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Posts tagged with "app store"

Apple Details 2019 App Store Stats and Recaps Other Services

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

In a press release today, Apple shared App Store revenue numbers for the 2019 holiday season, which set an all-time record for single day sales on New Year’s Day:

Since the App Store launched in 2008, developers have earned over $155 billion, with a quarter of those earnings coming from the past year alone. As a measure of the excitement going into 2020, App Store customers spent a record $1.42 billion between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, a 16 percent increase over last year, and $386 million on New Year’s Day 2020 alone, a 20 percent increase over last year and a new single-day record.

In addition to apps, Apple recapped its other services:

  • Apple Music, which added a time-synced lyrics feature that more than 50% of iOS 13 users have tried
  • TV+, which is available in over 100 countries
  • The TV app, which is available on Apple TV hardware, third-party TVs, and features over 30 channels
  • Apple Arcade
  • Apple News, which the company says has over 100 million monthly active users
  • Podcasts
  • Apple Card
  • Apple Pay
  • iCloud

More than 10 years later, the growth of the App Store is a story that is often overlooked. It’s remarkable to think that holiday sales are still setting records this long after the introduction of the App Store and after the pace of new device sales has slowed.


Linea Sketch Adopting Subscription Model in 2020

The Iconfactory has announced that Linea Sketch, its popular iPad sketching app, will be moving from paid up front to a subscription business model. This transition will take place in early 2020 with the release of Linea 3.0.

We tried hard to avoid a subscription, but the costs to maintain the app are much higher than the income from new sales. This is obviously not a sustainable situation! We have two options:

  1. Let the app die a slow, painful, and unsupported death
  2. Find a source of recurring revenue

They mention that the recent 2.7 update to Linea took over 200 hours of work, and most of that time was simply spent adapting the app to work well with iOS 13’s new system dark mode. The cost of simply maintaining the app to function well with system updates is high, and The Iconfactory wants to do much more than just maintain the app. For example, they preview the roster of changes coming to Linea 3.0, which will include a universal app across iPad and iPhone, and the following:

  • Time-lapse to capture your creation as it evolves
  • Templates with adjustable intensity
  • Custom backgrounds with adjustable paper color and texture
  • App themes and beautiful new app icons for your home screen
  • QuickToggle: two-handed drawing is all we’re going to say :-)

Linea’s subscription will cost $.99/month or $9.99/year, and include both the iPad and iPhone versions of Linea, since the two will become a universal app. On a related note, the Mac companion app Linea Link is now available as a free download.

Many users hate seeing the apps they use switch to subscriptions, but sometimes developers truly don’t have much of a choice. As was mentioned above, development costs for Linea are currently much higher than sales revenue, which is clearly an unsustainable situation. Either The Iconfactory finds a sustainable option for Linea, or the app will eventually disappear. And because of Apple’s unwillingness to allow upgrade pricing on the App Store, subscriptions are one of the only viable options.

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Apple Announces ‘Best of 2019’ Lists for Apps, Books, and Podcasts

Apple today published its picks for the best media in 2019 across its various platforms and services. These include selections for best app on iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV, as well as top picks in books and podcasts. Alongside these editorial selections, Apple has published top charts for the year across the App Store, Apple Podcasts, and Apple Books. Separately, Apple announced the first-ever Apple Music Awards, which we’ve covered here.

Apple’s pick for the iPhone’s App of the Year is Spectre Camera, the long-exposure camera app from Lux Optics, which we reviewed in February when it was released. Lux Optics is also the maker of Halide, one of our favorite iOS camera apps.

The winner of iPhone Game of the Year is Sky: Children of the Light from thatgamecompany. From the makers of the popular console, and later iOS, game Journey, Sky is a social adventure game that shares a similar aesthetic with Journey.

On the iPad, Apple picked Flow from Moleskine as App of the Year, which we reviewed here, and Hyper Light Drifter by Abylight as Game of the Year, while on the Mac, the company selected Affinity Publisher as the App of the Year and GRIS as the Game of the Year. The Apple TV’s App and Game of the Year, respectively, are The Explorers and Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap. This year, Apple also added a new category: Apple Arcade Game of the Year, which it awarded to the excellent Sayonara Wild Hearts by Simogo, which you can learn more about here.

