Are App Bundles Living Up to the Hype?

App Bundles have been one of the most anticipated and important new features for the App Store with the release of iOS 8. Considered to be a vital new way to drive revenue, many have been speculating about the tangible effects they would bring for individual developers since they were announced, including us in our Road to iOS 8 post by Joe Cieplinski.

As of 10/21, there are 4,448 app bundles on the App Store.

Armed with a month’s worth of data, we’re starting to get a better picture of how app developers are utilizing app bundles. As of today, a total of 4,448 app bundles were created and made available for sale on the App Store which means about 130 new app bundles are released every day. It looks like developers are quick to use this new feature and seem to be experimenting. Roughly 20% of the bundles that were launched since September 17th have been removed from the App Store, which isn’t very surprising considering this is completely new. Given how new app bundles are, we’re expecting to see developers experimenting even more in the coming months as they try to figure out the best way to utilize them.

In this post we’ll be taking a look at app bundles that have seen success in the App Store. By success we mean app bundles that were either featured or ranked in the top charts in the last month.

Top Bundles

There are 1,461 app bundles that were featured or found themselves in the top ranks of a category. After an initial surge on launch day (Sept 17th), the growth of bundles that were featured or appearing in the top ranks has been pretty consistent at roughly 64 new bundles per day.

App bundle growth - appFigures

So far, 860 developers have seen at least one of their bundles climb the app store rankings.

Developers have seen varying degrees of success when rolling their apps into bundles. So far, 860 developers have seen at least one of their bundles climb the app store rankings. Of these 860 developers, 581 have seen only one bundle take-off, 141 have seen two of their bundles take-off, and 138 have seen three or more of their bundles find success in the app store rankings, meaning that success was definitely not evenly distributed.

Ranked app bundles - appFigures

Developers with the most ranked or featured app bundles include Barcelona Multimedia (9), Duck Duck Moose Inc. (9), Matchkin (8), Pea Pod Labs LLC (8), Pocket Prep LLC (8), and Smarty Ears (8).

What’s inside the bundle?

The bigger question for developers is to determine how many apps to include in a bundle? Even though Apple allows up to ten apps in a single bundle, most developers have chosen to keep the size of their bundles on the smaller side.

Number of apps in bundles - appFigures

80% of bundles contain five or fewer apps

Just under 50% of the top bundles are composed of two or three apps, and 80% of bundles contain five or fewer apps. For consumers, however, the number of apps they purchase in a bundle is less important than the amount of money they ultimately save. Looking at savings in the aggregate, consumers can expect an average discount of $5.64 with a range of savings between a minimum of $0.95 and a maximum of $98.95.

Consumers can expect to save $5.64 on average

The vast majority of bundles yield a savings below $10.00. In fact, if lined up in ascending order, the middle 50% of savings fall between $1.97 and %5.98. When grouping savings by the size of the bundle, the general trend is that larger bundles lead to increased savings.

Average consumer savings with app bundles - appFigures

We’ll be keeping an eye on trends for bundled products and will continue providing you monetization strategies in the future so that you’re able to make even better decisions as more bundles hit the App Store.

Takeaways:

  • There are currently 4,448 app bundles on the App Store
  • 860 developers have seen at least one of their bundles climb the app store rankings
  • 80% of bundles contain five or fewer apps
  • Top bundles contain apps predominately from the Games, Education, and Health & Fitness categories
  • The top bundles have a median of 4 apps
  • The average savings per bundle is $5.64
  • The largest savings for a featured or top ranked bundle is $98.95

Did you know you can track bundle sales, reviews, ranks, and even see when you’re featured with appFigures?

Brand New: Track Incoming Payments for All Your Apps in One Place

Ask developers why they make apps and you’re sure to receive a full spectrum of responses ranging from entirely rational to truly inspired. But no matter which way you slice it there’s one reason that’s certain to be ubiquitous: getting paid.

But how can developers know exactly how much money they’re supposed to get paid?

