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article imageApple's App Store takes a day off as search feature falls apart

By James Walker     May 5, 2016 in Technology
Apple users are reporting widespread problems with the App Store today that are hiding search results for popular apps. Trying to find the official app for major brands does not display the correct results. Apple has confirmed the problem.
The issue was first noted earlier today by a number of Apple users online. The search feature appears to be suffering a series of problems causing inaccurate search results to display. The app listings aren't always relevant to what a user types in and do not contain the desired app.
The App Store is failing to return results even if a user types in an app's full name. Searching for popular apps such as Instagram and YouTube displays results for other apps similar to the one searched for. For example, searching for Spotify displays the listing for rival Soundcloud.
The store appears to be excluding the most popular apps from results. TechCrunch reports that even category searches are failing to work correctly. Searching for a specific type of app, such as "rss reader," doesn't display the most popular apps for the category, in this case excluding titles such as Feedly.
Further search issues reportedly include iPhone-exclusive apps being returned when searching from an iPad and vice versa and direct web links to apps failing to load correctly. The store's discovery features have essentially fallen apart, making it difficult to find even the most popular apps.
Apple hasn't issued a statement but has acknowledged the problem. The company's system status support page has been updated to indicate the App Store "is not working as expected for all users."
Apple's App Store is known for being difficult to search. Developers have been complaining for years of a lack of discovery features that make it difficult to engage with users. Despite the longstanding concerns, it is unusual for the App Store to fall apart entirely though, indicating a serious issue has occurred on Apple's servers.
Apple is now believed to be working on new App Store features that should address some of the criticisms of the platform. Last month, Bloomberg exposed a secret project to let developers pay for better rankings in App Store search results, allowing them to gain the exposure to users they've always wanted.
Today's issues could be related to reports of Apple recently testing a new algorithm for App Store searches. Last week, Lior Eldan of analytics firm Moburst detailed how his company has detected unusual trends in the App Store. The store recently shifted to better compensate for typos in searches, seemingly designed to push popular apps like Uber to the top of search results when typing "upper" or "uper."
Apple hasn't indicated when service will be restored. The problems appear to be contained to the U.S. and mainland Europe. Regional services, including the U.K. store, appear to be unaffected for now.
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