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Posts tagged with "app store"

Over 300 Indie Apps On Sale From Black Friday Through Cyber Monday

It’s almost Black Friday, and Matt Corey gathered indie developers to organize an app sale that runs from November 24 to November 28th, 2023. Corey, the maker of Bills to BudgetSignals, and other apps that are part of the sale, has put together a collection of over 300 apps that will be offered at a discount tomorrow and Wednesday. The list is too long to publish here but includes many we’ve covered here on MacStories and on Club MacStories in the past, including:

There are a lot of great deals, with many apps discounted by 50%, and what’s listed above is less than a quarter of the participating apps, so be sure to visit Indie App Sales for all the details, including discount codes for the apps that aren’t on the App Store, and support these great indie apps.

Apple Announces Close to 40 App Store Awards Finalists

Today, Apple announced the finalists for its App Store Awards, a selection of apps that the App Store Editorial team picks each fall to recognize “their excellence, inventiveness, and technical achievement” in ten categories.

Introducing award finalists is a departure for Apple from past years when the company only announced the winners. The change is carried over from the company’s annual Apple Design Awards that are revealed at WWDC every year and is one I like. Today’s finalists include nearly 40 apps and games that span a wide variety of categories and range from creations by solo developers to big companies. It’s an eclectic mix that captures the breadth of the App Store well.

Apple says it will reveal the winners of the App Store Awards later this month. If past announcements are any guide, the last week of November is a good bet on the timing. In the meantime, we have the complete list of finalist apps and games from Apple’s press release after the break.

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Michael Flarup Launches a Kickstarter Campaign for The macOS Icon Book

Michael Flarup has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund an illustrated book about macOS iconography. The macOS App Icon Book, which has already been fully funded, is estimated to ship in January 2024.

This book is a follow-up to The iOS App Icon Book, which was also funded via Kickstarter and shipped last year, and I reviewed on MacStories. The new title includes full-color reproductions of hundreds of icons and profiles of the designers behind some of them.

Flarup’s iOS icon book was a wonderful bit of Apple history that preserved some of the best iconography produced on the platform. It’s great to see a macOS version is being added to preserve the history of iconography on the Mac, too. If you’re interested in pledging, there are multiple reward levels, including the hardback book, a PDF version, and a set of both the iOS and macOS icon books.


The App Store’s New Apps and Games of the Week Collections

The App Store is at once infinitely large and impossibly small. As a digital storefront, the App Store can accommodate an endless number of apps on its virtual shelves. However, at the same time, the App Store has to contend with screens as small as the iPhone SE’s 4.7” display. That poses interesting editorial challenges.

The App Store has always faced discovery challenges. From the day it opened for business 15 years ago, the App Store had more apps than it could easily display on the iPhone.

That problem only worsened with the App Store’s iOS 11 redesign. That update brought the welcome addition of editorial, curated content from the App Store’s editorial team. However, it also necessitated greater reliance on search because stories featuring individual apps and themed collections took up more space than simple lists and top charts. The result poses a difficult, ongoing balancing act between providing meaningful editorial recommendations and promoting as many apps and games as possible.

The Best in Games This Week.

The Best in Games This Week.

There are several different recurring featured stories that the App Store editorial team produces, including the App and Game of the Day, Developer Spotlights, and Featured Apps. However, a new one caught my eye recently thanks to Vidit Bhargava, the creator of LookUp and Zones.

Earlier this month, Vidit posted on Mastodon about a new App Store feature called The Best in Apps This Week. The weekly story includes notable new and updated apps, along with app events picked by the App Store editorial team. It turns out that another recurring story called The Best in Games This Week was added in early July that follows a similar format, with a mix of new, updated, and popular games, along with editorial team favorites and ongoing events.

Both of these new features are a nice way to spotlight what’s new on the App Store in one place. The short descriptions of each app and game allow more to be covered in one story but provide just enough detail to provide readers with a sense of why each is unique. I’d love to see more of this style of story on the App Store, which still relies on lists more than I’d like.

The Case for Videogame and App Preservation

On the same day that the App Store turned 15, the Video Game History Foundation released a study that concludes 87% of all classic videogames released in the US are no longer commercially available. The study looked at a broad cross-section of platforms and found that this isn’t a problem that’s limited to one corner of the videogame industry. It’s universal. As a result, a large segment of videogame history is at risk of being lost forever.

The Video Game History Foundation’s mission is to preserve videogame history, and along with libraries, museums, and archives, they’re seeking exemptions from US Copyright law to make game preservation easier. On the other side of their efforts is the gaming industry, which argues, among other things, that commercial re-releases and remasters of classic games are satisfying preservation needs.

That debate is what prompted the Foundation’s study:

It’s true that there’s more games being re-released than even before. But then why does the gaming community believe that so few classic games are still available? What’s the real story here? If we want to have a productive conversation about game preservation, we need an accurate understanding of where things stand right now.

We conducted this study to settle the facts. It’s not enough just to have a hunch. We need hard data.

The results of the Video Game History Foundation’s study tell a different story than the one the videogame industry tells and is one that’s equally applicable to mobile games and apps on Apple’s App Store. Federico and I have written about app and game preservation before, including during the 10th anniversary of the App Store. And while I applaud Apple’s decision to promote classic iOS games as part of Apple Arcade, the Foundation’s study shows that it’s not enough. It’s a start, but for every game that is given a new lease on life as part of Arcade, there are dozens that lie dormant and unplayable.