As anyone who’s tried to answer that question before can tell you, reliably calculating incoming payments from different app stores is no simple task. There are different financial calendars to consider, varying exchange rates to account for, multiple payment policies to keep track of, and the list goes on.

The details are certainly enough to make anyone’s head spin, and a lot of developers are feeling the pain. Several months ago, after many user requests, we set out to solve this problem, and today we’re thrilled to announce our solution: the Payments report.

The new Payments report shows you exactly how much money you’ve received and can expect to receive, by month. It automatically includes data for all the app stores and ad networks you use. payments-report

Why you need it

  • Accuracy first: Every app store has its own set of intricacies (different payment calendars, exchange rates, regions, etc.), so we built a system to diligently normalize the complexity of all the stores we track into a single data source you can always count on.
  • Totals at a glance: Start off with a single number that sums up all your revenue (including app sales, in-app purchases, and ad revenue), and dig in for more information.
  • Detailed breakdowns: Easily view payments grouped by individual stores and by individual products. If you ever tried to figure out the payment total for a specific iOS or Mac app, you know the reports Apple provides make it quite difficult. Our new Payments report does all the magic behind the scenes to give you accurate totals per app for every store.
  • Fill in the blanks: Most stores release their financial reports at the end of each month, but no one wants to wait that long. When you choose a month that hasn’t ended yet the Payments report will automatically figure out if there’s another less accurate, data set it can use until the real data becomes. When that data is available it’s denoted as “Estimated”.

How is this report different from the other revenue reports?

Our other revenue reports are built around showing the most up-to-date information. While this information updates frequently, it isn’t 100% representative of what your bank statement may read at the end of the month (due to varying exchange rates and app store limitations). In contrast the new Payments report is all about total accuracy. It is based on the less frequently updated (monthly) financial data that’s provided by the individual app stores.

Where can I get it?

This report is available in the reports section of the site, alongside all of our existing reports. If you haven’t already click here to check it out.

Looks pretty simple, right? That’s the culmination of countless iterations by our engineering and design teams, as well as invaluable feedback from several pioneering members. We took great care to make sure we always present the most accurate data, and that it’s wrapped in a delightful interface. We already have some nice additions planned for this report, but first we can’t wait to hear your feedback!

The Reviews Are In: iPhone Users Love Custom Keyboards!

We’ve been talking a lot about the new changes in iOS 8 and what they mean for developers and end users. In this post we continue the trend and look at custom keyboards. Now that custom keyboards are available for iPhone and iPad users, some are already swearing by them and companies dedicated to creating those keyboards are flourishing.

So far we’ve seen keyboards of all kinds pop up. From the famous Swype, to ones that change the background color to reduce battery usage, keyboards have been ranking very well. Instead of looking at performance, we wanted to get a feel for how users are receiving them, so we decided to dive into app store reviews. Since we’re going to be analyzing text, we collected reviews for all top ranking keyboard apps from english speaking countries (the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Australia).

First, we aggregated all of those reviews and pulled the most popular keywords (those that are repeated the most times). We cleaned out short terms and stop words and put it all into a word cloud.

Word-cloud of top iOS8 custom keyboard reviews from appFigures

Word clouds aren’t as mainstream as they used to be, but for understanding reviews at a glance they are ideal. Looking at this cloud, we can easily see that users are really loving their custom keyboards. Words like “love”, “like”, and “great” are repeated very often.

Looking closer we start to see suggestions and feedback as well with words like “fix”, “needs”, and “feature”. Lets take a look at each specific app and see how those keywords look. Sorted by their ranks, here are the top keyboard apps and the words that are most used in their reviews:

  • Swype – Keyboard
    Ranked 1st (US Paid)

    Review Keywords: work, swype, great, iphone, works, please, get, love, fix, like

    View on iTunes

  • TouchPal Keyboard – Emoji & Gesture
    Ranked 2nd (US Free)

    Review Keywords: work, awesome, good, love, great, typing, like, themes, access, get

    View on iTunes

  • CooolKey – Keyboard for Color Lovers
    Ranked 2nd (US paid)

