7 things Apple can do to REALLY clean up the App Store - Macenstein

7 things Apple can do to REALLY clean up the App Store

When Apple decided to make its somewhat arbitrary iTunes “porn” (and I use the term loosely) purge last month, one of the made up reasons it gave for justifying the move was that developers and customers were finding it hard to find quality apps amidst all the “adult” material. Well as we saw, removing those 5,000 apps (or less than 3% of all apps) did more or less nothing to fix the issue.

While we certainly do not wish to see ANY developers’ livelihood taken away from them (adult themed or otherwise) we have come up with a list of apps that are causing far more damage to the iTunes store than the adult apps ever did. So if Apple actually IS serious about cleaning up the app store and helping developers get noticed, here’s 7 sure fire ways they could do just that.

1) Get rid of ALL slider puzzles. Who is buying these any way? What once was a throw away crappy party favor when we were 5 now makes up 1/150th of all total apps, and there is zero quality control (or copyright enforcement) going on here. I get the feeling there must be developer code readily available on the web outlining how to create a slider puzzle, and a group of very lazy developers are cranking out slider puzzles on a daily basis โ€“ usually trying to charge 99ยข for each puzzle which contains only ONE picture. There are well over 1,000 of these apps on iTunes and more coming in every day.

This particular developer sells separate slider puzzles for (among other things) Sunsets, flowers, and horses.

2) Get rid of all “+Points” apps. Prestige Points, Honor Points, Legend Points, Reward Points, Loyalty Points… call them what you will, if you’re selling them on iTunes, you suck. There’s well over 1000 of these “apps” as we speak, and they clog up the app store like nobody’s business. If you’re going to sell cheap crap like this, at least make ONE APP and let people buy points via an in-app purchase. Selling 6 apps with different point amounts is insane.

3) Get rid of all foreign language apps.
Or better yet, create a separate “international” section of the app store (right next to the Adult section you should create). I’m sorry, but I can’t even read the name of this app, much less the description, so with all due respect to the small segment of US residents who understand what these app might be, it’s clogging it up for the rest of us.

4) Clean out the “Trivia” games. Just like the slider puzzles, “Trivia” developers have flooded the market with a slew of lazy, cookie cutter apps. You like the Mets? (My condolences)There’s a trivia app for them (dozens, actually). You like the Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey team? There’s (inexplicably) a trivia app for that too. These wouldn’t bother me so much if the developers would combine them into one sports trivia app with categories (or even if they broke it down by SPORT), but for a company to offer 16 pages of narrowly focused $2 trivia apps seems lame.

These 2 developers have 9 and 16 PAGES of trivia apps on iTunes. Was consolidation REALLY not possible?

5) Take down all the obviously non-sanctioned apps featuring copywriten characters.
I don’t expect the iTunes police to know EVERY character from every cartoon, movie, or video game, however, to tell me they don’t know who Mario, Donkey Kong, Sonic, Pac-Man etc. are is just plain ridiculous. Trust me, it will be some time before Nintendo starts making apps for the iPhone. How these apps get approved is beyond me.

I’m not saying I’m positive, but something tells me these guys didn’t get SEGA/Nintendo’s permission to sell their intellectual property.

6) Take out all “gouge the customer” apps. This would take a little more effort on the iTunes screeners’ part in that they would have to take a quick look at the OTHER titles the developer is offering, but take a look the following example:

This is pathetic, and there’s hundreds of similar cases.

These apps do sort of a “hangman/wheel of fortune” thing where you try to guess a word in as few turns as possible. The problem? They are trying to sell an entirely new game for EACH LETTER OF THE ALPHABET. Wow. Is this for people who REALLY love J and O words, but can’t stand the thought of solving a puzzle with an R word? Similar to the pathetic slider puzzles and trivia puzzles I mentioned above, Apple should ask developers who are too stupid to realize they might actually make some money if they tried to sell ONE app with REAL value instead of 26 much lamer ones, to combine similar-content apps if they get this out of control.

