• App Finder's Data
  • The Country Settings
  • Search Queries
  • Relevance Sort
  • Reading the Result List
  • Using the Result List
  • Adjusting the User Interface
  • Search Query Syntax
  • Further Help and Support

User Guide

While App Finder was designed to be easy and intuitive to use, some things still require explanation. It is therefore highly recommended to read this guide.

App Finder's Data

App Finder has data from Google Play for 3,700,000+ apps and games (3,000,000+ available in the US), with local prices, age ratings, and user ratings for all 200+ supported countries / regions.

The data is updated at least with the following frequencies:

  • Every 2 days, the country-independent data (incl. global rating) and the data for the US is updated for the 650,000+ apps with 50+ ratings.
  • Every 2 weeks, the country-independent data (incl. global rating) and the data for the US is updated for all apps.
  • Every 2 months, all data is updated for all apps.

New apps are added continuously.

The Country Settings

App Finder always searches and displays the data for a specific country. When the app is started for the first time, this "search-country" is set based on the current IP address, but it can be changed from the Settings menu.

Please note that presently, App Finder searches in English only, irrespective of the selected country.

In the User Ratings dialog from the Settings menu, you can select between country-average and world-average user ratings. There is also an option to see both at the same time.

Note that the world-average ratings are available for many more apps and may be more reliable for less popular apps as they are based on the opinion of many more people.

Introduction to Search Queries

To get the best results, you should understand how queries are matched against the apps, and you should know the operators available to refine the search. There are some important differences to the Play Store search.

First note that App Finder returns all and only apps where all words / phrases from the query occur (if operators are not used to request something else). Different word forms (like the plural) count as occurrences.

This is different from the Play Store search, which also returns apps where not all words from the query appear (if quotes are not used), and does not return less popular apps where all words do occur if there are many results.

App Finder's approach has the following advantages:

  • You won't miss apps just because they are not popular.
  • You will see less irrelevant apps.
  • A meaningful result count can be shown, so that you can adjust the query and filters if there are more or less results than you want to inspect.

To make sure that you don't miss apps, it is essential that you think of different words / phrases that the developers may have used to describe the functionality you're looking for, and include them in the query using the / operator (see below).

This is especially important since App Finder currently does not consider synonyms automatically (there will be an option soon to include synonyms).

To exclude irrelevant apps, quotes and the plus and minus operators are very effective.

The essentials of App Finder's query evalutaion and the most important operators are described in the following section. For all details, see the Search Query Reference below.

Search Query Essentials

  • If the query consists just of "normal" words separated by spaces, exactly those apps are returned where all the words (or forms of them) appear in app name, developer name, summary, or description.
  • Quotes can be used to search for phrases, i.e. sequences of words. For example, "learn languages".

    Other than with the Play Store, different word forms are allowed. For example, the query above would also match learning language.

  • / is App Finder's OR-operator. It can be used to allow alternatives to words or phrases. For example, draw/paint.

    / can also be used inside quotes. For example, "file manager/explorer" means that file must occur followed by manager or explorer.

  • + can be used to require words or phrases to occur in app name or summary (the short description that appears in the result list). For example, +browser.
  • - can be used to exclude words or phrases. It can be combined with + to exclude them only from title and short description.

For an example, consider a search for file managers. Since we want the words file and manager to occur in sequence, we use quotes: "file manager".

Since file managers are sometimes called file explorer, we allow explorer as alternative to manager: "file manager/explorer".

Since file managers can be expected to have file manager or file explorer in title or summary, we finally add a plus: +"file manager/explorer".

Relevance Sort

While the other sort options are quite clear, some explanation is needed for the default relevance sort.

Here the results are ranked by a combination of a query match score and a user rating and popularity score.

Apps are assigned a high query match score if your keywords appear prominently (i.e. in app title, summary, or early in the description), or frequently.

The user rating and popularity score is calculated from the average user rating, the number of ratings, and the recent number of downloads per month (see below).

While a high user rating and popularity score is an indication that an app is much liked by many people, it is of course no guarantee for the quality of the app.

We do not recommend the apps at the beginning of the list over the other apps.

No Ads / Removable Ads Filer

This filter is not completely accurate. It returns the apps that don’t contain ads or do have in-app purchases (that is, it removes the apps that contain ads but don’t have in-app purchases).

The idea is that apps with ads and in-app purchases probably offer a purchase to remove the ads, while apps with ads but no in-app purchases very likely don’t have an option to remove the ads.

Downloads per Month

As an indication of the current popularity of an app, the current number of downloads per month can be shown.

