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Posts tagged with "app store"

Privacy Policies Will Be Required for All Apps and Updates Beginning October 3rd

If you go to an app’s product page on any of Apple’s app stores, sometimes you’ll see a link to a privacy policy and sometimes you won’t. That’s because when iOS, macOS, or tvOS apps are submitted for beta testing or sale, developers have the option but aren’t required to link to a webpage with a privacy policy or, in the case of tvOS, include the policy directly in the app’s product page because the Apple TV doesn’t support web browsing. That will change soon.

As of October 3, 2018, any new app or update uploaded for beta testing or sale must include a privacy policy. Apple announced the change on its App Store Connect developer portal, which requires a developer account to access. Apple also noted in its announcement that a developer’s privacy policy link or text will only be editable when a developer submits a new version of their app for review.

Many app developers already provide privacy policies and are transparent about the information they collect from users and how they use it. I’m glad to see privacy policies become a requirement though because for some apps it’s not easy to track down how they use your data and there have been too many instances in the recent past where it’s been discovered that an app has used data in ways that users might not expect.


Apple Privately Advocates for Developer Adoption of Subscriptions

Kif Leswing reports for Business Insider on a meeting Apple held with select app developers last year where the subscription model was pushed:

An Apple representative said at the meeting that paid apps represent 15% of total app sales and is on the decline, according to a person who was there who did not want to be identified to maintain their relationship with Apple.
[...]
The message was clear: successful apps now focus on getting regular engagement from their users, not one-time sales. For developers, that meant embracing the subscription model.

If you focus on paid apps, instead of subscriptions, Apple warned, your business will eventually hit a cap.

This report comes hot on the heels of Apple's recent quarterly earnings report, during which Tim Cook shared, "Paid subscriptions from Apple and third parties have now surpassed 300 million, an increase of more than 60 percent in the past year alone."

That increase is fairly staggering to consider. Two years ago when Apple opened up subscriptions to all app types, many users and developers feared the potential for subscription fatigue. It looks like that hasn't prevented significant growth from happening – at least for now. I'll be curious to see if growth like this, and a further shift toward subscriptions over paid apps, is sustainable in the long-term.

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Apple Announces Apps and In-App Purchases Will Be Removed from its Affiliate Program October 1st

Apple has announced that apps and In-App Purchases will no longer be part of the iTunes Affiliate Program effective October 1, 2018. The iTunes Affiliate Program pays a commission from Apple's portion of the sale of apps and other media when a purchase is made with a link that contains the affiliate credentials of a member of the program. Anyone can join, but the Affiliate Program is used most heavily by websites that cover media sold by Apple and app developers.

This isn’t the first time Apple has had this part of its affiliate program in its crosshairs. In April 2017 Apple gave participants in the program 6-days notice that it was reducing commissions on apps from 7% to 2.5%. The angry fallout caused Apple to issue a face-saving ‘clarification’ that the change would only apply to In-App Purchases.

What I said then holds true today:

With ad revenue in decline, affiliate commissions are one way that many websites that write about apps generate revenue, MacStories included. Many developers also use affiliate links in their apps and on their websites to supplement their app income. This change will put additional financial pressure on both groups…

The fallout has already begun. In a post titled Apple Kills the App Store Affiliate Program, and I Have No Idea What We Are Going to Do., Eli Hodapp, the Editor-in-Chief of TouchArcade, concluded:

It’s hard to read this in any other way than “We went from seeing a microscopic amount of value in third party editorial to, we now see no value." I genuinely have no idea what TouchArcade is going to do.

It will be a shame if Apple’s decision results in TouchArcade shutting down because it provides some of the best mobile game coverage available.

What bothers me the most though is the unnecessarily hostile tone of Apple’s announcement email:

With the launch of the new App Store on both iOS and macOS and their increased methods of app discovery, we will be removing apps from the affiliate program.

That sounds an awful lot like ‘Our new App Store is so great we don’t need you anymore, bye.’ If that’s the case, it’s short-sighted, but it’s certainly Apple prerogative to run its programs as it sees fit. Still, it’s not the right way to address the publications, developers, and others that have generated millions of dollars of referrals over the years in exchange for a modest 7% cut. Whatever the motivation, the change has been handled poorly, which is disappointing. Unlike last year, however, I don’t expect Apple will back down from this decision.


