When it was first introduced in 2008, Apple’s App Store revolutionized the way in which software is bought and sold. The App Store essentially defined the app ecosystem, the process of developing and launching apps, and how users consume content, products, and services.
For the first time since it’s initial release, the App Store will be getting a major redesign when the new iOS 11 rolls out. Apple will now prioritize a consistent and smooth app browsing and downloading experience in the updated version of iOS 11 this fall. These are the iOS changes companies and mobile app publishers need to keep an eye on.
In the redesign of the App Store, Apple has added a few new features, ranging from a “Today” tab that displays a curated feed, to a new Product Page. These changes are indicative of Apple’s attempt to enhance the overall user experience, making it less cumbersome for users to find what they’re looking for.
What implications do these new features have on your app and how can you leverage them? Will your app be removed from the App Store? How will they affect ASO? Here are a few significant App Store changes which will redefine they way users discover and download your app.
The App Store has been plagued with apps that are buzzworthy but cannot sustain themselves over time. In other words, the most downloaded apps do not always consistently generate revenue, but are more suited for short-term use and get the most downloads. This creates a problem for the more consistent, useful apps, as they often remain undiscovered by iOS users.
The App Store updates remove this barrier, as Apple’s editorial team will curate apps that are of higher quality. The App Store redesign focuses on quality over quantity. Using a card-based system, Discovery will have cards for Apple of the Day, Sneak Peak, Major Update, Now Trending, Deep Dive, among others. The user will be able to view only 1-2 cards on their screen at a time. Users can scroll up or down to see cards that were featured on previous days.
Apple confirmed a number of “behind-the-scenes” developments already in motion: numerous TestFlight builds, responses to the reviews, a brand-new Reviews API, and much faster app review times. An original, new feature called “Phased Releases” was also introduced, which allows developers to perform a slow, targeted rollout of version updates to collect more immediate feedback before distributing a release to an entire user base.
In the past, developers were unable to provide much or any support to the customer who gave a particular app a bad review. Now, Apple has facilitated a support dialogue system where the developers are able to respond to reviews, interacting with the users in an unprecedented manner.
The iTunes Connect is geared up for a user role for Customer Service, providing feedback to the customers. Accompanying this is the inauguration of the Reviews API which will let developers ask users for reviews in a better manner, contextually speaking. To prevent customers from weaning off of the apps provided, it is wise to note that developers will send these prompts only at the most convenient times, meaning that the app users won’t have to choose between reviewing over the other.
Usually, when developers need to perform bug fixes on the apps, they are sometimes hesitant to do so, as those bug fixes would erase all the reviews and ratings. The incentive to keep those ratings and reviews is a big plus, and developers don’t want to lose those, particularly if they are favorable. The App Store updates have resolved this issue. Now developers can either erase previously-provided reviews and ratings or they can roll them over from a previous version. Developers should be excited for the opportunity to address customer pain points directly and the improved customizations that help reach and retain a high rating.
App Store users have always had negative experiences with Apple’s Search function. Apple has tried to address this problem but we haven’t seen a significant improvement. Prior to this year’s WWDC, Apple introduced Search Ads as a marketplace for developers to bid to be the top featured result in a search. Unfortunately, this favors larger companies with big budgets to squeeze out independent developers and smaller companies.
Apple says that it has made significant improvements in the Search function of the App Store. The improvements include indexing of In-App Purchases, Editorial Content, as well as Apps themselves.
With iOS 11, users can browse in-app purchases directly on the App Store and start a purchase even before they download your app. Promoted in-app purchases will appear on your Product Page, can display in search results, and may be featured on the Today, Games, and Apps tabs.
You can promote up to 20 in-app purchases at a time via your Product Page. This gives app publishers the flexibility to change the in-app purchases that appear on your Product Page at any time based on your business needs. This is ideal if you’re planning to promote a limited-time offer or a special deal. This will also encourage app downloads by prompting users to download the app before they can make an in-app purchase.
Apple will also be phasing out 32-bit app support this Fall when iOS 11 will be made available to the public. This means that many legacy apps will no longer function at all. The answer to why Apple is dropping 32-bit app support is quite simple: to improve the performance of the iPhone. By phasing out 32-bit apps, Apple believes that the end-user won’t be affected by it, but rather developers will work to ensure that all of their apps are updated before support no longer exists. This shift is a result of Apple’s plans to remove “problematic and abandoned apps” from the App Store.
It all comes down to the user experience. Since its launch in 2008, the App Store has hosted over 2 million apps, but Apple is no longer boasting this impressive number. Why? Because they are focusing on the quality of apps rather than the quantity. Too many apps are overcrowding the App Store, making it difficult for users to find what they’re looking for. For active app publishers and companies looking to publish an app, it’s great news. Fewer broken and out-dated apps in the App Store will amount to greater exposure of quality mobile apps.
The App Store updates announced just last month should excite all developers and marketers, alike. The bold push from the previous design of the App Store to the new iOS 11 not only raises the bar for developers to promote their apps, but also harnesses the users’ readiness to expect more relevant apps in the App Store.
This is a big step for Apple as their App Store hasn’t undergone a major redesign since its initial launch in 2008. For the companies and app publishers looking to be featured in the App Store, now may be your chance. How will you take advantage of the new App Store updates in iOS 11?