Google Tweaks Play Store Search to Reward Android App Quality

Google Play Store search will deprecate applications that chew up battery life, take too long to load or crash frequently.

Google Play Search

Google has made changes to the search algorithm in its Play Store so users can find higher quality Android apps more easily while poor quality ones are buried.

The change is designed to ensure that people looking for apps on Google's mobile app store, do not get frustrated by poor quality software.

According to Google, an internal analysis of application reviews on Play Store showed that applications with the poorest reviews shared several common attributes.

For example, many of the apps that people were most frustrated with on Play Store had excessive battery usage, slow render times and crashed frequently. In fact, half of all the applications that received a 1-star rating on Google Play were described as having application stability issues, according to the company.

The update to Google Play's search and discovery algorithms are designed to weed out such low-quality applications while highlighting those that perform efficiently and conserve battery power.

The change has already had a positive impact on user engagement, Google Play product manager Andrew Ahn said on the Android Developers Blog this week. "We've seen that people go on to use higher quality apps more and uninstall them less."

The algorithm update is part of an ongoing effort by Google to encourage Android developers to pay more attention to the quality of the apps they upload to Google Play.

In July the company announced a new dashboard dubbed Android vitals that is designed to give developers a way to understand and analyze behaviors in their apps that could cause performance and stability issues. 

Google has described the dashboard as helping engineers and business owners gather performance metrics for analyzing potential defects and how to address them. The data, collected from the Android devices of users who have opted to share usage and diagnostic data, gives developers insight into issues such as crash rates, application not responding (ANR) rates, rendering times, frozen frames and battery usage.

Google also has released a best practices guide on how to use Android vitals to improve application performance and stability. The tips run the gamut from technical advice to using performance metrics to identify and remedy issues.

For example, one of the tips that Google has is for developers to use the company's pre-launch report in the Play Console to test how their app works on different devices. The idea is to give developers a way to catch potential issues before a new application launch or application update.

Google also offers Android developers application debugging and crash-reporting tools such as Firebase, Crashlytics and Android Studio to help them identify issues that could lead to application crashes and failure to respond.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.