With a new version released today on the App Store, Flexibits updated Fantastical – the popular calendar client with natural language input – to include deeper support for iOS 10 and the iPhone 7. Version 2.8, available on the iPhone and iPad, adds new iMessage stickers using the app's icon as the main character in different expressions, haptic feedback on the iPhone 7, and, more importantly, rich notifications for calendar events and reminders.
Posts tagged with "iMessage"
You may have noticed that we’re big fans of iMessage apps and stickers. Since their introduction with iOS 10 in September, we have covered more than 250 sticker packs and apps between MacStories and the weekly roundup of stickers Federico and I do in MacStories Weekly for Club members. That’s a lot of apps and stickers, and there are so many excellent ones we covered this year that it was difficult to narrow them down to shorter list.
When it comes to iMessage apps, my favorites are games and apps that make it easy for me to share bits of useful information with friends and family. Sticker packs become favorites for a wider variety of reasons; some are useful, allowing me to get my point across better than words alone, others are funny, and some just look great, but all liven up conversations. Here are my favorites of 2016.
When Apple launched the iMessage App Store with the release of iOS 10, it was dominated by sticker packs. Many of my personal favorites came from Disney, including the Star Wars , Zootopia , and Mickey & Friends packs. But one of the nice things about the new App Store was its accessibility to a wide variety of creatives, not just the big players like Disney. A simple sticker pack truly requires no coding knowledge. Because of that, since day one there has been an abundance of sticker options on the iMessage App Store, each with a unique story behind it.
One such story comes from Marcy Smith and Andrew Williams, the creators of MarcyMoji . Born out of Marcy's lifelong love of painting, MarcyMoji was originally conceived as a custom keyboard, but Apple's announcements at WWDC quickly shifted the couple's focus to building an iMessage app.
Ariel Michaeli, writing on the appFigures blog:
When it comes to making money, users seem to be fine with paid apps. Unlike the iOS App Store, on the iMessage App Store only 7% of top grossing apps are free(mium). That’s just 13 apps!!!
The remaining 93% of apps (187, to be precise) cost between $0.99 and $4.99, with the majority (61%) having a price of $0.99 and 36% having a price of $1.99. The remaining 4 apps split between the other price tiers.
Monetizing upfront is great for developers because it’s simple and easy to implement, but it’s also a sign of a store that isn’t mature. If the iMessage App Store matures similarly to the iOS App Store—which is likely considering it’s the same audience and device—we’ll see a strong shift towards freemium. For now, developers should make the most out of it.
Speaking from personal experience, the iMessage App Store's top charts are a constant source of discovery for new paid sticker packs from indie artists. These first numbers from September seem to be holding up so far.
One of the intriguing aspects of iMessage sticker packs is that they can be as simple as static images or as complex as full-blown apps. There’s a place for both, but it’s interesting to see innovation beginning to take shape as a differentiator among sticker sellers.
Health Stickers, by Krishna Kumar, is a good example. It lets you share your exercise and health accomplishments via stickers, whether that’s your step count, weight, heart rate, or something else. What’s cool about the app is that it pulls health data from Apple’s Health app with your permission. Share you step count with a friend in Messages and the sticker includes your current step count total. The stickers cannot update dynamically, but you can always resend a sticker to a recipient if you want to update your statistics. The step count in particular seemed high compared to Pedometer++, but for casual sharing, as opposed to precise measurement, the app has a lot going for it.
Health Stickers is available on the iMessage App Store as a free download.
It was clear before iOS 10 launched that sticker packs and iMessage apps were going to be big. The only question was – how big? In the last 30 days, the iMessage App Store has exploded. According to SensorTower, there were over 1,650 sticker packs and apps available in the iMessage App Store after just ten days. The first couple of weeks felt like the early days of the App Store. If you wanted to, you could browse every sticker pack and iMessage app available. There were a lot, but you could make out the edges where the store stopped. One indication of the iMessage App Store's growth is that those edges are rapidly disappearing.
Over the past four weeks, we've been scouring the iMessage App Store for the best stickers and apps. We started sharing some of the best in the Club MacStories Weekly newsletter, but every time we went back to the store there were three more cool things for every one we had shared. So, to mark the first full month of iOS 10, we thought we would do another, even bigger roundup of iMessage apps and sticker packs with the best ones shared with Club MacStories members so far, plus a whole lot more.
The Iconfactory announced a series of iMessage sticker packs today to celebrate Halloween:
- Lore ($1.99) – a collaboration with the well-known podcast about scary stories drawn from true historical events that features cartoon-style illustrations of classic Halloween images.
- Hack-O-Lantern ($1.99) – a pumpkin decorating sticker pack that lets you design your own jack-o-lantern by yourself or with a friend.
- BoneHeadz ($0.99) – a variety of animated skull stickers by illustrator Von Glitschka.
- Spook On ($0.99) - classic Halloween iconography in the style of the previously-launched Stuck On pack.
- Macabre ($0.99) - a mix of animated and static Halloween images in a slightly scarier vein.
- Ravenswood Manor ($0.99) - an animated collection of characters you would expect to encounter in a haunted house.
There are a couple unique features to the Iconfactory’s Halloween sticker packs. First, each comes with a Halloween-themed wallpaper that can be accessed by tapping the name of the sticker pack at the bottom of the Messages drawer. Second, each sticker pack is available for a limited time only. When Halloween is over, the sticker packs will vanish like a ghost in the mist.
Mitchel Broussard, writing for MacRumors:
Popular music-detecting app Shazam today rolled out an update that adds support for the service within Messages, so users can send new artist and song discoveries directly to friends and family members.
The only user interface option within the Messages app for Shazam is "Touch to Shazam," so whenever a song is playing nearby, allow the app to listen and once it does it'll create a card to send to the current contact. The created message can be tapped on to jump into Shazam, buy the track on iTunes, or listen to it on Apple Music.
This is clever: if you're in iMessage and want to share a song you're listening to, you don't have to go look for the Shazam app. Between iMessage and interactive notifications, I like what Shazam is doing with iOS 10.
Ortwin Gentz, one of the developers behind Where To, has noticed that the majority of iMessage apps and sticker packs in the top charts seem to be paid ones. He collected some numbers from the iMessage App Store and concluded:
The distribution of business models is even more interesting. In contrast to the iOS App Store where freemium titles dominate the top-grossing charts, the overwhelming revenue in the iMessage App Store comes from paid titles. This reminds me of the early days of the App Store where In App Purchase wasn’t even available.
Probably the #1 reason for this is the lack of IAP in no-code sticker packs. These sticker packs consist only of the actual artwork and are easy to create for designers who don’t want to code.
Currently, basic sticker packs – the ones that only require dropping a bunch of image files into Xcode – can't offer In-App Purchases. As soon as Apple offers an integrated solution to bring In-App Purchases to iMessage sticker packs without writing code, I have no doubt we'll see the iMessage App Store follow the "Free with In-App Purchases" model of the iOS App Store.
Unless Apple is deliberately pushing artists towards paid packs because they do not want to repeat what happened with the App Store? The perception of sticker packs right now reminds me of the early days of the App Store – that good work is worth paying for.