Like last year, Apple’s App Store editorial team highlighted two App Store trends too. The 2019 App Trend of the Year was ‘Storytelling Simplified,’ with Apple featuring apps focused on telling stories through a wide range of media, spotlighting Anchor, Canva, Unfold, Steller, Spark Camera, Over, and Wattpad. The Game Trend of the Year was ‘Blockbusters Reimagined,’ which highlighted well-known game franchises reimagined for mobile like Mario Kart Tour, Dr. Mario World, Minecraft Earth, Pokémon Masters, Assassin’s Creed Rebellion, Gears POP!, The Elder Scrolls: Blades, Alien: Blackout, and Call of Duty: Mobile.

In addition to apps, Apple also made editorial selections for other media categories, including best podcasts and books of the year. Rather than singling out individual overall winners, Apple highlighted a variety of its favorites, which can be found in the Browse section of Apple’s Podcasts app and the Book Store section of the Books app.


Apple to Hold Awards Ceremony Celebrating Its Favorite Apps and Games on December 2nd

Apple unexpectedly announced today that it will hold a ceremony in New York City on Monday, December 2nd to honor its favorite apps and games. No other details are currently available, except those in the invitation that was received by some members of the tech press including, as reported by MacRumors, Lance Ulanoff:

Apple’s annual Design Awards at WWDC have served the purpose of recognizing outstanding apps in the past, but an event like this at the end of the year that wraps up the best of 2019 makes a lot of sense and gives the company an opportunity to shine a light on the best offerings from third-party developers in a way that goes beyond the year-end recap lists it has done in the past.


Apple to Open Siri Up to Third-Party Messaging and Phone Apps

Bloomberg reports that Apple will open up Siri to third-party messaging apps with a software update later this year. Third-party phone apps will be added later. According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman:

When the software refresh kicks in, Siri will default to the apps that people use frequently to communicate with their contacts. For example, if an iPhone user always messages another person via WhatsApp, Siri will automatically launch WhatsApp, rather than iMessage. It will decide which service to use based on interactions with specific contacts. Developers will need to enable the new Siri functionality in their apps. This will be expanded later to phone apps for calls as well.

As Gurman notes, the company’s change in approach comes as Apple is facing scrutiny over the competitive implications of its dual role as app maker and App Store gatekeeper in the US and elsewhere.

It’s interesting that the update is a Siri-only change. Users will still not be able to replace Messages with WhatsApp or Phone with Skype as their default messaging and phone apps for instance, but it strikes me as a step in the right direction and a change that I hope leads to broader customization options on iOS and iPadOS.

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Apple Brings App Store Editorials to the Web

Benjamin Mayo, reporting for 9to5Mac:

Apple has recently updated its App Store Preview pages for stories to allow users to view the full content of stories from inside their desktop web browser. App Store stories have always been shareable as links, but the web version was just a title and a navigation link to ‘open this story in the App Store’.

Between August 9th and August 11th, Apple has upgraded the experience and now includes full imagery, app lists and paragraphs copy in the web version. This means you can access the same content online as you would be ale to find in the native App Store experience.

Historically, App Store editorials could only be viewed inside the App Store itself, whether on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Anyone not using an Apple device would thus be unable to view such stories, even if they had the appropriate link for them. Now, however, every App Store editorial can be read in full on the web. iOS devices still default to opening stories in the App Store, but you can now open a story’s link in Safari on the Mac, or in browsers on non-Apple devices.

Apple still doesn’t let you initiate app downloads from the web, so while you will be able to see preview pages for apps from a browser, to start a download you’ll need to visit the App Store or Mac App Store.

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Apple Defends App Store Practices in Light of Antitrust Discourse

Apple has been in the news at several points this year due to claims that its App Store practices are monopolistic. First, Spotify filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission, then more recently, the US Supreme Court ruled that an antitrust lawsuit against Apple could proceed, setting the stage for potential future battles in this space.

Today Apple has launched a new page on its website defending its App Store practices and sharing the values that lie at the core of the Store.

It’s our store. And we take responsibility for it.

We believe that what’s in our store says a lot about who we are. We strongly support all points of view being represented on the App Store. But we also take steps to make sure apps are respectful to users with differing opinions, and reject apps for any content or behavior that we believe is over the line — especially when it puts children at risk. For example, we strictly prohibit any app that features pornographic material, discriminatory references, torture and abuse, or anything else in exceptionally poor taste.

