wants to do for machine learning what GitHub did for code permits data scientists and developers to easily monitor, compare and optimize their machine learning models. The New York-based company is launching its product today, after completing the TechStars-powered Amazon Alexa Accelerator program and creating a $2.3 million seed round led by Trilogy Equity partners, together with Two Sigma Ventures, Founders Co-Op, Fathom Capital, TechStars Ventures and angel investors.

The service provides you with a dashboard that brings together the code of your machine learning( ML) experiments and their results. In addition, the service also allows you to optimize your models by tweaking the hyperparameters of your experiments. As you develop your model, Comet tracks the outcome and provided by with a graph of your results, but it also tracks your code changes and imports them so that you can afterwards compare all the different aspects of the various versions of your experiments.

Developers can easily incorporate Comet into their machine learning frameworks , no matter whether they use the Keras API, TensorFlow, Scikit Learn, Pytorch or simply like to write Java code. To get started, developers simply add the tracking code to their apps and operate their experiments as usual. The service is completely agnostic as to where you train your models and you can plainly share access to your results with the rest of your team.

Ideally, this means that data scientist can stick with their existing workflow and developing tools, but in addition to those, they now have a new tool that devotes them better insights into how well their experiments are working.

” We realized that ML squads seem a lot like software teams appeared ten or fifteen years ago ,” co-founder and CEO Gideon Mendels told me. While software teams now have version control and tools like GitHub to share their code, ML teams still often share data and code by email.” The main issue isn’t discipline but the country of tooling ,” said Mendels.” Current tools like GitHub are a great solution for software engineering, but for ML squads — even though code is a major component — it’s not everything .”

Mendels tells me that the team signed up about 500 data scientists( including from some top tier tech companies) during its shut beta. So far, these users have developers about 6,000 models on the platform.

Looking ahead, the team plans to give developers more tools to build better and more accurate models, though as Mendels noted, to do that, the company had to get this first building block in place. is now available to all developers who want to give it a try. There’s a free tier that allows for limitless public projects and, similar to GitHub, a number of paid tiers for teams that want to keep their project private.

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Heres the first developer preview of Android P

Just like in the last two years, Google is use the beginning of March to launch the first developer preview of the next version of Android. Android P, as it’s currently called, is still very much a work in progress and Google isn’t releasing it into its public Android beta channel for over-the-air updates just yet. That’ll go later. Developers, however, can now download all the necessary bits to work with the new the characteristics and test their existing apps to make sure they are compatible.

As with Google’s previous early releases, we’re largely talking about under-the-hood updates here. Google isn’t talking about any of the more user-facing design changes in Android P just yet. The new features Google speak of, though, will definitely make it easier for developers to create interesting new apps for modern Android devices.

So what’s new in Android P? Since people were already excited about this a few weeks ago, let’s get this one new feature out of the route: Android P has built-in support for notches, those showing cutouts Apple had the fortitude to pioneer with the iPhone X. Developers will be able to call a new API to check whether a device has a cutout and its dimensions and then request full-screen content to flow around it.

While Google isn’t talking much about user-facing features, the company mentions that it is once again making a modification to Android notifications. This time around, the company is focusing on notifications from messaging apps and it’s giving developers a couple of new tools for highlighting who is contacting you and dedicating developers the ability to attach photos, stickers and smart replies to these notifications.

A couple of new additions to the Android Autofill Framework for developers who write password administrators will also stimulate life a little bit easier for users, though right now, the focus here is on better data set filtering, input sanitization and a compatibility mode that will allow password managers to work with apps that don’t have built-in is supportive of Autofill yet.

While Google isn’t introducing any new power-saving features in Android P( yet ), the company does say that it continues to refine existing features like Doze, App Standby and Background Limits, all of which it introduced in the last few major releases.

What Google is adding, though, is new privacy features. Android P will, for example, restrict access to the microphone, camera and sensors from idle apps. In a future construct, the company will also introduce the ability to encrypt Android backups with a client-side secret and Google will also introduce per-network randomization of associated MAC address, which will make it harder to track users. This last feature is still experimental for now, though.

