Apple’s App Store has become its own economy, a self-sustained market worth $20 billion in 2015. As of June 2016, the app store has accumulated 2 million iOS apps. For Apple (and the few competitors picking at its leftovers), the app store represents a massive marketing opportunity similar to the early years of the search engine.
The App Store is only in its 8th year, a growing infant compared to its potential. Apple is continually updating the app store experience. Here are four changes coming to the platform later this year.
One of the biggest issues facing the App Store is abundance. There’s a vast ocean of available apps, from short 2D games, to advanced medical software. How can an independent developer make his low-budget app stand out against a chart full of app-developing dynasties?
The answer, according to Apple, is paid search advertising.
According to Apple, Over 65% of downloads come directly from App Store searches. With the forthcoming iOS 10 update, Apple will pull a page from Google’s handbook and introduce the ability to pay for a more visible app store listing.
Search Ads will also include some of the common features offered on Google Adwords, such as an APIs for campaign creation, management, and reporting. Audience targeting will allow filtering of gender, age, device type, device location, time and day.
The biggest difference is that right now, the search ad only takes up one spot- the top of the search results page.
Search Ads are currently in beta, and will be available when iOS 10 releases this fall.
Updated Subscription Offerings
In the past, subscriptions were only permitted for video and music apps, like Netflix or Spotify. In iOS 10, subscriptions will open up for apps of any category. The update will also allow developers to set an auto-renewing billing cycle, unless the customer opts out before it restarts.
Typically developers get a split of 70% of the subscription payment, while Apple nets 30%. But if a subscriber stays on auto-renew for a whole year, that split becomes 85% for developers, and 15% for Apple. This only applies if the user does not cancel or switch between different price tiers.
Higher Quality Apps and the Great App Purge
As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of apps on the app store, more than any one person will ever be able to look through. The problem is that a lot of these apps are fraudulent, copycats, or just don’t work the way they’re supposed to.
In response to the cluttered store, Apple will be enforcing new measures to prevent these apps from being approved in the future. Starting September 7, Apple will review apps for quality. Any app that “no longer function as intended,” “follow current review guidelines,” or haven’t been “supported with compatibility updates for a long time,” will be removed. Developers will have a 30 day notice to update their app, but apps that fail on startup will be removed immediately.
Shorter App Names
What do you notice about the store page for TuneIn radio? Even though the app’s name is only “TuneIn Radio”, the whole title includes a description of what it does. But on the iPhone search results, only a small portion of this title shows up.
So why do developers include it? Because similar to optimizing for any other search engine, it allows them to rank for many different keywords. Unfortunately, some apps take advantage of this by including keywords that aren’t even relevant to the app’s function or purpose.
This Fall, Apple will make sure that app titles have a 50 character limit, so that only the name of the app is included.
In previous keynotes, Apple used to brag about the amount of apps that were made for the store, and how they were ahead of many of their competitors. Now that they’ve reached a critical mass in new apps, the name of the game is organization. How can Apple promote lesser known apps? How can they prevent useless or outdated apps from appearing? And how can they keep it less cluttered?
With these changes set to come with iOS 10, we’ll find out how successful Apple’s answers are.