Most of the Worldwide Development Conference (WWDC) news in your feeds is probably about new hardware: new iMacs, MacBooks, a bigger iPad and a Amazon Echo competitor called the HomePod.
That’s a lot of shiny new kit people will want to queue up for.
But Apple also announced a MASSIVE overhaul to the App Store. There are a ton of new things to look at but we've boiled them down to the three most important:
1. The App Store will be split.
Games and Apps are going to live in two separate tabs.
This makes a lot of sense. Pollen VC recently found that a whopping 81% of apps that made over $1 million in 2016 were games.
After many years of games dominating/skewing the metrics in the Store, Apple has decided to move them into their own section and let the rest of the app categories fight it out on a more even playing field.
2. Your App listing will have to change.
The App product page view will be totally rejigged. Reviews are going to get a lot more space and prominence. There will be 3 autoplay videos, the top chart rank will get pushed into view and Developer information will be demoted below the fold.
About a year ago, App names were allowed to be 255 characters long. Now, they’re going to be just 30 characters. (The Google Play Store just increased that limit from 30 to 50 - probably not a coincidence.)
Beyond that, you’ll have a 30 character subtitle - which will appear in the top charts - and a 170 character promo text posted at the top of your description.
3. Apple are flexing their editorial muscles.
The App Store team will be even more important than they already are because their selection of apps will largely replace the algorithm driven trending tab.
Apple will produce daily stories for apps they select, including how-tos or tips and tricks. They are adding new games and new apps tabs to help push featured apps. They will also push featured apps into the search results.
In short, Apple have decided to skew users towards their hand-picked choices.
In this way, they are reinforcing recent moves by Facebook to introduce more of a human touch to their service. This helps distance their brand from the ongoing storm that surrounds dubious algorithms and hidden filters exerting an outsized influence on the general public.
For a bullet point overview of every update, see this great post on the Incipia Blog.
What does this mean for app marketers?
Priori Data: Does this come out of left field?
Thomas Petit: For 9 years, the App Store as we know it remained pretty much the exact same, not without a few complains.
About a year ago, P. Schiller took over the AppStore team and many hoped long-due changes were coming.
After minor edits like title length or subscriptions categories, Apple is finally preparing a major overhaul, in design & features, with huge impact on app discovery. So, not really a big surprise, but rather long awaited changes: as an app marketer, this is very exciting!
After such a long wait, is it what you’d hoped for?
To be frank, I never know what to expect with Apple. So I’ll focus on my first observations.
What first struck my eye is the very polished redesign, looking more like a magazine, or a feed. It really look superb and encourage discovery. But who was doubting Apple wouldn’t succeed on UI?
Then comes the apps product pages, our beloved ASO listings, where elements have been vastly expanded and reorganized.
From an ASO point of view, what are the major ramifications?
No doubt ASO managers will have to re-think their whole approach, first from a keyword point of view, with now 3 indexed fields, the keyword field surviving the change. Best of luck to the ASO tools to update their crawlers…
But also, maybe even more importantly, about install conversion : users who have/had the app also get a different layout, with prominent What’s New, and the ability to rate straight from the listing.
One of the other little discussed but big news also came when Apple unveiled the possibility to start purchasing IAP directly from the listing, with a completely new design and description. It remains unclear how the whole process will be experienced but no doubt this can open new gates for monetization.
What should app marketers be worrying about?
We’re yet to discover all the implications on how users browse the store and make decision which listings to visit and which apps to install, but it makes very little doubt Apple is moving all-in towards curation, rather than charts & algorithm.
While this makes quite a lot of sense from Apple position, it means they further reinforce their distribution control over which apps get visibility and which don’t.
If you don’t believe yet in the power of featuring, check Monument Valley 2 : featured in the keynote, the new game jumped straight to the top spot of the US Store within hours!
Some marketers better make sure they have their Apple rep contact handy...
Also regarding discovery, it’s still unclear how these changes will impact Search Ads inventory and if any new placements may be available. I wouldn’t bet on it.
It’s still very early as the release to the public is planned for Fall, so more than worry, it’s time to get prepared for big changes. As always in the app industry.
To sum it all up...