Tag Archives: Mobile App News

App store services are on the rise

App Store Services & Subscriptions on the Rise

Subscription-based services are growing on the App Store, and Apple has made no secret of their wish for more developers to start offering them. In an October earnings call, CEO Tim Cook detailed the company’s record-breaking Services growth in the fourth quarter front and center.

“We’re thrilled with the customer response to iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and Apple Watch Series 2, as well as the incredible momentum of our Services business, where revenue grew 24 percent to set another all-time record.”

Those Service revenues contributed to “a new record [in operating cash flow] for the September quarter” according to CFO Luca Maestri.

In other words, App Store Services are here to stay, and they’re only going to become more commonplace as the market matures.

The success of Services on the App Store has already led Apple to incentivize their inclusion in apps. Earlier this year, Apple announced they would begin taking a smaller revenue split from Service subscriptions as long as customers maintained their subscription for over a year. After one year of consistent subscription, the traditional 70-30 revenue split will lower to 85-15, incentivizing more developers to offer quality subscriptions through their apps.

Some developers are already taking advantage of the change. Major services like Netflix and Spotify are no doubt anticipating the benefits of a massive increase in revenue from a loyal subscriber base.

However, subscriptions are no longer limited to services. Just look at Supercell’s Extra Builders service for Boom Beach. To quote their app description as of this writing, “Extra Builders is a monthly subscription service that allows you to build or upgrade two buildings at the same time. Extra Builders cost 2.99 USD/month (or local equivalent”.

At a low cost of $2.99/month, it’s a relatively harmless buy for hardcore fans of the game that offers a real, tangible in-game benefit. Expect to see much more of this spreading to games in the future as developers attempt to incentivize users to start up a subscription in addition to (or even in place of) paying for individual in-app purchases.

It’s not hard to see subscription-based shopping networks, dating apps and other services flourishing as Apple continues to incentivize subscription purchases, too.

As the App Store continues to mature, consider the market your app services and how your app can best approach monetization. If a subscription makes sense for your app, it could open you up to a growing new alternate revenue source.

App Maker joins Google's GSuite lineup

App Maker – Google Introduces New App Creation Suite

Yesterday Google revealed App Maker, a relatively low-tech way for developers to compile simple applications for Google Play. With the goal of simplifying the iteration process and opening app development up to a wider swath of creators, App Maker seems poised to do for Google Play what Apple’s investment in Swift has done for the App Store.

App Maker boasts “features like built-in templates, a drag-and-drop UI editor, and point-and-click data modeling [to] accelerate app development”. In other words, Google is attempting to democratize app development.

This raises several questions for app developers and hobbyists alike. How will the introduction of App Maker help want-to-be developers who have been turned off of development by the complexity of programming? Will existing developers see a shift in competition on Google Play?

Let’s start by addressing new creators looking to get into development with App Maker. While the promise of a code-lite, drag-and-drop creation suite is certainly exciting, it’s important to take into consideration the limitations of such a program, too. App Maker supports coding languages such as HTML, CSS and Javascript, so depending on how simple your proposed app is, there’s a good chance you’ll still have to dip into some coding.

That said, the simple interface may expedite prototyping for simple apps. The development environment is cloud-based and intuitive, making it easy to sync with your data from G Suite applications, Google Maps, Contacts and Groups. You can also plug in other APIs to easily expand functionality.

Google’s goal here is to make it simple for teams to handle development of specific, simple apps in-house without bringing on an outside developer. Yes, there is a relatively deep IDE that lets developers tool around deeper with code, but ultimately the main target is companies looking to expand into the mobile marketplace without bringing on a whole new team. On that same train of thought, App Maker likely isn’t going to become the go-to for developing complex games or other feature-dense applications.

