World Wide Web

, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 2721–2745 | Cite as

Leveraging app usage contexts for app recommendation: a neural approach

  • Yanan Xu
  • Yanmin ZhuEmail author
  • Yanyan Shen
  • Jiadi Yu
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Special Issue on Web and Big Data


The large volume and variety of apps pose a great challenge for people to choose appropriate apps. As a consequence, app recommendation is becoming increasingly important. Recently, app usage data which record the sequence of apps being used by a user have become increasingly available. Such data record the usage context of each instance of app use, i.e., the app instances being used together with this app (within a short time window). Our empirical data analysis shows that a user has a pattern of app usage contexts. More importantly, the similarity in the two users’ preferences over mobile apps is correlated with the similarity in their app usage context patterns. Inspired by these important observations, this paper tries to leverage the predictive power of app usage context patterns for effective app recommendation. To this end, we propose a novel neural approach which learns the embeddings of both users and apps and then predicts a user’s preference for a given app. Our neural network structure models both a user’s preference over apps and the user’s app usage context pattern in a unified way. To address the issue of unbalanced training data, we introduce several sampling methods to sample user-app interactions and app usage contexts effectively. We conduct extensive experiments using a large real app usage data. Comparative results demonstrate that our approach achieves higher precision and recall, compared with the state-of-the-art recommendation methods.


Mobile apps Embedding Usage context Recommendation 



This research is supported in part by 973 Program (No. 2014CB340303), NSFC (No. 61772341, 61472254, 61170238, 61602297 and 61472241), and Singapore NRF (CREATE E2S2). This work is also supported by the Program for Changjiang Young Scholars in University of China, the Program for China Top Young Talents, and the Program for Shanghai Top Young Talents.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Shanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiChina

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