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iOS 6 App Store is a disaster for developers (develop-online.net)
102 points by novaleaf on Sept 27, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 58 comments

One of my main problems with the store is that the single card view doesn't even work well. Perhaps it's because I'm on an iPhone 4, but the loading time that comes with this new configuration absolutely destroys the experience for anyone wanting to find anything. Perhaps when we all have gigabit connections on our phones this card view will reign supreme, but until that point it's a completely short sighted attempt at improvement.

Btw, I also speak as a developer who has had their sales slashed enormously due the concert of changes that started in late July. My main title has sold at least a handful of copies @ 2.99 a day for the past two years; that was until the store started to limit the amount of queries a user would get from their search. We have a very sexy icon, and very unique concept for the game. I actually thought the high rate of piracy at the beginning of the app's life was the reason for the continued sales, but after the changes started to take place; sales are now limited to about 1-2 a week, I know it was because of the app icon and screen shots.

Anyway, I mostly speak here as a user, and this new App Store has not been welcomed. I miss Steve.

I also use iPhone 4, but I'm glad the changes are here.

First - it's been years since the "new releases" view benefitted the developers. Currently, with the amount of new apps for iPhone, the devs get quickly buried on that list, and the launch benefit is minimal.

As for the single card view... It's not perfect, because you need to do more scrolling, but on the other hand - you no longer have to decide which app to pick based solely on the icon & name. Say you're looking for a weight tracker app. You can now quickly preview a couple of apps, and pick the one you like the most. In the past you'd have to tap every single one of them - nobody did that.

The new App Store, if anything, gives more opportunities to the small guy. There are now new ways to get discovered, and there is more emphasis on search. That's great.

Rules changed, and people complain. Some people just don't like changes imho.

"In the past you'd have to tap every single one of them - nobody did that."

Sure they did. On their first search for a topic at least. And it wasn't painful. It was nice and quick.

The thing about search is, we go back and search for the same thing many times, usually to find apps related to our areas of interest, and Apple seems to have completely neglected this notion.

They seem to think that our search is ALWAYS to find something "new".

I would search for "platformers" and "platform games" about once every week or two. I KNEW the ones I had checked out previously. I wouldn't click them again, but it was 2 quick swipes to see what's new. Job done. This is now dead. When I search, I have to look at the same stuff, and have to flip slowly through each and every app I've already decided I don't want to download, again, and again, and again. And THIS is something I won't do. Hence, "discovery" is dead.

Now, from a smaller developer's perspective, as I have apps in this store...

Discovery was critical. Search and the "New" section were important to me.

The release-date section under each category was CRITICAL to getting those first downloads.

On day 1, with nothing more than a tweet to a handful of followers, my app would see a significant number of first-time downloads from being in this section. It got the ball rolling.

Here's my idea/wish:

App stores should have an "Introductions" category, and when we submit our apps, we should be able to write a description of our app just for this purpose. We get 1 day in the "Introductions" category, and after that, we're gone. People can feel free to go to this category at any time to see everything that has been released, so they get to see new stuff, and developers get an opportunity to get some initial users.

It's not perfect, because you need to do more scrolling,

The fixed interval animation used while scrolling trough apps is quite ridiculous. Scrolling back to the first app once you got to 4th or 5th takes more time than searching the same thing again.

Other than that I agree that things improved. I'm not an iOS developer though.

So the design on my iPad looks pretty good, they may have preferred the form factor of the iPad in the design process.

However I'm having the same issue with loading times on my 3GS connection. My 3GS connection is pretty good. I can watch Youtube videos over it. And yet the experience in the App Store app is not so good.

Don't know what's going on there, but I suspect they assumed most people open the App Store when connected to Wifi.

I miss him too. I bet he would have been pretty pissed at this design.

so everybody now knows exactly what Steve Jobs would or would not have done ( i.e. whatever you don't agree with ) ?

I think we are all just surprised there are so many design decisions we can't agree with, precisely with the first major update for iOS comes since Jobs died. Up until the iPhone 4, I don't think I've had any criticism towards the design of Apple products... since Jobs came back to Apple.

I don't think these are coincidences. Jobs may have been more than a good businessman. He was a source of inspiration.

Before iOS 5 - the first to overdo skuemorphism - the last major design hoopla was when Apple couldn't decide on a single on windowing theme. It was brush-metal, then just white, then just gray, then all of them at the same time in different windows, sometimes with candy buttons, sometimes now. It was probably due more to Jobs' indecisiveness.

  > I don't think these are coincidences
Those are not. Just selection bias.

The suggestion is actually; Everybody, apart from those who worked closest to him.

