Android Apps Ranked by Daily Usage? Not likely.
The order in which Android Apps are listed in Android Market categories is determined by an algorithm subject to much speculation. The Guardian believes that Google may now be rating apps in the Android Market based on daily usage.
They are most likely wrong.
The reason for the speculation comes in part from a Business Insider report that one particular app rose in rankings, with, apparently, no other possible explanation but an algorithm change that favors apps used more often. The report goes so far as to mention new metrics, such as Daily Active Users (DAU) and Monthly Active Users (MAU), that' Android developers need to start stressing over.
Even with very few data points, it may be reasonable to assume that rankings in the Market are correlated positively with some apps that are used often. But correlation does not imply causation. Since Google isn't any more likely to release the ranking algorithm for apps than the code for its search engine, correlation is often the best we can do. To be fair, though, let's consider some other factors that coincide with more active use of an app:
- Active Installs: Percentage of copies of an app which stay installed. An app which is used daily is much less likely to be uninstalled. An app which isn't used at all.
- Number of Comments/ Ratings in Market: Likely to be high for apps which are used often and therefore top of mind.
- Overall Market Rating: Apps which are in continual use are likely to have good customer satisfaction (unless they have no competition).
- Number of total installs: Affected only slightly by frequency of use.
- Number of recent installs: Those who have installed an app more recently are likely to use it more often.
The above factors are all believed by developers to be important in creating the top list in each category. How much weight is given to each is known only by Google.
Think what it would take for Google to measure daily usage. Even with all the fine print on agreements when setting up an Android phone, I don't believe I've agreed to anything that allows Google to track my usage of all apps all the time. To do so would require a background service that continually checks processes in use. Even that wouldn't give you an accurate picture because of the Android process life cycle. The only way apps give this information to Google voluntarily is through AdMob and Adsense impressions. This is not used by all apps, and there is a conflict of interest for Google in considering that data.Continued on the next page