Tag Archives: App Store

iOS 11 Image

The Best New Features of iOS 11

While we thoroughly enjoyed iOS 10’s open functionality and all it offered app developers, Apple’s premiere operating system is due for a refresh. iOS 11 has been making waves in its public beta release, here are the top upgrades coming to Apple’s landmark OS:

MAJOR UPGRADES FOR IPAD

Apple’s iOS 11 preview states right off the bat: “A giant step for iPhone. A monumental leap for iPad.” iOS 11 offers a number of improvements for iPad users.

The improved Dock now looks a lot like the macOS dock. Users can put dozens of apps in the doc and easily pull it up by swiping upward.

Need to use two apps at the same time? iOS has your back. Like Picture-In-Picture Mode for Android, which we detailed last week in our coverage of Android Oreo, iOS 11 allows you to use two apps at the same time—something that will inevitably come in handy on the large screens of the iPad.

Apple Pencil Instant Notes via Redmond Pie

APPLE PENCIL receives a major upgrade in iOS 11. Instant Markup makes it easy to mark up PDFs, screenshots and more. Instant Notes and Inline Drawing let you customize your screen. The Scan and Sign feature also makes it easy to sign important documents online and send them in the flash of an eye.

SIRI MATURES

WIRED recently detailed the path toward improving the voice of iOS: Siri. While Google and Amazon have excelled in their virtual assistant development, Siri seems to have lagged behind. iOS 11 revamps Siri’s voice to sound much more natural, while also teaching her to translate Chinese, Spanish, French, German, or Italian.

GET READY FOR AUGMENTED REALITY!

When Pokemon Go took the world by storm, “Augmented Reality” became a household name. Now, the time has come for app developers rejoice! iOS 11 features ARKit, a new development framework that makes it easy for developers to build incredible AR experiences.

ARKit allows developers to create 2D or 3D elements in the live view from iPhone and iPad camera’s in order to make them appear as if they exist in the real world. ARKit combines device motion tracking, camera scene capture, advanced scene processing, and display conveniences to make building AR experiences a breeze.

Check out some of the best AR experiences built with ARKit so far.

CAMERA TIME

Thanks to a new compression technology, iOS 11 will be able to store video using less space than ever. Additionally, the camera will allow users to loop live videos, to trim and edit live videos, to grab a still from a live photo, and to capture time and movement with long exposure photos.

Apple App Store via BGR

APP STORE REDESIGN

The rigorous standards of Apple’s App Store always lent itself to curation. With that in mind, Apple has redesigned the App Store to emphasize discovery. The new App Store will offer a completely separate tab for Games, a variety of daily stories and a tab for the best apps of the day, all curated by Apple!

FILES, PAYMENT, AND MORE

iOS 11 is a comprehensive upgrade that comes equipped with a host of other great additions, including:

- FILES: Never lose track of important documents again! The Files app makes it easy to find files stored on iOS devices, in iCloud Drive, and even across other cloud services like Box and Dropbox.

- APPLE PAY IN IMESSAGE: iOS 11 will make peer-to-peer payments easy, allowing users to send Apple Pay payments as a part of iMessage.

- CONTROL CENTER: The Control Center has received a complete redesign. The new Control Center will appear all on one page and is customizable, allowing users to personalize the design to the most helpful layout.

TAKEAWAYS

If you are an iPad user, you are truly in for a treat when iOS 11 comes out. If you only use iPhone, iOS 11 still delivers a fresh redesign with improved functionality. iOS 11 is yet another solid entry in Apple’s OS canon.

Mobile Game Monetization Methods for Bartle Types: Break the Bank with Achievers

Last week, the Mystic Media Blog covered Richard Bartle’s taxonomy of player types. Over the next four articles, the blog will be conducting an in-depth exploration of each of Bartle’s four player types and how to attract, reward and ultimately monetize them.

The Achiever is the most basic player type. They seek to conquer the obstacles set up by the game. They look to act upon the world within its limitations. Achievers are generally the most important Bartle Type to maintain in your core userbase since they seek to play the game by the rules, as it was intended. Nicknamed “Diamonds” by Bartle, Achievers are interested in rewards, recognition and glory. They won’t settle for beating the game and will attempt to attain high scores in the leaderboard. If there is more than one difficulty, then they must learn to master it. In short, they look to attain any and every badge of honor they can.

The Achiever plays by the rules with the aim of progress. In order to entice them on a most basic level, they need to be engaged by gameplay from the outset. Games which are too difficult will discourage them from playing on, while games which are too easy will not be worth the time.

As they navigate through the game, giving Achievers finite goals and recognition for achieving these milestones will keep them engaged. They don’t just want to achieve, they want to be acknowledged for their achievements. A solid reward system with a steady stream of achievement-based unlockables and trophies will retain Achievers. As a game designer, using sound and visuals to create a positive emotional reaction upon in-game achievements should be among your top UI concerns.

