Finding apps is not always the easiest through the Play Store. More often than not smaller apps are brushed to the side and struggle to gain popularity. Now, some of them will get lucky and some blog might pick them up, but for the rest the future looks dim. There is really no easy way to find apps similar to ones that you already have. Well, that is until now. A small team has developed one of the best options for finding related apps. Mapsaurus, is still in an early stage, but it has already proven its’ usefulness and has started to fill a much needed gap in the app world. The team was nice enough to respond to a few questions regarding the future of Mapsaurus, as well as provide some background along with inspiration for the app.
A Gap to Fill
While there are already several ways to exploren apps within the Play Store, there really aren’t many without many faults. Most of them are an aesthetic wreck, littered with bugs and just do not work as intended. The only half way decent application the Play Store had for finding new apps was Chomp. Chomp was acquired by Apple a few months ago and pulled from the Play Store. Unfortunately, until now, nobody had really stepped up to the plate to provide a similar experience for users.
In Comes Mapsaurus
The first place many of us discovered Mapsaurus was through Reddit. The Mapsaurus team posted about how they were college seniors who had spent a majority of their time developing this app. I was intrigued about how the application was executed and decided to press on and discover for myself what Mapsaurus had to offer. After firing up the Nexus 7 and navigating to the Play Store I was disappointed to discover that the application was not supported on tablets. Not to be swayed, I grabbed my Galaxy Nexus and dove into Mapsaurus.
First impressions were pretty good, the UI was easy enough to understand and looked good enough. It isn’t the most beautiful application I have seen, but you can hardly say that it looks bad. Mapsaurus scans your device and creates a grid of all of your currently installed applications. To find something similar to an application you own simply double tap it within the grid. Mapsaurus will display this in the center of the screen and branch off into three other similar apps. Then you can double tap one of the apps in the branches and that app will be branched into four other apps. Eventually you could probably run out of apps to branch to, but the lowest I was able to get was two branches. Back on the home page under the currently installed apps there are several categories that will branch off based on the subject such as social, record audio, timer etc. The accuracy of the related apps can be a little sketchy at times. I’m not sure what type of process Mapsaurus uses to find similar apps, but for the more popular apps and games it is pretty spot on in regards to finding closely related things. For the smaller apps though, it was hard to tell how some of the apps were related to the one I had chosen. Things should only get better with time though.
You are also able to adjust variables related to the search. You can set Mapsaurus to only display apps over a certain rating, base it off of the number of installs, maturity of the app and the price. Overall, Mapsaurus is definitely worth giving a try on your phone. Personally, I’ve been able to discover several great games over the past few days with Mapsaurus and have been extremely satisfied with the results. Mapsaurus is free so you have nothing to lose. Give it a try and let the Mapsaurus team know how you feel. There is also a web version of Mapsaurus. It looks and functions wonderfully and can be find over at www.mapsaurus.com.
The Mapsaurus dev team was nice enough to respond to a couple of questions via e-mail and provide some very detailed responses. These were things I had seen swirling around the internet and some personal inquires I had.
Could you provide me with a brief background on how this app came to be and who you guys are ?
We’re rising seniors at Princeton University who want to help users find the apps that don’t make it onto the leaderboards and have been working on Mapsaurus since June 5 with the support of Tigerlabs summer accelerator. The idea for Mapsaurus came about when we went out for coffee together at the beginning of the accelerator, realized we needed to pivot hard from our previous idea, and just started throwing around ideas. The app is the result of scrapping many previous iterations in the attempt to produce a map interface that prioritizes easy exploration and rapid evaluation instead of data visualization. Former iterations have included a springy physics simulation that was really cool but really distracting, and a really ugly attempt at evoking a starry sky.
About us: Danny is a Philosophy major with minors in Computer Science and Finance, the rest of us are Computer Science majors. We’re all nerds. Danny, Kenrick and Evan met in band. Alice spent her childhood drawing and writing basic websites instead of talking to people. Kenrick spent his childhood modding and programming games instead of talking to people. You get the gist.
Also, do you have any plans on the future regarding a price model?
It’s extremely important for us to play a positive role in the app ecosystem, and we’d like to do that by making users more aware of what’s out there. To that end, we want to start by developing a wide user base and eventually monetize by promoting apps. Developers would bid for their apps to be placed near relevant and frequently searched apps, much like Google’s Adwords. We also plan to expand to iOS, where we can get revenue from affiliate links. At the moment we’re looking for funding so we can continue to develop the application and increase our user base.
We plan on keeping our service free to users.
The last thing is I noticed that it isn’t compatible with tablets, can we expect to see this soon?
The Android app can currently be used on tablets, but is not yet optimized for it. We’re shooting to optimize the Android app for portrait and landscape viewing on tablets within the next two weeks and to adapt the UI of the website for touch screens by then as well.
As you can see there are some exciting things that are heading to Mapsaurus. You can find it on the play store through the link provided below.