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Posts tagged with "developers"

Coding on iOS Is More Feasible Than Ever Before

In a series of tweets yesterday, one of the developers behind Codea announced that a new version of the iPad coding app had been approved for release, and this update would enable code sharing for the first time.

Previously we covered the revised App Store guidelines that now permit downloading and executing code inside of apps, but we haven't seen those changes put into practice before now. With version 2.3.7 of Codea you can now import projects from both .zip files and .codea bundles, making it easy to share code with others.

Although Codea is the first prominent adopter of features made possible by Apple's newly-granted permissions, it certainly won't be the last. Other notable programming apps and IDEs like Pythonista and Continuous can follow suit as they so choose. These policy changes, combined with Apple's own entrance into iOS coding via Swift Playgrounds, all of the sudden make iPad a much more attractive programming environment than ever before.

One excellent example of the power of coding on iOS is a game called Starsceptre. Starsceptre is a retro-style arcade shooter that was coded entirely on an iPad using Codea. Creator Richard Morgan wrote the game primarily during his daily commute on a train. “My work commute is basically the only spare time I have, so I needed a way to make games in that time – on the move, on my iPad." The game's trailer is embedded below.

With the less restrictive new App Store policies on coding, and the upcoming power user iPad features in iOS 11, hopefully we will see a lot more examples of apps coded entirely on iPad going forward.


Apple’s App Store Guidelines Now Allow Executable Code in Educational Apps and Developer Tools

Apple made several changes to the App Store Review Guidelines during WWDC this week, including an easing of the prohibition against downloading and executing code on an iOS device. The ban on executable code remains intact, but rule 2.5.2 now also provides that:

Apps designed to teach, develop, or test executable code may, in limited circumstances, download code provided that such code is not used for other purposes. Such apps must make the source code provided by the Application completely viewable and editable by the user.

The change to the guidelines is limited, but it’s an important signal to third-party developers that Apple will accept certain educational apps and developer tools on iOS, which brings the promise of app development on iOS one step closer to reality.

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Apps Can No Longer Use Custom Review Prompts; Apple Mandates Standardized Method

In iOS 10.3 earlier this year, Apple introduced a new API for prompting users to give apps an App Store review. At the time, developers were allowed to continue using any custom review prompts they had previously implemented, with the warning that such permission would eventually be revoked. As reported by 9to5Mac, that day has already come.

App Store policy has been updated to mandate use of Apple's standardized rating API going forward, disallowing custom review prompts. The updated language in Apple's review guidelines reads:

Use the provided API to prompt users to review your app; this functionality allows customers to provide an App Store rating and review without the inconvenience of leaving your app, and we will disallow custom review prompts.

In the few months since its introduction, adoption of Apple's review prompt API has been slow. Perhaps it is due to that lack of adoption that the company wasted little time before requiring its use.

Apple's solution certainly provides a better user experience than custom alternatives, particularly since it allows rating an app without needing to visit the App Store. But the concern from developers may be the loss of control over when, or how often, that prompt is presented.


App Store Policy Now Allows Tipping Content Providers

Josh Constine reports for TechCrunch about an updated App Store policy that will enable apps to allow tipping of content creators, provided 30% of that tip goes to Apple. The newly updated policy from Apple reads:

Apps may use in-app purchase currencies to enable customers to "tip" digital content providers in the app.

Constine explains that previously, tipping was a grey area, leading some developers to avoid implementing it for fear their apps would be rejected by the App Review team. But this new policy changes that, he writes:

This means developers can add tipping features without fearing repercussions from Apple, as long as they’re willing to give the giant 30 percent. The grey area had kept tipping out of some popular apps who sought to avoid any tension with Apple. Now app makers can offer and promote tipping features with confidence.

The developers will have to determine whether they themselves take a cut of the tips or pass the full 70 percent on to the content creators. Passing on 50 percent while taking a 20 percent cut could unlock paths to monetizing video where ads can be interruptive or tough to match with unpolished footage.

The App Store has been rife with changes since Phil Schiller adopted responsibility for it, and this particular change will impact certain people in different ways. Some developers may appreciate the clarity concerning what they can or can't do in the realm of tipping, but for any apps currently allowing tipping without the 30% tax, both developers and content providers will be harmed.

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App Store Earnings for Developers Exceed $70 Billion

Apple announced today that since it launched in 2008, developers have earned over $70 billion from the App Store.

People everywhere love apps and our customers are downloading them in record numbers," said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “Seventy billion dollars earned by developers is simply mind-blowing. We are amazed at all of the great new apps our developers create and can’t wait to see them again next week at our Worldwide Developers Conference.”

According to Apple’s press release, subscriptions saw a 58% increase year over year, fueled by their availability in all 25 app categories. Games and Entertainment are the App Store’s top grossing categories, Lifestyle and Health and Fitness apps have experienced 70% growth, and the Photo and Video category is up over 90%. Apple’s press release also highlights the addition of iMessage apps and stickers with iOS 10.

The timing of Apple’s press release is interesting coming just days before WWDC, its annual developer conference. Developer earnings have historically been covered as part of the WWDC opening-day keynote. One possibility is that this is a sign that the usual keynote updates are being compressed this year to make room for more product and operating system announcements than usual.

