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Unintuitive App Stores Are a Drag

It’s no secret that I am constantly in search of the “perfect” task application. First it was finding something that would work well with Windows Phone 8, keeping a Live Tile updated with fresh information automatically. After lots of searching and testing, I found that in Clever-To-Do. Then in 2012 Windows 8 came along with its App Store. Finally a chance to sync up tasks/todos, like I did for many year via Outlook on my PCs and PocketPCs.

It took months, but I finally found Effectual, an ok app that syncs up nicely across my Windows 8 devices and Windows Phone. But the app is still missing a lot, like not automatically updating the Live Tile on the Windows 8 side. So my pursuit continues. I checked the Windows 8 Store today and there are 676 apps listed in a search for Tasks. And that’s in an App Store that is just getting started. But here is my problem. I am looking for a Task app, minimally with the following attributes;

– Offers both a Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 companion app

– Syncs seamlessly across both platforms without having to click on some silly “sync” button

– Offers a Live Tile on both platforms that at least shows you upcoming tasks, and maybe past dues, counts, etc.

But how do you find a short list of Task apps with those attributes? I can get a bit of an idea by reading the single sentence descriptions and filtering out those that definitely won’t meet the mark. But how do I keep track of which apps I have filtered in and out, based on description? Not sure about you, but I sure as hell can’t memorize 676 different app names. Most of the apps that offer syncing are paid, typically to support a server, so that’s another way of possibly filtering. But that’s no guarantee. The only real way to make sure no stone is left unturned is to open the detail for each of the 676 apps listed, read the specs and reviews, and create a short list (on paper) of the potential candidates. Figure that would take 35-40 hours, or a work week for a $5.00 app. Jeezz.

I have never visited Google Play and have spent very little time in the Apple App Store, so I can’t comment on how they work. But I am guessing the search criteria is equally limited, although the number of available options is exponentially larger. So maybe three or four work weeks to find an ideal app. Why can’t there be an intuitive tool for searching apps. Something that can read through the descriptions for each app and provide results based on keywords. I tried typing in “syncing tasks” and my list was narrowed down to 104 apps. But Effectual, the app I am currently using, didn’t make that list. So how can I be sure I didn’t miss something.

As App Stores grow larger and larger, there has to be a better way to find apps that meet certain criteria.  Otherwise, finding that special app you need can turn into a full time job. Needle in a haystack comes to mind.