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.

The Road to iOS 8 Part I: App Bundles

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 industry veterans to share their insights on what to expect and how to stay ahead of the curve, as we explore the Road to iOS 8.


road-to-ios8-app-bundles

In the first part of the series we’ll be shedding some light on App Bundles, a relatively little-discussed feature of iOS 8, which could become the most significant new way to monetize iOS apps since in-app purchases.The ability to sell app bundles opens up great opportunities for developers, but is sure to bring with it a new set of challenges as well. To help you make the best of it we’ve enlisted the help of our friend and industry veteran Joe Cieplinski from Bombing Brain Interactive. Joe has been keeping close watch on app bundles since day one and was kind enough to share some of his insights with us.

What type of apps/developers do you think will benefit most from bundles?

I think indie developers who mainly target the paid up front model stand to benefit most. Game developers, big social media and other corporations who mostly give their apps away for free, stand to gain less from this. They could use bundles, I suppose, as a method of cross promotion, or to charge a small up front fee for multiple apps instead of doing everything as a freemium model. But I think the big winners here will be smaller indie companies who are still selling their wares to smaller audiences at an up-front price.

How do you see bundles affecting discovery (ranks, reviews, etc)?

You could use bundles as a fairly effective cross-promotion tool. We have the “related” tab on the app store, but I wonder sometimes how many people ever look to see what other apps a particular developer has made. With a bundle, there’s a financial incentive to look at what else might be on offer. Again, it helps if your apps are related to each other. Bundling a game with a notes app might not be very effective. But you never know. I’m sure developers will come up with all sorts of creative ways to use this new feature that we haven’t thought of yet.

As far as discovery goes, I do think that the financial incentive to at least glance at a bundle is a heck of a lot stronger than the one to scroll down a list of fifty or sixty search results. Reviews are always tough to get, but I suppose if you sell an app to the kind of person who writes a review, and you can sell another one to that same person, then that other app has a better chance at getting another review.

Rankings might actually get worse for smaller indies, because this may be the strongest incentive for the big, high-ranking apps to use bundles themselves. They could easily crowd people out of the top 100 by bundling ten of their own apps together and getting them all on the top lists. Top lists are never going to be a good place for smaller indies to concentrate their efforts. It’s a lost cause.

Can you provide any technical details behind app bundles?

Apps in a bundle must be from the same developer. So no bundles between developers. (I’d love to see this change, but that rule has been stated clearly.) Bundles are also iOS only at this point. Can’t bundle iOS apps with Mac apps, even from the same developer. In addition, a little birdie tells me (this hasn’t been publicly disclosed yet, and it could be wrong, or Apple could change its mind, but I get it from a solid source) that bundles cannot include an iPhone only app and an iPad only app. In other words, you can’t use a bundle to sell the same app’s iPad and iPhone versions. Same device class only. So two iPhone apps. Three iPad apps. Five Universal apps. etc. Which is a real bummer, if it’s true, because I thought that would be one of the major benefits of bundles to indie developers. My guess is that Apple doesn’t want to give us an incentive to not make our apps universal. They also don’t want to confuse customers, or have customers buying apps for devices they don’t yet own.

Do you see bundles as working better for the same app on different devices (iPhone, iPad, mac) or for different apps for the same device?

As I mentioned in 1 above, it doesn’t look as if Apple will allow us to bundle apps for different devices. We know for sure this won’t happen between Mac and iOS, and that makes sense, given that it could confuse customers who might buy a bundle on iOS without even owning a Mac. With iPads and iPhones, I suppose Apple would make a similar argument. That a customer on an iPhone might buy a bundle, not realizing that the second app is iPad-only, and they don’t own an iPad.

Again, I hope Apple changes this, or that my source is wrong on this matter. But I have a strong feeling this is accurate info. Maybe if bundles prove to be very effective, Apple will find a way to expand the program over time.

How do you intend to take advantage of bundle pricing for your apps? And do you think there’s a good guideline to follow when pricing bundles?

At Bombing Brain, we have our Teleprompt+ app, which is already universal. We have a new app in development, meanwhile, that many Teleprompt+ users may find very useful. So we intend to sell this new app on its own, as well as inside a bundle with Teleprompt+. That way, we can reward our loyal customers who have already purchased one of our apps by offering a discount on this new app, essentially. Because, if my understanding is correct, there is a “complete my bundle” feature, which allows customers to pay the difference between what they paid for the one app and what the total bundle would cost.

