Recently I found myself in a bind: the Mac App Store app on my Retina MacBook would launch, but would not show me anything except a little spinning circle near the top-left corner. I left it like that overnight and when I came back the next morning it was still spinning. Fixing it was tricky, even for an experienced Mac user like myself, so I thought I’d share what worked for me in case you ever find yourself in that situation.
Posts tagged with "app store"
For a time, Pixite was a shining example of the businesses made possible by the app economy. Like thousands of other developers, Pixite’s founders took what had been a side project and turned it into a full-fledged career. But the company’s recent financial problems illustrate a series of powerful shifts in the industry toward consolidation and corporatization.
For all but a few developers, the App Store itself now resembles a lottery: for every breakout hit like Candy Crush, hundreds or even thousands of apps languish in obscurity. Certain segments of the app economy remain vibrant — ludicrously profitable, even. Apps for massive social networks, on-demand services like Uber, and subscription businesses like Netflix and Spotify remain in high demand. Then there’s gaming: Last year, 85 percent of all app revenues went to games, according to App Annie. Supercell, the top-grossing developer of Clash of Clans, reported revenue of $1.7 billion in 2014. (It spent $440 million on marketing.)
The folks at Pixite have made some mistakes along the way, but the general shift on the App Store is undeniable.
Since the App Store launched in 2008, every app and every app update has gone through a process of App Review. Run by a team within Apple, their objective is to keep the App Store free from apps that are malicious, broken, dangerous, offensive or infringe upon any of Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines. For developers who want to have their app on the iOS, Mac, or tvOS App Store, App Review is an unavoidable necessity that they deal with regularly. But in the public, little is heard about App Review, except for a few occasions in which App Review has made a high-profile or controversial app rejection (such as the iOS 8 widgets saga) or when App Review has mistakenly approved an app that should never have been approved (such as the app requiring players to kill Aboriginal Australians).
Earlier this year we set out to get a better understanding of what developers think about App Review. We wanted to hear about their positive and negative experiences with App Review, and find out how App Review could be improved. It is hard to ignore from the results we got, from a survey of 172 developers,1 that beneath the surface there is a simmering frustration relating to numerous aspects of App Review. There is no question that App Review still mostly works and very few want to get rid of it, but developers are facing a process that can be slow (sometimes excruciatingly so), inconsistent, marred by incompetence, and opaque with poor communication. What fuels the frustration is that after months of hard work developing an app, App Review is the final hurdle that developers must overcome, and yet App Review can often cause big delays or kill an app before it ever even sees the light of day.
Developer frustration at App Review might seem inconsequential, or inside-baseball, but the reality is that it does have wider implications. The app economy has blossomed into a massive industry, with Apple itself boasting that it has paid developers nearly $40 billion since 2008 and is responsible (directly and indirectly) for employing 4 million people in the iOS app economy across the US, Europe and China. As a result, what might have been a small problem with App Review 5 years ago is a much bigger problem today, and will be a much, much bigger problem in another 5 years time.
App Review is not in a critical condition, but there is a very real possibility that today’s problems with App Review are, to some degree, silently stiffling app innovation and harming the quality of apps on the App Store. It would be naïve of Apple to ignore the significant and numerous concerns that developers have about the process.
Owen S. Good, writing for Polygon:
An iOS version of The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth was rejected by Apple on grounds it depicts violence toward children, the game's publisher said Saturday evening.
Tyrone Rodriguez, the founder of Nicalis and a producer and developer for the game, tweeted this image of Apple's rejection notice, which notes that "Your app contains content or features that depict violence towards, or abuse of, children, which is not allowed on the App."
You know your App Review has a problem when even Nintendo has accepted the same game a year ago. This wouldn't be the first time Apple's App Review team has shown less respect for mature themes expressed through videogames (the same themes being generally okay for other types of entertainment) and I hope this rejection gets reversed. The Binding of Isaac is a fantastic game and Apple should be thrilled to have these kinds of indie titles on the App Store.
Cabel Sasser, writing for the Panic blog on their iOS apps and how they did on the App Store in 2015:
iOS Revenue. I brought this up last year and we still haven’t licked it. We had a change of heart — well, an experimental change of heart — and reduced the price of our iOS apps in 2015 to normalize them at $9.99 or less, thinking that was the upper limit and/or sweet spot for iOS app pricing. But it didn’t have a meaningful impact on sales.
More and more I’m beginning to think we simply made the wrong type of apps for iOS — we made professional tools that aren’t really “in demand” on that platform — and that price isn’t our problem, but interest is.
So, once again, we will investigate raising our iOS app prices in 2016, with two hopes: that the awesome customers that love and need these apps understand the incredible amount of work that goes into them and that these people are also willing to pay more for a quality professional app (whereas, say, the casual gamer would not).
You have to wonder if Apple should come up with new ways to incentivize the creation of these types of pro apps, or if Panic shouldn't have lowered prices in the first place. Maybe it's a bit of both.
I don't think Panic made the wrong type of apps for iOS. Panic's apps are fantastic pieces of software, and Apple should be proud of having them on the App Store. Panic's commitment to their iOS apps is laudable, and their taste, unsurprisingly, impeccable. Coda 2 and Transmit are some of the finest productivity software you'll find on the App Store.
As usual, I'm going to say that a possible solution lies somewhere in the middle. I'd like to see Apple improve the App Store with tools and developer relations that help companies like Panic, and I'd urge more developers to place the correct value on their apps. The Omni Group is a good example to follow here. It may sound old fashioned, but I think quality software deserves an appropriate price.
