Considering how great its other products are, there’s little contesting the fact that Apple’s search functions have traditionally sucked.
That remains true to this day, although improvements are slowly being made — and proof of this is the newly-uncovered acquisition of a search startup called Ottocat, which now powers the “explore” tab in the App Store.
TechCrunch, which reported the acquisition, thinks it took place in 2013, since in October that year Ottocat’s website was replaced with a short message reading: “Ottocat is no longer available.” Since Ottocat only developed a working prototype in January that year, and opened its first public beta in May, that means the company was in existence for less than one year before Apple snapped it up and put it to work.
In a nutshell, the company’s aim was to come up with a way of ordering the App Store by replacing the random guesses of keywords with more specific subcategories to allow users to “drill down” to find what it is that they were looking for.
Ottocat claimed that it had indexed the entirety of the App Store, and also provided data on average star ratings, app popularity, and info concerning when apps were last updated. Much of this will now be recognizable to users of the App Store.
Ottocat’s serial entrepreneur co-founder Edwin Cooper’s previous startup, InQuira, now powers the search feature on Apple’s support website.