Apple Implementing Changes to App Store Rankings to Promote Better App Discovery

Apple may be implementing some changes to the way that it ranks apps for its Top Charts in the App Store, reports TechCrunch, citing studies from a number of app analysis services. It appears that new factors, such as app ratings and user engagement, could be influencing app position and preventing developers from artificially inflating the rankings.

According to app marketing service Fiksu, app rankings began fluctuating in late July, favoring apps with ratings of four or more stars in the App Store. While those apps jumped to higher positions without a corresponding increase in downloads, apps with poor ratings saw their rankings fall.

fiskurankbyrating
Historically, apps have been ranked based on both download volume and velocity, allowing apps that garnered a high number of downloads in a short amount of time to shoot up the App Store charts. Fiksu also notes that App Store rank positions, which were previously updated in 15-minute intervals, now update once every three hours to prevent underhanded rank-gaming practices.

We suspect they are adding a 'buffer' period to prevent rank manipulation through short download bursts often associated with robotic downloads and other actions not in the best interests of the app ecosystem. Three hours allows enough time to identify anomalies and remove apps before they suddenly appear at the top of the rankings.

Niren Hiro of SearchMan told TechCrunch that user engagement may be a factor as well. Time spent within apps, the number of app opens, and ongoing usage are affecting category rankings, as noted in the chart below.

searchman
App Store search algorithms may also be changing, favoring improved app discovery. MobileDevHQ CEO Ian Sefferman cites an example involving a search for iPhone apps from the iPad. While such a search used to return an identical list of apps on both the iPad and the iPhone, the results are now different.

It remains unclear whether Apple is merely experimenting with its App Store rankings with these new inclusions or if it is in the process of making sweeping changes to the ranking process. App discovery has long been a work in progress for the company and efforts to improve its ranking algorithms could help users locate higher quality content.

Top Rated Comments

musika Avatar
100 months ago
I have a good idea! Make searching usable again!

Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kranchammer Avatar
100 months ago
These are things they should have been doing years ago. The app store is a total mess for both consumers and developers and Apple hasn't been helping. Better late than never, I guess, but they really need to stay on top of this, and quickly cut down the schemes that people will use to game the system (even when Apple fixes something, they will inevitably find another way to cheat).

A lot of developers are getting frustrated and with Android slowly looking like a more viable alternative every year, the state of Apple's app store could start to be a disincentive for developing on iOS first or exclusively. Listen, I know Google's app store also has massive problems, but I'm just saying Apple needs to be proactive and stay out in front by making sure they have by far the best app store experience for both consumers and developers. There's still a lot they need to work on other than the rankings. Like have developer-specified trial period for paid apps (without risk of the Lodsys threat by using IAP), allow app bundles to be sold, discounts (if I previously bought one app by a developer, maybe I can buy another of their apps at 50% off), better recommendations, better statistics available for developers, etc.

I agree with everything you said except the part about Android looking like a viable alternative.

Take the problems with the App Store, multiply them by the number of Android application stores, and then add a heaping dose of fragmentation and rampant piracy. Stir and bake at 350.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WestonHarvey1 Avatar
100 months ago
I have a good idea! Make searching usable again!

Image (http://media.idownloadblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Uber-iOS-5-vs-iOS-6-search.png)

It's especially great when searching for the exact name of an app doesn't even return it in the first 10 or 20 results.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kranchammer Avatar
100 months ago
Oh! You forgot to add 3 gallons of misinformation, a heaping scoop of FUD and a dash of Apple "special sauce". :rolleyes:

Don't get your knickers in a twist. I was talking as a developer, not as an Android or iPhone user. It was a comment on the state of the two as developer platforms, not as OS's or what have you.

As a developer, none of the Android stores succeed where Apple fails. And they have problems on top of the ones the App Store does. Legitimate problems that should be addressed so that non-Big Name developers (like me) have a chance to make money in the Android app world.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TWSS37 Avatar
100 months ago
Poor Banana Kong :(
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jclardy Avatar
100 months ago
I hope it is a permanent switch, as this will help promote less "popular" apps in their respective search categories. A niche app may be awesome (highly rated) but have a tiny user base which would mean that it gets lost in searches under the old system.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Top Stories 57 Feature

Top Stories: Apple Event Next Tuesday, Mini-LED iPad Pro, iPhone Rumors

Saturday April 17, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
It feels like we've been waiting forever for new Apple products, but the wait is almost over as Apple has announced a media event for next Tuesday, so make sure to tune into MacRumors for full coverage of everything Apple announces. While that was the big news this week, we also got some new details on Apple's iPhone plans for 2022 and 2023 courtesy of analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, and we also saw...
flat imac 3d 3 teal

