Apple makes changes to the App Store rating system

It looks like Apple may have adjusted the ranking algorithm behind the App Store recently, propelling apps like Facebook, Angry Birds and other high-rated apps to the top of the list.

“We’ve been noticing changes in the Top Free rankings for at least three days now,” said Peter Farago, vice president of marketing at Flurry, which serves 80,000 applications with its analytics product. “From our point of view, Apple is absolutely considering more than just downloads, which we believe is the right direction go to measure true popularity of an app.”

Apple is reportedly taking user engagement and app ratings into consideration when ranking apps, instead of only their download numbers. This should be a good thing for standout apps and will make sure more popular and engaging apps reside at the top of the list more often. It will also be beneficial for consumers by encouraging developers to build better apps, which is never a bad thing in our book!

Have you noticed any other great apps moving up the top app lists? Let us know in the comments!

[Inside Mobile Apps]

Andrew Wray

Andrew Wray is a Salt Lake City, Utah based writer who focuses on news, how-tos, and jailbreak. Andrew also enjoys running, spending time with his daughter, and jamming out on his guitar. He works in a management position for Unisys Technical Services, a subsidiary of Unisys Corporation.

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Reader comments

Apple makes changes to the App Store rating system

15 Comments

The big problem with using user ratings from the App Store is that 98% of them are BS written by illiterate 12 year olds. They will one star an app because it needs some nebulous "update" or worse, burying valid ratings (what few there are).

I didn't realize rankings weren't weighted in. That's absurd that they haven't done this till now. Why do I want a one-star app at the top of the list? Thank you, Apple, for setting this straight.

That may be, but if an app for some reason generates a large number of Frustrated and Angry (or) Enthusiastically Happy users who are so passionate in their feelings about it they feel the need to comment on it, that is certainly relevant and I want to see it reflected in the rankings.
Just as I'd want to see an App represented well in the rankings that most everyone is just "Blah" about emotionally, but at the same time nearly EVERYONE has downloaded and uses because it is so indispensable.

I don't understand why Facebook is number one in that picture. That fact that it suffers from so many bugs. Example: I disable all facebook notifications...yet get notified with a push every time someone leaves a comment. Or the app refuses to upload pics, so I have to delete the app and re-download it.

That's the case in point right there. Just because there is bugs, does not mean a user will delete the app. Most will suffer through them. The overall usage of an app will not help to determine it's placement within the ranking system.

Speaking of "ratings"...anytime an app pops up asking me to rate it more than one time (i always select the "don't ask me again" option). I do...one star.

"It will also be beneficial for consumers by encouraging developers to build better apps..."
If only the Facebook devs would live by that standard. The Facebook app sucks and gets worse with every revision (that's why I'm still running 3.3). Cashes, delete and reinstall just to upload a picture, etc. The sad part is, it has a better interface than any other version of Facebook (mobile, full) so I'm kind of forced to use it.

Some will not look past the first few bad reviews, and not get an app. There are some excellent 3 star apps out there that should be at a higher rating. What is the old rule, 15% of the population that gripes the loudest, tells the rest what to think. Reviews are just guidelines. More should be weighed out when choosing.

That happened after "friday"(or whatever that thing was called like) reached first place in free apps with most of 1 star reviews. That thing has to be done if you don't want bieber app in the top...

Dear Mr Andrew Wray,
It has come to my attention that your iPhone is jailbroken. And also you have a lot of updates for apps waiting for you. This gives me the suspicion that you illegally download apps which wont update from the appstore app itself.
Thank you.

It could also mean that I haven't synced with iTunes in almost a week... Apps tend to get updates, and when you have 291 apps loaded onto your iPhone, those updates tend to accumulate over time ;)

So soon enough, won't most of the same apps be that list after awhile? All facebooks, twitters and foursquares?
Which is fine for new app shoppers, but doesn't that increase the burden for seasoned app shoppers to find new apps? There are no "zeitgeist" moments of apps with this new system, no? Such as, no indication of trends of apps, etc.
I don't mind the change, mostly, just a thought.