One of the major visual opportunities to get users invested in your game is the Game Board. Check out a portion (57:20-59:09) of this awesome lecture by Nicolas Lovell where he breaks down how the Candy Crush board appeals to all different levels of player:

Game designers can monetize Achievers in a number of ways. Offering new game modes or difficulties through in-app purchases offers a tempting proposal to the Achiever, who will likely go ahead, buy and conquer if they are into the game. Having a difficult game with high level unlockables also available for in-app purchase can entice some Achievers to taking a shortcut. Offering an ad-less option is another enticing low-price option for the impatient achiever.

Achievers want their victories to become a part of their identity. They want to be known as winners and are looking to the game for fulfillment, so an alternate avatar for players who conquer the game is enough to retain them. Offering customizable avatars for in-app purchase is a simple way of appealing to all gamers’ desire to make their character their own. Candy Crush monetizes Achievers by limiting the amount of time they can play per day without paying, enticing many daily players to extend their time for a cheap price.

MMORPGs and warfare games capitalize on Achievers with special weapons and characters available for in-app purchases. Games with a social component make it easier to capitalize on Achievers since they are a sucker for status. The social component adds a major competitive edge which will cause some Achievers to jump at the opportunity to gain an advantage.

The difficulty in monetizing Achievers lies in offering a fair game experience with in-app purchases. Purchasing a competitive edge can dilute the amount of new users in a game. Achievers want their achievements to be sacred, so while offering purchasables is important, it shouldn’t make the game a landslide for those who invest. Some glories should be unlockable purely through game progression, rather than for purchase. Another way of regulating is to set a limit on in-app purchases. If you only have $5 to work with, it creates an element of strategy for Achievers which makes both the game and the purchase appealing.

Finding a balance between enriching gameplay with in-app purchases and maintaining a fair and engaging game on a free level is the difficulty of the Freemium model.

Next week, we’ll take a look at Explorers and the best methods for attaining, retaining and monetizing them.

Mobile Website or Mobile App: What Should I Build?

Mobile commerce will reach approximately $142 billion in 2016 according to Mobile Commerce Daily. Promoting business through mobile platforms has become an essential part of many IT and marketing departments worldwide. Mobile phones allow businesses the opportunity to share information about their store, such as hours and nearest location, as well as offer exclusive deals through branded apps as well as third-party apps like Yelp & GroupOn.

The necessity of a mobile presence is evident. When developing for the mobile platform, one has the choice between building a mobile website or a mobile app as the avenue of preference. Obviously developing for both platforms is ideal, but it’s important to realize the strengths of each platform when developing a mobile strategy. Many businesses don’t take into account the importance of the mobile web when it comes to driving revenue.

If you read Cashing Out the Smartphone, you know that while 85% of time spent on mobile devices occurs in apps, 80% of that time is spent on the user’s top 3 apps, a web browser often being one of them. 82% of smartphone users reference their phones when deciding what to buy. When it comes to eCommerce, mobile websites drive twice as much traffic as mobile apps.

Thus, while mobile apps are more expansive, mobile websites are in many ways more important to retailers. Utilizing both in tandem and playing to each platform’s strengths will maximize mobile presence to bring in revenue. Here are the top factors to weigh when deciding between building a mobile website or a mobile app:

DISCOVERABILITY

Due to the omniscience of Google, mobile websites are much more discoverable than mobile apps. Although it is good to have a presence in the app stores, it’s often more important to be discoverable on the web since the web is where the majority of customers go to find information. Mobile websites share a common publication format, making them almost universally accessible across smart devices. As we detailed in our article on Responsive Design & SEO, optimizing a website for mobile is not only a vital SEO practice, it also lowers the price of keywords in Google Adwords.

IMMEDIACY

The immediacy of mobile websites make them an asset to companies looking to disperse information about their products. Mobile websites can be found from any smart device with a single Google search. Mobile websites are quick, easy to find, and direct to the point. Mobile apps, on the other hand, require the user to go to the app store, search, download the app, then often sign up for an account. The distance between initial engagement and action/conversion depletes the chances of a mobile app acquiring new customers without a clever strategy, while mobile websites are more likely to pique new customer interests.

Many retailers have turned to mobile apps to manage loyalty points and increase customer retention through exclusive discounts.

Here are some popular third-party apps for increasing customer loyalty:

Shopkick: Shopkick offers customers rewards the moment they walk into a store. It is the most-used US shopping app connecting shoppers to retailers.

Flok: Flok is a customer loyalty and engagement platform which uses automated messaging, digital punch cards, and direct customer rewards to power lasting and rewarding relationships between merchants and customers.