    Review Keywords: work, autocorrect, love, get, needs, like, set, please, even, great

    View on iTunes

  • Color Keyboards for iOS 8!
    Ranked 7th (US Paid)

    Review Keywords: work, iphone, waste, money, plus, works, even, auto, buy, correct

    View on iTunes

  • SwiftKey Keyboard
    Ranked 9th (US Free)

    Review Keywords: love, great, work, awesome, best, like, works, type, good, access

    View on iTunes

  • GIF Keyboard
    Ranked 11th (US Free)

    Review Keywords: love, gifs, great, awesome, fun, work, gif, like, works, stars

    View on iTunes

  • Kiwi – Beautiful, Colorful, Custom Keyboard
    Ranked 21th (US Free)

    Review Keywords: work, open, get, working, set, like, cool, works, even, love

    View on iTunes

It seems that users love this new addition and are happy to provide feedback and even suggestions in their reviews. That’s free QA for developers. Hopefully those developers are using our intelligent app store reviews engine to keep an eye on these terms and fix those bugs.

Using App Bundles? We’ve Got You Covered!

appFigures supports app bundles

iOS 8 was released this week and with it lots of new features for end-users and developers alike. One important feature for developers is app bundles. Joe Cieplinski covered App Bundles in our Road to iOS8 series a few weeks ago and today we’re happy to say that last night we rolled out complete support for app bundles throughout the platform.

We now track sales and downloads, ranks, reviews, and ratings for all of your app bundles. We’ll also let you know when any of your app bundles are featured anywhere in the world.

App bundles are a great way for developers to monetize their apps and we’re planning to introduce even more tools to understand app bundles in the future.

To get you started tracking quickly we put together a short list of most asked questions about app bundles:

How will app bundles show up in my reports?

App bundles will show as a new item in your product list with a special icon. Don’t worry, we’re also working to get the real icon in there. Your app bundles will also show as separate products in your email reports.

Update: We now have real bundle icons, and they’re beautiful! ( )

How are bundle completions tracked?

Apple completes bundles by refunding the purchase of the app and then charging for the full bundle. To the end-user this shows as a single transaction but developers get more details.

We currently show those completions as a standard return for the app but under the hood we track it as a completion and do plan to show it as a separate data set in the near future.

Will bundle downloads increase the total app downloads?

No. App bundles are tracked as separate products on our end.

Do I have to pay extra to track bundles?

Yes. An app bundle costs the same price as an additional app.


If you have a question we didn’t answer feel free to get in touch on live chat or by email.

Are Free Speech and App Store Ratings Related?

Here at appFigures, we are constantly exchanging theories about what drives individuals to download an app, post a rating, or write a review. One recent idea intrigued us all: Are ratings from some countries inherently more positive (or critical) than other countries?

After a bit of discussion, we decided to use app ratings to construct a sentiment index that captures each country’s overall rating disposition in relation to its peers. For those interested in the technical details, you can jump to the section on methodology at the bottom of the post. After we scrub and filter our data, we plot the index on a global map, color coordinating each country’s rating sentiment. Shades of purple indicate countries with relatively pessimistic ratings while shades of green convey relative optimism. The deeper the shade the deeper the sentiment with grey being neutral.

App store ratings sentiment map - appFigures

Most striking is the degree of clustering in the data. Western Europe and the Nordic countries stand out as tough critics when it comes to ratings. Advancing across Europe to the west, though, leads to increasingly favorable ratings. Central Europe is more neutral while countries in eastern Europe are upbeat. Outside of Europe, South East and Central Asia are uniformly positive with countries in Central America and the Andean region of South America sharing the same degree of ratings optimism.

One of the more intriguing patterns is that the advanced industrialized democracies tend to be more critical in their ratings than the rest of the world. Although the United States is the obvious exception, we can see that Japan, Canada, and Australia combine with Western and Northern Europe in forming a group of countries that tend to be more critical. Is it wealth? Is it culture? Is it technological savvy? We decided to take it a step further.