For existing developers, however, App Maker will likely mean a slight increase in competition on Google Play. A lower bar to entry for developers means more developers will be able to create high-quality apps that can compete in the Play store. With Google targeting enterprise companies, those who already have such apps in the store can expect more competition around related search terms. It will be necessary to monitor the Google Play store more closely, tracking trends that may be influenced by an influx of new apps. Just as in a standard optimization, app descriptions and creatives should be adjusted slightly to cater to these new trends, without completely reindexing your app. Use your current title, description and short description as a base, and make edits from there.

With App Maker, Google is attempting to lower the bar to entry for corporate developers on the Play store. How successful they will be, and how many apps will come from this effort, remains to be seen, but App Maker is certainly worth keeping an eye on for both new and experienced developers – especially companies in Google’s target market.

iOS App Titles – Apple Cracks Down

For the first time since in its eight-year history, the App Store’s title field will be shortened from the previous 255-character limit to a new, concise 50 characters. Apple made the announcement to developers early on September 1st, sending shockwaves through the development community as many apps will be forced to alter their titles.

Starting September 7th, all app titles will be limited to 50 characters maximum. Live apps with titles that exceed 50 characters will be subject to warning from Apple. If within 30 days of receiving a warning the offending title hasn’t been updated, the app will be kicked off of the store. Apps that crash on launch will be removed from the store immediately.

This new initiative by Apple means more than just a cleaner-looking App Store, though. The title field is widely considered one of the most important components of App Store Optimization, as it sends a clear signal to Apple of what your app should be ranking for.

During the process of ASO, both an app’s title and keywords will be optimized to encompass the widest possible array of popular, relevant search terms. Words from an app’s title and keyword bank can combine to create phrases, meaning developers who add complementary words into their title and keyword bank will often have an advantage when it comes to organic discovery via search. This is why many apps use “title tags”, descriptive keywords which serve to inform the user (and Apple’s rankings system) of the functionality of an app.

Take the Google Maps app, for example. The app’s current title is “Google Maps – Real-time navigation, traffic, transit, and nearby places”. Words from their title can contribute heavily towards their app’s rankings. Consider words such as “traffic”, “transit” or “nearby places”. Alone, these are highly trending searches. Combined, they create a strong rankings portfolio for Google Maps, without ever taking up a character in the keyword bank.

The problem? Google Maps, along with thousands of other apps, has a title that comes in at over 50 characters. In the Top 100 Free Apps alone, there are 13 apps with titles longer than 50 characters as of this writing. These apps will have to consider how to shorten their title and re-optimize their keyword bank so as to maintain the highest possible number of words and phrases in their rankings.

 While the title field is changing, the concept of ASO itself is not. Combining words from the title and keyword bank will still be a way to gain more rankings for your app for the foreseeable future. The challenge now becomes to determine which words and phrases are most valuable to your app.

F8-recap

Mobile Recap Of Facebook’s Developer Conference F8

Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference has grown tremendously in just a few years to become one of the most highly anticipated tech events of the year.

This impressive growth is due to two main reasons:

  • the large number of consumers who use Facebook’s products (WhatsApp, Facebook IM, Instagram, and the main Facebook site) and
  • the major announcements that top executives, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, reel off


Below is an F8 recap of the announcements and events that took place during the 2016 F8 developer conference with a focus on those impacting and affecting mobile development and mobile apps.

VR/Social VR

Virtual reality was a dominant theme during the 2016 F8 conference where Facebook announced that it expects this technology to enhance social media interactions greatly in the future.

In particular, Facebook envisions VR technology that would enable web users to meet their friends or visit different locations virtually. In fact, a demonstration of this technology showed two friends visiting London and taking a virtual selfie.

Facebook is aware that pulling off this feat is not easy because each VR experience requires 360-degree video and at least two Oculus Rift headsets.

The headsets are largely a done deal because Facebook has started shipping Oculus Rift gear to consumers. However, the 360-degree video problem is more challenging and Facebook has decided to attack it in two ways: outsourcing ideas and building solutions internally.

The first approach involves the new “Surround 360″ camera that enables users to capture 360-degree videos thanks to 17, 4-megapixel cameras that can shoot video content at a resolution of up to 8k.