One of the most interesting new developer is available in Android P is the multi-camera API. Since many modern phones now have dual front or back cameras( with Google’s own Pixel being the exception ), Google decided to make it easier for developers to access both of them with the help of a new API to call a fused camera creek that they are able switch between two or more cameras. Other changes to the camera system are meant to help image stabilization and special effects developers construct their tools and to reduce the lags during initial captures. Chances are, then, that we’ll insure the more Frontback-style apps with the release of Android P.

On the media side, Android P also introduces built-in is supportive of HDR VP9 Profile 2 for playing HDR-enabled movies on devices with the right hardware, as well as support for images in the increasingly popular High Efficiency Image File Format( HEIF ), which may only be the JPEG-killer the internet has been searching for for decades( and which Apple also supports ). Developers now also get new and more efficient tools for managing bitmap images and drawables thanks to ImageDecode, a replacing for the present BitMapFactory object.

Indoor positioning is also get a boost in Android P thanks to support for the IEEE 802.11 mc protocol, which provides information about Wi-Fi round-trip time, which in turn allows for comparatively accurate indoor positioning. Devices that support this protocol will be able to situate a user with an accuracy of one to two meters. That should be more than enough to guide you through a mall or pop up an ad when you are close to a store, but Google also notes that some of the use cases here include disambiguated voice controls.

Once you are in that store in the mall and want to pay, Android P now also supports the GlobalPlatform Open Mobile API. That name may evoke the feeling of green meadows and mountain dew, but it’s basically the standard for house procure NFV-based services like payments solutions.

Developers who want to do machine learning on telephones are also in luck, because Android P will bring a couple of new features to the Neural Networks API that Google first introduced with Android 8.1. Specifically, Android P will add support for nine operations: Pad, BatchToSpaceND, SpaceToBatchND, Transpose, Strided Slice, Mean, Div, Sub and Squeeze.

But wait, there’s more. Now that Kotlin is a first-class language for Android development, Google is patently optimizing its compiler, and for all apps, Google is also promising performance and efficiency improvements in its ART runtime.

Clearly, this is one of the more meaningful Android updates in recent years. It’s no amaze then that Google is only attaining images available to developers right now and that you won’t be allowed to get this version over the air just yet. Like with previous releases, though, Google does plan to bring Android P to the Android beta channel( Google I/ O is about two months ago, so that may be the time for that ). As usual, Google will likely introduce a couple of other new features over the course of the beta period and at some phase, it’ll even announce the final name for Android P…

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HackerRank raises $30M to match developers with jobs

HackerRank, the skills-based recruiting platform and online coding challenge community, today announced that it has raised a $30 million Series C funding round led by JMI Equity, a fund that specializes in helping software companies scale. Existing investors Khosla Ventures, Battery Ventures, Randstad and Chartline Capital Partners also participated in this round.

As HackerRank co-founder and CEO Vivek Ravisankar told me, the company currently has over 3.4 million developers in its community, which has grown organically since the company’s launch in 2012. What’s perhaps just as important, though, is that the service has furthermore brings with it a wide variety of companies to its HackerRank for Work program that are looking to use the services platform( and community) to recruit developers. According to Ravisankar, these clients include five of the top eight commercial banks, for example, as well as auto producers, retailers and others. Ever company is now a software company, after all, and they are all go looking for talent. With these customers, HackerRank was actually cash flow-positive for a part of 2017 and expects to return to that in the near future.

Over the course of the past year, HackerRank also expanded beyond core programming skills and adding support for other technical roles, including DevOps postures, database specialists and others.

“To be frank, we didn’t think we needed $30 million, ” Ravisankar told me, but JMI looked like a good match for HackerRank and this round, which brings the company’s total funding to $58.2 million to date, gives it a long runway to expand its product portfolio.

Specifically, Ravisankar is focussing on three regions: doubling down on client acquisition and HackerRank’s go-to-market strategy, expending more in its community, and using machine learning and data science to better match employer and chore seekers.

It’s this last part that’s likely the most interesting. HackerRank sits on a trove of data about what skills job seekers possess and which ones employers are looking for. “It’s very hard for a lot of companies to quantify what makes a great developer, ” Ravisankar explained — and the same goes for developers who don’t always know what they are looking for. So at this point, the HackerRank team is trying to figure out how it can best utilize its data was whether a developer is a good fit for a job.

HackerRank currently has about 150 employees but this new round will enable it to hire a few more, too. Opportunities are, it’ll use its own platform to do so.

