Apple is reportedly taking new factors into consideration when it determines how to rank the applications in its App Store.
According to TechCrunch, the company is paying more attention to how apps are rated by users and how they are using them, rather than simply using download figures and speed.
The data comes from marketing company Fiksu, which noticed that better reviewed apps had shot up the charts without earning a significantly larger number of downloads. Likewise, Fiksu says, poorly reviewed apps dropped in the charts despite shifting more copies within the App Store.
Apple has also adjusted how often it updates it charts according to the analysis. Previously they were refreshed every 15 minutes, giving some developers the chance to manipulate their numbers with bursts of robotic downloads in order to shoot up the charts. Now, Fisku thinks Apple has switched the updates to once every three hours to put a stop to such behaviour.
The company wrote: "We suspect they are adding a 'buffer' period to prevent rank manipulation through short download bursts often associated with robotic downloads and other actions not in the best interests of the app ecosystem. Three hours allows enough time to identify anomalies and remove apps before they suddenly appear at the top of the rankings."
TechCrunch was also told by the SearchMan analytics group that Apple may be considering the length of time folks are using the apps, the amount of times they're opened and how users are engaging with them beyond the initial download period, when amassing its rankings.
Another source, MobileDevHQ, points out that searches for iPad and iPhone apps are yielding different results, suggesting the company is paying closer attention to app discovery on its differing devices.
Apple, of course, has not commented on the reports.