How has anyone ever sold a product before? You market it.

The App Store isn't the sole place you should be marketing your app. If you have ever counted on just releasing your app into the store and have it somehow gain traction with no other effort, you've always been doomed to failure.

The App Store should be treated like a supermarket, after a fashion. You may get your product on the shelf, but simply relying on people walking by and seeing it is a terrible way to get people to try it. It always takes outside marketing to get people to look for your product or learn about it.

So you already have put a lot of work into making your application. Now go do some more legwork and get people talking about it.

Heres the problem with marketing: Say, I am a really big software company and release an app for my biggest video hosting platform anyone knows: "youtube". Everyone knows the exact name of the application, goes to the store, enters "youtube". And guess whats first? Not "Youtube", but "Video Downloader Super Lite".

What use is good marketing if it is so hard to find things by _exact name_ on the store where you market it for? That basically means that any competitor can beat you by just including terms for your product in his description. The card interface makes this even worse, because with the old interface, "Youtube" would at least be on the front page, but now it is not.

I'm not sure if they changed anything, but Youtube has been the first search result for me since I upgraded my iPhone. It's not in the search results for the iPad since Google hasn't released Youtube for the iPad yet (or at least last time I searched).

I wonder if there's saved state in the app store that's modifying the search results.

It could also depend on which app store you are in, I am not from the US.

Putting words into description won't make an app show up.

But aside from that - yeah, it sucks that some devs don't show for queries matching their exact names.

I stand corrected, "youtube" is not even in the description of Video Downloader, that was a lucky guess. Which makes the whole thing even more arcane, as it makes the search highly unintuitive.

That's a good point. That is a problem with the App Store that needs to be changed asap. Accurate search is a mandatory must-have.

The problem with the app store as it stands today is that it generates almost no passive sales but also gives you virtually no insight into customer purchasing behavior. Compared to the incredibly detailed analytics you can get for a web app you're basically fumbling around in the dark.

Having to spend more time and money marketing just to get my numbers to where they were is a disaster to me, as a developer. I'm not sure what you're getting at.

"The App Store should be treated like a supermarket, after a fashion."

OK, but what if you wanted to find a new healthy cereal, but they first made you slowly look through each and every box of cereal that has ever existed until you find the new one you want to try?

The App Store USED to be like a Super Market, where all the cereal was facing out, and you could just glance at everything and pick what you wanted to learn more about.

Now it is not.

If you have any data on this, can you please link to any? From an iOS user POV, I always buy apps by browsing through the App Store. Starting to learn Chinese? - Download all free Chinese dictionaries and see what sticks. etc...

It's exactly like buying music - I have lots of friends who buy iOS apps, but no two of us have the same taste in apps, so everybody ends up browsing for themselves.

This is a great insight into how people actually search and use apps. It makes the case for free-to-download with in-app purchases. People won't think twice about downloading a free app to try it out, and if they like it, they'll spend the extra couple bucks or so to unlock its full feature set. My guess is that this is more profitable to everyone than Android's "erase in whatever time" to get a refund scheme.

I agree completely.

I'm trying to remember the last app I download(let alone purchased) by browsing through the top whatever in the app store. I think it was the flashlight app I got when I first bought my iPhone.

Now, I don't even bother with trying to browse apps. If I'm going to buy an app on either iTunes or Google Play, I'm searching for the specific one I want.

I think the problem goes far deeper than this. Apple has never had good search and discovery technology across it's products. Searching using iTunes on the desktop isn't any better. I won't get into the details. I'm sure a lot of you share my sentiments.

In many ways it is a parallel with Maps. Google has great search and great maps. Apple has bad search and now less-than-stellar maps. Trend?

itunes searching for apps works so much better than google play searching for apps. Google play search is an embarrassing joke.

Searching for USA travel guides brings in french travel guides, spanish travel guides, and london maps.

Honestly I find it easier to go to Google.com and search for whatever your looking for appended with "android app". I'm surprised there's such a large difference in the quality of search between Google Play search and Google Search.


I have no idea why they haven't replaced whatever they're doing with: <search> site:play.google.com

Then they would just need to resolve apps the way the Play Store already does when presented with a URL and tack on any appropriate filtering (country-level, carrier-level. etc.). This has been a problem for a long time (my standard suggestion used to include "site:market.android.com"). And Google has done a lot with the Play Store app in the interim, so there must be some constraint I'm missing. I just can't see what it is.

Apple is a company that doesn't make very many acquisitions. I think that the team at Chomp pretty much took over the App Store or at least have a very big say.

All the changes are worse for indie developers.

