Apple ‘secret team’ prepping major App Store changes, report claims

app store
Jongjet Klieanthong/123rf
Apple has taken its gargantuan App Store into the workshop ahead of a major overhaul, a new report claims.

As many as 100 employees – among them engineers and marketers – are working on improving various elements of the store, Bloomberg reported Thursday after speaking to people familiar with the project.

The recently formed “secret team” is thought to be focusing on areas such as improving search and discovery, a long-time issue for the App Store, which currently offers more than 1.5 million apps.

Notably, the tech company is also reported to be considering the introduction of a “Google-like” paid search option for developers with the cash to splash. For a fee, a developer’s app would appear at the top of App Store search results – or close to the top depending on the specific keywords and competing apps – when a user initiates a search for a particular kind of app.

With limited space on an iPhone’s screen, the results page only shows one or two apps at any one time, so developers without the resources to go the paid route will have to hope, as they do now, that users scroll down the page – possibly further than usual if there are lots of sponsored results at the top – to see a wider range of what’s on offer in relation to their inquiry.

Searching for apps on an iPad or using iTunes on a Mac computer increases developers’ chances of being discovered as the larger displays present users with many more apps at first glance. Apple also hand-picks a selection of apps to put front and center on its “featured” page, offering developers another way for their work to get noticed.

A paid model, while helping deep-pocketed developers get their work discovered, would also provide Apple with an additional – and lucrative – revenue stream.

Bloomberg notes that Apple’s new App Store team “hasn’t been working long and it’s unclear when any new changes will be introduced.” But if a 100-strong team really is setting about shaking up the app store, we bet there’ll be some major changes rolling out before too long.

Health & Fitness

Google’s redesigned Fit activity tracker is now an iOS app

Google Fit has landed for iOS. The activity tracker offers the same clean design that arrived with the major revamp of the Android version a year ago, with features such as Move Minutes and Heart Points also included.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Mobile

iFixit's teardown might show the reason the Galaxy Fold keeps breaking

The Samsung Galaxy Fold has arrived, and it goes on sale soon. Folding out from a 4.6-inch display to a tablet-sized 7.3-inch display, this unique device has six cameras, two batteries, and special software to help you use multiple apps.
Home Theater

Don't need sports or local channels? Philo can save you some cash

Philo is an affordable live TV streaming service, with an impressive channel list and feature set. With more hardware support, unlimited DVR, and greatly improved TV Everywhere features, the service is now even easier to recommend.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Mobile

Stunning photo shows Honor 20 will get the full Moschino designer treatment

Honor will launch the Honor 20 on May 21, at an event taking place in London. A special Moschino version will also be revealed, potentially with a Lite version, and perhaps even another model also showing up on the day.
Mobile

Leak says Huawei will supply 5G equipment to the U.K., but with a caveat

A leak from the U.K.'s National Security Council says Huawei has been approved to supply certain 5G infrastructure equipment, but not the core components related to secure aspects of the network.
Mobile

Smash your carrier shackles with the best unlocked phones

If you want the freedom to switch carriers at will or you prefer to get your phone directly from the company that makes it, you'll want to buy an unlocked smartphone. These are the best unlocked phones you can buy in the U.S.
Mobile

Google Assistant for Android and iOS wants to tell you a story

Just in time for National Tell a Story Day on April 27, Google has added the ability for Google Assistant for iOS and Android to read you a story. So now there's no excuse for not catching up with a good book.
Android

Here's how much it will cost to buy the Galaxy S10 5G, and when it releases

Samsung announced a whopping four new Galaxy S10 devices, from the low-cost S10e to the triple-camera S10 and S10 Plus. But it's the Galaxy S10 5G that steals the show, as it will be the first 5G-ready smartphone to hit the market.
Mobile

Verizon reveals 20 new cities that will get its 5G network in 2019

Verizon is in the midst of a massive 5G rollout. In addition to fixed 5G service, it has also begun deploying mobile 5G. Here's everything you need to know about Verizon's 5G network, including when it will be in your town.
Mobile

Bothering the bots: Funny questions and commands to pose to Google Assistant

Communicating with Google Assistant can be a chore. Luckily, there are plenty of fun questions and commands to add a little entertainment to your oft-rigid conversation. Here are some of our favorites.
Mobile

Protect your gadget with our rundown of the best iPhone 6S cases and covers

If you’ve been wondering what kind of stylish cover or protective case is still available for the iPhone 6S, take a step inside and look at our top picks for the best iPhone 6s cases. From style to protection, we've got you covered.
Computing

George Clooney and Microsoft’s TrialWatch hopes to put a spotlight on injustice

Microsoft and The Clooney Foundation for Justice unveiled the TrialWatch app Thursday during an event at Columbia University — a new tool in CFJ’s ongoing effort to shine a light on injustice in courts around the globe.