Posts tagged with "app store"

A Beginner’s Guide to App Store Pricing Tiers

It might be common knowledge to developers, but some readers might not be aware that Apple only permits developers to sell apps at certain price points. For example, customers in the US App Store will see apps costing $0.99, $1.99, and $2.99 but they won't find any apps costing $5.20 or $2.75.

For various reasons, which we'll cover, Apple permits developers to choose from 94 price tiers, which range from US$0.99 to US$999.99. Developers pick one price tier, which applies to every country that their app is distributed in.

In this story we'll go into the details of the App Store price tiers, explaining how they work, some of the reasons why they exist, interesting consequences of them, and hear from developers who use them.

This is a bit of an experimental story, exploring an iOS/Mac developer topic for the benefit of anyone interested in the iOS/Mac app ecosystem. If enough people find this useful we'll look at covering other topics.

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1Password 5.5 Brings UI Tweaks and Improvements to Touch ID, Apple Watch App, and Security

Released today on the App Store, the latest update to our favorite password manager brings some nice minor adjustments. Most of the changes improve the flow and ease of use of the app, and while there aren't any game changers here, numerous tiny annoyances that have been frustrating me for a while have been wiped out.

The first feature mentioned in the release notes is the ability to switch between multiple vaults with only two taps using their new vault switcher. I personally only use one vault with 1Password so I don't have much to say here, but I'm always a fan of doing things in fewer taps so this feature gets a thumbs up from me.

My favorite changes have to do with Touch ID and security tweaks. There have been quite a few times when I've accidentally canceled the Touch ID dialogue, and until now that meant that I was then required to type my password back in before the app would unlock. With version 5.5, there is now a very nice looking fingerprint button that will show up beneath the password input box. If you accidentally cancel Touch ID before unlocking the app, you can now tap the fingerprint button to bring the Touch ID prompt back up and unlock without typing. The feature of course still respects your Touch ID timeout settings, so if you're trying to unlock when Touch ID has been disabled until the next time your password is typed, tapping the fingerprint button won't do anything.

Next on security, in regard to the 1Password extension, the extension and the main 1Password app now share unlock settings. This means that if you unlock the app, the extension is unlocked, and vice versa. If you, like me, have experienced typing your password into the extension (which should then enable Touch ID) and then going to the main app and discovering that you now need to type the password again, then you'll be happy about this feature as well. Timeout settings are still respected on the extension as well, also of course.

Another small but appreciated security improvement: if you fill your login credentials on an unsecured website (think http://) when the saved URL for the login is secure (think https://), 1Password will warn you that this is about to happen. This is one of those features that you hope you would never need anyway but if you do it could save you a lot of trouble.

Finally, among some other various and very minor changes, the Apple Watch app has been updated to allow you to see the PIN numbers on your credit card entries. Convenient if you're into that sort of thing.

Overall, 1Password 5.5 is a solid update. Mostly polish, but polishing shiny things just makes them shinier, and who doesn't like that? If you don't have 1Password yet then I'm not sure why you read all of this, but you can find it in the App Store, and you should go buy it right now.


The Colors Of An App Icon

Stuart Hall from AppBot has previously written articles about common trends amongst popular apps when it comes to app names, descriptions, screenshots and countries, and he is back today with one about the colors of app icons.

Hall was able to extract the dominant colors from app icons and then plot them on a color wheel. The article features several different 'color wheels' showing the top 200 free iOS apps, paid iOS apps, iOS social apps, iOS games and free Mac apps.

You really need to view the article for yourself, but I have embedded one color wheel below. Hall shared a draft of the article with me and I suggested he generate one more color wheel which plotted the app icons based on their major color and sized to reflect their position on the charts (#1 is largest). Hall kindly obliged and you can see the chart below, representing the top 100 free iOS apps.

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11 Million Customers Sign up for Apple Music Trial, App Store Has a Record July

Apple's Eddy Cue and Jimmy Iovine spoke to USA Today reporter Marco della Cava about Apple Music's early numbers:

One month after unveiling its new streaming music service, Apple has locked in 11 million trial members, company executives tell USA TODAY.

"We're thrilled with the numbers so far," says Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet software and services, adding that of that sum 2 million have opted for the more lucrative family plan at $14.99 a month for up to six people.

Whilst there are still 2 months of the Apple Music free trial period before user's credit cards start being charged, there's little doubt that those numbers represent a solid launch. For those curious about how those numbers compare to other services, Spotify announced in early June this year that they had "more than 20 million subscribers and more than 75 million active users".

Cue also revealed to USA Today that July was a record breaking month for the App Store:

July also brought a fiscal high-water mark for the company's App Store, which did a record $1.7 billion in transactions, "with particular momentum in China," says Cue. That brings the total amount paid to app developers to $33 billion, up from $25 billion at the end of 2014.

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Apple Prevents App Store Reviews From Users on iOS 9 Betas

Within the last 12 hours Apple has modified the App Store to prevent users running "prerelease" software from leaving app reviews on the App Store. Now when a user running a beta version of iOS 9 tries to leave an app review, they will get the following error message:

This feature isn't available.
You can't write reviews while using a pre-release version of iOS.