Belly: Belly is a digital loyalty rewards program which serves over 12,000 businesses and has more than 6 million members across the US.

COMPLEXITY

While mobile websites are great for dispersing information, apps typically can do much more. Native apps are designed specifically for a device and OS, thus ensures maximum performance. With mobile commerce on the rise, apps can help make the check-out process seamless. The process of approval required by the app stores assures users that any given mobile apps will be safe and secure. The complexity of mobile apps also makes maintenance more expensive.

Mobile websites are easier and less-expensive to maintain since they have a common code across platforms. Developers can release and update without worrying about being approved by the app marketplace. Mobile websites can only utilize a limited scope of a given mobile device’s features, although mobile browsers are in the process of getting more powerful and enabling more power over the device.

COST

Mobile websites are less expensive to develop and maintain since they use common code across devices. While cross-platform app development tools ensure a cheaper way to make an app usable across Android, iOS, and other operating systems and devices, they also can dilute the functionality.

In our opinion, it’s often better to start with a mobile website which disperses necessary information and calls attention to the business before creating a mobile app to supplement with additional functionality.

Any given business or organization has unique needs which must be attended to when establishing a mobile presence. Experienced web and app developers should ask the questions which get to the root of what is needed and can design creative solutions which maximize functionality for any given platform in accordance with the project budget. Be it through a mobile website or a mobile app, the mobile platform allows for any number of possibilities which can make any business more efficient, attractive, and profitable.

Best Sleep Apps: Get Better Rest Using your iPhone

25% of people in the US report trouble with sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause decreased performance and alertness, impaired memory, stress, depression and more. Luckily, we live in a golden age of technology. App developers are actively working to develop iOS and Android apps which will help you get better sleep using your iPhone or Android smartphone. Below find some of the best iOS & Android sleep apps on the market.

BEDDIT

Beddit has made a name for itself as one of the consensus top sleep apps on iOS and Android. Beddit measures cardiorespiratory functions by detecting movements caused by respiration and heartbeats. The app uses an ultra-thin film sensor which goes under your sheet in order to  measure sleep time, sleep latency, awakenings, resting heart rate and snoring. While the Beddit app is free, the sleep monitor ranges from $99.99 – $149.99.

Beddit is available for iOS (iPhone and Apple Watch) via iTunes, as well as Android devices via Google Play.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ak3ireBUEnw

SLEEP CYCLE

For those looking for a more cost-friendly sleep app, Sleep Cycle is another of the top Android and iOS sleep apps—and it’s only $0.99. Developed by Northcube, Sleep Cycle uses the iPhone’s accelerometer to track sleep phases. When we sleep, we go through multiple states in our sleep cycle, the deepest of which is REM sleep where dreams occur. Sleep Cycle monitors movements using sound analysis and wakes users up during light sleep to ensure users feel naturally rested.

Sleep Cycle is currently available for Android and iOS for free with in-app purchases.

SLEEP GENIUS

If you’re searching for the most high-tech sleep app, look no further than Sleep Genius. Designed with the help of research by NASA, Sleep Genius helps you determine the perfect bedtime, revives you with a soothing alarm, and even helps you make the most of your naps with psychoacoustic music scientifically designed to trigger a relaxation response. NASA’s magazine, SPINOFF, recently celebrated the app for its use of NASA technology to create a better world.

At $4.99, the app is moderately priced in iTunes and Google Play. It’s a steal considering the level of high tech utilized to make it work.

Looking for more great sleep apps? Check out these awesome curated lists from HealthLine and Tom’s Guide.

Mystic Media is an Android & iOS app development, web design and strategic marketing firm located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Contact us today by clicking here or by phone at 801.994.6815

Keep Your Competitors Close: How to Leverage the Power of ASO to Crush Your Competition

At Mystic Media, we’re no strangers to App Store Optimization. Every app development project we take on has its specific ASO challenges. ASO remains one of the most vital processes in the marketing process. We’ve detailed our knowledge in our six part ASO series where we explored techniques for the ASO Basics, Title and Keywords, Increasing Downloads and Ratings, Getting Featured on the App Store, Differentiating between Apple and Google Play App Stores, and Changing Your Title.

In this article, we’ll detail how to get the most from researching your competitors, what to look for, and how to go about maximizing your analysis.

As with any aspect of marketing, understanding your competitors is vital to finding a search opening in the app store for an app. The app store allows for anyone to do detailed research on competing apps. Simply search the keywords you’ve selected for your app in app stores in order to find primary competitors.

It’s easy to see which app competitors come up in search results; however, it’s important to differentiate between which apps are significant and which have no competitive value. An old sub-par app may rank high in the app store, but it’s not in-competition with a well-designed app. Understanding the value of competing apps will allow you to narrow the list your true competition.

