Posts tagged with "app store"

Apple No Longer Rejecting iOS 8 Calculator Widgets

According to TechCrunch, Apple has changed its mind on calculator widgets for iOS 8 following yesterday's PCalc news:

But now we’re hearing that Apple is changing its course. The PCalc app and widget will remain in the App Store, and all calculator-type widgets will be allowed as well, an Apple spokesperson has confirmed to us.

From our understanding, the calculator use case was not one that Apple had anticipated, which is why an App Store reviewer originally explained to Thomson that he would need to adjust the app, or risk being pulled from the App Store.

James Thomson still hasn't heard anything from Apple officially, and, obviously, there are hundreds of apps that are mysteriously rejected every week and that aren't covered by dozens of tech blogs in a single day.

Still, this is the right decision from Apple, and it'll hopefully turn into an opportunity to clarify the App Store Review Guidelines for widgets and improve the company's internal Schrödinger process that makes an app featured and at risk of rejection at the same time.

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Apple Asks PCalc Developer to Remove iOS 8 Widget

As tweeted by PCalc developer James Thomson today, he will be forced to remove the app's iOS 8 widget. Following an approval that saw PCalc 3.3 launch alongside iOS 8 and a feature in Apple's “Great Apps for iOS 8” App Store section, the company has informed Thomson that “Notification Center widgets on iOS cannot perform any calculations”.

Curious app rejections aren't new to the App Store, but being forced to remove a feature that was approved, featured by the App Store team, and appreciated by thousands of users is a different story. As Thomson tweeted, he invested time and resources into the development of the widget, which was a fantastic addition to the app and a nice way to perform quick calculations directly in the Today view of Notification Center. More importantly, it was a great showcase of the new capabilities of iOS 8.

Thomson wasn't alone in thinking that a widget calculator would be a good idea: dozens of iOS 8 widgets with the same feature have been released since last month (such as Wdgts) and Apple itself offers a calculator widget in OS X Yosemite.

But even with the following examples in mind, being forced to remove apps or features that had been previously approved isn't news either (case in point). Rather, what is disappointing is the persistence of contradicting signals from a company that many developers saw as “more open” after WWDC '14. Developers like Thomson will keep finding themselves in the position of risking to implement a feature or create an app that may be approved, gain users, and be shut down by Apple for a sudden policy change.

PCalc will continue to be a great app even without its widget. But at some point, we'll have to wonder whether technology limitations or murky App Store policies are truly holding iOS back, preventing developers from building innovative iOS-first apps that dare to go beyond the status quo. Today, that's happening to a calculator widget.


iOS 8 Spotlight Search and App Discovery

Hugh Kimura, writing about the new Spotlight search suggestions for App Store apps in iOS 8:

At this point, there doesn’t seem to be a way to optimize for Spotlight Search. Even searches for the most popular app names and keywords return inconsistent results.

It does help some well established apps. But we need to wait for Apple to refine the algorithm, in order for it to benefit more apps.

With ASO now being an important factor for developers to consider to properly market their apps, it'll be interesting to see if and how search in Spotlight will evolve. I'm finding it to be much faster and intuitive than App Store search, but its results aren't consistent.

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Apple Highlights “Apps for Health”

Following the release of iOS 8.0.2 and the restoration of HealthKit functionalities for third-party apps, Apple has started highlighting iPhone apps that integrate with iOS 8's Health dashboard with a dedicated section on the App Store.

Experience an entirely new approach to wellness where your fitness app can talk to your calorie tracker, your doctor can be automatically notified of updates to your health data, and great apps work together for a healthier you. This handpicked collection highlights the best fitness, nutrition, and medical apps customized for iOS 8.

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One Week After iOS 8, Developers Comment on App Bundles

With the release of iOS 8 last week, Apple launched app bundles, a new way for users to buy up to 10 apps from the same developer with a single purchase at a discounted price.

Officially introduced at WWDC 2014 as a feature of the new iTunes Connect, bundles mark a significant change for Apple's App Store since its opening in 2008: for the first time, developers can market their apps through discounts that can be configured in iTunes Connect rather than organize independent promotions based on price drops; from a user's perspective, app bundles are reminiscent of Apple's Complete My Album feature of the iTunes Store.

Shortly after the debut of iOS 8, Apple created a special App Store page showcasing popular bundles for apps, games, and apps for kids. Bundles are easy to spot on the App Store: like folders on iOS, a bundle's icon is a container of apps inside the bundle, showing a preview of the first four apps included in the bundle; a special badge indicates the number of apps in the bundle; and, only paid apps from the same developer can be part of a bundle – you won't be able to find games from EA and Ubisoft or apps from Readdle and Runtastic in the same bundle. Since last week, Apple has been heavily promoting productivity bundles from Readdle and Pixite, games from Square Enix and Disney, and apps by Toca Boca and Diptic.