The increase of this number vs. the maximum of the downloads per month for the previous 3 months is then also shown, if there is one. This value marks "trending apps" quantitatively.

The numbers are calculated from suitable historical data from Google Play. Due to occasional delays of up to about 30 days in the update of the download data on Google Play and our limited scraping frequencies (see above), the numbers may be imprecise and some weeks outdated.

The sort option Downloads / month increase sorts by the absolute increase of downloads per month (which is not directly shown). For the relative increase, tap the % sign.

App Sizes

The sizes shown are the approximate download sizes.

Since Google Play generates device-specific installation files, the sizes vary with the device. The sizes for your device may in some cases be up to about 50% less than shown in App Finder, or some % more than shown.

For apps where the size varies much with the device, or where we are not able to determine the size exactly, a range is shown. When the size-filter is applied, all apps are returned where this size range overlaps with the filter range.

Reading the Result List

Please note: The information in this and the next section can also be shown under the result list (tap the info-icon).

  • The number left of the stars is the average user rating as calculated by Google Play. (Local or global, according to the User Ratings dialog from the Settings menu.)
  • The stars indicate the rating distribution:

    The size of the stars is proportional to the number of 5-, 4-, 3-, 2-, and 1-star ratings (from green to red).

    Between different apps, the star-size is correlated with the total number of ratings at a logarithmic scale.

  • You can tap the rating to see a list of all global and local ratings and rating distributions.
  • The numbers of ratings and downloads refer to the whole world, as on Google Play.
  • Paid apps without an indication do not contain ads.
  • For apps with in-app purchases, the price range is shown bottom right.
  • A + after the result count indicates that only the app summaries have been searched, not the full descriptions. This is to show you the most relevant apps in the case of searches with very many results.

    You can double-tap the result count above the result list to repeat the search without the limitation.

Using the Result List

  • Tap the icon of an app to view it in the Play Store, tap somewhere else to see the details in App Finder.

    You can swipe the details-view left / right to view the next / previous app.

    In the details-view, you'll also find options to view the apps on the Google Play website, which makes it possible to see reviews in different languages.

  • To change the size of the screenshots, use two fingers anywhere on the result list as if you would zoom a photo (requires a Plus license).

    To hide or show the screenshots, tap the picture-icon above the list.

  • For more or less data, to change the text size and imaga resolutions, and for user rating options, tap the cog-icon above the list.

Adjusting the User Interface

To change the size of text and other elements, select Screen Zoom from the Settings menu.

The screen orientation is locked to portrait on phones and to landscape on tablets by default. However, it can be unlocked in the Display Options from the Settings menu.

Depending on the screen-size, -orientation, and -zoom, a 1-, 2-, or 3-pane layout is used.

A dark theme can be selected from the Display Options.

Search Query Reference

Please note: This reference is also available from the Help-menu directly.

App Finder evaluates search queries according to the following rules:

  • By default, app name, package name, developer name, summary, description, and the What's new notice are searched.
  • The search is case-insensitive, and different forms of a word are equated. The following examples show for common cases what App Finder considers as forms of the same word:

    file = files = file’s

    quick = quickly, but quickquickerquickest

    edit = edits = edited = editing, but edit editor

    If you are unsure whether certain word forms are equated, you need to experiment.

    In the following, we will say that a word must occur to mean that some form of the word must occur.

  • If the query consists only of normal words separated by spaces, then exactly those apps are returned where all the words occur.
  • Words inside quotes are required to appear in sequence. We'll call this phrases.

    Other than with Google, different word forms are allowed. Quotes around a single word have no effect currently.

  • If words or phrases are separated by /, only one of them is required to appear.

    No spaces are required around /.

    / can also be used inside quotes For example, "file manager/explorer" means that file must occur followed by manager or explorer.

  • The usual OR is also supported.

    Contrary to /, it is evaluated after the spaces. For example, file manager OR explorer means that both the words file and manager, or the word explorer must appear.

  • + in front of a word or phrase requires it to occur in title or summary.
  • - in front of a word or phrase requires it to not occur.

    + and - can be combined to exclude words only from title and summary.

  • # searches for app name by prefix. For example, #whats.
    @ searches for developer name by prefix. For example, @skyi.

    If the terms include spaces, these must be replaced by +, or parentheses must be used.
    For example, #app+fi or #(app fi).

    Quotes can be used to require full match instead of prefix-match, for example @"skype".

  • The order of operations is #, @, /, +, -, the spaces, OR. Parentheses can be used to change the order.

App Finder's search is based on PostgreSQL's text search. The Snowball dictionary without stop words is used to equate word forms.

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