Android apps that constantly crash or continue to come riddled with performance issues will have less visibility in the Google Play Store as the company refreshes its search and discovery algorithm to reflect quality.
Google Play Store Changes Search And Discovery Algorithm
This means higher-quality apps that have fewer kinks and run more smoothly will surface in the Play Store more often than lower-quality apps that crash more frequently and exhibit performance hiccups.
Lately, Google has become more aggressive at promoting well-performing and quality Android apps over the duds, which run rampant in the Play Store. It already demotes bad apps in its search rankings, but with this new algorithm shift, Android users will find them less and less, buried underneath the rubble of crapshoots.
In the Android Developers Blog, the team says it's had a pleasant effect on installation and uninstallation behavior.
"The change has had a positive impact on engagement — we've seen that people go on to use higher quality apps more and uninstall them less."
Basically, this is what the algorithm change means for you: suppose you search for an app and look at the top results, it's less likely that one with severe crashing issues and performance problems will shoot up the top, thus preventing you from installing a potential nuisance.
How Google Determines Which Apps Must Be Buried Down The Rankings
To determine which apps it needs to push down the rankings, Google looks at performance data, user engagement, and of course, user ratings. Combining all those creates "quality signals," as Google calls it, which affects an app's ranking in both app listings and search results.
The algorithm shift seems part of a more general Play Store cleanup effort. Last month, for example, it announced machine learning techniques to determine which apps behave badly. It has also launched the Android Excellence program, which highlights apps Google thinks represents the Play Store's best.
The move also helps encourage developers to make sure their apps run well in general. If they don't, their apps will surface less and less. But more importantly, the shift also seems like Google's way of upending the notion that the Play Store has more lower-quality apps than the Apple App Store. Of course, changes in rankings and proper curation might help, but it won't solve the much bigger problem of developers pushing their apps in the Play Store willy-nilly.
As The Verge notes, algorithms are mysterious, and while they pretty much work most of the time, they sometimes fail. Google has to treat this as the first of many steps toward a nicer-looking Play Store.