The Play Store’s search feature is downright laughable, especially when you consider that it’s built by the same company that has successfully indexed most of the web and made it easy to find any page or image or video with plenty of options to whittle down your request. New search filters in the Play Store hope to fix that issue at least a little.
A few years ago, Google started testing search filters in the Play Store, but those didn’t show up consistently and never rolled out for everyone. They later disappeared and we were left wondering whether we’d ever see filters again until last May when they re-appeared in a new look. Now, those filters seem to be rolling out widely: Many of us have spotted them in the Play Store on various devices and in different countries. They seem to have been enabled server-side, as we can see them on slightly older versions of the Store too, including v21.0.17, which goes back to July 15.
The filters aren’t super consistent. Sometimes, you’ll see a single 4.5+ star filter, nothing else. Other times, you’ll find both 4+ and 4.5+ star filters, plus ones for Premium or New apps.
If the word you’re looking for is a known brand name like Spotify, Gmail, Outlook, Netflix, Hulu, Audible, WhatsApp, etc… you won’t see any filters, which might make sense since you’re likely gonna find it in the first result. But add “utility” or “tool” to it (i.e. “Spotify utility” or “WhatsApp tool”) and you’ll get the filters back. In those instances, I was able to trigger almost all filters together: 4+ star, 4.5+ star, Editor’s Choice, Premium, and New. You can select as many filters as you want from the offered options, to help narrow down the results as much as possible.
At no point did I see a filter for free apps or ad-free apps, which serves Google’s interest more than ours, nor did I see filters for download numbers, top apps, or app size in MB. I also wish the filters were sticky and always available instead of relying on Google’s whim to pop up. But at least this is the first time in the Play Store’s history where search filters appear to be widely available for all users, and that’s long, long overdue. Let’s hope they stick around this time.