According to Facebook, this camera is based on existing hardware and the cost of building one is roughly $30,000. Luckily, Facebook said it would post the hardware design and algorithms used to stitch videos on GitHub this summer.

Looking ahead, Mark Zuckerberg said he expects VR headsets to resemble a normal pair of sunglasses in about ten years. If this prediction pans out, consumers will be the main beneficiaries because current VR devices are big, clunky, and uncomfortable to wear.

Some consumers have even complained of motion sickness after donning VR headgear. In addition, Zuckerberg reckons future devices in this niche will be able to handle VR and AR immersive experiences simultaneously.

App Analytics and Push

Facebook continued its push into the app analytics space with the announcement of better analytics and push notification solutions.

The aim is to enable developers who have been using Analytics for Apps (debuted during the 2015 F8 developer conference) access more powerful push notifications and granular metadata on app users.

One great feature is People Insights that developers can use to access user data such as job title, spoken language/s, and age. To protect the privacy of app users, Facebook only provides developers with anonymized metadata.

On the notification front, Facebook now allows developers to target people who are yet to download and install their apps with push notifications.

These notifications can be pushed to a specific target group such as millennials who spend a specific amount purchasing goods/services online annually.

What’s more, developers can send in-app notifications that contain emojis, video and audio content, GIFs, photos, or buttons with the aim of enticing app users to take specific desirable actions. Developers can shun the “stock” actions and create customized actions that suit their needs.

Facebook SDK in React Native

Thanks to the Facebook SDK for React Native, developers can now access and incorporate features such as App Analytics, Login, Sharing, and Graph APIs into their apps.

Moreover, this SDK exposes a wide range of iOS and Android app building blocks to the JavaScript programming language, thereby shortening the “build time” for apps because developers can build apps using programming languages they already know such as JavaScript.

React Native will also support the development of apps for Samsung’s Tizen platform.

Developers need not worry about the onboarding process because the F8 app has all the information they need to get started. In fact, Facebook has open-sourced the F8 app, meaning developers can probe its internals and tweak the source code to see how it works.

Developers will also be pleased to know that Facebook has hosted this SDK on GitHub in an effort to open source its solutions and attract more developers.

App builders have responded positively to this approach by downloading or cloning the React Native repo on GitHub from npm about 70,000 times since March 2016.

React Native’s GitHub page has also garnered more than 30,000 stars since it was launched making it the 21st most starred GitHub repo.

React Native Windows Support

Facebook surprised the 2016 F8 developer conference attendees with a slew of React Native announcements.

For instance, developers can now create React Native apps to run on Xbox, smart TVs, wearable devices, and Windows platforms. In fact, both Facebook and Microsoft announced the addition of Universal Windows Platform (UWP) support to React Native.

Similar to other Facebook solutions, the UWP is an open source framework supported by a robust community of app developers. On its part, Microsoft has created a React Native extension for Visual Studio Code making it easier for developers to create and debug apps using a familiar programming tool.

Microsoft says that the UWP’s native modules and view managers are implemented in C# while Chakra is the JavaScript runtime environment.

Facebook M Open to Devs

Besides VR, Facebook has invested heavily in artificial intelligence (AI) and caught many F8 conference attendees off-guard when it announced that it is opening its “M” AI platform to developers.

Facebook envisions developers using the M platform to build powerful bots that leverage the power of AI to perform tasks such as carrying out logical conversations with consumers. In this case, the aim is to enhance the business-to-consumer and consumer-to-business communication process.

Conclusion

Facebook’s 2016 F8 developer conference that took place in San Francisco on April 13 was packed with announcements that will definitely excite and delight app builders.

These announcements covered a wide range of topics including virtual reality, React Native Windows support, Facebook M platform, Facebook SDK in React Native, as well as App Analytics and Push.

Mobile App Store Data

Reports Worth Reading For The Latest Mobile App Store Data

Although there are many sources reviewing and opining on mobile app data, there are a few exceptional resources that generate original data.