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Phil Schiller on App Store Upgrade Pricing

Gadgets 360's Kunal Dua interviewed Apple's Phil Schiller last month and, among questions about voice-only assistants, he also asked about upgrade pricing on the App Store.

Gadgets 360: With all the recent changes in the App Store, can developers expect to see upgrade pricing next?

Phil Schiller: The reason we haven’t done it is that it's much more complex than people know, and that's okay, it's our job to think about complex problems, but the App Store has reached so many successful milestones without it because the business model makes sense to customers. And the upgrade model, which I know very well from my days of running many large software programmes, is a model from the shrink-wrapped software days that for some developers is still very important, for most, it’s not really a part of the future we are going.

I think for many developers, subscription model is a better way to, go than try to come up with a list of features, and different pricing for upgrade, versus for new customers. I am not saying it doesn't have value for some developers but for most it doesn’t, so that's the challenge. And if you look at the App Store it would take a lot of engineering to do that and so would be at the expense of other features we can deliver.

For example, the App Store has one price for an app, when you see it, you see if there's a price on it, that's the price. It doesn't have multiple prices for multiple tiers of customers so to engineer that in, it's not impossible, but a lot of work for a small segment of software that we hope for many of them, subscription pricing is a better model, the one where the customers are comfortable with. So we’ll keep talking to developers about what's most important on their list, we want them to keep telling is if that [upgrade pricing] is high on the list or not, and we’ll keep an open mind to it, but it's harder than people realise.

Schiller's point makes sense – rather than retrofitting the App Store for old software pricing systems, Apple has found success with a new, simpler model. It's also true, however, that upgrade pricing has worked successfully for developers that have never sold "shrink-wrapped software" – companies that want to retain their most loyal customers without forcing them to sign up for a subscription. You don't need to sell software on physical discs for upgrade pricing to make sense.

It'll be interesting to see how developers – especially on iOS and the iPad (if WWDC brings new incentives to the platform) – will continue to adapt and try different strategies. We've seen some signs of this over the past year, with The Omni Group shifting to In-App Purchases and productivity apps relying on subscriptions, and I hope Apple will add even more flexibility to these new models at WWDC.

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iTunes Connect’s App Analytics Adds Source and Referrer Data

Two years ago, Apple rolled out App Analytics on its iTunes Connect developer portal. Originally announced at WWDC in 2014, App Analytics gave developers a better understanding of how and when their apps were used, how many views their app’s page on the App Store received, and more. However, the original version of App Analytics did not report how customers got to the App Store.

Yesterday Apple announced an expansion to App Analytics that adds source and referral data. According to Apple’s developer news website:

App Analytics in iTunes Connect now provides insight on where customers discover your app, including App Store browsing and search, within other apps, or on the web. With key metrics based on source types, you can see your top referring apps and websites, making it easier to optimize your marketing campaigns.

Apple’s App Analytics page elaborates:

With App Analytics, you can see how many users discover your app while searching or browsing the App Store — including tapping on Search Ads for your app — to gain insight into how your marketing and metadata impact downloads.

App Analytics counts users who visit your app’s product page from a link within another app.

Blogs, websites, and other online sources that link to your app’s product page, are critical in driving user acquisition through word-of-mouth marketing and PR. With App Analytics, you can see which organic marketing channels drive the highest traffic, downloads, usage, and revenue for your app.

There is a lot of interesting new data for developers to digest in App Analytics that should help them market their apps more effectively. I particularly appreciate the ability to drill down into any source of App Store traffic to see how it has performed over time and from which countries those customers are coming.


Apple Updates TestFlight with Improved Testing Options

Yesterday Apple launched TestFlight 1.5 on the App Store. The update's release notes didn't highlight any specific changes, but developers are discovering today that its release was timed with a few major updates.

Developers can now create different builds of an app to be distributed to different groups of testers. These changes will make A/B testing of apps possible for the first time, so developers can gauge feedback from different groups who are testing different versions of the same app.

Multiple builds can also be distributed to the same people so that testers can choose from a variety of builds that they wish to test.

Longer testing periods is another change – up from 60 days to 90 days. These are not yet noted in Apple's official documentation, so they are likely still in the process of rolling out. Developers we've spoken with as well as the MacStories team have been able to see builds with an expiration time of 90 days.


The 2016 Panic Report

From Cabel Sasser's latest Panic report (as always, a great read):

If you remember, 2016 was the year we killed Status Board, our very nice data visualization app. Now, a lot of it was our fault. But it was another blow to our heavy investment in pro-level iOS apps a couple years ago, a decision we’re still feeling the ramifications of today as we revert back to a deep focus on macOS. Trying to do macOS quality work on iOS cost us a lot of time for sadly not much payoff. We love iOS, we love our iPhones, and we love our iPads. But we remain convinced that it’s not — yet? — possible to make a living selling pro software on those platforms. Which is a real bummer!

Giving more tools to companies like Panic to make professional, powerful software for iOS is one of the challenges Apple faces along with making the OS itself more capable. There should be more iOS-first and iOS-only Panics and Omni Groups around.

See also: last year's episode of Remaster on Firewatch (which you should go play right now if you haven't).

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