Google has declared changes to its search and discovery algorithms that will see better-performing apps rank higher on the Play Store than those riddled with bugs and other performance problems.
The new ranking algorithm will direct users to apps that experience fewer crashes and use up less battery, leading to improved rankings, user retention, and monetization, the search titan said in a blog post.
Formerly, popularity could override quality when it comes to an app’s position in the charts and search results — despite low star ratings and negative reviews — burying less popular but better-performing apps in a marketplace that houses more than 3 million.
The new algorithm will take into account factors such as app crashes, render times, battery usage, and number of uninstalls to determine an app’s ranking.
The company elaborated that the drive for change came after it realized that around half of the one-star reviews on the Google Play Store mentioned app stability issues.
The updated algorithm was rolled out among a small subset of users and will continue to be rolled out across Google’s app stores globally over the next week.
“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,” Google said.
In July, Google began rolling out Play Protect, a new feature part of Google Play designed to scan for apps that may cause harm to an Android device and give the user more information about their device’s security.
Google uses machine learning to scan through 50 billion apps daily to identify any suspicious or malicious malware. Google has checks to prevent malware from entering the Play Store, but sometimes it misses them until notified by third-party malware researchers.
Cybersecurity researchers at Google also last month discovered and blocked a new form of spyware, called Lipizzan, designed to compromise specifically-targeted Android devices and monitor details from the phone’s communications to its location.