7) Remove any app that has not sold a copy in the last 6 months.
Just as nature will occasionally start a forest fire to clear out all the dead brush that is choking the forest floor so that new trees can grow, so too must Apple be ruthless and get rid of the apps that NO ONE wants. I’m sorry, but if you have not made 99ยข in the last 6 months from your app (minus Apple’s commission), I think you need to learn to take a hint.


There are many overcrowded categories on iTunes, and there are certainly a wealth of low-quality apps. However, low quality in general is not what I am rallying against here, as taste is a subjective thing. It would be easy to say “clear out the fart apps, the tip calculators, the virtual lighters, etc”, however as lame as those apps may be, there IS a difference. Those apps are designed to do one thing only, and they do it. The tip calculator sellers are not selling one version for calculating a tip in an Italian restaurant, one for a Japanese restaurant, and the fart apps are not selling separate “wet fart”, “squeaky fart”, and “broccoli fart” apps. The apps that should be removed are those made by the greedy and inconsiderate developers that feel quantity will make them richer than quality. It is this bizarre mentality that if left unchecked will eventually choke the life out of the iTunes store and keep legitimate developers apps from getting the air they need to thrive.

20 Responses to “7 things Apple can do to REALLY clean up the App Store”
  1. Sounds like some very good ways to clean up the store. I hope Apple does it – but leave all my apps up – even the silly ones : )

  2. mike says:

    You missed my favorite clutter app: the book applications that are a single (usually public domain at that!) book bundled with a scummy e-book reader. Much better just to buy one of the good ebook readers and download the version from manybooks.net, or elsewhere.

    I suspect this may be the most likely to happen, as such apps will be competing with an Apple product once the iPad launches.

  3. Dave says:

    Just for the record: the reason those diamond letter apps have 26 versions are because they are not meant to be bought and sold for the actual game.

    The game is to get around the App Store’s rules about not having useless apps, because what those are actually for is for people to buy the ones that spell out their name and arrange the icons on their iPhone to say it. I have seen different versions of those with different fonts, and in some cases they make certain letters free apps so you only have to pay for maybe half the letters in your name. Lame, and Apple should definitely clamp down on these.

    The copyrighted characters one I cannot understand either at ALLLL. I mean think how many people search for “Super Mario” on the iphone, and that sound app comes up first and I guarantee there are TONS of people who don’t read the description, just see the thing and insta-buy it thinking they’re getting a Mario game.

    Most of the other ones you mentioned I haven’t ever run into so I dunno, I am not super-against them.. I mean if they hardly get shown to a user, then I don’t mind tooo much. But maybe I just haven’t searched the app store enough to run into them a lot.

  4. Joel says:

    That’s all well and good but good luck getting Apple’s attention on this I hope someone can though. It seem’s like Apple will turn into another “PC” company if Apple stop’s listening to us ( I’m not bashing Apple I own a Mac.) I’m just saying. I’m speaking my mind.

  5. Marc says:

    I agree 100% its frustrating to see whats new and nothing but crap comes up does anybody really buy slider apps. but I kinda disagree with the fart apps 1 or 2 OK but there’s way to many I love Practical jokes like any1 else but geez. I really hope apple listens though. Who is to blame the lazy developers or the apple employees that approves them?

  6. Don says:

    You have a lot of really good ideas and I support all of them. I don’t find I struggle on the app store because I mainly buy things brought to my attention from websites, like this one or other recommendations, but I see the problem you highlight.

    I also need to research the broccoli fart as I have not heard about this particular fart before!

  7. SilentCry says:

    Ad Point #6. the author just misses the point. Those apps are for those who want to spell a word on their iPhone screen. I guess the underlaying App itself is totally unimportant. But if you present a new iPhone to the woman you love it might be worth having a diamond written
    on the first screen.

