David Barnard Explains How to Game the App Store →

November 29, 2018 · 09:09

David Barnard:

I’ve been pestering Apple for years publicly and privately about the manipulation and outright scams going on in the App Store. Apple has made some progress here and there, but overall Apple’s strictness in some areas and hands off approach in others has disproportionately rewarded bad actors while stifling conscientious developers.

First of all, read the whole thing — some parts might shock you. These issues won’t be problematic to users aware of which developers are the good guys — there are quite a few out there — but the average consumer will have no clue which ones to trust. Apple really needs to crack down hard on the bad actors, cleaning out their own store of the garbage that has accumulated over the years.


Thee Shalt Not Mention iPhones XS & XR in Thy App’s Releaseth Notes →

September 24, 2018 · 15:34

Greg Knauss, on App Store Review rejecting release notes, mentioning the iPhones XS and XR by name:

You’ll note that I didn’t mention the names “iPhone XR” or “iPhone XS Max.” However, Apple again responded with a rejection […]

Apple apparently considers referencing the devices that an application is designed to run on not relevant to its functionality.

So on September 20, 2018, I squared my shoulders, modified the release notes again, and resubmitted the app:

A change was made. We can’t tell you what the change was, because that’s disallowed by Section 2.3 of the Program License Agreement. But we can’t not tell you what it was, because that’s disallowed by Section 2.3 of the App Store Review Guidelines. This leaves the app in a state of quantum indeterminacy, and the waveform can only collapse when someone doing App Store reviews stops observing it.

Apple — sensing that I might not be taking the process seriously — responded […]

We had the same situation and I was as baffled as Greg. Hats off to him for standing his ground and fighting absurdity.


The App Store Turns 10 →

July 6, 2018 · 09:52

I can still remember the days when I would open the App Store on a daily basis, to look for new and interesting software. And to think third-party apps weren’t even planned while the first iPhone was being developed, as Ken Kocienda mentioned last night…

We had no plans for third-party apps during the development cycle for the first iPhone. Zero work was done on public API before the initial announcement in Jan 2007.

Apple has come a long way with the App Store but there’s still a long way to go.


What Happens to the Traffic You Send to the App Store? →

January 19, 2018 · 10:42

From Information Architects’ blog:

No matter how good your product is, you need to be found. We send all our traffic to the stores. In return, we get higher sales and higher rankings. Recently, some of the numbers left us guessing. The more traffic we get the higher the sales. But, somehow, our ranking suffers.

This insightful post from iA details surprising behaviour from the App Store algorithms. They also mention skipping the Windows Store for their Writer début on Windows 10, which I’m guessing signifies that they’re considering leaving the Mac App Store. While developers have no such choice in terms of iOS apps, I’ve been recently reconsidering my stance that this is a good thing. Perhaps the option to install apps directly from trustworthy developers would be a net win, even at the risk of less security for less tech-savvy users…


Apple Plans Combined iPhone, iPad & Mac Apps to Create One User Experience →

December 20, 2017 · 17:01

Mark Gurman, writing for Bloomberg:

The Mac App Store is a ghost town of limited selection and rarely updated programs. Now Apple plans to change that by giving people a way to use a single set of apps that work equally well across its family of devices: iPhones, iPads and Macs.

Starting as early as next year, software developers will be able to design a single application that works with a touchscreen or mouse and trackpad depending on whether it’s running on the iPhone and iPad operating system or on Mac hardware, according to people familiar with the matter.

If this is true, I’m guessing the road will be rocky for developers, but the benefit for users could be huge, especially those that use the same apps on both iOS and macOS, relying on iCloud or other services for the syncing of data. I do wonder how this will influence pricing, however.


Phil Schiller on App Store Upgrade Pricing →

May 6, 2017 · 19:20

Kunal Dua, interviewing Phil Schiller:

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

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

Subscription models are fine for a very limited number of apps. If every app had subscription pricing, I’d probably be using five applications at most. I would however endorse in-app purchases to unlock new functions, added by developers. This isn’t always possible unfortunately, especially in scenarios where most of the apps code changes from version to version.