The following factors are vital in appraising the value of a competitor:

The app’s last update: Apps that are not generating revenue will not be updated frequently as it’s a futile endeavor. If a competing app hasn’t had any recent updates, it’s safe to deem them an irrelevant competitor.

App launch date: The app launch date not only dictates whether the app is still active, it informs you as to whether it’s ranking in the search results is being boosted by the “new app” factor. Apps get a boost in downloads and ASO at their launch. If the app has been around for a month or two and retains its ranking, then it’s definitely a competitor worth researching.

Amount of reviews since last update: With iOS apps, the reviews an app receives lose value after an update. This makes for hesitation every time an iOS developer decides to update their app. Evaluating the amount of downloads and reviews since the previous update will also give insight into the amount of traffic being generated by the keywords used.

Other factors include: The publisher of the app, the average user rating, the keywords targeted in the title, and what other keywords the app is emphasizing.

Subscribe to Gabriel Machuret’s Youtube channel for a bunch of awesome videos containing information on how to increase an app’s ASO ranking:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCG6A0qWOOJ0fGfzW48KCcXw

Here’s one on the best ASO tools available to developers:

When you’ve identified the apps with which your app is in direct competition, you can begin to analyze their strategy and decide what techniques you wish to emulate and where you might be able to counter them. This takes consistent monitoring of what techniques the app developers are using to improve their app’s ranking. Analyzing what demographics competing apps are targeting will help define where there might be an opening for your app to appeal to an audience. Knowing what share of the revenue competing apps have will give insight into which app store an app might appeal to (perhaps a competitor has Google Play locked down, in which case one would focus their energies on the Apple App Store.)

Tools such as App Annie,  Mop App, and more give app developers and marketers a time-efficient way of attaining the analysis they need to understand their competitors and adjust their strategy accordingly.

ASO is a thorough process with many ins and outs. Understanding both your competition and how each of the app stores rank apps in search results requires both experience and a great deal of research. Using the techniques given in this article, in conjunction with those outlined in our six-part ASO series and a well-designed app, you will be able to conquer your competition in the app store and rise to the top of search results.

Mobile Game Developers Rejoice: Apple Increases App Store Size Limit to 4 GB

Apple recently announced they would increase the size limit of mobile app packages on the Apple App Store from 2 GB to 4 GB.

They experimented first by releasing Disney Infinity: Toy Box 2.0 for free in late January. Disney Infinity Toy Box 2.0 is a gaming app developed using Metal. The app is similar to Minecraft in the way it allows players to create their own world using pre-made characters. It weighs in at a massive 3.8 GB when downloaded from the App Store. The additional space is utilized in the expansion of their cast of characters. Disney Infinity Toy Box 2.0 features not only Disney characters, but many superheroes from the Marvel universe, Guardians of the Galaxy, and The Incredibles.

Check out this awesome iOS preview of the game:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sm7iF5l-ZcA

Although the app is available for free on iTunes, in-app purchases start at $0.99 and reach as high as $59.99. Only three characters are available for free. These free characters rotate, giving users a taste of what they are missing, as well as reason to keep checking the app. The rest of the characters can be purchased in stores like Best Buy, Walmart, etc. It is sure to be a profitable endeavor given the pre-existing fan-bases of the many characters in the mobile game.

The Apple App Store’s increased app size limit will most certainly bring about an influx of large-scale apps like the Disney Infinity Toy Box, although one thing hasn’t changed: apps which are being downloaded by a cellular network still have a 100 MB size limit. Apps above 100 MB must be downloaded using a Wi-Fi network.

While there are obvious advantages to giving users the ability to download an app wherever they have cellular service, large-scale apps are often less dependent on impulse downloads. Many developers will no doubt be excited to put the new limit to work via higher quality graphics and longer games.

The move seems consistent with Apple’s strategy of making the development process easier for app developers. Last year, Apple released Swift (for information on Swift, check out our previous post: Swift Execution: Apple’s New Programming Language Shakes Up Tech Community) and  Metal, a low-level, low-overhead graphics API which we wrote about when it debuted with iOS 8 in our post Bite the Apple: Maximize iOS 8 to Vanquish Your Competition. Both releases, along with the increased app size limit, seem to be power moves dedicated to drawing more developers to the iOS platform.

As we detailed in App Store Optimization Part 5: Key Differences Between Apple Vs. Google Play App Stores, the main difference between the Apple App Store and Google Play is Apple’s emphasis on curation. Although good ASO processes for the Apple App Store are shrouded in secrecy, it’s known that Apple focuses on promoting discovery through curation. Apple requires all apps to be approved by their team of curators before allowing them to be displayed in the App Store. Increasing the app size limit gives developers the freedom to create more intricate, high-production value games for the Apple App Store curators to promote.