  8. Andy says:

    Interesting post. I was actually considering calling my new software company “Crapware”. I guess now I can count on Apple insisting I change the company name before putting my app on the App Store. Oh well, so much for just havin’ fun at the “Establishment”‘s expense.

  9. Victor says:

    Whilst we are getting rid of all the foreign language apps, we should also delete all the English apps as well. After all, English is a foreign language for the vast majority of people!

  10. Phil says:

    I totally agree with you on everything you said about the App Store. It’s hard enough to find good apps with all the 15,000+ ones fighting for our attention. But those crApps that no sane being would ever willingly install on their iPhone should simply be removed. Or consolidated. Or shipped off to Australia.

  11. Marc says:

    Now these are some actual, worthwhile suggestions, and it’s what Apple should be focusing on a lot more than an anti-porn crusade (though I do think that sexually-oriented apps, even non-porn ones, should be in their own category). Really, pulling apps that have sat for more than a year without a single purchase would probably get 90% of the garbage (then again, maybe not), but might result in an increased load on the reviewers when these devs resubmit the apps after “improving” them in attempt to get relisted. Or not–maybe even they don’t care if it hasn’t made money for that long, there’s just no benefit in removing them.

    The problem with the rest of the categories is codifying them. To avoid coming across as random and jerkwad-ish, Apple has to (or rather SHOULD, if they’re at all going to be decent about it) have specific things in the submission guidelines under which the spam apps fall. Writing them such that they can effectively cover the garbage without dinging “real” apps is a challenge.

    Having language-specific sections would also be nice, and I say that coming from a bilingual household–I am very, VERY glad that the App store isn’t going to be another “you get exactly the music and videos licensed for your particular country, nothing else” like the iTunes store. Having language-specific sections would actually help multilingual users, too–it would be nice to be able to, for example, look through Japanese-language apps without getting spillover Chinese-language ones that might have the same search terms due to writing similarities.

    The bargain-bin paperback books are the other touchy one; I could think of legitimate reasons to want to, say, sell your interactive comic book as its own app, rather than through an eReader store. Maybe iBooks will be set up such that the temptation isn’t there, but it’d be a shame to ding “real” standalone-book-apps alongside cookie-cutter public domain text ones.

  12. Eldav says:

    “Remove foreign-language apps” ? Great idea, all these English-speaking apps were cluttering the AppStore anyway ๐Ÿ˜‰

    No, seriously, don’t be so narrow-minded, puh-leeeeze! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Justin says:

    In complete agreement with this article, and with Mike’s suggested addition of book “apps”. It seems a tad fallacious to quote the number of apps available in the app store when half of them are garbage.

  14. Mark says:

    Great suggestions. One more way to clean up the store is doing some quality check on the language learning apps. Some are just lists of words riddled with mistakes. It doesn’t help people learn if what they are learning is wrong.
    At the same time Apple cannot check every single language learning app, so a simple reporting option where learners can notify of really bad mistakes could help weed out the worst apps and thus flag the companies that assemble them.

  15. Harold says:

    I agree 100%. I find it so bad, I have stopped going to the Apps Store. What a waste of time, and I’m retired with time to spare. One more problem is not enough subcategories that would make searches a lot easier and quicker.

  16. Chris O says:

    What about those “Survey apps”

    Like: What kind of lover am i? When am I going to die? What is my pornstar name? etc etc Stupid.

  17. blue says:

    I think that these ideas are all opposing the (hopefully) more open trend of the app store. I hope that apple will undergo a major shift to both organizing the app store and allowing an open marketplace with the addition of more categories and business models.

    That will make the app store better.

  18. SolarSaves says:

    It would be difficult for Apple to censor the apps more than they do now. And just because you (or somebody) doesn’t want to see them, doesn’t mean that somebody else really wants some of what you deem as “useless”.
    But if Apple could provide a “view/don’t view preferences filter” where you could check off the categories that you don’t care (or want your child to have access to) to view…
    Now that would be a welcome and workable upgrade to the App Store.

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