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Developers reporting changes to Apple's App Store search algorithm

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Developers with apps published to Apple's iOS App Store are reporting that search results have changed drastically and may be a result of a change in the weighting of the number of downloads and "topic detection."

Whereas previous App Store searches appeared to prioritize the names and keywords of applications, TechCrunch reports that more topically-relevant results have begun to appear in the query results.

For instance, developer told the publication that the ranking of its "Best Parking" app in searches like "chicago parking," "dc parking" and "sf parking" is now higher than apps whose names more closely match those terms.

"Apple is now putting a heavier emphasis on app downloads, so that BestParking has pulled ahead of apps with better names (at least, for a given search) but fewer downloads," the report noted.

Meanwhile, Xyologic cofounder Matthäus Krzykowski claimed that Apple has improved its "topic detection" capabilities. If this is indeed the case, it would mean that searches performed in the App Store would prioritize relevant topics over conforming specifically to a keyword or search term.

The changes to the App Store search functionality may be earlier implementations of Apple's recent acquisition, Chomp, though there does not yet appear to be any hard evidence that is the case. Chomp is an application search engine built to address the issue of discoverability that has arisen from the flood of apps to mobile application stores. The service was previously available on Google's Android as well, but Apple disabled the functionality in April.

As of early June, there were 650,000 applications, of which 225,000 are built for the iPad, available on the App Store. Total downloads for the store have reached the 30 billion mark, with more than $5 billion paid out to developers.