Why Apple Search Matters for iOS 9 Developers

September 7, 2015

6:00 pm

There are millions of mobile apps in their respective mobile OS marketplaces. Google Play and Apple Store hold a major share of the mobile market and between them, the Apple App Store is a source of big financial activities in terms of turnover.

When a website is unveiled, it will immediately indexed by search engines because of the availability of index friendly content and source code. Unfortunately, the same is not happening in the case of a mobile application upload in the respective marketplace. Mobile app users have to download the app and open it to see what is in it.

If someone wants to know prior to the download or purchase that what content is hidden inside a mobile app and whether that app is useful or not, she has only two options available. One is Meta data and app description uploaded on the App store and the other is a website or a landing page uploaded/published by the app owner herself.

When an iPhone app is becoming popular and its actual users are writing reviews on the web, then only the rests of people can know about it. Therefore, app users are always eager to know as much as possible about the app and Apple store has to give guidelines emphasizing this need at first place.

Improved Scenario through Deep Content Indexing
With the advent of technologies, the search algorithm of major search engines and Apple store itself has improved significantly. Now, the latest search algorithms are capable of unlocking the app content hidden beneath the app code and iOS source. With the announcement of iOS 9 and its Search API, Apple store is capable to index iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch apps easily and reveals their content in order to establish relevancy with the published content as well as satisfy the thirst of app users to know about the hidden content of the app prior to download or purchase.

Methods of Indexing for Search API at Apple Store
Apple’s Search API is working based on two concepts of indexing. One is public indexing and another is private indexing. Apple has propagated three methods in the interest of iOS developers to make their iPhone app or iPad app screens index friendly for Apple Search and they are: NSUserActivity, CoreSpotlight, and Web Markup.

For NSUserActivity, iOS developers have to insert the eligibility markup in the app code. Thus, when a user accesses screens with the markup, Apple indexes user activities in the form of snapshots. Now, Search API associate each snapshot with a contentAttributSet that is consisting of Meta data and other multimedia content along with texts.
iOS developers have to allocate a uniqueIdentifier for each NSUserActivity or include a URL of relevant web content.

For CoreSpotlight indexing, developers have to insert uniqueIdentifier that is associated with CSSearchableItemAttributeSet of app screens. The later one is determining algorithm relevance and populating the search result. Technically, identifier and attribute set combination is associated with domainIdentifier in order to facilitating grouping of app screen or content.

The aforementioned methods allow indexing of native source code and Apple Search API populates Meta data infused in native code, not on the relevant websites or web apps. This is clearly indicating the increased involvement of SEO during native coding as well.
We won’t mention the Web Markup indexing as everyone is familiar with web crawlers and Applebot to index relevant web content uploaded on the web.


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Mehul Rajput is a CEO of Mindinventory Technologies - is a leading mobile app development company which provide best iPhone app development and Android app development Services.