Rene Ritchie, writing on the lack of a web interface for the App Store to buy any app from any device using a web browser:
Instead, imagine if the web intermediated, providing all App Store links on all platforms. Click on an App Store link on your Mac or PC and, instead of iTunes, you go to iTunes Preview and there's a Get or Buy button right there. Click the button and you can choose to open in iTunes or log into your Apple ID account and initiate the Get/Buy right from the Web.
Instead of iTunes Preview, though, it's now App Store for iCloud, or whatever best fits the model Apple wants to use.
This is one of those omissions that continue to surprise me almost nine years into the iOS App Store. Even companies like Sony and Nintendo have enabled purchasing of software from the web while you're not using the device where games will have to be installed on – I do it all the time to buy PlayStation games from Safari via the PSN website and download them later when I'm at my PS4.
Not only should Apple figure out how to let any platform/device purchase iTunes and App Store content from a web browser – there should be an account management page to view all your purchases and select apps or media you want to start downloading on a remote device, too.
In the two weeks ending January 3, customers spent over $1.1 billion on apps and in-app purchases, setting back-to-back weekly records for traffic and purchases. January 1, 2016 marked the biggest day in App Store history with customers spending over $144 million. It broke the previous single-day record set just a week earlier on Christmas Day.
“The App Store had a holiday season for the record books. We are excited that our customers downloaded and enjoyed so many incredible apps for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV, spending over $20 billion on the App Store last year alone,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “We're grateful to all the developers who have created the most innovative and exciting apps in the world for our customers. We can't wait for what's to come in 2016.”
These are some incredible numbers and unsurprisingly Apple dedicates a significant portion of the press release to spruiking how Apple creates and supports 1.9 million jobs in the U.S., 1.2 million jobs in Europe, and 1.4 million jobs in China.
Apple also details some of the most popular apps in the App Store:
Gaming, Social Networking and Entertainment were among the year's most popular App Store categories across Apple products, with customers challenging themselves to Minecraft: Pocket Edition, Trivia Crack and Heads Up!, and staying in touch with friends and family using Facebook Messenger, WeChat and Snapchat. Games and subscription apps dominated this year’s top grossing titles including Clash of Clans, Monster Strike, Game of War - Fire Age and Fantasy Westward Journey, as well as Netflix, Hulu and Match.
The launch of the all-new Apple TV® and Apple Watch® have paved the way for entirely new app experiences, changing how people consume content through their television and providing useful information at a glance on Apple’s most personal device yet. Since its launch in October, the new Apple TV’s most popular apps include Rayman Adventures, Beat Sports and HBO NOW. Chart-topping apps for Apple Watch owners include fitness apps Nike+ Running and Lifesum, and iTranslate and Citymapper in the Travel category.
Curiously (or perhaps not), there was nothing in the press release specifically about the Mac App Store – which today celebrates its fifth anniversary (more on that shortly).
For the past two years, Gilad Lotan (Chief Data Scientist at Betaworks) has been collecting data from Apple's App Store RSS feeds. Last week Lotan published nine interesting findings in a post on Medium – complete with over a dozen fascinating charts.
Here we can clearly see both weekly cycles in app usage, but also longer term trends throughout the year. Facebook Messenger, which relaunches as ‘Messenger’ in June, stays very close to the top position throughout the whole year, while both Viber and Tango start strong and slowly drifts down the chart. Find My Friends, on the other hand, displays high volatility — drastic changes in ranking, hence app engagement — especially throughout the summer months, and Twitter has clearly weekly cycles.
The best part of Lotan's story is definitely the accompanying charts, which really help tell the story alongside his commentary. But here's one more snippet to encourage you to read his whole article:
Here we look at new applications that not only reach a notable spot in the top chart, but also sustain it to some degree. As you can see below, a handful of these apps are music related: SongFlip (free music streaming), Musicloud (stream music from your Dropbox mp3's), and Free Music HQ (what it sounds). Moments is the Facebook app that helps you find yourself in friends’ photos, and Triller helps users make music videos on their phones. There are also two applications that help upload content into Snapchat. See a trend here? Media, media, and more rich media!
Nick Statt, writing for The Verge, has a suggestion to make sure you end up using the app that's right for you:
And therein lies the secret to finding the best apps: don't use what works until you know it works better than the rest. In an era of free services and near-instant downloads, it often costs us nothing but our time and a little bit of effort to experiment with half a dozen products before settling on the one we're most comfortable with. And nothing is ever perfect. No matter what we read, or how many stars or good reviews something has, it takes a firsthand investigation to see if it's perfect for you.
This pretty much sums up the way I look at years of app coverage here at MacStories, and why I'm not a big fan of "the best app for X" roundups with a single recommendation. In today's sea of mobile apps, "best" is a fleeting reward, often reset with weekly updates, semi-annual redesigns, features adopted by other apps, and discontinued services.
"What works for you" is, I think, a more approachable, relatable consideration. There's an argument to be made about evaluating dozens of similar apps and pointing out an absolute "winner" in terms of amount of available features, stability, price, or other objective metrics, but a single "best" implies a one-size-fits-all nature that just doesn't work with the App Store anymore. Maybe seven years ago, when you could count iPhone apps in the hundreds, but not today. To mention a recent example: I could say that 2Do is my favorite task manager or the one with the most customization options or free updates, but it's not necessarily the best for everyone.
This is also why I strive to keep a fresh mind and stay curious about apps. The only way for me to stay on top of the ever-changing App Store ecosystem is to try as many apps as I can and challenge my preconceptions – always asking myself "Would this app make me save time, be more efficient, and work better?".
Sometimes it's not fun, it's a time-consuming process, and it's definitely not cheap, but, after all, this is what I chose to do. And it often pays off with some nice surprises.