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Posts tagged with "developers"

Details on App Store Developer Responses

Following yesterday's release of iOS 10.3, which introduced the ability for developers to respond to App Store reviews, Apple has released official guidelines for how developer's can best craft responses.

The ideal response is concise and clearly addresses your customer's feedback. Communicate in the tone of your brand, and use terminology your target audience will appreciate and understand. If multiple people in your company can reply to reviews for your app, they should use a similar voice and style. Make sure your replies follow Apple’s Terms and Conditions, which prohibits using profanity, posting users’ personal information, and spamming.

The guidelines also recommend:

  • Always providing individualized responses, even if only by pairing a personalized introduction with a more generic response.
  • Soliciting feedback from users regarding what they'd like to see in future updates.
  • Replying to reviews in a timely, consistent manner.
  • Prioritizing responses based on a review's apparent level of importance.
  • Writing release notes for app updates that specifically address issues mentioned in past reviews, and letting those past reviewers know of the update.
  • Staying on topic with the issue raised by a review; no using replies as a means of advertisement.

Besides these guidelines from Apple, as App Store responses have gone live for the first time, more details have come out concerning how those reviews will work.

It appears that every reply submitted by a developer goes through some sort of review process before it is posted to the App Store. In the following tweet's screenshot, you can see a 'Pending' tag on the developer's review.

It was previously unknown how users would be notified when a developer responds to their App Store review. Although a notification from the App Store app seemed a possibility, Apple has instead chosen to go the route of email notifications. Those emails include a link with the option for reviewers to update their original review.


The iMessage App Store’s Discoverability Problems

Adam Howell sums up some of the major issues affecting the iMessage App Store and iMessage apps:

I love the idea of the iMessage App Store. I love Apple’s focus on privacy. I love building on top of an app I use all day everyday. But not only is the iMessage App Store dying —I’m afraid it might already be dead.

I agree with most of his design and functionality-related points. Using stickers and iMessage apps requires too much effort; a lot of users are still confused by iMessage-only apps; and I don't understand why Apple thought Digital Touch was so important. I like his proposed solution for iMessage app activation, too.

On curation, though, I believe Apple has been doing a decent job with refreshing featured apps and sticker packs on weekly basis. A few months ago, Apple's editorial team also started highlighting iMessage apps and stickers on the front page of the iOS App Store, which must drive some visibility. Every week, we discover new stickers to feature in our newsletter also thanks to Apple's curation and the store's top charts, which are dominated by Disney stickers as it's a massive brand that has absolutely nailed the idea of selling "premium" iMessage sticker packs.

Aside from design and functional issues (in short, Apple should redesign the entire iMessage app drawer), I think the reality most iMessage apps are facing is a repeat (at a smaller scale) of what happened with the main App Store. Apple should make meaningful improvements to make developers' lives easier, but it's always going to be a tricky business to figure out in such a competitive landscape.

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iOS 10.3 Beta Adds ‘App Compatibility’ Screen Listing Old 32-Bit Apps

In addition to a new warning displayed upon launching an old 32-bit app for the first time, it appears that iOS 10.3 will also include a Settings page listing legacy apps that "will not work with future versions of iOS".

Juli Clover, writing for MacRumors on the latest iOS 10.3 beta released earlier today:

In the Settings app, there's a new "App Compatibility" section that lists apps that may not work with a future version of iOS. Tapping on one of the apps opens it up in the App Store so you can see when it was last updated. As has been discovered in previous betas, opening one of these apps on your iOS device pops up a warning with a similar non-compatible statement. App Compatibility can be accessed by opening the Settings app and choosing General --> About. From there, scroll down to "Applications" and tap it.

It's not clear whether these warnings will make it into the final release of iOS 10.3, but they're a strong sign that developers should prepare for stricter 64-bit requirements in iOS 11.

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Making More Outside the Mac App Store

After seeing the results of Kapeli's exit from the Mac App Store, Rogue Amoeba's Paul Kafasis compared sales of Piezo from the Mac App Store and their direct web store as well:

After seeing Kapeli’s chart, I was curious about the App Store’s impact on Piezo’s sales. The restrictions and limitations of the Mac App Store ultimately led us to remove Piezo on February 12th, 2016. We’ve now been selling it exclusively via our site for a year. This has provided about as perfect a real-world test case as one could hope for. Piezo’s removal came with minimal publicity, the price has remained constant at $19, and we’ve had no big updates or other major publicity for it in either 2015 or 2016.

His conclusion is perfectly reasonable:

In our case, however, it’s clear that we were serving Apple, rather than Apple serving us. By removing Piezo from the Mac App Store, we stopped paying a commission to Apple for the many customers who had found Rogue Amoeba on their own. Better still, we were able to improve the quality of the product while simplifying our work considerably. Ultimately, that alone was enough to convince us that leaving the Mac App Store was the right move. The subsequent revenue increase we’ve seen is merely a nice bonus.

At this point, I don't understand why any independent developer would want to sell apps exclusively through the Mac App Store. The lack of meaningful improvements since 2011 don't justify Apple's high commission anymore. The Mac App Store has always been a second-class citizen; today, Mac developers like Rogue Amoeba are better served by controlling their own destiny.

