Like it or not, Google Play is a point of reference when it comes to weighing and contrasting an app’s market quality based on the ratings and feedback left by other users. By now you’ll have definitely heard about the trick of ‘buying’ followers on social networks to artificially inflate the number of Likes on Facebook or followers on Twitter. But what many people don’t know is that these same tactics are becoming widespread in the world of software, with firms specializing in re-launching apps to substantially improve both their ratings and the number of positive comments on them in Google Play. Thus, you need to tread carefully when it comes to interpreting the rankings of apps in the Google marketplace.

Vote farms

The other day I stumbled on this photo on Twitter. Beyond the difficult of verifying whether it’s authentic, what’s certain is that it illustrates quite well a problem that will become instantly apparent if you type the phrase “buy ratings Google Play” into your search engine. There are countless pages offering install packages where for a modest price you can add 250 5-star reviews to an app, with each rating being done from a different device with a unique IP. Awful, right?

Obviously Google doesn’t usually let tricks like this slide unchecked, but that doesn’t stop new headlines popping up all the time related to its ratings system. A few days ago it came out than many Turkish users had discovered a way to gain visibility for their comments within the Google ratings system by writing a positive review but giving it just one star, so that the first page of ratings filled up with apparently-negative reviews that weren’t actually negative at all.

If you add to such situations the fact that the descriptions for each app are created by the developers themselves (with all the obvious partiality that entails), the conclusion is you should tread carefully when assessing an app based on the info provided by Google Play.

What ratings system is used on Uptodown?

Our lists of the top programs for each platform here on Uptodown follow a very simple criterion: the number of downloads over the last seven days. This means our main barometer is the popularity and prominence of a tool instead of ratings. In fact, the secondary criterion is the number of Likes a program has. There aren’t actually ratings at all, just a particular number of people who’ve clicked Like. If you’re looking for a contrasting opinion, you can read reviews on the software page itself, with no filters of any kind.

With regard to the descriptions themselves, they’re written by our team of editors, with each app analyzed individually to offer an actual perspective on the user experience. In the end, the best way to get a good barometer for an application is to give prominence to the most popular ones while highlighting less-known apps individually (as we do here on this blog).

This philosophy allows us to verify to a large extent an app’s validity and reliability, with the added benefit that if this human element fails, there’s always the VirusTotal report for each app that incorporates some 50 different antivirus programs.

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