The changes also favor raw app download count. This means that free or freemium apps rank higher. This isn't good for quality apps which are paid purchases but have fewer downloads compared to a mediocre quality but free app.

I want things back the way they were or at the very least, give apps with high star ratings with x amount of ratings a bigger influence in search results.

Hopefully Apple will see the app download statistics and see that that they are top heavy. The long tail is gone which hurts the ecosystem. Then they will question what went wrong and make some positive adjustments. That's what I'm hoping.

The iOS 6 app store is less dynamic than other prior app store iterations. Example being I have an app listed as number 19 under a particular search. I've been checking that search every day and we are always 19 on the list. No change whatsoever even though our downloads have fluctuated in that time. Why are we 19? No idea. Before it meant we had less downloads than the people before us. Now I have no idea. It reminds me a lot of the Chomp search results. Not really sure what Chomp said to convince Apple that their search algorithm was better than what Apple was using.

The previous system was easier to gamble. You put up a new app, pay for ads/bots/whatever, get a plenty of downloads and start showing up on the top for all the search queries (even if your app is crap), this in turn causes even more sales.

Also, in the previous system you could've positioned for a term completely unrelated to your app (e.g. you have a weight tracker, and you position for celebrity phrases because they're more popular). My guess is they try to stop that.

Oh, and even in the past it wasn't just popularity that guided the results. We did a detailed analysis of this ( techcrunch.com/2012/03/12/appcod-es-launches-app-store-prediction-tool-tells-developers-which-keywords-work/ )

As a developer, I had a path to improve my ranking which was to find a way to increase my downloads. I agree, the keywords model is somewhat of a fail in general because people can pick unrelated words, but this new version is actually worse than that.

The layout also limits the space allocated to the app's title. When scrolling though the top paid apps, it seems it cuts off the title at 7 characters. Basically, almost every app ends with "..." due to space. This is terrible.

The card view is slow, and my App Store crashed once I reached search result #100 (I was searching for my own app). I'm on a 4S, which should be albe to handle the load.

They did introduce the "Related" tab within an apps page, but I'm curious to see how that affects sales after a few weeks.

Pedro, use our tool like AppCod.es (ours) for tracking your position. It costs, but it will save you time you'd spend on scrolling :)

It certainly feels like a disaster for users. I hate the single card view. It drives me crazy.

Weird. I prefer it. I much prefer to see a screenshot of the app than just an icon and title.

I don't mind the single card bit, its the search that is horrid. Example from today, I searched for "Jasmine", which is a youtube client app. It is #5 on the list, the first "match" is "My Princess Diary". However they are ranking apps is making things as painful for users as developers. Almost doubly so for the latter.

So discovery is hampered, more focus on the screenshot and title is limited to 7 characters. Sounds like Apple want users to find fewer, but higher quality apps:

- browsing fewer apps, with users looking closer at each of them;

- screenshot of the app, you buy the app, not the icon and title;

- shorter title, less stuffed with keywords [good apps often have short names: Skype, Spotify, Instagram, Twitter].

I think this is a good thing, the app store has been too much about churning out low-quality apps.

> good apps often have short names: Skype, Spotify, Instagram, Twitter

I think you mean 'well-recognized brands have short names'. If you're trying to discover a new Twitter client, it might help for them to have their name, and 'Twitter', in the title. The goal with search isn't to deliver the user to exactly the app they already know they want, but to display apps they might want. Discovery is really hard given one screenshot and 7 characters.

Sorry to go off topic, but did anyone else close the article right when they got to the ad with the "Article continues below" link above it? They've got stats showing that users don't realize their articles continue because they throw ads right in the middle of them, and they fixed the problem with an anchor link? Good god.

My App Store experiment is still ticking along with no big reduction in its modest number of daily downloads although maybe it has just enough reviews not to disappear (4.5 stars UK and US stores). The update going into store did help, I think that there might be a penalty for not having issued an update recently. I issued an update for the iPhone 5 and the numbers picked up (got my record daily download yesterday).


It's a lists app but I want it to be the best damn lists app. It is particularly designed for repeated use lists like packing and shopping. All free at the moment but some in-app purchases will be coming soon although existing users won't lose any features.

The 3 and 1/4 icons displayed on a single row is a bad idea. Not because it's bad UX but because it seems that the application doesn't cache any hidden icons. Every time I scroll the list that's a (very) small loading time that block the natural scroll.

Anyway I like the "See all" view (but I haven't used it from day one, I don't know way but it didn't catch my attention). Finally Apple has implemented infinite scroll. I found myself more inclined to continue to scroll the list part application #20.