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Microsoft Build will run from May 7 to 9 in Seattle, will overlap with Google I/O

Scheduling tech seminars is hard, especially in May, when seemingly every company wants to hold an important event, including Google and Microsoft. Typically, Google I/ O and Microsoft Build, the flagship developer conferences for both companies, happen within a week or two of each other in May. But not this year.

Microsoft today announced that its Build conference in Seattle will run from May 7 to 9. Google I/ O is scheduled to run from May 8 to May 10. That’s not ideal.

Google probably put Microsoft in a tough place given that it announced its dates first. Both companies use these events to stimulate major announcements that affect both their respective developer communities and their users. Last year, for example, Microsoft use Build to announce both new developer and cloud tools, as well as the latest version of Windows 10.

By scheduling Build right before I/ O, Microsoft clearly hopes to steal some thunder from Google.

Most attendees likely merely attend one of these shows, so that shouldn’t be an issue for most. Microsoft typically schedules two days of keynotes for Build, though, so May 8 will be an interesting day for the tech press if both Google and Microsoft hold dueling keynotes on that day.

Registration for Build will open on February 15. Developers who want to be in the running for a ticket for Google I/ O will have to set their hat in the ring between February 22 and 27.

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Storyline lets you build and publish Alexa skills without coding

Thirty-nine million Americans now own a smart speaker device, but the voice app ecosystem is still developing. While Alexa today has over 25,000 skills available, a number of companies haven’t yet built a skill for the platform, or offer only a very basic skill that doesn’t run that well. That’s where the startup Storyline comes in. The company is offering an easy to utilize, drag-and-drop visual interface for building Amazon Alexa skills that doesn’t require you to have knowledge of coding.

As the company describes it, they’re constructing the “Weebly for voice apps”- a reference to the drag-and-drop website building platform that’s now a popular route for non-developers to generate websites without code.

Storyline was co-founded in September 2017 by Vasili Shynkarenka( CEO) and Maksim Abramchuk( CTO ). Hailing from Belarus, the two has hitherto operate a software development bureau that built chat-based applications, including chatbots and voice apps, for their clients.

Their work resulted them to be submitted with Storyline, explains Vasili.

“We realized there was this big struggle with creating conversational apps, ” he says. “We became aware that creative people and content inventors are not really good at writing code. That was the major insight.”

The company is targeting brands, businesses and individuals who want to reach their clients- or, in the case of publishers, their readers- using a voice platform like Alexa, and later, Google Home.

The software itself is designed to be very simple, and can be used to create either a custom skill or a Flash Briefing.

For the most basic skill, it only takes five to seven minutes , notes Vasili.

To get started with Storyline, you sign up for an account, then click which type of skill you want to build- either a Flash Briefing or custom ability. You then offer some basic information like the skill’s name and speech, and it launches into a canvas where you can begin creating the skill’s conversational workflow.

Here, you’ll see a block you click on and customize by entering in your own text. This “wouldve been” first thing your voice app says when launched, like “Hello, welcome to…” followed by the app’s name, for example.

You edit this and other blocks of text in the panel on the left side of the screen, while Storyline presents a visual overview of the conversation flow on the right.

In the editing panel, you are still click on other buttons to add more voice interactions- like other questions the skill will ask, user replies, and Alexa’s reply to those.

Each of these items is connected to one of the text blocks on the main screen, as a flow chart of sorts. You can also configure how the skill must be held accountable if the user says something unexpected.

When you’re finished, you can test the ability in a browser by clicking “Play.” That style, you can hear how the skill sounds and test various user responses.

Once satisfied that your skill is ready to go, you click the “Deploy” button to publish. This redirects you to Amazon where you sign in with your Amazon account and publish.( If you don’t have an Amazon Developer account, Storyline will guide you to create one .)

This sort of visual skill developing system may be easier to manage for simpler skills that have a limited number of questions and replies, but the startup says that even more advanced abilities have been constructed utilizing its service.

It was also used by two of the finalists in the Alexa Skills Challenge: Kids.

Since launching the first version of Storyline in October 2017, some 3,000 people have signed up for an account, and have created roughly the same number of abilities. Around 200 of those have gone live to Amazon’s Skill Store.

Storyline isn’t the only company focused on helping business build voice apps without code these days, however.

