Posts tagged with "app store"


Friending the App Store

Andy Baio shares thoughts (with mockups) on what he'd like to see on the App Store for social recommendations:

My hope is that Apple, and every other app store, can take a page from the last decade of the social web. Give its users a public identity, an incentive to share what they love, and the ability to find and follow others like them.

These are some interesting ideas – especially for indie game developers – and I agree. Social recommendations and “developer notifications” could drive significant traffic to apps recommended by people you trust (your friends) or developers you trust (the ones that make apps you already use), albeit with a different set of questions (how many notifications do you want to receive? How often? From which developers?).

I also think, though, that before social recommendations Apple needs to educate users on the idea of sharing quality apps/games and recommending them to their friends. In this regard, I believe that Explore is going to be an important addition: curated collections and sub-categories will help in communicating the richness and quality of selected App Store content that can be lost in the Top Charts that most people see as an indication of “what's cool”.

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Apple Expanding Curation To More European App Store Categories

Apple's promotion for curated categories on the Italian App Store.

Apple's promotion for curated categories on the Italian App Store.

As first reported by The Guardian today, Apple has expanded human curation on the European App Store to seven additional categories, adopting the same custom layout with curated sections and recommendations that was first introduced in the US Store in late 2012.

The Guardian notes that only five European categories were curated by human editors, with algorithms in charge of highlighting popular apps in other App Store categories for European customers:

iPhone and iPad owners visiting the productivity, photo & video, sport, music, lifestyle, health and travel categories will now see recommendations and themed collections of apps from Apple's editorial teams.

Until today, only five App Store categories – games, kids, education, food and Newsstand – were curated. Homepages for other categories simply displayed lists of new and popular apps chosen by an algorithm.

To promote the increased curation efforts, Apple has included a banner on the front page of several European App Stores, pointing users to a section grouping curated categories. In each category, Apple highlights editorial recommendations, curated collections, themed sections, and "best new apps". Typically, these app picks are refreshed on a weekly basis.

The refreshed category layout mirrors the work Apple has been doing on the US App Store, but it's not indicative of the sub-categories that the company will launch with iOS 8. At its developers conference last week, Apple announced Explore, a new App Store section that will allow customers to browse location-based app recommendations, editorial collections, and brand new sub-categories for apps.



OS X Yosemite Will Feature Option to Record Real-Time Footage of iOS Apps

Apple will provide an easier and integrated way to create screencasts for iOS apps with the upcoming iOS 8 and Yosemite software updates, using a Lightning cable and QuickTime Player on OS X. As reported by Benjamin Mayo at 9to5Mac, the feature is primarily meant to let developers create App Previews for the improved App Store launching with iOS 8, but it’ll also come in handy for users willing to capture videos of iOS apps for screencasts, reviews, and other video content.

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Apple Highlights Best App Store Releases In “Best Of April” Section

With today’s weekly App Store refresh, Apple has launched a new curated section highlighting the best app and game releases of April 2014, called “Best of April”. The new showcase, available on the iPhone and iPad App Store but absent from the Mac App Store, suggests Apple’s intention to start offering a monthly recap of the App Store’s best releases, handpicked and curated by the App Store’s editorial team.

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Jack for iTunes Connect

New app by Christian Beer to compose and upload descriptions for iOS and OS X apps from your Mac to iTunes Connect.

Managing screenshots with drag & drop. Updating localizations without waiting for page loads. Add sale price intervals via a convenient date picker.

Jack uses the iTunes Connect Transporter tool to communicate with Apple's backend, storing credentials securely in the OS X Keychain. If you're a developer, Jack makes it easy to add and edit metadata for localization purposes, select pricing tiers, and manage screenshots with drag & drop from the Finder.

There are some limitations, but overall Jack looks like a handy utility to save time when managing app metadata in iTunes Connect. There's a free trial (limited to 10 days and 2 uploads), and the app is 40% off until the end of April.

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Apple Testing Related Search Suggestions On The App Store

As first noted by developer Olga Osadcha, Apple is testing a related search suggestion feature on the App Store, which started rolling out earlier today for iPhone users on iOS 7.

The new menu, a scrollable bar with suggestions for searches related to the current search, allows users to discover more apps in search by tapping on suggestions, receiving a fresh set of results. Multiple suggestions can be selected in a single session: searching for “indie games”, for instance, displays suggestions for “action games”, which include “action RPG” into their own suggestions. The new suggestion bar doesn’t alter the way search results are displayed – Apple is still using a cards layout on the iPhone – and, for now, the feature doesn’t appear to be available on the App Store for iPad and desktop computers.

The new related search suggestions mark one of Apple’s first attempts to augment App Store search results with visual semantics for apps. In testing the feature, I was able to get suggestions for specific sub-categories such as “business news” and “video game news”, “writing” and “story ideas”, or “healthy cooking” and “food recipes”; each set of related searches included new results that were more specific and relevant to the suggested search. A suggested search can branch out to more sub-suggestions (that was the case with the aforementioned games example), but I also noticed related searches that had no additional searches inside them. Aside from the additional bar for suggestions, results were displayed as normal cards with no additional changes.

It’s unclear whether this new feature could be based on Apple’s curation efforts with custom sections, keywords chosen by developers for their apps, popular searches on the App Store, or a combination of all these existing pieces of metadata. Over the past few years, Apple has built a large catalogue of curated sections (called Collections), which, however, don’t appear to be the primary source of search suggestions. Related searches ranged from generic terms and phrases like “writing” and “news” to mixes of company and product names such as “word excel” and “game loft”, suggesting that Apple may indeed still be testing and tweaking the feature before a wider rollout.

With over a million apps on the App Store, search has often been mentioned as one of the areas where Apple could make significant improvements to enable customers to discover relevant apps more easily. Two years ago, Apple acquired App Store search engine Chomp in a move that was believed to bring new user features for App Store search and recommendations, which, however, didn’t materialize with iOS 6 and iOS 7.

While the company introduced a feature to discover apps popular nearby last year, the new search suggestions could provide a general layer of filtering that is independent from geographical location. At this point, it’s not clear whether Apple may be optimizing search suggestions based on user taste and purchase history – first tests suggest that related searches are simply based on app category rather than user personalization; right now, it’s hard to tell whether some search suggestions may have been manually curated by Apple or not.

In the past year, App Store optimization (or “ASO”) has become a common practice for third-party developers willing to ensure their apps would rank highly in Apple’s search algorithm – which the company also tweaked multiple times. With more specific searches directly suggested to users when searching, Apple could alleviate the problem of good results being buried below worse results with higher ASO values, giving users more relevant and specific apps in an increasingly crowded marketplace.