Apple has introduced new web preview pages for the App Store and Mac App Store. The new design more closely tracks the App Store changes debuted as part of iOS 11. Interestingly, the web previews for Mac apps share the same refreshed design despite the fact that the Mac App Store has barely changed since its introduction in 2011.
The new design features bigger images and more white space. Reviews are laid out horizontally as cards near the bottom of the page. Longer reviews open in a pop-over card that hovers above the page when the ‘more’ link is clicked. Mac apps include a ‘View in Mac App Store’ button near the top of the page too.
The new web previews are only accessible from search results loaded in the desktop version of Safari or another desktop browser. The mobile version of the browser offers to take you to the App Store when a link is tapped, even if you long press the refresh button and pick ‘Request Desktop Site.’ In my tests, the desktop search results that load in mobile Safari look more like their desktop counterparts, but DuckDuckGo and Bing still offer to open the App Store, whereas Google’s links are simply unresponsive.
I like the look of the new preview pages. The old ones were too closely tied to the design of the iTunes App Store, which was eliminated last fall.
The inclusion of Mac app previews is intriguing. It makes sense for both Stores to share a common design language, but the Mac App Store is in desperate need of love and attention for many reasons that extend beyond its design. Whether this is a sign that the Mac App Store will get that attention soon, Mac apps will be thrown in with iOS apps on the App Store, or something else will be interesting to watch.
Panic has announced that it will remove Transmit iOS from the App Store soon. In a blog post today, Cabel Sasser explains that the revenue generated by the paid-up-front app was insufficient to justify its continued development. Sasser doesn’t rule out a return of Transmit to iOS some day, and the move does not affect the company’s other iOS apps or Transmit 5 for the Mac, but adding features to the iOS app to match those debuted in the Mac version last year would make Transmit iOS ‘a guaranteed money-loser.’
This is not Panic’s first pull-back from the App Store. In 2016, Panic pulled the plug on Status Board, its widget-style app for tracking data through web APIs. Why Transmit wasn’t sustainable on iOS is unclear:
Was the use case for this app too edge-casey or advanced? Did we overestimate the amount of file management people want to do on a portable device? Should we have focused more on document viewing capabilities? Maybe all of the above?
Although Transmit will be removed from the App Store soon, Panic updated it with iPhone X support, and existing users will still be able to download it from the App Store and use it until some future change in iOS breaks the app.
I’m sad to see Transmit go. It’s a loss for the platform, but I don’t think it’s a bad omen for ’pro’ iOS productivity apps in general. Transmit failed to get the traction necessary to sustain its further development, but there are still many examples of productivity apps that have found success on the App Store. Hopefully, Panic will find a way to bring Transmit back to iOS one day.
During the week beginning on Christmas Eve, the App Store sold $890 million of apps to a record number of customers. In a press release today, Apple revealed that on New Year’s Day alone, customers bought another $300 million of apps.
“We are thrilled with the reaction to the new App Store and to see so many customers discovering and enjoying new apps and games,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “We want to thank all of the creative app developers who have made these great apps and helped to change people’s lives. In 2017 alone, iOS developers earned $26.5 billion — more than a 30 percent increase over 2016.”
That’s a big increase over 2016 and with the tenth anniversary of the App Store on the horizon, the App Store is closing in on a big milestone. Since the App Store launched in July 2008, developers have earned over $86 billion. If App Store sales continue to grow at a pace similar to 2017, developer earnings should top $100 billion just in time for the anniversary.
Apple also stated that over 2,000 ARKit-enabled apps are available in the App Store, contrary to estimates by research firm Apptopia that fewer than 1,000 ARKit apps are available.
Just before the annual holiday shutdown of the App Store, Apple has revised its App Store Review Guidelines to address new App Store functionality like Pre-Orders and clarify or expand a handful of existing guidelines, including the creation of apps from templates and how ’loot boxes’ and VPNs should be handled. Below is a summary of the major changes to the Guidelines. To see all the changes, check out Rich Hong’s App Store Review Guidelines gist on GitHub.
You may recall that when Super Mario Run was announced in 2016, customers could request notification of its release, which was a first at the time on the App Store. Now, all developers can do something similar by offering their apps for pre-order. According to iTunes Connect’s Resources and Help documentation:
Now you can make your new apps available for pre-order on all Apple platforms. Customers can see your product page and order your app before it's released for download. Once your app is released, customers will be notified and your app will automatically download to their device. For paid apps, customers will be charged before download.