For example, Sayspringlets designers create voice-enabled apps without code, as well, but instead of was published ability directly, it’s meant to be the first step in the voice app creation process. It’s where designers can flesh out how a ability should work before handing off the coding to a development team.

Vasili says this is a big differentiator between the two companies.

“Prototyping tools are great to play with and explain ideas, but it’s super hard to retain users by being a prototyping tool- because they use the tool to prototype and then that’s it, ” he explains. With Storyline, customers will stay throughout the process of launching and iterating upon their voice app, he states. “We can use data from when the skill is published to improve the design, ” notes Vasili.

Alexa is coming to wearable devices, including headphones, smartwatches and fitness trackers

Amazon wants to bring Alexa to more devices than smart speakers, Fire TV and various other customer electronics for the home, like alarm clocks. The company yesterday announced developer tools that would allow Alexa to be used in microwave ovens, for example- so you could just tell the oven what to do. Today, Amazon is rolling out a new situated of developer tools, including one called the “Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit, ” that would allow Alexa to work Bluetooth products in the wearable space, like headphones, smartwatches, fitness trackers, other audio devices, and more.

This kit is already being used by several companies, including device manufacturers and solution providers Bose, Jabra, iHome, Linkplay, Sugr, Librewireless, Beyerdynamic, Bowers and Wilkins.

Amazon said Bose in particular had been working with the company to build, design and test the answer, and refine the new kit, which will be made more broadly available to developers this summer.( Sign up is here .)

“Bose is excited to add a remarkable new Alexa experience for our clients, ” said Brian Maguire, Director of Product Management at Bose, said in a statement. “Accessing Alexa’s music, datum, and vast number of skills on our headphones will become easier than ever, and we’re looking forward to bringing our collaboration to life.”

The Mobile Accessory Kit would allow a brand like Bose to better compete with the likes of Apple and Google, each who have tied their own voice assistants to their respective Bluetooth headphones- Apple’s AirPods and Google’s Pixel Buds. As voice computing and virtual assistance continues to grow in popularity, it will be increasingly important for other brands- that are not Apple or Google- to have a route to compete. Amazon’s big gamble here is that it can capture that larger marketplace by offering access to Alexa, permitting the hardware device makers to do what they do well- which is not inevitably voice computing.

The addition of the Mobile Accessory Kit follows on last year’s launching of the AVS Device SDK, which allowed device manufacturers to incorporate Alexa in their connected products. This new kit, however, is more of an alternative, is targeted at those who need a more “lightweight method to build on-the-go products, ” explains Amazon.

That’s because devices employing this kit won’t have Alexa built-in- they’ll is attached to Alexa by pairing with Bluetooth to the Amazon Alexa App.

The kit was one of two developer tool announcements out today, ahead of CES.

The other is an update to the Amazon Alexa 7-Mic Far-Field Development Kit called the Amazon Alexa Premium Voice Development Kit. Aimed at commercial device makers, the kit allows them to enable high-quality, far-field voice experiences in their products, says Amazon. The kit is based on the technology that Amazon introduced in its latest Echo family of devices, which offered upgraded experiences over the original Echo.

This kit includes support for either 7-mic broadside or 8- mic rectangular array committees, for different types of devices. It also incorporates Amazon’s proprietary software and algorithm technology for “Alexa” wake word recognition, ray forming , noise reduction, and acoustic echo cancellation. More info on that kit is here.

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Developer community Stack Overflow lays off reportedly 20% of staff as it refocusses business

Some changes are underway at Stack Overflow, the online community where some 50 million developers and others converge to talk programming and many other things. TechCrunch has learned and confirmed that the startup has conducted a substantial number of layoffs across the company as it lookings to steer the business more towards its core Q& A products and away from areas that were watching less demand. As part of this, the company is also closing its offices in Denver.

“Stack Overflow made the decision to expand product development in our core Q& A product offerings, including Stack Overflow Enterprise and Channels for business developer collaboration and our well known core platform for developer knowledge sharing, ” said a statement from the company. “These are in-demand solutions with strong pipelines and client interest. As a result we are regrettably restructuring some of our sales and marketing efforts including the closing of our Denver facility and the reduction of some of its staff. Stack Overflow customers and loyal users will see no interruption in service. Business is growing across all products and this move will even speed more the characteristics and offerings to market over the coming months.”

