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

(View all)
Avatar
94 months ago
I have a good idea! Make searching usable again!

Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
94 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)
Avatar
94 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)
Avatar
94 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)
Avatar
94 months ago
Poor Banana Kong :(
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
94 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

Early iPhone 12 Tests Show Ceramic Shield is Stronger and More Scratch Resistant Than iPhone 11 Glass

Friday October 23, 2020 1:21 pm PDT by
Apple's new iPhone 12 models are protected by a Ceramic Shield cover glass that has nano-ceramic crystals infused right into the glass to improve durability. According to Apple, Ceramic Shield offers four times better drop protection than the glass used for the iPhone 11 models. YouTube channel MobileReviewsEh conducted some tests on the iPhone 12 using a force meter to compare its performance ...

First Impressions From New iPhone 12 and 12 Pro Owners

Thursday October 22, 2020 4:20 pm PDT by
It's already Friday, October 23, in Australia and New Zealand, which means some customers who purchased an iPhone 12 or 12 Pro already have their new devices in hand. We've seen dozens of reviews of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro from media sites, but now first impressions from regular Apple customers are available. Image via MacRumors reader Boardiesboi New iPhone 12 and 12 Pro owners are...

iPhone 12 Pro Allows You to Measure Someone's Height Instantly Using LiDAR Scanner

Saturday October 24, 2020 11:12 am PDT by
iPhone 12 Pro models feature a new LiDAR Scanner for enhanced augmented reality experiences, but the sensor also enables another unique feature: the ability to measure a person's height instantly using the Measure app. You can even measure the seated height of a person in a chair, according to Apple. When the Measure app detects a person in the viewfinder, it automatically measures their...

Apple VP Kaiann Drance Interview Addresses Battery Life, MagSafe, and Power Adapter Concerns

Friday October 23, 2020 3:37 am PDT by
Apple's Vice President of iPhone Marketing, Kaiann Drance, has provided a new interview to Rich DeMuro on the Rich on Tech Podcast, to discuss the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. Although much of the interview repeated points from Apple's "Hi, Speed" event, there were a number of interesting tidbits regarding the affect of 5G on battery life, MagSafe concerns, and the lack of a power adapter in...

iPhone 11 Pro Outlasts iPhone 12 and 12 Pro in Extensive Battery Life Test

Friday October 23, 2020 8:36 am PDT by
Arun Maini today shared a new side-by-side iPhone battery life video test on his YouTube channel Mrwhosetheboss, timing how long the new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models last on a single charge compared to older models, with equal brightness, settings, battery health, and usage. All of the devices are running iOS 14 without a SIM card inserted. In the test, the iPhone 11 Pro outlasted both ...

Apple Distributing New Heated Display Removal Machine for iPhone 12 Repairs

Thursday October 22, 2020 6:20 pm PDT by
Apple is providing Genius Bars and Apple Authorized Service Providers with a new heated display removal fixture for iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro repairs, according to information obtained by MacRumors from a reliable source. To open iPhone 12 models, technicians will be required to slide the device into a specialized tray, and then place the tray into the high-temperature fixture for two...

Apple Warns MagSafe Charger Can Leave Circular Imprints on Leather Cases

Friday October 23, 2020 3:23 pm PDT by
If you keep your iPhone in a leather case while charging with Apple's new MagSafe Charger, the case might show circular imprints from contact with the accessory, according to a new Apple support document published today. Apple's leather cases for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are not available until November 6, but a MacRumors reader has already shared a photo of a circular imprint on...

MagSafe Charger Teardown Reveals Simple Design With Magnets and Charging Coil Encircling a Small Circuit Board

Friday October 23, 2020 7:50 am PDT by
iFixit has today shared a teardown of Apple's new MagSafe charger for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. An X-ray of the MagSafe charger courtesy of Creative Electron reveals the internal charging coil surrounded by a circular arrangement of magnets within the puck. The only seam that iFixit was able to leverage to open the device was where the white rubber circle meets the metal rim,...

PSA: Non-iPhone 12 Models Charge Super Slowly With MagSafe Charger

Friday October 23, 2020 4:11 pm PDT by
Alongside the iPhone 12 models, Apple introduced a new $39 MagSafe Charger that's meant to work with the magnets in the iPhone 12 Pro models to charge them up at a maximum of 15W. The MagSafe Charger is technically able to be used with older iPhones, but it's not a good idea because the charging with non-iPhone 12 devices is so slow. We did two tests with the iPhone XS Max, draining the...

New Photos Offer Better Look at iPhone 12 Color Options

Tuesday October 20, 2020 2:34 am PDT by
As we wait for the iPhone 12 review embargo to lift later today, more pictures are circulating of the devices in real-world lighting conditions, providing a better look at the different colors available. Leaker DuanRui has shared images on Twitter of the iPhone 12 in white, black, blue, green, and (PRODUCT)RED. The black and white colors are similar to the iPhone 11 colors, but the other...