This is a huge thing. It’s a massive incentive for indie developers like us to be thinking about targeting our new product ideas toward similar audiences. Which is good business, anyway. But Apple is making it that much easier for us, and I think that’s great.

Obviously, it needs to be cheaper than buying the apps separately. I wouldn’t make it less than buying either one of the apps on its own, either. But anywhere in between could work, depending on your audience. The nice thing about bundles is that you’re not discounting either one of your products. You’re not cheapening the product itself, or making people think your software is worth less. You’re simply offering a reward for buying more than one app from the same company. Customers can see clearly what they would have paid for the apps separately, so they know exactly how much of a reward they are getting.

Thanks to Joe for sharing his insights and providing some protips to help us prepare for iOS 8. Be sure to read the complete App Bundle guide from Apple, and check out our next installment on The Road to iOS 8: Improved App Store Discovery.


Joe Cieplinski is a lifelong musician and technology nerd, now living in Manhattan. He is currently developing UX and Graphics for Bombing Brain Interactive, an iOS and Mac OS X development company. Joe is the creator of x2y, an aspect ratio calculator, and Fin, a timer for live performers, both for iOS. Joe is also the co-host of Release Notes, a podcast about iOS development. Follow him on twitter @jcieplinski.

Incomplete Daily Reports From Apple for 8/9

Earlier today we started receiving reports from members stating that their figures for yesterday (8/9) are incorrect. Upon further examination it seems that for some developers, the raw reports we receive from Apple are missing some regions, and that for some developers reports are simply unavailable for us to import.

This has happened before with Apple but it’s pretty rare and is usually resolved within a few hours with a new set of reports. Today, as of 6:30pm EST, there have not been any new reports from Apple nor any sort of explanation.

If your downloads look off today or are not there at all it’s most likely due to an incomplete or missing report.

We’ve contacted Apple about the missing data and are continuing to check for updated reports. We’ll update this post with any update we find.

Update (8/11 – 11am EST): It looks like Apple has just released new daily reports for 8/9. We’re confirming that all reports are now available and will start re-syncing shortly after.

Update (8/11 – 2:30pm EST): We’ve started re-syncing reports. Expect an update by email soon.

Update (8/11 – 3:00pm EST): All reports for 8/9 have been updated for accounts with auto import turned on. If you are on a free plan please follow the instructions below to ensure your data is complete:

  1. Locate the report in your Archive page and delete it. This is a permanent action so make sure you delete the correct report.
  2. Go to the Sync page and re-sync your iTunes Connect account(s).

Most App Developers Stick With One Store

The iOS App Store was the first mobile app store to enable developers to sell their creations to end users directly and without any hassle. It was so new and exciting that in 2008 developing for iOS was a lot like digging for gold in California in the mid 1800′s. Things have changed a lot since. Fast forward six years and we now have three major app stores with more than 500,000 app developers out there.

With so many stores developers can sell apps on, we wanted to take a look at which store developers like most and, whether they show their loyalty or sell on all of them.

For the purpose of this post a developer is an entity (person or company) that’s currently selling one or more mobile apps on the iOS App Store, Google Play, or the Amazon Appstore.

Let’s start with a high level chart to see how big the developer communities are around each store:

total-dev-by-store

Google Play is clearly leading the charge with 292,796 developers. Close behind is the iOS App Store with 271,509 developers. The Amazon Appstore seems to be a distant third, with nearly a tenth of it’s competition: 31,247 developers.

The overlap

With these numbers in mind, let’s look at how many of those developers are exclusive to a single store. To figure that out we matched developers across all three stores (see notes on methodology below) and here are the results:

developers-by-store-full

The results were a bit surprising. While about 12% of developers sell on two or more app stores only 1% sell their apps in all three. Going into this we didn’t expect this to be a high number, but 1% is considerably lower than what our gut said. Whether it’s a technological barrier or just plain loyalty, developers seem to stay on their side of the fence more often than not.

Apple vs. Google

Now, if you’re saying in your head that the numbers are grossly skewed by the small developer community on Amazon you’re probably right. Let’s take it out and examine the overlap between the iOS App Store and Google Play.