The company is not specifying exactly how many people are being impacted by the restructuring. A source that contacted TechCrunch claimed that the number of people affected worked out to about 20 percent of Stack Overflow’s 300 employees, or 60 people. That’s the number also being stated by at the least one of the people affected today.

There is also some discrepancy about what chores are being affected. As you can see in the statement, Stack Overflow mentions marketings and marketing attempts, but our source, and the trail of tweets on Twitter, point to people affected in marketings, data, engineering, and product.

The source also claimed that the company is looking forward to fulcrum away from Careers, but from what we understand the Developer Jobs part of Stack Overflow will continue to exist.

Stack Overflow’s careers business, in fact, is not mentioned one style or the other in the statement provided by the company.

It’s a far cry from the optimism we heard from Stack Overflow when it raised $40 million in 2015 specifically to build out the recruitment part of its business, which at the time accounted for two-thirds of the company’s revenues and was growing on the back of the reputation and traffic of Stack Overflow’s Q& A niche.( Advertising made up the remaining third .)

“I don’t insure HackerNews or GitHub as vying against us immediately for the same dollars or even the same attention, ” CEO and co-founder Joel Spolsky said at the time. “Programmers use us for different things and they don’t truly overlap. They are all in the developer attention space but so are a lot of other things like World of Warcraft. We’ve come to dominate getting answers just like GitHub is dominating social coding and version control.”

It’s not clear today what Stack Overflow’s main revenue generator is, but the company appears to be putting its forward gambles on more into paid enterprise services.

Channels, a new product that is still in beta, is a private version of Stack Overflow that companies can run just for their squads. It’s an interesting twist on the company’s mainstay of open-ended Q& A, but it also potentially results it into an already competitive space, with the likes of Slack, Atlassian’s Hipchat, Microsoft and many more vying to be the platform for squads to exchange ideas with each other.

To date, Stack Overflow has raised around $68 million from investors that include Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures, Spark Capital, Index Ventures, Bezos Expeditions, Founder Collective and a number of individual investors.

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GitLab raises $20M Series C round led by GV

GitLab, a collaboration and DevOps platform for developers that’s currently in use by more than 100,000 organizations, today announces that it has raised a $20 million Series C round led by GV( the fund you may still recollect under its former name of Google Ventures ). This brings GitLab’s total funding to date to just over $45.5 million.

In addition to the new funding, the company also today said that WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg is joining the company’s board.

As its name implies, GitLab started out as a git-based open source tool for self-hosting code storehouses. Since its launch in 2014, the company has branched out, though, and added a number of more DevOps-centric services to its lineup. This includes a number of workflow tools, but also features that easily enable code review/ test/ release automation and even application monitoring.

It’s maybe no astonish then that the company now watches it as its mission to “develop a seamless, integrated product for modern software developers and become the application for software development in Kubernetes”( yes — even GitLab now wants to get deeper into the Kubernetes game ).

“The Fortune 500 is racing to build world-class software growth organizations that mirror the velocity, productivity, and quality of the largest tech companies. As these organizations strive to produce high-quality code at scale, they will need best-in-class tools and platforms. GitLab’s platform accelerates the development process with an emphasis on collaboration and automation, ” said Dave Munichiello, GV General Partner, in a canned statement today. “GitLab’s hybrid, multi-cloud solution is loved by developers, and is considering tremendous traction in the field.”

Current GitLab users include the likes of Ticketmaster, ING, NASDAQ, Sony and Intel.

As for the funding itself, GitLab says that it plans to use it to add “new functionality for packaging, releasing, configuring and monitoring software.”

The company does face competition from the likes of GitHub and Atlassian’s BitBucket, though GitLab argues that its tools currently represent two-thirds of the self-hosted git market.

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Google, IBM and others launch an open-source API for keeping tabs on software supply chains

Thanks to receptacles and microservices, the way we are building software is quickly changing. But as with all change, these new models also introduce new problems. You likely still want to know who actually built a dedicated container and what’s running in it. To get a handle on this, Google, JFrog, Red Hat, IBM, Black Duck, Twistlock, Aqua Security and CoreOS today announced Grafeas( “scribe” in Greek ), a new joint open-source project that provides users with a standardized route for auditing and governing their software supplying chain.

