Apple has announced a plan to clean up the App Store. Apple’s developer site states it plainly:
To make it easier for customers to find great apps that fit their needs, we want to ensure that apps available on the App Store are functional and up-to-date. We are implementing an ongoing process of evaluating apps, removing apps that no longer function as intended, don’t follow current review guidelines, or are outdated.
Beginning September 7, 2016, the same day as the event at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium where Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 7, App Review will begin evaluating all existing apps on the App Store to determine if they are functional and meet App Store guidelines. Some of the highlights:
- If App Review determines that changes need to be made to an app, the developer will be contacted and given 30 days to update it, after which it will be removed from the App Store;
- If an app crashes on launch, it will be removed from sale immediately; and
- Existing customers will still have access to apps removed from the App Store.
In addition, Apple announced in an email to developers that going forward, app names will be limited to 50 characters. Apple explained that long app names, which developers use to try to influence search results, provide no value for customers, particularly because they are too long to display in full on the App Store.
Eight years and over two million apps later, the App Store is long overdue for a cleanup. Abandoned and broken apps create a real discovery problem for customers. We are well past the time when the number of apps served as meaningful bragging rights for Apple keynotes. The directness in tone and relatively short time frame given to developers to make changes to apps sends a clear message – Apple is serious about cleaning up the App Store. Developers with neglected apps had better pay attention if they want to remain on the App Store.
The first European iOS app development center, previously announced by Apple in January, will officially open in October 2016. The center, now called iOS Developer Academy, will be hosted at the Università di Napoli Federico II:
The Università di Napoli Federico II (Naples, Italy) today announced it will host Europe's first ever iOS Developer Academy in a new partnership with Apple that will see hundreds of students given the practical skills and training on developing apps for the world's most innovative and vibrant app ecosystem. The iOS Developer Academy will officially open in October 2016 with more than 200 students taking part in the first year and more to follow in the years ahead.
Students will take part in a nine month curriculum designed and supported by Apple, with a dedicated facility at the new Campus in San Giovanni a Teduccio. The facility includes labs and access to the latest Apple hardware and software.
Great news for the Italian iOS developer community. More details are available at the official website here.
Over the course of WWDC I recorded interviews with fifteen developers and other people from the Apple community (sixteen including one pre-WWDC interview) about their reactions to the announcements made at WWDC and their work. The interviews, which are embedded below, grew out of The MacStories Lounge Telegram channel, where Federico and I have posted short audio updates for the past few months. I didn’t get a ticket in the WWDC lottery this year, but there was never a question in my mind that I would fly out to San Francisco for the week because I go for the people and geeky conversations as much as to learn what’s new. Thinking about those conversations it occurred to me, ‘why not record some of them to share with MacStories readers?’
What I recorded over the course of the week are the same sorts of conversations that happen all over San Francisco during WWDC, whether it’s in line for a session at Moscone, over a meal with friends, or yelled at the top of your voice in a noisy bar at night. It was fun to see the many common threads that emerged from the interviews over the course of the week. Everyone had their own unique take on the events and interests in things that are relevant to their own projects, but there were also many reactions to WWDC that were common to most of the people to whom I spoke.
Chance Miller, writing for 9to5Mac:
Following the release of the first developer beta of iOS 10 earlier this week, Apple today has update TestFlight with support for the latest iOS version. As announced on the company’s developer website, developers are now able to build apps for iOS 10, watchOS 3, and the latest version of tvOS.
Being able to push betas of apps with iOS 10 features means that developers will be able to perfect the implementation of things like SiriKit and the new notification and widget features on iOS.
I remember struggling last year to try beta apps updated for iOS 9 ahead of the public release. It's good to see Apple is doing better this year and letting developers push betas built against the new SDKs right out of the gate. This is the way it should be.
When the iPhone debuted in 2007, it was by no means a forgone conclusion that there would ever be an App Store. Steve Jobs reportedly resisted the idea over concerns that it would ‘mess up’ the iPhone,1 yet about one year later, the App Store debuted with around 500 third-party apps.