Steve Jobs Interview Covering the First Month of the App Store Released by The Wall Street Journal

One month after the App Store debuted, Nick Wingfield of The Wall Street Journal sat down with Steve Jobs to see how it was going. Today, The Wall Street Journal released a full transcript and audio of the interview on their site. The interview is behind the Journal’s paywall, but it’s worth a read or listen if you have access to it.

At the time of Jobs’ conversation with Wingfield, there were over 1500 apps on the Store, and Jobs estimated around 50 were being added each day. According to Jobs, of the 1500+ apps on the App Store:

27% of them are free, leaving 73% paid. Of the paid apps, over 90% are under $10.

Jobs put the numbers in perspective by comparing them to iTunes downloads:

Users have downloaded over 60 million apps from the App Store in the first 30 days…. That is 30% as big as iTunes for music downloads.

Jobs went on to explain what that meant to developers:

The total revenue has been $30 million in the first 30 days. Developers get 70% of that. Developers get $21 million. Nine of that $21 million is going to the top 10 developers. A lot of small developers are making a lot of money.

What can only be captured by the audio of the interview, is Jobs’ apparently sincere astonishment at the success of the App Store. In retrospect, it’s amusing to hear Jobs speculate that the App Store might someday reach $1 billion in revenue when we know now that it’s paid out a net to developers of $100 billion:

We’re already at a $360 million a year run rate. This thing is going to crest to half a billion soon.

Who knows? Maybe it’ll be a billion dollar marketplace at some point in time. This doesn’t happen very often. A whole new billion dollar market opens up. 360 million in the first 30 days, I’ve never seen anything like this in my career for software.

Although I’m surprised that The Wall Street Journal waited more than two weeks after the 10th anniversary of the App Store to release the interview, I’m glad they did. The interview is full of interesting facts about the early App Store and a unique insight into Steve Jobs’ reaction to the Store’s runaway success. I highly recommend you listen if you can.

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The Decade-Long Road to Trism 2

Variety has an in-depth profile of Steve Demeter, the former Wells Fargo software developer who created Trism, one of the App Store’s earliest hit games.

Demeter became the face of the App Store gold rush for many people. His game, Trism, was one of the 500 apps that debuted on the App Store 10 years ago next Tuesday. The game, which incorporated the iPhone’s accelerometer, earned $250,000 in its first two months. With 3 million lifetime downloads, many at $4.99 each, Demeter quit his job as a developer at Wells Fargo to work on a sequel, eventually pouring all of the original game’s earnings into the effort:

Lost in the shadow of his initial success and worrying about a sophomore slump, the development of “Trism 2” became a nightmare cycle of starting and restarting, creating and destroying.

Eventually, Trism’s earnings dried up and Demeter got a job at Storm8 and later, FoxNext Games. Now, 10 years after Trism’s release, Demeter is releasing its sequel, Trism 2 to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the App Store with the help of FoxNext.

After all these years, it’s great to see Trism 2 launch, and the tenth anniversary of the App Store feels like the perfect time given it’s unique spot in App Store history. We’ve got special coverage of the App Store’s 10th anniversary coming from the entire MacStories team next week, so be sure to check back then.

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Apple Celebrates the App Store’s 10th Anniversary

Next week the App Store turns 10. Ahead of that momentous date, Apple has published a new retrospective feature on what the last 10 years have been like:

When Apple introduced the App Store on July 10, 2008 with 500 apps, it ignited a cultural, social and economic phenomenon that changed how people work, play, meet, travel and so much more. Over the past decade, the App Store has created a safe place for users of all ages to get the very best apps and a vibrant app economy for developers of all sizes, from all over the world, to thrive. Today, customers in 155 countries are visiting the App Store more often, staying longer and downloading and using more apps than ever before.

While there have been many notable moments since apps first came to iPhone and later iPad, the milestones and testimonials below reflect some of the most significant over the past 10 years — defining how the App Store democratized software distribution and transformed how we live every day.