In addition, Google also launched another new project, Kritis( “judge” in Greek, because after the success of Kubernetes, it would surely be bad luck to pick names in any other speech for new Google open-source projects ). Kritis allows businesses to enforce certain receptacle properties at deploy period for Kubernetes clusters.

Grafeas basically defines an API that collects all of the metadata around code deployments and construct pipelines. This entails maintaining a record of authorship and code provenance, recording the deployment of each piece of code, marking whether code passed a security scan, which components it utilizes( and whether those have known vulnerabilities) and whether Q& A signed off on it. So before a new piece of code is deployed, the system can check all of the info about it through the Grafeas API and if it’s certified and free of vulnerabilities( at least to the best knowledge of the system ), then it can get pushed into production.

At first glance, this all may seem rather bland, but there’s a real need for projects like this. With the advent of continuous integrating, decentralization, microservices, an increasing number of toolsets and every other buzzworthy technology, enterprises are struggling to keep tabs on what’s actually happening in the middle their data centers. It’s fairly hard to stick to your security and governance policies if you don’t exactly know what software you’re actually operating. Currently, all of the different tools that developers use can record their own data, of course, but Grafeas represents an agreed-upon route for collecting and accessing this data across tools.

Like so many of Google’s open-source projects, Grafeas basically simulates how Google itself handles these issues. Thanks to its massive scale and early adoption of containers and microservices, Google, after all, find many of these problems long before they became an issue for the industry at large. As Google notes in today’s proclamation, the basic tenants of Grafeas reflect the best practises that Google itself developed for its build systems.

All of the various partners involved here are bringing different pieces to the table, but JFrog, for example, will implement this system in its Xray API. Red Hat will use it to enhance its security and automation features in OpenShift( its container platform) and CoreOS will integrate it into its Tectonic Kubernetes platform.

One of the early testers of Grafeas is Shopify, which currently constructs about 6,000 containers per day and which keeps 330,000 images in its primary container registry. With Grafeas, it can now know whether a devoted container is currently being used in production, for example, when it was downloaded from the registry, what packages are running in it and whether any of the components in the container include any known security vulnerabilities.

“Using Grafeas as the central source of truth for receptacle metadata has allowed the security team to answer these issues and flesh out appropriate auditing and lifecycling strategies for the software we deliver to users at Shopify, ” the company writes in today’s announcement.

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Google Play will now downrank poorly performing apps

Google today announces that it rolling out a change to its Play Store so that better-performing apps meaning those that experience fewer accidents and those that dont drain your smartphone battery will be ranked higher than apps with bugs and other performance issues.

The goal with this new ranking algorithm is to ensure that the best apps are being promoted, which in turn leads to increased app usage and participation, the company says.

The impetus for this change came after Google realized that around half of the 1-star reviews on the Google Play Store were about app stability problems.

Apps that dont progressing well frustrate users, who often turn to the reviews to leave a complaint. Over period, a number of bad reviews and low starring ratings can impact the apps place in the charts and search results. But if an app is popular enough, a great number of installs can still, to some extent, override its negative reviews and push the app back up into a higher position than it rightly deserves.

This ranking algorithm update will now force-out developers with buggy apps to address their issues, or be penalise as a result.

Google says its looking at a variety of quality signals related to an apps performance to determine its new ranking. For instance, it will take into consideration things like app crashes, battery utilization, and how many uninstalls the app has, among other things. The company declined to share specifics on this signals like how many crashes or uninstalls, for example, could cause an app to be downranked.

The company started rolling out the change this week to a very small subset of users, but its already considering some notable outcomes. Following the update, Google found that people who installed higher quality apps would then go on to use those apps more, and uninstall them less.

Of course, its fairly obvious that there would be a connection between app quality and usage things that is likely impact a developers ability to retain users and generate revenue. A good developer is likely worried about bugs, crashes and performance issues anyway. But this change will further institutionalize these values across the Play Store theres no skirting around building good apps if you want them to be found.

The company says the Play Store now has over a million apps available for download, which means theres a large number of apps that arent going to be easily discoverable through the stores charts and featured selections they rely on user searches to be found. And if their app isnt running that well, it could become even more invisible than it was before.

The updated algorithm will continue to roll out over the next week or so across the Google Play Store worldwide, the company says. It will affect both the charts and the search results.

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