Explore Feature in App Store Powered by 'Ottocat' Technology Apple Acquired in 2013

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Apr 6, 2015.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot

    MacRumors

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    While most Apple acquisitions become public knowledge shortly after they happen, there are acquisitions that go largely under the radar until months or years afterwards. TechCrunch has recently learned of one such acquisition, which may have happened in 2013. Apple is said to have purchased Ottocat, a small startup specializing in search technology.

    Ottocat's technology is said to be behind the "Explore" app discovery function in the App Store. The Explore tab in the iOS App Store lets users find apps in different categories plus nearby apps.

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    According to TechCrunch, though there's little evidence on LinkedIn to suggest the acquisition happened, Ottocat co-founder Edwin Cooper was the author of a patent that was granted to Apple, which Cooper appears to have filed as an Apple employee. The patent, "System and Method for Divisive Textual Clustering by Label Selection Using Variant-Weighted TFDIF," which is related to the App Store's explore feature.

    TechCrunch has some information on how Ottocat worked, explaining that its technology aimed to introduce categories for better app discovery to assist users looking to find apps in specific areas when they didn't have an app in mind to search for, which sounds very similar to what the Explore feature in the App Store does.

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    Ottocat screenshot via TechCrunch
    The Ottocat website originally went down in October of 2013, so that may have been around the time that the acquisition occurred. The original error message stated "Ottocat is no longer available," but the website is now completely defunct. Explore was announced as an App Store addition in June of 2014.

    Article Link: Explore Feature in App Store Powered by 'Ottocat' Technology Apple Acquired in 2013
     
  2. Traverse macrumors 604

    Traverse

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    I find it much more useful than that "Popular Near Me" feature.
     
  3. RockSpider macrumors 6502a

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    It should tell you how much the app is going to eventually cost you, now that would be helpful.
     
  4. mi7chy macrumors 603

    mi7chy

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    Can you purchase apps and selectively install to any owned device from any browser like Google Play?
     
  5. taptic macrumors 65816

    taptic

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    The explore feature has been one of the best updates to the app store in awhile...
     
  6. Col4bin macrumors 68000

    Col4bin

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    Remember Apple's exclusive license for Liquidmetal--all that initial speculation and excitement from 5 years ago? So when that stuff officially starts showing up in Apple products, that will really blow people's minds....(Yup, still waiting.)
     
  7. FightTheFuture macrumors 65816

    FightTheFuture

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    The closest you can do to this is selecting "Automatic Downloads" on the iOS device in Settings > iTunes & App Store. This way when you purchase an app on another device, it will begin to download automatically on said iOS device. You cannot selectively send to a specific device.
     
  8. mi7chy macrumors 603

    mi7chy

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    Thanks but I usually have auto update turned off since I've had updates break functionality. Google Play lets me use my computer browser to manage all my devices even with different logins without having to physically touch each one. Very useful and hope to see it on Apple Play Store.
     
  9. John.B macrumors 601

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    I'm hoping Apple acquires a startup specializing in POI search technology, because the Yelp POI data still sucks.
     
  10. kalsta macrumors 68000

    kalsta

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    I'd like to see Apple find a way to make this kind of intelligent app organisation help us organise our apps on each device. Our iPads have hundreds of apps, and it makes sense to have similar apps grouped together on each screen. Manually dragging each app between 10 different screens is laborious and prone to frustration (apps sometimes refusing to go where you want, flow on effects when an app goes where you didn't mean it to, sometimes weird and unpredictable placement of apps that were previously hidden when you hit the maximum number of screens, etc). Managing apps has become the most cumbersome thing about using an iOS device IMO. I'm surprised Apple hasn't responded to this challenge with a really clever Apple-like solution yet.
     
  11. Parasprite macrumors 68000

    Parasprite

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    Too bad they didn't have some sort of folder-like system that you could drag everything into, with custom names and everything.

    I guess we'll have to wait and see what Apple has in store for us when iPhone OS 4 rolls out.
     
  12. kalsta macrumors 68000

    kalsta

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    Are you being deliberately obtuse, or just after laughs? Even if you like to have hundreds of apps crammed into nothing but folders on your home screen with multiple screens in each folder (which I don't), you still have to do this by manually dragging apps one by one.
     
  13. Parasprite, Apr 7, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015

    Parasprite macrumors 68000

    Parasprite

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    If I have anything complicated to do, I just rearrange them in iTunes. But that's rarely needed as I keep it organized once it's done.
     
  14. kalsta macrumors 68000

    kalsta

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    I've resorted to iTunes once or twice too, but don't you think that's an admission that things could be better on the iPad itself?

    Jonathan Ive and friends have this obsessive compulsion to forever simplify and remove clutter on the hardware side… but I bet most people's apps (beyond the home screen) are strewn about pretty randomly. When the iPhone was launched in 2007, third-party apps didn't exist—there were only a hand-full of built-in apps—so moving individual apps around with your finger was a perfectly efficient way of arranging them. The situation is different today, and the old method feels impractical and inefficient when you have hundreds of apps spread over multiple screens.

    I know I'd appreciate some kind of tool that helps me organise apps by various categories when setting up a new device (not so much once I've already spent hours doing it manually!) But maybe I'm in the minority. I know some people just use the search field to find their apps by name.

    PS. Sorry for the snarky reply last time.
     
  15. Parasprite macrumors 68000

    Parasprite

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    No worries. I was deliberately being obtuse for laughs. :p

    In all seriousness, I'm not sure exactly how they would make it easier to store things without getting overly complex. I mean I've seen a few novel ways to handle it (see BumpTop) but nothing that seemed to actually improve workflow.

    I suppose they could let you sort it by category where anything labeled "games" in the app store would fall into the Games folder. But this still doesn't help that much much since the apps aren't always going to be very related; several apps I know of that are labeled "Productivity" come to mind. It also doesn't scale well for very large numbers of apps.

    I don't know. I guess I'm kinda thinking out loud at this point. /shrug

    I do this even when I have only a few apps on there. It takes me a while to remembe where I put it. :rolleyes:
     

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14 April 6, 2015