How to Submit tvOS Apps for the App Store
October 11th, 2018
With the release of tvOS 12, developers with apps built for Apple TV will be preparing their apps and their App Store Optimization strategies for the new operating system. There are several guidelines and suggestions to remember for developing and launching Apple TV apps, as understanding them is key to a successful submission.
When developing a tvOS app, developers should use the latest version of Xcode 10, which includes the tvOS12 SDK. It offers new frameworks and technologies from the previous SDK, although tvOS developers should make sure their apps don’t link against the new additions. Additionally, while the app cannot initially contain more than 4 gigabytes in the main bundle, tvOS apps are allowed to offer up to 20 GB of on-demand resources. As such, they can create apps with smaller initial download sizes while still offering an expansive selection of content by making it available on-demand on the App Store separate from the main app bundle. Developers can also enable universal purchases for apps available on both iOS and tvOS, so that users who make a purchase on one version will be able to access it on an Apple TV signed in to the same account. Lastly, developers should consider the design of the app and how it interacts with Apple TV and the Apple TV Remote. While this could be as simple as providing volume controls, Apple recommends utilizing the remote’s touch surface, accelerometer and gyroscope to enhance the user experience. Once the app is designed, App Store Optimization becomes the essential next step to succeeding on the store.
When making a tvOS app, developers can make the app with the same app ID as its iOS counterpart or as a separate app. If they use the same ID, the title, description and creatives will be the same, and vice versa. However, developers cannot use “Apple TV,” “tvOS” or “ATV” in the app’s name. While Apple suggests the titles remain short so they’re easy to find, ASO best practices still recommend utilizing as much of the title space as possible for maximum keywords. On that note, the tvOS app has its own distinct set of keywords, although like with the title, the keywords cannot include “Apple TV,” “tvOS” or “ATV.” Developers should be sure to follow ASO best practices for keywords by making the most of the space provided and utilizing relevant keywords that users are searching for.
The description for the tvOS app should let users know not only all the benefits of the app itself, but also how it’s optimized for television screens and utilizes the Apple TV Remote features. While the metadata can’t include “Apple TV” terms, it’s okay to use them in the description, although as a trademarked term it should always be written in English and properly capitalized. As with any good App Store description, it should be formatted according to ASO best practices, including short lines and bullet lists that clearly illustrate the app’s features and benefits. The description should include relevant keywords where appropriate and appeal to the target audience.
Apple TV icons have a sense of depth to them that apps on iPhone and iPad devices don’t. As such, the icons for tvOS apps should be built as layered images in order to support the parallax effect that creates the depth. The images should be tested on both HD and 4K television sets to ensure that they look good on either type of screen and are clear from a distance. Unlike iOS apps, tvOS app icons are more rectangular; the corners should still be kept square, as any round icon corners are rounded automatically. tvOS apps can also feature up to 10 screenshots, the same as any other app. The screenshots cannot be framed within a TV, so they should show the entire screenshot and demonstrate what it has to offer without using the callout text that iOS app screenshots can include. While an app page should use all ten screenshots, each one should highlight or demonstrate a different aspect of the app to show off as much of it as possible. App Store Connect supports screenshots that are 3840 x 2160 pixels, as well as 1920 x 1080 pixels. The screenshots should be built to those measurements to properly work on the app store. If a video would help demonstrate the features of a tvOS app, the app page can also feature a Preview Video. This can be up to 30 seconds and appears in all countries or regions where the app is available, so it should showcase features and functions in a way that viewers can understand regardless of language. The screenshots and video should all work to demonstrate and showcase the app and its functions to users. Developers should be sure to follow best practices for creatives to ensure that they’ll appeal to users and each image serves a purpose.
Once the app is built, tested and optimized, it’s ready for submission. At this point, developers should double-check everything to ensure their app runs well, adheres to Apple’s guidelines and follows App Store Optimization best practices to ensure maximum reach and visibility. While there are some important differences to keep in mind when developing and launching a tvOS app, the ASO best practices remain the same. Developers can utilize these to make sure their creatives, descriptions and metadata are fully optimized for the store, thus improving visibility and appealing to more users. Additionally, tvOS apps with iOS counterparts can utilize being bundled for increased discoverability – users that find an app on their iPhone devices will be encouraged to use the tvOS version with their Apple TVs. If a user already has a video streaming app on their phones, they’ll want to use the same app and subscription on their Apple TV as well, and vice versa. Whether you’re launching an app for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch or Apple TV, App Store Optimization is essential.
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