App Ratings and Free Speech

Determined to find some plausible explanation, we compare our analysis with other publicly available global indices. Some of these include GDP per capita, the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI), the World Economic Forum’s Networked Readiness Index (NRI), the World Press Freedom Index (WPFI) from Reporters Without Borders, and the Gini coefficient of income inequality. Of these indices, the World Press Freedom Index is clearly favored above the others in terms of explanatory power (followed by the Networked Readiness Index). Check out the best-fit line comparing our sentiment index with the log of the World Press Freedom Index below.

App Store sentiment and the World Press Freedom Index - appFigures

Generally speaking, countries that are less tolerant of public opinion (higher WPFI) produce app ratings that are more favorable than countries with a robust Fourth Estate. Although there is still a good deal of sentiment variation left unexplained, a relationship between country rating sentiment and freedom of the press is clearly present. There could be a variety of reasons for this relationship: Self-censorship or a firm government grip on public dissent could result in less critical ratings, even if the target is a harmless mobile app.

Takeaways

  • The five most optimistic countries are:
    1. Qatar (0.27)
    2. Venezuela (0.26)
    3. the Dominican Republic (0.25)
    4. Bulgaria (0.23)
    5. the Ukraine (0.23).
  • The five most critical countries are:
    1. Finland (-0.19)
    2. France (-0.17)
    3. Germany (-0.15)
    4. Sweden (-0.13)
    5. the Netherlands (-0.13)
  • The U.S. is relatively neutral with a deviation value of 0.05.
  • The difference between the most optimistic and the most critical country is 0.47 stars.
  • For 88% of the apps included in this analysis, country designation and ratings distributions are statistically dependent. This provides support for our chosen methodology.

Methodology

Apples-to-Apples

Indices are usually complex beasts so we wanted to shed some light on how we constructed our sentiment index. We plan to continue updating this index and so methodology is very important.

One of the challenges in comparing country level ratings is settling on an appropriate metric to use. Simply averaging app ratings by country and comparing country averages was not sufficient in our initial experiments. Since there is no guarantee that each country will review the same underlying group of apps, this approach would produce apples-to-oranges comparisons. A more suitable approach is to compare and summarize how different countries review the same app, relative to each other.

To build up a global perspective, the index examines country ratings for apps worldwide. For each app, we compare how the average review for each country deviates from the overall average for that app. Averaging across a country’s individual app deviations allows us to assign a country-specific value representing its rating ‘sentiment’. Formally, for a given country i, its rating sentiment Si is given as:

where xij is how country i rates app j, j is the average country rating for app j, Ji is the set of apps country i rates, and |Ji| denotes the cardinality of that set. For a less abstract definition, take a look at the graphic to the right. Focus on the average rating from the USA for each of the three generic apps. For each app, we can record the difference between the US rating and that app’s overall average rating. For App 1, this deviation is +0.80, indicating the US rates App 1 more favorably than average. Taking the mean of each US deviation yields +0.20. In this small example, the value 0.20 represents the aggregate US sentiment when reviewing apps. In the report above, this method is extended to include a much larger number of countries and products. To ensure a valid ratings sample for both products and countries, we make three important restrictions on our data:

  • We only consider country/product pairs that have a least 30 user-level ratings.
  • Only products that are rated by 7 or more countries are considered.
  • Countries must rate more than 30 products to be included in our analysis.

With these filters, our analysis is based on a universe of more than 220 million ratings from over 100 countries.

Significance

A natural question to ask is whether the differences between country’s rating sentiments are (statistically) significant. To address this concern, we perform two different tests. A chi-squared test is administered to each product to check whether the ratings distribution for that app (one star, two stars,…) is independent of country classification. At the standard 0.05 significance level, 88 percent of apps reject independence between country designation and ratings. Additionally, two-sample t-tests are applied to the deviation values for each unique pair of country combinations. At the 0.05 significance level, 80 percent of country combinations have statistically different sentiment values.

