With the App Store now home to nearly two million apps, Apple appears to be testing a new feature to make search results more contextual.
As noted in the MacRumors forums and on Twitter, some iPhone users in recent weeks have started to see tags in the App Store after searching for a popular term like “photos” or “wallpaper.” After searching for “photos,” for example, some of the tags that can be selected include “collage” or “editor” or “storage.”
After tapping on a tag, the search results are curated accordingly. If a user searches for “photos” and then taps “collage,” for example, the search results will be narrowed down to apps that can be used to make photo collages. In some cases, a second tag can be selected to narrow down the search results even further, as shown above.
As of now, it appears that the tags are only visible to a small number of users in the United States. Many users that see the tags are running the iOS 14.5 beta, but one user claimed to see them on iOS 14.4.2, so it is possible that the tags could be a server-side change that will eventually be expanded to more users on multiple iOS versions.
Apple’s website says 70% of App Store visitors use search to find apps, so the search tags should benefit many users. In 2016, Apple introduced Search Ads, allowing developers to pay Apple to have their app listing shown at the top of the search results based on the app’s relevance to the user’s search query, among other factors.
iOS 14.5 has been in beta testing since February 1, with the seventh beta seeded this week. Apple said the software update will be released in “early spring,” and in a recent interview, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the updates will be released in “just a few weeks.”