The article includes quotes from developers who have published their work on the App Store over the last 10 years, as well as from Apple executives, creators like Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto, and more. These quotes are framed within the following 11 topics of the App Store's impact:

I. The App Store Opens Doors for Developers, Puts an All New Experience in the Hands of Customers
II. Mobile-First Businesses Thrive
III. Gaming Takes Off, Reaches New Fans
IV. In-App Purchase, Subscriptions Unlock Experiences
V. Streaming Entertainment Takes Off
VI. Creativity, Productivity and Education Soar Beyond Office, Classroom Walls
VII. Health, Fitness and Wellness Apps Surge in Popularity
VIII. Accessibility Apps Empower Communities
IX. Coding Inspires Future Generations
X. New App Store Features Encourage Discovery
XI. The AR Revolution Awaits

10 is a landmark year, and the App Store has a particularly warm place in the hearts of the MacStories team. We have some special celebration plans coming next week, and can't wait to share them with you.

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Apple Clarifies App Review Guidelines to Promote Free Trial Options

It's tough selling a paid up front app on the App Store. Users have no way of knowing ahead of time whether an app will fit their needs or not, and no one wants to spend money on an app only to find that it wasn't what they expected. Fortunately, App Store review guidelines have been updated this week to address that problem. Matthew Humphries reports for PCMag:

The updated guidelines state that, "Non-subscription apps may offer a free time-based trial period before presenting a full unlock option by setting up a Non-Consumable IAP item at Price Tier 0 that follows the naming convention: "14-day Trial." Prior to the start of the trial, your app must clearly identify its duration, the content or services that will no longer be accessible when the trial ends, and any downstream charges the user would need to pay for full functionality."

So users will know before they start using an app that it will cost money, but only after X days of free use. The upfront transparency should prevent any user frustration, but it could also greatly improve the quality of content in apps because the developer really needs the user to reach the end of the free trial wanting to pay to continue using/playing.

This isn't necessarily a change of policy, but more an explicit clarification of something that's already been allowed. The Omni Group, for example, began switching its entire suite of apps in September 2016 to the same sales model: free downloads, with In-App Purchases for unlocking full functionality after 14-day trial periods. Since that time, however, very few apps have followed the same path – likely in part due to continued uncertainty regarding what's officially allowed. The updated review guidelines should lead to a welcome increase of paid up front apps transitioning to free downloads with In-App Purchases, thus enabling more ubiquitous free trials across the App Store.


You can also follow all of our WWDC coverage through our WWDC 2018 hub, or subscribe to the dedicated WWDC 2018 RSS feed.

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Apple Design Awards 2018 Winners Announced

This evening, capping off the first day of Apple's WWDC conference, the company recognized the best of the App Store at its 2018 Apple Design Awards ceremony.

The Apple Design Awards are a WWDC tradition dating back all the way before the turn of the century. The ceremony is an opportunity for Apple to applaud developers whose apps demonstrate a high level of quality and innovation. 2017's winners included the excellent Things 3 and Bear.

Last year the company broke from its norm for the ADAs by making them a private ceremony, exclusive to the award winners themselves, rather than a public event for all conference attendees. This year things were back to normal, as all developers in attendance could attend.

Apple selected the following apps across iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS as 2018 Apple Design Award winners:

Read more


Illustration in the iOS 11 App Store

Khoi Vinh, writing about one of my favorite aspects of the iOS 11 App Store:

Apple’s dramatically redesigned App Store got a decent amount of attention when it debuted last year with iOS 11, but its unique success as a hybrid of product design and editorial design has gone little noticed since. That’s a shame, because it’s a huge breakthrough.

I myself paid it scant attention until one day this past winter when I realized that the company was commissioning original illustration to accompany its new format. If you check the App Store front page a few times a week, you’ll see a quietly remarkable display of unique art alongside unique stories about apps, games and “content” (movies, TV shows, comics, etc.). To be clear: this isn’t work lifted from the marketing materials created by app publishers. It’s drawings, paintings, photographs, collages and/or animations that have been created expressly for the App Store.

We don’t see this particular flavor of artistic ambition from many companies today, especially tech companies. The predominant mode of product design almost exclusively favors templates and automation, what can be done without human intervention. The very idea of asking living, breathing art directors who need to be paid real salaries to hire living, breathing illustrators who also need to be paid a living wage in order to create so-called works of art that have no demonstrably reproducible effect on actual profits is outlandish, absurd even. The mere suggestion would get you laughed off of most design teams in Silicon Valley. Design in this century has little use for anything that can’t be quantified.

I haven't seen a lot of praise for the artistic side of the App Store's Today page. I think it's remarkable that Apple is commissioning these illustrations and making them instrumental in highlighting apps and developer stories. Don't miss Vinh's roundup of his favorites.

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