On the old App Store you had to tap the "show 20 more" cell. For me It's a sort of psychological barrier. It's like saying "there are more apps, I don't show them to you cause they are not very good". I don't know if I explained it well.

Yes, the whole App Store seems laggy now. When you're on the 25th card, it takes a while for card #26 to show its edge, leading the user to think there aren't more apps and if there are no one wants to download them anyways.

The new search layout shows very little information,is heavy and crashes now and then(true on 4S but not so on the new iPad where the search result displays more information at once with no crashes so far). The Genius tab is a real loss for me as I don't use it at all. I like to browse by category but now I have to tap twice where once was ok... The result in itself are also plainly wrong most of the time. I've stopped using it and I've switched to AppShopper, way better(I am absolutely not affiliated with this app^^)

Its most likely not a disaster for Apple in that Im sure it was purposeful. Id assume their thinking is that for every "unproven" app that gets surfaced to the user could be lost revenue in place of giving more focus to an established app with a higher likelihood of a buy. To me it seems like one of those short sighted how do we grow our revenue in the app store by 12% business maneuvers.

The long term and bigger picture impact of those decisions on Apple I guess we will have to wait and see.

iOS devices are successful because of the developers, just ask Microsoft. Now they are killing the hen that laid golden apps. I am surprised how quickly Apple lost its way after Steve.

What makes you think Steve Jobs, wouldn't approve of it? I mean maps probably wouldn't get out of the door, but this seems fine albeit different.

I kinda feel sad about all the "What would Steve do. He'd do exactly as I want" I constantly see. If memory doesn't fool me, Final Cut Pro X was panned by users, while Steve Jobs was at the helm. The only difference now it seems there is no RDF deployed.

My sales seems to have dropped but I really think we need more time to know for sure.

With only 3 days of sales data since the iOS 6 launch (according to iTunes Connect Mobile) how are any of you able to say for sure one way or the other that the discovery is actually worse?

Here are my sales: https://twitter.com/tsteil/status/251273647262691328/photo/1... The past 3 days I've only had 1 sale per day. The last time I had 1 sale per day for 3 days was back in May.

My other app: https://twitter.com/tsteil/status/251275489241624577/photo/1... Only 2 sales this week (Sep 17 - Sep 23). In the past 26 weeks there have only been 2 weeks where I had 2 or less sales.

So, both of my apps have seen their sales go down but that is with only 3 days worth of sales data.

(fwiw I made these 2 apps in my spare time over 3 years ago and haven't updated them since)

Actually it looks like the web view of iTunes Connect sales reports has data up to yesterday and my sales went back up. So, I'm not really seeing any change and I'm as "indie" as they come.

Their main complaint was there is no new releases section, but there's still a new & noteworthy section.. and each category has its own 'new' section. Isn't that the same thing?

From experience, I can tell you each layer you ask the user to travel down eliminates 75-90% of the audience.

It looks like the 'paid' and 'free' sections are new releases, sorted by newness. There does seem to be some curation comparing results vis-a-vis iOS 5.

The 'new' section for each category seems to be previous 'new and noteworthy' titles for that category.

This would all be a good thing except for the single-card layout on the smaller devices.

Same exact thing happened with Google Play. Google removed the recently updated view almost everywhere, while at the same time claiming they were optimizing the store for visibility for everyone's apps. But they took away the one thing that was actually doing that.

Throw in how they added responding to comments, but only by an elite few with special marks by their names that aren't earned by numbers, and there you go, it's a pretty harsh world for the small guys.

No one in this thread is offering up any data showing that their sales have gone down since the iOS 6 App Store has rolled out.

My app sales seem to be unchanged. In fact, my free version downloads have actually gone up since the iOS 6 release.

Another person is reporting their downloads also unchanged, "My App Store experiment is still ticking along with no big reduction in its modest number of daily downloads".

For all this talk about App Store discovery, why hasn't anyone set up an alternative means of discovery? After all, all you need is a link to the item on itunes. It should be theoretically easy to set up a mobile webpage with a list of indie apps, and with improved searching it'd be very easy to bootstrap such a site with at most a week's worth of effort.

That's what App.net was going to build (hence the name) until Facebook threatened to revoke API access if they didn't agree to an aquihire. Spreading via Facebook is pretty much required for something like that to take off, but Facebook has decided that they want to be in that business (https://www.facebook.com/appcenter/).

Wow, I had no idea.

I guess that explains why they picked such an odd name for a twitter clone!

The revised iOS 6 App Store app has disadvantages from a user perspective too. In-app purchases in particular are no longer prominently shown near the app name but somewhere below on the description page and it is therefore no longer possible to immediately see whether a 'free' app is actually free.

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