Developers by App Store - iOS App Store vs. Google Play

Removing Amazon certainly changes the picture. When just comparing the two biggest stores, with a total of 506,742 developers, the overlap grows to roughly 11%, or 57,563 developers. A much more respectable number, still a strong indication that developers prefer to stick with one store.

The Android Stores

Both Google Play and the Amazon Appstore share the same platform, Android. This means that many apps developed for Google Play can actually be sold as-is on the Amazon Appstore. Given this technical shortcut, we expect there to be a far greater overlap between the two stores.

developers-by-store-play-amazon

But there isn’t. With roughly 5.5% overlap (17,354 developers), this does not seem to be the case. Looking at it from Amazon’s perspective however the story is very different. Nearly 55% of amazon developers also sell their apps on Google Play. That’s a pretty big difference in comparison.

Takeaways

  • Over the years the iOS App Store and Google Play have grown and amassed more than 500,000 developers between them.
  • Most developers sell their apps in one store only.
  • Google Play has the most developers.
  • Amazon Appstore has the least.
  • ~1% of all app developers sell apps on all three stores.
  • ~11% of developers sell on both iOS and Google Play.
  • ~12% of developers sell on two or more app stores.

Methodology

Determining the overlap required a bit more work. Since the names developers use to identify themselves in different stores is not always the same we needed to normalize those names so they can be matched. Normalization won’t catch names that are considerably different (“Adobe” vs. “Adobe Systems”) but it gets us as close as we can get to the real numbers. We normalized names by removing all punctuation (!,”, etc.), spaces, and common business entity abbreviations (llc, ltd, gmbh, etc.). We then compared the results across different stores using a case-insensitive matching.

We hand-verified a random sample of 11,000 developers to ensure the normalization doesn’t result in too many false positives. The error rate we observed was minimal.


Like this Data Bit? Subscribe to our RSS feed or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to get new app store insights.

Five Apps to Play Ball During the MLB All-Star Game

The 2014 MLB All-Star Game is sure to be action-packed, and emotionally-charged, as it marks the last for baseball legend, Derek Jeter. As preparations begin in Minnesota, make sure you’re ready for the big game with our favorite baseball apps.

  • MLB.com At Bat
    Sports

    With this official app for the MLB, no matter where you are, you’re never far from your favorite team. It provides game highlights and breaking news. You also have the option of accessing premium features for a monthly subscription of $2.99, which allows you to watch every out-of-market game.

    View on: iTunes | Google Play | Amazon

  • MLB.com Home Run Derby ’14
    Games

    This game allows you to choose from home run derby participants between 2010-2014. Compete against people around the world in 10-player live multiplayer games, or get some practice in against the AI players in single-player derby mode.

    View on: iTunes

  • Team Stream by Bleacher Report
    Sports

    Although it’s not solely for baseball, Team Stream give you scores, stories, and tweets for your teams via push notifications, so you can stay current on what’s going on, even if you can’t watch the game.

    View on: iTunes | Google Play | Amazon

  • At the Ballpark
    Sports

    If you’re planning on going to the game, but aren’t familiar with the Twin’s turf, Target Field, be sure to download the MLB.com At the Ballpark app, for the rundown on all the interactive ballpark attractions and features, which utilize iBeacon technology. You can also post pictures at the park, and share on social media.

    View on: iTunes | Google Play | Amazon

  • CBS Sports Fantasy
    Sports

    Ensure your fantasy team is stacked with All-Stars this season. CBS Sports Fantasy provides season projections, player updates, a draft companion, and everything else you need to manage your team on the go.

    View on: iTunes | Google Play

New Routes, Enhanced Security, Public Data Access, and More in API V2

Over the past few years there have been quite a few changes here at appFigures. We’ve added support for new stores and ad networks. We’ve expanded our app store data offerings. We’ve seen folks create apps in our ecosystem, both publicly and privately. With all these changes, API v1.1 was getting a little dusty, so a new version of the API was in order.

Today we’re happy to officially announce API v2.

API v2 adds access to public data and supercharges reviews, featured, and ranks. New, unified, product_ids let you ask for sales and public data by the same id easily. Along the way we’ve fixed quite a few bugs, added some features and cleaned up some representations that were clunky. Overall, it will make using the API even better than it was before.

Here’s a quick overview of the new features. You can check out the documentation for a full list of changes.

New routes

API v2 brings with it a few new routes to enable access to datasets that were only available on the site until now. The new routes include: /ratings, /featured, and /ranks/snapshot. You can probably tell what datasets they represent by their name.

