Apple updates App Store search engine algorithms, results go beyond metadata

in iPhone edited November 2015
According to a report on Friday, iOS app developers have noticed a change in the App Store's search algorithms that appears to return more relevant results for direct app searches by going deeper than title and assigned keyword metadata.

Apple began its latest round of behind-the-scenes App Store changes on Nov. 3 by modifying the way apps are aggregated, ranked and returned when users conduct text searches, TechCrunch reports. More significant changes were seen in the ensuing days, with a major shift in keyword handling arriving yesterday.

Unlike previous search engine iterations, the current system takes contextual keywords, including partial matches and terms not included in an app's title or designated "keyword" metadata, into consideration when processing queries. Developers searching their own app titles have also reported seeing the updated algorithm surfacing related and competing apps, a feature that provides a more complete overview of the App Store's copious app offerings.

Launch Center Pro developer David Barnard tested Apple's refreshed search protocol, finding that a query for the term "Twitter" surfaced popular clients like Tweetbot and Twitterific as high ranking results. Prior to Apple's modifications, these particular apps were not included among the top ten, while Instagram, a seemingly unrelated app, was.

The iOS App Store constantly undergoes both user-facing and backend changes. When Apple tweaked search engine algorithms in 2013 to boost result relevancy, app developers saw a massive shift in search rankings with some titles moving 40 or more positions.


  • Reply 1 of 7

    A huge purge is what's needed. Lots of garbage in the App Store.

  • Reply 2 of 7
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,383member
    Back on topic ...

    Maybe the updated algorithms will enable deeper Siri use.
  • Reply 3 of 7
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member

    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

    Back on topic ...

    Maybe the updated algorithms will enable deeper Siri use.


    Yes, better metas means better searches. Often devs are beyond lazy in characterising their app.

  • Reply 4 of 7
    calicali Posts: 3,494member
    Apple really needs to invest in search. Searching is painful most the time. You can search something as simple as "fibe nights at Freddy's" or "michawl Jackson" and it has no idea what you mean.
  • Reply 5 of 7
    Good thing to make search more accurate... Better thing is that I don't have to install the same application updates 2-3 times... It's been a while now, just fix it...
  • Reply 6 of 7
    The App Store needs badly a clean up of thousands of "apps" which nobody needs or uses or are simply scams. Less to search, better search. And new really helpful apps can be found more easily.
    When I see a listing of 300 apps for one search term, I tend to give up after a couple of scrolls as I start to see garbage.
    That said, the new search is definitely better. But like in Maps, it needs "perfect" input to find what you need. You mistype a single character, and it doesn't even try to give you close results....
    Google is really sets the bar there.
  • Reply 7 of 7
    croprcropr Posts: 1,051member

    Originally Posted by pakitt View Post

    The App Store needs badly a clean up of thousands of "apps" which nobody needs or uses or are simply scams.

    Google is really sets the bar there.


    I don't understand how there are scams in the App Store, as Apple has a strong validation process before an app is published.


    Nevertheless you are absolutely right that the search function in the Play Store is superior to the one in the App Store.  The app store app is one of the weaker Apple developed apps, and does not reach the quality level we all expect from Apple.

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