If there’s one broad conclusion to be drawn from the move, it’s that mobile gaming is evolving, and Apple wants to spearhead the movement.

Mystic Media is an iOS and Android app development, web design, and strategic marketing firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Contact us today by clicking here or by phone at 801.994.6815

App Store Optimization Part 6: How to Change App Titles While Minimizing Impact on ASO

In an effort to emphasize the importance of App Store Optimization, the Mystic Media Blog is applying its expertise into a six-part series on ASO. In our previous entry Key Differences in Apple Vs. Google Play App Stores, we detailed how to optimize specifically for either app store. This week, we conclude the series by exploring the effects of changing your app title after release and how to efficiently change titles while minimizing negative effects on ASO.

One of our clients recently wanted to change the title of their app on both Apple App Store and Google Play. While their previous title was okay, they came up with a new title which would potentially attract more of their target audience. They consulted us on the process of changing app titles and its effects on ASO. While it may seem like a simple fix, the process of changing titles is not seamless and can make the developer look unprofessional if improperly executed.

First and foremost, one must weigh the negative impact of changing titles. Changing the title of an app will not wipe out the number of previous downloads and ratings & reviews, but if an app has an established brand, changing titles can be highly detrimental to ASO. Whatever word-of-mouth or brand recognition an app already had will dissipate. App Store users looking for the app under its previous name will be unable to find it. So if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

A name change can ultimately attract more users if the name is catchy and features a keyword optimized for search. One of the most interesting findings we came across in our ASO research came from a blog in which a developer discovered a hole in the Apple App Store’s keyword search and exploited it (check out Master the Art of Writing a Catchy Title and Keywords for more info on writing keywords). The developer originally released Texties, an app which allows for users to easily send unicode artwork. Frustrated with the limited amount of downloads, the developer discovered searching “texties” in the App Store returned 2200 results and Texties wasn’t at the top. He soon realized searching “txts” yielded the same search results. It became apparent Apple was using some fuzzy auto-correcting on search strings. The developer proceeded to change their app title to “Textables”, which now comes up first in title searches.

Check out Mark Rickert’s blog for more information on this story.

If the developer elects to change app titles, the process is laborious. The developer must change the title everywhere it’s previously appeared—on their website, social media, app description, and screenshots—not to mention all the places the app title appears within the app itself.

So long as the function of the app is not different, ASO shouldn’t be affected dramatically by a title change, but one has to keep in mind the keywords must be optimized for the search terms associated with both the app’s function and title. If the title change is drastic enough that the developer thinks the keywords which would lead to it have changed, they must change the keywords to search terms more befitting of the new title. If the developer feels the keywords associated with the old title apply equally to the new title, there’s no need to change them and it should not have a noteworthy effect on ASO, assuming they are right.

When changing an app name on Google Play, it’s crucial to note that Google looks through the app description for keywords (as we detailed in Key Differences in Apple Vs. Google Play App Stores). If the keywords have changed, it’s vital the developer proceed to revise the app description appropriately.

The app name can easily be changed on the Apple App Store through iTunes Connect. On Google Play, changing the “android:label” attribute of your application tag in “AndroidManifest.xml” file will do the job. However, changing the app name on devices requires the developer to change the metadata to reflect the new title and upload the newly-titled app as an update. Users who already have the app must download the update to change the name of the app on their phone. This makes changing a name on the Apple App Store  more difficult than on Google Play since Apple must approve all updates before they go live on the app store.

Changing an app name on Google Play presents its own challenges. Apps on Google Play retain a package name, which is a URL owned by the app to prevent name collisions. Changing the title of an app does not alter the package name, any links previously used will remain unbroken despite the change in app title. However, the package name is one thing that cannot be changed unless you’re uploading a new app. If a developer is so concerned about the original title being in the package name that they decide they must change it, they would have to start from scratch, post the newly titled app in a separate package on the app store as a new app, and lose all traction and reviews they previously had earned.

Check out this article at Android Developers Blog for more information on package names.

As we explored in Master the Art of Writing a Catchy Title and Keywords, app titles are vital to ASO. Changing an app’s title can be helpful to ASO granted the new title is catchier, more functional, and it’s early enough in the release that the app does not have a big following.

This concludes our six-part series on App Store Optimization. Thank you to our readers! We hope this serves you well in your future app development adventures. In the meantime, stay tuned!

Mystic Media is, among many other things, a premier Search Engine Optimization firm. Our Marketing Strategists recognize the importance of ASO and can work with the tech side to ensure all websites and applications designed will succeed in the marketplace. Contact us today by clicking here or by phone at 801.994.6815

App Store Optimization Part 5: Key Differences in Apple Vs. Google Play App Stores

In an effort to emphasize the importance of App Store Optimization, The Mystic Media Blog is applying its expertise into a six-part series on ASO. In our previous entry Maximize Your Exposure by Getting Featured on the App Store, we detailed techniques on how to get featured on an App Store landing page. This week, we will explore the differences in ASO for Google Play and  Apple App Store.

