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

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.

Related: Load your iPad with the best apps in every category

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.

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