member since: 23 Jul 2013)


Plus what goes to say "professionals" aren't biased or being paid in one direction or another.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 17:25

22. blazee (Posts: 286; Member since: 02 Jan 2012)


OMG Youre so right!! We should also elimininate any kind of news, this website or any other professinal job at reviewing or writing any kind of articles about anything !! Because what goes to say they arent biased! thank you for opening my eyes +1

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 17:18 1

21. blazee (Posts: 286; Member since: 02 Jan 2012)


Google could assemble a team of lets say 10 and have them start reviewing every single app starting from most popular. Id rather hear someone legitametely rate the user experience and quality of an app on some criteria rather than see a 1 star w desciption, i liked the older version

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 14:56

10. Jommick (Posts: 208; Member since: 10 Sep 2013)


Relabeling existing reviews as "opinions" seems to be a rather great idea too.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 13:42 1

4. JMartin22 (Posts: 1226; Member since: 30 Apr 2013)


I agree with professional reviews, 1 star user "it doesn't work on my outdated and/or specific phone" 'reviews' isn't very telling about the quality of an app.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 15:21 2

15. PBXtech (Posts: 980; Member since: 21 Oct 2013)


That's why I always select to see comments from my type of device only. Love that feature.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 13:43 8

5. NexusPhan (Posts: 520; Member since: 11 Jul 2013)


The tablet apps section is complete BS. Android doesn't have separate tablet apps. It just has one app that scales to any screen size. Many developers follow Google's rules for auto scaling and the same apps works and looks perfect across any screen size. Other developers that don't follow Google's rules is not Google's fault.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 14:21 3

6. sum182 (Posts: 229; Member since: 19 Nov 2011)


The net feels the need to baby apple. Just nod your head a smile

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 15:07

11. bucky (Posts: 1517; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)


Yep, it's one giant conspiracy.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 15:13 3

13. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2684; Member since: 26 May 2011)


But remember not all apps are optimized properly, that's why Google is going to change how the Play Store displays apps for tablets soon and will hide apps that haven't been optimized. Once that happens, the Play Store will likely get better grades in that section.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 14:30 4

8. NoFanboy (Posts: 230; Member since: 18 Nov 2013)


I must say, the iOS app store is much better. Not only does it have more apps, but its easier to find apps. This was the most disappointing thing for me after switching to Android.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 15:09 4

12. androidfanboy (Posts: 162; Member since: 24 Jun 2013)


The android app store has more apps

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 15:45 4

17. illusionmist (Posts: 124; Member since: 29 Jan 2013)


App Store has much more "quality" apps. And games.

Android got some pretty wonderful apps as well, but having gone from iOS to Android and back to iOS, my experience is that once you go App Store, you never go back.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 16:01 2

18. networkdood (Posts: 6285; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)


lol, yeah, funny how I tried finding call blocking apps for an iphone once - zilch - while there are many great ones are Android.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 16:57

20. illusionmist (Posts: 124; Member since: 29 Jan 2013)


Call blocking is native in iOS 7.

I get what you're saying though. There are certain apps that "extends" the system function that can only exist on Android. But to me they are more like plug-ins.

Apart from those kind of things we both know not happening on iOS anytime soon, when talking about apps and games that really matter for general public, App Store does have the upper hand.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 16:23 1

19. Blazers (Posts: 232; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)


As a Note 2 and Note 3 user, I agree especially in regard to games. There are so many games that iOS has that android doesn't. It's kind of annoying.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 14:30

9. grahaman27 (Posts: 347; Member since: 05 Apr 2013)


How did the google play store get a 1 on editorial recommendations? I see "editors choice" apps everywhere! The whole graph looks arbitrary, more garbage articles from pa.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 15:18 5

14. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2684; Member since: 26 May 2011)


1) How do we get the blame for a report done by Pfeiffer?
2) Check the source, the report is quite in-depth (and all three stores got the same score on editorial recommendations)

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 15:42

16. livyatan (Posts: 709; Member since: 19 Jun 2013)


That was an analytical overload.
Seriously impressed by this Pfeiffer too (the last name of my favorite actress btw).

I'm curious how low they would rate windows phone marketplace.. that place is really appalling.
Microsoft can be thankful that they've been left out

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 23:03 1

23. Reluctant_Human (Posts: 864; Member since: 28 Jun 2012)


I've once head of this fabled land called the Windows Phone Marketplace. I've heard tales of a forgotten wasteland ruled by a bald maniac simply name Balmer. On cold and silent nights you can hear his screams of "WOOOO!" in the winds.

posted on 19 Nov 2013, 02:56

25. livyatan (Posts: 709; Member since: 19 Jun 2013)


Man, that was great

posted on 19 Nov 2013, 07:00

26. microsoftnokiawin (Posts: 977; Member since: 30 Mar 2012)


no offence but if google won this all of you guys would be like wow such a great and accurate report but now all of a sudden it;s opinion and biased cause ios wow

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