Apple lets iPhone developers add search keywords

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When it comes to the App Store, it can sometimes seem like Apple just has a tendency to not put on its listening cap, as my fourth grade teacher would have said. In a week which has seen complaints from developers over issues as varied as application removal and the new rating system, Apple has responded by adding…keywords.

Yes, that’s right: developers can now add search keywords to the description of their applications, allowing them to expand the terms which will bring up their app on a search without having to overload the limited description field. This is a welcome improvement, of course, since it means not only avoiding overloading those description fields, but also helps developers expose their apps to wider audiences.

So, good, right? Well, unfortunately, as so often seems to happen with the App Store, the theory works better than the execution. Outspoken Instapaper developer Marco Arment noted in a blog post that the keyword entry is somewhat glitchy, with conflicting information on how many characters are allowed and limited help about how keywords are processed by the store’s search algorithm.

Another iPhone developer informed Macworld that keywords are frozen once entered, and can only be changed when the app is updated, potentially adding to the proliferation of minor updates that all must be run through the lengthy approval process, in turn making said process even lengthier.

Meanwhile, other more serious issues, such as a convoluted rating system and apps being rejected or removed with vague explanations, have many developers questioning the viability of iPhone app development as part of their bread-and-butter. But that's okay, because now they have search keywords.

Once again the App Store brings us one small step for a developer, and one giant trip/faceplant for developer-kind.

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