The App Store grew like wildfire. By January 2009, there were about 15,000 apps. Though modest by today's standards, 15,000 was already enough apps that it felt like there was one to fulfill every possible need you might have. Apple celebrated the success of the App Store the next month by launching a TV ad campaign featuring the catchphrase ‘There’s an app for that.’
Fast-forward to today and the scope of the App Store of 2009 feels quaint by comparison. There are now approximately 1.5 million apps in the App Store – a 100-fold increase in just seven years. But while the App Store has been an undeniable success for Apple by almost any measure, that success has come at a cost. With so many apps in the App Store, discovery has become such a serious problem that today’s version of Apple’s 2009 catchphrase may as well be ‘Where’s the app for that?’
The good news is that change is afoot in the App Store. Last December, Phil Schiller took over responsibility for the App Store. In April, Apple launched a site dedicated to helping developers build their businesses, which includes a way for developers to contact the App Store team directly about promoting their apps. In mid-May, app review times dropped dramatically, from around a week to under two days, instantly changing the launch cycle for developers. Then, just in the last week or two, Apple quietly started hiding Apple TV apps from its Featured pages and top charts that customers have already downloaded, making room to display more new apps.
According to rumors Apple has about 100 people working on changes to the App Store. With WWDC just around the corner, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how Apple could improve App Store discovery and gathering ideas from other developers. I’m optimistic that meaningful progress can be made to make developers’ apps more discoverable, but these are hard problems. There is no silver bullet that will improve discovery overnight – it’s a problem that needs to be attacked on multiple fronts simultaneously.
Apple press release:
Apple today announced a new initiative to support engineering talent and accelerate growth in India’s iOS developer community.
The company will establish a Design and Development Accelerator in Bengaluru, the home of India’s startup scene. Tens of thousands of developers in India make apps for iOS, the world’s most powerful mobile operating system and the foundation for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. This initiative will provide additional, specialized support for them.
This new Design and Development Accelerator (which will open in early 2017) is similar to the announcement from January this year where Apple committed to opening an iOS App Development Center in Naples, Italy.
“India is home to one of the most vibrant and entrepreneurial iOS development communities in the world,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “With the opening of this new facility in Bengaluru, we’re giving developers access to tools which will help them create innovative apps for customers around the world.”
Today's India-specific press release comes after another Apple press release yesterday which announced that GarageBand added Chinese instruments and sounds. Tim Cook was in China, but arrived in India last night for his first official visit to India as Apple CEO. Cook is expected to visit Gurgaon, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai, as well as meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Apple appears to be shortening review times for new app and update submissions to the App Store. According to data collected by independent app review tracking website AppReviewTimes and as reported by Bloomberg today, review times have approached 2 days as opposed to the 7-10 days it took Apple to review apps in the past.
During the weekend, Apple announced that, starting June 1, all new watchOS app submissions will have to be native – written with the watchOS 2 SDK.
This, of course, doesn't enforce existing watchOS 1.0 apps (built with the first SDK) to be updated for watchOS 2, so it'll be interesting to see how Apple will handle developers who launched a watchOS app last year, saw a muted response, and then ignored watchOS 2 due to a lack of incentives.
In my experience, the performance of watchOS 2 apps has only been marginally better than old watchOS 1.0 ones, and I haven't heard of developers rushing to support watchOS 2 as a must-rewrite-everything effort. If I had to speculate, perhaps new iPhone apps for iOS 10 or later could only support watchOS 3 – but, again, that wouldn't solve the issue for watchOS 1.0 apps currently on the App Store. Quite a curious conundrum.
There is no doubt that San Francisco is an expensive place to visit for a week, which puts WWDC out of reach financially for some developers. Fortunately, there are a lot of other Mac and iOS conferences held throughout the year that cost less and provide an opportunity to learn and meet fellow developers. To highlight their events, a group of Fall conference organizers have gotten together to offer a discount on admission to their events:
For the next 24 hours the following iOS / Mac community conferences are offering a 10% discount on the price of admission:
Use the coupon code “COMMUNITY” before April 20th at 9am Pacific Time time to receive the discount.
I attended the inaugural Úll and Release Notes conferences and highly recommend both.
The cost of admission to any of these conferences is already less than a ticket to WWDC, but if you want to save an extra 10%, act fast because the offer is good for only 24 hours.