Variation

For those interested in the R2 value of our best-fit line, a great article from Minitab can be found here. Although a value of 0.274 may seem low, in the context of the social sciences, it is pretty solid. As an example, take a recently published report in Psychological Science that appeared in a Forbes top-ten list (#5). The R2 values from regressions in this study range from 0.30 to 0.33, all of which include a minimum of three explanatory variables.

Download Sentiment Index (Excel)

School Calendar Changes App Rankings, as Apps Take the Classroom Mobile

Smartphone access among teens has increased substantially over the past years. According to a 2013 report by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, nearly 4 out of 10 teens now own a smartphone. With summer winding down and school underway, we thought it would be interesting to discuss a certain kind of innovation app developers are bringing to the educational sector and how school districts are incorporating this technology into the classroom.

Classroom Communication and Organization

In the Education category, there is a particular group of ‘freemium’ apps that make it easier for educational stakeholders (e.g. schools, teachers, parents) to communicate and share information about student progress in the classroom. Blackboard, the original classroom organizer, is still widely used, but its poor average user rating (2.2 stars) has opened the door for significant competition.

For now, these apps are dominating the ranks of the Education categories, but this dominance is seasonal. Below are the ranks of Blackboard Mobile and five of its direct competitors from September 2013 to September 2014: Canvas by Infrastructure, ClassDojo, Edmodo, Infinite Campus Mobile Portal, and Remind.

classroom-ranks

Regardless of where in the ranks each app appears, they all share similar movements that track the academic calendar. Each rank series starts at the peak of its popularity as teachers, students, and parents download their designated application and prepare for class. As the fall semester continues, rankings slowly begin to slide with a sharp drop during winter break. Most of the rankings bounce back as the 2014 spring semester begins and hold their positions until summer recess. As you might expect, rankings for these type of apps tend to slip during the summer, with ClassDojo, Edmodo, and Infinite Campus Mobile Portal the most noticeable. Oddly, the iOS ranks for Remind and Canvas strengthen during the first half of summer. As the current fall semester approaches, all apps again surge up the ranks to peak popularity.

While investigating these education-centered products, we came across another classroom organization app developed by Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS). Its release coincided with the start of the 2014/2015 school year. As one of the largest public county school district in the United States, the potential consumer base for an M-DCPS app is large enough to drive it into the top ranks of the education category for iOS and Play, as well as peaking at 48th in Apple’s top overall category.

education-miami-dade

Miami-Dade is not the only school system providing mobile services to their constituents either. The developer SchoolInfoApp has been providing local schools and districts with classroom communication and organization apps with content and features localized to their community.

Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how much traction these locally developed classroom apps gain outside the app stores, and in the broader education community. It’s clear that a big push by school districts throughout the country are making them more commonplace, but with a focus on parent engagement, will these applications have any real impact on student achievement or test scores? Let us know what you think, below.

Uber’s Legal Battles in Germany Drive üBer Downloads in App Store

A recent court ruling in Frankfurt has banned Uber’s most popular service, Uberpop (Germany’s version of UberX), from operating in Germany, claiming it “unfairly competes” with local taxi services.

In June when Uber faced opposition in Europe, it resulted in the app flying up the ranks, so we wondered if this latest incident of free publicity affected the app in a similar fashion. We took a look at the ranks over the past day and saw this suspicion was confirmed:

uber-ranks

It seems that even negative publicity yields some positive results for Uber.

The Other Hyperlapse Rides Instagram’s Coattails to the Top

This past Tuesday, Instagram released Hyperlapse, an app that speeds up and converts videos you take on your smartphone using time-lapse technology. With reports of a similar software, being developed by Microsoft for its GoPro camera and using the same name, we wanted to take a closer look. It turns out that Microsoft and Instagram are not the only two companies to use the name “Hyperlapse”.

