Is Apple tweaking App Store search algorithm?

By , Jun 23, 2012

According to TechCrunch, citing several developers, Apple is possibly tweaking the search algorithm in the App Store which could affect visibility of apps. The move is meant to make it harder for apps that only count on well-chosen names to surface while giving greater relevancy to software that may have not been visible before due to awkwardly-chosen names, but is otherwise popular and well-reviewed…

Specifically, according to author Anthony Ha:

Basically, it looks like App Store search is now weighting app names and keywords less heavily in its search results.

Previously, if you were searching for something like “san francisco parking”, apps whose names included those search terms would rank more highly. Or if you searched for something like “traffic”, you’d get a bunch of games with names like Traffic Rush.

Now, you’re more likely to see apps that aren’t just a simple keyword match. In traffic, for example, you see more actual traffic/navigation apps — and yes, a few games thrown into the mix.

Another change reportedly involves a heavier focus on the download count, meaning apps with more downloads have better relevancy than those with fewer downloads but better names.

All of this is, of course, highly subjective coming from a few developers who noticed changes in their App Store search relevancy. It could be nothing, just a temporary glitch of sorts, but also a signal that under-the-hood tweaks are being made to the search algorithm.

Apple in February acquired Chomp, an app search engine company founded by Ben Keighran and Cathy Edwards in 2009. Then, two months later, Chomp for Android was shot down, indicating plans to bake Chomp’s technology exclusively into the App Store backend.

Apple’s vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller asserted as much in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, insofar as Apple had done a “tremendous amount” to help users discover great software on the App Store:

Every other day you hear about another app going off the charts. You can still get discovered and get a hit overnight.

The iPhone maker redesigned the App Store, iBookstore and iTunes Store storefronts in iOS 6 with a cleaner interface and other tidbits which aim to improve app discovery. iOS 6 also allows for in-line previews for iTunes Store content links.

In addition to that, the company recently introduced Free App of the Week and Editor’s Choice promos to boost sales of big hit apps and gathered all previous games bundles into the new “Game Collections” section.

The App Store this week opened for business in 32 new countries, bringing the total number of countries with access to the iOS apps to 152.

What do you think of the new App Store storefront in iOS 6? Are the changes only cosmetic and have you been expecting more substantial changes stemming from the Chomp acquisition?

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  • seyss

    I still miss something like Amazon’s test drive. It basically lets you VNC into a system running the app you want to test drive. Amazing.

  • unknown

    no surface rants??

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1595420643 Simche Apple Konstantinovic

    If the changes are applied correctly as described above by Apple, then I would spend more time in the App Store and discover an App, that maybe later I would tell myself “why haven’t I got this before?” In other words, it would be awesome to randomly discover new apps the are worth your time :)

  • http://twitter.com/jmarsh5 Justin Marshall

    Can we get through a post without using the word “baked”? I don’t know what it is but anytime I see the phrase “baked deeply into iOS” or anything similar I get mad. Let’s break out the thesaurus, eh?

    With the rant being over, this sounds like an obvious subjective occurrence considering when I search Chomp I get worse results than the app store. I don’t see the promise in Chomp. Just reminds me of any other app discovery tool.

  • http://adam.hbang.ws/ Adam D

    They’re most probably doing this due to the amount of scam apps using specific keywords to rank first in searches. With this algorithm, they should rank lower due to the bad ratings.

  • http://twitter.com/MCaudebec Maxim∑

    This is not news, apple has aquired chomp for a new search algorithm in iOS 6. This happened 6 months ago…

  • Rickeem Collier

    The new update is a rip off of Android’s market and there it is

  • Jeff Johnson

    Makes it really hard for new apps to show up even when searched by exact name…