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Tuesday, November 26, 2013, 08:54 am PT (11:54 am ET)

Apple tweaks App Store search algorithm to better handle misspellings

The App Store's famously finicky search tool has reportedly received an update designed to return more accurate results when search terms or app names have been misspelled.

App Store search


The changes were put into production "a few weeks ago," according to TechCrunch. Executives with App Store-related analytics and marketing firms also confirmed a recent shift in the storefront's search results.

Data compiled by SearchMan CEO Niren Hiro suggests that the changes bring mixed returns. A pre-update search for "resteraunt" returned only a single result, while a post-update search for the same term returned just two results out of the thousands of apps bearing the properly-spelled keyword "restaurant."

A similar before-and-after query for "hotwls" produced a markedly different outcome, however — where the App Store showed zero results prior to the update, it now returns 2,200 results — a cap which also appeared in the new revision — for hotel-related apps.

Overall, misspellings appear in a very small percentage of App Store searches, according to separate data from App Store optimization startup Straply. Founder George Lawrence told the publication that for many search terms, "the volumes [of typos] are so low, they round to zero."

Developers have long complained about problems with discoverability in the App Store, and this new round of algorithmic changes is the latest in a succession of attempts by Cupertino to improve the situation. Most notably, Apple acquired app indexing startup Chomp in 2012 for a reported $50 million.