An app released by Hieronymus Belt a year prior with the same name came up in the coveted first search result position for the first few days, while “Hyperlapse from Instagram”, billed as such, was #2. We wondered how many people, eager to take Instagram’s new product for a spin, may have accidentally downloaded the wrong app in their haste. We took a look at the charts for this app, which does not convert your own videos, but rather utilizes time-lapse to take you on a virtual tour of streets around the world. Here’s what we found:

hyperlapse-ranks

After the original app skyrocketed up the ranks, it was quickly changed from a free app, to paid (at $.99) in an attempt to capitalize on the free traffic. The following caveat has also been added to it’s description: “Hyperlapse by Instagram is another app which work differently”.

In the past, we’ve seen apps being named after already-popular and successful predecessors (for example, the inundation of apps with “flappy” in their name), in an attempt to ride their coattails to the top of the ranks. However, with this happening in a reverse order, we see that a case can be made for the power of mistaken identity.

The Road to iOS 8 Part III: App Previews

Since being unveiled earlier this summer, iOS 8 and the changes it will bring to the App Store have been eagerly anticipated, but what do they mean for iOS developers, and how will they affect discovery? In this series, we ask prominent members of the iOS community to share their insights on what to expect and how to stay ahead of the curve, as we explore the Road to iOS 8.

In case you missed it, Part I: App Bundles and Part II: Improved App Store Discovery.


road-to-ios8-app-previews

We’ve all been there: downloading an app for a specific purpose, only to find that it isn’t what we expected. We quickly delete it and return to the App Store in search of something else. With the release of iOS 8 later this year, Apple is hoping to make this tired story a thing of the past, letting developers better establish expectations with the introduction of App Previews. The current prominence of product videos in online markets and other app stores mean this feature is likely to become a differentiator among apps in consumers’ minds, and certainly something every developer will want to make use of sooner rather than later. While App Previews hold great potential, creating a compelling video while adhering to Apple’s guidelines may prove to be a challenge. To help you get the most out of your apps’ previews, we’ve enlisted the help of Sylvain Gauchet, co-founder of Apptamin (a studio specializing in creating previews and trailers for apps).

Can you provide some of the technical details behind app previews (when can they be uploaded, do they get reviewed, are there any restrictions Apple has in place?)

As an app developer, you submit your App Previews just like you currently submit your screenshots : when updating your app. Apple’s staff then reviews and approves the submitted App Previews.

Once in place, App Store users will see your App Previews on your app details page where it will be one of the most visible assets.

The format defined by Apple for an App Preview is pretty specific:

• Device specific (if your app is for both iPhone and iPad you need an App Preview for each)
• Up to 30 seconds
• Composed mainly of device-captured footage (video screen captures)
• Shouldn’t look like an ad (not too flashy, not too salesy)
• One localization
• Resolutions:
       •640×1136 for the iPhone, 900×1200 for the iPad
       •1080×1920 (or 1920×1080 for landscape mode) are OK too

If you’re interested in leveraging video on your app details page, make sure to read Apple’s guidelines and to watch the WWDC session on creating great app previews (along with some examples).

Can you give us some tips for getting started, with these guidelines in place?

There are several ways to create an App Preview that follows Apple’s guidelines. You can do the screen captures how you see fit (using HDMI captures, Reflector) and use your favorite video editing tool (if you have one).

With iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, Apple seems to make it quite easy to do with their tools..
1. You can capture the device footage by using the lightning connector, your Mac and
       QuickTime Player
2. You can edit the captured footage in iMovie or Final Cut Pro X
3. You can then submit your App Previews via iTunes connect

Video production can get expensive which may send some developers down the DIY path. What are some Dos and Don’ts you can give those developers?

The key to creating a great app preview is more or less the same as for any video you’d create to promote your app.

You need to write a script before getting started. Define what your goal is and what your app preview should include. Start by writing an outline (you can use your app description as a starting point then boil it down to the most essential benefits) and then define all the data you’ll populate (or the specific parts of gameplay you’ll show) before recording the screens.

In your App Preview, you want to focus on what’s magical about your app, as well as on the core benefits.

When writing your script, make sure you respect Apple’s guidelines, at least until we know what kind of flexibility will be allowed.