The page shares specific details on App Review practices, including the following stats:

  • Every week, 100,000 apps are reviewed
  • Of those 100,000, 60% are approved, and 40% rejected
  • The most common rejections are due to bugs, followed by privacy concerns
  • The App Review team makes ~1,000 calls per week to developers to help resolve rejection issues

Apple also outlines the different business models apps can utilize on the App Store, and notes that 84% of apps are free. It’s unclear if this percentage includes apps with In-App Purchases and subscriptions.

Finally, the page closes by highlighting how Apple welcomes competition on the App Store. System apps like Calendar, Mail, and Apple Music are listed alongside popular third-party competitors; Fantastical, Spark, and Spotify are a few third-party alternatives that Apple singles out.

The timing of Apple launching this new page is no accident: next week the company will welcome thousands of developers to WWDC, and in light of the growing questions regarding App Store practices, Apple is reminding developers, and the world at large, of why the App Store as it stands today is so important.


Intentional Subscriptions

Developer David Smith, writing on his blog about a better way for Apple to handle subscriptions:

There is a concept in user interface design called the Principle of Least Surprise, where you want to design systems in such a way that they surprise their users least. I think a similar concept applies to subscription pricing. The ideal (from a user friendliness perspective, not best business perspective) system for customer subscriptions should never surprise the customer with a charge. The customer should always be happy to see a charge appear on their credit card.

In other words, their subscription payments should always be Intentional.

Apple already offers guidelines for how developers must handle subscription activation pages, as some apps have historically employed misleading labels and buttons designed to maximize signups without putting cost and other key details front and center. Smith offers four suggestions which, if implemented, would go a very long way toward ensuring users are never surprised by a subscription charge.

Lately one of Apple’s favorite things to highlight during quarterly earnings reports is subscription growth, which falls under its Services line of business. It’s understandable why the company may not be inclined to make subscriptions easier to opt out of, but if enough users are negatively impacted by misleading subscriptions and customer satisfaction numbers take a hit as a result, perhaps we’ll start to see more change in this area. The recent updates to subscription guidelines give me hope that Apple has a pulse on the situation.

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Apple Responds to Spotify’s Claims of Anticompetitive Behavior

In a lengthy response, Apple has addressed many of the allegations leveled against it by Spotify earlier this week. As we reported, Spotify has filed a complaint with the European Commission alleging that Apple’s treatment of the music streaming service is unfair and anti-competitive. Today, Apple fired back with a response to many of Spotify’s contentions.

Apple denies it has blocked access to its products and updates. To the contrary, the company says it has approved over 200 updates to Spotify’s app and reached out to inquire about the adoption of features like Siri and AirPlay 2. Apple says the only time it has requested changes to Spotify’s apps is when the company ‘has tried to sidestep the same rules that every other app follows.’

Apple also takes issue with what it characterizes as Spotify’s desire for the benefits of a free app without being free. Long gone are the days when apps were either free or paid. Spotify, like many other apps, offers a free music streaming tier. Spotify doesn’t pay Apple anything for those free users or users that sign up for streaming through other channels like mobile carriers. For Spotify’s paid subscribers, Apple receives 30% in year one and 15% after that for access to its platform and payment system, which the company says Spotify is unfairly trying to sidestep.

Finally, Apple claims that Spotify’s complaints against it are just one facet of a pattern of actions that are in Spotify’s economic interests but are damaging to musicians and the music industry. As evidence of this, Apple raises recent moves by Spotify against songwriters after the US Copyright Royalty Board required Spotify to increase royalty payments.

I don’t know whether Apple’s actions constitute unfair and anti-competitive behavior under EU law. Separate and apart from the legalities of the situation though, Spotify’s complaints have struck a chord because they come at a time when new online app stores are taking a significantly smaller cut of revenue. Spotify has other legitimate complaints, like its frustrations with App Review, but what seems to really be driving the dispute is how much Apple charges for access to the App Store and its payment system. Now more than ever, Apple’s 30% cut looks like a bad deal even when that cut is reduced to 15% for the second year of subscriptions.

What makes this dispute unique is that Spotify competes with Apple Music and is big enough to grab public attention and raise the stakes for Apple by getting European regulators involved. Usually, this sort of fight would play out privately, but by making their disagreement very public and involving regulators, Spotify may have taken the outcome out of its and Apple’s control.