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Apple TV begins hiding apps from the charts if you have them installed

TechCrunch TechCrunch 1/06/2016 Sarah Perez

Apple rolled out a small but interesting change to its Apple TV App Store Top Charts recently, which, for the first time, are now personalized to the individual user. Instead of simply showing a list of the Top Paid, Top Free and Top Grossing apps on the platform, the charts are now hiding listings for those TV apps you already have installed.

The change was initially noticed by app developer equinux, which found that, following an update to its Live TV application last week, the app completely disappeared from the Top Free Charts. This was bizarre, the company said, because the app is one of the most popular in the German Apple TV App Store, and had been in the Top 10 almost since its debut.

What the company soon realized was that the Apple TV was hiding apps from appearing the Top Charts after they had been installed.

It tested this with other apps, and realized this was true across the board – after installation, the next-placed app would move up into it slot. In addition, the change affected those “Featured” apps on the start page – which again serves to make the App Store feel more personalized to the end user as it won’t show you app suggestions for those you’ve installed.

Of course, the downside to monkeying around with the way the rankings appear is that end users won’t know which apps are truly popular at any given time – they’ll only see the most popular apps they haven’t yet downloaded. (App store analytics firms tracking the Apple TV App Store’s charts via RSS feeds, however, say this change has not affected their view of the charts. They are still able to see the “real” rankings.”)

Whether or not this adjustment will remain in place indefinitely is unclear. It could be an example of Apple experimenting with a different way to showcase its content. It’s also unclear at this time if the change is universally affecting all users in all regions.

However, it is interesting because Apple’s App Store for iOS has been widely criticized for failing to offer better ways to help users discover apps. By yanking installed apps from appearing in the most prominent positions, one could argue that discovery of new apps improves. That said, this sort of change makes more sense on the Apple TV App Store, given its user interface which is operated by remote and can be more challenging to navigate.

The tvOS algorithm change isn’t the only one spotted in recent days. We’ve also seen a slight tweak to the iOS App Store’s ranking algorithm (on May 26-May 27), which improves ranking for relevant keywords. That is, apps associated with a given keyword as synchronously moved up in the ranks all at the same time, which points to an algorithm change. Apple was also, for a time, showing different related searches for the same keyword search.

Both scenarios indicate that Apple is working to make its algorithm more intelligent, by bettering its understanding of relevant keywords and surfacing related apps.

Along with the adjustment to tvOS ranks, it appears that Apple is trying to address the overall app discovery issue in a number of ways.

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