Some Don’ts:
– Don’t make it look too much like an ad
– Don’t show unimportant parts of your app
– Don’t forget to mention it when showing features that require in-app purchases
– Don’t forget to define your goal when producing your video

Besides that, you probably want to have a “testing approach”: the same way you experiment with your app screenshots on the App Store to see what converts more, you want to get a sense for what works best for your App Preview. Which means you’ll have to test and optimize different App Previews, for example with variations on the features/benefits shown, length, voice over, text, music and the “poster frame” (video thumbnail shown in the App Store).

Some App Preview examples:

Here are a few App Previews we’ve done so far at Apptamin. You should also take a look at the ones Apple showed during the WWDC session on App Previews.

RetailMeNot
Astro Defender (iPad)
Geeksterink
Artkick

What are some potential limitations you can foresee?

In some cases the App Preview format, and the fact that it has to be composed primarily of screen captures, will make it hard to show an app in its best light, especially for apps that require specific gestures, that use the accelerometer or that interact with another device (a connected object, other iPhones, etc.). Sometimes the best way to show an app is to show how it is used in its context.

That said, it’s great to finally see video on the App Store. Even if you still need other types of videos to showcase your app, you will have to pay attention to App Previews from now on.

We’re looking forward to seeing how creative developers will be to leverage this new format and get more engaged customers!

How do you see App Preview affecting downloads in the App Store?

In terms of downloads, I think it will depend on the app itself. I believe that video is the quickest way to assess an app and therefore people will sometimes look at the preview to make up their minds rather than actually downloading the app. However, if they like the preview and decide to download it, this will most likely result in more engaged users.

What type(s) of apps do you think will benefit most from having a live preview?

App Previews should especially be useful for paid apps. Also, for apps in which data is key; seeing the app populated with data will help new users get a better sense of how useful the app can be.

Games are another type of app that should benefit from App Preview. It can be hard to figure out how the gameplay is going to be with static screenshots, and a video will go a long way. Especially if it’s well done.

Do you have any experience with videos on Google Play? If so, can you talk a bit more about their effects there and how you think videos will play out on the iOS App Store?

The situation is a bit different on Google Play, as there aren’t the same format limitations as there are for the App Previews, which means developers can truly show their app the way they want (a good or a bad thing depending on their video production skills and budget).

What we hear from our clients is that Google expects you to have a video (in order to get featured, for example) and it will be interesting to see how much Apple pushes developers to create App Previews.

Regarding download numbers, it’s hard to isolate the impact of video on the Google Play Store, but it’s clearly one of the most visible assets on the page and a good video can convince a user hesitating to download an app.

If other app stores are anything to go by, App Previews are poised to become a differentiator among apps in consumers’ minds, and likely to have a profound effect on discovery in the iOS App Store. In the coming months, having a well-made App Preview may go from luxury to basic necessity. You can best prepare by checking out Apple’s guidelines and WWDC session, learning from examples, and following the advice of video experts like Sylvain.

Thanks to Sylvain for giving us some pointers on making our first app preview video and helping us better prepare for iOS 8. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our previous installments on App Bundles, and Improved App Store Discovery, and check back for the final chapter in the series where we’ll be hosting a roundtable on what iOS 8 means for indie developers.



Sylvain Gauchet is the co-founder of Apptamin. Apptamin produces app videos and game trailers for developers, startups and companies. Apptamin also has a blog with content on how to market an app, including the iOS App Marketing Guide.

The Road to iOS 8 Part II: Improved App Store Discovery

Since being unveiled earlier this summer, iOS 8 and the changes it will bring to the App Store have been eagerly anticipated, but what do they mean for iOS developers, and how will they affect discovery? In this series, we ask prominent members of the iOS community to share their insights on what to expect and how to stay ahead of the curve, as we explore the Road to iOS 8.

In case you missed it, Part I: App Bundles.