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iOS 10.3 Beta Re-Introduces Warning for Old 32-Bit Apps, Suggests Future Incompatibility

Andrew Cunningham, writing for Ars Technica on a new warning that appears when running old 32-bit apps on the first beta of iOS 10.3:

Beta builds of iOS 10.3, the first of which was issued last week, generate warning messages when you try to run older 32-bit apps. The message, originally discovered by PSPDFKit CEO and app developer Peter Steinberger, warns that the apps "will not work with future versions of iOS" and that the app must be updated by its developer in order to continue running. The apps still run in iOS 10.3, but it seems likely that iOS 11 will drop support for them entirely.

Though the error message doesn't explicitly mention the app's 32-bit or 64-bit support, it's definitely only older 32-bit apps that trigger the warning. Similar messages that did explicitly mention 64-bit support were present in the betas of iOS 10.0, but they were removed in the final release of the software. Apple has required 64-bit support for all new app submissions since February of 2015 and all app update submissions since June 2015, so any apps that are still throwing this error haven't been touched by their developer in at least a year and a half (developers could add 64-bit support as early as 2013, but most of them opted not to until it became a requirement).

Note how, unlike the warning that was reinstated with iOS 10.1, this alert clearly states that "this app will not work with future versions of iOS" as opposed to "may slow down your iPhone".

In my review of iOS 10, I had a couple of paragraphs on the warning that iOS displayed when launching a 32-bit app for the first time. The warning didn't make it to the final version of iOS 10, so I didn't cover it. I did, however, note that iOS 10 was accelerating the transition to 64-bit across the board.

Requiring apps to be compiled for 64-bit is going to introduce problems for software that is no longer maintained (especially classic iOS games), but Apple is moving toward cleaning up the App Store's back catalog anyway. Enforcing the 64-bit requirement in iOS 11 wouldn't be a complete surprise.

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MediaPlayer Enhancements in iOS 10.3

Charles Joseph, developer of Picky, on the enhancements coming to the MediaPlayer framework in iOS 10.3:

I was genuinely surprised and elated to find that yesterday’s iOS 10.3 beta finally adds what looks like proper queuing functionality to MPMusicPlayerController and I excitedly tweeted about it. Scott Edwards asked if I could “explain why that’s important to a non programmer”, so I’m going to try to do that here.

Alternatives to Apple’s Music app (like Picky) need to be able to access and play the user’s iTunes library, unless they’re part of a streaming service (like Spotify) or providing their own syncing and library management and companion apps (quite the tall order). While developers can build incredibly advanced playback functionality with tools like AVFoundation, that’s only possible for an increasingly smaller subset of users’ libraries: only locally downloaded, non-DRMed content — nothing stored in the cloud and nothing downloaded from Apple Music. People are storing more and more of their music in the cloud and expect third-party apps to be able to keep up.

It sounds like Apple is listening to feedback from developers of third-party music players. The changes documented in the iOS 10.3 beta so far don't address all the concerns Allen Pike covered last year, but it's a good first step. I'm curious to see how apps will take advantage of the improved API.

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Mac App Subscription Service Setapp Goes Live

MacPaw, makers of CleanMyMac, Gemini, and other apps, launched a public beta subscription service of hand-picked Mac apps last December called Setapp. Today the service, which aims to become the ‘Netflix of apps,’ was officially launched with a stable of 61 Mac apps.

For a flat subscription fee of $9.99 per month, customers can download any of the 61 apps and use them as long as they continue to make monthly payments. After MacPaw receives a 30% cut of customers’ subscription fees, developers who participate in Setapp are paid based on a formula that accounts for the price their apps are sold for outside the service and whether customers use the apps each month, which MacPaw tracks.

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iOS 10.3 to Standardize In-App Review Prompts, Developers to Gain Ability to Respond to Customer Reviews

With today's release of the first iOS 10.3 beta for developers, Apple announced two changes that have been highly requested by iOS users and the developer community. iOS 10.3 will offer a developer API to standardize how apps can ask users to rate an app or write a review on the App Store, and developers will get the ability to directly respond to customer reviews on both the iOS and Mac App Store.

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Apple Increases tvOS App Size Limit to 4 GB

Nice change for tvOS app developers announced today by Apple:

The size limit of a tvOS app bundle has increased from 200 MB to 4 GB, so you can include more media in your submission and provide a complete, rich user experience upon installation. Also, tvOS apps can use On-Demand Resources to host up to 20 GB of additional content on the App Store.

On one hand, this prepares the platform for 4K support and larger file sizes in the future, and it makes another step towards legitimizing the Apple TV as a micro-console (in addition to bigger app downloads, developers can also require controllers in their games for tvOS 10).

However, the 64 GB version of the 4th generation Apple TV has been around for over a year now with little explanation from Apple as to why customers would want to spend more for increased storage, and this feels like lifting a limitation because why not.

I'm curious to see what happens now, particularly in terms of game releases on tvOS. This is a welcome change for game developers, but we haven't seen any major tvOS exclusives so far.

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