App Store curators look to surface the most relevant content for users. Although the ultimate goal may be the same for both Google and Apple, their approach to achieving their goals are different. The exact details of Apple’s processes are shrouded in secrecy as they promote discovery through curation, while Google focuses more on analytics and prioritizes transparency in their processes. Check out their recent I/O speech on Getting Discovered on Google Play for a bevy of useful information. While our ASO series thus far has focused on the common ground, this chapter will delve into the differences between the two app stores and what techniques can be used to optimize for either store.

GENERAL THEMES

Google Play favors bigger mobile-focused enterprises, while Apple favors independent developers. A recent study at MobileDevHQ found independent developers generally rank higher in the Apple App Store, while Google Play is more favorable toward mobile focused enterprises. MobileDevHQ recorded the top apps for each store and found that 65% of the top apps for iPhone were independently developed, while 90% of top apps in Google Play store were developed by mobile-focused enterprises.

Granted, out-of-context, the above statistic can be misconstrued. Big mobile-focused enterprises do better on Google Play because they have the brainpower and workforce to analyze the statistics which factor heavily into Google Play’s search algorithm. Google Play also does its part to give independent developers an opening through regional-specific results and Google+ recommendations. Apple’s App Store, on the other hand, relies on curation. The Mystic Media Blog previously discussed  how Android is considered more developer-friendly since they feature open-source coding and skip the process of approval Apple uses to filter bad apps from making it onto their App Store (review our post on Why Android Rules the Mobile Application Market). Apps receiving approval before making the the app store filters out sub-par entries, allowing Apple to curate more effectively. Every app on the Apple App Store, big or small, starts with an evaluation.

Apple’s App Store is much more volatile and reactive to trends than Google Play. Within the same seven day study at MobileDevHQ, the top ranking apps in Apple’s App Store fluctuated—no single app stayed in the same rank through all seven days—while of the top ten ranking apps on Google Play, five failed to change position once. In addition, no new apps broke into the top ten for Google Play.

DESCRIPTION

While it’s recommended developers include keywords in their app description, the Apple App Store barely weighs the description, unlike Google Play which weighs the keywords in app descriptions heavily. For more on keywording and app descriptions, review App Store Optimization Part 2: Master the Art of Writing a Catchy Title and Effective Keywords.

VIDEO

Google Play also allows developers to post a video preview of their app. The purpose of the video is to show the app in use, to preview the graphics, the sound, the UX, the function, etc. Google Play preview videos are hosted through Youtube, which creates a new avenue for app developers to market their product through Youtube SEO. For more on the topic, check out this cool article on How Youtube Videos are Ranked.

DISPLAY

Google’s recent talk about getting discovered on Google Play yielded a lot of great information concerning Google Play’s display strategy. Ankit Jain, Google Play’s Head of Search, Discovery & Store Infrastructure, explained how Google Play attempts to create a UX which is simultaneously personalized and personal.

Personalized, as it relates to Google Play, means the results are catered to the user based on their history of searches, purchases, what device the user is on (remember, unlike iOS, Android allows third-party companies to develop  devices on its OS), and what’s popular in their geographic region. The amalgamation of user history and geographic popularity factor heavily into Google Play’s search algorithms.

Personal means results are annotated by Google Play analytics with reasons why the user should download the app. This involves linking to the user’s Google+ account to allow the Google Play store to show if anyone in a person’s Google+ circles has given an app a +1.  Apps relevant to a search which are recommended by people in a user’s Google+ circles will surface high in the search results, thus targeting Google+ for social media campaigns pays off for developers releasing through Google Play.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

The goal of any app store is to effectively promote the top apps for the platform. Both Google and Apple look to share the apps which will best please the user and make the most of the technology of their respective platforms. When it comes to ASO, no keyword, app title, icon, or description will change anyone’s mind about a bad app. No curator will elevate the status of a bad app because it is well-marketed. Thus, it’s fitting remind you: the first step to optimizing any app for an app store is to create a great app. By observing the rules of each app store and excelling in each of the processes of ASO with intelligent strategy and an efficient external marketing campaign, a great app can catch the attention of app curators and rise to the top of any app store search. The rest, as they say, is search history.