The Road To iOS8: Improved Search - by appFigures w/ Ouriel Ohayon

With several discovery improvements coming to the App Store this fall, including the return of vertical scrolling, live app previews, Safari’s built-in app search, and store trends, Apple has thoroughly stirred the pot. The implications these changes will have on how your apps are found and downloaded are anything but certain, but one thing’s for sure–the more you know, the better prepared you’ll be. To shed some light on what’s coming, we’ve called on Ouriel Ohayon, co-founder of Appsfire and a well-known industry expert. He was kind enough to share his insights on app search and discovery.

Ouriel, can you review the big changes the App Store will see in in iOS 8?

The App Store is going to enjoy some nice cosmetic changes but the core is actually not going to change much. To start, Apple is going to remove one of its less useful features, Near Me, which unsuccessfully replaced the inadequate Genius feature. Instead they’ll introduce a much more interesting section named Explore, that lets users dive deep into curated lists of apps which are grouped logically by theme.

Apple is incrementally improving search by enabling vertical scrolling in lieu of the painful-to-the-thumb horizontal scrolling and showing two screenshots at once instead of just one per result.

Video previews are another interesting addition, but for now I am taking the position of “let’s wait and see”. Apple is playing catch up with Google Play with videos that are restricted in their duration and what content they can contain.

But the core remains the same; editorial features and top charts will continue to be the main driver of discovery and point of entrance to the App Store. Not a word on whether the ranking algorithm will remain the same (ie: based on download volume and velocity) making it very easy to game.

More importantly, instead of moving the App Store towards a personal, more tailored experience, Apple is keeping the experience the same for everyone. In my opinion that’s the most important change the App store has to go through to make everyone happy.

Finally, one of the most important app discovery improvements is not in the App Store, but in iTunes Connect. Keeping developers informed about their app usage analytics, and where their downloads and engaged users are coming from is a massive step forward. This is the kind of thing that will make developers aware that discovery is the result of marketing efforts that need be constantly adjusted and improved based on the data. No more blind spots (well, except that Apple conveniently won’t provide analytics related to in-Store browsing and search).

Safari in iOS 8 has a built in search for apps. How do you think that will help discovery?

Apple is introducing app search in Safari and also in Spotlight. Apple does not have a great track record of providing great search experiences, especially in the App Store. I am sure it will contribute to more discovery, but I doubt it will be significant. That’s mainly because most people who search in Spotlight and Safari are probably not doing so with the intention of finding a new app.

How do you think Apple’s return to vertical scrolling will affect apps that aren’t in the top 5 for their keyword?

We already know it, most mobile users have little patience and a short attention span. So an additional tap is a chance to zap to something else. I think the vertical scrolling experience is much better, but I don’t think it will dramatically improve the discovery of apps beyond the top five or ten spots. What I would love to see (but Apple isn’t introducing) is the inclusion of smart filters based on price, taste, app types, etc.

How do you see app bundles affecting discovery (ranks, reviews/ratings, etc), and do you see one app being very successful resulting in more bundle downloads due to a higher rank?

App bundles are a great idea. Apple played a nice card here, but bundles can only include paid apps. It is indeed a great way to improve the discovery and sales of paid apps. I wish they extended it to free apps too, but that doesn’t seem to be a part of Apple’s agenda.

Do you think “app previews” will change the way consumers evaluate apps? And, should developers even bother?

Certainly so. But it mostly depends on how much freedom developers will have to produce high quality videos. My understanding is that app previews should not be a commercial but more of a short preview, leaving very little room for voice overs, elegant transition effects, feature summaries, etc.

Ultimately we’ll have to see how developers embrace that feature too. I don’t think anyone will really know how videos affect their sales conversion until Apple provides analytics on video views.

Thanks to Ouriel for sharing his insights to help us prepare for iOS 8. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our previous installment on App Bundles, and come back next week for the next post in the series where we’ll be covering App Previews.


Ouriel Ohayon is co-founder of Appsfire.com, a global mobile native ad and marketing solution provider for app developers, as well as Isai.fr (early stage fund). Ouriel is an investor in eBuzzing, Outbrain, Eyeview and Ginger Software, and founded the French version of TechCrunch.