The problem extends to apps too. Craig Grannell, with the help of Internet sleuths, set out to recreate the list of 500 apps and games that debuted on the App Store as its 15th anniversary approached. Grannell’s Google Spreadsheet currently lists 355 titles, and guess what? By my count, only 43 of those apps and games have live App Store URLs, which works out to 12%, almost exactly the same results as the Video Game History Foundation’s study. Grannell’s spreadsheet may not have been compiled as rigorously as the Foundation’s study, but the point stands: we’re losing access to culturally significant apps and games on the App Store alongside the videogame industry.

That’s why I was happy to see the Video Game History Foundation take the important step of gathering the facts that support their preservation efforts. Its focus is on games, but hopefully, it will help raise awareness about preserving apps too.

A good way to learn more about the Video Game History Foundation’s study is also to listen to the latest episode of its podcast, where Kelsey Lewin and Phil Salvador of the Foundation were joined by Brandon Butler, Director of Information Policy at the University of Virginia Library and Law and Policy Advisor at the Software Preservation Network.

The App Store Turns 15

Fifteen years ago, the App Store opened its doors with 500 apps. Today, the number of apps has swelled to exceed more than 1.5 million.

OmniFocus for iPhone.

OmniFocus for iPhone.

Of those first-day apps, a few are still around, including OmniFocus. Today, Ken Case, The Omni Group’s founder and CEO, shared what that first day was like on the company’s blog:

Imagine our amazement to see OmniFocus at #7 on the list—the only productivity app in the top ten! By 9am, more of our team were in the office and by 10am we’d accidentally sent a few more copies of our press release. (Can you tell we’d been pulling all-nighters?)

At 10:25am, I received congratulatory email asking if I’d noticed that OmniFocus was the 3rd most popular paid app in the App Store. I thanked them for letting me know, and noted there were a lot of smiles around Omni that day!

That weekend saw the launch of the iPhone 3G with the App Store, and 11,000 people bought OmniFocus that first weekend alone.

PCalc for iPhone 1.0.

PCalc for iPhone 1.0.

Other apps, like James Thomson’s PCalc, turned 15 today, too.

Twitterrific was there on day one as well but didn’t quite make it to 15 unfortunately.

For other notable first-day apps, be sure to check out Craig Grannell’s story on 15 notable first-day apps for

If today’s anniversary puts you in a nostalgic mood, we had extensive coverage of the App Store’s 10th anniversary in 2018, all of which is available here.

Economist Group Concludes Apple’s App Store Ecosystem Is Responsible for Facilitating $1.1 Trillion in Commerce

Today, Apple released the results of an independent study of the App Store economy by the economists at Analysis Group. According to the report, it was supported by Apple, but the conclusions and opinions expressed in it are those of the Analysis Group alone.

If you’re thinking, ‘Wait, I thought Apple just issued a press release about the app economy,’ you’re mostly right. That was the same group of economists reporting specifically on the success of small app developers, whereas this report extends beyond apps to other transactions facilitated by apps.

What the report shows is that the App Store economy is far larger than just apps. Along with app sales and subscriptions, the Analysis Group looked at the sale of physical goods, services, and advertising through apps downloaded from the App Store. What the results of the study show is that this more broadly-defined market accounted for about $1.1 trillion in sales in 2022, an enormous number by any measure.

The study includes some interesting insights into the App Store and the economy surrounding it:

  • The broader App Store ecosystem grew 29%, but digital goods and services, which is a category that includes more than just App Store sales, only grew 2% in 2022
  • Over 90% of billings connected to the App Store occurred outside of it
  • Ride-sharing and travel sales accounted for a big part of the App Store ecosystem’s growth in 2022
  • Other categories that saw big increases are grocery sales, food delivery and pickup services, and general retail sales

It’s worth considering the broader purpose of this study and the results that Apple has highlighted. The message of the report is that the impact of the App Store extends beyond apps, which is accurate. From that broader perspective the fees paid to Apple as a percentage of overall sales are lower, which is an argument the company will surely make to regulators and in antitrust disputes. Whether that perspective is relevant or persuasive in those contexts remains to be seen.

In any event, the App Store drives a remarkably large engine of commerce, the likes of which are reminiscent of the Internet itself. That’s an enormous accomplishment, of which Apple is understandably proud. However, it’s also important to remember that it’s an engine to which just one company holds the keys.

2023 ADA Finalists Announced

As has been the case the past couple of years, Apple has announced the finalists in the running for its annual Apple Design Awards. The awards ceremony revealing the winners will be held during WWDC at 6:30 pm Pacific on June 6th.

The finalists have been divided into six categories that include six finalists each:


Delight and Fun


Social Impact

Visuals and Graphics


The selections include a broad selection of games and apps, including some apps from smaller developers like Knotwords, Afterplace, and Gentler Streak, as well as titles from bigger publishers.

This is the third year in a row that Apple has announced the finalists in advance, which I like a lot. Winning an ADA is a big achievement for any developer, but it’s also nice to know who the finalists are because it’s quite an honor among the many apps that could have been chosen too.

TestFlight’s Inability to Handle Large Beta Collections Needs to Be Fixed

I’ve been thinking about app scalability a lot lately – most recently in the context of TestFlight, which I find is incredibly frustrating to use, at best, and, on the Mac, often unusable. This isn’t a new problem for me, but I haven’t mentioned it much in the past because I’ve suspected that my experience is colored by the fact that I’m an outlier. But, outlier or not, the app deserves more attention than it’s been given.

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