Mystic Media is considered among the most versatile and capable web agencies in the US. Our workforce includes experts across a variety of fields including app development, strategic marketing, social media, web design, Search Engine Optimization, radio streaming, and more. We have the resources necessary to effectively develop and market applications for any platform. Contact us today by clicking here or calling 801.994.6815

App Store Optimization Part 4: Maximize Your Exposure by Getting Featured on the App Store

In an effort to emphasize the importance of App Store Optimization, The Mystic Media Blog is applying its expertise into a six-part series on ASO. In our previous entry: “Boost Your App’s Profile, Increase Downloads and Generate Better Ratings”, we detailed the secondary factors which affect ASO, such as Ratings and Number of Downloads. This week, we will explore how to get featured on the app store landing page.

Intelligent ASO will bring you to the top of search-strings specific to your app’s functionality. However, imagine if rather than having to search, your app was presented to viewers the moment app store users go to the app store. Sounds like a dream scenario, but it’s entirely possible through clever ASO. Both Apple’s App Store and the Google Play App Store feature top-tier applications on their landing pages, as well as in several mini-categories.

The App Store curators are not looking to help developers out by featuring apps. They are looking out for the best interest of their company, which means pleasing the viewer. In order to satiate their customers, they showcase the coolest, most visually-engaging, best executed, most high-tech apps. Developers can take advantage of the curators’ needs by catering to their desires and utilizing the latest iOS and Android features in their apps. App Stores are much more likely to feature an app if it showcases the best features of their product.

Keeping up with the latest technologies is easier said than done in a constantly evolving landscape. With every OS update from both Apple and Android, the capabilities of devices are increased. Curators looking for the most high-tech apps must react to the OS updates and seek out apps which utilize the new technology to feature in the app store. Your app can fill that void. Stay up to date on the latest iOS update by reviewing our recent post Bite the Apple: Maximize iOS 8 to Vanquish Your Competition. Review our Android L Beta Preview: First Impressions of the Latest OS to plan ahead for the forthcoming Android L OS. If you’ve already designed your app, you haven’t missed out. Working the latest technology into an app update can also get the app featured. For example, Apple has been pushing the iCloud for all of their apps as of late. Finding some way of incorporating iCloud into an existing app’s software update would be beneficial for ASO.

In service of ensuring your app retains the look and feel of the most state-of-the-art technology, we recommend investing heavily in the User Interface and User Experience design. Perhaps the most important aspect of any app, poor UI/UX design will both alienate customers and guarantee your exclusion from the app store. Great UI/UX design will charm your customers and make your app look state-of-the-art. The details which go into an app’s gestures and audio make or break an app in the eyes of the critic, while retaining the potential to dazzle an audience. When directing your UX designers, be sure to take into account the branding for device-specific apps. If you’re releasing your app on iOS, review Impervious Appeal: How to Design Jaw-Dropping iOS Apps to make sure the UX design is consistent with Apple UX aesthetics, including “flat design.” The upcoming Android L OS specifically pushes Material Design aesthetics in an effort to distance the look of Android apps from those of iOS. Check out Android’s official Guide to Material Design for Developers to learn more. Impressive UX is debatably the most important aspect of any app, but it’s especially vital in the eyes of app store curators looking to show off the graphics capabilities of their devices.

Check out the screenshots below which detail the process of how Transit, an app which aggregates public transportation information, developed their UX design through multiple drafts. In 2012, Apple announced they would develop their own Maps app to replace Google Maps on iPhones. Instead of creating public transit functionality from scratch, Apple found it cheaper to buy Transit, an already successful app, and utilize its functionality. Now under Apple, Transit’s quest to perfect UX which would seamlessly integrate with Apple’s evolving aesthetics is a great example of aesthetic adaptation and the process of developing UX.

 

Via blog.pickcrew.com

Via blog.pickcrew.com

With over 1,000 app submissions per day, standing out in the sea of content within the app store can be a challenge; however, a great app will find its audience if properly marketed. While ASO is vital, it must be only one facet of any app’s marketing campaign. The app store curators react to trends. If an app gets external publicity, they are more likely to feature it. This works against independent developers who generally don’t have the same budget for marketing as they do for app development. Established brands stand a better chance at getting and staying featured. But independent developers can still find their niche. The app store curators are taste-makers looking to please their users by offering the best apps the exposure they need, as if they were curating a critic’s “Best of” list. The curators do not want to give the viewer the most obvious choice, but rather the best-in-class. Thus, a great app can transcend limitations.

Developing multiple native applications catering specifically to both device and OS improves your chances of success in all facets of app design, including ASO. Review Making the Most of your Tablet Design Part 2: Custom Device Design to learn more about the benefits of custom device design. App stores are more likely to feature apps which are available and optimized not just for smartphones, but also for tablets and computers as well. The more app stores on which your app is available, the more places it could get featured. Staggering your launch to start exclusively on one app store can also work toward your advantage because Apple and Google are more likely to feature apps exclusive to the Apple App Store or Google Play App Store respectively.