Reliable Leaker Hints Redesigned Colorful iMac to Debut at 'Spring Loaded' Event

Saturday April 17, 2021 4:43 am PDT by
Reliable leaker known as l0vetodream has hinted that Apple may debut its rumored redesigned and colorful iMac at its "Spring Loaded" event on Tuesday, April 20. In a tweet, the leaker posted an image of Apple's logo used for marketing the upcoming event and an image of the retro rainbow Apple logo alongside the colorful lineup of G3 iMacs. Apple leaker Jon Prosser previously reported that...
third gen Apple pencil leaked video

Video of Alleged Third-Generation Apple Pencil Leaks Ahead of Apple Event

Friday April 16, 2021 6:13 am PDT by
A video purporting to be of the third-generation Apple Pencil has today been shared online, showing a glossy finish that mirrors previous leaks. New ✏️ ready to 🚢 #AppleEvent @TommyBo50387266 pic.twitter.com/s4RCDwDi5M— 漢尼斯·拉斯納 🇨🇳 (@ileakeer) April 16, 2021 The brief video from Twitter account @ileakeer, spotted by 9to5Mac, shows an Apple Pencil with a glossy finish much like the...
important battery message iphone 11

Some iPhone 11 Users Seeing Increased Battery Health Percentages After iOS 14.5 Recalibration Process

Friday April 16, 2021 6:32 am PDT by
In the sixth beta of iOS 14.5, Apple introduced a recalibration process for the battery health reporting system on the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max to address inaccurate battery health estimates for some users. Apple said this process might take a few weeks to be completed, and now that two weeks have passed since the sixth beta of iOS 14.5 was released, some users are...
duan rui iphone 12 13 notch

New Images Show Smaller iPhone 13 Notch Compared to iPhone 12

Saturday April 17, 2021 11:38 pm PDT by
Leaker known as "DuanRui" has shared more images that could give us our best look yet at Apple's redesigned notch for the iPhone 13. The new pictures follow similar images shared by the leaker last week, but the latest shots include a comparison with the existing iPhone 12 notch. DuanRui posted three images on Twitter that apparently originate from Weibo, although source details remain...
iphone 13 pro max cads eap

iPhone 13 Series CAD Leaks Reveal Larger Camera Dimensions

Friday April 16, 2021 1:53 am PDT by
Information and alleged CADs of the upcoming iPhone 13 series, shared in a video from EverythingApplePro, indicates that Apple plans to make this year's iPhone camera module significantly bigger, likely to make way for larger sensors and sensor-shift stabilization. According to the CADs shared in the video, the iPhone 13 mini, Pro, and Pro Max camera module will all be a "perfect square."...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With Anker's MagSafe-Compatible Battery Pack

Thursday April 15, 2021 9:39 am PDT by
Anker, a company known for its range of accessories designed for Apple products, recently came out with one of the first MagSafe-compatible battery packs, so we thought we'd check it out to see how it compares to a standard battery pack. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design wise, Anker's power bank looks like a typical battery pack, but it has magnets built in...
apple event spring loaded

Apple's 'Spring Loaded' Event Officially Announced for Tuesday, April 20

Tuesday April 13, 2021 9:04 am PDT by
Following an overnight leak by Siri, Apple today officially announced that it will be holding a special "Spring Loaded" event on Tuesday, April 20 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. As with all of Apple's 2020 events, the April 2021 event will be a digital-only gathering with no members of the media invited to attend in...
iphone 12 120hz thumbnail feature

LTPO Displays Supporting 120Hz Refresh Rates Again Rumored for iPhone 13 Pro Models

Friday April 16, 2021 10:01 am PDT by
The two higher-end "iPhone 13 Pro" models that are coming in 2021 are expected to use LTPO display technology to enable 120Hz refresh rates, according to display analyst Ross Young. Young reaffirmed the detail in a tweet that said he'd heard rumors about only one model featuring LTPO, which he says is inaccurate. Heard some rumors in the industry and media that there would only be one ...
apple music

Apple Music Tops Spotify With One Cent Paid Per Stream

Friday April 16, 2021 6:44 am PDT by
In a letter slated to be shared with artists today through the Apple Music for Artists dashboard, obtained by The Wall Street Journal, Apple has reportedly revealed that it pays music rights holders one cent per song streamed on Apple Music. The report claims that Apple Music's payment structure is thus roughly double what Spotify pays music rights holders per stream, which averages to about ...