Searching the Apple appStore

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to search the app store, and rank results by ratings or downloads or price? Apple controls all this for you and gives you one ranking, but it would be great for us to have control.

How about a quick app to:

  1. enter search criteria (key words + optional category)
  2. download current app Data from appStore XML feed
  3. select apps that match on basis of search criteria
  4. present list of apps to user
  5. go back to app store to pick up data for selected apps (asynchronously in background?)
  6. allow users to re-sort results by selected criteria

Wrinkles to this include:

  • how much data is available. Max rss feed is 300 items, but there are 20 categories + free/paid => 12000 items
  • how to manage data. Wouldn’t want to download rankings all the time => cache data
  • how to manage search. If users don’t select category, then could search across all cats (slow if real time) and use this to then drill down. But better to cache data
  • Apple probably wouldn’t like this! Bet they have something in T&C about not storing data, or even republishing it.

But would make a great web services project!

Apple RSS feed for top 300 social apps

p.s. someone has already had the same idea at uQuery.com. Nice selection on the side, although their basic ranking is a bit flakey. Don’t know where they get their app data from.

Could also do the same using a Google search as source for initial search data: site:itunes.apple.com/us/app Q – Google Search returns approx 143,000 results, although you are stuck parsing HTML and Google does not like simple programmatic access and would need to check/spoof headers/parameter values

Yahoo may be be better, e.g http://search.yahooapis.com/WebSearchService/V1/webSearch?appid=YahooDemo&query=Q&site=itunes.apple.com/us/app as this will return XML and is geared up as proper service. Or could use YQL if only could work out how to restrict search to a specific site…

Basic app page in the store has URL like http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/echofon-for-twitter/id286756410?mt=8

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