There are no rules the curators of the app stores must follow. They live in the shadows seeking out the best apps to showcase the full potential of iOS and Android smartphones, tablets, and computers. As we’ve stated before, ASO starts and ends with a great app.

Next week, in Part 5 of our series on ASO, we will detail the differences between the Apple and the Google Play App Stores. Stay tuned!

At Mystic Media, our teams of expert application designers and strategic marketers have the means to effectively both develop and market apps for iOS and Android. Contact us today by clicking here, or by phone at 801.994.6815

Bite the Apple: Maximize iOS 8 to Vanquish Your Competition

Apple touts iOS 8 as their biggest iOS release ever. Coming from the biggest, most innovative technology giant in the world, that’s a major statement. In our ASO series, we found the apps which exploit the latest technology are much more likely to get featured in the Apple App Store. iOS 8 represents a major opportunity for app developers to get ahead of their competition by both creating new apps, as well as revamping current apps to take full advantage of the latest technology. In order to do this, one needs to understand the ins and outs of the new platform. Thus, we’ve compiled a list of the latest features and what they mean to developers.

Device Continuity

Device Continuity is the future of Apple products, and Android will likely to follow suit. The idea is to allow users to seamlessly transition between devices without interrupting their current task. Imagine writing an email on your iPhone, putting it down, going into another room, and finishing it on your Macbook. Or playing a game on your iPhone, pausing it, going to the  bathroom and continuing on your iPad. The possibilities are endless.

The concept of Device Continuity has been planted in iOS 8 and the device compatibility will be expanded in the upcoming release of OS X Yosemite. MacBooks and iPads will have all the functions of iPhones in the future: the ability to make receive calls and FaceTime in addition to the functions they already retain. Devices will be so seamlessly integrated, MacBooks will be able to connect to your  iPhone’s personal hotspot for internet. When MacBooks are in use, iPhones will automatically shut off to conserve power.

App developers who are able to utilize device continuity both effectively and creatively will have a great chance at getting featured across the App Stores for iPhone, iPad, and Macbook.

iCloud Drive

While iCloud was used in iOS 7, Apple is now pushing the iCloud Drive (as it’s now titled) as it’s own cloud storage service like Box and Dropbox with data plans available for purchase. iCloud Drive allows for any type of file stored on computers and phones to be accessible from any device. iCloud Drive plays into Apple’s major conceptual push for device continuity and will be further explored with the release of OS X Yosemite this Fall.

Health App

In our previous article on iOS 8 rumors, one of the most talked about reports concerning iOS 8 was the “Healthbook App”. Sure enough, one of the major innovations in iOS 8 is the Health app, which can interact with other health-related apps on iPhone to create a one-stop dashboard of health data. The Health app can track the amount of steps you take, the distance you run, the amount of calories you consume, and more in conjunction with apps such as Fitbit and Jawbone. Unfortunately, many apps are currently unable to connect with Health due to a bug at the launch which Apple claims it will fix later this month. Despite the temporary road-block, the Health app is built to be compatible with other health-related apps and thus represents a great opportunity for iOS developers to find opportunities to capitalize with Health-compatible apps for iPhone and iPad users.

Family Sharing

Another major feature of iOS 8 is Family Sharing. Family Sharing allows for families of up to six people to share their digital purchases from iTunes, iBooks and the App Store without having to share one account on one credit card. When kids attempt to buy things in the App store, a notification goes to the parent and the purchase can only be complete pending the parent’s approval. Family Sharing could potentially make in-app purchases for kids games much more profitable.

Credit Card Scanning

Safari can now use the iPhone camera to scan credit card numbers when making online purchases, speeding up iPhone-based eCommerce. A savvy developer could certainly find a way to integrate this into their in-app purchases to simultaneously exploit the latest technology and make it easy for customers to spend more money on their apps.

Minor Improvements

The host of other minor improvements includes a Siri equipped with Shazam, allowing her to recognize songs when asked. Apple also followed Android’s lead in employing QuickType, which gives shortcuts to the words users may be writing based on their texting history and what’s being typed.

Another minor innovation is the ability to send mini-voice messages as texts. As we’ve previously explored, communications apps are big business. Developers could potentially ingrain themselves in these voice messages by finding an innovative way to make voice messaging more fun, perhaps through audio filters.

Concluding Thoughts

The Verge got it right when they said “We won’t see the full potential of iOS 8 for weeks or months after its release”. While Apple’s announcement and subsequent release of iOS 8 is big news for developers, until OS X Yosemite releases later this year, we won’t know its full potential. In the meantime, developers start your engines, the race to exploit the latest technology in iOS 8 has begun.

Mystic Media is one of the most versatile and elite software design agencies in the United States. With experts in iOS and Android software development and marketing, Mystic excels in all processes involved in both app and web development. Learn more by clicking here or call us at 801.994.6815