However it appears that the change only applies to iOS 9, because users running OS X El Capitan can still post reviews on the Mac App Store.

The change should help end the annual frustration experienced by app developers when users running beta versions of iOS discovered a third party app wasn't compatible with the beta software and then left a 1-star rating on the App Store. Poor reviews on the App Store can hurt sales, and developers often can't do anything to fix the problem because they can't submit software built for the new versions of iOS whilst it remains in beta, and the bug could be one for Apple to fix, not the developer.

As Federico wrote earlier this month:

In this day and age of high competition and over 1.5 million apps available, having negative reviews displayed on the app's product page is a problem for developers. But it gets worse when those negative reviews cite problems that developers can't fix yet. At that point, developers feel that it's not fair to receive a negative review for something that's completely out of their control. And when the livelihood of independent app markers is at stake, it's hard to argue aganst their sentiment of frustration and disappointment. There's nothing they can do to fix their app issues on betas of iOS and OS X and they can't respond directly to reviews on the App Store – and yet they're taking all the blame. This, every year, repeatedly for every beta of iOS and OS X, and it's possibly becoming more of a problem now that Apple has two public betas.

The problem of permitting app reviews from users on beta software was always a problem, but it risked being a much bigger issue this year because it is the first year that Apple has begun offering public betas of a major iOS release.



Threes’ Free Version Doubles Developers’ Profits

The free version of popular puzzle game Threes has doubled its developers' profits, as reported by Eurogamer and as Threes developer Asher Vollmer shared in a series of tweets (full collection here).

It's interesting to look at the stats for the platform split of iOS vs. Android. The majority of free users also comes from iOS.

Making a free version of a paid game with ads may not be the most elegant decision, but it's a practical one when you want to attract an audience that doesn't have disposable income to spend on games.

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On Negative App Store Reviews During Betas of iOS and OS X

Earlier this week, Apple released the first public betas of iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan, and, knowing that would be the case, I cautioned MacStories readers against leaving negative reviews on the App Store for third-party apps that developers can't update with new features and fixes yet.

It's worth pointing out that, at this stage, third-party apps from the App Store can't be updated to take advantage of the new features in iOS 9 and OS X 10.11, which could limit the potential benefit of trying a public beta for some users. On iPad, for instance, only Apple's pre-installed apps can use the new multitasking features in iOS 9. For this reason, users interested in installing the public betas should also keep in mind that developers can't submit apps and updates with iOS 9 and El Capitan features to the App Store – therefore, it'd be best not to leave negative reviews for features missing in apps that can't be updated to take advantage of them yet.

Unfortunately, since yesterday I've already seen tweets from the developers of two excellent iOS apps – Screens and Day One – post screenshots of negative reviews they've received by users who are unsurprisingly running into problems when using their apps on the iOS 9 beta.

What's even more unfortunate is that this happens annually for every single iOS and OS X developer seed, but I fear the problem will be exacerbated this year by the availability of public betas anyone can try. Therefore, this bears repeating.

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Human Curation for Apps

In his look at human curation in the age of algorithms following the launch of Apple Music, Jean-Louis Gassée makes an interesting point about the App Store:

For a while now, music downloads have paled when compared to apps – hence Apple’s move to a streaming service. But there’s another idea lurking in there: If it’s a good idea to use human curators to navigate 30 million “songs”, how about applying human curation to help the customer find his or her way through the 1.5M apps in the Apple App Store? Apple bought Beats for $3B and spent a good chunk more to build its Music product. Why not take another look at the App Store jungle and make customers and developers even happier?

Apple has been featuring curated collections of apps on the App Store for a few years now, notably revamping the front page with best new apps, games, updates, and handpicked sections over the past year.

But I do wonder what a “For You” curated and personalized front page would be like for apps. I'm not sure 1.5 million apps have the cultural and social heritage that sustains the curation efforts of Apple Music, but it's fun to imagine how app experts and design tastemakers could make the App Store even more personal, showcasing great software that usually doesn't make it to the top charts.

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Apple Revamps App Store ‘Games’ Category with More Curated Lists

Sarah Perez, reporting on Apple's latest tweak to the App Store curated picks, this time for the Games category:

Apple quietly made a number of changes to the way it features and organizes mobile applications in the iTunes App Store in May that are of particular interest to mobile game developers. Previously, developers relied on algorithmically generated sections highlighting new and trending titles as a way of having their games found, but now many of these lists are gone.

Now missing are lists like “New,” “What’s Hot,” and “All iPhone (Free & Paid),” for example. In their place, including for the first time ever in the Games’ subcategory pages, are editorially curated lists instead.

Games are the App Store's most popular category, with 18 sub-sections for different game genres. I've argued in favor of more human curation on the App Store in the past, and Apple seems to agree that having human editors is the best (and only?) way to highlight good content with taste and thoughtfulness.

Some developers will always find ways to work around a system where apps are highlighted through algorithms; you can't buy your way into a curated list unless you make a good app and Apple thinks it's worth recommending to customers. Apple still has algorithm-based sections on the App Store (Top Charts, 'Popular Games' on the front page), but handpicking the best software is the right thing to do in a store with about 1.5 million apps. I'm glad that we're seeing more of this.

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