New app reviews engine

We’ve been working really hard on a very powerful engine for app reviews. You’ve probably seen some of the announcements. API v2 takes full advantage of this new engine and exposes a brand new /reviews route written from the ground up to support searching, filtering, sorting, and translating reviews with ease.

OAuth for 3rd party access

Basic Auth is great when you need to use the API for yourself and don’t need the overhand of a security provider. It isn’t that great however for 3rd party integrations because it means your private credentials will be exposed to that 3rd party.

New in API v2 is OAuth support, which is required for 3rd party access, making your username and password invisible to to everyone without limiting access.

Public Data API

Until today the API only enabled access to apps you own, forcing you to visit the site to get ranks, reviews, and other information about apps you don’t. API v2 removes that limitation with a new add-on so you can get public data for any app you wish. Check out the Public Data Access page for more details.

Much more

We’ve taken the time to make small improvements across the entire API such as: improved date management, more options to pivot on, and access to all ad networks. Check out the complete list of changes, or dive right into the documentation.

10 Apps for a Fun and Safe 4th of July Weekend

The unofficial kick-off to summer is finally upon us. No matter how you choose to celebrate this Independence Day, we’ve created a list of our 10 favorite apps to have fun and stay safe this weekend, and throughout the summer.

  • Fireworks Artist Pro
    Entertainment

    What would July 4th be without fireworks? For those of you planning on traveling someplace this weekend without a fireworks show (or for those stranded on the West Side of Manhattan), the “Fireworks Artist Pro” app allows you to create your own. With a variety of backdrops and cityscapes, you don’t have to leave home to watch fireworks around the world.

    View on: iTunes | Google Play

  • Wolfram Sun Exposure Reference App
    Reference

    With fun in the sun comes the looming danger of exposure to harmful UV rays.This app helps find a healthy balance of sun-time, by calculating how long your skin can be exposed to the Sun without burning based on your skin type, location, time, and the level of SPF you might be using.

    View on: iTunes

  • GrillTime
    Food & Drink

    GrillTime is the perfect app for anyone playing host this weekend. It advises on cook-time based upon the type of food, thickness and “level of doneness”. The app will also automatically alert you when it’s time to flip, and when the meat (or vegetable) is fully cooked, so you don’t have to neglect your guests in between.

    View on: iTunes

  • Declaration for iPhone and iPod Touch
    Reference

    If you’re feeling inspired and looking to explore the history behind the holiday, be sure to check out the Declaration app. It also provides historical notes, for an in-depth look at the text that started it all.

    View on: iTunes

  • Firework Fever
    Games

    Help Pyro Pete collect his fireworks and get him to the venue on time to set off his fireworks display in this fun, seasonally-appropriate game.

    View on: iTunes

  • America’s National Parks
    Travel & Local

    Your guide to everything the National Parks have to offer. You’ll find information on park activities, as well as park maps and topographic maps for hiking. It also has integrations with Flickr and Google, so you can record your memories. Just make sure the tour for each park is loaded beforehand, so you can use them offline.

    View on: Google Play

  • Beach Safety
    Education

    This free app’s main goal is to educate users on rips and currents, and how to safely avoid the danger of getting caught in them while enjoying the beach. There’s also some helpful information about treating jellyfish and blue bottle stings, and info on sharks.

    View on: iTunes

  • Roadtrippers
    Travel

    This app is all you need for that epic road trip you’ve been dreaming about. Not only can you plan and sync trip itineraries with your co-pilot, but you can also save places to bucket lists, discover places around you and view details while you are on the road. Wherever you’re headed, this app will ensure you enjoy the ride.

    View on: iTunes | Google Play

  • Surf Report
    Sports

    This app is powered by Surfline for the most current info on surfing conditions. It utilizes GPS to find the breaks nearest you, and allows you to also track the swell, tide, wind, etc. It provides a 2-day forecast, so you know what to expect throughout the weekend, and provides easy access to Surfline’s HD Cam, reports and videos.

    View on: iTunes | Google Play

  • 4th of July Coloring
    Entertainment

    A mobile coloring book for children, this app has everything you need to celebrate with red, white and blue. A fun way to keep kids entertained throughout the long weekend.