Apple to Blame for Lowering Software Value →

May 4, 2017 · 15:56

Matt Gemmell:

No company has done as much damage to the perceived value of software, and the sustainability of being an independent developer, as Apple.

Not that other companies wouldn’t have done the same thing — they would have. It’s just that Apple was the successful one.

It’s resolutely the fault of us as consumers, and it’s actively encouraged by the App Store.

Matt raises a few good points, however, I also tend to feel that developers themselves are partly to blame. For example, many years ago App A launched at $9.99. A few months or years later, competing App B comes along, but it starts out at $4.99. After a while, App A starts a 50% sale (and often doesn’t raise the price again). App C comes along at $0.99, followed by App D, which is free with in-app purchases. That’s the trend that I have seen for many of my favourite apps. Some developers stay strong, however — The Soulmen with their Ulysses [iOS/Mac] for example. The Mac version costs $44.99, while the iOS version is only $24.99, and both versions have nearly identical functionality. They can be used as standalone software too — there is no need to use them both. We’re not even getting into developer sustainability here — cost of living in some countries is much higher than in others. Some do this is as their full-time job, others as a hobby.

The one thing that I still expect Apple to do, is to add an upgrade pricing mechanism, which would greatly benefit developers. I’ll gladly pay for upgrades, but I am probably in the minority. Unfortunately.

At this rate, we might not have a lot of quality software to choose from in the future…


App Store Name Lengths →

September 10, 2016 · 10:06

David Smith:

Starting tomorrow Apple will start enforcing a new rule limiting the length of an app’s name to 50 characters. Additionally, they will start disallowing apps from including “terms or descriptions that are not the name of the app”.

The latter of these rules is probably the most actually impactful and important in terms of cleaning up the App Store. As the length of the names hasn’t really been the problem, it is keyword spamming at the end of the name.

But the 50 character limit is still interesting to consider, so I dug through my App Store metadata cache to see just how many apps would be affected. It looks like only around 9% of apps currently have names that are longer than 50 characters (around 200k).


David Smith’s Indie Life in the App Store →

September 6, 2016 · 08:33

David Smith:

I am living proof that it is still quite possible to make a solid and reliable income from the App Store. The way in which I have been able to do that, however, has been to change with the times and constantly adapt to the changes in the market.

David’s apps aren’t perfect, but what he doesn’t mention is that he’s a nice guy and very respectable online — I unfortunately haven’t met him in real life. I buy his apps because, while not perfect, they’re solid problem solvers and appeal to my needs. I know that the fact that he has an online presence makes a difference for me — he won’t disappear tomorrow and leave me looking for alternatives.

Good luck on another eight, David!


Apple Finally Cleansing the App Store →

September 2, 2016 · 07:03

Apple:

We love helping customers discover innovative, useful, and exciting apps on the App Store. With more than 2 million apps available and around 100,000 new and updated apps submitted each week, there’s something for everyone. To make it easier for customers to find great apps that fit their needs, we’re implementing two suggestions from the developer community starting September 7, 2016.

This has been a long time coming.


Phil Schiller Calls John Gruber to Talk About the App Store →

June 9, 2016 · 15:36

John Gruber:

“We’re doing something a little different this year. We’ve got a bunch of App Store/developer-related announcements for WWDC next week, but frankly, we’ve got a busy enough keynote that we decided we’re not going to cover those in the keynote. And rather, just cover them in the afternoon and throughout the week. We’re talking to people today for news tomorrow about those things, in advance of WWDC, and then developers can come and be ready for sessions about these things, with knowledge about them before the conference. We haven’t done this before, but we figured, what the heck, let’s give it a try.”

So started my phone call with Phil Schiller yesterday.

More information from John. I love how the ‘new Apple’ communicates with people like Gruber and Dalrymple. And it surprises me every single time.


Phil Schiller Talks to Jim Dalrymple About Changes to the App Store →

June 9, 2016 · 15:34

Jim Dalrymple:

These are some major changes from the App Store team—more than we’ve seen in years from Apple. It’s a good sign that Apple is focusing so much attention on making the App Store better for developers and customers. We’ll have to see how it all works out in the coming months, but a focus on making things relevant, fair, and easier to use should pay off for Apple, its developers and the customer.