The process for submitting an app for pre-order seems relatively straight-forward:
To make your new app available for pre-order:
- From the homepage, click My Apps, select the app, and select Pricing and Availability in the left column. You'll see the Pre-Orders section if your app has never been published on the App Store.
Select Make available for pre-order, choose a date to release your app for download, then click Save in the upper-right corner. The release date must be at least two days in the future, but no more than 90 days in the future.
Submit your app for review.
Once your app is approved and you're ready to make it available for pre-order, return to Pricing and Availability, confirm the date your app will be released for download, and click Release as Pre-Order in the upper-right corner.
In addition to offering apps for pre-orders, Apple will report pre-orders as part of the Sales and Trends section of iTunes Connect. Apple has also included an FAQ with further information about the pre-order process.
It’s been about a year since Apple tested the pre-release notification waters with Super Mario Run and it’s nice to see that it’s been opened up to all developers who can use it to get customers excited about their apps ahead of launch.
Update: According to a new webpage published by Apple that summarizes the pre-order program, it also applies to macOS and tvOS apps.
In addition, Apple has added a 'Pre-Orders' section to the Games tab of the App Store, which currently includes five games. No similar section has been added to the Mac App Store or Apple TV App Store.
With a press release and special sections featured on its digital storefronts this morning, Apple revealed the most popular apps, games, and media releases of 2017.
Today, Apple introduced a new search ad product called Search Ads Basic. The existing search ad service, which was introduced a little over a year ago, has been renamed Search Ads Advanced.
Search Ads Basic offers fewer of the advanced options and tracking available in Search Ads Advanced and spending is capped at $5,000 per month, but developers only pay for installations generated by their search ads. In contrast, developers pay every time someone taps on an ad under the Search Ads Advanced program, whether or not the tap results in a purchase. To get started, all that is needed is to pick the app to be advertised, set a spending budget, and choose a maximum per-user installation cost, for which Apple provides a suggested maximum based on historical App Store data.
Apple is positioning Search Ads Basic as an alternative for developers who don’t have the time to fiddle with the more sophisticated options available with Search Ads Advanced. There is no doubt the process is simple. I set up a campaign for my app Blink in less than a minute.
With a $5,000 per month spending limit the new program also seems tailored to smaller developers who may be uncomfortable paying for taps or managing the more complex options of a Search Ads Advanced campaign. Although larger development shops are not precluded from using Basic, the spending limit should discourage larger companies with big advertising budgets.
Currently, Search Ads Basic is limited to US App Store, but it will be rolling out to the stores in additional countries later. As it did last year, Apple is sending email messages to developers offering a $100 credit to try Search Ads.
Apple has partnered with (RED) for many years to help people living with HIV worldwide. This year marks a new record year of giving for Apple with over $30 million raised for the Global Fund, which is the equivalent of 144 million days of ARV medication that prevents the transmission of HIV from mothers to their unborn children.
“Connecting through our products and services helps make it easy for our customers to join us in the effort to create the first AIDS-free generation,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives. “By working with (RED) to stop the transmission of HIV from moms to their unborn babies, we’re already seeing a significant impact in areas where help is needed most. We’re committed to continuing the fight and empowering future generations through these vital efforts.”
This year Apple will mark World AIDS Day at its nearly 500 retail stores with red Apple logos for the week. Also, for every Apple Pay transaction made at a retail location, online, or in-app, Apple will donate $1 to the Global Fund.
As in the past, the App Store is participating too, with a (RED) Today tab takeover featuring stories related to the cause and the developers who are supporting it. King, the maker of the Candy Crush series of games, will also offer limited edition bundles of their games with in-app proceeds going to the Global Fund.
Apple has introduced a new feature in the Today tab of the App Store called 'This Weekend Only.' Each Thursday, one app will offer an exclusive deal to users that lasts through Sunday.
The new feature is being kicked off with five deals instead of one:
The new promotion strikes me as a good way to help drive traffic to the App Store on weekends, which are slow sales days for many developers. It also makes sense to kick off the App Store’s new feature with apps from relatively large companies with broad appeal, but I hope that in the long run, smaller independent development shops are included too.