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 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. 

Product Review

The iPad Pro is the best tablet ever. But don't sell your laptop just yet

Apple has unveiled a big redesign for the iPad Pro, slimming down the bezels, adding Face ID, and the ability to attach and charge the Apple Pencil. All of this comes at a high cost however, as the iPad Pro starts at $799.

Need to record calls on an iPhone? Check out our handy guide

Are you wondering how to record calls on your iPhone? It isn't as easy as you might think, but we'll walk you through the process of doing so with Google Voice, and identify several other apps and external voice recorders that can help.

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.

Apple's iOS 12.1.1 makes it easier to switch cameras in FaceTime

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.

New Apple Watch begins saving lives one week after getting EKG feature

The Apple Watch Series 4 was updated almost a week ago with a new feature that allows users to take electrocardiogram tests -- and already it seems like the new feature is saving lives.

The best smartphone stocking stuffers for a very techy Christmas

If you've got a tech-loving smartphone enthusiast to buy for, we can help you out. Here's a selection of top phone accessories that would make amazing stocking stuffers so you can have a very Merry Christmas.

Amazon slashes price of 2018 iPad to under $250 in time for Christmas

Whether you love Apple or prefer Android, this 2018 iPad 32GB tablet deal is rather tempting. If you're still on the hunt for gifts, then this deep discount from Amazon makes now an excellent time to pick one up.

Santa Claus is coming to town. Get ready with these Christmas apps

Like it or not, Christmas comes but once a year. Thankfully, we've got a list of the best Christmas apps to help get you into the holiday spirit, just in case you want to call Santa or become a Christmas elf.

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.

How to use the ECG app, set up irregular rhythm notifications on the Apple Watch

The Apple Watch Series 4 is the best smartwatch iPhone owners can own, and it just got even better with the addition of the ECG app and ability to identify irregular heart rhythms. Here's how to set it all up.

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.

Costco members can cut up to $200 off MacBook and iMac price tags

Costco is discounting MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops by as much as $200 as part of a members-only sale. It also has deals on select MacBooks and iMacs, with optional Apple Care in most instances.

Apple is spending $1 billion to hire up to 15,000 new employees in Austin

Apple has announced a series of expansions across the U.S. -- including a massive expansion to the company's Austin campus that will see it spending $1 billion to accommodate for up to 15,000 new employees.

Style up your MacBook Air with one of these great cases or sleeves

Whether you’re looking for added protection or a stylish flourish, you’re in the right place for the best MacBook Air cases. We have form-hugging cases, luxurious covers and padded sleeves priced from $7 to $130. Happy shopping!