Following the launch of bundles, I've been talking to several developers who collected some of their apps in bundles, gauging their reactions to this new feature of the iOS 8 App Store and their thoughts on Apple's promotional push so far.

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Apple Highlights “Great Apps and Games for iOS 8″

Following today's launch of iOS 8, Apple has launched a new App Store section highlighting popular new apps and updates released today.

The section, aptly called "Great Apps and Games for iOS 8" is organized in seven sub-categories for games, share extensions, custom actions, Notification Center widgets, Touch ID-enabled apps, photo editing extensions, and custom keyboards. Highlighted apps include 1Password 5, Day One, SwiftKey and TextExpander, Evernote, Day One, OmniFocus 2, and several other apps that were updated earlier today to take advantage of new iOS 8 features.

You can find Apple's "Great Apps and Games for iOS 8" section here. You can read our in-depth coverage of iOS 8 and iOS 8 apps here.


Common App Rejections

As noted by AppFigures on Twitter, Apple has posted a new webpage detailing common app rejections during the review process for the App Store.

Before you develop your app, it’s important to become familiar with the technical, content, and design criteria that we use to review all apps. We’ve highlighted some of the most common issues that cause apps to get rejected to help you better prepare your apps before submitting them for review.

At the bottom of the page, Apple lists the top reasons for app rejections in a seven-day period ending August 28, 2014.

Unsurprisingly, apps that exhibited bugs/crashes and that did not comply with the developer agreement were rejected, but the list also contains mentions of “less than very good” interfaces, apps with “screenshots not relevant to the App Store”, and apps with “icons similar to other apps”. All these are common traits of many apps that have been approved, not rejected.

Check out Apple's new webpage here.

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PlayStation Network and the App Store

Matt Birchler compares Sony's PlayStation Network storefront to Apple's App Store:

Everything you see when you load up the store has been hand-picked by someone. Of course, the PS4 store only has 147 items on the platform, so manually curating that content is easier than it would be for Apple with its 1+ million apps, but we’ll set that aside for today. Here’s what I have found when thinking about how I shop on the Playstation Network without any top lists to guid me.

As he argues towards the end, Apple does a lot of editorial curation on the App Store – and they are going to do more of it with iOS 8 – but the Top Charts don't reflect those efforts and they remain a difficult place for developers to break into.

Sony has it easier than Apple: the App Store's editorial team has to deal with thousands of apps released each day, frequent updates to existing apps, and a diversity of games and apps. The App Store is a much different market than the PSN or Nintendo's eShop, and, as I've written before, it remains to be seen whether customers will care about more visibility to curated sections in iOS 8.

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Jean-Louis Gassée on App Store Curation

Jean-Louis Gassée, in his open letter to Tim Cook:

Instead of using algorithms to sort and promote the apps that you permit on your shelves, why not assign a small group of adepts to create and shepherd an App Store Guide, with sections such as Productivity, Photography, Education, and so on. Within each section, this team of respected but unnamed (and so “ungiftable”) critics will review the best-in-class apps. Moreover, they’ll offer seasoned opinions on must-have features, UI aesthetics, and tips and tricks. A weekly newsletter will identify notable new titles, respond to counter-opinions, perhaps present a developer profile, footnote the occasional errata and mea culpa…

Good points, and not the first time Gassée has used the Michelin guide as an example of the human curation that could improve the App Store's recommendations.

Gassée doesn't mention the upcoming Explore section of the iOS 8 App Store, and I believe that is going to provide an interesting mix of the classic category-based organization with curation through sub-categories and editorial picks for specific “app types”.

Unsurprisingly, Explore is going to replace Near Me in the middle tab of the App Store app for iOS 8: Near Me will be integrated into Explore, and it will likely extend as part of a new system to advertise apps relevant to your location on the Lock screen. Free of the limited scope of Near Me, Explore will enable the App Store team to offer a full-blown index of app categories that are easily accessible from a dedicated view.

It is my understanding that Explore will feature a mix of the curated app collections Apple has been building for the past couple of years and new filters for app types. Starting with the basic list of App Store categories, you’ll be able to drill down into more specific sub-categories with multiple levels of depth, such as “Music > DJs” or “Productivity > Task Management > GTD”.

While Apple may not be considering a full-blown, standalone App Store Guide as a regular publication, iOS 8's Explore section is showing encouraging signs of new curation efforts that account for the incredible variety of the App Store's catalogue, but it remains to be seen whether customers will take the time to explore the Explore section.

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