iPad App Store Gets Multiple Usability Improvements


Apple quietly updated the iPad version of the App Store this morning, adding a number of improvements clearly aimed at enhancing user experience. The changes include filters for search results, and new “Update” and “Install” contextual buttons when browsing the App Store catalog.

The filters are probably the most useful. They appear along the top of the results returned when you enter a term and hit the search button. Filter categories include Category, Release Date, Customer Rating, Price and Device, and there’s a final option that allows you to reset them all.

One of the other two new feature additions are great if you, like me, buy and delete so many apps that you can’t remember which ones you’ve already purchased. It’s a replacement of an app’s price button (which you normally tap to make a purchase) that displays “Install” when you’ve already bought the item using your iTunes account on another device or computer, or when you’d just removed it from your iPad. It’s happened more than once that I incorrectly remember having bought an app in the past, only to incur new and unexpected charges when it turns out I haven’t, so this is a very welcome change.

Finally, the App Store will also now display an “Update” button in place of the app’s price when it’s already installed on your device but requires updating to the latest version. Before, you had to navigate to the Updates tab in the App Store to discover and install pending updates. If you have a huge library of apps installed on your device, and you’re not very diligent about checking for updates, this could come in handy.

None of the above improvements require an update to your device, and should be available the next time you launch the iPad App Store application. The changes haven’t made their way to the iPhone or iPod touch App Stores yet, and it’s unknown whether or not they eventually will. While search filters might be harder to implement on smaller screens, I expect to see the “Install” and “Update” button eventually make their way to Apple’s more portable iOS devices.

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