Quixey has a novel way to shake up how we find mobile apps: let people type in their requests using normal language, and the company will dig up the appropriate program.
Sounds pretty basic, right? Unfortunately, it's not how the big app stores operate. Unless you know the name of the app, or are willing to scroll through lists of apps under a category, there really isn't a great way to narrow down the app you really need.
Quixey believes it has a better way. You want an app that tracks your run? Just type that out and it will bring you the best apps. Guru Gowrappan, executive vice president of product for Quixey, called the current app store paradigm of searching by name "version 1.0" of how we search for apps. Quixey believes it can usher in version 2.0, which mimics the standard Internet search where users can describe what they want.
"We're still in 1.0 world with how app stores work," Gowrappan told CNET. "It's a really basic level, and that's really wrong for the user."
Quixey has slowly built up its credibility silently powering other app search engines, most notably Sprint's own app store and Ask.com. It made some waves after Chinese search giant Alibaba.com led a $50 million funding round for the company. But it made its biggest move into the consumer arena on Wednesday by launching a search app on Android.
So far, Quixey has garnered positive reviews on Google Play, even if the numbers (a 4.7 average on 79 reviews) aren't that impressive. Ironically, as an app designed to help people find apps, Quixey doesn't have a good way to let people find its app.
Quixey is, however, a potential solution for what has been an ongoing problem for developers: getting their apps discovered. With so many apps in just one app store -- Apple's App Store, for instance, boasts more than 1 million -- plenty of apps, including quality programs, get lost in the shuffle.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based company aims to make it smarter. It considers itself a search platform first and employs a number of factors in generating results including customer ratings and popularity.
Finding the right app is only the beginning. Quixey eventually wants to deepen the search results to find the right capability within apps, including apps that you already have.
Kayak, for instance, has the ability to track flight prices, a feature that not everyone may not necessarily know about. Quixey can find and highlight it for users.
"There's so much content trapped within an app," Gowrappan said. "It's unfair that it takes several steps to get to that content."
Ultimately, Quixey wants to break the "walled gardens" of the various operating systems and run searches across platforms, regardless of whether it's an iOS, Android, or Windows Phone, or even Windows 8 and Web apps.
That, of course, isn't quite possible right now, but Gowrappan said such a goal is quarters away, and not years away.
"Going deep is where we're going to break gardens," he said.
While Quixey has a lot of ambitious ideas, it is starting much smaller. The company chose to build an app for Android first because it represented the largest potential base of users, which best helps the company fine tune its search mechanics and get the most feedback. Gowrappan said he doesn't expect to move to another platform for at least another few months.
The app, which is available for free, doesn't generate any revenue for now. But Quixey will eventually begin introducing sponsored app suggestions in the next few weeks. The company already employs sponsored apps with its search partners.
Ultimately it styles itself as a Google for apps, and maybe even more.
"The mission for us: we want to be the gateway into the world where anything you want to do is at your fingertips," Gowrappan said.