    View on: Google Play

Funny Yo. Reviews From the App Store

Love it or hate it, you can’t deny that Yo. has been taking the app store by storm. With $1 Million in funding, and a media frenzy, the social networking app has been ascending the ranks with great velocity. It turns out most people have an opinion about it, so we thought it’d be fun to list of our 15 favorite reviews from around the world. Real or fake, these reviews are a great way to end the week:

    YO.

  • Game changing

    Yo is one of the single greatest communication tools our generation has seen yet, the new phone call, text, Skype etc. is Yo!

    by MCR ALL DAY | United States

    Tweet

  • Just what i needed.

    I feel like im reborn, never in my life an app just translated all my feelings into a coherent sentences.

    by Mauroleon | Mexico

    Tweet

  • Revolutionary

    Science has proven that dolphins are one of the most intelligent mammals out there. Humans teach dolphins how to communicate and train them how to speak. But we never have been able to speak back. Until now.Yo. Has made it possible to finally communicate with dolphins. All you have to do is Yo. Them. They Yo. Back. Now my best friend just got married to a 9 year old male dolphin because of Yo. They are very happy together. Thank you Yo. God bless.

    by Smash hit lover| Mexico

    Tweet

  • Ground Breaking

    Yo is a new, innovative way to keep in touch. It cuts away at all the anxiety of worrying about what to say, and brings conversations down to their bare basics. Yo has changed my life for the better, now I’m keeping in touch with people I haven’t seen in years, and I owe it all to Yo. This app is starting to catch on, and it will spread like wildfire. Spread the word about this ingenious app, and make the world a better place.

    by BirchBook | United States

    Tweet

  • I.

    Since yo. I, again, my life has a meaning.

    by yoblabla | Germany

    Tweet

  • This. Changes. Everything.

    Before this app I was a nobody. Now I’m still a nobody. But I have this amazing app that lets me communicate like never before. I have now overcome my fear of public speaking because there is no need to speak publicly when I can just send “Yo” to people. I look forward to the time when the entirety of the English language is replaced by the word “Yo”.

    by tactical_turtleneck | United States

    Tweet

  • Yo saved my life

    I was in a hostage situation held up in a bnak with 20 other hostages, the protagonist and leader of the bank bust had a phone jammer in which i could not contact the outside world. I found wifi in a corner of a meeting room and Yo’d my best friend who immediatley called the police, showed up and saved the day. I am in debt with my life to yo. It also changed the way i communicate with my friends and family. Thank you Yo. 5 star app. ADD ME @ YOSK

    by FatSackMac | United States

    Tweet

  • Yo I love this app

    Yo is an app that is ages ahead of its time. It offers simple communication at the push of a button. I don’t know how I even communicated before YO!

    by BadBoyBenson | United States

    Tweet

  • In a world…

    In a world where we need an app to do the job of 1980′s technology but dumbed down

    by theguy7 | United States

    Tweet

  • Very cool app.

    A yo, sometimes says it all…

    by Chr. | Germany

    Tweet

  • I.

    I’m from Philly, so saying Yo is very important to me. Thank you, Yo!

    by askrom | Philly, United States

    Tweet

  • I can predict the future with Yo

    Getting YOs from THEWORLDCUP actually come in before they air on the Watch ESPN App. So know I can predict the future. Thank you, Yo!

    by rosskucsera | United States

    Tweet

  • Useless app

    Not sure what it’s meant to do but it seems useless and a waste of time

    by Whycantiusemyname | United Kingdom

    Tweet

  • YO IS LOVE… YO IS LIFE

    Usually I don’t write app reviews, but yo, this app is the next big thing

    by A random review writer | United States

    Tweet

  • ????¿¿??

    isn’t this just like paging someone?

    by Tigerstar3000 | Canada

    Tweet

World Cup Fever Takes Over the App Store

World Cup fever has descended upon the iOS app store, both globally and in the United States. Apps designed specifically to follow the world’s largest sporting event are surging up the ranks with none benefiting more than the official FIFA app.

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Univision Deportes and watchESPN, two apps that offer live streams of first-round matches, have kept pace with the official FIFA app. As of June 16th, these three are ranked one, two, and three in the US Sports category as well as one, three, and seven in the US Top Overall category.

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sports

World Cup Fever extends even to fans supporting their teams in the digital realm. FIFA 14 by EA Sports is enjoying similar love in the iOS app store.

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Enjoy the games!