Apple has denied claims that it favours its own apps when ranking search results for its own App Store.
An investigation by the Wall Street Journal suggested that Apple apps would appear higher in search results than better-reviewed downloads from third-party competitors.
It claimed that Apple’s own apps were ranked first in 60% of categories on the App Store, including in areas such as books and maps, where apps from the likes of Amazon and Google are widely considered more popular.
In response to the report, Apple said that because many of its customers searched for its apps on their devices – even those they had already downloaded – it meant those apps often appeared higher up in search results.
“Apple customers have a very strong connection to our products and many of them use search as a way to find and open their apps,” the company said in a statement.
“This customer usage is the reason Apple has strong rankings in search, and it’s the same reason Uber, Microsoft and so many others often have high rankings as well.”
Apple’s iOS is the world’s second most popular mobile operating system by market share, behind Google’s Android.
The report comes as the US Department of Justice announced it was opening its own investigation into technology giants, over whether they had stifled competition and innovation in the industry.
It said the probe would look at “widespread concerns” around social media, search engines and online retail services, and whether their actions have harmed consumers.
It comes at a time of increased scrutiny around tech companies and digital platforms.
Fellow technology giant Google has previously been hit by a number of antitrust fines from the European Commission in the last three years, linked to the firm’s online shopping, search engine and advertising businesses.