These resources are uniquely positioned to access and report on mobile app and app store data (data they collect and often only they can collect) or offer solid and thoroughly researched information and analysis.

Let’s take a look a few reports and sources worth subscribing to or bookmarking.

ComScore

ComScore is one of the leading market research firms globally that covers more than ten industries including financial services, media, technology, retail, and telecommunications.

In addition, it regularly carries out research and publishes its findings via press releases, whitepapers and case studies.

Additionally, businesses and other organizations regularly commission ComScore to carry out research on their behalf. As such, ComScore is well suited to cover trends in mobile app development and usage.

A recent article published by ComScore focuses on the way a mobile first approach has enabled tech entrepreneurs to build brands worth more than one billion (unicorns).

For instance, a ComScore study found that 98% of Snapchat users access the social networking site via mobile devices. Coming in a close second is Uber, which receives 85% of its traffic from smartphones and tablets. Mobile traffic accounts for 57% and 54% of the users that visit Pinterest and Spotify websites.

Flurry

Flurry is a mobile analytics and ad company owned by Yahoo that gathers and analyzes data from 150 million iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, HTML5, and JavaME platform app sessions per month.

Moreover, Flurry provides data analytics solutions to more than 170,000 developers globally, meaning it has the industry connections and data required to identify both current and developing mobile app trends.

Flurry maintains a Tumblr blog where it publishes mobile app related content.

For instance, a recent article published on Tumblr covers the emergence of messaging apps as the new frontier in the retail-banking niche. In particular, it quotes figures from a Goldman Sachs study that the retention rate of messaging apps is 5.6 times better than the average for all other apps over 12 months.

eMarketer

eMarketer is a leader in the digital technology information and data analytics space. In fact, eMarketer says that more than 1,000 businesses including media companies and ad agencies rely on it to make better and data driven decisions on issues related to digital technology.

To illustrate this better, an article published by eMarketer in March is based on a survey that found voice-controlled personal assistants are becoming increasingly popular.

emarketer-app-data

Presently, 13% of mobile device owners in the US use a voice-controlled personal assistant daily.

Furthermore, 14% and 10% of American mobile device owners use the same technology weekly and monthly respectively.

Google Insights

It is virtually impossible to talk about mobile app data without including Google Insights because it covers a wide range of interesting niches such as consumer surveys, mobile app developers, Google Trends, Google Analytics, Google Correlate, Google Business Solutions, and Adometry by Google.

For example, you can use Google Correlate to find industry-specific patterns that correspond to real-world events or occurrences. This enables entrepreneurs to gain better understanding of consumer beliefs, influences, and changes in purchase behavior.

think-with-google-mobile-app-data

Think with Google is a free weekly “thought-starter” that can keep you plugged into the latest Google research findings.

Ben Evans

Ben Evans works at Andreessen Horowitz’s venture capital firm “a16z” and runs a website focused on disseminating information related to technology and mobile devices.

Evans also emails a newsletter every Sunday to about 49,000 subscribers that covers mobile and technology topics – well worth subscribing.

Ben just updated his popular “Mobile is Eating the World” slide deck (note the new title!).

ben-evans-mobile-ate-the-world

One of Ben Evans’ latest post covers the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in conversational chat bots such as Google Now and Apple’s Siri.

Google, Apple and Facebook Quarterly Results

The quarterly reports released by Google, Apple and Facebook contain a wealth of actionable information that only they can provide.

Some recent examples include:

  • Google sharing the majority of search in the US (and several other countries) is from a mobile device
  • Google/Youtube announcing more video is viewed via mobile than desktop
  • this image of Facebook’s ad revenue over last several quarters

Infographic: Facebook's Growth Is Entirely Fueled by Mobile Ads | Statista

There you have it, a few newsletters (Ben Evans and Think with Google), a few reports to subscribe to or monitor and a reminder that the leading tech companies are increasingly mobile-first.