How much will iOS 6 change App Store rank?

app store newApp Store rank is make-or-break for new apps. If you don’t crack the top 25 or get yourself featured – and fast – it could quickly be game over. Developers are well aware, and have spent time and energy trying to crack Apple’s App Store code, which has proved difficult thanks to Apple’s secrecy and issues with spambot-boosted rankings.

The latest iteration of iOS has also put a new spin on the algorithm. The App Store has received a significant makeover: Gone is the listing interface, and in its place are visual cards that prompt you to horizontally swipe through your app options. Genius, the suggestion mechanism Apple has used for iTunes music discovery, has also (finally) been turned on in the App Store. How the main hubs are organized has been revamped as well, although much of what’s happening here appears to be mostly aesthetic.

But is it? There is one obvious drawback to the very visual reorganization, and that’s that top billing via search matters more than ever. Instead of a list that shows the five top 10 apps when you search for something, you now see one app that gets the whole screen all to itself. Search options are showing up as identical between iOS 5 and iOS 6. But being on the top spot obviously now carries more weight – and being number six or seven is now that much worse. One flick in the iOS 5 App Store and you’d be looking at those options; now it takes that many more swipes. This might sound inconsequential, but it’s not: The time that it takes for an app to be found is incredibly important to developers. “The recent iOS 6 App Store change is difficult for developers because now you essentially need to rank in the top 1 or 2 spots instead of the top 10 to have the same impact on number of downloads,” app optimization platform Ooomf CEO Mikael Cho tells me. 

app store new search

New Releases are now being reshuffled under New and Noteworthy, a curated section whose algorithm, suffice it to say, is completely unknown (entirely made by editors? How much do downloads play in? Or release dates?). Formerly, you could search any subcategory and look for the top paid, top free, and new releases in that section – but that’s now gone. New and Northworthy consumes the New Releases hub, which could add some confusion for developers. It was formerly a really nice feature for smaller apps to get their name out there, and now it’s gone.

“Everything has changed with the new iOS 6 app store. I’m sure we’ll see a hit in our daily downloads count but not sure the severity just yet,” says app search alternative Crosswa.lk co-founder Patrick Jackson. “Developers can no longer rely on the initial bump of being featured in the ‘new’ section, which was historically the best way to get tons of eyes on your app for free. I think with the new changes the best path for a user discovering your app is to optimize where you appear in search. This is going to take time considering Apple doesn’t publicize their algorithm and updating search keywords requires a new app submission or update. With all the new changes I think we’ll see developers utilizing other methods for promoting their apps like optimizing/buying placement in 3rd party app directories, in-app cross promotion, and pay-per-install.”

featured new app store

The changes might seem tedious and looks-based, but to developers, they matter. The main argument here is being summarized as Apple giving unfair advantage and attention to already-popular apps, something users should also take issue with. App discovery has been mediocre at best, and while the App Store now has Genius in working order and is inarguably easier on the eyes, its pure function leaves a whole lot to be desired – for those building for it and those consuming it. 

Mobile

Updating to Apple’s iOS 12 will make your iPhone a whole lot smarter

iOS 12, the latest version of Apple’s iOS, is officially here. We took it for a spin to check out its new noteworthy features, and if it truly changes our smartphone habits for the better.
Home Theater

Genius gives Apple Music a brainy boost with new lyrics integration

Genius has announced its most in-depth partnership to date with Apple Music, bringing lyrics to the app as well as making it the default player for the Genius mobile app and website.
Product Review

Google cares, so it made sure the Home Hub doesn’t scare

Google’s newest smart home device has a screen, but it avoids the other feature that usually accompanies one — a camera. In an effort to make the Home Hub more friendly and attractive to the privacy-minded, it shutters a shutter and…
Mobile

iOS 12.0.1 fixes iPhone XS charging issue, Wi-Fi bugs, and more

After months of betas, the final version of iOS 12 is here to download. The latest OS comes along with tons of new capabilities, from grouped notifications to Siri Shortcuts. Here are all the features you'll find in iOS 12.
Mobile

2018's 10 best dating apps to help you find the perfect companion

Everyone knows online dating can be stressful, time-consuming, and downright awful. Check out our top picks for the best dating apps, so you can streamline the process and find the right date, whatever you're looking for.
Computing

Apple writes letter to U.S. Congress denying reports of Chinese hack

Apple has denied claims it was hacked by members of the Chinese military in a letter to the U.S. Congress refuting reports that alleged Chinese compromises of its supply chain. Apple says the claims are false and unfounded.
Mobile

Apple's iOS 12.0.1 update fixes the iPhone XS' charging problems

The iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are the best Apple phones to date -- but they're not perfect. A number of users have been reporting that issues have popped up with the phones. Here are the most common iPhone XS problems, and how to fix…
Mobile

Pixel 3 XL vs. iPhone XS Max: Which plus-sized flagship reigns supreme?

The Google Pixel 3 XL is finally here, boasting improved performance, a new design, and more. But can it take out the other super-sized phone that recently came out, the Apple iPhone XS Max?
Deals

The best Apple Watch deals for October 2018

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.
Deals

The best iPad deals for October 2018

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for September 2018.
Deals

The best iPhone deals for October 2018

Apple devices can get expensive, but if you just can't live without iOS, don't despair: We've curated an up-to-date list of all of the absolute best iPhone deals available for September 2018.
Wearables

These are the best smartwatches for everything from fashion to fitness

Tempted to buy a smartwatch? If so, then the growing number of great models available means you've got plenty to choose from. But which one should you pick? Here is our list of the best smartwatches.
Mobile

Pocket transforms articles into podcasts with an assist from Amazon

Read-it-later app Pocket is adding an option to turn articles into easily navigable podcasts with its new app redesign for iOS and Android. The feature relies on Amazon's voice-to-text service Polly.
Deals

Save up to $1,000 with the best smartphone deals for October 2018

Need a better phone but don't want to spend a fortune? It's never a bad time to score a new smartphone and save some cash. We rounded up the best smartphone deals available that can save you as much as $1,000.