Apple doesn't make a single Android or Windows Phone app, and makes barely anything for Windows. But Apple's reluctance to develop on other platforms hasn't stopped Google and Microsoft from bringing their own apps across to iOS. That shouldn't be any surprise at all, given the different business strategies the three take. But what might be surprising is the extent to which Google and Microsoft have committed to bringing apps to iPhone and iPad users.
You are no doubt aware of the big apps from Microsoft (Word, Outlook and Minecraft) and Google (Gmail, Maps, Calendar), but the reality is that these two companies alone have over 150 apps available on the iOS App Store today. For good measure, I've also taken a look at the iOS development efforts from Adobe and Facebook, which are also significant.
Almost a year after the original announcement at WWDC 2014, Apple has opened access to App Analytics in iTunes Connect today.
Sarah Perez, writing for TechCrunch:
Ahead of its annual WWDC developer conference in June, Apple has opened up beta access to a new mobile app analytics service aimed at iOS developers. Simply called “Apple’s App Analytics,” an announcement inviting developers to request early access to the service appeared today on the iTunes Connect developer portal. Those with an iTunes Connect account can also reach the sign-up page using the direct link analytics.itunes.apple.com.
App Analytics are available for devices running iOS 8 and above, and the usage data part is completely opt-in. Every time you set up a new iOS device (or upgrade to iOS 8), you're asked if you want to share information with app developers to improve their apps through analytics. Other App Store metrics (views, installs, etc.) are returned for all users.
Based on the tweets I saw in my timeline today, first impressions seem positive. Apple can now give developers a level of insight that's unprecedented for any other app analytic platform. Apple's App Analytics can plug directly into the App Store and tell developers how customers find their apps, where traffic is coming from, and how many views an app gets on the Store.
After years of no data about customer behavior on the App Store, it seems like this will be a massive change for how apps are marketed, optimized for international App Stores, and presented to users.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Apple updated their App Store Review Guidelines to state that Watch apps built primarily to tell time will be rejected.
In the past few weeks, I've heard about a few timezone apps primarily designed to show world clocks that were rejected for unknown reasons, with developers annoyed about the lack of official guidelines. Today's change is better than approving and then rejecting an app, I guess, but maybe Apple could have shared this piece of information sooner. I don't know if those timezone apps ended up being approved or not, and there could be other developers with a different experience from the ones I talked to.
From Apple's standpoint, however, I can see why it makes sense to avoid confusion with apps that replicate a watch face UI – at least initially. It's not too dissimilar from Apple's stance on third-party apps that replicated native functionalities with the original iPhone App Store.
Jeremy Olson on making Hours free and shifting their focus on turning a “simple app” into a business:
How do you break into business and the enterprise? We like Slack’s bottom-up approach. Start by making the best solution for individuals, who in turn advocate adoption for their team, who in turn evangelize to other teams…and up the chain it goes. If startups can make this strategy work in the Enterprise, as Slack has, then they can focus on creating a great experience for the end-user instead of a bloated feature list to pass a corporate approval checklist.
Hours is an excellent time tracker. I'm curious to see if this strategy will work out for them, and if other developers are tweaking their plans to follow a similar route.
See also: Dan Counsell's advice from last year.
Apple has begun opening the doors to the Apple Watch App Store, featuring iPhone apps that have been updated with Watch compatibility. According to BuzzFeed, more than 3000 Watch apps have been approved by Apple, and all of them will be available in the App Store section of the Apple Watch app for iPhone today.
In a screenshot shared by Buzzfeed, it appears that the App Store for Apple Watch will feature curated sections for categories such as Healthy Living, Games, and more. However, at the moment the Apple Watch app is only displaying a list of recommended apps by Apple, which include Twitter, Things, Wunderlist, Uber, Evernote, and Instagram. Apple is also promoting two games – Rules and Trivia Crack, both updated with Apple Watch support. A full refresh of the App Store for Apple Watch with more sections and lists is expected to go live later today.
In the meantime, Apple has also updated the App Store for iPhone with new badges to indicate whether an app offers Apple Watch compatibility. In search results and app descriptions, you'll now see a badge with the app's Apple Watch icon, as well as screenshots of the Apple Watch version underneath regular iPhone screenshots.
The new badge is also available on the App Store for iPad, with a label that says “Offers Apple Watch App for iPhone”. Currently, screenshots of Apple Watch apps are not available on the iPad App Store.
Launching today, Blink is a new Universal iOS app from Squibner that quickly generates affiliate links for content from the App Store, Mac App Store, iTunes Store and iBooks Store. If you’re a member of the iTunes affiliate program you’ll know that you don’t want to be manually editing iTunes links with your own token and campaign tag – Blink automates that process on iOS, making it quick and effortless.
A Brief Introduction to Affiliate Links
Before I continue, a quick introduction to the world of affiliate linking for those that are unaware. Essentially, anyone can register for the iTunes affiliate program and they will receive their own affiliate token (a series of letters and numbers). If they generate an iTunes URL that includes this affiliate token and share that link with others that click on it, they will receive a (small) percentage of any iTunes sales that flow from any clicks. For many small and independent sites, such affiliate programs are a valuable source of income (and yes, MacStories uses affiliate links). Apple’s website has more details if you’d like to learn more about the technical details of affiliate linking and perhaps even sign up.
When Greg Gardner, an independent developer based in San Francisco, released Launcher for iOS last year, he didn’t think his handy utility would make headlines around tech blogs and push other developers to approach widgets for iOS 8 differently. And yet, after months of not being available on the App Store despite being originally approved in September 2014, Launcher is about to be covered (and used as an example) by the press again. Launcher has been re-approved by Apple, and it’s coming back to the App Store today with the same feature set from six months ago.
Last night, Apple and Pinterest announced a new collaboration that will see Apple curating app picks on the service, which has gained new special app pins with Install buttons. I can’t help but wanting to know more whenever the App Store and curation are involved; plus, I’ve been keeping an eye on Pinterest, and I find this new partnership fascinating.
Apple has started promoting games that don't have any In-App Purchases on the front page of the App Store. Currently featured in the UK App Store and likely expanding to the U.S. store later today as part of the App Store's weekly refresh, the section is called 'Pay Once & Play' and it showcases “great games” that don't require users to pay for extra content through IAPs.
The section is organized in Recent Releases, Blockbuster Games, and App Store Originals. The games included vary in terms of popularity and developer: Apple is promoting indie hit Thomas Was Alone under Blockbuster Games alongside Minecraft, but they're also showcasing award-winning Threes, Leo's Fortune, and Blek.
Over the past few years, Apple has dealt with numerous complaints and investigations over the nature of freemium games and how they were advertised as free downloads while effectively hiding major gameplay features behind In-App Purchases. The company brought a series of changes to the way freemium games were displayed on the App Store – it added a specific label to indicate IAPs, and then changed the button to download freemium games from “Free” to “Get”.
It's unclear whether the new section will be regularly updated or become a permanent fixture of the App Store's front page, but it's a good sign as it shows an interest in promoting quality game experiences that don't follow typical (and lucrative but potentially confusing) freemium trends.