The app world has officially exploded, and now you need help navigating it. Just typing “an app to help you find apps” is so meta it borders on ridiculous, but choosing from the abundance of quality apps (there are half a million on Android) is a real problem and we need tools to help us pick and choose. Popular app discovery app (yes, really) Crosswa.lk has now launched its iPhone app for more a natural finding and downloading experience.
“We kept running into the fact that we had no idea how our apps were being discovered, and couldn’t afford to pay for expensive marketing to force the needle,” co-founder Thomas McLeod tells us. “The app-mosphere is an increasingly crowded place, more and more apps that solve specific needs are showing up. We started kicking around what makes us most likely to download an app, and the answer was a direction recommendation from a friend.”
Crosswa.lk launched late last year to address that need. At the time, the app was Web-only, but was still a great, simple way to not only find recommended apps but to keep track of your and your friends’ activity. Personally, having the comfort of keyboard and mouse to interact with my apps is a godsend: I reach smartphone screen overload eventually and it’s a relief to navigate this information from the desktop. The dashboard gives you another view of your app collection: new apps you should try based on what your friends like, what’s popular at the moment, lets you write reviews (again, allow me to sing the praises of a keyboard), and even gives you an interactive look at your iPhone and everything you’ve downloaded to it. Honestly, I’ve never used Crosswa.lk without thinking this is something Apple should have packaged with iTunes and the App Store (Chomp acquisition, anyone?).
As far as the mobile app’s content goes, it’s still the same old Crosswa.lk – which is to say it’s a working solution to our app-overload (see also: first world) problem. Really, the Web version is an added bonus, the mobile product is where Crosswa.lk most makes sense. Being able to sort and sift for applications of your phone on your phone is an absolute necessity – using your laptop or desktop is really just a great complementary feature. The Crosswa.lk app keeps sorting simple with few screens to navigate, succinct but thorough app summaries, and the ability to auto-download an app. Crosswa.lk also has a “Who’s Winning Austin” feature that will keep track of real time app trends during the show.
It sounds like Crosswa.lk plans to take its app discovery magic over to Android at some point as well. “I think with the current state of the Android marketplace, and the growth of the platform, we would be foolish not to go down the Android road,” McLeod says. Of course Crosswa.lk isn’t your normal app: since it’s your guide to a specific app market, it has to sort of relearn the ropes. “When it happens, we’ll probably go very small at first to really learn the marketplace and then grow the app as we grow in knowledge about the space.”
We asked McLeod how he thought developers were exploring this new terrain – the turn from optimizing for the search engine to optimizing for the app store; ASO, or App Store Optimization if you will. And it seems as if the guidebook to mastering this is still being written. “The best ‘ASO’ would be to create a great app,” he says. “A lot of people do somewhat surreptitious key word squatting and description word padding with some commonly searched apps – [for instance] our app is like if Groupon, Facebook, and Angry Birds had a baby with Evernote! – but this usually just leads to buyers’ remorse and terrible reviews.”
For the time being, learning how to effectively navigate the app landscape is a work in process for developers – but users have some impressive discovery solutions at their disposal.
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