- Google, the developer of the Android mobile operating system that has 3.1 million apps, took steps to bury low-quality apps that have bad reviews in the Google Play store. The company changed its search and discovery algorithms to reflect app quality, according to a blog post by Google.
- As a result of the change, mobile users can more easily find higher-quality apps in the Play Store instead of apps that crash frequently, a common reason that reviewers give apps the lowest rating on a scale of one to five stars. The improved search for high-quality apps has led to fewer uninstallations from mobile phones, Google said.
- For app developers and publishers, the better screening results mean less frustration for users and a positive effect on engagement, Google said. Developers focusing on performance can use Google's Play Console to help find and fix a number of quality issues.
The Google Play store has been lambasted for years as being a haven for junky apps that wouldn't see the light of day on Apple's App Store, according to CNBC. One of the key selling points of the Android operating system is the plethora of free apps compared with the App Store. Unfortunately, free doesn't translate into higher quality. Twelve percent of Android apps are low-quality, according to AppBrain. That means that about 370,000 apps (including those not in the Google Play store) can be considered as having poor quality, and that number grows each month.
The plethora of poor quality apps is also one reason why in-app revenue tends to be lower on Android compared to apps on Apple. By supporting higher quality apps, Google is taking a step that could boost the Android app ecosystem for developers, users and Google alike.
Google highlighted how developer Buusu improved the quality ratings for its language-learning app in a video on the Android Developer channel on YouTube. The company observed that among its 65 million users worldwide, a significant portion were in developing markets like Brazil and Turkey, where phone memory and connectivity can be limited. That revelation compelled Buusu's engineers to debug its app and seek ways to lessen how much data the app needed to function better.
Google recommended that developers study the Android vitals page and pre-launch reports before posting app upgrades. The company's efforts to weed out junky apps follows its effort to identify malware-installing "rogue apps" with new scanning tools, Engadget reported.