A nice set of changes overall, although I am worried that many developers will want to jump on the bandwagon, ultimately resulting in a failed attempt at the newly announced subscription model.


Apple: iOS Apps That Adjust Display Temperature Aren’t Allowed →

March 10, 2016 · 08:51

Juli Clover:

Earlier this week, we shared a blue-light reduction app called FlexBright, which worked similarly to Apple’s own Night Shift mode. Apple initially approved the app, which was able to adjust the screen temperature for the entire iPhone, but after it garnered attention following our post, Apple pulled it from the App Store.

Normally I would be against pulling apps like this, but since it uses silent background audio to keep it alive, which surely increases battery drain, I’m not disappointed. Most users would blame iOS or their device instead of the app.


Script to Rip Images From the iTunes/App/Mac App Stores →

March 3, 2016 · 20:00

Dr. Drang:

What I came up with is a Python script called ipic, which I’ve put in a GitHub repository. It will search the iTunes, App, or Mac App Stores for images associated with albums, movies, TV shows, books, or apps and display what it finds as a set of thumbnail images in your browser. Each thumbnail is a link to a full-sized version, 512×512 pixels for apps, 600×600 for everything else.

Also, make sure to check this out, if you’d prefer find the images via a webpage.


Best of 2015 for Mac

December 10, 2015 · 14:37

Apart from the best apps and games for every platform, Apple also published a list of the runner-up apps and games of the year. The list contains a few excellent pieces of software, some of which I use, including Fantastical, Reeder 3, Ulysses, and many others.

Continue reading →


‘It’s Easier on the Web’ →

November 30, 2015 · 14:00

Alex Austin:

In the past four weeks, there were 45,000 new apps submitted to the iOS App Store alone. The chances that any of them will ever break into the top 1000 are effectively 0%, and even if they did, they’re still not seeing any amount of traffic to build a successful business.


Dan Counsell: ‘They Basically Re-Built the Entire Thing for Android, Right Down to Copying the Levels’ →

November 27, 2015 · 11:15

Dan Counsell:

I didn’t release Almost Impossible! on Android because I’m an Apple kinda guy, and this was a “fun” side-project. While Almost Impossible! hasn’t been a block-buster hit, someone assumed it must have been and ripped it off anyway. They basically re-built the entire thing for android, right down to copying the levels. How crazy is that?

I’m quite surprised Dan isn’t doing anything about this — the least that I would do is let Google know about the copyright infringement.


Charles Perry about the Patronage Model →

November 15, 2015 · 22:22

Charles Perry:

Proponents of this model call it “patronage,” but it has little in common with the historical concept of patronage where a well-off patron paid an artist an amount to commission a work of art. This new model, in fact, is the opposite of patronage. Instead of requiring a patron to provide money up front in exchange for an item of value, this new model gives away all the value in advance and requires nothing from those who receive it. It less resembles patronage, or even commerce, than it does begging, or busking if you’re feeling generous.

Interesting point of view, although I personally have a different take on the subject—set a high enough price to make your useful product sustainable and market the hell out of it. There is a tiny flaw with my theory: most people don’t want to pay for software, even when it’s really well done.


Not So New →

November 15, 2015 · 01:17

Samantha Bielefeld:

The patronage-only model is so new, and very experimental, but has that stopped others from replicating it?

Technically, the patronage model that Marco Arment adopted isn’t especially new. I first saw it many years ago on David Smith’s Pedometer++ [App Store]—he’s a unique developer in terms of experimenting in the App Store, choosing different monetisation options between his many apps, and adapting extremely well to current trends. In fact, I wrote about his tip jar a while ago. To my knowledge, which isn’t especially impressive when it comes to this subject, Marek Moi’s PointOut [App Store] followed suit with a unique system of buying him coffees as a thank you.

The problem with the App Store is that a select few developers with unique ideas are able to price their apps accordingly, while the rest have to compete with many free apps that are good enough. Quite frankly, I want to pay for quality software for the sole reason of supporting the team behind it, and so that they continue to maintain their products and hopefully add new features too.

Sadly, I realise I’m in the minority…