Apple could finally be improving its App Store search, four months after its acquisition of app search engine Chomp.
TechCrunch reports that developers have been noticing significant changes to the search algorithm in Apple’s App Stores. Previously, Apple’s search meant that results were found through the use of key words and app names. Now, Apple’s search appears to be getting more intelligent.
The report uses the example of a search for the word ‘traffic’, which would normally bring up games such as Traffic Rush because the search term is in the name of the app. Now, though, developers have reported that typing in traffic can bring up actual traffic or navigation apps.
Ben Sann, founder of BestParking.com, first alerted TechCrunch to the change, after noticing that his Best Parking app has moved to the top of a number of searches that it wasn’t previously ranking highly in before. In a search for “sf parking,” for example, Best Parking was above other apps that had a closer name match to the search term.
Sann believes that the new search algorithms are down to the volume of app downloads. “Best Parking has pulled ahead of apps with better names but fewer downloads.”
If Sann’s theory proves to be true, it’s good news for developers of apps that have a broad audience, but localised map apps, for example, will be pushed down to the bottom of search results.
PawPaw, the developers behind The Wine Navigator app have told us that the change has caused negative consequences for them. “For us, the change is terrible. Search for “wine” and Wine Navigator appears at about number 140 (below iBeer?!) – it was number 11 before.”
Another developer suggests that Apple has improved the algorithm to be able to detect the content and topic of the app, rather than just names and keywords. This would fit in with Apple’s acquisition of Chomp, which is an app search engine that “learns the functions and topics of apps, so you can search on what apps do, not just what they’re called,” says the company’s website.
It is currently unknown whether all countries have received the changes, but TechCrunch suggests that the US, UK and Germany iTunes App Stores have been improved.
[Updated at 12.23pm to add PawPaw comment]